Grey

The sepia images flash across my mind of warm summer days and Julia playing in the grass. Summer holidays on the sands of Weymouth and icecreams and play.
Hearing a tone I stand up and draw my thin grey dress about me. My long black hair is scruffy and matted, hanging down like an old curtain or rag. Leaving the room barefoot I pad across the hard floor, the tough skin on my feet slapping against the surface. A tall rail follows along the left, cold grey metal. Practical not beautiful. On the right the wall is a battleship grey and the floor has a plastic-coated shine.
Descending the stairs, which quake under my feet, I reach the lower landing. More grey walls, more grey floors. I remember the springy green grass and vibrant blue sky. A backlit sign indicates the canteen. The glass-paned doors are already open. The interior is whitewashed but manages to be cast in a sickly green sunlight. The basic uncomfortable chairs cast long shadows on the floor.
I shuffle up to the counter where a surly-faced caterer doles out a weak soup onto cracked plastic trays, stained by repeated use. The substance is roughly ladled out to my tray, splashing my dress. A solid thing is then deposited onto the next section to the soup. It may have once been bread. Possibly a vegetable. I ate it anyway, not so much for the taste as there was none but for the activity. At least it keeps my mind off things if only briefly.
Leaving my tray on the rack I wander out of the canteen. The main atrium is lit by shafts of natural light from tall slot-like windows high up near the ceiling. The light is a cold blue-grey. The main doors are wedged open allowing access to the yard. The sky is the usual grey wash with a stagnant heat. Not a single breath of breeze disturbs the stillness. People stand about silently, hanging there like wraiths in their drab grey clothes, eyes glazed. I stand by a group staring blankly at the unpainted breeze block wall.
The air hangs thick and silent, only a muffled muttering can be heard. The lights swivel automatically from the nearest guard tower far above. In time the muttering ceases and the people troop back inside the compound. Noone rushes, noone speaks. Every movement is mechanical.
I’m walking mindlessly back to my room. But then something changes. I feel a pull, something calling to me. I divert from my path, instead walking down another corridor. This corridor is nondescript and decorated like the rest but I know it’s one I’ve never been down before. It’s off the prescribed route. My mind is starting to slowly unfog. My eyes focus.
Leaving the light of the connecting corridors the unlit corridor in in half light. My pupils expand to compensate for this change. I start when I spot a camera up on the wall but it is off, the wires and circuits have been torn out. They hang outside the case. In the darkness I don’t notice long claw marks on the camera case.
Shuffling further still I glimpse a light at the end of the corridor. A pure white light unlike the artificial lights or natural light. Something different, something new. As I grow closer the light is blinding. The light is coming from a sort of doorway of blinding white light. Strange tendrils of light wave and convulse around the unnaturally precise block of light.
Tink tink tink. A guard walks by each cell dragging her portable ‘walkie talkie’ along the wall and barred windows of the cells in boredom. She doesn’t even bother to tick them off, they’ll all be there. They’re always there. Nothing changes, not ever.
In her boredom she almost misses the only change in years. One of the cells is empty. Fiddling with the keys in her hurry she opens the cell door. Nobody’s there. The room is too basic for hiding places. She checks under the bed anyway. The wall is also sound. She swings round and looks outside. A long row of doors stretching into the distance in either direction. She slams the cell door and pulls on a handle fixed to the wall. Speaking into the grill she informs security. One is missing.
I walk into the glowing doorway. Light fills my senses. I shut my eyes. I feel cool, clean air. With my eyes shut I taste it on my tongue. Fresh with a hint of moisture. The view immediately ahead of me can be predominantly be described as green. Tall green shoots reach up to the sky. Giant blades of grass. Looking up I see an infinite bright blue with a bright spot of sun, impossible to look at. Strange oval red-brown fruits stand atop some shoots like hats.
I jump up and grab a fruit. It glistens with dew. I sniff it, the smell sweet. Cautiously I nibble at it. The taste hits me in an instant. Fresh and sweet and juicy. In a moment I’ve finished the fruit, the juice dribbling down my chin. I laugh, the sound strange and alien to me. Continuing I pass massive colourful flowers, fire orange, purple, blue. The colours seem to burst in my vision.
The giant flowers sway in a gentle breeze. In the distance I hear a buzzing, a loud angry sound at contrast to this peace. After a time a large black thing comes into view in the distance, hovering in the air. As it nears its ugly body becomes visible. Large and black and hairy and round with twig-like legs on its body. Two sets of wings protrude from the beast’s body, beating so fast that they are visible as only a blur. Bzzzzzz! the creature approaches me. Instinct tells me to back away slowly. The thing’s bulbous eyes scan the environment. I freeze.
Zzzzzzzz the creature descends to the ground with a soft fumph. It opens what is probably a mouth and a long tongue snakes out. It moves around independently as if its another being altogether that just happened to be attached. It roves across the ground, tasting it. It’s then that I realise, it’s just a bug. An ordinary insect only big and essentially harmless if unpleasing to the eye. Without any pupils as such it’s hard to tell what the bug is looking at but I get the feeling that it’s staring at me.
I let out a breath as it ascends once more but yelp when it snatches me up and carries me like live cargo. The ground rapidly speeds away from me leaving me hanging from this insect in the sky. I know if it loses its grip I’ll probably fall and die. We glide over the terrain, over flowers and grass and other strange spiky plants. Here are there there are clearings which appear artificial in nature and I wonder if there are other humans residing here.
Looking down makes me dizzy so I decide to look ahead instead. Miles and miles of cloudless sky stretching on forever without a building or tree to disturb it. In time the scenery changes. Large clear areas of dirt followed by tall black-brown imperfect spires illuminated with tiny dots of light. As we go closer I realise that these spires are massive, like insect versions of skyscrapers built from what appeared to be some concoction of dried mud. My history lessons came to mind, wattle and daub essentially mud houses built by humans hundreds or thousands of years ago.
The lights were coming from holes, doorways of a sort. We flew in through one of these high up on the spire and the insect dropped me onto the mud floor and landed a short distance away. I lie where I was for a moment, resting. My arms ache from being carried with my weight on them. The insect is stationary, resting, in a dark corner.
Standing up I look around. I am in what could be described as a room with light leaking in through the entrance. The walls, floors and ceiling are constructed of this dried mud inset with rocks and sticks to fortify them. Cautiously I stamp on the ground experimentally. It is solid enough. The insect awakes, I could feel it eyeing me. However it doesn’t move. I walk out through another interior arch. It was wide, being designed to fit the large insects; I presume by the insects themselves.

Stepping outside the room I am in another chamber. I’m starting to get a feeling of deja vu. The insect makes no attempts to stop me. It is more like a taxi when the journey is complete.

Looking to my left I see the light source in the room. A strange globe-like plant is attached to the wall by roots. It clings like ivy to the mud wall and the bulb is yellow-orange casting a yellow glow. The roots are thin and brown. Randomly walking left through a door arch I can hear a noise permeating through the wall, a loud buzzing. Following the sound for no particular reason it gets louder as a pass through another chamber and eventually out into a large atrium spanning the height of the bug-tower I’m in. It is full of a cacophony of buzzing as hundreds bugs fly about from chamber to chamber crossing the vast open cylindrical space. It’s like the equivalent to cars at rush hour, except flying. With the numerous doorway holes in a more or less uniform order reminds me of a Roman colosseum from my trip to Rome years ago. The interior is lit with more bulb-plants at regular intervals.

Lacking the ability to fly, I walk carefully over a narrow ledge skirting the circumference of the atrium. The bugs seem largely oblivious to my presence and I feel it’s for the best not to draw too much attention. They may be basically flies but I’m in their world now and they are quite a lot bigger than I. Watching the activity more carefully I notice a number of the bugs are carrying what I assume to be balls of mud a shade darker than the hardened mud around me. Perhaps they are building or repairing the structure. Seeing as there is no way for me to climb up the structure this way to see what is happening I decide to head back through the chambers and see if I can find another way up. A few minutes of exploring leads me to chambers sloped upwards possibly giving me an alternative route up. Supporting myself by holding onto the walls I walk-climb up the sloped ground, stopping occasionally to rest against a sturdy wall. At one point I reach an external chamber and get a whiff of fresh air, as opposed to the smell of mud and bugs. Looking out I can see the other bug-towers fading into the distance and then the grass-forest begins again fading to blue sky.

Continuing on my journey at length I reach the apex of the bug-tower. Here an open-roofed area has largely collapsed and bugs are bringing in fresh clay and pressing it into shape to form the new structure. Piece by piece the roof starts to come to form. I watch the process for a bit. Eventually, growing bored, I move back out to the centre and atrium. One of the bugs flies up and towards me and I step back a bit but then I guess it’s my bug, the one who took me here. It picks me up with a yelp like a lost doll and carries me downwards to the floor of the atrium. I see a large pile of fruit and other foods taken from the surrounding forest being rapidly consumed by the horde of bugs. Cautiously I take one, the size of a grapefruit in my hands. Seeing no negative reaction I bite into it. The flavour is juicy and sweet and tangy. I spit out the seeds. A little more bravely I take another. Juice dribbles down my chin, I can’t help but grin.

Following this I once more wander the chambers of the bug-tower. In some bugs are resting or sleeping in plant-lined alcoves in the wall. The resting eyes me warily but since I do not pose an obvious threat they ignore me. Although at first all the bugs looked the same to me, over time I start to be able to identify differences between individuals, and even family groupings. Here and there I see juvenile bugs, about the size of me. They hang around what I assume to be their mother and generally stay away from this stranger. I pass bugs in my travels sometimes but they pay me no more heed than the architecture. At length I grow physically and mentally tired trekking through endless near-identical chambers, my feet occasionally stubbing painfully on irregularities in the floor. It feels little different to my prison walks only pale brown rather than grey. At length my bug finds me and picks me up once more and I decide to go limp like a carried kitten as it carries me off.

We travel to another bed-chamber with an alcove and the bug drops me off on the floor. I yawn involuntarily. The bug kindly allows me to take its ‘bed’ in the alcove while it sleeps on the floor. After all the crazy new environment I think I’ll never get to sleep but it isn’t long before the weariness gets hold of me…

I’m awoken around I’m not sure what time by muffled booms from above. Shaking off the sleep I carefully climb out of the alcove. My bug has already gone. Somehow I’m able to get towards the atrium and look out. Loud booms can be heard from the roof and pieces of dried mud fall from the slightly domed ceiling of the atrium. The whole structure shakes slightly from the impact of whatever it is that it attacking. A louder boom and deafening crash. A rock the size of a small house (to me) plummets through the ceiling and smashes destructively to the floor. I assume it’s like a large cannonball in equivalent. I think back to school where we were taught about World War II and the air raid bombings in London. Is this something similar. Are the bugs at war with something else? What else exists in this strange place?

At length the booms finally fall silent and I must have fallen asleep. I had the Dream
 ✤
In the Cell you don’t have dreams. Dreams can be memories and memories are dangerous apparently. Remembering before, before you arrived at this dreadful place. Remembering the very reason they had to lock you away. To protect themselves, to shield the population from the truth.
A cornerstone of a dictatorship is suppressing all alternatives until the population become incapable of remembering or knowing any alternative.
A population without this knowledge means a population not only incapable of rebellion but one resistant to it. In any situation people are naturally defensive of their existing world-view and personal perspective. The bigger the change the greater the resistance to it. Now imagine it you could synthesise such a scenario where your system becomes normality and no alternatives can be envisioned. If you do this for long enough those who remember before will be incapable of informing their descendants at threat of death. Generations later the past will be forgotten, buried under the rhetoric of this apparent utopia. But perhaps, in the great furnaces in which hundreds of years of knowledge were thrown, some escaped the ovens. Hidden or stolen. Buried underground in long forgotten vaults, remnants of old wars and government spies long fallen. What if some of the people had accessed these vaults, uncovered the truth. Made plans.
I was one of these people. Privy to forgotten truths I was amongst those planning to overthrow the long reign of our dictators. The problem is I was discovered.
Morning comes I assume. My friend is back. It lowers itself and I climb onto its back wordlessly. With a buzz of wings it takes off, flying out of the building. I may not be totally familiar with the architecture of their ‘city’ but it’s quite evident the scale of destruction. Many of the towers have shattered spires and large chunks of the structure missing. The irregular but distinctively pyramid-shaped caps are gone, smashed rubble of dried dirt. There are dead bugs everywhere scattered on the ground and structures.
They may be basically giant bugs, in an alien world of spires of mud but I had grown to like them. To feel connected in a way I had not to any in many years of imprisonment. Naturally my experiences before had made me cautious about trusting but I could feel the destruction, the deaths. It felt, wrong.

General Space Standards (GSS)

When the first colonies established permanent bases and trade routes on Mars, the Moon, and Nuctran, the first if less obvious issue was not one of life support, nor food and water. Such things had already been planned on Earth and utilised on the small Moon base for many years and thus all bugs should have been resolved. No, it was an issue of measurement. Locations on Earth had already long been established with a planet-wide adopted system of measurement*. Add the issue of being no strict up or down in space. It also had to factor in 3 dimensions of travel as opposed to two.

Simply translating Earth measures such as kilometres or miles was not considered acceptable by (non-human) trade partners as was considered bias, especially as not all species used mathematics in the way humans did. If one ship was adjacent to another ship and both were not in range of planetary gravity then which could be described as below which? Is they were equidistant to two planets then both could be described as below. Or were they side by side? Such matters were important to prevent collisions especially when there was a fair bit of trade traffic that could risk mid-space collision. Some species in the trade group, Ca‘frinians, suggested measurements based on elements that were familiar to them. For example, a small unit of measure as 1 bezelfly or 1bz. The So’tal objected given the bezelflies did not exist on their planet (too cold) thus having a unit of measure based on something they had never seen was considered bias. The So’tal suggested the footprints of W’ala (like a snow bear) as a reference for distance but this had the same protest from other members of the trade group. Producing a piece of metal of random length was suggested and then halving it for smaller measures, doubling for larger. However it was argued that slight variances in the end thickness could create an unreliable measure. The arguments progressed for about half an (Earth) hour with various moons, the size and pace of various animals and insects, the space between asteroids, the size of various fruits and grains but the issue that these could vary slightly and weren’t universally consumed.

The arguments were becomingly increasingly aggressive with various insults pertaining to the quality of the other’s parentage or the desire that siblings be consumed by large predators, when the human representatives, who had remained largely silent during the meeting, stepped in. Instead of measuring based on objects only occurrent on certain planets, they suggested, instead base the measure on the size of an atom. Obviously only specialised equipment could measure an atom and that scale was quite useless for trades but a Quandron (like a computer) could calculate the size of an atom then keep multiplying them precisely until the smallest useful measure could be obtained. From there it was simply a matter of multiplying the measure (using the Quandron) to volumes required or dividing as small as needed. It did not have a planet-specific bias and the Quandron technology was a composite of the advances of multiple worlds so the machine itself could be not considered a planet-specific bias.

The smallest measure commonly used was 1at (to use human term). This was not actually 1 atom but several billion atoms however since the system was (again, human English version) Atomic the ‘at’ was used. Atomic was part of General Space Standards (GSS), a system of measures designed to ensure reliable trade could be established between worlds with a consistent rule as to volume and distance.

*Species on other planets would be quick to complain about the phrase 'universal' being applied to features exclusively on Earth and thus not the universe as a whole

Normality?

What is normality?

This becomes the key question when reality redefines itself on a regular basis. For example, when the birds started turning into spoons on Tuesday. So far they haven’t reverted back to feathered form to the disappointment of bird-watchers. Hounslow had a problem with 40ft frogs for some reason last week. I think they were taken to London Zoo.

A schoolteacher reported last Friday that all the class textbooks attempted to fly out the window. The flying books are trending on Twitter now. A woman reported her pet bird had started replying in perfect English and appeared to think he was an accountant from Wales.

The cause of this randomness was a wizard. If it wasn’t obvious, a not very good wizard. In fact, an outstandingly bad but unknowingly powerful one. The issue is, it isn’t just a matter of strong or weak magical ability as being able to control it. A car could have a perfectly good engine, fuel efficiency, and handling, but would not be of much use on domestic roads if it refuses to travel at any speed below 140mph.

Fragments of the Future

Disclaimer: Where company names and URLs (ignore, just for realism) are given, these are just part of the fantasy.

I received an email from an old friend at Princeton, Professor Marius Berburn. We had last been in contact about a year ago then he went dark. For most people I would consider that deliberate but this wasn’t unlike him. It wasn’t that he intended to be cold to anyone, he wasn’t. Just he was very, focused. If it were not for his assistant I think he would forget to eat.

Dear Winson,
I did it! Sorry it has been a while since my last contact. I was working on the project and didn’t want to reveal the results prematurely in case it went wrong. So, first thing, time travel in the intended sense is not possible. If you were to move a person forward in time the future would just get a pile of bones, or dust. Going back in time… you don’t want to know. Safe to say it would be unpleasant and the person would not survive the trip.That out of the way, that doesn’t mean it’s all over. Organics (people, animals, plants) can’t be sent but data doesn’t age. I’ve been able to collect data from the future. Usually text. Now, this isn’t an exact science, it’s like trying to catch small fish using a ladle. Mostly I caught fragments, sometimes garbled, few complete. Regardless, data from the future! What could we learn I wonder?Yours,
Professor Marius Berburn

The following is what he found.


ANX-2500 Service Droid Instructions

Thank you for your purchase of your ANX-2500 Service Droid from Sanfire Systems.

Before you begin, ensure the Droid is not connected to mains power for your safety.

Please ensure this box contains the following components:

  • ANX-2500 service droid
  • Remote control
  • Charging cable with power adaptor
  • Instruction manual (this)
  • Warranty document
  • STX wrench
  • CL-2 Battery
  • USB cord

Glossary:

Droid refers to the ANX-2500 Service Droid

Hatch refers to hinged covers on the Droid covering charging ports and service panels.

Set up:

Remove all packaging from the Droid and use the STX wrench to open battery panel (F). Remove CL-2 battery from package and remove all coverings. Install as shown in diagram. Hold the sides of the battery and do not touch the contacts.

Open hatch (C) and connect charging cable (E) to charging port (D). Connect to the mains power. The Droid may take up to an hour to fully charge. The status light (B) will display orange when charging and green when fully charged. Additionally, a radial display of bars (fig. 2) will show while charging to display charge level. When fully charged, all bars will be illuminated.

It is recommended to fully charge the Droid on first use.

When the unit is fully charged, press and hold the power button (H) to activate the Droid. This is a safety feature to prevent accidental activation. Upon activation, the Droid will play the startup tone. The Droid features third generation redShift® wireless connectivity. This allows the Droid to be remotely programmed. However, they also feature a USB cord for wired connection to computers. The USB port is located above the charging port in hatch C.

The ANX series piloting software can be found at https://www.sanfiresystems.og/anx/downloads/

Install the ANX Piloting Software for your operating system to program your Droid. A digital edition of this manual along with a guide for the Piloting Software and driver updates can be found on this page.

The ANX-2500 has a maximum lifting capacity of 75kg. Do not exceed.

Maintaining Droid

Complex repairs must be performed by a qualified technician.

Press the power button three times to switch to Maintainence Mode. Status light will blink orange while in Maintainence Mode. Standard operations will be disabled while in Maintainence Mode but non-kinetic functions will still be available.

Safety ⚠

When lifting heavy objects, ensure no persons are beneath the object

Do not attempt to exceed the 75kg lifting weight limit. Doing so will risk damaging the NX-2500 and risk dropping object

Do not direct Droid to carry objects wider than 4 metres

Do not attempt to obstruct or remove safety features installed in the Droid

Maintainance must be performed by a qualified technician

Do not access the service hatch while Droid is charging

Do not perform maintainance on Droid while in Normal mode. Instead use Service Mode or when unit is turned off

Do not use Droid underwater or in excessively damp areas. The ANX-2500 is not waterproof

The Droid is not a toy. Keep away from children


Multidimensional property

Owning multidimensional property is a matter of engineering. In the way a water bus must both adapt for the water and road, the property must be adapted for a multitude of scenarios it appears in.

For example a hotel in mainly a bricks, concrete and glass construction in one reality. However in another it’s subaquatic so must deal with water pressure and air transfer. The space variant is similar only without the pressure. One is basically an aquarium. One reality is, for want of a better word, Hellish so the hotel must be built to withstand a variety of natural hazards like lava.

The obvious question is why bother with purchasing a multidimensional plot in the first place? The answer is it’s cheaper than buying multiple properties in the same dimension in the long run. You only pay tax for 1 dimension but can earn from all of them if you play your cards right.

A Walk on Another World

I am walking on a rise, the ground is soft under foot like walking on a bed. It resembles a bathroom sponge more closely than soil and gives my steps an involuntary sligth bounce. In places there are a covering of watercress-like plants with tiny blue and purple leaves. I do not see any trees but there are a scattering of shrubs around the height of a rosebush. The closest resemblance is perhaps a caulliflower though more twisted. Looking closer they have some branches which spiral to make a rough helix shape, I am unsure why. I nearly trip over a pitcher plant hiding near the base. Some of these shrubs bear some kind of fruit, yellow in colour, about the size of a satsuma, and the shape of a rugby ball with a black dot at at the apex.

There are tall translucent winding pillars, natural or constructed I cannot tell, I touch one and even through my thick gloves I can feel a strong vibration, I’m temporarily overwhelmed with a sensation of dizziness and decide not to repeat that action. The pillars embedded deeply in the land reach beyond my field of vision. The sky resembles reflections on a pond, it is akin to being in a vast glass ball though I cannot see space beyond. It shimmers with a certain ethreal beauty in shades of aquamarine to mediterraian blue. There is a sort of drifting fog everywhere, chiefly floating plant seeds, which obscures distant vision

A small black and white creature around the size of a house cat hops out of one of the shrubs. It resembles a lemur with large, gold-rimmed eyes. It has black or grey fur with a fluffy white chest. Its rear legs are larger like a rabbit. It chirrups and stares at me curiously. It has large soft floppy ears which it twitch like a rabbit. It is holding a fruit using its tail with impressive precision, like an extra hand. Although it does not approach it appears unafraid of my presence, just curious. I silently photograph the creature (no flash as might alarm it). The creature proceeds to peel the fruit like an orange and eat the flesh inside, then discards the peel. I might collect the peel for botanical analysis when I get the opportunity. A distant bellowing roar scares the creature and it scampers off into denser brush. I walk forward and collect peel with metal tongs from my pack, adding it to a sample canister for analysis at the ship.

The rise ends in a cliff edge overlooking a valley below where the roar may be emenated. Although the ‘lemur’ may have been harmless enough I suspect whatever made that sound is less friendly. I ready my energy rifle. I don’t want to use it, I am here for research not to kill anything, but it may become necessary to defend myself. I contact the ship’s AI (SHIRL) and request a heatmap of the area. The ship in orbit does a scan and sends the data to my wrist display. There are a number of heat signatures below, some moving others largely stationary. There is no way to know what are dangerous. I have an emergency button for SHIRL to pick me up should I be in danger though this will only work above ground, if I was to enter a cave I would be on my own.

I plan to descend down to the valley. I can just make out something shimmering through the fog that could be a lake, the issue is how to get down. The cliff edge is too sheer to walk down but I am unsure how well my climbing tools will be suited to this terrain. I experimentally strike a grapple into the ‘rock’ , it holds. The rock is not as spongey as the soil but more of a firm rubber. I would rather not use the ship at in-atmosphere travel is fuel-costly for spacecraft.

The environment is so springy I wonder if I fall would I bounce? I’m not willing to try. With the cable secured I carefully work my way down the cliff face. It isn’t too unlike cliff climbing on Earth. I notice various small holes in the face like rabbit holes. Could these be the homes of the ‘lemurs’? I can hear a buzzing noise.

One of my climbing hooks disturbs the soft rock on the edge of a hole and a swarm of ‘bees’ emerges from the hole and attacks me. I can’t move, suddenly my vision is full of bees! I don’t move a muscle, just hanging on heart pounding. I’m terrified. Thankfully my space suit is tough and after a few minutes the ‘bees’ retreat.

When the coast seems clear I quietly and slowly continue my descent, hoping I do not encounter any more hostiles. At length I reach the bottom and disconnect my climbing apparatus. I am on the edge of a dsnse jungle like those once existent on Earth. I can hear various animal calls like a descending shrill cry and a sound like knocking wood together. I enter the jungle.

(WIP)

Dust

Great mountains and piles of dust fill the volume, with a sprinkling of debris fragments. It clings to the pillowed walls in the dark and huddles in the corners. Not a single photon pierces the thick layer of dark.

A distant rumble of thunder audible through the pillowed walls. The silence is struck with an almighty roar and a buffet of dust joins the piles. The vacuum cleaner is turned on.

Alien Translation: The issues

Earth Humans have and have had numerous languages ranging from the most primitive grunts to floral descriptions of feelings, places, people, etc.

Translating Human written languages specifically requires understanding what their weird marks and scratches are intended to convey which is rarely obvious and as often must be noted within the context the word is used. For example if a human was to direct a “finger” at an illustration of a flying creature and print a circular form with a vertical line, a second vertical line with mark, a third with vertical arc, and finally a fourth which is confusingly flipped from the first one but totally different this would indicate they call this a “bird”.

But that is the simple part. The grammar is all over the place with few human dry areas, “countries”, willing to be consistent on word ordering rules. Then you have to figure out how this could be translated to Galactic Standard or a direct translation may fail completely.

For example, a translation of a set of directions given by a human may be translated as “left walk abbreviated light reach blood cease…”

This would leave any Galactic visitor thinking their translator is faulty and no clearer in reaching their destination.

A translator also has to factor in influences of what the humans are familiar/unfamiliar with. For example they have never left Earth to go as far as another populated planet and never encountered chichis on Monos Thrif nor consumed grob so a translation from Galactic Standard to their tasting organ would not make sense where they lack the same environment influences in the language.

To put it more simply, a species which has never seen water would have no words for it but would have multitudes of words for sand and rock.

Town of Waitingham

It started simply enough. A group of 10 people waited at a set of pedestrian traffic lights. However, the traffic continued to roar past day and night and the light were no closer to changing.

7-10 generations later the descendants of the original Watiers* had established a simple village at the side of the road, afraid to leave in case the lights suddenly changed. Then the lights changed and the descendants of the long-gone original Waiters were able to cross. However, many were skeptical whether they should cross and leave their homes behind. Thus the group split into those who chose to cross and those who remained. Upon locating their orignal home, based on aging maps, the mobile group approached the original houses. Unfortunately after decades of neglect the ancestral homes were falling to bits and overgrown. The mobile group tried to return to their newer settlement but found the road once again blocked their path making return impossible. Thus they were forced to settle this side of the road and the single new town became two, either side of the road.

It’s a shame that during the centuries the pedestrians had been waiting they were so afraid to abandon their position that they were oblivious to the pedestrian underpass installed only a few kilometres down just out of sight.

 

*Waiters, generation of people waiting at the traffic lights

An Alien’s Guide to Earth: Introduction

Greeting traveller! As you have selected this volume, we can assume you are interested in visiting that curious blue-green planet N21b or to use the name given by the most technologically advanced species “Earth”. Here we will explore various aspects of the habit and behaviour of the bipedal ‘human’ species (species cat.: 12J0a). The Curinal Council has decided not to reveal the existence of life on other planets to humans at this time thus all visitors must not only disguise themselves to physically resemble humans but must also understand the multitude of human behaviours.

Our reporters have performed the tentacle-work for you (for species who have such appendages) and discovered what we could about this strange species and their not always logical habits and behaviours. It is essential that all visitors are able to aclimatise themselves to human ‘society’ and thus covertly observe human behaviour or risk being recognised as not one of them so please read this guide thoroughly and refrain from behaviour which will draw their attention to you.

Signed S.K. Arbot

An Alien’s Guide to Earth: War

A forewarning to the visitor of a sensitive nature, this entry is most terrible but must be understood to truly comprehend this species.

When we last inspected ‘humanity’ approximately three thousand of their Earth “years” ago, it is important for visitors to Earth to become accustomed to their most common mesures of time, they appeared to be progressing technologically at anticipated pace. When we did a further inspection we found their progression seemed lacking relative to projected and attempted to assertain the reason for this delay. Could environmental factors be perhaps inhibiting their progression such as natural disasters? Although such a factor did exist it was not of sufficient volume or frequency to severely impact on the population numbers. Was it perhaps an issue of disease? For they had the misfortune of sharing their planet with a number of horrific diseases as we once did. Again, they seemed to be able to maintain their populations despite this issue. It was not intellect that held them back, it was not environment. So why was their progress stalled such?

After some research, primarily through their own words on compressed-tree units known as ‘books’, a primitive means of saving and sharing information via language, we found a possible answer. Of all the civisilised species we had encoutered, humans were the most aggressive, both to each other and other life. First it should be understood that humans are highly competitive and tribal, tribes became towns, towns became countries complete with it’s own brand, name, and laws. The exact dimensions of these areas of landmass were very heavily contested at points throughout their history and by contested I mean violently so. When conflict became so great they would formally declare what they called ‘war’.

During ‘war’ they would construct and utilise every possible means of maiming and killing the opposing side. First it was simply tree-fabric with sharpened metal (subterranean material) or stone attached to one end (they call “spears”) or pointed lengths of sharpened metal (‘swords’) they would use to mercilessly slash and hack and one another. Huge numbers of them would pour forth, hacking at one another until one side either gave up or there wasn’t enough of them left alive. It was, brutal, animalistic, savage. Later they would use propelled pieces of tiny metal to puncture each other from a distance (‘guns’), with the aim of disrupting crucial organs and resulting death. It was, quite upsetting.

The contrast between the benign civilised order and anarchy and bloodshed was difficult to comprehend, though may explain the slowing of progression. Instead of new forms of energy (they still burn liquid and solid fossils for energy) and travel, they expended their efforts on killing one another. I confess this entry is difficult to write, this discovery has shocked me to the core. I visited one of their memory-spaces they called ‘museums’, though they’re more basic than our version, relying primarily on retrieved objects and audio-visual content. The horrors I witnessed, recordings of ‘bombs’ falling, systematic murder, such hatred. I forewarn the reader, if you visit one of these ‘museum’s this may change your perspective on this species.