After what could have just as easily been hours or years, I found it. At the time, I had no real vocabulary to describe what I was seeing, but now, I know that I was face to face with a disease. Between how small I was, and how large it was, I was actually able to see the plague cell with my own senses. It was this creature, it seemed, that had been killing all the others in the water.
I watched as tiny organisms sprang from the larger one, launching out into the water, likely seeking out others to infect. That was all this creature understood: multiply, grow, spread. One of these smaller organisms latched onto me, and I remember a terrible pain as it punctured my body with something like fangs.
Death came even faster that I was expecting, but I was back again quickly, only now, I was immune to the creature's terrible attack. Or at least, I was immune to one of them attacking me. When the disease recognized that I was still there, living again, it went into something of a panic.
Thousands of the smaller organisms were released from the core of the creature. They swarmed around me, stabbing into me from every angle in perfect unison. I died again, returning with even more resistance to the powerful plague beast.
This repeated itself more times than I would have liked. Reappear, die, reappear, so on. Every time, I was just a little more resilient to the disease, made it just a little bit closer to the core plague. I realized, as I continued in this loop, that I could destroy this creature if I kept going, and as I repeated death and resurrection over and over, my resistance to disease was not the only thing I developed.
Finally, after something between fifty and sixty deaths, I was directly in front of the core of the beast. With a swift motion, I enveloped the disease core much like one cell would absorb any other. The disease truly panicked then, releasing all the possible harbingers it could within me, but it was no use. The inside of my body had been formed into a cage to hold it, and within moments, the disease core, and all the harbingers with it, perished, becoming little more the vapor in the water.
I was unaware of the gravity of what I had done at the time. I still didn't understand how different I was to the other living creatures, and I didn't know that I had just saved all life on the planet from a disease that was able to control itself better than any other, an aware disease that would have brought desolation to what little life inhabited the planet. And it was currently being worked through my body and broken down for nutrients.
After that, things became normal again, chaotic and frantic and deadly. I was used to this now, and I could handle it. But things did as they usually do, and they changed before too much longer.
The other organisms in the water began to appear bigger, their bodies much different. They were no longer the small cells or microbial beings that had been before. They were larger, stronger, much more frightening in comparison to those who were still small, like me.
I couldn't even attempt to recall just how many times I had been killed in those days. But eventually, through time and a little trial and error, I was able to make my form catch up to the new era that was forming around me.