In a Distant Galaxy.
READING WARNING CONTENT
POST CONTAINS MATURE
The knight bent down on one knee, bowing before Her Royal Highness. The Queen smiled with a sparkle in her eye. Her heart beat faster at seeing the knight ready to do all that she requested.
The Knight stood before the Queen and spoke softly: ‘‘My dear lady, how may I serve you today? Also, just wanted to let you know your people of Tarinh all wish you good health & a productive rest of the year.’’
The Queen rose from her throne & winked at the dashing young knight, and said in a voice that commanded authority: ‘‘Come lie down with me, O, brave & valiant knight.’’
The knight walked right behind the Queen, following her to her royal chamber. There the Queen took off her crown from her head & placed it on the small table by her Queen sized bed.
She moved her tentacles toward the knight & helped him take off his armour. The knight slowly walked closer to the Queen and gazed into her eyes. Her eyes reminded him of the Milky Way galaxy— he could stare into them all day and night long.
A bit further away from the two lovers, the moonlight shone through the curtains in the Queen’s room- giving the lovebirds the perfect ambience for their time together.
The Queen wrapped her tentacles around the knight as they shared a long kiss. She let go after that & sighed in glee.
The knight placed his arms around the Queen and lifted her toward his body. She sighed once more & whispered in the knight’s ear: ‘‘How I’ve missed you, my darling knight!’’
In the Queen’s room, there they stayed all night making love & declaring their unconditonal care ‘n’ love for one another. Maybe next time she would request for the knight to stay within the Tarinh galaxy & not head to explore the Milky Way. The Queen could not bare to only be with the knight a quarter of a year.
The knight stared at the Queen and pondered~ ‘What was going through her beautiful mind?’ She laughed and said to the knight upon seeing his puzzled facial expression: ‘‘My beloved, I hope you won’t mind if I order you to stay much longer this time.’’ The knight shook his head & replied: ‘‘I do not mind at all.’’
They arrived suddenly.
They appeared overnight. They say evolution progresses in cycles and macroevolution can make great, paradigm- shifting leaps when powered by the energy cycles of the sun and the alignment of Saturn. That’s why it seemed so sudden to us on land, but beneath the dark depths of the world’s oceans, giant octopuses had been silently growing ,mutating and evolving for thousands of years, veiled by the murky microcosms of the seas.
Until one day, they surfaced.
It was a Tuesday, I remember, and I was leaving the house early to head off to work. It was a rainy, dull and dreary day but the sun had just peaked over the horizon of the Bristol harbour casting a warm orange glow and I started the car in its dim light.
I drove along the main road which ran parallel along the shore, enjoying the early morning view.
But then I saw them and I just stopped the car dead, right there in the left-hand lane.
I couldn’t process what I was seeing at first. I sat frozen in the driver’s seat, with the windscreen wipers squeaking back and forth, believing I must still be sleeping and any minute now I’d wake up with the startling realization that it was all a dream.
But it wasn’t. Instead a new, weird reality played out and I got out of the car enraptured in awe.
A giant octopus had risen out of the inky waters and started to walk , eerily up to the beach. It was upright. It was roughly ten feet tall. Its eight, long, jelly-like legs, supported its huge dome-like body and it looked more like a monolithic alien creature from the outer rims of space than anything from earth. It moved silently. Floating almost, as its tentacles gracefully stepped along the sand, in a crab-like motion.
More followed, one by one they inched out of the sea.
Their eyes were black, their skin a translucent grey, and the suckers on each leg were the size of plates. The sight was both horrifying and beautiful. I was mesmerized. I was witnessing the genesis of a new species; the result of millions of years of unfolding nature, a terrifying demonstration of the power of change.
Passing cars slowed and pulled up, some crashing in shock. People came out of their homes, mouths agape, to watch- many filming on their phones as hundreds of huge walking octopuses filled the Bristol shoreline.
Then, a rustling sound. The waters got more and more agitated as something even larger emerged from the murky depths: The Queen.
She was double the size. Gigantic in proportions. Her grey and pink body glistened in the morning light. Her legs stretched out , as her stature towered against the gloomy seascape.
Suddenly, a watery high-pitched roar filled the cold morning air and they all joined in unison.
I had never heard a sound like it before:
a cacophony of piercing aquatic cries.
That’s when they started to run...
I know they exist.
I didn't believe they exist.
Here in the depths, silent black, eerie. We use atomic fusion power to provide infinte energy for our needs, and we regulate day and night in a precise cycle, exact to the second.
At one mile below the surface, and close to the mid Pacific volcanic vents, the study of the shifting plates of our earth as it continually bubbles new land into being is fascinating. Rich lodes of minerals line these new mountains as they heave into being. Nothing but a few heat resistant microbes.
Or so I thought.
We should have listened to the dolphins. And the whales and every other intelligent mammal swimming in the sea. They tried to warn us. There are places none of them would go, even if they were just passing through.
I have to admit she was magnificent. Her eight suction cup lined arms undulating in the rising hot salt water. Her simple request, and I'm sure my brain will never forget, stop dumping your garbage into the sea.
The words echoed, booming inside my head, and her tentacles wrapped themselves around our living dome, squeezing until we heard the creaking groan of stressed transparent titanium crystals. Her strength immense, her length, greater than the submarine building ship which created the community we call home.
I am certain, we are the garbage she refers to, and I don't think we will survive until the next supply submarine arrives.
I will shoot this pressure vessel to the surface and hope a sailor stumbles on its signal. Heed the warning. She's on a clean up mission. She's had it with our miserable track record and she wants her world back. Clean and pristine.
Captain's Log 2093/03/21 Pacific Rift Colony
Sans Sober Slumber
Whatever it was. Made my brain buzz. It was sublime wherever I went after ingesting it. Any angst or ills I’d had minutes before ceased. Not as if their will was spent. More so that my own recognized a good time to get bent.
Elated my lungs outpaced any shortness of breath. Which minimized the many reminders of our imminent deaths. Though the edge of the bluff that my toes caressed had promised death. It didn’t crumble but stood the test.
So from here I’d leap. Out of my shoes. And keep on keeping on doing what’s best to forget any bad news. As I lifted off on a star bound trajectory. Something tickling my tender toes, ran up my leg, thru my body, and out my nose. The sneeze propelled me into incomprehensible prose.
Which ferried me to Mars. Where I set out and rounded me up a Gift or Gag dose. And ended up having a heart to heart, swapping swear words with a handsy blue blooded Martian. In its alien split thrice tongue.
It wasn’t long before I’d learned the worst curses. And fast friends we had become. Finally bringing the whole encounter to a stand still? Bong quotes i.e. coughing up a green lung. But something tells me the fat lady hasn’t yet sung.
And breathlessly we emerged from the clouds of smoke our lungs displaced. Floating well above what’s normal. Spell bound by smiles no face would be ashamed to grace.
Queen Martina many hands finding this first experience with a marijuana wielding monkey quite enjoyable. Is dancing a jig. While I’m content whistling a tune. Floating on a cloud of lazy hopes & dreams. Digging this gig.
I’d heard there exists such a pleasing and pampering place. But not until my imagination replaced reality as hero of the day. Had I felt something as pleasurable as napping in a pile of hot laundry. Mesh & Lace.
Puff Pass & Prose.
"Hey Martina you alright? Your white as a ghost.
"Indubitable this is good shit for brains. You American bastards are the most generous of hosts. But I’ve only been in town one night. And it’s obvious to me. Things round here go much better for me if I turned myself white"
OAQ Charm Offensive Falls Flat as Killings Continue
OAQ was widely derided by right-wing media, both by those who disagreed with her progressive policies and those who had lost loved ones and even pets due to her voracious appetite.
“Its not like I eat children...all that often,” she said in a disaster of a 60 Minutes interview. At the end the camera crew and their assistants had to run for their lives and yet there was poor old Tom. Tom Jenkins was a sound technician who thankfully didn’t have a family. He will be missed.
When asked for a comment about the incident, OAQ didn’t help matters any when she said, “Well everyone needs to die someday, am I right?”
But deep down OAQ is lonely. She never intended to crash land on earth after her spaceship suffered a hull breach, but now she’s here, running an underground repair facility teeming with workers who are working tirelessly to repair her ship. These workers have been known to work non-stop without food, water or rest until they fall over dead and burst into flames. Authorities have been dismissive so far about allegations that OAQ is injecting innocent workers with a venom that turns them into exploding zombies. And fueling the speculation is the fact that many of the investigators involved have been strangely silent, and some have disappeared altogether.
Today OAQ is sponsoring a bring your child to work day at the repair facility. According to the press release on her official website, she believes that young people should be an integral part of a healthy and balanced workforce.
Anomaly: the fourth chapter
Deke Jones led his guest into his office. It wasn’t until he saw Esme and Roman that he remembered he had left his wife, Rosemary, in Chō Morishita’s office. Events of this bizarre day were unfolding so quickly, Deke was struggling to keep track.
Roman appeared to have calmed down since seeing William Bradshaw vanish in an instant, but he still looked pale and shaken. Esme’s eyes widened when she saw Deke’s escort, and Deke knew she had immediately recognised him as the prime suspect in the recent murder spree.
Before she could react, Deke informed her: ‘This is Vaughn Lynton. He came into the university because he saw Marika.’
‘How…’ Esme started. Deke understood why she did not finish the question.
It was useless to ask how this man, whom they had never met before, could see the spirit of a woman who had never existed in this world. The question may be impossible to answer, but his presence might help them understand why Deke and Roman were the only other people to remember the receptionist and to have seen her ghost.
‘Can you please go to Chō’s office and bring her and Rosemary here?’ Deke asked Esme. His colleague nodded and left without a word. The more minds they had working on this conundrum, the better their chances of finding an explanation.
Directing Vaughn to a chair, Deke filled him in with the morning’s strangeness, telling him how he had first seen Marika’s spirit when he had entered the university and later discovered that Roman could also see the ghost. He added than both he and Roman remembered Marika as a living person who had worked in the reception for the past few years but that everyone else seemed to think Gareth had been there the whole time.
Deke purposefully left out the fact that he recalled his wife’s death a week earlier but had awoken that morning to her beside him, alive and unharmed. One impossibility at a time, he thought.
‘I suspect,’ Deke said, ‘that you share the same memories of the past as Roman and me. I’d like to ask you some questions to see if we can prove that.’
For all the oddness of the story, Vaughn seemed to accept it readily.
‘I just want to know why everything’s different,’ he said with a sense of desperation. ‘And why I’m suspected of murder. I’ll do anything if you can end this nightmare.’
Remembering Bradshaw’s plan, Deke switched on his computer and loaded up a news site. The first story to fill the screen was the recent murders. The photofit image rotated slowly, an uncanny copy of the man in front of him.
‘I didn’t do it,’ Vaughn said. ‘I didn’t do any of it. Why would they lie?’
‘These deaths didn’t occur in the past I remember,’ Deke told him. ‘If you and I come from the same place, I believe you.’
Moving through the website, Deke pulled up an item covering the aftermath of the tsunami that had devastated southern California ten days ago.
‘Do you remember this happening?’
‘Yes, it was dreadful,’ Vaughn answered. ‘Do you think this has anything to do with us?’
‘I remember that,’ Roman said quietly. He seemed to be recovering quickly, ready to join the discussions again.
‘So do I,’ Deke said. ‘At least that confirms we all remember similar things.’
The next news article reported how the Welsh government had been rocked by the sudden resignation of the Prif Weinidog on Wednesday. Cerridwen Owens, leader of Plaid Genedlaetholgar Gymreig, had decided to stand down following the recent scandal her husband had been embroiled in.
‘Cerridwen Owens was never Prime Minister,’ Vaughn said.
‘Not in my past, either,’ Deke agreed. ‘Roman?’
‘I don’t follow politics,’ Roman said, ‘but I’m sure I would have remembered such a major story.’
‘How about this?’ Deke asked, moving to a report on the children’s novels which had recently been deemed as unsuitable for modern times. The works of Enid Blyton and Lewis Carol were destined to follow Grimm’s and Hans Christian Anderson’s.
‘Bigoted tripe,’ Vaughn said. While Deke was not sure if he was referring to the last century’s authors or the media’s claim that their stories were sexist, racist and classist, he understood that Vaughn remembered the ongoing debate.
‘It seems that, whatever has occurred,’ Deke said with growing confidence ‘the three of us-’
He stopped when the text on the holoscreen was replaced by a video. Large, red words scrolling across the bottom of the screen declared BREAKING NEWS. The grainy image displayed a starfield, a vague sense of movement near the centre.
‘…live pictures from the International Space Station,’ a commentator announced, ‘showing the approaching object, first thought to be a previously undiscovered comet. Spokespeople for the ESA and CNSA have yet to comment, but an early statement from Roscosmos reveals that the Russian government believe this to be an envoy from intelligent life in the galaxy.’
The item in the middle of the picture grew steadily larger is it travelled nearer to Earth. To Deke, it resembled a silver teardrop. The trajectory changed and the camera moved fluidly to keep the mysterious craft in frame.
‘It appears to have changed course for the third time now,’ the news reporter continued, ‘which some believe is a sign that the object is being controlled by a sentient being. Estimations say the object will now enter our atmosphere somewhere over northern Europe.’
Deke stared in fascination at the screen. Ever since he had been a boy, he had wondered if intelligent life existed elsewhere in the universe. Why did they have to choose today of all days to finally show up? Or maybe they could only arrive in this reality, he thought. Perhaps back in my world, when last week had seven days and my wife was waiting to be put in the ground, this UFO would never have come.
The craft slowed as it entered the stratosphere and turned until its wider end was facing the planet. Beside the image being broadcast from the ISS, a second picture appeared on the holoscreen, taken from a drone high up in the sky beneath the interstellar mystery. A powerful zoom focused on the object, showing the transformation it was undergoing.
In a movement which Deke could only describe as ‘melting’, a small piece of the craft broke away and plummeted down. The ISS video showed the teardrop-shaped craft meld into a conical tube, the narrow end pointing into space, while the drone footage followed the descending piece. As it dropped through the atmosphere, it became clear that this part was ring-shaped. It hurtled through the sky at an incredible speed. The drone worked hard to keep up, often losing its quarry from frame for a half-second.
Eventually, somewhere over the North Sea, the ring slowed and the drone was able to catch up. The craft flew at a steady altitude for several hundred miles then suddenly veered down. As the drone’s camera followed the descent, Deke saw buildings in the object’s path. Though shot from an unusual angle, he recognised the area.
‘Oh my God,’ Roman yelled. ‘That’s the university.’
On the video shot from the pursuing drone, they watched the ring-shaped craft drop closer to the building they were in. It slowed as it drew closer, and turned to its left. It seemed to be being drawn, or directed, to a specific location.
Deke felt his stomach churn and his throat go dry. Vaughn made a wordless noise and pointed to the window.
Outside, the object was moving directly toward them. Though it was now travelling at a much slower speed, perhaps a jogging pace, it did not stop as it approached the glass.
Too awestruck to cover his face, Deke watched as the craft entered the office. It did not burst through the window, did not cause damage or destruction. Instead, with movement that was difficult to focus on, it passed through the glass.
Deke knew it was not possible for two solid bodies to cross paths without at least one of the bodies yielding. He also knew that all solid matter was made of atoms and that the distance between the atoms, though infinitesimally small, was more than large enough for a number of atoms to fill. Could it be that this alien technology had entered the building by slipping through the atomic gaps?
The ring hovered in the middle of the office, rotating slowly in silence. Close up, it appeared to be constructed of a smooth, white material. Stranges markings around the circumference glowed a deep green. Through the centre of the ring, a circle about four feet in width, the background shimmered like the air over a fire.
Roman, closest of the men to the object, emitted a gargled cry and drifted closer to it. Then Vaughn, though his limbs remained rigid, moved forward. Deke took an involuntary step backwards, but it was no good. He felt himself being pulled toward the ring. Some invisible force was dragging the three of them toward the floating artefact.
Being the furthest away, Deke watched as Roman was pulled through the centre of the ring – but did not appear from the other side. When Vaughn followed suit and also vanished, Deke knew his fate. His thoughts turned to Rosemary as he felt himself lifted from the floor.
And then things turned weird.
Deke found himself underwater. Panic filled his brain as he realised he may drown. He looked around frantically but could not see the surface. The only sense of direction he had came from the taste of the ground below him.
Movement a small way ahead of him caught his attention and he stared in horror as a terrifying beast lifted itself up. A bulbous sac rose above two bulging eyes. Where there should have been a nose and a mouth, the monster split into multiple strips of equal length. It stood on these eight appendages, lifting and flexing them in a seemingly random pattern. Somehow, Deke knew the creature meant no harm.
Around him he saw two smaller specimens of the thing before him.
He wanted to ask where he was, but of course could not speak being underwater. In his field of vision, he saw two tentacles, much closer than those attached to the beast before him, raise and move.
The beast responded, curving its arms and contracting its head. Deke fathomed that he was on the home planet of this creature, a being he was to call Queen.
How can I call you Queen, Deke thought, when I can’t even breathe?
The closer tentacles – there were more of then he now saw – moved again and Deke felt his own head change shape. He wondered if the feeling was a symptom of drowning.
Queen moved again, lowering her body, extending three arms, rising again and changing the colour of her skin. Deke understood that his consciousness had been transmitted across space into the body of a host octopus so that Queen could have this audience with him.
Looking down at the tentacles near him, Deke realised they were attached to his body. No, not his body – the body of a cephalopod. He was looking at the world, an alien world, through the eyes of another living entity.
Queen changed colour again, waggled more arms. You will be returned.
What do you want from me? Deke thought. The tentacles of the body he currently occupied flurried as the question was conveyed to Queen.
I’m communicating with an alien, Deke realised. His tentacles flexed and moved. No, don’t communicate that. More movement from his host’s body.
Queen’s head expanded, contracted, limbs flipped about. You were summoned to explain why you have stolen time.
One of the smaller octopuses waggled its arms. We haven’t stolen time.
The past is fractured, Queen relayed.
We know, Deke ‘said’, but we don’t know why. Or how.
Through movement and several changes of hue, Queen said, Three of my subjects have reported a different history to that which the rest of us recall. Our stargazers determined the source of the problem originated on your planet.
We contemplated the possibility of a dimensional collision, Deke’s host body told Queen.
An avenue our stargazers also considered until our historians proved the stolen time theory. Segments of the past are disappearing, altering the present.
Altering the present for some, the smaller octopus said, not all. Why are we, and those subjects of yours, not affected?
We had hoped you could explain.
The smaller octopus raised the top of two tentacles, close to where they attached to the head. It seemed that a shrug was a universal gesture.
You must discover this thief, Queen said, and stop them before they steal all our pasts.
Your technology is far superior to ours, Deke said. Surely you are more suited to this task.
The miscreant is from your world. My subjects do not fare well on alien land. I will permit their consciousness to join you, to ensure my command is completed.
Queen lifted herself from the seabed, and prepared to swim away. Before she left, she gave one final message:
It is not only our pasts at risk. You must stop the thief before they steal the time in which the universe began.