Welcome to Saturday Morning 1
Lemuel looked up at the stars. He had always
loved astronomy, and the skies here in central
Brasil seemed to be clearer than in the northern
part of the country, with its smoking chimneys
and lit houses and buildings, before he was
sent here and before the war had turned north
Brasil into a smoking ruin, albeit at Avalon's
cost of nearly an entire generation of men.
They were almost as clear as in his native Tasmanland.
He wondered if he would ever have an opportunity
to see the stars of the North Sky Pole. Then he
felt an instant of dizziness, as if he had fallen
a tenth of an inch or a tiny speck of lightning had
hit each hair in his fur.
What had happened? A silly but horrible thought
came to him. All his life, he had been trying
to find another tiger-wolf, especially since his
parents had died and left him alone. Out there was
another tiger-wolf somewhere, who had just died.
Perhaps Someone, Mother Nature or Father God
or the Grim Reaper, was letting him know that
his kind was doomed, that he was the last tiger-wolf
and his kind would be extinct with his death.
"What that?" asked his co-guard, a furduck,
in Feefah. Plattik was also his best friend...
they had come from the same part of the world to this
dangerous place, to help Brasil win its war
against Avalon. They both knew if Avalon
prevailed, that Earth would soon be a death trap for
all Aesop. "Something ting beak." Something had tingled
Plattik's sensitive snout...a feeling, not a smell.
Well, that at least likely ruled out his imagining.
Several other Aesop species had gone extinct
during his lifetime, and he had never felt anything
like what he just had. Unless it was because
Plattik was his friend?
"I felt something too." replied Lemuel,
who spoke English (albeit with a heavy
tiger-wolf accent) and used it with other Aesop,
even ones that could not speak Human languages
at all. He could also handle Portuguese,
again with a thick tiger-wolf accent.
"I better go and report this...it could be important."
Lemuel put his rifle into the guardhouse and
walked across the field to the sergeant's office.
He saluted Sergeant Cardoso and said
"Sir, Private Plattik and I just experienced astrange
shock or jolt a few minutes ago. It could be some type
of enemy action or some sort of new weapon of some kind..."
"'Some type of enemy action or some sort of
new weapon of some kind. A strange shock or jolt.'"
repeated Sergeant Cardoso, whose memory was as good
as an Aesop's. "I didn't feel anything."
"Perhaps it is because you are Human, sir.
Many Humans do not have senses as sharp as Aesop,
except for sight, of course..."
"SHUT UP, PRIVATE! I have enough sense to know that
you are just trying to get out of guard duty.
You will return to guard duty immediately and be
only placed on report. If you do not you will be
in the guardhouse as a prisoner, intead of a guard.
Now get out, critter!"
Lemuel returned to the guardhouse to
retrieve his rifle, and resumed his place beside Plattik.
"How go?" asked the furduck. "Horrible" replied Lemuel.
"I am now on report."
"Bad. You right. Something happen." Lemuel was grateful
for his friend's commiseration and resumed listening for
strange sounds and scanning the night sky. After a while,
however, he saw something odd. A single middling bright
star seemed to be moving like a snail across the sky.
Slowly, evenly, straight from west to east a pinpoint
mote of light was creeping among the stars. Lemuel did not
bother pointing it out to his friend...his sight was not
quite as good as his own, and he knew from stargazing
experience that Plattik could not make it out.
He briefly considered calling Sergeant Cardoso,
but it would be gone before he could get the sergeant out
to see it and he certainly had no intention of getting
the results he would get if he tried reporting this now.
What was it? Probably a skycraft. But Lemuel
had very good hearing, even for a tiger-wolf, and it was so
quiet out that he could hear his own heartbeat.
Yet he had never before heard a skycraft travel silently
like that in the sky. Maybe it was some sort of totally
silent skycraft. But that would be a revolution!
A skycraft that made no noise? Perhaps it was too high up
to be heard. But again, that would be a revolution
in sky travel. And going from west to east made no sense.
North or south would be more likely, to or from the front.
Could it be a natural phenomona? Lightning balls, perhaps?
Lemuel knew lightning balls were very rare, and usually
lasted only a few seconds. Besides, there wasn't a cloud
in the sky. The only thing he could match this to was a
meteor or planetcule. But it was moving much too slow to be
a meteor, and far too fast to be a planetcule.
And planetcules were very rarely visible without telescopes.
He was still trying to figure out what it was when
their relief arrived at the end of their shift.
Lemuel went to his quarters. His slender quartermate,
Carisk the ichneumon, arrived there a few minutes latter.
Carisk was a sanstring specialist, and would most likely
soon be a corporal. Carisk closed the door and windows,
and came close.
"Lemuel, something strange is going on. I probably
shouldn't tell you this, but nobody actually
ordered me not to. Just don't let anyone know I've
said anything about this!. A few hours ago, we started
receiving the weirdest messages on sanstring in the
twenty yard wave and longer. A lot of them were
speech messages, not Feefah. A few were music, but music I
have never heard before. Some of the music I never even
heard the *type* before...and a few I couldn't even guess
We heard a little Feefah, but it was pure gibberish.
Yet it did not sound random...it sounded like a Feefah
made of a completely different alphabet. It had the pace
of real Feefah. And the speech signals were very
strangely accented, almost like a strange Aesop
kind was speaking. But I'm pretty sure they were Human.
And every sentence, or every other sentence seemed to
have a nonsense word or phrase in it, like 'radio'
or 'space station' or 'communist'. That is for the
languages I recognized...a lot I did not.
There were what sounded like news announcements,
but referring to imaginary cities and countries.
And just before the end of my shift they started
talking crazy, that 'the rest of the world is gone'
and delirious stuff like that. Maybe it's a kind of code,
but there is a huge amount of it going on all of a sudden."
Lemuel and Carisk each retired to their bunks with
a lot on their minds. What the hell was going on here?
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME