Short Stories Jun 15, 2022

It hovers above the ocean unobserved. Families are at play on the beach, kids fill buckets with sand, castles are constructed and destroyed. The spectacle is punctuated by sounds of squealing children, the rough slap and surge of an incoming tide, the intermittent shriek of gulls. Overhead, a lone osprey silently soars the length of Campbell’s Beach and disappears northwards over Chalky Bluff. The air is salt-laden on this idyllic February mid-morn. Yet no beachgoers notice the dark object hovering, loitering, observing, only a short distance beyond the breakers.

The observers are not of our world. Indeed, they are not of any body shape or form which sci-fi fans might recognize. They are gender-free and ethereal rather than corporeal. Despite intelligence being an artificial human construct, a cursory examination would suggest they are beings of superior, immeasurable intellect. The team of three life-forces has travelled across galaxies, transcending limitations of energy, mass and time. Their transporter defies the “immutable” laws of physics which Albert Einstein had theorized and humans accepted in their innate need for an explanation of the universe. But these three entities of intellect are not of our galaxy. They are not of this universe. They are, in fact, of another universe – a parallel universe, a bubble amongst infinite other bubbles in a cosmic sea of multiple universes, ours included.

The entities are watchers, mappers, explorers. They are an other-world equivalent of Ferdinand Magellan or James Cook, unhampered by the vagaries of weather, winds, ocean currents and creaking wooden vessels. These extra-universe beings are not so much “in” a space vessel; rather, they are integral components “of” their vessel. Sensors are tuned to the activity, noises and sounds emanating from Sapphire Beach, only 100 metres from their unobserved presence.

Emerging from knee deep ripples of waves, two wet and exuberant children scamper up the damp sand towards beach towels and discard their boogie boards. Noticing a crab hole below the nearby dunes, they commence digging enthusiastically in an effort to locate and annoy a hapless crustacean. A taller human, perhaps a parent, follows the children from the surf with her own similar boogie board which she drops onto the sand, and proceeds to tap salty water from an ear attached to her inclined head. Is this a humanoid form of empathic communication? Is it a question or command to the children? What is the tone of the action – positive, negative, neutral? The silent watchers require answers. They also need DNA. Their instructions include obtaining samples from any life-forms encountered. This is to be an emotionless act, merely scientific in intent, devoid of any hostility.

Manouevring their transporter unnoticed across the surface of the deep indigo water, the visitors approach the being presumed to be a parent. Its stealth is entirely possible because of its size. The other-world transporter of the visitors is, in fact, no larger than a blowfly. Despite its minuscule dimensions, it has transcended frontiers of multiple universes to silently glide towards the dripping wet surfer. It hovers momentarily above a moist shoulder before imperceptibly making undetected contact with her skin. The time travellers, true to their instructions, activate their DNA sampler. A tiny probe is inserted into the parent’s skin.

“Owww! Shiiit!” she screeches in an unexpected outburst, and smacks violently at her shoulder.

“You Ok Mum? What’s the matter?” a startled crab torturer queries.

“Nah, it’s Ok darling. Think it was a bloody marchfly. I got it though.”

Spying its dark crumpled remains lying on the sand below, the heel of her right foot deliberately stomps hard, swivels several times and buries the other-world entities into oblivion beneath the bleached sands of Sapphire Beach.

In a sliding-door moment on a sun-kissed February day, an extraordinary opportunity for other-world contact is unknowingly extinguished, and humanity will continue to blithely exist within the comforting yet self-delusional notion that we are alone in the cosmos.


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