The Yeti from SETI

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Snow squelch, glistening glacial droplet drip from the blizzard-brushed leg bristles. Shiver, slashing razor through grey tanglewire, parting his faces. The matted visage of fetid follicle falls sinkwards and drowns beneath a froth of water. Terrible phantoms proliferated their manipulation of meat through the mirror: puckering pocks, crevices and cracks. Each crater coalescing into character. He left his other self in the drain, traced a battered palm across his shaven face and trudged towards his perch by the telescope. Snow sluiced from groaning roof, seemingly sighing as it began turning to allow the radio telescope her sight. Routine long established, he opened his flask and drained Darjeeling before adjusting the coordinates and peering towards Cygnus. Right ascension 19h 15m 12.7s, declination +48°, 53′ 4.1”, nothing new of note. The creeping sense of futility becoming more prevalent, overcoming youthful optimism as uneventful years amassed as surely as the snow.

 

Nestled in the high Himalayan homestead, gazing to the heavens, convinced contact would provide clarity. A maddening quiet echoing about the mountains, audio amplified by absence. Right ascension 19h 15m 13.7s, declination +48°, 53′ 5.6” by now, listening to nothing again. Sisyphus would baulk, but he persistently pushed percipience. Knowledge, always an endless endeavour. Strong stony palms stroked slightest stubble as soporific seconds slid the sundial.

 

He glanced at glazed recollections: the printed photographs of Mama and Papa stapled to the cubicle wall. Guilt glid towards his eyes, tear-drops tumbling to tufts of facial fuzz. He yearned for their guidance, lusted for learning that had never been forthcoming. Their tremulous lives truncated by perfunctory projectiles, booming explosions and bullets tearing through tender flesh scant years into his existence. Perhaps they would have elucidated him on his heritage. Alas, no matter. Right ascension 19h 17m 10.7s, declination +48°, 53′ 10.1”. Sibilant silence whistling through whipping snow. He resolved that he would find meaning in the stars, seeking progenitors amongst pulsars, no matter the verdant vacuum and unresponsive equipment. Dense digits explored dials, eliciting dismissive beeps and boops from boxes bloated with myriad microchips. They laboured as hard as he, without complaint or constrictive conjecturing. He marinated a moment in existential envy of electronics.

 

Without resolution, free of finality, can my sanity be sustained by snow and search? Without suggestion of sentience outside the bounds of Earth? Do I reach towards rescue or revelation?What matter too, my silent vigil, without peers or recognition? Is it arrogance to revel in my anachronistic existence, or arrogance to crave assimilation? He no longer knew. It mattered not: the alarm had began to beep. Silver stalks of hair had rediscovered that battered face en masse. 2000 meters. It was time. He stomped outside listlessly and ate the pixelated skier again.

 

Inside the tower the screens flickered into life, with nobody recording, and a voice pinging across time and space from a PC screen uttered:

“Ah, bugger.”

Limbo Lavation

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Captain Culastrax came crimson-faced, stomping from the wheelhouse. Each night the same sickened and stormy visage bellowed from the handrail, marched towards the capstan and howled seven furies into the fog. His daily pantomime: extravagant origami until another ship’s chart was aeroplaned into the ocean. Next he would begin his trudge towards the gunwale and hurl the sextant into the mist and froth of forbidding seas with a cry that the stars had abandoned us.

Lt. Manfridge paced the main deck while Calves and Alsace settled in for their game of draughts. I remained in place on the mast, watching, awaiting the return of the horrors. It was routine to us now, we lived on repeat. Manfridge had come to eagerly await the monsters’ rising, incubating new plans of attack & subversion. Culastrax was, conversely, becoming lost to madness. I favoured the lookout position. In the fog and iceberg I would catch glimpses of our former lives, Calves laughing with his lover, Culastrax building sand castles with giddy children. The enlightenment was always different: if we survived again I would share my findings with eager faces. I fancied I was restoring their humanity, though the sapping vapours around us outpaced my efforts.

Another boat in the distance packed with grey faces counting the seconds to death. They were aged and bearded, flesh sinking into their skulls like footsteps into flan. They did not scream when they lurched into the foam and vanished quickly below the waves: they had no such want for survival. Perhaps I even heard a joyous sigh. Once I had seen us but not us. We were all together; armed, in uniform, faces etched with disgust, guilt and duty. Calastrax stomping up and down our iron fish, laughing at gurgling faces in the surf. I had not shared this with the crew.

Culastrax was raving tonight: “The Sea God” was coming and his wrinkled palms would envelop us. He was fading faster than the rest, perhaps responsibility weighed upon him. Perhaps, again, he was developing a keen internal clock, for in the distance I saw it then: mottled pink with dreadful flesh-trenches. “The Sea God” had come for us and we were ready with resignation. The water whipped around the ship, the displaced suction of a terror rising from the depths. Five sausage tentacles wrapped about the plastic galleon. Calves slammed the gaff down into death’s own grip as it tugged at us. We began to list violently to the side and the bubbling froth washed over the deck.

As the guiding hand of the heavens forced us ever deeper, we prayed. We prayed that soon, at this our darkest hour, the seas would drain as the plughole would be opened. It would all be The Sea God’s final joke. We prayed until the artificially blue waters filled our lungs and the cylindrical sailorman bobbed past, dye dripping from his massive conical hat.

In the distance it bobbed, with mocking smirk: the yellow duck of fate.