Monday, May 26, 2014

Trapped (short fiction)

Some short fiction for the holiday. I wrote this some years ago while reading Jared Diamond's 'The Third Chimpanzee' and a lot of Vonnegut. Hope you enjoy.

 How I came to be in possession of a human body is a matter of some conjecture.  Originally, I could transfer my consciousness from place to place as all the inhabitants of my planet can do, then, suddenly, and without my consent, I became confined by time and space, trapped in this form on a planet the inhabitants call earth, a small blue rock of water and gasses teeming with large, aggressive, talking apes.

     They think they are quite clever, these apes.  They walk on two legs and have opposable thumbs.  They’ve discovered written language, can count objects, and can use a few tools.

     I’ve been assigned some sort of symbol-manipulation task.  I sit in a temperature controlled room gazing at a bunch of colored dots that form pictures—symbols representing numbers, images, sounds, ideas and concepts.  I manipulate these by means of several devices, including one which lets me select and move the pictures on the screen as if they were real, and one which has dozens of printed symbols on it which look like this: ‘A’, ‘W’, ‘p’, ‘@’, ‘7’, ‘*’, ‘<’, ‘?’ and ‘$’.  The last one is especially interesting to these apes.  They punch that one over and over and over.