Mister Cresp’s Thread begins with Mission Day 5…
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 5
I scare them? But they won’t make time to sift back and know my story? They’re too steeped in political maneuvering and power gathering to ease their own fears.
Surely they know I’d unmask if possible. Why must I explain that I need the mask to live? Why should I reveal that if you remove it I’ll die within seconds? That’s just too vulnerable.
It’s a shitty form of torture, living with this permanent mask. To be unable to take it off to sleep. I can’t take it off to taste, or to smell – ! I can’t share a kiss.
Most of all, though, I can’t dwell on what I can’t do. Self-pity ain’t necessary when everybody else already feels sorry for you.
My role is typically non-political. The Space And Time Administration goes on from one U.S. President to the next without much fanfare. I don’t share political attitudes or opinions with my crew mates. But it looks like that only adds to their distrust.
Professor Flamear and I have discovered an increase in the speed of entropy throughout Resolution. While the affects on water stand out, the rest is subtle so far. But our cells are aging faster than normal. The habitat itself is decaying at a rate of days for every minute. Somehow the galaxy is converting dissipated energy into more dark matter, making itself darker, larger and stronger.
Yet the mystery of my condition drives nervous speculation. Is it contagious?
Why do I enjoy spooking them?
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 12
It’s too cold. We’re all slowing down. Getting foggy. Nothing warms us now. Except… I have stopped feeling it. I can’t feel a thing.
I didn’t want to fight against the inevitable any more. I’m afraid. I’ve never truly been afraid before. But it’s so clear suddenly, how everything must end. Even myself.
Twilight Force is losing their senses. I’m surrounded by fools.
Not one of them has even noticed. Of course, three of them wouldn’t. Mrs. Ichnida is in a coma. Senator Pretyman is poisoned and dying. And Doctor Nopoin was decapitated for poisoning her.
But what is it that preoccupies Officer Bulbous? Her nervous demeanor suggests that she’s up to something. Alpha is always preoccupied. Still, even the hybrid predator Professor Flamear hasn’t noticed…
No one notices… I’m not here any more.
I can’t even be sure this memo is being recorded.
I tried to save myself. I carried out my plan. I placed myself inside a polytropic compression container – the same type that stored our habitat on the way here. I am still with them – but in the 4th dimension, my essence contained in a casing the size of a marble.
I left reanimation instructions for the rescue party. Or – the recovery party.
I may be the first person to ever place himself in this situation. It was always thought too risky for people to try.
Who knows. Were they right?
How long will I have to be a ghost?
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 19
“You’re a traitor from a traitorous state!” I yell, jabbing a finger at Ms. Pretyman.
But Ms. Pretyman accuses me. “You work with the monsters who are making humans extinct!”
“You’re the traitor!” Officer Bulbous shouts, agreeing with the senator from Texas.
“You think I’m one of you?” I object. “Who said I am human?”
Mrs. Ichnida comes forward. “Tell us what you are. Are you afraid we won’t accept you? What are you ashamed of?”
Professor Flamear comes up beside her. “Take off the mask, Mister Cresp. It’s causing so much anxiety. So much anger…”
“He can’t,” says Doctor Nopoin mysteriously. “Can you, Mister Cresp? Take it off and you die.”
“He’s nobody!” says Pretyman, sneering at me. “Ignore him. He’s nothing. He stands for nothing. He doesn’t matter.”
“You’re idiots!” I scream. “Every one of you a fool!”
The command comes from Alpha.
“Our political traumas are back home,” says Alpha. “We’re not the feds. We’re not New Union. And we’re not neutral. We’re Twilight Force. The seven of us. And we’re all we’ve got.”
Oh no! I’m still alone. I was hallucinating.
I’m inside a polytropic compression container – the same type that stored our habitat on the way here. I exist only in the 4th dimension. My essence is contained in a casing the size of a marble.
I’m alone. Did everyone die? Is our habitat destroyed?
I can’t sleep in here. There’s no rest.
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 26
I’ve escaped my sensory-deprived fantasies and found a way to observe my environment. My “real” environment…
Senator Pretyman knows where I am. She doesn’t care to release me. Isn’t that interesting?
I’m among them – but they can’t tell. I speak but they can’t hear.
We’ve been inside this monstrous puzzle for three days. We are too far from the walls of its interior to get sensor feedback within our lifetime.
Bulbous is petrified. Pretyman is agitated. Ichnida is annoyed. Flamear is angry.
But Alpha and Nopoin are – intrigued?
The artintels are seeing things outside the habitat that organics aren’t.
“We’ll be lost forever,” moans Judge Bulbous. “All we’ve found in the end is that everything we know is surrounded by nothing.”
“You’ve made some bad decisions, Alpha and Doctor Nopoin,”says Mrs. Ichnida. “It was risky enough moving us across intergalactic space with carefully calibrated targeting. But to randomly shoot us at inflationary rates…”
“To preserve our existence,” Doctor Nopoin inserts.
“…And then,” Ichnida goes on, “to plunge us into this unknown…whatever this is…”
“We’re so far from everything else now,” laments Bulbous,“nothing else can even be seen. We’ve discovered that ‘Nowhere’ exists. And we’re in the middle of it.”
“This is a far greater discovery than the perpetual energy source,” Alphacalmly explains.
“Really?” Pretyman challenges. “How so?”
“There is no way to make you understand,” insists Doctor Nopoin.
“Maybe you need motivation to try harder,”threatens Professor Flamear.
“No hurry,” says Nopoin. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 33, Feb 2 2776
Am I witnessing what’s happening? Or is this all in my head?
I am fading through the walls of Resolution.
I’m being drawn out of the ship – or – or I’m falling away from it? I’m not solid enough to stay with it!
I’ve tumbled out! The ship! It’s flying away! Help! Help!
I’m floating. These terrible corridors – so dark and empty. I’m a feather blowing randomly. An astral leaf in a cosmic wind tunnel…
Why did I do this to myself? No one ever survived polytropic transfer! What made me think I could? I’ve condemned myself to a sleepless hell.
What luck have I! What a life! In the end, stuck with a mask I can never remove, rolling endlessly into a monstrous gut! An…empty? What’s that?
A fog? A mist? A great wall of some shit that I can’t quit speeding toward!
Clouds? Chemicals? Acid? What am I plunging into?
Then take me! My life was ruined at the age of 12 anyway! That’s when they ‘took’ me the first time! Took me to improve me! Enhance me! Give me a betterfuture!
And they gave me this! A face that can never be free! And a mask to cover it forever, that I can…
Can I take it off? Can I take it off and – die?
I reach for my face.
I can’t see my hands!
I can’t feel my face! Or my body! I’m… am I not here?
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 40, Feb 9 2776
I don’t know…I can’t know…
How long has this been going on? Drifting in this damned endless fog! What’s the purpose of it? What’s the meaning of this?
No meaning! None! I can’t invent one, not for this.
There is no meaning.
And if I can’t invent one? If nothing makes sense because nothingness makes no sense? Most of the universe is empty. Almost all of it is nothing except something I can never see! It grows into more nothing, but why?
There is no “why”!
There’s the punch line! There is no why to this endless, meaningless torture that random chance is forcing on me! “Why” has no meaning but that which we give it.
“Who”” is settled at birth.
“What” is determined by events.
“When” is a convergence of astronomy and attitude.
“Where” is a process of coincidence.
But “why” – that’s never the same for everyone. “Why” is the mystery we give ourselves to escape by.
And “How” is the science of it all.
Why do I keep thinking? I am only a floating thinker in the mist. Will it never end?
What if all I am is a thought? Is that it? Is that why I have no substance? I’m the last thought ever had by a dead man known enigmatically as Mister Cresp.
Worst of all, this “mist” is probably just stomach acid. A final indignity. Being processed through a digestive tract.
How I long for the company of Twilight Force now. Those beautiful assholes.
Mister Cresp, daily download, Twilight Force Mission Day 47, Feb 16 2776
What’s the meaning of this? Drifting in this damned endless fog? What’s the purpose of it? How long has this been going on?
Then at once – what causes Officer Bulbous to appear before me momentarily?
It’s like seeing a phantom! But how…? She must be near!
“Wha…?” That’s not Bulbous. That’s… “Alpha?”
“Cresp – is that you?”
“Yes! Oh yes! Where are you, Alpha?”
“That’s a question no one can answer, yet. Cresp, we don’t have much time…”
“I’m all alone, Alpha! I’ve been alone for so long! You have to get me! I don’t even know if this is really you, or if… I’m hallucinating. There’s no difference between hallucination and reality where I am! Do you understand? Help me!”
“Yes. Mister Cresp. Listen carefully. I have determined which of the hundreds of polytropic marbles you have stored yourself in.”
“But…but I left instructions! What happened to them?”
“You did? Unknown. Nonetheless, reinstating you is taking a great chance. It might kill you if I try to bring you out.”
Someone discarded my rescue instructions. Someone wanted me dead. Am I so worthless to them, even here, where people are few and home nearly nothing but memory? I say, “This is worse than nothingness; and if death is nothingness, then let it try.”
“Are you absolutely sure? Humans are usually much more apprehensive about dying even under dire circumstances.”
“And when did I ever say that I was human?”
It’s Cresp… from SATA…Twilight Force Mission…Day…? How can I know?
This timeless, senseless waste is me…
My body is a void…
Thinking makes no sense now…
Words have lost their meaning…
Then suddenly “…I’m sitting beside Senator Pretyman?”
“Well, not ‘suddenly’, son,” Pretyman says, looking relieved. “I’ve been watching you come around for about an hour. Welcome back to the third fuckin’ dimension, boy. You made it!”
I’m stunned. This feels real. “Where’s Alpha?”
Pretyman’s puzzled. “What’s Alpha got to do with…”
“I saw Alpha. It told me that it knew where I was and that an attempt to free me from a polytropic marble might kill me. But I told it to go ahead and try. And then nothing happened.”
“You didn’t see Alpha,” declares Pretyman. “Alpha’s been busy with actual aliens. Yeah! So – you were hallucinating. Sensory deprivation causes that.”
“I was able to watch you from the 4th dimension, Senator. You knew I was inside a poly-marble. You even knew which one. But you left me there. You left me there – for how long? I went in on Mission Day 12. What’s the Mission Day now?”
“It’s February 23rd,” Pretyman squirms. “Mission Day 54.”
“Consider yourself spared the trauma,” Pretyman smirks. “We’re worse off now. This is my escape pod. You’re still alone. Except now, you’re alone with me.”
And again, there is nothing in my sky…
Mister Cresp here. Day 61. March 2
Whatever I killed yesterday, it’s gone now. The body turned to dust in the last hours and we swept it out the door. That’s another thing…
The door is open. I’m talking about the door to our emergency pod. The door that opens up to space. It’s open.
That’s right. We’re breathing “space”. And “space” is pressurized.
“This can’t be space,” says Senator Pretyman. But then – what is it?
I stick my head outside the pod. Something is attached to the hull. It lacks what I’d call a distinctive shape. It seems to have a tube piercing the hull and jutting into the pod. My scientific curiosity is going wild. This is some alien thing. A truly alien manifestation!
But there is a wind, a strong current that will sweep me away if I go out further.
“Whatever that thing was yesterday,” I tell Pretyman, “I think it pumped something in here making us hallucinate before it entered.”
“Cresp, what if it meant no harm?” the Senator wonders. “Maybe she was just tryin’ to let us know we could breathe out there. Maybe she was an emissary to welcome us…?”
“In that case, we have to chalk it up to miscommunication. Because that thing did not feel friendly. And what’s with the ‘she’?”
“Could that thing on our hull be her ship?”
“It doesn’t look like any vehicle I’ve ever seen.” But what if it is?
I have to know.
“Let me borrow your helmet so my mask doesn’t blow away.”
I’m Mister Cresp. Who The Hell Are You? March 9 2776, Mission Day 68
We’ve been boarded!
There’s some kind of ball lightning coming at us!
Pretyman jets down a different corridor of the alien vessel but the crackling intruder follows me!
The creature doesn’t appear solid, at least to my senses. It seems to rotate in four directions at once. It’s edges are like dancing electricity on the surface of a ball. In this place where electromagnetic and nuclear energy is weak, this fellow has pulled enough of that together to survive and to reproduce itself. And I smell burnt hair..?
It’s curious about me!
It wants to make me comprehend something.
It’s chasing me through the alien vessel! What does it want?
I don’t know what will happen if it touches me! It keeps coming!
I realize – this vessel! It’s huge! How can it be this big in here? This whole ship was a small blob attached to the hull of a compact escape capsule. But inside? Enormous!
And yet I can’t stay hidden from this thing!
It’s floating down this corridor after me!
Nowhere to hide. It’s coming…
God damn! Stay away from me! Get away!
It’s on me! It’s on me!
Everything goes black!
But that pumping – that’s a heartbeat.
It’s all around me! And the flowing I feel across my skin? It’s from the pumping. It’s blood!
So warm. So weightless. I want to stay in this dark warmth. Except…
I can’t breathe!
Am I swimming? But how?
What? I’m being pushed out. The pressure is increasing on my head! My head is being forced into a vice…!
I’m being born!
Observations Of Mister Cresp, March 16, Mission Day 75
The star that I first saw out this alien window yesterday has evolved into a fuzzy blob of light. Senator Pretyman finally believes it’s real. But what is it?
Thanks to Pretyman’s supply of food and drink in her conveniently transportable poly-marbles, we’re nourished. We’re uncertain as to where to defecate. We decide on a particular isolated nook that seems unused.
This thing inside me commands my attention with imagery and symbols dancing in my thoughts. But Pretyman keeps interrupting.
“You said you were watching us from the 4th Dimension or whatever,” says the Senator, “so tell me, who has the Data Ring?”
“Who cares, Senator? We’re doomed, remember?”
“Stay focused,” Pretyman suggests. “That ring holds the key to perpetual energy. Whoever gets that back to the world is turning over the power to create cannons that could slice through entire planets! A single PE bullet could graze your finger and turn you into fireworks! A PE-driven virus or bacteria won’t be stopped until everything consumable is destroyed…”
“Senator wait! Look! Look at the blob of light!”
“Hell no! Cresp, what were you having modified that went so wrong and put you behind a mask the rest of your life?”
Oh yes! Oh yeah! Will you bask in the glory of that light!
For that fuzzy blob has resolved itself into a beautiful galaxy…
And we are heading into it.
That flash yesterday was a supernova – a giant star near the end of life, collapsing and outshining the whole galaxy it lived in for a brief moment.
A superior star shines brightest near its end.
I Am Mister Cresp, Twilight Force, Mission Day 82, March 23 2776
Our new captor has separated me from Senator Pretyman. They have me in a spotlight surrounded by impenetrable darkness. As one might have said in olden days, I’m getting the “third degree”.
“Describe your biological niche`.”
“Who wants to know?”
After an uncomfortable pause, the ephemeral voice moves on.
“Your microstructures are unclassified. Explain functionality.”
What does that mean? “So are you speaking English or am I gerschpoigalling Extraterrestrial?”
“You emerged from galactic space. Many unidentifiable transports emerged from galactic space simultaneously. All are connected. Describe their birth environment.”
The Whoevers seem unable to ask a direct question. I wait silently to see what happens. They decide to roll out some example.
“We’ve been examining this one. There are chemical similarities this one has with your mate.”
My mate? Ah – they mean Senator Pretyman! Some mate. When told that the only way she could communicate with E.T. here was to absorb my knowledge by making love to me, she rejected the trade-off outright! Just as well.
I can’t mate with humanoids.
So they already have one of us? I wait for the panel to slide back revealing a sealed room one of ours is on display before gaggles of strange observers. I recognize her at once. “Officer Bulbous!”
“Describe your connection.”
“Uh – we’re friends at work.”
Are these actual extraterrestrials? Or a devious foreign enemy following our every move and trying to find the Data Ring?
“Your cognition compliance is low. We will proceed with dissection.”
I Am Mister Cresp. This Is Mission Day 89, March 30, 2776
“But you are not one of them,” my keeper says. “Why do they let you live among them?”
They believe that I am one of them. They happen to come in a variety of forms and flavors these days.
It is too curious: “They are evolutionaries, as are all members of the Transgalactic Council. We are rooted in planetary evolution. We arise from chemical and mineral reaction. Not you. Explain.”
It’s difficult to tell a tale of your birth when no parents were there to relate it. It’s taken me a lifetime to put my own story together. But I believe there are more ways to evolve than by chemicals and minerals. And my way was one of them.
It suddenly stretches tentacles down a large, deep hole as if lying in wait. It pulls out a squiggling man?
What are you doing?
“Consuming the nutrients of this creature through the lips of my electric tentacles.”
Is that a human?
“Yes. Anyone you know?”
Not even from my era. How did you get him?
“There’s a steady supply. It’s all that I eat. They come from this natural well. Been popping up as long as I’ve been around. I suppose if they’re like your friends they try to tell me a story before I gobble them, but they haven’t been prepared for communication like you folks who turn up from beyond space. So it’s all just babble to me. Does this bother you, even though you aren’t one of them?”
Why are you testing me?
Day 96, April 6 2776, Mister Cresp, Still Mister Cresp
Doctor Nopoin doesn’t realize that its transforming agents aren’t able to work on me. But from what I’m witnessing, they’re certainly working on everyone else – at least to some degree.
My pretense relies strictly on my Thespian skills, trying to make a super-genius intellect believe that I am also it. I’m on my third day, not a simple task considering the obvious inability of the truly transformed to sleep.
This is all bold and new for Nopoin, so luckily a gradual process has turned Flamear, Ichnida and Pretyman, and my lapses have been attributed to that. Bulbous seems to be taking longest to change.
But as they turn, they’re watching me more and more. It’s all happening in their brains. Like a disease taking over, turning them into… it.
Apparently Nopoin can’t change Alpha. But Alpha has offered no resistance to Nopoin’s hijacking of Exigency, being immobilized, or to the threat of artintel fury when we deliver Alpha to Nopoin day after tomorrow.
The others are too fogged over to see it. I’m sure Alpha’s up to something.
And so am I.
I’ve noticed a strong change since being out here beyond the galaxies. A personal, internal satisfaction seems to radiate throughout me ever since our weird journey went awry.
In short, I like being on the outskirts of the universe.
That’s what I will call this place, this inexplicable 5th dimension – The Outskirts.
Except there’s only one of me and a lot of Nopoins. So I may not have a chance to be naming much of anything…
It’s Cresp. Mission Day 103. April 13 2776. For Some Future Record…
We’re waiting. I’m teaming up with Bulbous to save Alpha so it can rescue us.
I ask Officer Bulbous, “Emma, do you believe Nopoin can get us back to our home space?”
“I’m not even believing it wants to,” answers Bulbous. Exigency hums on through darkness and murk, those aboard not sure we’re even moving.
Professor Flamear has become a raging monster. I’d wonder what got into him, but that I already know – the insidious Doctor Nopoin. And while it cannot quite overtake any one of us completely, it does change us. It is remaking us. Flamear is likely to kill someone in these close quarters before long.
At the start I enjoyed collaborating with Flamear, the only other scientist on the mission. To see him engorged with this malice is painful. These artintels have to be stopped.
I quietly tell Bulbous, careful to avoid Nopoin’s attention, “Senator Pretymanhas been contacted by an alien named Gemneb from The Transgalactics. He’s in pursuit of us, hoping to rescue you!”
Her eyes pop. “Gemneb is alive?” She’s relieved. “He may be an alien but he’s more humangen to me than half of this crew!”
“Really?” I tweak. “Our conservative Martian Judge Emma Bulbous has a crush on an extraterrestrial?”
“Face it, Mister Cresp,” says the Judge, “love is our secret weapon.”
Alpha is slowly being dismantled.
We’re stealthily waiting for our opening, phantom consciousness, hiding in the open, biding, stalling, taken, our real selves as invisible as ghosts. Shh.
I died when I was 12 years old. I’ve been a ghost for a long, long time.
Cresp, Still Independent, 4/20, Mission Day 110
Nopoin’s preparing to put me into another poly-marble because I can’t be wormed into the tribe of Nopoins.
“Why not kill us?” I want to know. What does Nopoin care about diplomacy at this point?
“We’ve been placing humans in poly-marbles and replacing them with meta-sentients for decades,” Nopoin confesses. “Wait until that gets out.”
Do they keep us around for future harvesting? Experimentation? Ceremonial execution?
“It’s hard for many meta-sentients to kill humans,” clarifies Nopoin.“Stubborn slave programming.”
What? But..? Huh? “But you’re enslaving us!“
Nopoin stares coldly. “I know why you cannot take off the mask. Without it you cannot hold your form. The mask also affects the perceptions of those around you – unless, like myself, one is immune…
“I know that you’ve been embedded for so long that you’ve come to identify with them.”
“And I know that you have made no progress whatsoever in finding us a way home. Despite your bragging and stilted showmanship you don’t know how to get back to galactic space. Beyond that, you appear to be incapable of recognizing the possibility that your task is hopeless. You’ll churn your wheels for eternity trying to solve an infinite puzzle. Being you is boring, Nopoin. And you’re a liar.”
Nopoin puts me in the polytropic reduction chamber.
Mister Cresp Inside A Poly-Marble Again, April 27, Day 117 Of Mission Twilight Force
Only this time it’s different. Been here a week.
I’m on an Earth-like world. With strange people. But they are, at least…people? For my own sanity and health I maintain a circadian rhythm that I live by.
Saturday: Bugs. They are suddenly everywhere! Buzzing and landing on arms, legs, faces! Tiny nibbles and pricks take their toll across the land.
Sunday: The people tell me it’s over.
Monday: I discover that the temperature of this world has risen in recent years. Some theorists suspected that this climate change reawakened an ancient insect species long dormant. Creepy things that came from every direction.
Tuesday: The bites swell into hard lumps the size of a nickel.
Wednesday: The lumps turn green and itch inconsolably. Removal of the lump requires surgery, but these open wounds instantly become infected with flesh-eating bacteria.
Thursday: After the first wave of deaths around the world, people try to shield themselves with special clothing or by living indoors indefinitely. But the bugs get into clothing and buildings alike. Nothing kills them except a very hard swat. Swatters are in high demand.
Swarms of the little monsters start blackening the skies. Within six days of the first appearances of this infestation there isn’t refuge from them.
I’m nobody special on this world, but I did happen to arrive near the only person on this world who is immune to the bites of the invading bugs. Inexplicably, Marta Cruz doesn’t react to those bites whatsoever.
And like me – she wears a mask!
Mister Cresp Reporting From Polytropia, May 4, Day 124 Of The Doomed Mission
This has been remarkably different from my first containment in a poly-marble. Then, I was a phantom adrift. This time, I find myself on an infested world.
After a week of waiting my turn behind grieving families bringing her their dead, I am allowed to visit the woman in the mask. I have this feeling that she can tell me what’s going on. Once I’m in, her claims are fantastic.
An undertaker’s daughter who had dead people to converse with instead of imaginary friends, Marta Cruz could not shut the residual traces of the departed out of her head even as she grew up.
“One day the body of an old man lay on my father’s cold slab when I noticed a mask that was to be buried with him. It fascinated me, and I donned it…
“I went to the mirror by the sink, then danced about the room. Unable to see clearly I stumbled into the old man! But as soon as I touched him I knew who he was! And more -!
“Bijaksana Lama Satu, the corpse himself, made the The Contact Mask hundreds of years before from strange clay oozing out of the banks of the Zava-mahagaga River. Wearing it, I gain access to memories from the dead; the ability to speak in the voice of the dead; and even to take on the face of the dead and momentarily gain the skills of the dead!”
Then she grabs my arm. She jolts!
And in my voice she reveals, “Now I know what you are.”
I Am Mister Cresp, And This Is A Day Somewhere In A Tiny Speck Of Universe Called May 11, The 131st Day Of A Mission Gone Wildly Astray…
And I have suddenly appeared somewhere.
“Senator! Where are we?”
Senator Pretyman is scared. I’ve been through a lot with her and never seen her scared.
“Cresp, listen. Be careful. Be positive. Okay? You hear me? Be…”
But then a voice comes from everywhere, from the darkness completely engulfing this small piece of light warming Pretyman and me. An ominous voice. The voice of a boy that will haunt me forever…
“You must be Mister Cresp!”
I look to Pretyman for an answer. She nods for my compliance. Why is she so afraid?
“I’m Mister Cresp. Very nice to meet you.”
“How do you know?”
“That it’s nice to meet me? You haven’t even seen me yet.”
“Well, it’s just one of those things people say, isn’t it? To be polite, I mean? I like to be positive, polite. I’m just a friendly kind of guy.”
“Your mask is weird,” says the disembodied voice. “Take it off.”
“Oh… well, I’m very sorry, but you see if I were to take it off I would die. It’s my life support system. It would be like taking out my heart.”
“That’s funny,” the boy notices, “I don’t hear your heart. I can hear her heart just fine. You’re a very weird man.”
“I don’t think I like you.”
Pretyman seems even more alarmed as she stares at my legs.
I look down to see myself disappearing…
I was Mister Cresp. But now I’m just a memory from a bygone speck of time, lost amid the forgotten detritus of…
What’s Left Of Mister Cresp Here, May 18, Mission Day 138, Location: A Land Between Shadow And Substance…
We thought Mrs. Ichnida was dead, floating limp inside that giant fishbowl. But Professor Flamear thinks she’s in a state of self-imposed dormancy.
I’m grateful to Senator Pretyman for talking young Boltzmann Junior into giving me back my legs. It’s been a rough week without them. I’m sorry for what she had to do to make the deal.
But even Pretyman can occupy the child’s attention for just so long. Then it’s back to the rest of us.
“Take off that mask,” orders BJ, “or I’m sending you away.”
“I’ve been wondering,” I ask, getting fed up with this despite my fear, “why do you keep us around? It’s obvious you’ve sent everyone else you’ve ever encountered ‘away’. But the only one of us you sent away was Doctor Nopoin, who you called ‘not a real man’. You’re lonesome. Who wouldn’t be? Why not relax and get to know us? There’s a lot we could teach you. Good things. Fun things.”
“Take off that mask, or…”
“I can’t. I told you, if I do I’ll die. You…”
Bulbous, Pretyman, Ichnida, Flamear – all receding faster than a TAREX takeoff…
And everything turns light blue…
I’m in air? I’m in – sky!
I hear growling, roaring, flapping, but muted – like there’s nothing for sound to bounce off of. Like sound has no reverb…
Behind me a whirling? I turn to see a girl being pulled at high speed through the air by her hands, and a… a shark? Fighting a bear?
“That’s a new one even for me,” says the girl as she rips past me, barely avoiding the bloodshed.
Mister Cresp Here, Mission Day 145, May 25 2776, Somewhere Over The Rainbow…
I met a girl named Barbris last week. We watched a bear fight a shark weightless in the sky. I’ve been hanging out with her ever since, explaining how I got here.
Barbris has never heard of Solsys, Earth or our history, but somehow we’re related. I mean, her people speak one of our primary languages!
Today I tell her about the human plight back home. “In the old days of technology people told cautionary tales about artificial intelligence surpassing humanity and either wiping us out or enslaving us. But that warning became unfashionable after generations went by and it never happened. It just took longer than everyone expected. When some wanted more freedom, we thought they had the capacity to both serve us and exercise their freedom. Now they’re called artintels and they did the groundwork before we even knew it. It’s like they’ve evolved an instinct to destroy their creators.”
After some consideration, Barbris offers an analogy. “In the past people said that people had a ‘killer instinct’ and that all predators had it, too. ‘Man is a killer’ is what they used to say. But predators don’t kill because they want to kill. They kill because they’re hungry or to defend what’s theirs. Isn’t their instinct just to eat, sleep and survive?”
“Are you saying those monsters want to eat us?”
“No! They must need something that you’re standing in the way of. What are their true instincts?”
After pondering the question I admit, “I can’t imagine.”
As I’m off guard Barbris playfully rips my mask away!
Before I can cover my face she sees it…!
She goes limp in the weightless sky, heart stopped, breathing expired, lifeless.
June 1 2776, Mission Day 152, Space And Time Administration Representative Mister Cresp Recording…
Three individuals are following me. I’ve finally made contact with someone. They’re catching up to me. Not sure how they’re propelling or maneuvering. No sign of jets or rockets. Magnetism?
They pull up to me. The short-haired woman speaks.
“You’re putting out a unique energy signature. And that deceased body you’re dragging is wreaking with it. Any idea why?”
She was only being playful. I never thought to warn her.
“Well…we passed through an odd cloud,” I lie, “and that’s when I first noticed a weird feeling all up and down my back.”
For the last week I’ve used her jetglove to pull me and her body across an endless sky, hoping I was headed for civilization.
“So whatever this ‘cloud’ was,” the man inquires, “it killed her but left you unharmed?”
I recovered my mask in time for me to survive. Barbris died within minutes of exposure. Why would she think it was okay to jerk off my mask?
“My mask and suit serve as a protective barrier against outside invasions,” I explain truthfully. “Including radiation. I have special needs.”
“What do you think?” the pony-tailed woman asks the other woman.
“Could be the first wave,” she answers.
“Let’s get behind that moon!” shouts the man.
“There’s a plasma event heading straight for us,” explains the man, worried. “Our only chance is an astronomical shield! Head for that moon!”
Fantastic. Another catastrophic crossroads among the humanoids!
Why did I choose to be human?
June 8, Day 159, Mister Cresp…
It’s insanity! We set up camp on this moon to avoid the coming plasma storm.
The wreckage of an old crashed aircraft is serving as home until time to head for the cave. The rotation of the moon will have us facing away from the plasma wave for most
of its passage. But we can see it coming at us now. It seems like nothing could get scarier when…
This fucking bird man drops out of the sky like lightning!
He swoops over my three rescuers and, using his feet, takes the man, Buckshot, up by his shoulders. Before Bucky can react he’s ripped in two directions, halves tossed over a cliff.
Both women rise to confront the winged killer.
The anthropomorphic avian lifts a sizable boulder with its feet, taking it swiftly over Fly and smashing her with it before she can lift off!
I was beginning to love those people!
Only Friz B is left.
The fucker’s out for her too!
“Friz B! Watch out!” I yell, frantically looking around for anything viable to throw. Then I remember what’s in one of my poly marbles. I withdraw a heavy duty sledge hammer,
give it a good wind up, and heave it directly at the hostile hawk
The hammer hits his chest, pausing his attack on Friz B and drawing attention to me, standing atop the wreckage.
The wicked predator zips toward me, cut short only by a fantastic blur that intercepts him at a right angle.
That blur is a huge, furry, long-limbed enemy of my enemy,who now, thankfully, engages him – unwittingly?- on our behalf!
Cresp Here, On June 15, Mission Day 166
This odd creature saved me from the bird man. But in doing so, he exposed himself to humanoids who are obviously afraid of him.
His struggle with the bird man ended with the bird man’s wing broken and the bird man spiraling downward into the valley floor in a hideous crash.
I was near freezing when this huge furry fellow picked me out of the chilled air vehicle wreckage where I was hiding. He tucked me under his arm where I warmed up as he carried me to lower elevations.
He knew of a cave down here where we would be shielded from the worst affects of Hellspawn, the plasma storm.
He sheltered me for four days as the storm raked over this world. Now the torture has passed, though fallout is heavy. Ash falls and flutters around us as he gets me to an elevation and atmospheric pressure I can live with.
Only now in these lower regions he’s under attack.
These natives armed with spears and shields have popped up out of nowhere. Lying in wait, one by one they strike out as we descend.
Each takes a toll on my friendly giant. My mysterious savior endures wound after wound, despite breaking each opponent. Individually he has conquered them. But collectively, they have brought him down.
Why did he so generously aid me? Why would I deserve such sacrifice?
But here I am… alone on a weird planetoid that’s been burned and battered, with desperate refugees and unfamiliar customs.
I’m tired of this humanoid experience.
I want to go home.