Distant Land (Part 14)


The Brian Talbot, the brain child of Wet World’s most revered scientists – Hideous and Perfidity Gout – hung motionless in space, with the Great Horse Dung Nebula as its back-drop…

Inside, Captain Cedric Mantequilla addressed the entire crew via ship-wide intercom…

“Space Sailors.” He began powerfully. “What you are about to see is a recording that was made by an alien species. As such I would like to warn you that you can’t always believe what your eyes and ears are telling you. Aliens are a sneaky bunch of bleeders – and you might find yourself being hypnotized. So take care. Take nothing for granted. And if you feel that you’d like to look away, or perhaps visit the toilet; do so without an iota of shame.” He then retook his chair and said: “Okay; roll it.”

At first only a pleasant vista of interstellar space greeted the expectant gaze of the Brian Talbot’s crew. Naturally Folie and Placebo rushed forward for a better view.

“Forgive me if I’m wrong,” Placebo whispered to his chum, “but that doesn’t look like this region of space.”

Folie would have replied, but his thought processes were interrupted by the sudden appearance of two earplugs, both of which looked decidedly chilly…

“Welcome Space Travelers.” The foremost earplug said in a language everyone could understand. “My name is Beaufort Skale. This is my brother, Richter.”

By the time that Beaufort Skale had drawn breath for his next sentence, Folie and Placebo had sought refuge behind the captain’s chair…

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled. And when the video paused, he added: “How the heck did that happen? How is it possible for an alien earplug, from half-way across the Galaxy, to speak Earplug English?” He then answered himself: “I’ll answer that myself: obviously we’ve all been hypnotized.”

Everyone looked at the stilled scene upon the main viewer…

“I don’t feel particularly hypnotized.” Grenville offered.

“Me neither.” His brother, Speltham, added.

“I’m definitely not feeling hypnotized.” Hubert Boils informed everyone. “It’s not in my DNA. I’m naturally immune.”

“Weren’t we all immunized before we left Wet World?” Hooper Hellstrom reminded the captain. “Just in case we encountered alien life-forms with huge mental powers?”

Cedric made a snap decision: “Run VT.” He said.

Moments later Beaufort Skale’s commentary continued: “We are scientists who live and work in a wonderful institution called the Museum of Future Technology”….

“Freeze-frame!” Cedric yelled again – only more shrilly…

“What the flipping heck is happening here?” He continued at extreme volume. “Is this some sort of convoluted joke – designed to make me look completely gaga? If so, it aint gonna work!”

Whilst the bridge crew looked over their collective shoulder, Folie took the time to peer into his captain’s eyes. “Yup.” He whispered to Placebo. “Definitely Space Paranoia.”

“Maybe.” Placebo replied. “But that doesn’t explain what we’re seeing on this video. That can’t be our museum: it’s thousands of light-years away. Or maybe we’re all completely gaga!”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

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