The people of Planet Grey were a very fastidious and tidy lot. They liked to keep things clean, very clean indeed. In fact they insisted so much on all things being neat and tidy that they wiped out all forms of nature; trees, flowers, animals and insects, and then set about terraforming the entire planet with concrete, and painted everything grey. As if that wasn’t enough, they genetically modified their own DNA so they no longer had to shit.
That’s right, instead of shitting, they sweated. In buckets of course, which saturated the sheets they slept in, which of course was not acceptable, so they ensured the sheets were replaced every night and disposed of in the sea. The Great Big Dirty Sea.
It was a day like all the other days and the residents of Planet Grey remained in bed fast asleep. They no longer worked during the day because that was when the sun shone and they didn’t like the colour yellow. Although they never talked about why, deep down in their bones they knew the colour yellow reminded them of the past. Of a time when the planet teemed with colours and sounds, and wild untamed animals; and sticky insects.
As the sun was going down Janet started to wake up. She took the usual vigorous shower every day and exfoliated the best she could because ‘dead skin was an ugly sin’ or so went one of the many mantras that peppered the conversation of many a fine dining house in town. Janet got dressed in her usual grey tunic and went down stairs to meet with her boyfriend at the breakfast table.
‘Morning Matt.’ Said Janet.
‘Morning Janet.’ Said Matt.
They greeted each other by touching each of their palms and looking intently into each other’s eyes. A smile was not needed.
‘How was your sleep. Did you sweat much?’ Asked Matt.
‘Sure, buckets.’ Said Janet.
‘Did you dream about anything?’ Asked Janet.
‘The sacrifice. I’m really looking forward to it.’
‘I’ll never understand that custom. It is an ancient and barbaric practice.’
‘Of course it is dear but sometimes we need to be reminded of the past, and besides. It’s just a break from the monotony of it all. It’s fun.’
Considering the people of Planet Grey were a squeamish lot, it was surprising that they engaged in such violent and blood thirsty ceremonies.
Every month when the moon was at its fullest. All the residents from Quarter One would gather at the foot of a wooden stage while the Chief Moderator would drag out a screaming human being. The person was then strapped to a wooden cross and when all residents had their palms facing towards the moon, the Chief Moderator would drive a spike into the person, and the audience would applause until the person was dead. This practice had continued for many years and no one could even remember why they did it, but still they mimicked the ritual every month as if it were appeasing some unknown entity.
‘Sacrifice and sweat. Is that all we have to look forward to?’
Matt fixed Janet a look as if to say, don’t rock the boat. Things are good for us all. It’s safe here on Planet Grey. But Janet couldn’t help feel that something just wasn’t right with their world.
‘If you are having a mood issue then you should go for a boost, or work more, or take up another activity. Janet looked at Matt without a clue about how she felt. She just felt like this and knew that she had to take, or do, something to make her feel better.
‘You’re right. I’ll pop into the shop and get some extra pills, and maybe increase my work hours.’
As Janet walked down the streets she was struck by how horribly flat the world she lived in was. Her mind was filling with bizarre ideas of screaming, and dancing. Colours and music of the kind that had been banished from earth for years were ping ponging between the spongy grey masses of her hardly-used brain; a scream of yellow, a florid of steps, a deluge of oranges and blues.
Janet had to find a way to contain this craziness. Fear was rising inside her and she hurried to the medicine shop to buy some more drugs to take away the madness. After purchasing the drugs she swallowed two immediately and walked slowly back home waiting for the effects to kick in.
That night while the residents slept, a murmuring sound was heard from outside. It was like a loud whirring, buzzing sound, that was growing louder and louder as it drew nearer. Annoying sounds were considered a nuisance on Planet Grey, ‘Why travel around, when you can stay in town.’
‘Maybe we should call our friends and double check.’ Said Matt who was wide awake.
Matt tried contacting a few more friends but didn’t need to confirm anything because the ‘murmur buzzing thing’ was now sounding like a very loud poorly tuned cello. Still the residents of Quarter One refused to leave their houses in fear of what lay outside, and a communication was sent out from the chief moderator to stay in the house until night fall.
As the last rays of the sun quickly scarpered over the dull horizon and the delicious night time oozed its way across the land. The residents, at last, decided to go outside to see if all was clear.
They all tiptoed in comic fashion towards the open fields with a sense of weariness. As each one turned the corner, the first cries were heard.
‘Oh the horror!’
Matt wasn’t about to run. Janet certainly wouldn’t. Not with the neighbours behind them anyhow. With forced stern looks and ever widening eyes that formed creases on their brows. Janet and Matt turned the corner and looked.
The ‘thing’ stood one hundred metres high, and its head seemed to scrape the clouds above it. If you could call it a head. It had giant long hairy antennas that reached out even further into the sky and were covered in unclipped hairs. It had eight long arms that dangled by its side in a gangly manner. And those eyes, those many eyes that looked in all directions. Its body was a shiny brown and black and looked almost hard like plastic.
The ‘thing’ didn’t move. Just sat there. Waiting. A massive lump of ugly mass, littering the landscape of Planet Grey.
Some of the residents vomited at the site of it. Everybody else started to inch forward as the beast sat there swaying its bulbous shape.
The Chief Moderator had composed himself and returned to the scene to look at the beast. He approached Janet and Matt in a sidestepping fashion, doing his best to ensure fear did not register on his face.
‘What on earth is it?’ He asked.
‘It must have something for us.’ Said the Chief Moderator with ever growing confidence.
‘Normally things that have travelled this far come baring gifts.’
‘Chief Moderator. As representative of Quarter One you must go and engage with this beast.’ Offered Matt.
The Chief Moderator looked sheepishly around while everyone else looked back at him.
‘Fine. I will go and speak to the thing and see what it wants.’
The Chief Moderator, with the weight of the town behind him, reluctantly went to talk to the beast. He breathed in deeply and puffed his chest and pulled a face of defiance not seen since, well since whenever something had happened that required a face pulling of this kind. He walked until he was at the beast’s feet, and then tried his best to look at it, in one of its eyes.
‘Now look here dear fellow.’ He Shouted.
‘We keep a pretty tidy place here and we don’t like unclean things disturbing our planet. What is it you want?’
The beast just sat there. Swaying slightly. Its arms and tentacles billowing around, hopelessly offending the locals. He waited another five minutes then shouted again.
‘Now look here I’ve told you already.’ And then came a sound. A rumbling. The thing started to shake and so did the ground. The chief moderator stood back slightly but the rumbling and shaking became more violent and then came a giant.
‘PAAAARRRPPPP!’ followed by a, ‘FFFRRRRTTT!’ and another, ‘PARP!’ and the beast unleashed a foul smelling, utterly disgusting, never in a million years, or somewhere near that figure, seen, pile of SHIT.
The town’s residents were terrified and fell to their knees vomiting and puking at the horror they all had to witness. Never before had such atrocities been seen by so many. Janet and Matt were writhing in agony holding their noses. The Chief Moderator had joined the residents behind the building as nose pegs were handed out as an emergency measure. The beast now sat atop an enormous pile of poo like some unwelcome, rather muddied, alternative celestial visitor.
Clearly this beast brought the kind of gift no person would ever want, and certainly no wisdom. There was only one thing to do and that was kill the bugger. The residents started to chant.
‘Kill. Kill. Kill.’
‘Let’s kill the thing.’
‘It’s full of shit.’
Janet, Matt, and The Chief Moderator, with a few thousand angry residents carrying sharp handles, walked towards the foul smelling beast, chanting and cheering for its death. They arrived at the base of the poo on which the beast sat, and with one hand covering their mouths, and the other holding their spears, pulled back their arms and let the implements fly into it. One after the other the spears flew into the belly of the beast until it looked like a porcupine. When the last one had been thrown they all stood there while the humongous blob just swayed in silence.
Then little drops of rain were felt on the faces of the residents. They touched their faces and could see that it was blood, but the deep, dark, vibrant red colour seemed to shock them. Colour hadn’t been seen for a while in these parts. Maybe some dark ones were seen, but bright red pulsating colours, that seemed to force the irises of their eyes to magnify beyond the required necessity when living on a dull planet, had caught them by surprise. The residents didn’t run. They didn’t scream. They just kept looking at the rich smooth red that was now pattering onto their arms and legs.
The pitter patter of blood became a gush, as blood came spurting out onto the residents, and the body of the beast; and the shit on which it sat. Unexplainable broad smiles were wrapped around their faces as people started to dance and laugh. As more blood gushed from the thing, its body slowly disintegrated into the shit, until the pile of shit became a huge mound of red.
The sun was starting to come out and the residents were becoming weary from the inexplicable excitement that they had not felt for many years. The chief moderator suggested that everybody go home and try and sleep, and that maybe tomorrow they could discuss what had happened. So off they went home in an incomprehensible state of confusion.
Janet and Matt went home too, but they couldn’t sleep, no one could. They were intoxicated by each other’s skin that was now covered in blood. There was a bitter acrid smell that creeped into their noses and seeped its way into the brain. Janet and Matt touched each other, bit by bit, with only their fingers first. Then they gently played around between each other’s thighs. They were nervous like teenagers in their first rush of love. No one else slept that day in Quarter One and nobody waited until the sun disappeared before they went to the sacred mound, to gaze lovingly at the red and brown mound.
The following morning they all walked out while the sun was still shining, shielding the bright sharp yellowness from their eyes. People walked in communion as if they were all vibrating on the same energy pattern. Everybody went back to the mound. They all walked slowly holding each other’s hands staring at the sun but as they turned the corner they were shocked to see that from out of the mound a stupendous flower had now grown.
The flower almost blocked out the sun, so high it stood. The base of its stalk measured hundreds in width and the texture of the stalk had a shiny wetness that fooled the eyes into thinking it was flickering and pulsing, as if it were the skin of a newly born baby. The lustrous vivid green stalk grew several hundred metres into the sky, until the residents eyes met the first of six petals that hung over the landscape like the hem of a Mother’s skirt. And the colours, oh what colours, that did not only shine, but seemed to sing or hum their presence.
The people of Planet Grey just dropped to their knees at the sight of the flowers undeniable beauty. The flower radiated a powerful energy that washed through every cell, muscle and hair on the bodies of all these beautiful beings. Tears started to flow down their cheeks that almost blinded them, as the blood and shit was washed away from their skin and cleansed from the earth. As the sun went down they remained in silence waiting for it to appear again. The residents of this once dull planet were forever changed.
The flower had become their God, and the sun; its mighty benefactor.