We sat; the chill, quiet dawn. I upon the falling trunk, the body of a tree at rest, on its passage back to the earth, and opposite the creature upon its rock an ancient stone; something far, far older than our combined lineages, those carvings but recent scribblings in its history made by those who had reckoned this being and its ilk something powerful. That’s the problem with us Humans, paradoxes, a crate load; I sometimes wonder if Paradox would exist without us. Anyway I’m getting ahead. Let’s get back to the linear narrative.
It was a being of one of the Usual sorts, this one’s group had opted for the Octopod look, with a few more tentacles doing the writhing of course, one baleful off-yellow eye and a beaked maw with an angry look; they’re always angry, at not being on top of the pile I guess. I do dislike this crew, they give the whole Cephalopoda class a very bad image. A group, by the way, far more interesting in their natures, study them and you really start to ponder on the Nature of Life in all its myriad forms. There I go again, digressing. Back to business.
‘Must be a bit disappointing no one turning up,’ I said casually, as I lit another cigarette, yeah, yeah dangerous to my health, anti-social and so on, but being so obviously throw-away, well it annoys the fluids out of these types, underlines how you feel about them and their position in the Universe. I could tell I’d got it already, the tentacles doing a lot more writhing, then there was the hissing and snakey sort of spoken ancient bad words that would get junior off to bed without any supper. Still, take nothing for granted. They are slippery. I continued.
‘I mean no host of rubes led by some guy in sparkly robes chanting and sacrificing. Must have been a quite a buzz to the ego. A whole circus all for you. Back in The Day,’
There was so much writhing I thought the thing was going to strangle itself, and as for the language, well maybe not up to American marine gunnery sergeant standard, but my, pretty salty.
‘You small thing,’ I let it have its say, it’s only polite ‘We ruled the world while you were still small scuttling things in the mud, you cowered beneath us,’
‘Yeah. About that. And I’ve asked this question at least twenty times. If you were so good, how come you aren’t ruling anymore? I mean and try and give me a straight answer. Was it a geological event, like causing a change in the climate? Or did you get smacked by a piece of cosmic debris? C’mon you got to admit this Universe, your kind, my kind we’re pretty small stuff,’
‘You know nothing!’ it hissed, and tried to get off of the rock, which was not a wise move, because it’s environment is linked to said rock. I don’t know why, don’t really care, that’s above my pay-grade as the saying goes and I have enough to think about. ‘You grub around unaware of what lies beyond the veils of your pathetic perceptions. Beings who consume suns…’
‘Hold it there!’ I held up my hand ‘Yeah you are exaggerating on that score. A sun. Something so big it can churn out a million tons of stuff a second and have a life of , I dunno like 10 billion years. That is a load man. If it were true…Heck the results of the digestive processes, unless of course you are suggesting there’s something out there that craps nebulae in which case I would suggest they would have bigger thoughts than worrying about how to fool a few credulous little folk on a small rock. Admit it sonny, don’t mind f I call you sonny do you?’ Yep, it did ‘If you had a time at all, it’s gone. Don’t embarrass yourselves,’
It was gathering up for something it would think as spectacular when I flicked the half finished cigarette at it, caught it on one tentacle tip and, yes it flinched.
‘And there we have it,’ I said ‘You and me. We’re living tissue, and you can argue every which way you want, but when it comes down to it, stone, steel, fire and things than go boom win out every time and right now, we’ve got the controlling percentage on those. So what with Nature and our propensity to destroy anything we take a dislike to, you’re best on your way. It’s all over for you sonny. Folk are neck deep in the latest gadgets, trends, deadly metallic devices and its all passed you by. Go back to your Wherever and squabble with other ancient sorts who lost out,’
‘You short lived things,’ it hissed, must be difficult hissing through beak ‘I measure my life in millennium,’
‘And you still gotta turn up on some shitty little rock hoping a few yahoos will be here? Man! Talk about slow learning,’
I stood up, lit another cigarette, turned my back and walked off, waving one hand.
‘See ya around, and watch out for those Gamma-Bursts, they are definitely no respecters of flesh and whatever, come to think of it machines too,’
Now some might say it was a foolhardy and arrogant act to do, turn my back on some ancient and very annoyed ugly creature all hissing and tentacles. Thing is, they rely on belief, fear and terror. You don’t show it, they’ve got nothing-, and that one I’d just been dealing with was pretty small stuff. Still it would go back to wherever all grumpy and bitter and start some internal war just to prove something.
It had been a relatively peaceful gig. Halloweens can be noisy calls if you have to deal with something showing off horns and male genitals, man talk about insecurity. Some of their girl followers can be cute, in a predictable way, they get really tearful angry if you slap their pert little butts with a holy book of some sort, then they turn into snakes or bats which is another insult to the real animals.
Up the road was Mr Smith. Aside from his car’s tire marks there were ones of a van. The yahoos had been taken care of, only two of them but even two can be a civil nuisance with their creepy or very neat houses, collections of fashionably ominous books and talking in the latest or very ancient oblique manners, pretending to be so superior and detached, yet they hate peak shopping times too. Anyway they encourage the creatures, give them egos.
‘That appeared very easy,’ he said to me.
‘Ah, y’know I was on a roll this time. My girl split from me and someone had to get the sharp edge of my mood. Anyway this one was out of stock-casting, just in my line. Y’know I just got to stand up a salute those Divorce Lawyers you employ, turning entire covens on their demon leader with one address,’
‘Well each has their calling. The economists and accountants can bring a stultifying layer of boredom to most summonings and have the whole thing fall apart. Stand-up comics bring the ridicule and cutting insults and once someone starts to snigger, the whole ceremony falls apart. Then we have the more simple military approach, although the clean up is quite the task,’
He had a point. The whole organisation seemed to have a good success rate. None of the creatures from the Othersides seemed to be able to catch up with Human’s progress, if that is the right word. There were Theorists who reckoned most of beings were not keen on coming over lest we find a way back to them and ruin their own environments; we’re good at that. So its only the losers, simpletons and wack-jobs who try. Humanity has got too scary for them.
Yeah I’m a kind of paranormal street cleaner. I’m ok with that, it’s a supplementary wage.
We did the traditional handshake of course.
‘When will you be available next Mr Plowman?’ he asked.
‘Ah, busy few weeks. I’ve got The Election and the aftermath to cover and my editor brooks no excuses. Now that beat,’ I warned him ‘Is really brutal. Never hire anyone who works in politics,’
‘We know,’ he said ‘We know. There are suspicions some from the Othersides are there already,’