It was early morning, as much as it could be morning in this realm. Light from an unknown source slanted through a curtain of ochre vapour. The light brushed against a ball of green smoke which began to stretch under its energy. The ball began to grow arms and legs, a head, becoming shaped vaguely like a human. The smoke reached out a barely formed arm, touched an irregular cloud of red smoke. The green seemed to push at the red, not at all mixing with it, as though they repelled each other. The red smoke drifted slowly away, rising slightly, but didn't change form. It did speak, after the manner of its own kind. "Let's travel today, let's travel far." It said in a harsh, abrasive voice. The green smoke, being of her own kind, understood. The language, the emotion, the need, behind it. The green nodded a vaporous head in agreement. After a while the red began to change shape, randomly at first then more like the green until two human shapes stood side by side. They floated around the hazy mist-land they called home, preparing to travel.
The two forms began to expand, to solidify, taking up substance from all around, until they were as solid as water. If they were going to travel they needed more substance than clouds had to offer, the Travel Spirits were less than gentle, a being of lesser solidity would be pulled apart. The two human shaped figures stood admiring themselves in the reflection from a mercury pool hanging before them. The green smiled coyly, spun around, giggled, a wispy dress formed, floating on the vapours, revealing nothing. The red turned from side to side, many different styles and colours flashed and streaked across her form. She at last settled on one she could abide. Mostly satisfied with the effect, but leering not smiling. She now wore a black one piece, what humans would call a leather cat suit.
They would be surprised if they ever found out what it was actually made of. They had seen many humans of course, and used lots of humanisms. Words like "spoke" and "she" and "wore" didn't quite fit, but they were a useful guide. When the two were ready they reached out and swung the vapours aside, revealing a white path leading to a grey lake of polished water. Above, a blackness covered the lake like a dome, painted with red clouds. The dome and the lake were only fractionally more substantial than the pair. They walked, more for practice than need, to the lake shore. A concerted effort of will summoned a Travel Spirit. It was long and thin, like a jointed wire. Its substance was hard, like dried mud. The spirit gestured into the distance. A beam of light floated towards them, under their feet, curved around them. Grasping them firmly the light, piloted by the Spirit, took off at fantastic speed, pressing the two against its curved back. Thoughts from its passengers clearly showed the spirit its destination. It screamed across the ether, bouncing off hyperstreams, piercing continuums like targets, until it arrived at the appointed place. A bluish ball hung in fine threads of mist, turning slowly under a massive fire. The Travel Spirit straightened the light allowing the two to step out onto a narrow ledge of water vapour.
After such a journey the two had lost much of their shape and were forced to re-form. When they were once again of the desired outline they peered down on the blue ball. The red licked her lips in anticipation. The green giggled loudly and grinned, "How I just love humans, they are so easy to reach, so pliable." The red smirked, "Yes, so well trained, pull a string and watch them jump. What shall it be today sister?" "I think today it should be...all of them." She danced around at her cleverness. The red smiled widely, nodded knowingly, said nothing. They looked down, smiled, took one pace forwards. The two stepped lightly down through the cloudy veil and onto a wide, crowded park. As usual the density of life took their breath away. The intensity of the colours, the brightness of the light seared their eyes.
The movement of so many different, living things pressed against them. It was like a mental kick, suddenly coming into contact with all this emotion. And everything palpable, real. The solidity of this place called Earth. This was what drew them here, made the journey worthwhile, to be able to fill their souls from Man's raging, screaming, crush of manic animation. The pair appeared as less than shadows under all this mass. An echo in the mind of those sensitive enough to notice. For the moment this would be an advantage. It would enable them to enter places few other beings could, let them play the little games that gave them corporeality. They walked, through the park, across its broad lake.
Passed the boaters, the football players, the giggling children. Through the pic-nicers, the sunbathers, the strollers. Under the shade of an old tree a man sat on bench, waiting. He was in his late twenties, fair haired, quite handsome, still single. Ah! The first victim, so quick, so easy. These earthlings had solidity, but it stilted their perceptions. The man was completely unaware of their existence, would remain so until they wanted him to see. They stepped into his mind. They penetrated his psyche without hesitation, easily finding that place where humans keep their "now" thoughts. The electric spark of super-fast thoughts zipped past them in all directions. The two travellers pressed their ears against the nerves. The man's thoughts were their thoughts. He was trying to relax, trying to be in no particular hurry. He was thinking about going back to work.
Then, their thoughts were the man's thoughts 'No! wait a while longer.' The man decided to wait a while longer. 'Its such a nice day.' It was a nice day. 'You're not busy at work.' He wasn't busy at work. They wouldn't miss him for a few more minutes. See! all very easy. A woman strode by, in a rush, hurrying to an important meeting. As she passed a diary fell from her bag. A silver burst, like a lightning bolt fired from the man's forehead. It was very powerful but totally invisible to human senses. The bolt impacted unerringly against the woman's optic nerves. 'She hasn't seen it' She didn't see it. The man saw it, picked it up, went running after her. If the man had left earlier he would never have met the woman. The wedding will be in the spring, a wonderful day. But the woman was married to another, her job. Long and bitter would be the rowing, short but intensely sweet the making up. The two sighed, lapping up the resultant emotions, then moved on. That was fun, but too easy.
- Copyright Steve Dean