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Diary of a Galaxy Inspector

posted 17 May 2020, 06:57 by Fran Brady   [ updated 17 May 2020, 06:59 ]



As I float down through space, I can see that this planet is extremely well colonised and developed. My sensitive nose expects the unmistakable smell of civilisation: fumes from burning fuel, the bitter tang of rivers choked with waste from heavy industry, the thick, soupy smell of living beings compressed into small spaces. The air that rises to meet me, however, is not stale, overused and polluted, but remarkably clear and fresh. Surprised, I aim for a city where I can see that many of the buildings are amazing, some very clever, many quite beautiful, and a number with a stylish air of antiquity.




I descend happily. The residents of this world should be interesting, surely, and hopefully amenable to conversation. My last posting was so dull, the inhabitants ugly, their language mere nasal grunts. I could make no connection with them. I could not exactly fail them: they are doing no harm to their own planet or to the wider universe; they are steadily sustaining their way of life, neither over or under populating; they are mindfully preserving their flora and fauna; their politics enshrine peace and justice … and so on. But oh, dear! Sodull!




I land in a big square which is surrounded by buildings on three sides and bordered on the fourth side by a river. Facing the river, from the other side of the square, is an enormous, building with four huge stone horses rearing above its entrance. Along the other two sides, there are lines of small attached properties but each one is shuttered behind full-length metal blinds. There is no sign of the human life I have read about. Only birds, lots of them, large grey birds, strutting about the square, pecking ceaselessly between the flagstones but coming up with nothing in their beaks. 




I gauge the angle of the sun and calibrate it with the solar system in my galaxy chronometer: it is almost eleven in the morning. Surely the inhabitants should be up and doing long ago? The prevalence of these parasitic birds in such large numbers suggests that this square is normally thronging with people dropping or discarding food. It may be a national holiday, although nothing showed up in my preparatory research. Even if it is so, there would still be people, arguably even more than usual, congregating in this square. All I have read about the inhabitants of Planet Earth tells me that they are very gregarious, happy to be squashed together in large auditoria and crowded moving vehicles. But, as I stand perplexed amid the hungry birds, there is not one other being to be seen.





I am nothing if not patient. It has been my lot over the years to sit out some lengthy situations, to slow my own brisk natural pace down to that of the tortoise, a venerable, historic, animal but oh, dear! So slow! Now I settle in for the long haul. If they are hiding from me, they will tire before I do. They will find me waiting for as long as it takes, for whenever they choose to surrender. 




The days go by. I feed the birds from my rations and they become friends. I talk to them. ‘Where is everyone? Why are all the buildings closed? When will the people come out?’

They gobble the crumbs and crusts I provide but give me nothing back in return. I grow stiff from sitting still and take to perambulating around the square. Tiring of that, I venture into the side streets and see that channels of water flow everywhere with little bridges over them. In some places, the buildings rise straight out of the water and there are boats bobbing at their doors. It is on my third day, that I come upon a large poster nailed to the double doors of an imposing building, very old by the look of it, with a huge cross rising out of its roof. I feed the words on the poster into mysolar system translator: Stay at Home. Anyone leaving their house without permission will be prosecuted. At the top of the poster, there is a picture of a bright orange ball stuck with red pins; at the bottom, three words run repetitively, without spacing, along the border. It takes me a few moments to work out what these are and what they translate into: beatthevirusbeatthevirusbeatthevirus ….



I cannot get back to the square quick enough to collect my belongings and activate my teleporter. Now I know where all the inhabitants are. They are cowering in their homes, isolated from each other for fear of contamination and the spread of the vile Corona Curse. It is known and feared throughout the universe. Our galaxy has been clear of it for several millennia now. It is the stuff of legend. People say it is just a folk myth but, even if it did once exist, it will never again be found in our galaxy. We are far too advanced and sophisticated for anything so primeval. 


Or so we thought …