Doc Brad’s Weekend Breaks
Adj and Meena Mur were completely invisible, as were all their companions. That was the delight. They were voyeurs. Nobody knew they were there so they were able to see everything – and I do mean everything. Doc had a liking for the lurid.
Adj was an avid fan of Doc Brad and his Magical Mystery Tours. He loved them, went on at least twenty a year and had been doing so for five hundred years, ever since he had retired. It made for such a fun weekend. You never knew where you would end up.
Doc Brad had a reputation as a bit of a skinflint and shyster. Well, maybe. You certainly could not describe the trips as upmarket. The old rust buckets they used were always breaking down. But that was all part of the fun. Adj did not care. It was great value for money and he, his wife and chums always had a good laugh. They took plenty of narcojuice along and Brad always took them somewhere different and interesting, off the beaten track where nobody had ever gone before. They had managed to see parts of the universe others did not even know existed. They were not always salubrious but were usually strangely fascinating. That was part of the fun – not knowing. Anything could happen.
‘Gosh, it really stinks here,’ Meena snorted, scrunching up her nose, but still eagerly peering out of the viewport as they endeavoured to ascertain where they were. ‘It’s making my nose tingle.’ She coughed twice. ‘Strewth, it’s already getting to my chest.’
‘Never seen anything like this before,’ Adj exclaimed, noting the grubby streets teeming with strange aliens all bustling about among the noisy traffic and fumes.
‘There’s millions of them,’ Meena said, studying the funny looking bipeds. ‘Look, that one’s got a little creature with it.’
Doc set them down in a convenient square where they could watch the aliens up close and stare around at the tall buildings and weird vehicles. Adj looked at the sorry looking vegetation, droopy flowers in rows, and straggly trees caked in soot.
Bull cracked open a few narcos and they settled down to start the weekend with some heavy drinking, while Gan and Drew set up the gandit board.
But Adj could not settle. All the while he kept peering around at the peculiar looking aliens in their funny clothes. Something was nagging at him.
After a while Doc took them up and they had a zoom round, settling themselves for a while in a range of other places to soak up the sights all over the planet. It was different everywhere they went, colours, clothes and sounds, the shape of the buildings, but some things did not change – the grubby streets, milling crowds, busy traffic and fumes.
Adj watched out the viewport at the odd bird flitting between the shrubs. He watched a furry creature peering out through a window.
There were roars of laughter as the Gandit game reached a climax and many more narcos were downed. Meena had lost interest in what was outside but Adj could not settle. Something was eating away at him.
As they flew up through the sky he looked down at the highways with their snaking vehicles, the patchwork fields, and hazy air.
What was this place? Something kept bugging him.
At the end of the second day, having toured through many sprawling cities and much fenced land of uniform crops, Doc made his announcement.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes our tour. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Terra!’
A whoop of cheers went up from the inebriated trippers.
Adj sat back pensive, looking quizzically at the scene outside. Terra. The name was familiar. Then it came to him. This was Terra. Back at the beginning, hundreds of years ago, on one of their first trips, he had visited here with Meena.
‘Meena,’ he said, tapping her on the shoulder, ‘we’ve been here before.’
Meena gave him an enquiring look. ‘Are you sure?’ she asked disbelievingly, glancing out the viewport at the scruffy city outside. ‘I don’t remember seeing anything like this.’
‘Yes,’ Adj insisted, ‘about five hundred years ago. We came here. It was magical.’
Meena studied the scene outside and shook her head. ‘I don’t remember anything like this.’ She sneezed. ‘I certainly wouldn’t call it magical – grimy and dirty maybe. Not one of Doc’s best choices.’ She coughed again and blew her nose. ‘I certainly wouldn’t want to come back here.’
Adj did not reply, he was sadly thinking back to his memories of that previous trip. There had not been big cities or vehicles back then, just forests and plains all teeming with life. Was it just nostalgia?