X is for Xenomorph

I live among you well disguised.

I move like you do.

Sound like you do.

I shower the right amount so I smell like you do.

And yet I feel eyes on me, I know I blend in seamlessly. But I feel your eyes. The ones where you look then look away.

I stare in the mirror trying to figure out what it is. Why do I draw attention – the kind that make you embarrassed to have looked. The kind where you say to yourself:

I didn’t just single that person out as different. My eyes didn’t betray me as the closet bigot I deep down feared I always was.

Every day I squint in the mirror, desperate to ascertain what gives me away as an outsider.

It’s more than paranoia on my part. This is my fifth mission infiltrating another culture, seeing how they move, taking note of strengths and weaknesses… see what makes then unite and what makes them crumble. I live among, write my reports then send them down the tube.

To the best of my knowledge, the other four planets I worked on are still orbiting as they ever were. And nothing really bad has happened to any of them. As such I am happy in my work. I liken myself to this planet’s David Attenborough. I observe and entertain others with my findings.

I look in the mirror again.

Skin colour – one colour.

Hair – in the right places.

Eyes – just two of them. Right beside each other. On the face.

Hands, arms, legs and feet – all where they should and just two of each of them.

Clothes – got them on. I don’t think that part matters much. Everyone wears anything.

Shrugging at myself – I just can’t see it. Why do they look? If I can’t figure it out I’ll be taken off this assignment. No question.

I leave the apartment. Today will be different. I’ll blend in like a black cat at night. Total stealth.

I’m almost on to the street when I realise I had forgotten my hat. Today was supposed to be hot.

I return to the apartment, grab the pelican out of its cage and strap it to my head.

Right – sun smart and rearing to go!

P is for Post

“We… I will relay the message. It is from my Creator…”

Neil sat up on the couch, bleary-eyed with a nervous smile. The robed figure in front of him solemnly stared at him and did not return the smile.

“Well… ok then, what’s the message?” Neil took a deep breath and flicked his eyes to the other figure behind the one who had spoken. She was looking down at her feet and wouldn’t look at him. She was definitely the best way to navigate the situation.

The other started speaking again,

“Our Creator demands that you comply with all of her demands”

“Oh boy” Neil exhaled and dropped his smile. The robed figure extended her hand and proffered a piece of paper. It was folded up and secured with Sellotape so the messengers couldn’t read it. He held it without opening it then turned to the silent figure. Her curiosity had prompted her to look up at him and he caught her eye. She smiled at him then covered her mouth to hide her betrayal.

“Sweetie” Neil coaxed “What’s going on?” he asked in a sing song voice

“Mummy’s angry with you!” she replied then skipped over and gave him a cuddle. Loyalty of 3 year old was always so-so. Neil turned to his 6 year old daughter and raised his eyebrows. The movement awakened his hangover. His eyes were burning, his tongue was thick and his head was pounding. His daughter still didn’t smile. She adjusted her dressing gown;

“I’m getting some cereal” and walked away.

Neil looked at the note in his trembling hands. God he had drunk a lot. He had no idea when or how he had gotten home. Had he been sent to the couch or had he just passed out there??

He fumbled with the Sellotape and ended up ripping the note in two. One of the pieces fell to the ground. The piece he still held said,

  1. Check your Snapchat

His stomach churned. Vague flashbacks ghosted their way into memory. He grabbed his phone.

5% battery. Oh well.

He’d check Snapchat then put it on charge. He picked up his phone and saw his 3 year old daughter still standing there. He told her to get her big sister to make her some breakfast. When she was well out of the room, he opened up his Snapchat story.

Damn.

Countless vidoes and photos of him making out with a random blonde.

JEEEEEEEEEEESUS

He dropped his phone and buried his face into his hands,

Damnit, damnit, damnit, fuck, fuck, fuck, shit, fuck.

He peered through his fingers and spied the other half of the note.

  • Your belongings are out on the lawn. Go and get them and then GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!

H is for History

For the longest time, Turtle Bay was a mostly secluded area with one settlement. Operating much like a backpackers; travellers would find themselves to the Turtle Bay settlement and doss down with all of the other travellers and share their stories, food and laughter. Even those that had stopped for years were still travellers and would eventually move on. Only one person was a constant and that was Maharma.

Maharma was the spiritual centre of Turtle Bay and inhabited man or woman. At the passing of the Maharma, the spirit would be reincarnated into a new born baby or one of the young children running about. Sometimes it would be some months before Maharma would find the right body, but everyone would know when Maharma was amongst them again. There was a serenity and power to the eyes and just… a feeling… they would all get. A feeling that said “This is Maharma.”. Once Maharma was recognised, they wore their only spoils of office: a necklace with a spiral pendant that has a line cutting through it.

At one time, Maharma was a strong woman in mind and body. She was kind but also unapologetic in her strong ways and would not bow to anyone when she knew she was right. Which she generally was. Maharma was an intimidating figure which made her a little lonely. But on the whole, she was very happy.

One day, a new traveller arrived in the village. A tall man with many different tattoos, Murphy was an artist and an instant hit with everyone. He taught the others how to make yellow paint from daffodils, bananas and sunshine; and green paint from grass, a glance from a pair of emerald eyes and peas. 

It didn’t take long for Murphy and Maharma to notice each other and the attraction was instant. Where others were intimidated, Murphy was utterly seduced. The pair were inseparable and entirely passionate. Their embraces and show downs were infamous and glanced upon with giggles and knowing winks. They shared their deepest secrets and ambitions with each other. Maharma confided how lonely she could get and that the pressure of being the spiritual leader could overwhelm her. Murphy shared his dream of travelling the entire world, teaching art and learning new techniques as he went.

The pair had a very happy few months when Maharma found that she had fallen pregnant. She fell into a great depression. Murphy’s great dream was to travel and that he would never leave if they had a child. She could not live with herself and stand in the way of his dreams. Maharma loved carrying Murphy’s child but knew what was best.

Everyone watched Maharma’s belly grow and celebrated. They whispered to each other how attractive the baby would be. They would nod approvingly when they’d see Murphy’s hand rest protectively upon Maharma’s belly. Maharma could feel Murphy’s love grow strong – but she knew it wouldn’t last. Murphy was a nomad and she resolved to stick to her plan.

One day, the sky shone clearly and the blue sky was so iridescent that Murphy went out to mix a new can of paint. Watching him leave, Maharma ran her hand over her belly. It would be a week and the baby would arrive. Outside, the village people were enjoying the good weather, playing games and lounging in the sun, no one noticed her slip into the forest.

When they did notice Maharma’s abscense, they looked all throughout the land for her. Murphy was a man possessed. Rarely sleeping or eating – making his voice hoarse with constant calling for his beloved.

A week after her disappearance, a mighty thunderstorm raged. The Listless River that fed from Turtle Bay into the forest swelled and the winds tore through the huts and ripped apart roofs.

The howling winds drowned out two screams that night.

Murphy screamed for his missing love and unborn child, surely stranded and scared out in this terrible storm.

Maharma screamed through the labour pains deep within the forest. She had followed the Listless River to the point where it dived underground beneath a pile of rocks. It was the most spiritually pure part of the whole of Turtle Bay. Through the thunderstorm, she gave birth to her daughter, Amelia.

The following day, the village breathed a sigh of relief when the weather bloomed into a clear, bright day. Maharma cuddled Amelia and she focussed all of her spiritual energy upon her tiny daughter. Within the hour, Maharma sacrificed years of her life and handed them to Amelia. The young girl now stood as a 12-year-old and helped her mother to her feet. Maharma had aged to a very old woman – the gift of 12 years had sapped her of more than triple that.

Her raven black hair had greyed and her skin became wrinkled and sallow. As she stood, Maharma found her back wouldn’t straighten and Amelia found a large stick for her mother to lean on.

“Come mother”

Maharma wept at the sound of her daughter’s first words.

The pair travelled back to the settlement and the settlers came out to greet them. Usually a happy affair with everyone bustling and jostling to introduce themselves, the old woman and young girl were met with curious silence.

There was a strange and familiar feeling to the pair.

Murphy elbowed his way to the front of the crowd. He frantically looked from the old woman to the girl to the old woman again. He got the sense that there was a puzzle piece he was missing but his mind was addled from lack of sleep and worry.

He knew – as did the other villagers – that this old woman had the unmistakable aura of Maharma. But there was no way she could be his Maharma. Therefore, their beloved leader has passed on and Maharma had chosen to nestle itself within this old woman who no-one had ever seen before.

Murphy slumped in anguish as he registered the truth of his lover’s outcome.

The villager’s dispersed and Maharma led Amelia towards her hut. She laid a gnarled hand on Murphy’s head as she passed him. He let it sit there for a moment then shook her off. He didn’t want to be near this Maharma. She shouldn’t be here at all; he wanted his one back.

Murphy didn’t move for hours. Maharma watched from her hut as some of the villagers picked up Murphy and took him to bed. In the morning they found his lifeless body and they all agreed he had died of a broken heart.

E is for ET

Being removed from the bright lights of the Breckellrooke Metropolis, Turtle Bay had very limited light pollution. The night scene on cloudless nights was phenomenal. Massive clusters of stars scatter across the sky. Satellites trawl their designated paths and shooting stars blast by on their exciting adventure.

There is a lookout on the hill that separates Turtle Bay from the Greater Breckellrooke area. Stoners, lovers and stoned lovers frequent the carpark and walkways to enjoy the romantic moonlight and stunning night sky.  

Martin – one of the lookout’s more frequent visitor – was generous with his weed and his theories. He would often bring friends up to a secluded part off from one of the walkways. It had enough bush cover that it would keep them sheltered from any wind, but also it was clear enough that they were able to lay down and pass around a joint without fear of starting a bush fire.

Martin was so familiar with his patch of sky that he could tell what time of night it was solely on the rotation of the stars.

So it made him pause one day when he noticed the stars brighter than usual. He put it down to the moon being covered so not flooding the stars out. But it still sat funny.

The following night, he was convinced that not only were the stars brighter – but there was more of them. He shared his concerns with those around him who all agreed he had been smoking for too long.

Maybe he had Martin cautiously agreed.

The following night he went to his spot – totally sober – and looked upon his well-known canvas.

He was right.

The stars were brighter, bigger, in greater numbers… and some were red…and some were blinking. Martin lay bewildered when he saw one of the red stars move in unison with 4 white ones circling around it. He jumped up.

“They’re lights!”

Martin raced along the walkway back to his car.

He and the spaceships individually zigzagged their way to Turtle Bay on completely different missions.

B is for Bombardment

Umbrellas filled Williams St on the blustery, grey day.

Some people found shelter in the many second hand and antiquities shops. What a romantic story it would be:

“Oh I found this hat/ottoman/apothecary table in a dusty old shop in the middle of a thunderstorm”

Others sought refuge in the cafes. One in particular was busier than most. It was filled wall to wall with people, chatter, the smell of wet wool and laughter. It was alive with good humour and an invitation to others walking past.

The staff were in t-shirts. They found the damp, jovial crowd incredibly humid to move through. They were enthusiastic in their work and greeted each customer by name – but they were each thinking of the glass of wine or beer and the bar stool that waited for them at the end of their shift.

The weather worsened and the thunder and lightning got a lot more dramatic. More people entered the café – less people were tempted to leave. The manager wondered about the café’s capacity and how many people it would be before it was a fire risk. Would she have to start turning people away?

She felt nauseas for a second and looked up at the large pendant lights hanging from the ceiling. They were swinging hard but all the doors were closed.

“EVERYBODY OUTSIDE – RIGHT NOW!”

The earthquake increased as the avalanche of people scrambled to get out into the opening. Away from the unstable awnings and historical building which was still due its strengthening, the people trembled in the cold rain and tremors. The earthquake rolled a wave down Williams St and knocked everyone to the ground.

Everybody was absolutely soaked.

Inside the café, their coffees spilled all over their forgotten umbrellas.

The final insult.

A lightning strike hit the ground – high fiving the earthquake for a job well done.

Y is for Youngling

“He has a talent for leaving nasty stains.” Mum was talking about me again. I sat at the breakfast table stirring my cornflakes and watching them get soggy. “I just don’t know how much more I can take” Mum was talking to Grandma on the phone. She was sobbing.

When I had gotten out of bed, I found Mum in the living room scrubbing at the sofa cushions. She looked at me with an equal mix of anger, betrayal and exhaustion.

“Mum – what is it” She had laughed bitterly

“Don’t start – I’ve already checked the Nanny Cam Derek. So just don’t start… please”

I stood there feeling terrible,

“Can I help Mum?”

“You’ve done enough. And I want it cleaned properly so just… leave me alone. Just go”

I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a bowl of cornflakes. Mum still hadn’t spoken to me since then. Not really.

And I got it.

Every morning for a month we had woken up to some nasty surprise. Broken coffee cups on the kitchen floor on the first morning; food smeared over the walls another morning; a pile of poop right outside his mother’s bedroom door that she stepped in. This morning was a dead bird that had been vigorously rubbed into the couch cushions.

After each instance, the Nanny Cams were checked and they always showed the same thing. Me, wide awake, committing each crime. But how can I ever explain that it’s not actually me?!

The truth is utterly unbelievable.

Every night when the lights go out, the darkness under my bedsheets swaps places with me. It takes my form and I get stuck under the bedsheets as a shadow. Sometimes I can peek out and see it skipping out of my room towards a night of dark errands.

I have tried to avoid it by keeping the lights on and sheets off. But eventually I go to sleep, and mum comes in, turns off the light and tucks me into my bedsheets. Then I am taken over once again.

So far, I have found no way to escape this thing.

All I can do is lay in a half sleep trance and wait for it to return so I can take back the body I was born into.

L is for Leonard Cohen

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen

I think this is a life saving sentence. For me.
I’ve heard it so many times before in different ways.

Broken Japanese vases are repaired with gold – celebrating the journey or some shit. “What does not kill you etc” is kind of the same.

I do love the idea of light coming through. Especially as my depression is strongly associated with darkness. And when I get a reprieve – it is lightness. Both light through the dark and the light lifting the heavy off of me.
Being cracked. Being – what feels as broken – opens me up to more light. I like the idea of my pain and sensitivity being a conduit to a better, stronger life. Things happen and it busts me open. But once the darkness, pain, tears and anger spills out, there is light. Like the vase, the cracks are there to stay.

But I will not be torn in half.

I will create a whole new element in myself. The wall will be poisoned by the black thoughts, then the tears and sweat will wash it clean for the light to bake the new structure. I won’t be so arrogant to say that it is indestructible, but that it is stronger than the untested parts of me.

Allowing the light through – I guess that is the key…. also being sure that I have opened that crack up properly and allowed all darkness to be cleaned out.

Dammit I rambled – what a thing to do to Leonard Cohen.