Categories
Speculative Fiction

Fleece

“The original book cover of the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a Science-Fiction by Philip k. Dick inspired me to write Fleece. The theme for this story was the word ‘abattoir’, and this sheep simply inspired me.”

Lolly quickly took her habitual notebook and recorder, engulfed a piece of coconut bun, sipped a mug of warm sweetened milk tea, before rushing till her car to drive for about three hours till the next town found on the other island. She was already very late, and she didn’t like crossing the bridge on these moonless and starless nights, for all of that dark and wide space that surrounded this lighted passageway gave her terrible anxieties… because deep inside, she knew that this horrible gigantic creature of the night eyed at all passers-by.

Lolly was a successful worldwide blogger of the paranormal realm; also the author of Dancing With Ghosts and Fiona The Sad Spirit. Having herself witnessed and experienced many strange phenomena since she was very little, Lolly decided to become a private investigator who deals with all things paranormal, and created a blog with articles about her investigations. She also wrote two best-selling horror books that were inspired by the supernatural she encountered in her everyday life. Her paranormal blog Uncanny World was one among the most read website of the Internet, and she poured all her heart and soul in every article she wrote about all of these strange and frightening phenomena that some people witnessed and experienced – where most of them, Lolly often thought, lived a strange life too.

Recently, when she was investigating on site about a talking bird that the inhabitants of SD Town witnessed, she met Ranpal, a burgeoning mystic who often filmed some of the paranormal phenomena he was drawn to. Instantly these two clicked, and both decided to associate as to investigate on the various paranormal activities that people informed them about. Lolly mainly interrogated witnesses, wrote and posted on Uncanny World, while Ranpal examined the area or subject that was under their loop; did the necessary research, filmed and edited the videos to accompany Lolly’s blog posts.

Thus on that day Lolly was going to the small village of Ini so as to investigate on a series of slaughtering that took place after woolen domestic and reared animals strangely disappeared from their shelter at night. The day before Oley called Lolly for help as soon as she noticed that her cuddle pet that slept on her bed strangely disappeared in the middle of the night. The disappearance of her sheep Woolley affected her badly. At the end of the line she wailed and screamed, seemed confused and was worried sick. There was so much heartache in her voice, that Lolly decided to help her right away.

“Your hair looks like Woolley. Can I touch?” Oley asked Lolly.

Not at all estranged by the situation Lolly said yes.

“Yes… your hair is sheepskin, wool and fleece… curly black fleece… just like my friendly bud Woolley… you need to find her Lolly… please, find her,” Oley said as she achingly sobbed.

“I will,” Lolly said, intrigued by all these strange disappearances.

“You will never guess what happened last year in this little village, Lolly,” Ranpal said enthusiastically.

“No… I am unable to play the guess game right now… I am way too touched… that girl is an emotional wreck,” Lolly sighed.

“Well, in the local journal archives I read that a small meteorite fell around here… and the man that found the rock speculated insanely about this event, and I thought that it would be a good idea to go visit the guy.”

“Let’s take my car, and while I drive you’ll continue the story,” Lolly said.

“The guy’s name is Ulder, and one night while walking his dog Ully, strangely a poodle, a rock of the size of a fist fell from the sky right in front of him. The next day he told everyone what he discovered, but nobody took him seriously. Only a local newspaper covered the story, partly, and while they interviewed him three weeks later, it seemed, as detailed by the newspaper, that he was another man – he seemed tensed and paranoid every time his dog ran in the room… he insanely said that it was spying on them… that a parasite came with that rock, and professed that we were all doomed… and you know what? They wrote the article as if it was a humorous speculative fiction.”

“Well… very interesting finds… I’ve never worked on alien things, only on ghost-like things… spectral and ectoplasmic, untouchable and translucent. It’s a little village, and everyone knows everything about everyone, and are even perhaps very close to each other… so I guess that they lightened the story so as to make the guy seem less crazy.”

The front yard of Ulder’s house was in a very neglected state, as if nobody lived there anymore. The front door was not locked, and inside it did not smell of roses. On the table lay notes filled of nonsensical scribbles and newspapers from other parts of the world, all opened on the miscellaneous section with the same date that this meteorite fell down from the sky. On one of the newspapers Lolly and Ranpal read an article about people that witnessed a bright flare in the sky, on another one speculators talked about the explosion of a secret space lab, and the last one they read talked about an unknown organism that could have been released during the explosion of that space laboratory.

“Of course, this is all speculation… made up stories from insane minds… denial upon no proof,” Ranpal said.

“That’s why we are the fact-finding committee who tries to shed light on these shady issues… though we are much more incline towards what’s paranormal, I guess we could also help lift the veil upon these conspiracy theories.”

Suddenly a panicked black sheep ran inside the room, followed by a hysterical man with a saw. Immediately Lolly gently caught the frightened sheep, Ranpal took out his electroshock weapon and shot an electric charge on the man’s arm. He fell down, and Ranpal instantly took his saw and threw it away.

“No…” the man said painfully, “don’t touch that sheep… don’t touch it… your hair… your tuft curled woolen short hair…”

“Who are you? Are you Ulder? Are you the one that slaughters all of these innocent animals? Are you crazily insane or what?” Ranpal asked calmly.

“Yes, I am Ulder… I killed all of these animals so as to protect us all… they were all infected by something that only lives on living things that have tuft curled woolen coat or hair… it’s the first time that it will inhabit a human hair… I don’t know what it will do… we can’t let it leave the village.”

“I have already called the cops, Ranpal. Our work here is over. Just lock him up in the other room. We need to return the sheep, and then I have to write, and then you have to edit the film,” Lolly said as she walked the sheep till the car.

“Look! Have you seen that? She is not the same anymore… this is not your friend… it’s that thing… listen to me, there is another meteorite that fell from the sky that same day… this, is a she, because she only takes on females, so, there is a possibility that the other one that fell is a male… and if they mate, we are all doomed. They feed on iron things, but also on human and animal blood.”

“Surely we will find a right explanation for all that you claim… and know that my friend is not anybody else… she is Lolly, she is tough, she fought a demonic entity so as to set herself free from its possession… so don’t think that an alien species bred on a space lab can make her cower, nor make her lose her mind… she’ll fight till her last breath, she’ll fight that thing with all her might.”

Lolly stopped the car on the well lit bridge and stared for a long time at the void.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. An interesting quote by the philosophical man called Nietzsche… what do you think about that miss?” Asked the man who suddenly appeared from nowhere, and who strangely had the same type of hair as Lolly.

She smiled, and said, “I do think that the man was right, because from his point of view it seems that we are all puppets on a string that are unable to think from the bottom of our heart.”

“Yes. Little houses and hosts and strings.”

“Tell me, do you like coconut buns and sweet tea with milk?”

He strangely and confusedly stared at Lolly, trying to discern the depth of her eyes.

But Lolly immediately said, “O! Let me rephrase my question. Would you like a glass of thick red wine and a piece of juicy raw meat? And I’ll also invite a dear friend of mine.”

He nodded with a satirical smirk on his face, knowingly that they were both going to eat the world.

And Lolly smiled on the inside, knowingly that she was going to give to her readers one of her best articles.

Categories
Speculative Fiction

Paradise Echo

To write this story, for which ‘deserting’ is the main theme, I inspired myself from the book catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I tried to imagine why the author described war as being absurd, or even, why he wrote an absurdist fiction.

“24 January: I am still looking for it – for that hidden paradise where streams pure water; where grows trees and plants that give abundant fruits and seeds, while the sea that surrounds it is forever replenished with seafood. There are also many grottos on which creeps morning glories whose leaves and flowers are as large as a hand. It’s all stated in this carnet I found buried under a large rock. Since I read this notebook, my night dreams are filled with things of great beauty instead of ruby red nightmare. Everything seems so splendid. I know that it exists. I am sure that true paradise exists…”

Suddenly the echo of atomic waves blasted the surrounding. Pace grabbed the old leather notebook, entered his craft, and flew away as quickly as possible. The scenery offered was a desolate and bleak one; of death and misery. He knew that he had to save his life; deep inside he felt that this war was not his, that he had been enrolled by force. And then he coincidentally discovered the notebook that had been written in another time by two other soldiers like him – two different handwritings, two different epochs, one began and the other one finished. They were both like him, asking the same questions, wanting to desert that cursed place, this hopeless area of war. And this serendipitous finding he made amidst the chaos, the incomprehension, and the absurdity of war, strengthened his want to set himself free from such horrible duties, and confirmed his belief about the existence of a peaceful place.

He wrote, and Pace read: “I am not a lesser man if I refuse to make war on other men like me. Instead, I am more of a man, with a heart and empathy… I am the novel man, a civilized man.” Everyday Pace read some lines, and everyday he dreamt of evasion.

“That’s so strange, Pace, we have technological advanced devices that talk directly to our mind, and you are still doing that outdated activity. How do we call that again?… O yes… reading.” But Pace did not reply, instead he watched the sky, the only place that was not stained with blood.

“6 April: I think I know where it is, paradise. I found a strange man who had only large dried leaves on. He seemed in a neglected state, but seemed healthy. I think when he saw the carnet in my hand he knew then. I followed him till the vast cemetery of old combat vehicles… this infertile land of weaponry. But suddenly buzzing drones appeared in the sky, right above my head, and they ordered me to leave immediately this restricted area. Fortunately they didn’t search me, for they would have found the notebook, the inkwell, and the quill pen. That’s where I think that this strange wild man disappeared amidst this vast ocean of dead vehicles that lounge the horizon. Paradise is there. I know it’s there, I know that my last records will close the final chapter of this notebook. Has the previous soldier been able to reach Elysium? Perhaps… and I won’t stop writing for you to find.”

That night, intrigued and thrilled by what he had read, Pace quietly went to the restricted area, that sinistered cemetery of dead vehicles. He wanted to see that place with his own eyes.

But suddenly the buzzing drones appeared. “Name and grade, soldier,” commanded the robotic voice.

“Pace Paze, soldier Pace Paze,” he replied nervously.

“And what are you doing in a restricted area, soldier Pace Paze?”

“I thought that I saw the enemy, thus followed them quietly till this area. But apparently it was only my imagination… I think that I had a delusional moment,” Pace replied, though he never saw who they were really fighting, and why this war has been going on for fifty years.

“Okay then, soldier. But don’t forget to go see the doctor tomorrow morning.”

“26th of July: to go there you need to wear dark clothes and dark glasses, and don’t forget to pour antistatic oil on your body, so that the drones won’t be able to perceive you. I found it, I am writing this last part from here. I made it, so shall you too. This story is such a strange one. This war is only an absurd thing, a joke, a trompe l’œil. When this war started sixteen years ago, many soldiers didn’t want to form part of this war. Amidst, there were many great thinkers and builders who have set up a plan to forever live in peace and harmony some miles away from the area where war raged. That place was still untouched by evilness… it was an area of purity, and they did everything that was possible to keep it so. They created a barrier with the loads of destroyed vehicles, and also created automated drones that stopped fighters from approaching the paradise they made. But they also made sure that there were always invisible enemies that attacked this side, so that they could remain safe at the other side. And as time went by, the cemetery of vehicles became denser, it became a vast ocean that stretched till horizon, and automated machines created automated drones, while people didn’t even question why there was a war going on, they just went to war.”

On the same night Pace read those lines, he headed valiantly till the restricted area. The drones did not notice him, for he followed the instructions faithfully. He walked on a seabed of dried bones that cracked and became dust; crossed large vehicles that were riddled with holes, stained with dried blood and destroyed in the worst ways. And suddenly a dreadful feeling of guilt overwhelmed his senses. He stopped and questioned his deed. “Shouldn’t I tell them what I found? Shouldn’t I help to cease this hoax, this war that makes no sense at all… will I be able to live in paradise when I have a guilty conscience?” He had walked for eight hours and the sun was going to rise soon, he needed to make a quick decision. Thus he continued his way, but promised to himself that he will make the others change their mind. He was going to tell the truth.

At daybreak he arrived at a very high wall that lengthily stretched as far as his eyes could see. “It’s all true. Paradise is just behind this wall,” he said out loud. Keenly, he pressed the bricks of the wall in a set of specific sequences, same as instructed in the notebook, and instantly there was an opening in the wall. He entered a wide shady noisy factory that was automatically making drones – lots of them, piles of them, there was not a single human in view. He continued walking, eager to pass that door that would lead him towards the freedom from war. But that’s where he made a horrible discovery. There, in a small dusty corner filled with cobwebs, he saw a skeleton. Its hand was on the operating motherboard, and a large hole could be seen through his head. Panic-stricken and filled with dread, he ran for his life blindly, until he arrived in front of a forest. He continued to run through that wild realm of various trees and plants while shouting insanely: “where are you all… I found the notebook… at last I found your community… I am in paradise.”

But unfortunately he cried in vain; nobody answered his desperate calls. The area was completely desert, only nature subsisted. And there, suddenly, at the foot of a grotto, the imagery of sheer horror sent an immense shock-wave throughout his whole body. It was a mountain of dried bones imprisoned in the strangling embrace of morning glories.

Pace Paze had his final answer. He knew then that this war would soon be over, and that finally, after so many years of conflict, life would surely look like the paradise described in this notebook.