Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Intergalactic freedom fighting (with Beyoncé).

It was all an odd dream, absurd and vivid.

I was in my hometown. Visiting with family.

It happened all of a sudden, and within hours there seemed to be some kind of ground-war going on.

I would see people I knew but we were all just running for our lives, trying not to get killed. Eventually it became clear things were organised. People fought back. Small revolts. Eventual quiet.

It transitioned to people speaking for them, with guns and then with words.

It was explained to us, publicly, that this was all a misunderstanding.

They asked those left to gather. I did not.

I was sought out. They explained a second chance, if we went with them.

I interrupted, “I won’t forget.” I was so angry.

“Yes, we understand, but this is a new beginning, a second chance.”

People walked out. They gave up on understanding. What must have been intentional political gaming ended up making factions clear, and it all got worse.

Nobody could live lives anymore. Everything stopped. Some tried to help or to fight. To rally. They tried living human lives, in a world no longer ruled by humans.

Who was attacking us? Why?

People you saw one minute you’d never see again. Wisps of air took them away. There was violence but there was also quiet. So much quiet.

There was a day I didn’t see many people. The world felt baron and wrong and I moved brazenly. My life wasn’t anything anymore, I knew it fully. I would die today, and it would be over.

I saw others and they said to move away from this part of my hometown, it was no longer my hometown, it was a dangerous place. There was an odd ship, with odd sounds, and more would be coming.

I nodded, and as they left I walked towards their warnings.

An odd cube, an open door. I see someone gesticulating, talking, behind it I see footage of us. I shoot at it. A few come for me, and somehow they fall at my feet. Bullets and adrenaline.

I interrupted a broadcast I think. I walk into the cube and see myself. I called out their bullshit. Explained what it meant to those of us who had lived a free life. I am now gleefully a spoke in their wheel. It’s all I have. I speak volumes of nonsensical prose and dissidence. I laugh heartily and tell them they’re ruined souls. I weep and say I’ve loved and been loved and now everyone is dead.

I scream that I exist only to stand between them and whatever it is that they want.

***

The next days are flashes of memory and guesswork.

***

I woke up somewhere else.

Things were different. Bigger. Sharper. Brighter.

An odd shape moved towards me. It seemed familiar, but was still alien. It explained to me that I was a survivor, one of few. That my planet was no longer a planet, and that he human species was now made up of pockets of survivors.

How did I survive?

“You were taken?”

“Why?”

“Because you were recognised,” it speaks through an inhale.

That doesn’t make any sense.

I ask it to explain, and it shows me the cube of myself, flustered, manic, furious.

“Who are you?” I ask.

He makes a beautiful noise, then pauses, blinks, and repeats “Hike.”


***

The first time I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z it wasn't anything, really. There was a time I would have frozen, I would have tried to melt into a wall. Instead, here and now she was not an icon, she was a survivor. One of few.

I was introduced and they nodded to me in recognition. Where I once could have mentioned their work, their talent, I instead gave my condolences. My eyes welled. As did theirs.

I say I’m Kay, with my hand on my chest, and they introduce themselves. Jay says I can call him Shawn and I softly say, “Hi Shawn” while shaking his hand, we all become overwhelmed. Our hands rub backs and shoulders.

Hike once asked me if this was a customary greeting. I explained that it isn’t, and that I assume every other person is feeling what I’m feeling. He stares at me until I elaborate.

“Devastation,” I say slowly, eyes fixed to Hike’s my hand to my chest. “ We’ve lost everyone we’ve ever known or loved. We’re displaced and confused. We’re in perpetual fear. We remember everything we’ve lost, always, and it hurts.”

Hike often gets overwhelmed when I’m emotional. The glands and ripples on his dome undulate and his face twitches.

“I understand,” Hike will say.

He does not.

***

I had nothing but questions. I asked as much as I could, until I was no longer able and would pass out due to sheer overwhelming over-stimulation.

***

From what I could understand, it was some kind of network of species and planets. It seemed infinitely complicated. I could barely grasp the systems behind human politics. My cynicism was deep. Intergalactic government meant infinite spaces for corruption.

I was taken to meetings of sorts. I was introduced. I would meet being of all sorts, creatures that I would once have described as monsters or legend, now saw as bureaucrats and socialites.

I didn’t understand my place in it all. They often asked me about my people, and what I wanted. And when I would say I was just trying to understand as much as I could, they always seem to accept that.

***

The human I did see, I understood why they were saved. They were known. Special. Fantastic in some way. Exceptional.

I asked Hike why he brought me around. He said that they considered me sacred. I laughed and swore. This surprised Hike.
“You were kept because they see you and remember the human who refused to die.”

***

Hike also explains to me that he is considered some type of scientist. He seems well respected. He says those that destroyed humanity did so to save the planet. That they are a rash, arrogant species and that they are irritated some of us was saved. Taken on as pets, they say. Prideful, biggoted and power-hungry Hike refers to the species with derision, his body becomes rigid as he tuts, “Garaque.”

***

I have very little time with other humans. All of us are so unsure as to our grounding. Are we owned?

We’re taken to a large event of some kind. Many touch my hands and arms. One puts a tentacle out towards me and I poke it with my finger, and it seems to smile. I smile too.
I am brought to a table where I’m close to Beyoncé and Shawn. The space is laid out like a large colosseum. Different spaces of different sizes, meant for specific creatures and beings. There’s a large aquarium in the middle. Aquatic species. I try and take it all in.

To our immediate right are large, furry creatures. They strike me as Japanese-style children’s illustrations, with large eyes and round bodies. They seem like fluffy bears, only with broad, flat faces and stubbier snouts. They’re very cute. They have fat hands. Large feet. They seem like a marsupial of some kind.Their fur varies, but is beautifully patterned. I ask Hike about them.

He advises me not to stare and says something that sounds like Batchou. He gives me the highlights of the race, having memorized them all for this summit. They’re fierce and intelligent, know for their building skills. Carnivorous. Nocturnal. Keepers of a small wood-dense planet.

“Dangerous. Easily provoked.”

“But they’re so cute.” I say, smiling.

Beyoncé laughs.

***

There is some kind of disruption at the event. We’re hurried off, pushed onto some kind of hovercraft. A pontoon with no party. As we’re whisked to a quieter area, I look back, trying to make out what’s going on. I see large, greenish monsters. With the segments of caterpillars, their bottom legs extend like tentacles, there are three of them. A large, green tripod. It has no arms. It must be 12 feet tall. At its head, is a large face, made up of a largemouth and small eyes. Several of them. Its teeth are needle like. Its colors that of a venomous frog. It’s bitten the head off a fleeing thing. It’s sucking the liquids from its body.

***

We’re all settled inside a ship. Hike explains the attack was by those who attacked us. There is growing tension over our having been saved, not because of us at all really, but because they were interfered with. These Garaque. Their act of revulsion, desperate and petty, has had them rejected from the summit of worlds. They’re a dangerous outlier, instead of an distrusted arms-length ally.

***

I ask Hike where the other humans are. He says he does not know. Everywhere. Pets. Refugees. Guests with nowhere to go. I ask him if I’m free. This insults him. Of course I’m free. I’m free to go. But where would I go?

***

Hike says a ship has been caught with contraband. He says they were caught with human habitat. When I ask what he means, he shows me on a screen. There is is, ripped from the earth, a large chunk. I see houses, stores and trees, all plucked from the surface of the earth, like an iceberg picked from the great North.

***

It takes several days to visit. I insist on visiting every home, every building. Items could be recovered. I ask Hike to scan the area with his scanners - are there living things? It’ been several weeks. People could have survived.

There are no people. There are two dogs and four cats. They’re all happy to see me. I cry everytime I find one. They’re thin, having survived on scraps. I explain to Hike that I want them all, and that they need to be fed and cared for. He watches me oddly. I am aware of it, loosely.

One of the dogs looks like an old wise man, and it makes me weep.

***

There are bureaucratic struggles regarding the habitat. The pirate who took it, wants it as a keepsake. Hike and his scientists say it belongs to the surviving humans. They ask me to speak on behalf of humanity. I send a message to Beyoncé, saying, “They asked me to speak on behalf of humanity.” She writes back, “LOL.”

***

I record a message, meant to be a conversation with Hike. They’ll edit it the way they need it. The arguments about entitlement and ownership are not mine to make, this is a world that I want no part in. They use me as an example of an existing problem that warrants the solutions available to it.

***

There are free-zone planets. Make-shift barter planets. Planets meant to facilitate inter-group communication and cooperation. Landscapes change drastically over short distances. There are so many languages, such different bodies and movements.

It is here they’ll drop the habitat. Near a coast. Inland. Far away from most large settlements but near the most politically active, where Hike lives and works. 

***

It will take some time to settle the habitat correctly - make sure it doesn’t fall apart. It was ripped from the earth, it needs to be structurally sound. I walk around this free-zone planet, I’m given a communication aid, some kind of telecommunication device since I’ll most likely get lost, and will most definitely be afraid for my life at some point.

My curiosity gets the better of me, and Hike gives me a satchel. He explains there are methods of payment in it, and that I am very wealthy due to donations to my name and to my people.

I walk for hours, through markets and parks. I watch Batchou eat some kind of grilled meat. I call Hike and ask if I can eat that, he says yes, it is similar to Earth meet. I eat it. It’s similar to BBQ. I sit on a large rock, and watch Batchou walk to a woodland edge. There are many. Young and old. Some seem to be nursing young. As they start to move away. My eye catches the ruffle of a bush.

I wait for the Batchou to leave, and approach it slowly. I hear a gurggle. I call Hike.

“I think they forgot a baby here.”

“They only keep the strongest of the young, it would be the second, weaker of two.”

“Can I take him? He’ll just die here.”

“I do not recommend it.”

I go to a local market stall and purchase a large piece of fabric. I return to the bush and pick up the large, fluffy baby. It’s like holding an obese cat. I call Hike and ask for someone to come and get me.


***

Batchou babies grow quickly when well fed. It takes a large amount of eggs to feed the baby. It likes raw eggs. There are some birds here that make large eggs, similar to goose eggs. He eats a dozen easily and often.

***

I decide to name him Eugene. There are no humans around and the thought of him sharing a name with Eugene Levy brings me comfort and joy.

***

By the time the habitat is ready, Eugene has tripled in size. He’s now like a fat 10 year old. Their vocalization are very different than ours, but he is able to say my name and egg and a few other things. When he is tired he’s affectionate. When he isn’t he’s intensely building things or playing. He likes to roll around.

The habitat, I call “the patch” since it’s pretty much a patch of Earth, and a patch of earth. I’d asked Hike to help me transplant some of the gardens and seeds that had survived, and to recreate the gardens that were there. From what I can tell, it seems to be a nordic town. Maybe Iceland or Greenland. The books are in a slavic language. The town is small, but has the main staples. A general store. Houses. Small duplexes. A graveyard. A small school. I choose one of the outlying homes, it has large windows and is the furthest from the entry point to the patch.

The cats roam freely. The dogs stay close. Eugene builds himself many things. Rips them down. Starts again. Though we’re all free to, nobody leaves the patch for several weeks.

***

It’s late one day, when Eugene makes a howling noise. I run out of the house and look to him, and he points forward as he runs to the entry point of the patch.

I follow as closely as I can.

I yell his name and he stops. Instantly rigid and unmoving. He looks to me.

Over the small bridge to the patch, is an man. A man in his 60’s or so, with a girl of about 5 or 6.

I walk up to him and am immediately hugged by he and the girl.

We all start to tear, as we give each other our names. He is Muneer, she is Fahmeeda. I am Kay. We do not speak the same language, but they are welcome and I am no longer alone. We all sleep in the same room that night.

***

I ask Hike to help me record a message, and to share that message with any known remaining humans and allies. I ask him if it can be translated to other human languages, he explains that to most, yet, but not all dialects. It’ll have to do.

***

“Hello. I’m Kay.

Some of you may recognize me. I don’t quite understand the role that’s been given to me here, but for some reason I’m identified as a part of the human resistance. I’m the one who refused to die. I assume, so are most of you. I am here, in the free-zone, on a patch of Earth, confiscated from a ship, and given back to us, what’s left of humanity.

You are welcome here.

We can live out the rest of our lives here. Amongst familiar comforts.

The information I’ve gotten is fragmented. I know some of you are kept, some of you are free to leave, some of you are here on the free planet.

If you are so inclined, you are welcome here, to this earth patch.

From what I can make of it, it’s a Scandanavian town, there are homes, shops, running water. There are gardens with Earth vegetables in them. We even managed to rescue two dogs and some cats.

It is difficult for me to say everything I want to say here. I am here. Muneer and Fahmeeda are here. There are homes. Beds. Books I can’t read.

If you’re alone, wherever you are, please know you are not any longer.

I’m sorry this happened to us all. I’m here if you need me.”

I brought my hand to my chest and nodded, closing my eyes slowly. All of a sudden everything was so heavy, so laboured. It was crushing me.

***

That was the beginning of something. People sporadically appeared over the next few months. Even Beyoncé and Shawn would come by often, when we’d have communal meals or celebrations. There were about 100 of us. Every once in awhile another one of us would show up, saying they left a home, a zoo. Some did not live on the patch, but only visited. All were welcome.

I recognised many faces. A lot of singers. Actors. A few scientists or great minds. All deemed special in some way. All taken for a reason.

It still seemed odd that I was there. Deemed exceptional through not dying.

Hike came by often. He’d ask questions about certain traditions. Bring gadgets. Seeds. Take a meal with us every once in awhile. He really liked cherry tomatoes.

***

Eugene was well liked, though he didn’t seem to like anyone, really. He tolerated me. He liked me fine sometimes, he was fickle, like a cat. When I pointed this out to Hike he corrected me, saying Eugene must have great affection for me if he stayed on the patch and didn’t make out on his own. Males were often solitary, he explained. I was sure it was because we had geese with fat eggs. The joke was lost on Hike.

***

I asked Eugene if he wanted to leave, and I let him know he’d be free to go wherever he wanted, even if he wanted to go back to his planet. He said he’d only go back to that planet to murder his parents. I  laughed entirely too hard.  He laughed too, a sort of wiggle laugh that made me laugh more. Afterwards he let me hug him.

***

Things begin to settle. The patch had a rhythm. As life goes on, I become more removed from it. I don’t see myself in this version of human life.


***

I spend more and more time sitting quietly by Eugene. His presence is enough to keep most from approaching me.

***

I know I’m of no use to the patch or to humanity. I’m too angry. I’m in too much pain. Eugene takes notice. He throws eggs at me every once in a while to make me angry. One time it makes me cry, and he makes a huge fuss, it upsets him terribly. He tried to feed me eggs. It makes me cry more. He cradles me like a baby until I fall asleep. 

***

I find Hike.

“I want to help you,” I say.

“With what,” Hike asks softly.

“With whatever I can.”

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