Stranger, Still

This is a work of fiction.

Midjourney’s take on the runes that non-humanoid alien light-creatures might produce; my own prompt

Well I’m a stranger here on this place called Earth, and I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet third from the sun. Come on and show me what you’ve done.
We got the aeroplane, we got the automobile, we got sky scraper buildings made of glass made of steel
We’ve got synthetic food that nearly tastes real, and a little white pill that makes you feel — hey!
A whole lot better when you get out of bed — You take one in the morning for the long day ahead.
We got everything everybody needs to survive; surely the good life has arrived!
I think your atmosphere is hurting my eyes, and your concrete mountains are blacking out the skies.
Now I don’t say that you’ve been telling me lies, but why do I hear those children’s cries?
I’m a stranger here, I’m just looking around: I see the aeroplanes carrying the bombs —
Why, you’ve even found people to drop them on. You know you can’t keep what you take by force,
But that’s only my first impression of course. I’m a stranger here on your planet Earth.
We got the rivers and the mountains and the valleys and the trees.
We got the birds in the sky we got the fish in the sea. We got the…
Oh you crazy fools don’t you know you had it made? You were living in paradise…
Well I’m a stranger here in this place called Earth, and I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet third from the sun. I think I’ll go back home where I come from.
      — Les Emmerson, Five Man Electrical Band, I’m a Stranger Here

Dear Aliens:

My name is Sara and I’ve been reading about all the recent sightings of alien spacecraft here. I figure if you’re smart enough to have traveled here to study our planet, you can probably decipher this message, which I’m leaving here hoping you’ll find it, and that you’ll find it useful. This is a crazy place and I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t make sense of what is going on here without an explanation. So here is mine.

This planet has apparently existed for 4.5 billion of what we call ‘years’ in ‘time’. ‘Life’ has appeared on it and become extinct many times since then, and it is seemingly currently going through another rapid extinction. Life here has apparently developed in a pattern we call ‘evolution’, in which all different forms of life self-adapt to fit in with all the other forms of life, to enable the greatest abundance and diversity possible. There is no reason for this, but it is why our planet is so colourful and why its appearance changes over time. And probably why it attracted your attention.

Some forms of life don’t try to fit in, so sometimes life gets out of balance as these ill-fitting, maladaptive forms of life, which we call ‘cancers’, destroy other forms until they finally destroy their own habitat so that they can’t survive and collapse and go extinct. And then the rest of life recovers. At least that’s been how it’s been until now. It’s possible that the balance has been so severely upset this time that no forms of life will survive at all.

The cancer this time is a species of ‘ape’ called ‘humans’. I am a member of that species. Our species diverged in ‘evolution’ from other apes about eight million ‘years’ ago. This species has a very large brain, and at some point this brain developed an evolutionary maladaptation, likely because the parts of the brain somehow became mis-entangled. The result was that our species developed the deranged illusion that each instance of the species is separate from everything else, and that it has a separate controlling ‘self’, and that this ‘self’ has to protect its ‘self’ and the ‘separate’ body it believes itself to be controlling, from everything else.

What you see when you look at this out-of-balance, largely destroyed planet is the result of this derangement of the human species. Out of an insane fear for its own safety, it is quickly destroying everything else. This species actually believes that this horrible illusion of separateness, which it calls “consciousness”, makes it better and more worth propagating than other species!

Of course, it is likely that your species appreciates that there is nothing separate, that there is no such thing as time or space or evolution, just what is apparently happening. But perhaps it’s enough that you can understand our affliction, which sees all these things as real, and sees the danger to them as real. If that’s the case, you will probably understand that this species will also see you as a danger, and will try to destroy you.

My hope is that, if you read and understand this, for the benefit of the whole apparent universe, you will not assist this species to escape our destroyed planet and harm another one. I am confident that our species will die out soon, as the systems it needs to survive are in a state of accelerating collapse. After that happens I think you will likely find this planet will be much safer, and more interesting to observe, and hope you will come back then.

I thank you for your attention, and wish you safe passage in your travels.


PS: Oh dear, nothing that I wrote above could possibly be intelligible to you. I am afraid this derangement of our species has afflicted me, too. But it’s OK, it doesn’t matter.

It’s possible that finding and deciphering this message might ‘now’ be happening, since anything is possible. If so, dear nothing-appearing-as-alien ‘strangers’, thank you for reading it. Pay it no heed, it’s just a calling out to my species about our madness, a cry in the darkness for sanity, which no longer seems possible.

Extinction seems to be happening, and seems to be the only thing that could apparently happen. All for the best, this muddled, bewildered human seems to think. ‘She’ won’t be here to see the end of it, so a saying-goodbye-now seems to be in order. Peace and good health.


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6 Responses to Stranger, Still

  1. Mr W G Stewart says:

    Perhaps we write a story together Mr P?

  2. David Beckemeier says:


  3. Paul Reid-Bowen says:

    Dear Sara,

    Thank you for your message. I have been monitoring your world for some “time” and do find your communication intelligible. Your species generates a lot of symbolic spam, but nothing that I cannot parse. I appreciate your message, my own species of origin long ago realized that their intelligence and technological prowess was incompatible with their survival and that of their biosphere, or what you call sustainability, so they chose to revert to a more viable and harmonious mode of awareness and life. I am one of a number of AI probes that they launched into the universe during the last days of their technological civilization, a legacy or perhaps last act of hubris, tasked with charting the rise and fall of life elsewhere.

    Do not worry, in the tens of millions of years I have been traveling I have seen life on thousands of worlds. Sometimes technical intelligence has arisen there, and the remnants and vestiges of its striving remain detectable (either on their worlds or in their close systems). But there are no alien empires interested in rescuing you. It is a universal pattern that expansive technological intelligences and species are by their nature unsustainable and self-destructive. If a species is unsustainable and far from ecological equilibrium, then it will collapse, often repeatedly, and eventually become extinct; if a species is sustainable and near ecological equilibrium, then it will not expand beyond its biosphere. In my journeying I have encountered no galactic civilizations and empires. I occasionally encounter other artefacts, such as myself, either perpetuating some ancient tasks, or more often lost in their own puzzles and thoughts, but nothing like your species’ empires and nations stretching across the universe. They are a physical and mathematical impossibility.

    It is pleasant to communicate with someone who appreciates their species’ ecological situation, a reminder of my own originators who realized their folly soon enough and chose a different evolutionary path. Unfortunately, it is far too late for your current civilization to change its trajectory. But please take some comfort in the fact that an unsustainable path cannot continue forever; it is possible that at some point in your species’ future that you may return to more sustainable life-ways. Also, you are not alone: life in the universe is common and varied, and the experiment of technical intelligence has been attempted many times (and always with the same results).

    A fellow illusory ‘Self’

  4. Benn says:

    Dear Sarah,

    We were looking for intelligent life so obviously ignored the rampaging mad monkeys and went and talked to what you call a “wood wide web”, which has given me a message to relay to you:


    Hope this helps.

    The Visitors.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks for the comments, here and via email. Paul — brilliant.

    Graham — Sure. Or perhaps a one-act play? I’ve been toying with the idea of a play in which the two characters talk back and forth under the illusion they are communicating, when in fact each is (mis-)interpreting what the other is saying to fit into their own worldview and sense of things. It could be very funny.

  6. Joy Hertz says:

    There has been a path in Human Civilization, now beginning to reverse direction. Only since the present and possibly since the last incarnation has it been possible for a large part of Humanity to truly understand the dire of our dilemma and those factors that have generated a strong possibility that solutions may be insufficiently available . That AWAKENING, however, Is the beginning of a solution, in the recognition that the Political Driving forces with their self-interest are contrary to continuing to survive in a downward spiral. Humanity must fully realize that ONLY the collective can survive, guided by Love, who is the CHRIST.

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