Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the tag “aliens”

Every Sparrow – Chapter Four

Chuck’s skin was itching.

It wasn’t painful, but it was insistent. His skin was itching and his teeth were starting to buzz. He’d walked from the clearing near what looked to be a library, along the remnants of a road, towards the cube buildings on his map. He’d been completely unmolested the entire way, although the local fauna kept a wary eye on him – an unknown species that could be a predator. But as he neared the structure, could see it jutting out of the landscape amongst the trees, he began to feel an unpleasant sensation.

There is a chill you get in your skin when you think about something distasteful or when someone runs a finger just above your skin. Chuck shuddered, and then shuddered again. He stopped and looked around. His skin began to prickle, starting at his neck and spreading across his face and down his back. He stopped walking at an unpleasant thought: what if he were being bombarded with radiation? He grabbed his tablet, swiped his fingers across the screen and brought up a radiation scanner. There was something in his vicinity, random pulses of energy, but nothing that could be considered harmful. He popped up a panel on the wrist of his landing suit. His gear wasn’t registering any harmful chemicals in the air. In fact, the air on an earth unsullied by humanity for a thousand years was incredibly pure.

Slightly nervous, but unable to come up with a reason to retreat, Chuck walked onwards, itchy and uncomfortable. Now, he could hear a tiny high-pitched squealing, just at the edge of his hearing. It wasn’t a voice. It wasn’t a creature. It was, he realised, the sound of data. Somewhere close, something was transmitting a good deal of data across a spectrum that his hearing could pick up. He looked up for no real reason and tapped the communicator on his chest.

‘Scout to orbiter, come in?’
‘Heya Chuck, what’s going on?’
‘We’ve got definite activity down here. No obvious signs of life, but a number of anomalies worth checking out. Plus, there’s some definite data chatter. Could anyone else be here?’
‘Nope. Uh uh, no way. Unless you believe in aliens, we are the first ship to come back to this sector of space since the Exodus.’
‘And we didn’t, you know, leave anyone behind when we left Earth the first time? Cos they’d be justifiably annoyed.’ Chuck took another look around, trying to think of a way he could be itched to death. There were a lot. He realised that Caitlin up on the ship hadn’t responded yet. ‘Cait?’
‘We-ell,’ came the voice in his ear, ‘Some people didn’t want to go. Certain religions, ridiculously optimistic people, complete nutjobs. We don’t generally tell people, but it’s here in the records.’
Chuck held his hand over his ear at the word ‘nutjobs’. He wasn’t sure if whoever was here could pick it up.
‘OK,’ he said. ‘So I could suddenly be attacked by lunatic proto-humans carrying clubs made up of recycled paper? And that wasn’t something you thought I needed to know.’
‘You worry too much Chuck,’ Caitlin said. ‘You were with me when I did the scans. There’s no sign of sentient life anywhere. None of the structures show signs of repair. There’s nothing there.’
‘Fair enough,’ Chuck said. ‘There’s nobody here. Two things: Firstly, What’s the data chatter that I can hear? I can’t capture it using the tablet, but I can hear it. Second, can you think of any way that someone can kill someone else in a way that would make their skin itch?’
‘There are plenty of ways to kill you with itchy skin. Poison, radiation, slow-working acid, killer nano-robots..’
‘You can stop helping now,’ Chuck said, scratching his neck. ‘And the data stream?’
‘No sign of it,’ came the voice from the ship. ‘There’s definitely some technology still active on the planet, which is strange after a thousand years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anybody still living there.’
‘Righto,’ Chuck said, ‘I’m heading to a bunch of energy anomalies I picked up on the tablet. I’ll let you know what I find out. Ciao!’
‘Sayonara,’ Caitlin said and the communicator bleeped out.

Chuck ignored the itching and his vibrating teeth and strode with purpose towards the square.

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Every Sparrow – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Of course someone else knew about the newcomer. A landing of any kind would be monitored from a thousand different stations around the globe. Even the machines, who her kind generally treated with casual contempt, would have registered the arrival of an intelligent life form.

Still stung by the death of the sparrow, Flip re-examined her decisions again and again. She did not feel anger and her sense of guilt had faded during her trip to the nearest communication centre, but she still experienced what could be called disappointment in her illogical behaviour. As a rider, her first duty should have been to her mount. The only explanation that satisfied her was that the sparrow’s emotions had clouded her judgement. Not an acceptable excuse, but a valid one. She’d felt excitement and fear at the unknown, which had caused her to push the sparrow beyond its limits to fulfill her own curiosity.

Traveling to the communication centre took only milliseconds. As she entered, she bounced off a number of personalities, taking an impression from them of what was happening, but not opening up direct communication with any of them. She was looking for one particular person. And then she saw him. A bright pulse of energy, confident and sharp.

‘Captain!’ she called, and the pulse connected with her.

‘It’s young Ensign Flip, isn’t it?’ he asked, checking her credentials.

‘Just Flip, sir, but yes. I just came from the landing site of the visitor!’

‘Really? Incredible. You must. Tell me all about it. It might be. The answer to. Me getting out of this form and back to my. Ship!’

Flip paused to translate his sentences. She removed a number of periods and gave a cautious affirmative. ‘Could be, Captain. But I really didn’t see much. There was a spherical pod and a fire. That obviously means someone or something has come down from beyond the sky.’

‘It’s called space, Ensign. Flip, eh? I bet you were. A looker before the. Transporter accident. Anyway, from what I hear, it is a. Biped. Human to look at. Dammit! Where is my science officer?’

‘I do not believe he made it to the planet, Captain,’ Flip said. ‘A human! One of us, but with skin and bones and emotions and bodily functions and –‘

‘Spock! Noooooooooooo!’ Kirk howled in a simulated fit of grief and rage. Flip left him to his grief and dawdled closer to the information hub.

Captain Kirk was a construct.

When virtualising the humans left behind after the great Exodus, it became apparent that it wasn’t necessary to use real people as templates. A great number of famous characters and stars from different centuries were so well-documented – with biographies, autobiographies, documentaries, and gossip magazines, not to mention their body of work – that it was possible to recreate a personality from an amalgamation of all this data. To begin with, the creators only authorised recreations for historical research purposes. But with the success of the program, more personalities were added to the accepted lists.

Some would say that virtualising fictional characters was a mistake. To be honest, Flip’s opinion was that all of the constructed (rather than copied) personalities were a little loopy. But to be honest, there was more data on Captain James Tiberius Kirk in world literature than there was on Buddha from the holy texts or the Almighty Bob.

‘Still,’ Flip thought. ‘The man isn’t all there.’ She moved closer to where a number of people were hovering around an information node. From the look of it, a couple of brave souls were about to try to make contact.

Secret Samaritan

This blog makes more sense if I recount a completely uninteresting story first. Please feel free to skip the next paragraph if exposition offends you.

Begin Exposition:

I coasted into the petrol station, fuel gauge redlining and my blood-sugar levels similarly reading E. With myself and the car both fueled up and ready to go, I got back out onto the side street alongside the BP on Warrigal and pulled up beside a car in the right hand lane. He had his left-turn indicator on. But he was in the right-hand lane. I assumed (ass out of you and me, I know) that he was turning left into the centre lane. There was plenty of room for me, so I slid in beside him so that I could turn left and straight onto the freeway entrance. When the left lane cleared, however, he turned straight into me and ripped my front bumper loose on the right side. His car looked fine. We had a few heated words, figured that involving the insurance companies would be too much of a hassle, and went on our way.

End Exposition.

A few days ago, I approached my car and started in amazement. The bumper was fixed! I looked closely at it. There was no indication that I’d even banged into the guy. Note that, before this, the bumper of my car was hanging off on one side. The metal had torn loose of the screw holding it in place. I hadn’t bothered getting it fixed because it wasn’t scraping on anything and it looked expensive. And now it was in pristine condition once more.

Who had done this? I immediately thought aliens or angels. These options seemed infinitely more plausible than a Good Samaritan walking past my car with the right tools, thinking “That poor bastard. I should help him out.” and fixing my car, without leaving a note… or a bill.

Aliens, on the other hand, could very well have fixed my car, for their own inscrutable ends. As Rimmer says, they’re alien. They do alien things. And angels, well, presupposing the existence of God, the hierarchy of Heaven, and lackeys with wings and nothing better to do, why not?

Of course, ten seconds later, shaking my head in wonder, I walked to the driver’s side and discovered that the broken bumper was in fact still there. I’d been looking at the wrong side of the car. But it brought up the interesting concept of Secret Samaritans (and aliens. And angels). People who wander around, helping people while they are asleep.

I get an immense feeling of satisfaction from helping people. I’ve volunteered at shelters, cooked sausages at my local mission, assisted little old ladies across the road and given stricken tourists change on the tram. But there is a selfish part of me that gets just as much pleasure from the recognition of these actions.

I am drawn to Matthew 6:1-4. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” If you get the reward of doing good works from the praise you receive, you don’t deserve a reward from Heaven. Which is all well and good for those people who don’t believe in God. I’d like a bit of both though, if you please!

Maybe I should go and do a Secret Samaritan act. See how it feels. I’ll let you know.

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