Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Extract: Terrestrials by Cliff Chapman

Read by Timothy Selby

Although this whim of going for hypnotherapy is terribly out of character and the fee a substantial one I can ill afford, my second thoughts are annulled by the hypnotherapist’s great beauty. She has rich auburn hair. She’s short, wears smart clothes and has a soft, shushie ‘s’ when she speaks. Her rooms are warm, neutrally furnished. She asks me to lie down, relax. Then some more, and to regress. I like to think that I’m not completely under, more in control than she wants, although I’m remarkably relaxed. Remarkably… relaxed.

She wants me to think of the earliest thing I can remember. “1947,” I say. Scorching, dry heat. Dust in my throat. Hold on. I’m thirty-five. 1947 was way before I was born. It might be… I might explain it… in a roundabout sort of way, sorry.

There’s a something big in the dirt. I mean, the ground. They’re saying it’s a flying saucer piloted by little green men and saying ‘UFO’ as if the concepts are interchangeable. They’re not. Unidentified Flying Object, versus identifying it as a flying saucer, right? You’ve identified it. And it certainly isn’t flying now, nor will it ever fly again.

This seems familiar.



The X-Files and the rise of alien visitation lore seemed concurrent, back in the mid-nineties. Oasis ruled the radio, and a new breed of American aliens ruled television, or so it seemed. I can’t remember which I loved first, but certainly The X-Files gave me a passion for obfuscation and sceptical gingers. Never mind videos, DVDs, forums and UFO magazines, I still can’t look at a standard breakfast item without drifting back to the immortal phrase, “The Thinking Man’s Crumpet.” Gillian Anderson. Dana Scully.

And the hypnotherapist reminds me of her – of Gillian, of Scully. That must be why I decided to book. It’s certainly not because I hold any truck with hypnotherapy.

Maybe I’m so far under I’m projecting. Obviously she’s the cause of me being very relaxed. And yet, not so relaxed.

Roswell. Oh. Yes. I grew up as a genre television fan, but it was only very recently that I understood why I had such an affinity with that sort of entertainment.

You see, I’m not human. Not entirely.

I never knew my father. There was no secret made of the fact that he was foreign (“You look well foreign,” said Charlie Hope one playtime, before biting my arm). I grew up in a parochial village somewhere in the northeast of England, and when I say that I looked very different, and that I’m not entirely human, I don’t imply drastic correlation there. My skin is pale but common milky pink. I’ve got the same number of eyes, and they’re the same shape as most of the Western races. The nose, the ears, the jawline… it’s all recognisably human. I just look rather… slightly off, from Scandinavian. Tall, slim, fine genes and a radiant youthful glow. I’m thirty-five. I look twenty. I look after myself, but I have a head start.

YOUNG

I asked my Mum who my dad was. She was more drunk than I remember her ever getting. I watched videos about aliens all day, and she sat a bit with me until she had to have a drink, and then got upset.

“Your daddy is from very far away, and I didn’t know him well. We didn’t go out for nice dinners, or to the pictures, or have parties or holidays. We were woken up in the middle of the night in separate countries, and there were… they were… like in your videos, they…” and she stopped, sobbed and drank. She gave me chocolate and gave me a little bit of the vodka, though it made my mouth feel nasty, so I didn’t have much.

“You’re daddy’s probably a very nice man. But I hate him.”

And I asked why. She wouldn’t explain.

I think it’s quite common for people to hate other people when the other person hasn’t really done anything bad, and doesn’t know what’s going on.

YOUNGER

I had a lump in my arm. Granny and Granddad kept whispering to Mummy and calling it words I didn’t understand. I went to the Doctors. They gave me an injection, which hurt. I cried and they cut the lump out but wouldn’t show it to me.

It kept coming back. A few months later, I’d have a nightmare. I’d wake up, terrified, remember owls at the window. Big headed, black eyed, quiet owls. And the lump would be back. And they’d take me to the Doctor…

NOW

I find it very difficult to start and keep relationships.

The thing is, the older I’ve get, the more I understand about my extra-terrestrial bloodline. I may have human parents, but I’m not human because of whatever they did between conception and birth – I can feel what the aliens feel, remember what they remember. When I dream, I’m in the hive mind when the scout ship was fired upon, dodging the missile with clever evasive action… only to be baffled by a weather balloon and skid into the Nevada dirt, killing half the crew and leaving three survivors at the mercy of the military. So a scientific expedition became a slow war, and they crept back. Started making strange men and strange women have special babies, plotting. The final stage of the plan draws near, and I should be a warrior for them, but I’m not going to be. I’m certainly not going to betray anyone who’s helped me lead a normal life.

The hypnotherapist says, “Do you agree with the alien plan?”

I don’t think for very long. I say… “No.”

There is a long pause.

“You remind me of someone else,” I say to the hypnotherapist.

The hypnotherapist stands. I feel I should get up, but I don’t want to. Maybe… I am really under?

“These memories should be buried deeper,” says the hypnotherapist.

“What do you mean?” I say.

“You are too free with information.”

“You mean, I over-share? I thought that was the point?”

“We don’t want you to share this.”

Ouch! A scratch on my arm, a needle. I remember the Doctors. I feel a tear. I don’t think its anaesthetic. It feels different, this time.

I feel heavy… stiff… the muscles in my arms and legs and chest are so, so tight. I feel like a beast is sitting on my chest, pinning me down.  Am I being… abducted?

The hypnotherapist is one of them. She has tested me and I’ve failed.

I’m pretty sure I’m dying. I don’t want to believe it, but I do.

If I’m not, I’ll try to save Gillian Anderson, come the day.

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