Another Day At The Zoo

zoo1959

Like many of the other younger humans in our enclosure, I like to interact with the aliens that pay to come and visit us.

I’m a third generation captive so the novelty of being on display doesn’t affect me in any way. My father, mother, grandmother and grandfather, still have major issues with our way of life. Especially my grandfather, who we call Papa. He gets to talking about when he was a soldier in an army that fought the first wave of aliens when they invaded Earth back in 2068, and it’s hard to stop him. The old boy is still pretty passionate about losing something he calls “his freedom.” I admit that I really don’t understand what he means by that, but I humor him.

We have everything we need here. Food, water, housing, and even entertainment. The neighborhood I live in has immaculate yards and custom homes. No two look alike. My family lives in a two-story house that is said to be a perfect copy of an 1880 Second Empire Victorian home. Right down to the furniture inside.

Forgive my rudeness. My name is Thad. I’m the youngest in our house at 78-years-old. I’m in the best shape of my life and I enjoy running 5 K races. A good game of full court basketball still gets my juices going. My Papa, at 124 years-young, is still a force to contend with on the tennis court. He often talks about living longer than he ever dreamed. He grudgingly admits that something the aliens put in our diet has extended the normal lifetime of humans.

My father, an only child, became immersed in a religious book called the Bible, at an early age. He gathered followers for years sharing his belief about following the Ten Commandments in it. When I was in my 20s, he made me read it, from end-to-end. Once he told me that although it appears we live in the Garden of Eden, we were, in fact, living in hell. That we were nothing more than trained apes content to live meaningless lives. His face always got red whenever he talked about it, and his eyes lit up with a fury that was barely contained. Afterwards I would feel vaguely guilty for reasons I didn’t understand. I never dwelled for long on his passionate diatribes. Life seemed good enough to me.

I never tire of seeing new species from around the solar system stare through the unbreakable glass, full of curiosity. Sometimes I’m able to communicate with universal signing, and learn about life on other planets. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Martian. He was ten-feet tall, thin as a rail and had extraordinarily long arms. We signed back and forth for hours before he took a picture of me and moved on to other exhibits. It was an exhilarating experience learning about life on Mars. When I came home and told my father he got angry and started quoting passages from the Bible. After that, I didn’t talk about what I did during my days.

My favorite visitors were from Venus. Not only were they polite but beautiful to look at. They reminded me of a book Papa showed me once about fairies. They were only a few inches tall, and had wings. They would visit in large groups of a hundred or more, and would spell out simple words in the air, like “Hello, and goodbye.” Because my father taught me to read, I had no trouble picking out the words. It was fun. Sometimes their little bodies would light up in brilliant colors. They could put on quit a show. In turn, they enjoyed having me tell them about my life. They seemed particularly interested in our food distribution system. I explained that the zoo staff flew into the enclosure once a week and dropped off supplies in a central location – the House of Food – where a trained staff of humans distributed the food throughout our community. One of the most popular food items was a ready-made soup that was irresistable to human taste buds. My Papa says it’s that soup that’s extending our lives. Our zoo keepers called the soup Ska.

The only visitors I didn’t like seeing were the Saurins from Jupiter. Not because they of their huge scaly reptilian bodies, but because of their fierce dislike of humans. They let us know that they’d rather eat us, then watch us. Their large baleful eyes hypnotized prey before they struck. I still shudder recalling a time that I was caught up in that deadly stare. If it wasn’t for the glass between us, I would have been his next meal. After that I learned not to look into their eyes.

One evening when I was having a bowl of ska, I discovered an eyeball! I was shocked and wondered how it got in the soup. To my untrained eye, it looked like a human eye. My stomach heaved for a moment at the thought. My brain raced through numerous possibilities – none of them good. Try as I might, I couldn’t see how an eyeball got in there by accident. When my father got home that evening I showed it to him. He was silent at first, as he carefully examined it.

“It’s a human eye!” he suddenly blurted out.

“How do you know?” I asked.

Turning to me with a look of pity he said, “We’re the only animals left on earth son. The rest have been eliminated a long time ago by humans, and finally the aliens.

I was so shaken by this information that I stood there with my mouth agape and couldn’t form any words. I shuddered at what it meant. When Papa came home and confirmed my father’s opinion, I was horrified. It meant that we were eating parts of humans. The mysterious meat base to the soup had to be human flesh. The eyeball was a packing accident. Despite my family telling others about it, there was a lot of skeptism. I stopped eating the soup immeditely, as did other members of my family. But the community at large continued to eat ska.

The effects from not eating the soup became apparent weeks later as my family and I began showing signs of rapid aging. My Papa was right about the soup being responsible for our advanced ages. Somehow, the aliens had developed a way of slowing aging down considerably by using humans and a combination of chemicals.

Papa and Grandma died of old age last night. Their skin was so wrinkled I barely could recognize them. My father and mother are so frail they can no longer walk. Their days are obvisiously numbered. I can’t walk a 100-yards now without being exhausted and out of breath. I haven’t touched a basketball since that dark night of discovery. I pass my days now waiting for aliens to come visit our little community.

When they do, I give the international sign for help. It’s all I can do. Perhaps someday, another race will rescue humanity. I’ll keep trying as long as my body lets me. I’m not afraid of death, but the idea that someone will be eating my body is the hell my father has been preaching that we live in now, for years.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I think I see a group of Venusians coming this way.

As It Stands, sometimes what we take for reality, is merely an illusion.

Vision Quest On Mars

Pa’ah stopped walking and took a seat on a piece of the rubble that once was a great Martian city, and now was only a pitiful ruin.

It had been days since he left the caves. Days since he’d eaten a full meal or drank as much water as wanted. He slipped the pack off his back and set it down in the cracked and blistered soil.

He could hear the Great Leader’s voice in his head.

“You must go out onto the barren surface of our planet in search of a vision.”

He remembered balking at the suggestion and even dared to question the Great Leader, who knew all, saw all, and ran the whole show. The candles in the cave flickered under his growing wrath and Pa’ah changed his tune quickly.

He’d be honored to be the first vision quest seeker to go back to Mars ancient past (above ground), he assured the venerable one.

“Yes…what a great opportunity for me to serve our people,” he humbly said, after dropping to his knees. He was just being stubborn, he told himself.

The thought of wandering around the barren dunes and wastelands of Mars wasn’t very pleasant. But, what if he did come up with a vision on how to save the whole race? He’d be a hero.

He would have to survive first. The rough landscape and rolling dunes went on forever, with very little variation. Some dunes had jagged rocks jutting out of them that formed odd shapes that reminded Pa’ah of the toys he played with as a child. Their spidery silhouettes seemed to dance in the heat and growing shadows.

Dotting the forbidding landscape were ruins of cities that once stood proud in an age of enlightenment. In an age when Martians could freely roam the surface of the planet. In an age when Martians weren’t warlike.

The time came when technology that was used for peaceful purposes became perverted by corrupt Martians who wanted to conquer other worlds. To colonize the universe. To be the masters of the universe.

The resulting war between the worlds nearly destroyed the universe however. Planets like Neptune and Jupiter were obliterated, while others suffered damage that would take generations to repair.

There were no winners. Only losers. The survivors on each remaining planet were thrown back to primitive existences.

Pa’ah reflected on all of this as he shaded his eyes and looked off into the distance. His normally pale skin had turned mahogany in a day. There were patches of red sunburn on his high cheek bones. His normally black hair, was bleached white almost overnight.

The bright sun caused him to squint, narrowing his usual bulging eyes into slits.

The vision came to him the next day while he was walking through what was once a massive arena surrounded by rows of shattered seats sinking into the hot sand.

In the vision

Pa’ah is showing his people how to make space ships. He is the Great Leader now and his knowledge of everything that will take them to another universe to start over in a promised land. To a land of milk and honey.

When Pa’ah finally returned to the cave entrance his supplies were all gone. He was barely able to keep walking, but some inner strength kept him going. He had to share his vision. For the good of all Martians.

When he appeared before the Great Leader and his Council of Twenty-four, Pa’ah was tired and weak, but he didn’t hesitate to speak. He told them that he could guide them in building ships that would take them to¬† new worlds. This newfound knowledge was branded into his brain he explained.

Sadly, everything Pa’ah said was interrupted by the Great Leader as treason and insanity. He led the people! Not this burnt husk of a Martian who obviously had gone mad in the deserts above.

Because the Martians didn’t believe in killing lunatics, Pa’ah was locked up in a cell. To keep him quiet, his jailors provided him with means to write and draw things. This he did for many years before quietly dying in his sleep one night.

The collected works of Pa’ah were stolen shortly after he died. There was a lot of finger-pointing and accusations, but they never surfaced.

The ritual of vision quests continued, but no one else ever went to the surface again. Not surprisingly…no one has ever had a vision since Pa’ah’s.

But, a Martian did come forth the other day bearing promises of salvation and space ships. For a price!

As It Stands, there are no saints, just survivors.

The Great Whodini Aka Malgog

mandrake

Roaring 20s – America

It was a Golden Age for magic in America, thanks to escape artist and magician Harry Houdini, and his contemporaries.

The competition among magic acts was fierce with performers like George The Supreme Master of Magic, Chang and Fak-Hong, Thurston The World Famous Magician, Alexander, The Man Who Knows, and the Black Houdini.

Some may argue that it was a time of naivety and gullibility. One thing was for sure, people were always looking for the next great trick, or escape. This story is about one of those magicians.

Pima, Arizona – The Valley of the Gila River

It was just breaking light when the Martian space ship crashed into a copse of trees near the Gila River. Two, of the crew of three, were killed on impact. The survivor was still inside an escape pod that was never launched.

When Malgog woke up hours later, he felt like every bone in his body was broken. His head ached and his vision was blurred. Somehow he got out of the pod that was partially pinned down by a massive bank of computers that shifted on impact.

Instinct told him to get clear of the crippled craft. Once outside he looked around at his surroundings. No cities. No people. That was a good. He crawled back inside of the ship and gathered some supplies.

While inside, he activated two plasma bombs. He was almost a mile away when they went off, disintegrating the ship. The glow competed with the rising sun.

Malgog was stranded. Marooned on Earth. He knew full well he’d never see the underground oceans of Mars again. If nothing else, Malgog was logical. He was also thankful that he could live in Earth’s environment.

The tunnels and caverns of Mars provided an atmosphere much like Earth’s.

As he walked through the rough countryside, he began mentally preparing himself for contact with earthlings. He had a language app on his wristband that sent translations directly into the receiver implanted in the back of his skull.

He reviewed what he learned in the Galaxy Guide To The Planets. There was a summary of mankind’s evolution and history that left off somewhere after the Civil War in America.

Malgog had two very positive things going for him; like all Martians he could read minds, and his strength was that of five men.

When he reached the little town of Pima, founded by the Mormons in 1879, he walked down the wooden sidewalk peering inside of windows. He passed the bat doors of the town saloon, and approached a man sitting on a wooden chair precariously balanced on two legs.

He had a bottle of whiskey in one hand and was mumbling to himself when Malgog said “Hello.”

It startled him enough to bring his chair down on all fours as the man looked up at the speaker. He was a tall man with a good tan and a bald head. He was also wearing an outfit like the drunk had never seen before.

It was a black one-piece affair that fit like a second skin. He wore a belt with metal pouches. The drunk, whose name was Arron, looked at the wall near where Malgog was standing and the poster on it.

The poster featured a colorfully clad magician waving a wand and wearing a cape.

“Hello, right back at you,” he replied. “Who are you? A magician? The next Whodini?” he laughed heartedly at his own joke.

An inspiration came to Malgog, and he said “Yes. I’m the Great Malgog!”

That seemed to sober Arron up a bit and he took a long look at him.

“Where’s you cape?” he demanded.

“Lost. I could use your help. I’m stranded here without any means due to unfortunate circumstances.”

“I like the name Whodini better,” he mused. “All right then friend, follow me. You can sleep on the floor in my rented room. I might even have an extra blanket. Been getting cold at night. It’s almost winter.”

Two Year’s Later.

Arron still couldn’t believe his luck. Malgog turned out to be an instant hit on the magic circuit, and he was his manager. No more Podunk towns like Pima. They had a grand house in Boulder, Colorado. Servants and all.

Malgog was so popular in the Midwest that he and Arron only picked the best venues. Their partnership was solid, and served them both well. In the main room of their elegant house there were photographs of him lifting impossibly heavy objects.

Theatre posters with examples of The Great Malgog’s magic tricks also adorned the lavishly decorated room.

His success did not rob him of his logic. He purposely stayed away from the West and East coast magic circuits. The one thing he didn’t want to do was to become so famous that people demanded to know about his background.

He could invent one, but it could eventually be debunked. Instead he preferred to be a man of mystery in real life. He never granted interviews with the press and always left by back exits after his performances.

Arron was his connection to the world. After six years Malgog retired, and they bought a ranch near Billings, Montana. Before Malgog died 15 years later of natural causes, he confessed his true identity to Arron…his one friend on Earth. He creamated the stranded Martian and threw his personal things into a lake.

But, Arron couldn’t just let Malgog’s story go untold. When he went to the press he was greeted with skepticism and laughter. Finally, his brother appeared and put the now frail old man in a home.

So, now you know the story of the greatest magician there ever was – and it wasn’t Harry Houdini.

As It Stands, this tale of a marooned Martian was a fun way to revive the Golden Age of magic.