|The microscope camera lay in the grass, quiescent. Its hydrogen cell had run empty some days
earlier, so the owner had tossed it on the lawn as compost. Nearby, Big Mike the Microbe scuttled between a particle of clay and a nitrogen
nodule. He had wandered into the area in search of enzyme sprinklers. In a society where cameras melted into plant
food, his days were numbered. He had served his purpose and felt ready to recycle to the next stage, whatever that
Then he heard it--the sound of enzyme sprinklers firing up. His mitochondria leaped with expectation. The hydrogen-producing enzymes drifted down, and as they contacted him the conversion process began. Jets of gas streamed from Mike's cell wall. The camera, sniffing at the trace of fuel, convulsively snapped one last image. It caught Mike as he discorporated in a puff of hydrogen gas.
Mike had heard about seeing a tunnel with a shining light when one recycled, but he wasn't sure what it meant now that he was experiencing it. Somehow, it didn't matter. He saw stars and heard faraway voices. They seemed to be saying something…something like, "Waiting is."