Hum hu hee hahaha hee hee hee… See that girl what’s the dre-eam, dancing the dance of her life. SEE THAT GIR.. no that’s not right.
Let me try.
From the top.
From the top! A one – a two.
Fine… Hum hu hee hahaha hee hee hee…
You can dance.. You can da-ance. Dancing the time of your li-ife. See that girl, see that gla-ance, dancing.. no I lost it. What else you got on there?
Hum, stairway to heaven? By the Beatles, the Beatles? No.. yes the Beatles.
Ha! One, it’s stairwell to heaven, two..
Definitely not stairwell, you crazy? Stairwell to heaven..
Really? Weeelll… you learn a little something every…
Shush. Hum. Let me vibe one out.
Doubadibidibidabadou. Aaaaat first I was afraid, I was horrified..
…petrified, I kept thinking I could never live without you in my eyes
But then I spent so many days & night.. days & night..
But then I spent so many time thinking how you done me wrong, and I grew strong
And I learned how to be alone! Solo!
PApa papa PApa papapa papapa papapa, papapa PA papapa…
And so you’re back, From outer space
Outer SPACE yeah!
Outer SPACE yeah!
I just walked in… I just walked in.. ah fuck it..
…soupi soupi that sad look all in your face…
Nah. It’s good.. We’re good.
What why? Are you crying?
I fucking hate this place.
Yeah me too.
Fuck outer space.
God I hate the gloop.
Check this out though. He chucks it against the wall and it bounces back awkwardly and smacks flatly onto the floor. She’s about to turn back to her notepad when he brandishes a finger in her face. Wait! Wait wait wai… there! The gloop starts walking back towards his bowl like a sad submissive animal.
Whaaa?! Hooow..? Why? How did you even discover that? Is it.. moping? Feels suuper wrong… ugh!
Fine. Yeah you’re right.. no it’s cool, it’s cool, your right. He gets up, walks over to his gloop, bends down as though to inspect it from reeaally close and slurps it right through his left nostril, whereafter he coughs it back into his mouth and starts chewing on it.
Bruup..!, she gags. Christ that’s gross.. Huh. She shakes her head trying to etcha-sketch the memory from her mind. That’s it!, she says. That’s IT! I’m keeping mine as a pet. From now on I’m a vegetarian!
Heeheeheehee.. Ha! Hahahaha. That’s very good! You’re good! Hoo.., he almost chokes on his gloop. Your face right now! Ha!
Maybe they don’t know that we eat. You know? Maybe they just thought we needed company.
Huh. Good point. He rests his bowl on the floor. We should include that in the archives. Wanna do it or should I?
I got it.
What is it you reckon?
Has it always been there?
I can sort of remember seeing it. It feels familiar to me.
Yeah. You sure we didn’t have one of these around the house you know growing up?
I would definitely remember if we did.
I mean look at it. I don’t think it’s… I’m going to pick it up.
No no it’s fine. I’ve got this.
Thomas don’t. D…
There. It’s done. Let me just…
I’ll just put it in my pocket and..
There’s two of them now.
No it’s fine I’ll just..
There. I’ll just put it with the other one and we can.. Oh.
Yeah. What did you think was gonna…
I don’t know! I don’t know. Shit now it’s looking at me.
Noooo. No it’s not.
Tom, no it’s not looking… hey don’t touch that… TOM!
Why? Dude, it’s fine! I’ve had one of these since I was a kid. I’ll just put it in my pocket with the other… hey where you going Mary? Mary… we can share, I can…. Mary! God. Can you believe her?
Yeah you’re right, she’s always been this way, hasn’t she?
Well, at least we have each other. Come on let me put you in my pock.. oh, hey there little buddy! What are you doing on the ground all alone?
My friend! Helloo!
The space they’re in is almost limitlessly big. If not in the mere sense of its dimension at least in its complexity. It took a while for the two to grow accustomed to not seeing each other for a length of time.
Mary, I was thinking… wow when did you learn to work that… thing?
Mary sits at the helm of a loom of some sort, unbound, with a complex floating glowing woven web of sorts. As Thomas finds his way closer to her, he can see that she is halfway merged in with the weaves, so immersed into her world of floating strands that he dares not disturb her lest he break her concentration. Instead, he leans back & bouncs a gloop against a flat section of a hollow root system that extends in all directions from the floor.
Mee-meep. Mee-meep. Mee-meep. His mind carries him back to the carpet where as a kid Mary would spend days deep into her world solving all kinds of puzzles. Classic, he thought. Mee-meep. Mee-meep. Wonder what she eats. Meep meep meh. That’s fine, run away you little twerp. He turns to Mary and watches her a while. Must be peaceful, he mutters. Just then Mary stretches and leans out of the loom. She reaches over and grabs a hold of a bowl with some kind of thick growth spilling over the brim. She slurps on it pensively, studying the work she had just left behind. When satisfied she takes in her surroundings, waking to the mysterious world around her.
I haven’t seen you in months. Is it months? I don’t even know.
Hey, slight change of subject, when’s the last time you slept?
She steps over to a crooked rock shelf where a leathery substance pulses in silence. She takes a sharp tiny rake looking instrument and begins to scratch the surface of the leathery skin slab and collects some of the sprouts that come shooting out.
I don’t know, he says indifferently. When’s the last time you were awake?
Good point. Yup. Oh shit what’s that thing on your arm?
What, this? Well, I’m not sure really. But check this out, he says aiming his hand at the wall. The apparatus immediately starts to blink and whine and a gloop shoots out. It hits the wall dully, slimes slowly to the floor & starts walking towards him dejectedly.
Ah come on! Really?
The apparatus animates itself again, he shoots 4 more gloops to the wall.
He then presses his index finger against his thumb. When he parts them a thin red line droops between them like a stretched out chewing gum. Huh? How about now eh? He revels for a second in her intrigue. Listen, he says. He brings the chewing gum closer to one of the gloops and simply flies the string over it.
Meep. Meep. Meh.
Preeetty cool right!?
The other gloops join into the chorus.
Meep. Meep. Meh. Meh. Mep. Meep.
Now watch this. Hoowie you’re going to love this part!
He stretches the chewing gum substance and begins to trace the exoskeleton of a three-dimensional chair. Immediately, the gloops begin sliming their way towards it chanting in rhythmic unison.
Meep. Meep. Meeeeeh. Meep. Meeep. Meeeeeh.
When the design is complete, he steps back proudly and lets the gloops go to work. As they reach his model, they begin sticking horribly to it, desperately, painfully stretching themselves out over the frame, all the while whining hideously. But their hunger is too great and they keep stretching out to the very limit of their fabric.
He grins, obviously satisfied at his masterpiece, and keeping his eyes focused on the work at hand, he shoots another gloop straight into his free hand and begins to mow on its rubbery flesh indifferently.
Ta-da! There you go Mary. It’s a chair.
You don’t honestly expect me to sit on that.. on that thhING do you?
Well.. why the hell not? Perfectly good piece of furniture.
She puts the bowl down & turns back to her work mumbling her discontent.
Nothing, brrrp! I just ate a bad gloop. Brrrp! Hey, isn’t it crazy that after all this time you stop noticing that, you know, that we’re upside down?
Upside… what are you talking about.
No wait what? Haha you thought…
Hahaha me? Stu.. haha! Stupid?
What are you talking about Tom?
Tom? Are we..? Wait, what? You’re serious, aren’t you? Tom?
Slowly, suspiciously, she eyes every single thing around her.
How, she whispers, how can you tell?
Yeah, well I guess it’s hard to notice looking at me, but see, look, look at your hair.
Tom snaps his fingers.
I said, isn’t it annoying Mary, that…
Tom has a gloop tied to the end of a chewing gum string, like a yo-yo, performing tricks. You can tell his patience is growing thin.
When is this?, he asks looking around.
Tom ignores her. He walks around, evaluates the growth of the lifeforms in the vicinity, he closes an eye and turns his head sideways. Mary could barely focus her attention on her brother anymore. She would whisper things and the weaves around them would shift so that she could inspect a few particular variations on the theme of an obscure area. Content, she would dispell the thread and find herself drowned deep in thought anew, browsing her mind for other revisions she could oversee which required so little a level of concentration that she could attend to the needs of Tom. The needs of Tom. The needs of Tom. The needs of Tom. The words repeated in her head like a mantra.
Yes, Tom? Please don’t yell Tom… It makes… it makes my threads quiver.
Yes well, anyway, look over there.
The needs of Tom. The needs of Tom.
Isn’t it annoying to think that if I step over there, we’ve already found the solution to all our problems?
The needs of Tom.
But then as I step closer, the solution becomes farther out of reach because I’m not actively working on resolving our problems?
What’s over there Tom?
It’s us, Mary. Later us. I think…
Tom closes an eye and looks sideways.
As Tom sits there on his gloop chair, staring into his sister’s world, the thought travels his mind and doesn’t find a home. Just who was this Mary person. He produces a gloop and whispers something to it and chucks it with all his might against a small rock face. Nothing. In their rare encounters of late, her mind had seemed veiled, only partially present. It had become difficult for her to stray from her loom. Her workings had become so intricate, that they escaped him completely. As the glowing weaves expanded, as they grew to encompass most of her surrounding area, so had her focus found itself applied to the most minuscule of details. A pull, so to speak, in the fabric occupied her for days. Watching her, he couldn’t help but feel anachronistic and useless.
Tom adjusts a few dials and produces another gloop. Different this time, darker, more concentrated. He whispers the same instructions to it and chucks again with all his might against the rock face. Hmm. He hesitates, then stands up and saunters over to the splatter on the wall. He stretches a strand of chewing-gum around the gloop’s strewn entrails, waits a few moments for the neurons concentrated there to expand as they are drawn to every edge of the circle, then steps through the portal and is gone.
Squatting low to the floor under the rain, huddled into little balls of abandon, they lean against each other, drenched to their bones.
I don’t think it’s raining over there.
She gets up. Thomas follows her with his eyes. She glances into the distance through the rain. He glances too. Mary sniffles and squats down again, silent.
Well, it’s definitely raining over here, he says, and they carry on crouching, laughing quietly to themselves, pitiful like dogs in the mud.
Tom, I think we should document earth.
Hmm. Tom stares pensively into the rain.
It’s just… Mary, how sure are you that that’s one of your ideas?
You know what I mean?
I mean, if someone or…, he scans their surroundings with his eyes, something… were to whisper that idea to your mind, how would you know it was really yours?
Well, you wouldn’t I guess.
They crouch a while more in wet silence. A gloop comes floating past on a stream of rain water.
Are we the last of our kind Tom?
I don’t know! I don’t know… It doesn’t make any sense. Why us?
Why you?, he whispers pensively to himself.
She cranks her neck back to look at him.
What did you just say?
He doesn’t answer, and for a moment, Mary can’t tell whether he is shivering or laughing.
Why ME? Why ME you dirty…
She slaps him square in the back of the neck.
He ducks as she slaps him again in the back of the head.
Tom breaks out laughing, and after a few moments, she joins in, still offended at first, then wholeheartedly. And for a brief instant, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for humankind.
When the rain eventually comes to pass, they both look around slightly unsettled by the shift in their discomfort. Thomas stands first and offers his hand. Together they begin stepping stiffly out of their clothes, and for the first time, they catch a few passing glimpses of each other’s naked bodies. Mary’s breasts droop almost imperceptively, one most of all. Thomas’ penis is shrivelled and a little off to one side. Exposed, yet majorly indifferent, the two part ways.
And so began their archives of Earth.
Tom steps out of a portal into a marsh of sorts. Great. He excretes two gloops out of his hand and stretches them out over his Nikes up to his calves. He looks around perplexed. He sighs and a few cubes, smaller than a thimble, tumble from his mouth into an adjacent puddle. Quickly, he reverse sighs, catches them before they enter his mouth and crushes them in the palm of his hand for good luck. Never too careful, he mumbles to himself.
Now, is this the place?
He whispers a few words into a third gloop and smashes it against the ground. A crude map slowly takes shape from the gloop remains. From the resulting low-relief, he establishes his position. He opens his mouth wide but then thinks twice and yawns through his nose. He takes a last glimpse at the map, uneager to set off into the damp obscurity. Thoop. A fourth gloop comes rushing out and he chews on it dejectedly. It’s a sad & beautiful world, he shouts with an Italian accent and affectation. It’s e sed, he shouts again, and biutifool worrld! Smiling now he begins his journey across the swampy plain to find the last of the eight spheres.
Oh! Her surprise is weightless as though the answer had been so simple, so completely obvious that it had never crossed her mind. She puts her food down. The small oval bowl wobbles as it settles on the floor wishing and washing the algaeic translucent gelatin floating in a cold clouded fluid. And with a few rough sweeps and quite agile thread-throughs, she brings her work to an end. With a final tug, the immense tangled mess of glowing yarn ravels itself into a tighter and tighter sphere until its density becomes such that it very much resembles the heart of a star. She dives deep into a box at her side and drags out a velvet cloth as dark as the emptiness of space and very delicately veils the bright orb from sight. Mary sighs. Her mind is suddenly imbued with such clarity that she feels as though she has awoken from a deep slumber.
Now, she speaks aloud to herself. Where is Tom?
So long a time had she been swallowed whole by her work that she could barely recognize her surroundings. Lifeforms of all breadth and intricacies, it seemed to her, had grown so reliant on the warm glow of her workings, that now in its sudden absence, she felt at the centre of a new world destined to fade. Yet she did not quite feel guilt nor empathy. Rather, she felt a detached curiosity at the novelty of it all.
Tom Tom Tom.
Unable to decide whether to set out in search of her brother or to await his return, she sits to finish her food.
Tom Tom Tom.
You scared me. How long have you been… here?
Tom steps out of a wall where buzz and whir a dazzling array of incandescent bulbs, and dials, and meters, of which he had come to form an integral part. A few cables and wires retract into the wall. Whisks of vapour rise and dissipate in his wake.
Oh Tom, what happened to you Tom?
I’m tired, Mary.
Mary could not believe how much her brother had changed. She saw, as though for the first time, the extent of the mechanical transformations that had slowly crept from her brother’s arm to cover now the better part of his entire body, and she knew that she wasn’t talking to her brother any longer. Not completely. She could not help but wonder just how much time had elapsed since she had last seen her brother, or indeed since their abduction from Earth, and whether time was of any relevance in the matter. Mary too had changed, her work had left her small, frail and aged. Unrecognizable. To Tom, she had become more akin to a distant memory, the authenticity of which he had very much come to doubt.
You can feel it too. Mary?
Y..yes? She clears her throat. Yes.
They are… impatient. It’s time. Time to bring this thing to an end.
His sleeveless long-coat exposed most dramatically his wiry arms as he mechanically opens a portal and steps through to the other side. Mary follows resolute, mostly nervous, holding tight the burning orb inside her pocket. Stepping through into the damp darkness, she holds her faded red coat against her delicate frame. She shivers. Tom’s footsteps echo ahead and she follows in them towards a feeble light in the distance. Their long shadows playfully dancing on the walls seem not to have noticed their transformation. A rushing sound not quite dissimilar to wind grows in their ears.
Tom? Tom! She herself can barely hear the sound of her voice and he carries on unnoticing.
They reach an immense hall, overwhelmingly vast. Above, a unique, formidable source of light showers down from a dome in the ceiling. As they move along, the whole ancient library —for it was a library of sorts, an archive; whirls and pivots along many axes so that it would have been impossible for them to arrive at any other point in space than the one seemingly assigned to them. Tom waits for her there, tall and solemn. Many shadows shift and disappear as the great source of light above comes to settle directly upon them. With a great and deep shudder, the world around them grinds to a halt. A profound silence falls leaving only the sound of her last footsteps to resound majestically into the void.
Tom reaches deep inside his coat pockets and comes up with a few scrolls which he slides into a few empty slots in the wall, each precisely in their own place. He reaches again inside his coat and proceeds to set into orbit the eight dull spheres one by one. Slowly and with much ceremony, he whispers to each as he releases them. And one by one they come to life. It is a wondrous sight to behold.
Oh, Mary whispers echolessly under her breath, touched by the spectacle.
Tom wearily reaches out his hand towards her. And for a second Mary catches a glimpse of her brother hidden beneath all the wires and augmentations. As he was once.
I’m sorry things had to end this way, Tom.
Mary reaches into her pocket and pulls out the black velvet cloth. She bends low and sets the orb down on the floor.
Go on now…
Mary looks up at her brother. A few tears roll down her cheek.
Go on now, go!
She turns to leave as the orb begins to rise towards the others. The rushing sound returns to her ears as the world begins to pivot anew. She hesitates a second and looks back. Through the blur of her weeping eyes, she sees her brother surrounded by the many wildly rotating orbs. He has already begun to disappear.
Just turn around now, she thinks to herself and a smile crosses her fading shivering lips.