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Fiction: Uchu-jin Time Strip

August 17, 2014

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One of those stories that no one seems to like except me…

Might be disliked for the following reasons:

i] it is all over the place

ii] the Halle Berry scene

iii] the Korean killer from ‘Memories of Murder’ pops up and kills the schoolgirl [twice]

iv] the theme is not clear enough – it doesn’t stick with anyone close enough or long enough. The nearest thing to a main character is the alien scientist and he flits in and out.

I’m leaning towards ii]

#

In many ways Susan Sarandon was more than just the rut interest from Bull Durham and the ex-wife of Tim Robbins, she was also the mind interest of sub space aliens who conducted experiments with/in/outside of time.

It had started, the Sarandon interest, when a stray signal from Earth swerved and poked itself into sub space by mistake…and ended up on one of the screens inside an alien base only eight sub-parsecs from the Sol System [not that distance really mattered].

Alien: What’s this?
Alien 2: White Palace.
Alien: Well…I don’t like white, and I don’t really like palaces…wait, who’s that?
Alien 2: The one with the stick?
Alien: No.
Alien 2: The one with the hills?
Alien: Yes, who is she?
Alien 2: Susan Sarandon.
Alien: Wow.
Alien 2: I know.

#

RULE 17 of Chrono-strip-experimentation:
Always seek permission from a representative of the subject’s world, even if that representative seems to be out of their depth.
If refused, ask another.

#

The sub space aliens visited in dreams and told her they wanted to experiment on humans and their relationship with time, and would it be okay, would she, Susan Sarandon, let them do this?
Susan Sarandon said some bullshit about human rights and the rights of humans and every human had the right not to be experimented on and human rights and…
The sub space aliens flicked a switch and showed her a huge, nine level map of the universe.
‘However vast you think the universe is, Susan Sarandon, times it by a thousand and you’ll understand.’
Susan Sarandon tried to comprehend what she was seeing, but it was too much, it moved too fast, there were no symbols to denote what anything was…so she resorted to emotionalism.
‘That doesn’t mean I should care any less about human lives…’ she said.
‘A strange answer and irrelevant. No one will die that hasn’t already died.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘In fact, we will lessen the pain if anything.’
‘Oh.’
They described the experiments in vague detail, telling her it wasn’t an abuse of or interference in the ways things were; it was simply a fast forwarding.
‘We don’t change anything,’ they insisted, staring at her hills.
‘Not one thing?’
‘Nope. We just watch.’
‘But…why?’
‘If you consult our rules, you’ll understand.’
‘I want you to tell me.’
Silence followed by alien chatter and clicking of claws. ‘If we do not, will you withdraw permission, Susan Sarandon?’
‘Yes.’
‘Fine. [Un-translatable words in alien language]. In short, the universe is a cruel place; we wish to make it a little less painful. That is all.’
Sarandon wanted to say bullshit, but she’d done enough cynical characters in her time. Just this once, she wanted to be Dorothy.
‘Fine, do your experiments. But do them on women as well as men.’
‘Why?’
‘Because women can suffer just as well as men.’
‘Okay.’

#
To the sub space aliens, ‘observed time’ was a very real, very dense strip that could be watched from a distance. The past, the present and the future meant nothing to them as observers [unless they landed ‘undercover’ on a part of the strip and had a reference point for their actions]. From their many bases, they could watch any part of human history, in as much detail as they saw fit. There was a zoom button, and there was audio too. They even had a vending machine in the hallway outside, but no one ever used it because it was empty.

#

After getting the okay from Susan Sarandon, they made their moves. The first few they messed with were men, but out of respect for the actress, they made sure around thirty per cent of their targets were women.
List of sufferers:

Albert Camus
Kirstie Alley
Sharon Stone
Joan of Arc
Tommy Gunn [from Rocky V]
The Black Prince
Halle Berry
Koo Tin Lok
Chau Sau Na
Shibasaki Kou
Gene Hackman
Gene Wilder
Gene Roddenberry
Gene
Low G Man [discontinued – subject is a video game character, not sentient]

One or two of the sufferers discovered the ‘ground force’ aliens and asked them what the hell was going on.

Alien: Hor mm hor yee, Matt Dillon, yu gwoh…
Matt Dillon: What?
Alien: Lei gong mm gong jungman ar?
Matt Dillon: What are you…I don’t understand what you’re saying. Where am I?
Alien: Oh.
The sub-space alien pressed a button on his watch.
Matt Dillon: Who are you? Why can’t I remember anything? Why am I…why do you have claws?
Alien: I’m an extra for the new…err…for a new film.
Matt Dillon: Bullshit.
Alien: Okay. It’s an experiment…we’re…there’s a new kind of psychological disease going around.
Matt Dillon: Disease?
Alien: Yes. It makes you believe you’re skipping through time when in fact…well, you’re not.
Matt Dillon: Fine. I don’t care. Just fix me.
Alien: Right away.
The sub-space alien walked away.
Matt Dillon: Where are you going?
Alien: Nowhere.
Matt Dillon: Come back, cure me!
Alien: Five minutes.
Matt Dillon: Stop…
The sub space alien ran faster and hid behind a parked car until the sufferer skipped forward in time again.
Matt Dillon [blinking]: What…
A skinny man with a clipboard walked over.
Matt Dillon: Where am I? What’s…
Assistant Director: Mr. Dillon, F Gary Gray is ready for you now.
Matt Dillon: Huh?
Assistant Director: It’s the scene where Joan Severance betrays you to the future cops.
Matt Dillon: No…

#

RULE 1 of Chrono-strip-experimentation

Due to unexpectedly high emotionalism in the field, observers are not to be selected from a scientific background. New observers will be picked from the following disciplines: history, business, surveying, architecture, politics, law. Current observers from a scientific background will be allowed to serve out their current contracts without prospect of renewal.

#

The sub space alien who knew the most about science [but didn’t wear the costume of a scientist] looked at the view screen as Flannery O Connor sat on her porch and wrote the opening chapter of ‘The violent bear it away’.

On the wall behind the screen was a huge map of the known universe, but he ignored it. [In fact, every wall on the base had the same map, a recent introduction by the higher-ups that no one had really thought to question].

The alien scientist pressed a button.

Flannery O Connor blinked and looked around. She wasn’t writing anymore, she was in bed. There was a man she knew looking down on her.
“What’s…” she tried to say, but it was broken by the fiercest cough.
“Don’t try to speak, Flan.”
The coughing continued.
In her head, Flannery wondered what the hell was going on. How could she be writing one second, and then coughing like a plague victim the next?

The alien pressed the button again.

Flannery blinked and zoomed past her own death into a state where there were no images and no data for the aliens to observe.

‘Who’s that?’ one of his assistants asked, walking by, eating something purple out of a paper packet.
‘A writer.’
‘Any good?’
‘Does it matter?’
‘I guess not.’
‘Don’t you have any work to do, [illegible]?’
‘Nope.’
‘Find some.’
‘Now?’
‘Yes, now.’
‘I’m eating…’
The alien scientist stared at him like the anaconda in Anaconda 3.
‘Okay, okay. I’m going.’
The assistant left the room, spilling crumbs.
‘Bloody history grads…’

#

A woman played with her child outside their house. There was a lot of concrete and a lot of flags around, but not many people.
The child fell over and started to cry.
The woman pretended to fall over in the same way and didn’t cry.
The child took a breath and copied her.

The alien half smiled, nodded then pressed a button.

The same woman and the same child, a little older now, and about thirty other people walked towards a small building.
Four men with guns waited outside.
For a brief moment, both the woman and the child didn’t know where they were, but the woman saw the guns and the uniforms and figured things out pretty fast.
She took the child’s hand and followed the others inside.

The alien tried to go inside the building too, but there were no stock images for this area. He sat back, tapped his claws against his legs and waited for the woman and child to come back out.
He looked at the map on the wall now and then so his eyes didn’t blur.
Twenty minutes or so later, more men came to the building and disappeared inside. Another three or four minutes and they started to walk back out, each one carrying two bodies on their shoulders.

The alien stopped tapping his legs. He stood up and walked around the room a couple of times. He sat back down and stared at the men burying the bodies then pressed another button, changing back to the general overview of the strip of time.

It was long and black and infinite and…calming.

About ten minutes later, the alien turned off the view screen and went outside the room for a cigarette.

#

The sub space aliens never really considered it unethical, what they were doing. Not since the PR people took over anyway. Subjects skipping forward in time and doing things in the ‘between time’ they couldn’t remember…that wasn’t really suffering. It was just a little confusing.

Getting stabbed by a guy in the park.
Living in slums and sleeping in shit.
Trying to buy skittles in Florida.
These were suffering.

#

The sub space aliens [and their experiments] received their annual Certificate of Ethical Okayness from the Bureau of Other Species and What We Can Ethically Do To Them Without Blowback. There was a note next to the signature at the bottom:

‘Guys, ho geh, ho geh. The whole planet’s behind you.’

#
Halle Berry blinked. It wasn’t raining anymore, it was sunny. And where the hell had Marc Forster gone?
An unfamiliar man came toward her, holding a grey ice-cream.
No wait…it was a…
Interviewer: Halle, one question. Why ‘Catwoman’?
Halle Berry: What?
The two alien assistants looked at each other, confused.
‘I don’t get it,’ said the business grad.
‘Skip ahead,’ said the army drop-out.
‘Shouldn’t we ask the bossman first?’
‘Not unless you wanna go back to teaching [illegible] to schoolkids.’
‘But…’
‘Just press the damn button.’

#

The sub space alien who knew the most about science walked into the viewing room with a cup of green gunk and a cigarette. He couldn’t be bothered smoking outside anymore. There was no point, everyone had moved on to the next strip.
“Just a few more,” the alien muttered, watching Sharon Stone regain consciousness right in the middle of Basic Instinct 2.

#

RULE 34 of Chrono-strip-experimentation
Only observers with over ten years of experience are authorized to tackle dangerous subjects e.g. serial killers, movie stars, politicians.

#

Two Korean police officers sat around a blackboard, staring at mugshots and a map of the town. Four murders in seven months and they didn’t have a damn clue.
‘Ideas, names, anything?’ asked the clever one through a cloud of cigarette smoke.
‘Maybe it’s a Buddhist monk,’ said the fat one.
‘No.’
‘Maybe it’s one of those guys building the dam…’
‘No.’
‘Maybe it’s the guy carrying that case with the funny letters on it…’
‘Radiation guy? No, he’s clean.’
‘Who then?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You don’t know?’
‘Of course not, that’s why you’re saying all the names.’
‘Great. I’ll do all the work, you just keep saying no…fucker.’
‘Shut your mouth.’
‘Good idea. Then we’ll have nothing.’
‘Just…give me more names.’
‘Like who?’
‘Names…men…perverts…anyone.’
‘Arg…’
The two Korean officers both lit another cigarette and stared at the mugshots again.
‘The quiet guy working in the factory…’ the alien scientist said, standing up and throwing his cigarette stub at the screen. ‘Diu lei idiots.’

#

The fifth victim was a schoolgirl.
The sub space alien who knew the most about science sat in the viewing room for the ninetieth straight hour, smoking a nine inch cigarette he’d made himself. He watched the girl walk down the lane for the twenty-second time, past the older woman and onwards, thirty-seven minutes away from her death.
The alien pressed a button, switching to the Korean hiding in the trees.
He looked at the girl then the older woman then the girl again.
The alien blew out smoke.
He studied the Korean’s frame, his arms, his shoulders, his chest muscles.
He wasn’t a strong human, he was quite lean…
If someone were to…
The Korean ran down the bank and threw his arms around the girl’s neck, dragging her up into the forest.
The girl tried to scream, but the Korean’s hand stopped her.
The alien stubbed out his cigarette.
The murder scene was only two minutes further, so he let it run.
The Korean stopped in the middle of a clearing.
The girl breathed heavy.
The Korean told the girl to be quiet, everything would be okay.
The girl nodded.
The Korean laid her down and prepared things.
The girl didn’t scream.
The alien sat forward, his face an inch from the screen.
He leaned in to the girl’s ear and told her everything would be fine as long as she didn’t resist.
He pressed a button.
The Korean woke up in the factory four days later, still erect.

#

‘I know the rules, but in this case, I think it’s valid.’
‘No.’
‘Sir, if you’ll just look at the case in more…’
‘No.’
‘It’s a tiny country…the subject is the last recorded victim…there would be no consequences.’
‘No.’
‘Sir, please…’
‘No.’
The sub space alien who knew the most about science bowed to his boss, a guy who was trained to be a surveyor, not a scientist, and walked out of the room.
When he was gone, the boss called his secretary and told him to tell the tired-looking alien walking past to come back in.
‘Have you changed your mind, Sir?’ asked the alien scientist, coming back in.
‘Sit down, [illegible].’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘I’m concerned about your lack of distance from this strip.’
‘Sir, it’s not what you think. I don’t disagree with policy, I understand the rationale, it’s just…I’m not sure exactly.’
‘You don’t understand. I’m not worried about ethics, I’m concerned that you’re even working on it…we’re winding this one down, remember?’
‘Yes, Sir. I understand.’
‘All senior observers should be setting up the Tao Signa strip.’
‘I know.’
‘Good, so…stop working on this one, okay?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘Let your assistants do the clean-up. You, move on.’
‘Understood.’
‘Excellent.’ The boss with the background in surveying opened his drawer and pulled out two cigarettes, twice as long as the usual ones. ‘I’ve been saving these for a…well, for now. To be honest, I import them twice a week. Here, take it.’
‘No, thanks.’
‘I think you should. They say the smoke from one of these babies can really put things in perspective…’
‘I don’t feel much like smoking right now.’
‘I see. Still bothered, huh?’ The surveyor lit his cigarette and looked at the ceiling [which, of course, was covered in a map of the known universe]. ‘You know, whenever I feel a little funky, I go back to the rulebook. It helps, really. However vast we think the universe is, [illegible]…’
‘…times it by a thousand, I know, Sir. Perhaps I need a break, I don’t know.’
‘Either that or stop observing such despicable people.’
‘Yes, you may be right.’
‘Good. I’m glad you’ve still got perspective on this, [illegible]. Remember the drama grads on the Risan strip?’
‘I do.’
‘Complete and total disaster.’
‘Yes, I remember.’
‘Good.’

#

The alien scientist looked at the map of South Korea and compared it to the map of the known universe [all nine levels] pinned up on the wall.
He went back over the timeline of the killer.
He looked at pictures of the schoolgirl, before and after.
He watched an episode of a human drama where aliens observed humans dying and did nothing.
He re-learnt how to use his veins as a weapon.
He smoked a cigarette.
Do it, [illegible], the cigarette told him.
Yeah, do it, said the map.
‘I can’t,’ the alien said.
You can.
‘However vast we think the universe is…’
Bullshit. Do it.
‘I can’t…for fuck’s sake…’
‘What’s that?’ asked his assistant, packing up files in the corner.
‘Nothing.’

#

The confirmation fax arrived the following day.

‘Sol system experiments complete. All reports and equipment to be finished and submitted by the end of the day.

Good work team.

Bossman’

#

There was a castle in Romania that didn’t belong to Dracula or Duckula or Scott Bakula, which had been used by local film-makers for years.
They made horror films based on the premise of other films like The Wicker Man and Ninth Gate.
Most of these films were awful.
On the set of ‘The Fearless Vampire Slaughterers’, while waiting for clear moonlight, the director of the film wandered off for a cigarette. He wandered so far that he found a tunnel underneath the castle grounds…he didn’t know this, but at the end of the tunnel was a portal to the alien base eight parsecs from the Sol system.
The director stubbed out his cigarette and walked through the portal. He saw the map of the aliens’ universe on the wall and breathed in the air.
This isn’t Romania, he thought, starting to choke.

#

Susan Sarandon saw the death of the Romanian film-maker in a dream.
She asked the sub space aliens to revive the film-maker but they couldn’t, their medical technology was shit, just scalpels and gas.
‘But…you’re from sub space?’
‘Irrelevant.’
‘I don’t understand. Why is your technology so uneven?’
‘We don’t have time for this.’
‘I thought you were beyond time.’
‘No, that’s…we’re not.’
‘Then why don’t…’
‘Enough. Go back to your world, Susan Sarandon.’
‘Are you gonna try and revive him?’
‘Who?’
‘The film-maker.’
‘No.’
‘But he’s only…’
‘However, we will return the corpse to Romania. And the experiments on your humans will come to an end.’
‘Oh. All of them?’
‘Yup. We’ve learned enough.’
‘Can you tell me?’
‘Mm duck ar. Cannot. One of your writers has already learnt the same thing and written about it.’
‘Which one?’
‘Goodbye, Susan Sarandon.’
‘Wait…’
‘May you make good films as a character actress.’
‘Thanks, but…’
‘Baka-baka.’
Susan Sarandon blinked and saw her bedroom walls.
She sat up and saw the blanket and clothes on the floor.
Wait…I’m…
‘Hey,’ said Ryan Philippe.
‘Ryan, what are you doing here?’
‘Slamming you, baby.’
‘What…’
‘Or slamming you again. We did it last night too, remember?’
‘We did?’
Ryan left Sarandon’s thighs and moved up her body until his chin was resting on her breasts.
‘You’re pretty hot for an oldie…’
‘I’m 62.’
‘Shit, really? Well, I’d slam you even if you were 95. You ready for Critters 3, baby?’
‘What?’
‘Me. You. Third time in 12 hours.’
‘No, get off.’
‘Huh?’
‘Shop’s closed, Ryan, get the fuck off me.’
‘Baby…’
She grabbed his arms and shoved him off the bed, his tiny body crashing into and then through her Jane Fonda cut-out in the corner.
When he was gone, she closed her eyes and thought about the sub space aliens and their experiments with time.
However vast you think the Universe is, times it by a thousand.
I wonder who they picked…

#

The lean Korean watched the young girl walk down the lane, past the older woman and onwards, probably not too far from her home.
He looked at both, the woman and the girl.
I’m tired, he thought.
And I’ve never had a schoolgirl before.
The lean Korean ran down the bank and threw his arms around the young girl’s neck, dragging her up into the forest.
He told the girl to be quiet, everything would be okay.
The girl nodded.
He laid her down and prepared things.
The girl didn’t scream.
He pulled down her Naruto panties, folded them in two and placed them carefully by her feet.
The girl didn’t scream.
He ran his hand up her right thigh, telling her she was tall for a thirteen year old.
The girl didn’t scream.
He kissed what there was of her pubic hair.
The girl didn’t scream.
He came back up and told her that everything would be fine as long as she didn’t make a sound.
The girl didn’t scream.
He spread the girl’s legs another few inches and pulled down his jeans.
The girl didn’t scream.
He hid his cock from her as he moved forward.
He stopped.
He stared at her half-developed body, saying again how she was better-shaped than at least two of the other women.
The girl didn’t scream.
He put his hands on both thighs and smiled as the vein shot through his neck and pulled out his throat.
The girl didn’t scream.
The lean Korean’s windpipe landed on the girl’s stomach, with a mini soi tum of blood.
The alien reeled the vein back in and told the girl everything would be okay now as long as she got up and got dressed and ran back home.
The girl stared up at the monster above her, shaking or shivering or both.
‘… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …’ it said, waving its claws.
The girl crawled backwards, screaming.
‘… … … … …’ said the alien.

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