The Days Out of the Body – Flash Fiction Piece
Hello and welcome. Today’s Friday Flash Fiction Challenge, courtesy of cornpunk creator Chuck Wendig, is to click a ‘random title’ link, pick a title that tickles your fancy, and write a flash-fic based on it.
Today’s story is the fourth instalment of my abduction trilogy (now a tetralogy, I suppose). I hadn’t intended for the story to last this long, but I have fun writing it, and apparently people have fun reading it, so I hope this latest addition doesn’t disappoint. It’s more dialogue-heavy than most of my other pieces.
Anyway, I’d like to know what you think! (This comes in at 1000 words exactly)
The Days Out of the Body
I woke up. That, in itself, isn’t unusual. After all, I wake up on most days, unless I’ve gotten overly familiar with a bottle of scotch, or overdone the codeine. Both are known to happen, from time to time.
No, it wasn’t the waking that was unusual, but the fact that this is the second, or possibly third, time that I’ve awoken today. And I’ve woke up on an alien spacecraft.
The little fuzzy purple alien is looking at me, each of its three eyes blinking in turn as it watches me push myself to my knees and wibble incomprehensibly a bit as my brain attempts to catch up with my body. Since my body is probably orbiting the Earth at 90,000 feet, it takes a few minutes.
“What happened?” I ask eventually.
You passed out, the alien thought at me. Your shell had almost reached its termination point.
“Is that just alien-speak for ‘you’re dying’?” I demand. Anger bubbles inside me. The aliens have been taking me from my bed since I was seventeen years old, and now they’re about to take my life. Granted, it’s a pretty shitty life, full of weird places and cheap scotch, but it’s the only life I’ve had and I’m proud of all I’ve done with it. Do you know how hard it is to keep a steady job when you wake up in different parts of the world three or four times per year? ‘Oh, sorry I’m late Mr Jones, but I’m in Andorra,’ just doesn’t really cut it as an excuse for not being at work.
“What have you done to me, you little purple bastard?!” I lunge for the alien, but suddenly, it’s no longer there, and I’m looking at empty space. Or rather, looking at what I suppose are stasis chambers, housing the myriad ‘shells,’ as my abductor calls them.
I have done nothing which you have not volunteered for, the alien thinks. I turn, and find it standing behind me. I really want to punch its lights out, but my motor control is still a bit wobbly. I suspect I might fall over if I try for another grab.
“You’re trying to tell me I signed up for this?” I scoff. Damn alien’s crazier than me.
Yes. Exactly. You and I are the crew of this ship. It blinks its green eye at me. Our mission was to come to Earth and observe the humans. To preserve as much of their lives as possible. To achieve this, your consciousness was downloaded from your body into a shell. This was the first. The alien lays a purple fuzzy hand on the stasis chamber of the Neanderthal man. Each shell is given false memories of a childhood, but is sent to Earth whole, in adult form. They only last twenty Earth-years. Thirty at most, if we’re lucky. Then we have to download you into a new shell.
I stand up and look at the hundreds, nay, thousands of stasis pods lining the walls of this cavernous room.
“Bullshit,” I say. “You expect me to believe I’ve been all of these people?”
It is the truth. You have been many things, over the past thousands of Earth-years. You have been an Emperor, a Queen, a priestess of Ma’at, a Roman soldier, a Greek physician, a Chinese philosopher, an Anasazi chieftain, an African-American slave, a Victorian Eunuch, a—
“Whoa, slow down, fluffy. I was a Eunuch?”
Well, a Castrato. A very famous singer, as a matter of fact. The alien looks apologetic. It was your idea.
I rub my fingers against my aching head. “Alright. Say I believe this. Any of it. Answer me this; Why? Why come here, and have me pull the strings of some marionette shell? Why abduct me from my frigging bed?!”
All good questions. The alien blinks each of its eyes in turn. I think it’s trying to decide which question to answer first. The reason why we do this is simple. Our species… you could call us chroniclers, I suppose. Galactic archivists. We preserve the historical and sociological aspects of primitive species.
“Why? The folks back home get their jollies watching Fred Flintstone bash Wilma over the head with his club and drag her back to his cave for sweaty caveman sex?”
Do you have any idea how many sentient species die in their infancy? The alien asks. I don’t know whether the question is rhetorical, so I keep my mouth shut. The answer is ‘a lot.’ And it’s not just in this galaxy; it’s in all galaxies. So, millions of years ago, we took it upon ourselves to preserve as much of these species as possible. So that some record of them exists. So that in another million years, those which survive their infancy and make it into space, can see what we have created and continue our mission.
Despite the warmth of the ship or whatever, I shiver. I’ve never been much of a believer in God, but these aliens sound as if they’re playing at being the big creator fairy in the sky. I wonder what the Pope would say, if he could hear all of this.
“Okay,” I say, feeling like I’ve just managed to wrap my head around what Fuzzy’s telling me. “So you send someone down to the planet all incognito to watch what’s happening… then what?”
Several times per year, you are returned to the ship and your memories of your time on Earth backed up in case of critical brain-failure.
“Oh. Right. Of course.” Critical brain-failure. I should have guessed. “So, you’ve got my millennia of memories. I get that. I don’t really believe it all right now, but I get it. So… what’s with the collections of dead-people stuff?”
Ahh. Yes, that. I was rather hoping you wouldn’t ask about that, just yet. The alien blinks its red eye, and turns to the door. Please follow me.