EP323: Marking Time on the Far Side of Forever Dec. 15, 2011

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By DK Latta Read by Josh Roseman Discuss on our forums. First published in Prairie Fire, 1999 All stories by DK Latta All stories read by Josh Roseman Marking Time on the Far Side of Forever by D.K. Latta I sit beneath the dark green sky, overlooking the valley that has changed much over the [...]



By DK Latta Read by Josh Roseman Discuss on our forums. First published in Prairie Fire, 1999 All stories by DK Latta All stories read by Josh Roseman Marking Time on the Far Side of Forever by D.K. Latta I sit beneath the dark green sky, overlooking the valley that has changed much over the years.  What was once a stream has swelled into a river while, to the east, lush vegetation grows where I think there was once a shallow lake. I can’t remember definitely. The information is stored inside me, filed, itemized; I’m merely unsure how to access it. It will come to me. Later, when a random search, an unrelated thought, cracks open the proper conduits and a pulse of electricity resurrects the knowledge, unbidden. Until then, I am content to wait. Below my knee, the dented brass-coloured metal becomes the red of a tree trunk, substituting as a shin and foot. Like an antiquated peg-leg, like a stereotypical pira…pi…pi- Pi is 3.1415926… The organic substance must be replaced occasionally, but the concept has served satisfactorily for almost two hundred years. It was easy to jury-rig. Not so my mnemonic core.  I lack the appropriate tools and diagnostic programs. Yes. There had been a lake, teeming with the hoorah-thet fish. I call them fish simply to provide a basis of comparative orientation. Fish only exist on earth, and this is not earth. Earth is a long, long way away. “Gakha!” I turn my head left, but abruptly the joints seize up. The swivel mechanism has been malfunctioning for months. Fiffer comes bounding through the long red stalks that sprout to the height of a man. The sun is setting, and when night settles the stalks will curl up until the first rays of morning buss them with its solar kiss. I’m being florid. Dr. Fujiwama programmed me that way. She said it would make my information easier to digest for the scouting party. My left eye starts pixilating, turning everything into a multi-coloured grid. I slap my palm against my brow with a dull clang! and the image clears. Who is bounding toward me? Do I know him? Fiffer. He bounces along on his powerful tail, his four lower limbs atrophied to stumps. I’ve unearthed fossils indicating that his ancestors had well-developed hind limbs. I think the scouting party will be pleased with my report on paleozoology. There are some nice passages in it. Florid even. Fiffer calls me Gakha, which means ‘shelled man’. They do not comprehend refined metals. Fiffer’s people think I’m some sort of god. I’ve tried to disabuse them of that notion. Fiffer halts, his principle forelimb gesticulating. The limb is a tongue that has evolved through the chest cavity. I detail its evolution in my report on Comparative Anatomies of the Vertebrates of the Temperate Zone. It was my first completed essay. I’m proud to say my observations within it have not been contradicted by subsequent data collected in the ensuing years. I was very meticulous. “Gakha?” I focus, realizing I may have drifted. “Has a grubbling fallen into a well?” I rise, prepared to rescue the little creature. “No.” His tongue waves excitedly. “A shell has fallen.” My left eye pixilates momentarily. I ignore it. “What?” “A big shell. It was bright at its bottom as it fell from the sky. Then it landed and went dark.” “Shell?” Slowly, I consider: shell equals refined metals. “Show me, please.” *          *          * It’s a ship. I don’t recognize the design. I lurch toward it in fits and starts through the swamp. I have sent Fiffer back to the village, until I can ascertain whether the inhabitants of the shell — I mean, ship — whether they mean his people harm. It is important that no harm come to them. The scouting party will want to meet them. In the nightsky I recognize the purple glimmer of a planet that shares the sa[...]