All entries for Saturday 17 January 2009
January 17, 2009
The University, in response to complaints from some of the professors and general staff, produced an official statement which spoke of cosmic brotherhood, shared knowledge between the galaxies, and the necessity of good diplomacy in order to avoid the possibility of interstellar conflict. The professors and general staff read this statement, and muttered to one another that it was definitely a question of the money and publicity the University would accrue with such exotic students.
The aliens said nothing; only repeated that they had come here to learn.
The next problem was the question of precisely what the aliens should be taught. The Department of Biochemistry made some enemies by suggesting that they take on the newcomers. Had Professor McGarrick considered, yelled the Deputy Head of Engineering, exactly what these creatures might do with a basic understanding of earth biochemistry? Supposing they used it to create a poisonous vapour which spread across the world and enslaved our species? (Professor McGarrick, slumping back in his chair, was heard to mutter something rather nasty about the Deputy Head of Engineering's basic understanding of anything.)
The deputation returned to the spaceship, a towering heap of lunacy perched on top of the student’s union, and asked if the aliens could be a little more specific.
The aliens said that they had come here to learn, and eventually the professors were able to draw up a detailed term schedule, comprised of all the major faculities- except for some which might have been considered too dangerous, complicated or treasonous.
Meanwhile, the student population was becoming restless. Someone was heard to mutter in the Varsity bar,
I wouldn’t mind them, you know, if they only fucking integrated.
One student reported, pale and shivery, that she’d wandered into their room unexpectedly and disturbed them making love, the inch-high male thrusting his curious head in and out of the stooping female’s ear. Others grumbled that the enormous female would be too tall to fit into the lecture theatres, ‘and it’s too much of a squash in those chairs as it is’. A malicious email circulated, to the effect that a great war was now raging on the aliens’ homeworld, and that the two exchange students who’d been sent there would almost certainly never be seen again.
The aliens, meanwhile, formed a student society, called BrellaSoc, where fans of umbrella-making or anyone interested in learning more about the process of umbrella-making could congregate and make umbrellas. Nobody attended, but the aliens sat in the Chaplaincy for an hour every Tuesday anyway. The female, her enormous arms trembling, snapped the metal rods together while the male danced back and forth across her shoulders, sewing up the waterproof skin with tiny dextrous fingers.
It was something of a relief for everyone concerned, four minutes into the first lecture (on the importance of Brecht as a means to understanding the cane toad) when the aliens stood up, gave a loud, decisive cry, and pitched over dead.
The lecturer made a quip about having never realised his lectures were that bad. He got a laugh.
The bodies were burnt, of course, and the spaceship (since nobody could figure out how to work it) was quietly integrated into the design of the new student’s union as a bold and exciting work of art.
Weird fiction task:
Sally’s still a bit jittery, so I make her a cup of camomile and chat with her for a few minutes before stepping back out into the darkened street. No kiss at the door though. Nothing at all. Her nerves have ruined the entire evening. A lone pair of lights dip down the road and past me. I watch them go. You can never be too certain about people out at this time of night.
My phone’s vibrating. It’s Sally.
-I just wanted to apologise, she says, about...
-About the cat?
-Yes, she says. The cat, of course. I just got the jitters.
I’m beginning to feel more sympathetic towards Sally. It’s almost endearing, in a way.
-I had fun, she says. Thank you for making sure I got home okay.
I stop walking.
-I’m going to have to call you back, I tell her, and hang up.
Someone was watching her after all.
Yes- it moves again. Something is drifting in the darkness beyond the theatre, beneath the overdrooping elm.
My hand tightens on my keys, the pincers jabbing into the flesh of my palm.
-Oi! I shout. Oi! Stop!
The corner to the alley is lit by a single street lamp. My feet are carrying me across the pavement. I crack my neck, letting the tendons strain. I hope he saw that. I’m past the theatre now. I turn the corner.
Strange. A little boy, no more than four or five, is crouching in the alley. He keeps whimpering, eyes on the pavement,
Didn’t mean to do it mister- he told me to do it- he told me to do it-
For one moment the damp yellow light is all I can make out. Then...
...oh, Jesus Christ, those eyes...
Something is treading high on stilt-like legs. For a second it shifts. When it shifts I can no longer see the stars.
All I can think is: it’s been waiting for me. Grey shapeless eyes.
I begin to back away, fast. It moves forward with me, scattering cans with those teeter-tottering legs. The lamp-glow flutters upon it for a moment. Its torso hangs wide open, as if torn by a gash across its middle, but instead of hearts and livers and organs there’s only a star-filled place. Scabbed ears toss in the wind. Those eyes.
The little boy is crying.
Didn’t mean to do it- he told me, he told me-
I must have tripped. The pavement lies cold beneath me. I can hear it breathe. Don’t open your eyes. Someone will come. I can hear it breathe. The little boy has stopped whimpering.
Something is slipping across my ankle, something wet and caressing. Like a tube, or a snout. It lingers upon my leg for a moment, and then moves on. It’s drifting beneath my shirt, across my naked belly.
It’s trying to find what makes me work, I think. It’s trying to figure out how to turn me off. The breathing seems to be getting more intense.
Too horrible. The tube is slinking over my throat. Keep your eyes and your mouth shut. Don’t let it into your head.
It’s found my nostrils. Jagged prongs are inching into the flesh of my nose. My phone is vibrating, useless, in the pocket of my jeans.