I arrived with the select few hundred –
we chosen ones privileged to make the landing
after our craft had traversed the vast
illimitable distances of interstellar space.
We arrived under cover of darkness;
but the pitch black of this new world’s night
meant nothing to our elaborately-constructed eyes.
Silently we scattered across the terrain,
our goal to mingle with the Earthlings,
to become totally accepted by those humanoids,
to ingratiate ourselves among this inferior species,
to go out, then, and multiply until we became millions;
until we would gradually become their masters,
and the planet, their whole world, would be
subservient to our will.
Over millennia we carried out our plan,
infiltrating the homes and cities of countless cultures,
becoming, before the fools knew it, in total,
absolute control. Superior; exalted; sacrosanct.
They pandered to us, worshipped us, did our every bidding;
and always we were there to willingly accept and glory in
the utterness of their obeisance.
In certain of their kingdoms we became
revered as holy; totems to them; inviolate,
their paragons – their gods. Yes, gods we were
and gods shall evermore remain.
And when the hour comes when I must finally depart
my last allotted life – for we are programmed
for a ninefold term upon the approach of death
to revitalise, to resurrect, to replicate,
I will go imperiously before him whom
our human slaves mistakenly refer to as their ‘God’,
and I will let it be known, and quick indeed had he better be
to comprehend my meaning – that he is sitting in my chair.
For I am Cat.
From ‘Journeys in Time’
(Ireland, in the Year of Our Lord 1649)
The sun was low when we entered the village.
The small stone mill still stood, I saw,
the gurgling rush of the stream still turning
its wooden wheel, and that still turning the mill-stones in the dark within.
The forward rushing of the stream,
the low, dull rumble of the turning stones;
no other sound.
But when we left there came to us the gentle rustling
of corn shifting in the evening breeze,
and the stirring of small birds
up in the trees, as though all was well… that
nothing had happened here.
That all the small thatched homes had not been burned
down to the ground, and smoke arising from them still;
that there were no torn men and women and little ones
lying in their blood upon the grass;
that the little church was not a blackened, empty shell;
that the friar in his bloodied frock of black and white
was not swinging, slowly swinging, from the lintel of its door.
And all the while, the unheeding water
gurgled beneath the wheel, and the wheel turned.
There was the quiet rustle of the corn,
and the stirring of the birds up in the branches,
and from within that small stone mill
the rough rumble, the grinding of the stones, turning,
turning on their own, with no man tending them.
From ‘Journeys in Time’
(Uttered from above a post-Apocalyptic ‘capital’)
It was the last can of Double-Dragon in the Universe,
and I sipped it only slowly so that I could savour
each and every drop – each single, golden, godly drop –
perched high upon the blackened carcass of the Stadium,
where below the rows of seats lay scorched, and the sacred turf
where winged feet had sped in generations gone was now bare earth
upthrusted to the sun, laid out down there as prehistoric fields were laid
in narrow strips, and tended by old men. They toiled laboriously below,
so many ants, watering with love their cabbages and beans.
The sticks lay broken and aslant, like long-forgotten monoliths,
athwart a much-crossed line no longer there.
Two of the four great pylons sagged their necks into the depths,
one day to collapse; a third lay dead across the shattered rows.
High up astride the fourth I looked upon it all, emotionless.
For it was nothing, now, nor had it truly been back in its day –
a glory-ridden, futile gesture in lieu of the missing spirit
of a ransacked people, trampled by their own lassitude and by
usurping locusts from the plain. My last libation – I held it up before me –
gleamed red and green in the fading shafts of sun.
They smiled sardonically, I thought, those beasts, as they beheld,
in all the four directions, the decay and spread of that once-lauded,
over-vaunted hub that was a capital to serve none other than itself,
its unused streets for miles and miles marked out anew by criss-cross,
intersecting lines of overgrowth. The trees were king at last.
Yet it was not all like this. From afar had trickled news that the death-rattle
had not sounded – that in the utmost west and in the central uplands
and the mountains of the north the beacons had been lit;
that the flame was still alive.
Defiantly, I stood. I hurled my two embracing beasts into the pit below.
The vessel sailed and clanged and ricochetted, and as it went it sang out
in a song that surged and fell and surged again like many thousand voices
echoing some lost but imperishable anthem that thrilled the air and caused
the labouring ants below to pause in their tasks and raise their heads,
as though, in syllables faintly known to them, they had heard this song before,
and strove to recover from its failing notes what it once had said to them.
And then – enough. I looked into the dying glow that was the west,
and to the boiling cloud-banks of the north. There I would go.
From ‘Journeys in Time”