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The Traveller
2008-12-31 by Ritchie Thai

The traveller landed on the planet with a crash, as he always did, and slowly climbed out of the cylinder he had been riding in. The glass had cracked upon the impact, and he pushed the pieces away like a baby bird emerging from its egg.
He saw a ruined empty world. Where he was, all there was was a road which stretched on and on, and around him there were cracks in the road, trees pulled out of the ground, and cars laying sideways with their wheels missing, but with his mask on, he could see everything on the planet, and knew that elsewhere there was far more destruction.
“What a sad sight,” he thought, “I wonder what happened here.” In the cracks on the road, somethings was moving around. They were dark tentacles that looked stringy and fleshy. Thousands of little fibres made up each of the thick moving tentacles. The traveller walked up to the nearest protrusion from the ground, and using his thick muscular arm, pulled off a chuck of the stringy fleshy material, which continued to wiggle around in his hand.
He then brought the hand on his thin stick-like arm to his face, adjusting his mask to make sure he looked appropriate before starting his conversation. Happy with his appearance, he brought the stringy mound of flesh to his face.
“Hello,” he said to the small piece of the creature in his hand.
“Hello,” the small lump said to him.
Although the traveller had a mouth on his mask, it was only for show, and the fleshy stringy lump had no mouth of its own. The lump simply spoke in the language it knew, communicating the words through its will. This was not the travellers native language. His language was purely visual, using arm movements to express words, and mask changes to express emotion. However, because he had travelled a great deal and was well cultured, he had no trouble speaking to the stringy creature, and it had no trouble understanding him.
“How are you?” the traveller asked.
“Not very good,” the lump replied.
“You made this big mess, didn't you?”
“Yes.”
“Why did you do it?”
“At first when I got here, I just went inside because it was nice and warm. But after a couple centuries, I noticed lots of small people living on the surface, so I started paying attention to them. They made me sad though. They keep getting angry at each other and breaking each other, and so many of them are sad and unhappy all the time. A lot of them break themselves so that they don't have to play with the other ones anymore.”
“But why did you break them?”
“They were making me sadder, and now that they're broken, I don't have to watch them anymore.”
“But there were a lot of happy ones too, weren't there?”
The creature didn't say anything for a moment, then replied, “I know. And now I'm even sadder, and I don't know how to fix them.”
“You said they were making you sadder. You were already sad before you started watching them?”
“Yes. No one likes me back home. They're all mean and stupid, so I acted stupid too so that they would like me, but they're all mean.”
“Don't you have friends back home?”
“Yes. But I'm tired of all the mean kids. None of my friends wanted to come with me, and they tried to make me stay there, so I just ran away by myself.”
“You should go back. Your friends must miss you. You miss your friends, don't you?”
The stringy creature then started to cry. It wasn't really crying, but the traveller could tell it was very sad. Both the small piece he held in his hand and the rest of its body lying inside the planet began to throb, expanding and contracting. The entire planet was rumbling, and the traveller's capsule began tumbling away, but the traveller remained firmly in place.
Several days later, the rumbling stopped, and the creature was the first to resume conversation after their brief silence. “But I still have to fix everyone, and all their toys.”
“Don't worry,” said the traveller. He then walked toward his capsule, which had rolled quite a distance, and took out a clock. He proceeded to tie strands of the planet's existence to the hands of the clock.
“There,” the traveller said. “Once I change the time on this clock, everything here will rewind with it. Let's not do it now though. I need to tie some of the stars and planets around too, so that they rewind with this planet and the people here don't get confused.”
The creature was now in a much better mood, happy to know that the things he had broken would soon be repaired. “Thank you, sir.” It then realized that it had told this person his story, but he knew very little about the stranger. “Now that you know all about me, can you tell me why you're here?”
“I'm a traveller,” he said. “I like to visit many different planets. This is just one of the planets I decided to visit. But for now, I think we need to get you home. You ran very far away, didn't you.”
“Yes. Actually, I'm a little lost. I don't really know where I am.”
“Don't worry. I think I know where you're from. I can give you a lift home.”
The creature was happy to know that the damage it had cause would be undone, and that it would get to see its friends again. “Thank you very much, sir!” The rest of the creature then emerged from the planet with a loud rumbling, and its body poured into the small lump which the traveller held without increasing the lump in volume or mass.
The traveller put the creature into the capsule it had arrived in, and took of his mask, revealing his entirely blank face. He then lifted the capsule slowly up to his waist and stopped, but the capsule continued to rise, ignoring the gravity of the planet, simply moving with the momentum it had been given. With a mighty leap, the traveller jumped into the capsule as well, and the shards of broken glass moved back into their original locations, the cracks disappearing. The two of them drifted slowly into the endless sky.
This goes with my drawing of The Traveller.
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February 4, 2009
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