Tempus Frayabit

Two rotund figures scan the two, seated, human beings.

“So, they can’t see us?” says Tooit Nineteen

“Of course not, we’re on another plane,” says Tooit One.

“But I feel I could touch him; he looks so real.”

“Go on then, try it. See what happens.”

Tooit Nineteen reaches out a spectral tentacle and runs it over the face of the overweight laughing figure. The man stops laughing. He shivers.

“See, you made a ripple in his dimension, that’s all. Some humans can detect us like a cold draught, most are never aware of us.”

“So, you’re saying we’re here, but not here at all?”

“That depends on how you define here.”

The seated man turns to the seated woman. His eyes grow wide and his mouth opens. He extends his arms, palms upward. The woman regards him with apparent distaste. Her mouth moves rapidly.

“What was that?” says Tooit Nineteen.

“What?”

“There... There it is again.”

“What did you see?”

“Dunno. A sort of whirlpool that danced around them and then vanished.”

Tooit One regards Tooit Nineteen through each antenna in turn, with much shaking of heads. “Oh, please, no... not another one of those seers. Are you from Earth stock, Nineteen?”

“As it happens, my great, great, great x 106 grand progenitor was an asteroid traveller,” says Tooit Nineteen, ’an Earth impact colonist.”

“Mmmm.”

“What does my lineage have to do with this mission, Tooit One?”

“It seems you can detect accelerated life forms in a transient plane.”

“Sounds like bollocks to me.”

“That’s quite enough of that language, Nineteen.”

“What are they doing?” Tooit Nineteen has turned two heads toward the humans, now standing nose-to-nose waving their arms.

“Time to go.”

“Why?”

“Look.” Tooit One, indicates a furry posterior disappearing through a small door. “When the cat leaves, we all leave.”

—§—

“Why does everything move so slowly here, Fly One?”

“It only seems slow because we move at light-speed, Fly Twenty-six.”

“It’s boring.”

“Quit moaning and get on with your work.”

“You’re supposed teach me the art of chronological cleansing.”

“Don’t believe everything the office tells you, Twenty-six. And don’t get ideas above your station. You’re cheap labour, nothing more. Get on with the cleaning.”

“Stuff the cleaning. I’m not working under these conditions.”

“What conditions?”

“Working near them.” Fly Twenty-six points a delicate wing. “Ughhhh! Just look at those gross creatures.”

“Don’t be such a wuss, Fly Twenty-six. They’re harmless Tooits. All they do is creep though the universe fiddling with their tentacles.”

“Nah. Not the nice round cuddly beings with all the cool heads and the sexy antennae, I mean those two creepy things with one head and two arms.”

“The humans?”

“That fat one’s dumping heaps of waste everywhere.”

“Be quiet and be grateful, Twenty-six, without them you’d be jobless.”

“Humans? Yuck.”

“You’ve never seen a human before?”

“No, and I never want to see one again.”

“That does it. I shall have to report you as psychologically unsuitable for chrono-clensing missions.”

“That’s not fair.”

“It’s more than fair, Twenty-six, you’re out.”

“Please, Fly One, give me another chance... Please.”

“Oh, all right, but this is your last chance. Now get to work. Look at the state of this place, and those two humans simply sitting there.”

“They’re not sitting now, Fly One, they’re standing and waiving at one another.”

“That’s none of your business. Start sweeping, quick. That cat is up to its ears in waste already.”

“Cat? What cat?”

“Oh, dear, it’s time to go.”

“Go? I was just beginning to—”

“Cut the lip and pack your kit, Fly Twenty-six.”

“Why?”

“When the cat leaves, we all leave.”

—§—

Duane is guffawing at his favourite comedy TV show. “What’s for dinner?” He says, between hoots of laughter.

“Nothing,” snaps Sharon.

Duane starts and thrashes around as if swatting an invisible fly. He shivers. “What’s up?”

“I’ll tell you what’s up and I’ll tell you what’s not up,” she screams.

“Steady on Babe, you’ll burst a blood vessel.”

“Don’t you Babe me. What’s up is your time, and what’s not up is the new kitchen that’s been lying in flat-packs in the garage for six months.”

“Give me a chance, I’ll get around to it...” Wide-eyed, he makes a grab at thin air, bewilderment on his face. “In fact—”

“Get around to it? Get around to it? You’ll get nothing till I get my new kitchen.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing, Dumbo! As in sod all!”

“No food?”

There’s your food,” she’s pointing at a furry tail disappearing though the cat-flap. “Your dinner’s in the cat, and you can bugger off outside with him.”

—§—

“Thomas...? Here Thomas... There’s a good cat.”

Thomas sidles up to Duane.

“Did you hear her, mate? Six months, she said. Can you believe it? ...Six months. I don’t know where the time goes, do you?”

Thomas purrs.

“I’ll tell you what the problem is, mate: time flies.

The cat arches his back and meows.

“But I’ll get around to it, you see. Yeah, one day soon, I’ll get around to it.

Thomas turns his back on Duane, yawns, and sidles off.

Ω

Oscar Windsor-Smith  Oscar Windsor-Smith's website is an eccentric one-time electrician hiding behind a grandiose name, and striving to earn sufficient writing income to live up to it. He has had work published in print, and online in Flash Fiction Online, Everyday Weirdness and Every Day Fiction, among others. A novel was short-listed for the (UK) Writers' and Artists' Yearbook centenary competition in 2007, and Obstacle Productions performed a horror piece of his in London in 2009. Short story Direction of Our Fear is Editor's Choice in March 2010 Ghostlight Magazine. Oscar first saw daylight on the Wirral, Cheshire, UK, but having drifted around various places undiscerning enough to entertain his presence, he now infests rural Hertfordshire, where he lives with one tolerant wife, three cats and a Volvo 480.

Other works by Oscar Windsor-Smith