The Gordian Fetish – a further extract – part of Chapter 2

The Gordian Fetish is a Sci-fi satire on politics, sex and attitudes towards living creatures.

Here is an extract from Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 – Discovery, conflict, ashrams and inspections

Until 777 discovered it, the Earth was a small unexceptional planet orbiting around a small equally insignificant sun way out on a spiral arm of the Gord Galaxy.

Certainly nothing to get excited about. That is until life was discovered. Probe 777 operating in the area known as SJ17 had detected life. Life there certainly was.

The sludge stage had been surpassed billions of years before. A multitude of lifeforms had proliferated. A few calamities had knocked them back but against all the odds one lifeform had won through and taken intelligence to a new height, at least for planet Earth. In a matter of only a few hundred thousand years it had become so dominant that it had virtually wiped out all other forms of life and very nearly itself too.

Fortunately for humanity it had, in a remarkably short time, developed a level of technology that enabled it to sustain itself artificially. Freed of the constraints of being part of a complex food web it manufactured its own food and oxygen and continued to grow in numbers.

By the time Pev’s probe discovered them humanity numbered 4000 billion and covered the surface of three planets a few moons and any other available rock that could be commandeered.

 

It didn’t take Pev long to set up his own surveillance equipment. He was already mega-excited about this one. This was different. He could feel it in his cytoplasm. He could see it from the preliminaries. There was something special about this species.

What was immediately obvious from first glance, just as 777 had reported, was that there was a dimorphism and sex. That was astounding. Particularly the sex. The bit 777 had sent through looked so weird. He didn’t get it at all. It looked nothing like the old accounts. The guy with the huge appendage was putting it everywhere. Perhaps he was a novice? But hey, he needed to check it out in person. You did not find sex anywhere else. And a lot of that dimorphism looked positively weird – all big bulges and globes, holes and sticky out bits, hair and smells. What was that about?

Well Pev was determined to find out for himself before anyone else got a look in. He did not want the boffos getting their noses in just yet. If it leaked out that there was dimorphism and sex they’d be over it like a drobo rash. No. Best to keep quiet about that until he’d got his profit sorted – and checked out the action of course. But he still had to report in. There were strict rules.

Pev here. Reporting in. I am investigating life discovered by probes out in section SJ17. I can confirm that there is life present. Doesn’t seem any too bright but might be interesting. I shall investigate further.

He always kept his reports brief. He found that best. There was nothing too spectacular about discovering life, nothing to attract too much attention from the big boys. He certainly did not want them muscling in on what could be a tasty little earner. It gave Pev a perverse jolt of pleasure to be pulling the wool over the boffos eyes. Bunch of snobby gits. He had a feeling about this one. It was really something. Dimorphism and sex. Exciting. What was that about? So many strange things to investigate. What was the point of those overdeveloped hindquarters and those two big wobbly things. They didn’t seem to serve any function as far as he could tell – yet they had to play a part. It certainly set his hearts throbbing.

Pev set about checking it out.

WOWWW!!!  It is dimorphism and sex – real dimorphism and sex. But why? All he could think about was dangly bits, balls in sacks, wobbly chests, lips everywhere, stiff bits, grunts, moans, pumping and lots and lots of squirting and dripping. Humans were so strange – so really weird. Who on trab would want to do anything quite as peculiar as that? It was intriguingly repulsive and thoroughly addictive.

 

Every day was more of the same. Zag did battle with Mut, Dut and Lat to iron out the policies and try to get the paperwork up to speed for the inspection. It was like wading through mud with a hangover. Drinking molten lead straight down the throat would have been more fun.

Of Zor there was no word. He was still gallivanting. Zag was on his own.

Then there was Hol.

Mut, Dut and Lat were bad enough but Hol was in a category of his own. If anything was guaranteed to send Zag into suicidal paroxysms it was Hol.

The man was utterly insane and he had somehow been appointed to run the institute. There was no hope for any of them.

But what else could you do? You couldn’t fire him – not at this late stage. That would send a clear message to the inspection team that something serious was up. They were stuck with him until at least after the inspection.

Zag’s tactic was to scare the hell out of the man; make him fearful for his job and frighten the slob into doing something. From what he’d heard all Hol ever did was laze about in his palatial office drinking spiced narcojuice, smoking narcosticks, browsing the net, listening to excruciating noises of Wurbur that pretended to be music and playing jurgon. Jurgon was a game that involved a complicated set of grooves, holes and pegs, a ball and a guider. Most people played it standing up but Hol reputedly played from a seated position – endlessly. It was about time he was made to get up off his arse and do something to earn his money. Zag intended to put a rocket up that fat backside of his.

Hol entered Zag’s office looking every bit the slovenly wreck he was. There was no semblance of shape, no embellishments and no attempt to pay even scant attention to protocol. He might have wandered in from the streets. It was hard to believe that this was the institute’s Manager.

Zag eyed him up and down with open contempt but he was wasting his time. Hol was impervious to anything so subtle.

Right Hol, Zag had begun, putting a brave face on things. I have called you in so that we can run through a few things together. I suppose you have heard about the inspection.

Inspection!! Hol replied, his eyestalks nearly hitting the ceiling, jumping off of his couch in fright. What inspection!

Hol, Zag said, trying to control an overwhelming urge to beat the man to a pulp, everybody knows. It is the talk of the whole institute. You must have heard. We are having an inspection.

Why should I have heard? Hol said in a fit of panic, flailing around wildly like a floppy windmill. Nobody has informed me. Why am I always the last to know?

Zag managed to refrain from answering that. He became very controlled. This was not quite how he had imagined this interview going. He’d personally discussed the inspection with Hol weeks ago. The fool’s brain had obviously melted down from too much narc.

We are to be inspected in just over two month’s time, he wearily informed Hol again. Bog is trying to shut the institute down. All our jobs are on the line. He fixed his gaze on the quivering Hol. Your job would be the first to go.

He had thought that by appealing to Hol’s baser instinct for self-preservation he might just goad him into action. Looking at the man now he wasn’t sure he was capable of any type of action at all. The man was a disaster area.

Oh, that inspection, Hol replied, visibly relaxing and sinking thankfully back on to the couch. That is ages away.

Ages? Zag echoed with a shocked expression. You call thirteen weeks, ages? He could not believe what he was hearing. Their jobs depended on this. He wasn’t joking. He was working flat out and this sorry excuse for a manager didn’t seem bothered at all. He seemed to think thirteen weeks was so far away he didn’t need to think about it yet.

Well thirteen weeks is a lifetime away, Hol said matter-of-factly, making a face and slouching back contentedly into the couch, the quivering subsiding. Anything could happen in that time. Bog could get kicked out. A week’s a long time in politics. I thought for a minute that you were referring to an inspection today. You gave me quite a shock I can tell you.

Hol, Zag said quietly, trying to compose himself and stop his voice from shaking. It might have slipped your attention but there are a million things needing doing before they arrive. He glowered at the nincompoop who was now serenely studying the skin on his manipulators. They are going to tear this place apart looking for an excuse to shut us down. Now don’t you think a little urgency might be in order?

The sarcastic tone was wasted on Hol.

Of course. Of course, Hol replied, not looking up from his manipulator scrutiny. He’d discovered a rough area of skin that was annoying him. He now appeared so relaxed that it was unlikely he could even rouse himself from the couch on which he now seemed firmly ensconced even if there was a bomb beneath it. Don’t worry Zag. It’s all in hand.

So what are you doing about it? Zag asked icily, fighting with himself to retain control and not stride across the room to strangle the imbecile.

Oh – this and that, Hol said vaguely, not paying too much attention to Zag’s mounting fury.

This and that, Zag repeated now beside himself with frustration. Right. He took a deep breath. Well do you possibly think you could do this and that a little bit quicker? He simpered reasonably. We do have a bit of a crisis.

Of course. I’ll get on it right away. Hol said eagerly, hoping against hope that this might indicate a termination of this grilling. He did not like grillings. They interfered with his sleep patterns. It was time for his morning nap.

I would remind you that your job is on the line, Zag said slowly, only containing his anger with a super-Gordian effort and so not coming over as forcefully as he would have liked, and that job of yours could well go before this bloody inspection. He paused for effect and then proceeded ominously – if things aren’t completely in order.

Hol shrugged nonchalantly with all four of the manipulators he presently had deployed, which infuriated Zag all the more. I’m working on it. Don’t panic.

And I think a detailed action plan might not go amiss, Zag added. In fact a highly detailed action plan is essential.

A detailed plan, Hol was aghast. His eyes flared, he dropped his manipulator and gaped foolishly at Zag. All his nonchalance had evaporated. Basically he only had two modes of operation – laid-back and panic. The idea of having to produce a plan of anything was a complete anathema. He’d prefer to be dipped in boiling acid. Firstly he had no idea how to do any sort of plan, let alone a detailed one. And secondly it sounded like hard work and he was allergic to that. It brought him out in panic attacks and outbreaks of assorted appendages. Now then Zag, he remonstrated, trying to control his panic and prevent any uncontrolled eruptions of supplementary organs. There’s no need for that is there? You know what me and paperwork are like. I’m up to my eyes in preparing for this inspection as it is. I don’t have time to do any action plan. I’m too busy.

Zag took another deep breath before answering and rolled his optical appendages to the ceiling as if seeking assistance from some higher source. He leaned forward over his desk and fixed the idiotic quivering mass that was now Hol with his most ferocious stare. It was simply amazing how the man could change from one state to another in the beat of a heart. And just what are your preparations that you are so up to your eyes in that you cannot produce a plan of action?

Oh, you know, Hol said frantically flailing around, searching around in the soggy cotton wool in his head for an answer. This and that.

That was it. He’d passed his limits. Zag exploded. I want a bloody action plan on my desk tomorrow at the latest!! Zag thumped his manipulators down on the desk top causing everything on it to jump a foot into the air. The bang bounced off the walls and echoed around the office. Do you understand!! I want this and that spelt out so that the bloody inspection team can see what is being done – so that I can bloody see what this and that actually bloody means!! If I don’t have it first thing tomorrow you are fired!! Do I make myself clear? Bloody fired!!! Great globs of orange spittle were sent flying and Zag had turned deep blue verging on navy. It was clear that he meant it.

For a moment time seemed to freeze as the two of them faced each other, silence reigned in an unreal void as decision  hung suspended and the full range of actions were possible.

How would Hol respond?

Of course, Hol replied in an off-hand manner, amazingly not at all fazed by Zag’s outburst. If anything it seemed to have quietened him down again. It was as if the force of the explosion was so great it had shocked him out of his panic altogether. He’d flipped back to being unconcerned. I’ll do my best.

After Hol had gone through the door Zag slumped back into his couch and fumed. That had not gone the way he had hoped. The man was an imbecile. How could you possibly deal with someone like that?

Slowly the fury subsided and he began to think through what had happened. Then he started to worry. Perhaps he had overstepped the mark? Had he got the power to fire Hol without taking him before the committee and having the unions in? There was a process. He had not followed the correct procedure. That process could take years and the inspection was in thirteen weeks’ time. What if Hol called in his union now? Was it right to make the threat of dismissal? What if it came out that he’d known all along about Hol doing fuck all? What if it came out that he’d known about Hol trawling the net, blasting out the unholy sounds of that disgustingly primitive Wurbur and playing jurgon all day? Why hadn’t he acted sooner? If he covered up that he’d known and not done anything about it that would reflect badly on him? He could be the one out on his ear and not Hol. The thoughts went round and round and fermented in his head. Why had he allowed Hol to wind him up like that? He was a professional. He should have stayed cool. Zag went into a meltdown of mental recriminations.

Zag retracted his optic stalks, flung his manipulators over his cranial bulge and whimpered. What had he done?

I have put this out under my alias Ron Forsythe.

You can purchase it in the UK as a paperback or digital:

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