I’ve been meaning to get back to doing short fiction again for a while now – it’s a form that facsinates me. Don’t know if I’ll get back to doing it regularly, but anyway, this is an idea that’s been kicking about my head for a while now.
It’s so cold in here. Everyone’s got their own problem with this job. With me, it’s the cold. Some people complain about the smell, but I just use a vapour rub on my top lip every so often – cuts out the stench, and keeps me breathing clear.
That’s more important than you’d think, breathing clear. Keeps the system well oxygenated, the brain ticking over sharp.
But it’s so bastard cold – got to be. They decompose faster than us at room temperature. They’re gone in under 24 hours at much over freezing. But it makes difficult. Doesn’t matter how alert I am if I can’t feel how much resistance the scalpel’s getting. No matter how often I study the damn charts, I just can’t get their muscular configuration right in my head. I need to feel the scalpel cutting that weird colourless flesh to get this right. Yeah, colourless. The grey’s a mucus under the skin – there’s not a lot of it, so it’s not a big problem except on that first cut.
Yeah, some of them squirt.
But yeah, I need to feel the slicing action. Can’t see the action properly through the mucus, and can’t remember the charts, so I need to feel the metal move. Besides, the charts aren’t always accurate – there are a couple of subtle changes we’re starting to notice that seem to depend when they come from
That’s right, when. Someone finally figured it out. The bug-eyed bastards aren’t really from another planet. They’re from Earth all right. Millions of years into the future. The weird radiation signature is a side effect of the time travel. God knows why they keep coming back here, though. There’s all sorts of theories about why they’ve evolved that way, but it pretty clear that they live somewhere cool and dark. I heard someone even suggested that they’re from a period after the sun dies, but that just seems crazy. I mean, even if we do evolve like these bastards, there’s no way humans would stay on earth that long. I don’t buy it. We’d get the fuck out.
What? Didn’t you know? Yeah, these things are human. Well, originally. That’s why we’ve got to keep studying them. We’ve already worked out a lot about their society. For example, we know that they don’t do manual labour – they’re just not strong enough – they can’t even stand for long periods, for Christ’s sake. The muscles won’t support it. They’ve probably got robots or something. If they can crack time travel, they can manage robots. And judging by the lungs and the liver, the air’s pretty toxic whenever they’re from – lots of filters and resistances to poisons we don’t even have yet in there.
Why what? Why do it? Isn’t it obvious?
We’re dissecting the future. Trying to work out what happens. Trying to change it. I mean, do you want your great-great-great grandkids to look like that?
Goddamn, it’s cold in here.