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Transdimensional Blues

Raymond Coulombe
The Greer Agency

Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

Harris Tobias

The Geometric Cereal Incursion

by John Henson Webb

It was a dark night; a thick bank of cloud obscured the moon.

‘Pygathrix? Riffen?’

Phroz favoured his compatriot with an attempted glance, the gesture shifting his left ocular bone shield several degrees vertically, projecting a bulge of skin horizontally. 'Hmmm...'

Kroom sought to regain his partners’ good graces. ‘Well pygathrix (1) come from an agrarian culture, but the Riffen do employ geometric pictograms as part of the written language.’ Another vague thought intruded. ‘HoöLock. They leave large carvings on rock faces. Maybe they just used what was to hand... Tentacle!’

Phroz increased the ferocity of his gaze. It didn’t, however, convey the intended level of contempt, so after a moment he resorted to slapping Kroom with the butt of his molecular destabilizer.

Fiddling with the visicaster’s focus knob, Phroz tried to see the design as a whole, the arabesques, curlicues, the straight lines. It looked like nothing he could recall seeing before. And in such an odd setting.

Beneath the saucer, stretching miles in every direction, lay fields of the feathery herbage humans seem to cultivate in their more temperate planetary zones. Phroz needed an answer. After the failure of a previous mission he and his erstwhile partner had spent numerous work cycles attempting to rejoin the advance incursion, in readiness for the first invasion wave. If this mission were deemed a failure the Overseer had made less than subtle suggestions as to where the pair might be re-assigned. Heloderma III was a ball of regolith situated a little to close for comfort to its blue giant primary. Xeno-Geology Section were after a team to catalogue ambient radiation levels in different rock strata. Phroz could carry the pickaxe and Kroom the bucket...

Stuck in something of a mental cul-de-sac, Kroom was still considering possible miscreants.
‘T’zatziki. I’ve heard they like to mark their conquests with guild marques - usually carved out with neutron disrupters though.’ The bio-geologic recorders hadn’t bleeped any significant levels of ionizing radiation, so that was probably a dead end.

There came an erratic clicking sound, of Phroz switching his zap gun between ‘stun’ and ‘annihilate’ (2).
Kroom found himself engrossed in silent contemplation of their galley stores – freeze-dried jilbar (decaffeinated); bunt crackers (unsalted); breedle-cheese (spreadable)(3).

If the Overseer didn’t get the information he’d requested the results wouldn’t mean demotion exactly, but Phroz could already feel the first faint tickle of a lethal dose of sunlight... Perhaps Kroom was right; maybe another race had already stumbled over this seemingly insignificant ball of dirt in the trailing-end of a spiral arm; maybe they’d already laid claim to it. HoöLock were avid collectors of other people’s planets, but there were no indications they’d headed this way; neither had the Riffen shown any interest in this neck of the galactic back-woods. The galaxy was still a biggish place, despite several races bumping into each other in their search for new real estate to exploit. Bickering had, obviously, broken out several times and to differing degrees. Being a pacifist race the Vombatidae preferred negotiation, and were the proud owners of the only ever-decreasing empire amongst the star-faring races. Being, quite frankly, the nastiest quadrupeds ever to discover cold fusion, pygathrix usually opted for large guns and small jars to keep souvenirs in. T’zatziki didn’t bother with souvenirs... Not that neutron disrupters left much worth collecting. They weren’t a tidy race; Phroz didn’t think a dustpan and brush were standard T’zatziki equipment.

A jab in the ribs from Kroom came at the wrong moment and he found himself with Phroz’s molecular destabilizer pressed against his slightly bulbous forehead.
‘What?’ Phroz’s voice had lost any remnant of its usual jocular inflection.
Without saying a word, Kroom pointed toward the visicaster. There was movement at the edge of the cereal field. Phroz checked stealth mode was active and set about twiddling the focus knob, bringing the intruders into clearer view. Three humans, carrying short planks, pieces of rope and a container of bottled beers moved into the field. Having first emptied a bottle of beer apiece, they begin the laborious task of adding to the design.

Phroz and Kroom brought their faces closer to the visicaster screen and watched in silence for several minutes. As usual Kroom broke the near silence.
‘Why are humans interfering with the glyphs?’

With a whooshing sound and a pulsing light-show, the saucer broke stealth, passed up through the clouds and exited the atmosphere. On the long-range visicaster Kroom noted that the humans were now moving in straight lines – at speed and away from the design they’d been working upon.

Ship log reported the mission inconclusive and recommended an immediate review of all known written languages. A suggestion of incompetence on the part of the saucernauts was met with knowing nods among the senior staff. The pair were re-assigned to traffic patrol on the outer edge of the third spiral arm.


(1) Not strictly accurate - having eaten all the fauna upon their home planet the pygathrix are currently devouring the flora, in alphabetical order – they’re a very precise race.

(2) Alien weapons have fourteen settings, eight of which are ‘stun’ – these range from ‘Slight Chafing’ through ‘Ringing-in-Ears’, via ‘Very Unpleasant Nausea’ to ‘Unconsciousness’. It’s worth noting that Phroz was constantly annoyed that hand-held weaponry didn’t feature a ‘Disintegrate’ setting. ‘Annihilate’ does little more than cause a bad skin rash.

(3) Less a cheese and more a non-Newtonian fluid.


Supplemental Footnote:

Crop circles, as they are incorrectly labelled, are usually sizable geometric patterns created through the process of flattening areas of cereal crop, such as barley, maize or wheat. Though the height of the phenomena, in the UK at least, was in the late 1970’s, crop-circle-like formations have been reported in many countries over several hundred years and continue to this day. Some have been ascribed to whirlwinds or other freak meteorological causes, many to human hoaxers. Some, however, have been located near to observed UFO activity.

2014-05-08 03:45:52
a very strange story. I'm not sure what to say. I would send these two to some retraining camp. besides we have 1st rights of refusal on the planet. signed: The Alpha 520 Cluster, Rudianos, Local God of war.

2014-05-07 23:45:14
Ironspider - The actual sentence at line 3 was supposed to be "Phroz favoured his compatriot with an attempt at a withering glare..", but somehow it got mangled in the upload - my fault!

2014-05-07 05:52:06
micheledutcher - I love the footnotes - very humorous, especially the different settings of the stun gun. Great stuff!

2014-05-05 11:44:29
Third line missing a word? with an attempted....,line 10 incorrect use of too.It is Otherwise a cute story ,well done with likable aliens. The footnotes are cool too

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