Author: Timothy Goss
Washed up, lifeless, the thing was battered and scarred by the ocean. Seagulls pecked and pulled at the meat squawking and cawing. Things had nibbled its extremities and something big had taken its lower half. No appendages were obvious, but there were bone-like protrusions bursting from its leather-like shell. Gulls feasted as a cast of crabs busied themselves away from the birds. Where they ate the sand was Spanish blue.
The horseshoe cliffs witnessed the bright lights in the sky three days before. The lightning produced a halo of prisms through torrential rain, and then something else, something unexpected. It scarred the sky for an instant, an incision through the storm and clouds to expose the void, and then it vanished.
An almighty splash on a turbulent sea and green-blue sparks followed flashing like superheated copper filings. The wind whistled long and low as it skimmed across the water disturbing the waves, then upon reaching the cliffs changed its pitch and ascended.
It took three days to reach land but the gulls spotted it immediately, adrift amongst the waves. A momentary snapping of jaws took its lower half in an instant, maybe a shark, maybe a pod.
It had no perception of the Earth, in the void all function ceased. It is the space between spaces, the smallest place between this and that, vacuous, devoid of physical properties. Exposure to the momentary rift between places sucked the living essence from everything before spitting it into the ocean.
Older scars stretched around the barrel-like shell, scars with seven talons around a centrepiece mimicking the rays of the Sun. Scars with no terrestrial association. These marks originated from the thing’s past, before the ocean and the beach, before the sharks and the whales and the crabs and the fish; before the void.
Over millennia the cliffs at St Mary’s witnessed these events unnoticed by human eyes. Expulsion from the void was nothing new. During prehistoric times detritus cast adrift would have been decimated by gigantic sea creatures. With humanity came the marvel of monsters and myth, strange fruits for human minds: Sea Devils, Marine Sows and Hoga – a monstrous fish indeed.
The thing had its place in this grand assembly. There was no evidence it was independently capable of interstellar travel. It did not reveal any secrets about its origins or its knowledge of space and time. And save for its scars the thing had no discernible markings, nothing to personalise it. There were no obvious signs of civilisation yet this thing had traveled a greater distance than any human ever created. It did not belong with the crabs and the gulls; it did not belong on the land, in the sea or in the air. It did not belong.
So, it was the crustacean and scavenger who became the first of earth’s explorers unto the unknown. Gulls cawed noisily and scavenged what they could. Crabs had better luck at the blue end and the equipment to split and pry the semi-broken bones exposing a richer bounty. Within the cavity of the things shell the explorers found other sea creatures feasting quietly in their minuscule fashion. These provided an earthly delight to the otherwise alien cuisine.