Big Echo

Critical SF

Time, untitled

by Johannes Heldén

Translated by Henrik Torjusen

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The power grid still works, even after 250,000 years. When night arrives the lights are switched on with a quiet hum. Gloaming, expressway, orange light. Above the clouds drift by, always the same muted dark-green color.

[Thick mealy stems smell of white spirit, tar and vanilla. Miniature flowers with sixteen on every stalk, insects, which intoxicates themselves on luminous spores, in the wind.]

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In the cargo bay, in a set of private luggage, on a worn midnight-blue jacket of a Japanese cut, something started to grow. The garment was isolated in a vacuum container. After forty-eight hours light green spores had drawn a map of the third planet in the system across the lapel. What do we find on the surface of the planet? Nothing much of interest, merely desert, aside from one area (located at the center of the lapel): a heap consisting of twelve dead saplings with dry branches and some frond winding round the upended network of roots of an enormous tree petrified into a brittle mineral, which dissolves in the wind.

[The legs are covered by tattoos of trees; there is earth and soil in the cross section down by the wrists, then tall grass and the sky with flocks of birds, then a skeleton, half blue whale, half chimpanzee, the feeling of disgust at the realization that those around you have the same level of consciousness as you, you’re living all over me.] 

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Sound recordings from orbit. A lazy purr, such as from a big cat, mixed with an irregular, metallic scraping noise. After post-processing (7–20 kHz amplified by 300%) the soundscape is closer to a train of jackdaws moving through a strong wind. At 500% the sound is identical to snowfall on a recently clear-cut forest, naked soil. At 700% another pattern begins to differentiate itself. 

[The car’s headlights climb up the shadowy side of the mountain, glowing insects crisscross through extinguished fire.]

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