The young humanoid that Morpheen had chosen to help needed to sleep.
It’s a trait common to all mammals on Planet Earth, apparently – and a long day in college, new people, new buildings and new lodgings were leaving the youngster somewhat bewildered.
Morpheen hinted that it would also sleep, without actually having to lie. It needed to preserve its cover, probably, judging by the unpredictable nature of humans.
Morpheen was still mildly baffled by the segregation of humans into male and female. Also the humans inconsistency – politics and religion especially. Enormous groups of people believed their group was perfect, all other groups deluded … and the briefest scan of world history ought to open their minds. Apparently it didn’t.
The previous night Morpheen had amused itself by writing The Gospel of Incompleteness, in the style of an Old Testament book. The notion that an individual should spend their whole life restricted by religious or gender stereotypes felt irrational, and the motives highly suspect.
The Gospel of Incompleteness enabled it to let off steam about gender stereotypes and religious institutions in general, which feel equally inconsistent to a visitor from a very different planet.
Having no real need for sleep, in the human sense, Morpheen checked the time and then made haste for a detached, rather unusual cottage in a large private garden where a most unusual meeting was due to take place.
Vamp, the 360 year old reformed vampire, tugged an inviting looking braided multi-coloured rope (apparently salvaged from the beach) by The Hermit’s front door, and bells clanged within. It sounded like a melody in a minor key, but with a major 6th …
Vamp could hear light, shuffling footsteps, some muttering which suggested a mild argument, and a distant something or other which loosely resembled singing. Who was arguing?
“That’s funny,” said Vamp, cocking one ear to the door to enable a better ‘view’, so to speak. “I thought he said he lived alone…”
It was highly unusual – Hermit inviting someone to visit, and he now had the feeling that the seemingly wise fellow, with eyes that appeared to have seen everything, often to excess, had been subtly suggesting the prospect. If so, Vamp had succeeded, and Hermit had invited him.
Vamp – what a funny name
Now, having respected Hermit’s request only ever to phone him a) in an emergency, and b) only then, if Hermit was qualified to offer productive help, Vamp had arrived – with a companion …
Brief introductions completed, Vamp tried to explain.
“The thing is, before I start, can I call you Hermes? Hermit sounds too impersonal,” Vamp began.
The hermit nodded.
“The thing is, on our recent meeting you expressed your satisfaction with a solitary and totally unique life; but also concern that you were overly eccentric.”
“Errrrrrrrrrrrr, could be,” said Hermes, trying to free his mind of the 17 projects that he’d been dabbling with prior to entertaining his visitor. Correction – visitors … .
Vamp and Morpheen waited patiently while Hermes rubbed his eyes and grinned.
“Well,” said Vamp – testing the water for Hermes’ here and now readiness.
“Yes, thank you!”
“Well, myself and Morpheen are almost certainly the least normal people you’ve met.”
Hermes and Vamp scrutinised each other for a moment, then nodded.
“It’s probably best if you know the full story in one dose – oh, and I’m assuming you can keep secrets, you being clearly adept at telling other people to ‘bugger off and stop fantasising’ when they guess – wildly inaccurately – what you do all day?”
“Well I was born in Tibesti, nowadays that’s probably Libya (I lose track) about 370 years ago. I was bitten by a vampire – later I became a non-drinking convert, and seem pretty well immune to ageing. And blood!”
“Errr,” said Hermes, and commenced giggling, which had last occurred about 30 years ago. Then he stopped and blushed.
“You are still standing, which is a good sign!” enthused Morpheen. “Maybe you could hear my ultra-compact bio, while we’re in the mood?”
“I was passing Earth when my spaceship malfunctioned. Are you experiencing culture shock?”
“Probably. But I’m continually levering my Mind Open, so to speak, trusting that one day it might make sense!”
“Excellent!” chorused Vamp and Morpheen, nearly in harmony (they’d been practising, to pass the time, on their journey to visit Hermes).
“I can change my apparent shape (what you see is only appearance, after all) to make humans more comfortable in my presence,” explained Morpheen.
“And avoid being lynched by a mob,” added Vamp. “Yes. It still happens after all these centuries of history, the evolution of psychology, sociology and free treatment for the Church of Devout Alcoholics.”
“Is there really …”
“I was being cynical. I need a small dose every day or two to regain my, errr, something or other! Alcoholics don’t need any blame – but the devout, intransigent, steadfastly bloody ignorant subset do. My opinion … ”
There was a brief pause.
“Do you feel better now, Vamp?”
“Much better, thank you! Sorry about the rant.”
“No need,” said Hermes. “You know rant sounds very similar to rap. I feel another hobby in the pipeline!”
“I also feel slightly overwhelmed. Can we have a tea break? Come into the kitchen. This is my dog – Alibi.”
“Errr, what’s a dog-alibi?”
“I’ve no idea. This is my dog!”
A wet nose appeared from beneath the kitchen table.
“Her name is Alibi. It’s a joke, really. She doesn’t honestly get blamed for everything!”
Morpheen accepted a cup of something that Hermes had invented, steeled itself to begin the bio, and got sidetracked by the huge array of wires, processors and data storage contraptions spread along one shelf.
“Did you know,” Morpheen began, admiring the multicoloured cables, “You can make a complete backing track, complete recording even, just using your PC? Free open source software and a microphone. MIDI keyboard or controller helps but not vital.”
Vamp and Hermes looked at each other in amazement …
“How long have you been on earth?!” they chorused (not digital).
“Several Earth weeks,” protested Morpheen. They’d sounded a tiny bit accusatory – possibly even blaming.
“I’m concerned by what I see around me, and by Vamps description of the times he’s lived through, and I’d be really grateful if the two of you could just talk about your lives so that I am better able to help.”
“Sure,” said Hermes, after a brief pause, during which Vamp had given an encouraging nod.
“Well,” said Hermes.
“Ho hum,” added Vamp, after a minute or two.
Morpheen pondered, scanning its memory of the youngsters at college complaining about home, parents, teachers, each other … .
“Could you give me examples of how your opportunities in life were limited by, parents, teachers, society, the media, capital, preconceptions, …”
Vamp tentatively made a start.
Hermes joined in, mostly agreeing “that rings a bell”.
And very soon they were tripping over each other in their tales of woe, lost opportunities, adults projecting their expectations onto youngsters, poor role models, no realistic grasp of the nature of society.
Much, much worse …
Morpheen could theel that relating painful memories, and having understanding feedback, encouraged more memories to need venting. It’s understanding of Vamp and Hermes deepened, but it’s grasp of the alien world was becoming shaky.
Morpheen dissembled. Even its appearance – a model designed to fit in, and particularly suitable for Vamp and Hermes on this occasion – became shaky and semi-transparent.
“I’m disturbed. I’ll have to leave for a minute,” Morpheen explained.
“Don’t go home!”
“No, I can’t.”
“We’ll change the subject.”
“No need. I just need a minute. As in, one literal minute. One of your minutes.”
Chorus: “Our minutes?!”
“Earth minutes. Do you mind?”
Vamp and Hermit looked at each other.
“No, but we can change the subject if it …”
“Good. Thanks. Back soon.”
Morpheen left. Morpheen vanished, leaving an electric emerald light tinged around the perimeter with violet in his space at the table.
Abandoning the tiring manifestation as a human mammal, Morpheen was able to fully focus on assimilating the painful stories he’d heard.
The facts, the thoughts, the feelings, the possibilities, intuitions, related data …
Possibilities? There are always possibilities, and a best possible outcome.
Morpheen dissembled into two photons to circumvent the multiverse. The wave functions spread to infinity in width and depth (in their frames of reference), but the multiverse lost all sense of forward or back – relative to what? Indeed. Timeless … mostly spaceless…
Morpheen, currently two semi Morpheens, let go of everything; transversed the non dimension of enclosed space and met him / her / its self coming the other way … and the two photons embraced to reform one harmonious entangleton.
A psychic-spiritual sigh filled the room as Morpheen devoted 0.03% of its renewed energy to appearing to be a mammal with woefully inadequate body hair for the English climate.
“Er, clothes?” suggested Vamp.
An upgrade to 0.04% of Morpheens resources completed the job, and it was clothed. Apparently.
“I thought you were a man?” said Hermit.
“Men generally do.”
The trio broke for tea, again – an English / British stereotype, no doubt, but it seems to work.
Hermit suggested they drink their tea on his patio, which, surprise surprise, was half covered with, and surrounded by, many other activities – some productive, several creative, a few quite bizarre and the whole ensemble tricky to categorise – so Vamp resolved not to attempt the exercise.
“Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, what are we going to do?” began Hermes. “I feel a bit selfish doing what pleases me all the time.”
“What you do is a shining example,” said Morpheen. “A creative life.”
Vamp nodded sagely, and hummed – which seemed to suggest that an idea was brewing.
“Speak freely?” suggested Morpheen.
“I’d like to intervene / interfere / intermediary – call it what you will – but doing so feels hazardous. I mean, to help people, especially youngsters, in these puzzling times.”
“How so, hazardous?”
“What would I be projecting into the helpee?” Vamp explained.
“How do you know if what they report is true? as it is necessarily one side of the story/ one point of view,” added Hermes.
“Do everything for everyone – then get all the blame,” added Vamp. “Experience!” He sounded just a bit angry.
Hermes nodded in recognition.
“So,” suggested Morpheen. “We could act as a trio – monitoring each other for ‘shortcomings’.”
So they decided that they would …
“An idea,” said Morpheen.
“Good,” said Vamp.
“We could meet here to ‘work’ – very kind offer, thank you Hermes. But we can all meet by video conference anytime. Why not meet here once a week to not work, but to celebrate being? Time out is healthy, crucial, sacred, a good idea. It might even be fun!”
“Those in flavour?”
“You said flavour.”
“I’m hungry …”
Vamp talked with Hermes for a while after Morpheen departed.
“Poor Hermit. You must be disappointed, and wonder what you’d let yourself in for!”
“On the contrary – I’m immensely relieved. I was dreading having to pretend an interest in Division One North football, or TV soap operas.”
“Er, there is no Division One North.”
“See what I mean! Plus, having met Morpheen, I now have a good excuse for yet another hobby. I’ve always fancied a telescope … try to find where he / she / … Morpheen is from!”