“I want to forget.” She looked upwards, into its eyes, trying to sound firm.
“Don’t you all.” It raised an eyebrow. It was amazing how human it looked. If she didn’t know better she would have mistaken it for a woman. It wore a tailored suit and a string of pearls. Its hair was blond, going gray at in places, and done up into a neat bun. It was classy without being ostentatious.
“Can you do that? Make me forget?” She smoothed a hand over her blouse and shifted back a little.
“It depends.” It quirked its mouth into something that was almost a smile. Now that she considered, it was the little things that gave it away. There was something in the voice that was just a little too…fluid. The eyes were wrong too. She gave a discreet shudder. She’d never met anyone with eyes like that before. The light in them was too intense, almost burning, like they could see right through a person and out the other side.
“Is there something wrong?” The thing’s mouth widened.
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The Ninjas were just sitting down when President Mendoza arrived, her Secretary of State in anxious tow. I was there by virtue of being one of the handful of American linguists capable of reproducing the apical velar stops, retroflex implosives, and tonal distinctions of our visitors’ formal dialect. Yes, the Ninjas can sit, though it stretches their pelvic joints backward in a curve that strikes unprepared observers as obscene. We call them Ninjas or Keplings partly because their actual name for themselves contains two lateral trills, and good luck with that. It’s also worth noting that Keplan Tradespeak uses nominative diacritics, so if you don’t know how to incorporate those, you could accidentally call them a similar noun they’d consider an act of war. These creatures bent space and evaded relativity to travel 1200 light-years from Kepler 62-e, so it’s a war they’d win without breaking a sweat. And yes, they do sweat. Their perspiration smells like cucumber. It’s lovely. I mean that.
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“I guess we’ll have to have class indoors then.” This was not the first time Professor Clifford Barrow made this joke but his students laughed just the same. Despite his tendency to be a bit of a recluse and his inability to make a good joke, Professor Barrow was well respected. Some of his students even liked him.
The class room was bright which stood in stark contrast to the rain and darkness outside. Before Clifford arrived on the planet, he did not realize that when they say it always rains on Ravis, they mean it always rains on Ravis. The sun never broke through the constant rainstorm and the dark clouds enveloped the entire planet forcing a perpetual state of night. This provided few distractions for the students and was one of the reasons Ravis was known for producing the brightest minds in Council Space.
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The young man buys a ticket and wanders around the exhibit on the history of the spacesuit before disappearing. It takes more than forty minutes before the observatory volunteers find him locked in the Clark Telescope Dome. He refuses to come out.
The man demands to know why he can’t see Saturn through the telescope’s eyepiece. He doesn’t believe them when they explain through the closed door that the rotation of the Earth has shifted the planet out of the telescope’s field of view. They offer to come inside and reposition the telescope for him. He tells them that he is not a fool. That he will wait.
“I want to see her fly through Saturn’s rings on her way out.” He says this three times in quick succession. They assure him that they understand, but exchange worried glances.
The volunteers fetch the astronomer who is about to leave for Happy Jack to watch an alien world transit in front of its star five hundred light years away.
“This planet is in a highly elliptical orbit,” he tells them, dropping a bottle of bourbon into the passenger seat of his hatchback. “It may not cross the plane of the star again in my lifetime.”
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Yet my head does not explode from the pressure of being overwhelmed all at once by everything that lives, breathes, flows, falls, and crumbles under a the light of a trillion suns. I, and the Odinic Travelers before me, whose memories are preserved within my own brain, have seen them all before in all our sojourns throughout the span of the universe. My cranium is stable for now, or so I think (is it?).
Then, after being lost in a raging river of visions, and flowing streams of time, the courtyard cuts back to nothing. But should I be surprised at the stark transition to nothingness? For what is nothing, but just another facet of everything?
But alas! I am not alone! For kneeling and meditating solemnly in the middle (or perhaps the end; I cannot tell. It is hard to tell when there is nothing but cobblestone and vapor as far as the eye can see) of the mystical courtyard is a man. He is both close and far from me, visible, and invisible. I see him, yet I do not see him. Whether he is there or not is a matter of continuous fluctuation. Why must everything be in a state of flux, especially here (and everywhere?). Is nothing fixed?