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the therry, the troof

The first sighting was during a nighttime storm in Florida. Lightning flashed through deep clouds every few seconds, backlighting for the undulating figure of something gigantic in the sky. Some people started screaming, hollering for their neighbors, their families, their lives. Thousands of people saw it, but no one that first night could get a picture of it.

National news outlets were prepared to crack a Florida joke, but it appeared in broad daylight in Kansas the following day, hovering over wind turbines. It looked like a squid, with four fluidly moving tentacles flapping behind an arrowpoint shaped body, drifting with its length parallel to the ground. People took pictures, which came out very nice, but that was it; it produced no sound as far as audio recording equipment could tell, left nothing behind when it traveled, and treated all places as equal, staying only ten minutes in a given place before vanishing completely.

After it blessed several military bases with its aloof hovering, the U.S. military decided to shoot it down. That was the protocol for all objects that challenged the rules of American airspace. While the president was still talking in one syllable words to reporters about how there would be a response forthcoming about the visitor, and “we’re looking into it,” jets were scrambled to shoot it down--it had appeared right over an Air Force base, conveniently.

Closing in on the aerial but stationary target, fighters readied and launched their missiles. And then it was gone. Not really gone. Behind them, doing nothing. For fear of the squid retaliating, the fighters broke off before the command was given again. Same result. Call off the mission. A couple of small hill fires and video of the incident were momentarily embarrassing for the president before his office began spinning the incident as a successful attempt at startling the entity, even though no one had yet been able to discern whether the thing was a spacecraft or a single organism.

The thing moved on. It started in the USA, as far as anyone was aware, but it visited a slew of other countries before, a few weeks later, it completely vanished.

Beyond pictures and externally observable statistics like size, no one knew anything about it. And a high resolution picture, without context, means very little. Is that a fleshy part or is that mechanical or is that somehow both? How does it stay afloat? Does it like us? Is it going to return later and kill us all?

Think pieces encouraged readers to believe that the presence of the creature would provoke a new desire for space exploration. It didn’t. The whole event was a good scapegoat to massively increase funding in the military, which made the arms-dealing friends of some Congresspeople very happy.

Eventually, time stripped the event of its urgency, but children laid awake anyway, wondering if the unexplained sky squid might be hovering just outside their windows in the pouring rain and lightning.

Recon Data Point: CS117 Sol Life 10^9.721

We found it! After scouring the myriad radio waves of this miserable rock, we secured the audio sample. At last, we’re free to leave. No more listening in to ill-informed public broadcasts likening our foray cruiser to a cephalopod. If we’d had time to park, I could have eaten thirty radio show hosts just to give them some different talking points.

Here is the sample that was giving Archenum Zarabus so many headaches. With it in our possession, the Archenum can give the audio the much awaited full-listen necessary to free his mind of blighted half sounds, especially the beginning duh… duh-duh-duh…  duh-duh-duh…duh-duh-duuuuh. We will all be glad, back in Curvaxala Prime board meetings, to not be hearing him hum his half-heard melody under his breath.

As for planetary viability, even though we bumped this one up the queue just to satisfy the Archenum’s need to fully hear the audio, it needs to be said that this planet is no good. It needs to be ignored. The only interaction they tried, besides just generalized scans and radio chatter that we ignored, was aggression. The whole team agreed that when humans write songs likening themselves to just the eyes of predators that have nearly been driven to extinction, perhaps their response to our presence was always going to be one of aggression.

Sure, let’s equate our survival instinct with a species that we seem completely dedicated to eradicating. That’s why you’re lobbing projectiles at your own hillsides, right? Trying to start an interstellar war just because you really value your endurance and survival? It’s a horrible song. Let’s just hope that upon sharing it with our home planet, it doesn’t become too popular like the last one, “Santa Baby.” 

You couldn’t get that one out of your head if you tried.

To Strive, To Seek, To Find
the therry, the troof

There were too many comforts for an aging cat. Too many bowls of wet food easily digested, too many deep naps on the sunlight strewn porch, and too many hugs from well meaning humans, who, especially the children, had never been taught how to touch a majestically old cat like Ludwig von Snagglefang.

So one day, when he closed his nearly blind eyes for his longest nap and opened them again to witness clearly a vast field of flowers glowing under a starlit sky and could smell them all and could feel the arthritis evaporate from his joints and could feel his whiskers twitch in the wind, he ran. Nothing like his purposeful hunts in grassy fields when he was barely an adult, Lud danced through the flowers, feeling his heartbeat quicken with exhilaration at the idea of freely moving again. Moving for the sake of moving, his scraggly tabby fur and all of his mats smoothed with his stride, becoming sleeker with every bound of his legs against the dirt.

There were dreams like these throughout Lud’s life. This was real. Lud also knew that this was how dying felt. He was munching on grass and deciding: will I go when I run too far through this grass? Is it over when I go too far to find my way back?

And then his eyes opened, the aches returned, and the dullness of living crept back into his body. He sighed with a little relief. Although he wasn’t a fan of hugs, Lud knew the sentiment and knew the people giving the sentiment would feel horrible if there wasn’t more time. Thinking back to another cat he had known, a gloriously silky, white-haired matriarch named Winter, he remembered her talking about something similar.

I’m starting to see a flowery, endless field when I close my eyes and sometimes when I keep them open, Winter had purred to Lud, when he was much younger.

That happens to me too, but I’m always hunting something and wake up because I was twitching too hard from running in my sleep, Lud replied.

You’re talking about dreams. This isn’t a dream, young friend. I think I will die soon.

You’re only a little older than me, and I’ve only just become an adult. Why would you think that you’re going to die? Are you in pain right now? Are you sick?

Winter wrapped her paws around Lud’s head and pulled him closer. No, not sick, but I know that if I wander too far into this field, I won’t be coming back. I want you to know that I treasure your company before that happens.

A week later, the people feeding them both buried her in the backyard. Lud only knew that one night she crossed the fence and the open road. There was a consistent bright light beyond the fence and then, shortly after, the people were all awake. After that, Lud was kept inside the building where the people lived for a long time, and they were constantly checking to make sure he was where they expected him to be, with panicked faces and a combination smell of wet dirt, dust, and salt in their clothes.

For Lud, it was different and slower. There seemed to be a long way to run in the field without forgetting how to come back.

When he did come back, he often found himself in the middle of a deep cry or in a strange place or tightly wrapped up in someone’s arms. Just like Winter had said, the connection to the starry field was growing ever more present.

One morning, all of the people greeted Lud in the morning, sitting around him in a circle. That smell had come back, with more of the salt than Lud had remembered. He didn’t know that they were taking him to the vet afterwards, but he felt their love pouring over him before he closed his eyes one more time and opened them on the expanse of the next world.

It was the same vast field and vast starry night, but something had shifted. The smell of the hunt now filled the air. Ludwig’s eyes dilated--something else was out there, and he would find it. At first he stalked it like an older cat that had to conserve energy for fear of tiring out, but eventually he started chasing. He swooped through the flowers and crashed through bushes and leapt into and across trees and jumped so high he took flight, fur rippling with the wind as it whooshed past him.

Eventually he found the source of the scent. Winter, but her coat was full of stars like the sky. They always had something to hunt then, together with many other cats. Always a tree branch to sleep on, always fresh dew on the grass and leaves to drink, and the stars were warm like the sun.

It doesn’t matter. You have assurance that your end will strip away the mystery of death and afterlife, or you’ll be too gone to care. Losing an animal friend or pet is completely different.

It doesn’t matter whether you don’t believe, or you have a different opinion because you can’t know. Give me this. I imagine my little cat boarding a boat like Odysseus at the end of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses,” bidding farewell the life lived, in spite of whatever value that might have had, and sailing on to new adventures.

These creatures that we feed and give water give back so much love, but they were always worth more than their meaning to people, and they deserve to choose the infinite hunt or the infinite Frisbee that throws itself or the endless sky and clouds or whatever it is that fish like.

Onward, wanderers! Maybe if we can, we'll follow you some day.

Week 0, Introductions
the therry, the troof

Hi, my name is Troof.

Getting to know me is like getting to know popcan biscuits without ever having seen them. You start at the grocery store. Have you been to the grocery store? How could you have been to the grocery store and never seen popcan biscuits? They're right next to the cream cheese.

If you start trying to open the biscuits here, you're gonna go to jail. Buy them. You won't regret it. You needn't clutch the can so hard. They're not really going to arrest you, I was exaggerating probably. I'm not exaggerating about clutching the can, ease off, vulture-fingers.

And now you're back in the kitchen. The first thing to do is to tear open the seal to the can. Oops, now you're screaming. No, you're. No, you're fine, see what happened. What happened was.

Next time, you'll be ready. You'd like to think that. It would be comforting, to know that you weren't going to writhe with fear right up until the moment you did exactly as the can said and punctured the seam with a spoon, howling with terror at the pop and chucking the can as if it were full of fireworks that were also snakes. You're never fully ready for popcan biscuits.

One day, in a bewildered haze, you might confuse the popcan biscuits for something that tastes good while raw, like cookie dough; you'd put that raw dough nugget in your mouth and immediately wonder why anyone ever let you make choices, but now you bake the biscuits, and they're either burned or still raw. You're always checking the instructions and blaming your oven temperature. Blaming your incessant need to open the oven door just to see the level of browning, thereby inviting hot air into your face.

Biscuits are done, such as they are. Inside the biscuit is something new, something that is neither bis nor cuit.

I hope to be this and that and every part of your biscuit making experience and more. Thanks for playing this season with me!

I'm In.
the therry, the troof

Let's Play LJ Idol Season 11.