Dense Mustaches From Space
Targo opened his eyes. The world around him was dark, calm, and empty. A fist clenched his collar. He wiped his mouth with a spare sleeve. He couldn’t find his eyes. Somewhere they existed beyond the deep hood. Somewhere back there. No idea what kind of hair was back there. Mostly a dark black hood was in sight. It might have been speckled with leather patches. He had thought too much again. He had thought about the past, that sweet capture of time that had been tampered with. He swallowed as the wind kicked up and a horse stamped around. It then let out some kind of shivering airy snort, as if it were cold and wanted to move on. The horse’s rider, the hooded man, clenched him again.
“When I say it began… no I mean… started. Maybe you should just ask the question again.”
“When are you?” Under the hood, a dense mustache was now visible. Black hair, pale white skin.
“No, no, no. You can’t ask that. Do you want the world to implode?!”
“No. It was just a question. A typical question.” The hooded man gritted his teeth.
“So you don’t really care about the answer?”
“I care, why would I ask a question that I don’t care about?” Targo couldn’t tell, but a smirk may have been emerging.
“Ok. Let me explain. You can’t just go around asking people about time. You can’t talk about the nature of time… how fast it is… how it can be searched. You should avoid talking about its direction. “
Targo waited for an answer. Conversational patterns differed vastly. Some people speak with small pauses, others talk in long paragraphs. He knew not what to expect.
“Go on,” said the hooded man.
“That being said, I think you should reconsider your question. Maybe you should ask a different question.”
“If you don’t want to cooperate then I’ll take a series of actions.” The hooded man drew a long steel sword from the depths of his layered black robes. The cloak flickered in the wind. From afar, the two pale men in dark black attire stood in the cool desert. Wind blew dust past them. The hooded man brandished the back end of his sword, Targo’s hands clenched, but only for a moment. As the sword’s butt struck the crest of his eyebrow, Targo fell limp — entirely unconscious.
Targo opened his eyes. He was tied to the man who had knocked him unconscious. The hooded man, the man with the dense mustache, was tightly holding the reins of a galloping horse. They were both on it.
“Are you awake yet stranger?”
“I am not a stranger. Also, it appears that we are cruising through some hills or something now.”
As Targo searched the horizon, he saw many hills. On the hills there was basically nothing. Wind, dust, ravens. He did find the ravens to be odd. Somehow, you never expect to see a raven… they were sparse but numerous.
“You are a stranger. That is because I don’t know you.”
The galloping continued until the sun began to set. The horse then slowed as the man in the hood search for a suitable place to make camp.
“I am also from space.” The man in the hood tied his horse to a small tree.
“Nobody comes from space. Space in a concept.” Targo waited for a response, but nothing came. This hooded man with a dense mustache was solemn. Targo hardly understood solemn people. He came from a world where mankind spoke freely… a filter-less world. Targo had no filter, no concept of what required saying — he chose what he wanted to say — and said only those things. “This is the only tree that I have seen, how were you able to find it?”
“This isn’t the only tree. “
“It is the only tree in this place. What happened here. Why is this the only tree in this place?” Targo motioned at the surrounding slew of vast emptiness. He pointed at nothing.
“I told you stranger… I am also from space… outer-space… I don’t know either.”
Targo sat down silently as the hooded man built some kind of a fire. It didn’t seem meaningful to build a fire when there no food to cook. It was also warm. He postulated that a solemn person may do some things in order to comfort themselves. Maybe this man’s fire was just a habit. In the world and the time that Targo came from, he called these things “traditions”. Maybe this was just a traditional fire.
Thinking about the fire made him think about other things. He thought that the landscape was boring… aside from the ravens. Maybe this world had been consumed by boring things. ‘Repetition is boring’ he thought… ‘so are themes’. He couldn’t really decide how it was that boring things came to be, but he didn’t like them. Maybe this world was filled up with boring things — and then — when it got too full — it ceased to be a world — maybe it ceased being anything at all. Maybe there weren’t enough non-boring things to stop the boring things from destroying this world. Targo knew that his theory was entirely hypothetical, and most likely untrue of this world, but he still worried that it may have occurred on another world. There were many worlds in the universe — and many times.
The sun disappeared. It was followed by many small moons. He couldn’t tell if some of the moons where simply small stars at close distances – they were potentially too far away to be moons, but too big to be stars. Maybe they were starships. The hooded man drifted into sleep. Targo thought about taking the horse and running away, but he decided that he liked this tradition. It filled him with a deep sense of calm — and so he also drifted into sleep. And somewhere up above, both of their ships were drifting through space.
Targo stretched out his arms. He moved them through the air — judging the day — as the sun rose calmly from beneath the horizon. There was a feint stir of dust moving through the small campground. He sucked in some air.
The hooded man was gone. The fire was out, and his horse was gone. There was some kind of uniform noise in the distance, some deep blur, a melancholy repetition, but to him — it was just the ambiance of nothingness. He spread two fingers over his mustache, coughed, put his hands in his pockets, and yawned.
After that, he gathered his belongings — the clothes he did not take off before sleeping — his alien hat — and his gloves. He walked toward the sun — the only notable beacon of direction.
Somewhere out here, there was something of interest. Somehow, in the extreme absence of stuff, he expected to see something — or maybe it was just a human impulse.
Hours clicked past, each indicated by a new type of shadow. Every second was different, but the hours felt unique — as if his body knew that they were separate.
It was night when he saw those lights out in the distance. It was some blend of tree line and sky scraper. But he didn’t know what they had here, or how many of them that there were. Sky scrapers seemed like a horrible use of space… especially when there was just so darn much of it. He thought about that, but then repeated to himself, “You can’t count that out. Aliens are always different.”
As he approached the tree line, he found out that he had been entirely wrong. And not just about sky scrapers — but also about himself — but that knowledge couldn’t be encoded for transfer to anyone else — it was the kind of thing that he alone could discern — there must have been a whole family of those kind of things — the set of ideas which could not be communicated. They hardly mattered.
The sky scrapers were in fact large boats, very tall boats listing on the shore. But he didn’t see any boat operators. All of the lights were one, but no one, and no being could be seen. As he neared the shore, he noted that what appeared to be trees were in fact trees — but none that he had seen before. They were large and colorful. There were no bright colors — nothing vibrant — but rather a great array of many dark colors. He never been able to see so much of the dark spectrum — it was visually enlightening. These trees did not have leaves. Instead they had pulpy clumps of stringy material — when he rubbed his face against it — it was alluringly soft. The trees were soft beings, even the wind seem to be quieter whilst in their presence – soaking up the harsh gusts of the desert — converting those gusts to smooth wisps. The ships still appeared to be abandoned.
Targo took off his shoes. He rolled up the bottom of his pants and walked off into the water. The lights were mostly above him now — casting big ship-shaped shadows around him. The water was pure and clear. Beneath that water was a soft and fine pink sand. His feet felt soft in that sand and the enduring silence about the atmosphere made crisps the swishing sounds of his feet as he moved through the water. From what he could tell, the water was not moving — he was the only one moving the water. But then–
“Hey YOU!” The sound came from above.
Targo looked up, but was blinded by the lights. There was a cluster of silhouettes up there, but who knew what each one was.
“Me?” Targo smiled.
“Yes! We have found most of you. We are many but you are few — surrender or die.”
Then a fast moving arrow slipped past the left side of his head. Targo stared at the arrow as it sunk through the water and into the pink sand with a soft garbled noise. He was surprised by this person.
“That was a warning!”
“Wait. You are taking actions faster than I expect. I come from a race of beings that are slower than you.”
“We are slow and fast, here and not, past and present, what are you trying to say stranger?” Targo was puzzled by this silhouette’s words.
“I’ll tell you everything if you slowly reveal yourself. I can’t see you up there. What kind of eyes do you have? My eyes have a low level of contrast and you appear to be entirely black.” Targo didn’t really know what else to do… the silhouette was shrouded in darkness.
The voice from above stopped for a while. Then the ship’s hull opened about an inch above the water. A metal door swung open and a woman appeared. She had light blonde hair, fair tan skin, and a braid. Like a pirate, she wore a loose white shirt — surrounded in brown leather, and a pair of brown leather pants that reached just past her knee. She held her bow in her left hand, and a quiver of green-feathered arrows were strapped to her back. She didn’t wear shoes or socks, and appeared to be adorned in several handmade articles of jewelry. She was thin, attractive, soft – but hard to remember. She left fragments in his mind – a blur of explanation – a weak light of character. It would have been hard to explain her if he were asked.
She jumped down into the water, and it splashed high as the water reached her waist. She crouched lower to the water and drew back her bow. Now, she was a fearful part of this tranquil sea – an enemy that Targo did not wish to make.
They stood there for hours just staring at each other. It some cultures it took a while for minds to converge — this was one of those places. The sun soon rose and out-powered the ship’s lights. They continued this waiting game. Neither was ready to act, so neither did.
Finally, Targo knew the perfect thing to say.
“Do you know where the man with the hood went? I mean, he didn’t look like you. And he talks about space, but maybe you saw him go somewhere.”
“I do not know this man. Are you a wolf?”
Then the air began to glow blue. The water started to feel both empty and thick at the same time. Space was shifting, and Targo’s senses could hardly bear the transition. She was a being who was used to this, he though, someone who understood space much differently than he. And that was when it finally occurred to him what had happened. All of these voyages he had spent waiting, all of the suspense, he finally had met the one he had so longed to find. She was a deviant.
As the space around Targo constricted and expanded simultaneously, his mind drifted into the past. He remembered the time when he met the idea of the deviants. His professor cleared his throat, and paced throughout the room. Occasionally, he beat his fists on the chalk board, or threw his chalk into his mug. Something troubled the man, some disconnect separated him from the majority of the known world. But when he spoke, everyone listened.
“There are people different from us. You might say that there are no people who are the same as us. But I’m talking about space and time. There are beings who experience wildly different dimensions of space and time.”
At that point, he drew on the board. He drew a square. But one of its edges was a squiggly line. He drew a circle and then transformed it into a rounded triangle. He drew graphs, but none of them had any lines.
“You think you know what you are doing. You think you know what things are. But we haven’t even started this class yet. There are no perquisites from this course, because it goes to a place where the past doesn’t matter. Look at my hand. You already knew it was there. You think you know something, and yet here you are, amidst the turmoil, and you are confused. Now you must start over. I am sorry.”
His tone quickly shifted to deeply apologetic. There was some hint of distraction, the sound of knowing something more. He was disturbed, a bearer of bad news, he didn’t want to tell us the things that he knew, but he knew that he had to.
TO BE CONTINUED…