Uchujin Time Strip


In many ways Susan Sarandon was more than just the lub interest from Bull Durham and the ex-wife of Tim Robbins, she was also the mind interest of sub space aliens who conducted experiments with/in/outside of time.


It had started, the Sarandon interest, when a stray signal from Earth swerved and poked itself into sub space by mistake…and ended up on one of the screens inside an alien base only eight sub-parsecs from the Sol System [not that distance really mattered].


Alien: What’s this?

Alien 2: White Palace.

Alien: Well…I don’t like white, and I don’t really like palaces…wait, who’s that?

Alien 2: The one with the stick?

Alien: No.

Alien 2: The one with the hills?

Alien: Yes, who is she?

Alien 2: Susan Sarandon.

Alien: Wow.

Alien 2: I know.




RULE 17 of Chrono-strip-experimentation:

Always seek permission from a representative of the subject’s world, even if that representative seems to be out of their depth.

If refused, ask another.




The sub space aliens ordered the face cream, pulled out the temporal hacksaws and grew four tongues [two as back-up].

The face cream would take a few weeks to arrive, so they passed the time by watching the 14th century.

Their notes:


Black Death = efficient culling of general population, mostly peasants

Red Death = efficient culling of Italian nobles who worshipped something called Satan.

Black Prince = same tactics over and over, ‘hiding behind bush’ strategy was 97% accidental

Mongolia = surprisingly progressive for primitives, meritocracy two centuries ahead of predicted development, improved social status for the useful gender, love of horses

Persia = invented the computer + feminism [briefly]


‘Wow, those Persians,’ said one of the sub space aliens, clicking its claws. ‘They almost had it…’

His colleague, bleary-eyed and wearing a long white coat, stared at the strip.

‘Not that I really care. Won’t even be here for most of this one. Got a pod going back next month.’

The white coat alien took out a green cigarette and lit up.

‘Yeah, breeding time back in [unintelligible]. Kind of nervous, actually. What is it, twelve and done?’

The white coat alien blew out green smoke.



‘The breeding…it’s twelve spawns, right?’

‘Why are you asking me?’

‘I don’t know. I thought cos you’d already…’

‘Just focus on the work…this 14th century thing. We haven’t got long left.’

To put a full stop on the thing, the white coat alien blew out more smoke, this time shaped like a spear.



After two weeks of studying the 14th, 15th and 17th centuries, the cream capsule arrived. They opened up the tubes, caked it on, located 1995 on the time strip, prepped their implants and floated in.



‘Greetings, aliens.

You don’t know us, but there’s a good chance we know you. Yes, we’ve been observing your culture, such as it is, and we’ve been doing it for quite some time. Don’t be afraid, we come in peace, no weapons, no invasion etc.

Skip ahead.


Some facts to make things easier: In 67% of alien cultures, there is gender. 45% of those cultures have more than two. On our planet, however, there is no gender. We are divided only by region, of which there are five. None is more important than the other. In fact, if one should become weakened, the other four will combine resources to nurse it back to health. It’s not a perfect system, but we like it.

Skip ahead.


Greetings again, aliens

We have four languages: one for us, one for relatively similar alien cultures, one for telepathic cultures, and one for sentient gas clouds.

It is our experience that most cultures lean heavily on pronouns. We do too. Ours are divided by region and job. The first sound denotes region, the second denotes job, though the second is omitted when dealing with alien cultures like yours.

Here they are, translated approximately into your own language:






For possessive + object pronouns, just add ‘us’ onto the end

Repeat and remember.

Thank you.


‘Audio extract from sub space alien probe, currently floating somewhere near the black hole at the centre of the galaxy.’




The sub space aliens visited Susan Sarandon late at night, when she was home alone.

The leader of the group, the one in the white coat, told her they wanted to experiment on humans and their relationship with time, and would it be okay, would she, Susan Sarandon, as the representative for all humans, let them do this?

Susan Sarandon repeated what the Croat Socialist had told her in the alleyway outside the UN, about the concept of inalienable human rights and the rights of humans and how every human had the right not to be experimented on and humans being right and…

The sub space alien in the white coat counted to four in Bzikus own language then flicked a switch, projecting a huge nine level map of the universe around her bedroom and outside the balcony window.

‘However vast you think the universe is, Susan Sarandon, times it by a thousand and you’ll understand.’

Susan Sarandon tried to comprehend what she was seeing, but it was too much, it moved too fast, there were no symbols to denote what anything was…

‘That doesn’t mean I should care any less about the uniqueness of each human life…’ she said, resorting to emotionalism.

‘A strange answer.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Uniqueness is not commensurate with Specialty…specialness. Besides, no one will die that hasn’t already died.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘In fact, we will lessen the pain if anything.’

‘Lessen it…how?’

The sub space alien in the white coat described the experiments in vague detail, telling her it wasn’t an abuse of or interference in the ways things were; it was simply a fast forwarding, and in some cases, tragic or heroic historical figures would be remembered where they are presently forgotten through recordings and archiving. ‘We don’t actually change anything,’ Bzik insisted, finally.

‘Not one thing?’

‘Nope. We watch…and make notes.’


‘If you consult our rules, you’ll understand.’

‘I want you to tell me.’


There was silence followed by alien chatter and clicking of claws. After 12 minutes, the lead alien turned back to her. ‘If we do not tell, will you withdraw permission, Susan Sarandon, representative for all humans?’


‘[Un-translatable words in alien language]. Okay. The universe is a cruel place; we wish to make it less so. That is all.’

Sarandon wanted to say bullshit, but she’d done enough cynical characters in her time. Just this once, she wanted to be Dorothy.

‘Fine, do your experiments. But do them on women as well as men.’


‘Because women can suffer just as well as men.’

‘Very well.’




To the sub space aliens, ‘observed time’ was a very real, very dense strip that could be watched from a distance. They existed in their own present, of course, and had no way of seeing the future, but the past and the present of alien cultures were fair game. In this case, from their base on Ceres, they could watch any part of human history, in as much detail as they saw fit. There was a zoom button, and there was audio too, but no law allowing them to step in and save anyone. Not that they wanted to. Better to save time and effort and not build the ark in the first place, said a plaque outside the greasing room in sector 4.




After getting the okay from Susan Sarandon, they made their moves. The first few they messed with were men, but out of respect for the actress, they made sure around thirty per cent of their targets were women.



List of sufferers:

Albert Camus

Kirstie Alley

Satyajit Ray

Sharon Stone

Joan of Arc

Tommy Gunn [from Rocky V]

Simon Bolivar

Octavia Butler

Empress Wu

Halle Berry

Koo Tin Lok

Chau Sau Na

Shibasaki Kou

Gene Hackman

Gene Wilder

Gene Roddenberry


Low G Man [discontinued after discovering subject is a video game character, not sentient]


One or two of the sufferers discovered the ‘ground force’ aliens and asked them what the hell was going on.


Alien: Hor mm hor yee, Matt Dillon, yu gwoh…

Matt Dillon: What?

Alien: Lei gong mm gong jungman ar?

Matt Dillon: What are you…I don’t understand what you’re saying. Where am I?

Alien: Oh.

The sub-space alien pressed a button on Kzikus watch.

Matt Dillon: Who are you? Why can’t I remember anything? Why am I…why do you have claws?

Alien: I’m an extra for the new film. This film.

Matt Dillon: Bullshit.

Alien: Okay. It’s an experiment. There’s a new kind of psychological disease infecting Hollywood. Specifically B list verging on C list talent.

Matt Dillon: C list? Disease?

Alien: Yes. It makes you believe you’re skipping through time when in fact…well, you’re not.

Matt Dillon: I still don’t understand. I have a disease?

Alien: I’ll be right back.

The sub-space alien walked away.

Matt Dillon: Where are you going?

Alien: Nowhere.

Matt Dillon dodged a few of the extras coming the other way and followed the sub space alien down the fake street.

Matt Dillon: Hey, slow down. I haven’t finished asking…

Alien: Later.

Matt Dillon: Wait, stop…slow down…

The sub space alien ran faster and hid behind a parked car until Matt Dillon skipped forward in time again.

Matt Dillon [blinking]: What…

A skinny man with a clipboard walked over.

Matt Dillon: Where am I? What’s…

Assistant Director: Mr. Dillon, F Gary Gray is ready for you now.

Matt Dillon: Huh?

Assistant Director: It’s the scene where Joan Severance betrays you to the future cops.

Matt Dillon: No…

Assistant Director: Here take this.

Matt Dillon: What is it?

Assistant Director: Your proto stick. You’ll need it for the sex scene.

Matt Dillon: With Joan?

Assistant Director: Ha, very funny.

Matt Dillon: I don’t understand.

Assistant Director: I’ve gotta run. Feeding time. See you on set, buddy.

Matt Dillon: Wait…




The sub space alien who’d visited Sarandon, the one who knew the most about science, the one who had to swallow down bile every time Bzik repeated the revised code of ethics the new management had introduced, looked at the view screen as Flannery O Connor sat on her porch and wrote the opening chapter of ‘The violent bear it away’.


On the wall behind the screen was a huge map of the known universe, but Bzik ignored it.

Bzik knew how the stars were laid out.

Bzik knew which cultures were where and how far along they were on the original time


Bzik knew it wasn’t Bzikus job to zoom out on these creatures, no matter how often Bzikus superiors told Bzik the newly discovered risks of watching too long.

It wasn’t a risk at all, Bzik had told them. I’m a scientist, not a social worker.

That’s the problem, they’d said. If you were a surveyor or a lawyer, you could watch as long as you liked, but as you’re a…

I’m sorry, but I don’t believe your studies.

You should.

Science is completely impartial. And I’ve been doing this for decades. Not once have I interfered.

Not yet.

Not once, Bzik repeated.


The alien scientist pressed a button, muttering ‘not once’ in Bzikus own regional dialect.

The screen switched images.

Flannery O Connor blinked and looked around. She wasn’t writing anymore, she was in bed. There was a man she knew looking down on her.

“What’s…” she tried to say, but it was broken by the fiercest cough.

“Don’t try to speak, Flan.”

The coughing continued.

In her head, Flannery wondered what the hell was going on. How could she be writing one second, and then coughing like a plague victim the next?


The alien pressed the button again.


Flannery blinked and zoomed past her own death into a state where there were no images and no data for the aliens to observe.


‘Who’s that?’ one of his assistants asked, walking by, eating something purple out of a paper packet.

‘A writer.’

‘Any good?’

‘Does it matter?’

‘What did she write about?’

‘Don’t you have any work to do, [illegible]?’


‘Find some.’


‘Yes, now.’

‘I’m eating…’

The alien scientist stared at Vzikus like the tyre from that rubber movie Bzik had just watched one of the subjects wanking over.

‘Okay, okay. I’m going.’

The assistant left the room, spilling crumbs.

‘Bloody history grads…’


The alien went back to the console and pressed another button, this one a different shape.

The screen went white then filled in with a new location.

‘1943…’ he muttered, checking a file. ’57th dark age, level 4 tech. Load.’


A woman played with her child outside a half-broken house. There was a lot of concrete and a lot of flags around, but not many people.

The child ran forward a few steps before catching its foot on some rocks from another broken building. It fell onto the rubble and started to cry.

The woman pretended to fall over in the same way and didn’t cry.

The child took a breath and copied her.


The alien half smiled, Bzikus claw hovering over the ‘skip ahead’ button. It kept hovering for another hour and a half before finally pushing down.


The same woman and the same child, a little older now, and about thirty other people walked towards a small building, not broken at all.

Four men with guns waited outside.

For a brief moment, both the woman and the child didn’t know where they were, but the woman saw the guns and the uniforms and figured things out pretty fast.

She took the child’s hand and followed the others inside.


The alien tried to go inside the building too, but there were no stock images for this area. Bzik sat back, tapped Bzikus claws against Bzikus legs and waited for the woman and child to come back out.

Bzik looked at the map on the wall now and then so Bzikus eyes didn’t blur.

Twenty minutes or so later, more men came to the building and disappeared inside. Another three or four minutes and they started to walk back out, each one carrying two bodies on their shoulders, one large, one tiny.


The alien stopped tapping Bzikus legs. Bzik stood up and walked around the room a couple of times. Bzik sat back down and stared at the men burying the bodies then pressed another button, changing back to the general overview of the strip of time.


It was long and black and infinite.


About ten minutes later, the alien turned off the view screen and went outside the room for a cigarette.

After the cigarette, Bzik went to the base canteen and sat in the corner alone. Bzik didn’t feel like eating so Bzik stared at the other aliens instead.

They were all adults.

One of the older aliens nearby was showing pictures to the colleagues at the table.

‘This one looks promising…very passive, never growls…what do you think?’

‘Looks kinda like [unintelligible].’

‘Does it?’

‘Yeah, the eyes…see?’

‘Hey, it’s not mine,’ said one of the other aliens, some tentacles spilling out of Vzikus mouth.

‘Could be…’

‘I was there nine months back, that picture says four months, so…’

‘Maybe it was a slow developer…’

‘That makes no sense.’

‘Shut up, you lot,’ said the older alien, clicking Tzikus claws in the air. ‘I want to know which one I should take…’

‘Okay, okay. Show us again.’

The old alien slid the picture across the table.

‘And the rest…’

More pictures appeared. The aliens scanned each one before one of them laughed and said, ‘damned if I know, little bastards all look the same.’

The lead scientist got up and slammed Bzikus chair back under the table, shouting ‘fucking canteen sludge’ as Bzik walked out of the room.

‘What’s his problem?’ asked one of the younger aliens.

‘No idea,’ said the old alien, returning to the pictures.




The sub space aliens never really considered it unethical, what they were doing. Not since the PR people took over anyway. Subjects skipping forward in time and doing things in the ‘between time’ they couldn’t remember…that wasn’t really suffering. It was just a little confusing.


Getting stabbed by a guy in the park.

Living in slums and sleeping in shit.

Trying to buy skittles in Florida.

These were suffering.




The sub space alien who knew the most about science walked back into the viewing room with a cup of green shit and a cigarette. Bzik couldn’t be bothered smoking outside anymore. There was no point, everyone had moved on to the next strip.

“Just a few more,” the alien muttered, watching Sharon Stone regain consciousness right in the middle of Basic Instinct 2.




RULE 34 of Chrono-strip-experimentation

Only observers with over ten years of experience are authorized to tackle dangerous subjects e.g. serial killers, movie stars, politicians.




Two Korean police officers sat around a blackboard, staring at mugshots and a map of the town. Four murders in seven months and they didn’t have a fucking clue.

‘Ideas, names, anything?’ asked the clever one through a cloud of cigarette smoke.

‘Maybe it’s a Buddhist monk,’ said the fat one.


‘Maybe it’s one of those guys building the dam…’


‘Maybe it’s the guy carrying that case with the funny letters on it…’

‘The foreigner? No, he’s clean.’

‘Who else?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know?’

‘Obviously, that’s why you’re saying all the names.’

‘Ha…wonder fucking detective from the big city…’

‘Shut your mouth.’

‘Good idea. Then we’ll have nothing.’

‘More names. Who else?’

The other detective kept his lips zipped tight.

‘Look, we don’t have time for this. There’s a killer out there, fucking laughing at us. More names, now. Come on.’

‘Like who?’


‘Argh…I don’t know. Pass me the pics.’

The two Korean officers both lit another cigarette and stared at the mugshots again.

‘The quiet guy working in the factory…’ the alien scientist said, standing up and throwing Bzikus cigarette stub at the screen. ‘Diu lei idiots.’



The policeman with the prettier face visited the local school during some kind of parade.

He watched the children march and twirl batons.

The alien scientist watched too, Bzikus claw hovering over the button.

One of the girls dropped her baton and tripped.

A line of blood appeared on her knee.

‘You okay?’ asked the policeman.

The girl nodded.

‘Let’s go see the nurse, shall we?’

The girl took his hand and let him lead her to the medicine room. The nurse wasn’t there, so the policeman peeled off a plaster from the first aid box and placed it on her knee.

‘There, better?’

‘It looks stupid.’

‘It’s just for a day or two.’

‘I’ll take it off when you’ve gone,’ said the girl, smiling.

‘It’s your funeral.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘Nothing.’ The policeman smiled. ‘Be careful going home, okay?’

‘I know, I saw the news.’

‘Good. Then you’ll go straight home after school, won’t you?’

‘I always go straight home.’

‘Good girl.’

‘I’m not a girl, I’m thirteen.’

‘Okay, good teenager.’

‘Will you get him soon? That bad guy?’

‘We will.’

‘You’re so confident.’

‘That’s what us police do, catch the bad guys. Besides, criminals are not that bright. They always make a mistake eventually, even the smart ones.’

‘My sister said he raped those women and took their panties.’

The policeman closed the first aid box. ‘Your teacher will be wondering where you are.’

‘Is it not true? About the panties?’

‘Your sister shouldn’t be talking about this.’ The bell rang, making the girl jump. ‘Go on, back to class. And remember, straight home after school.’

The girl shrugged, stood up and hobbled out of the room.

The policeman watched her go then put the first aid box back in the cupboard.

‘Follow her you fool,’ said the alien scientist.




The schoolgirl didn’t take the plaster off.

She didn’t go straight home after school either.

The sub space alien who knew the most about science sat in the viewing room for the ninetieth straight hour, smoking a nine inch cigarette Bzik had made Bzikus. Bzik watched the girl walk down the lane for the twenty-second time, past the older woman and onwards, thirty-seven minutes away from her doom.

Bzik pressed a button, switching to the Korean hiding in the trees.

He looked at the girl then the older woman then the girl again.

The alien blew out smoke.

Bzik studied the Korean’s frame, his arms, his shoulders, his chest muscles.

He wasn’t a strong human, he was quite lean…

If someone were to…

The Korean ran down the bank and threw his arms around the girl’s neck, dragging her up into the forest.

The girl tried to scream, but the Korean’s hand stopped her.

The alien stubbed out Bzikus cigarette.

The Korean stopped in the middle of a clearing.

The girl breathed heavy.

The Korean told the girl to be quiet, everything would be okay.

The girl nodded.

The Korean laid her down and prepared things. He stopped and ran his hand up her calf, stopping on the plaster.

The girl didn’t scream.

The alien sat forward, Bzikus face an inch from the screen.

‘Did someone hurt you?’ asked the Korean.

The girl shook her head.

‘That’s good.’

The girl didn’t scream.

The Korean leaned in to the girl’s ear and told her everything would be fine as long as she didn’t resist.

The girl nodded.

‘Good girl,’ said the Korean.

The alien pressed a button then smacked the ashtray twenty feet across the room.

The Korean woke up in the factory four days later, still erect.




‘I know the rules, but in this case…’


‘Sir, if you’ll just look at the file in more…’


‘It’s a tiny area…the subject is the last recorded victim…there would be no consequences.’


‘Sir, please…I know what you’re concerned about…I’ve been doing this half my life, I know the rules, old and new…but this isn’t actually without precedent. If you look at these files, these previous cases I’ve dug up, you can see that…’

‘I said no [illegible].’

‘You won’t even look at them?’

‘I’ll look at them, but it won’t make a speck of difference. All precedential cases were listed decades ago, centuries for some of them. When we didn’t know any better. When we didn’t have the nine level map.’

‘Yes, Sir, I understand that, I do, but…this one is different. It isn’t about attachment…it’s about logic. Clear, explainable logic. The girl’s death is senseless, fundamentally, on a cosmic level. I would like you to understand that, if nothing else. ‘

‘My answer is still no.’

‘Understood, Sir.’ The alien scientist placed the files on the desk, stepped back, looked at the files again, stepped forward and pushed them closer to the boss. ‘I’ll just put them here then…you can let me know if you…’

‘You know, [illegible], perhaps you should stop observing such despicable people. On the next strip, I mean.’

‘Yes, you may be right.’

‘Stick to social workers and record shop owners.’

‘I will try.’

‘Excellent.’ The boss swished Tzikus hand towards the door. ‘Good day, [illegible].’

‘Good day, Sir.’

The sub space alien who knew the most about science bowed to Bzikus boss, a guy who was trained to be a surveyor, not a scientist, and walked out of the room.




The alien scientist looked at the map of South Korea and compared it to the map of the known universe [all nine levels] pinned up on the wall.

Bzik went back over the timeline of the killer.

Bzik looked at pictures of the schoolgirl, before and after.

Bzik watched an episode of a human drama where aliens observed humans dying and did nothing.

Bzik pulled a picture out of Bzikus pocket and stared at something that looked just like Bzikus, only much, much smaller.

Bzik re-learnt how to use Bzikus veins as a weapon.

Bzik smoked a 70cm cigarette.

Do it, [illegible], the 70cm cigarette told Bzikus.

Yeah, do it, said the map.

‘I can’t,’ the alien said.

You can.

‘However vast we think the universe is…’

Bullshit. Do it.

‘I can’t…for fuck’s sake…’

‘What’d you say?’ asked Bzikus assistant, packing up files in the corner.


‘Uh-huh.’ The assistant’s tab made a noise and Vzik tapped it open, reading the screen. ‘Shit…you gotta be clipping me.’

‘What is it?’

‘Not good news, my friend, Not for you at least.’


‘Here, see for yourself.’ The assistant tapped the screen again and it materialized in the scientist’s claw.

The alien scientist stared at it for a minute then muttered one untranslatable word.

‘Who would’ve thought it,’ said the colleague. ‘Scientists the soft ones…’




The confirmation fax arrived the following day.


‘Due to recent, persuasive studies detailing unexpectedly high emotionalism in the field, observers are no longer to be selected from a scientific background. New observers will be picked exclusively from the following disciplines: history, business, surveying, architecture, politics, law. Current observers from a scientific background will be allowed to serve out their contracts without prospect of extension or renewal.

Keep up the good work





The lean Korean watched the young girl walk down the lane, past the older woman and onwards, probably not too far from her home.

He looked at both, the woman and the girl.

I’m tired, he thought.

But I’ve never had a schoolgirl before.

Maybe it’ll be different.

The lean Korean ran down the bank and threw his arms around the young girl’s neck, dragging her up into the forest.

He told the girl to be quiet, everything would be okay.

The girl nodded.

He pulled her into a clearing, laid her down gently and prepared things.

The girl didn’t scream.

He pulled down her Naruto panties, folded them in two and placed them carefully by her feet.

The girl didn’t scream.

He ran his hand up her right thigh, telling her she was tall for a thirteen year old.

The girl didn’t scream.

He looked at the plaster on her knee, asking her if she had hurt herself.

The girl shook her head.

‘That’s good,’ he said, running his hand further.

The girl didn’t scream.

He kissed what there was of her pubic hair.

The girl didn’t scream.

He came back up and told her that everything would be fine as long as she didn’t make a sound.

The girl didn’t scream.

He spread the girl’s legs another few inches and pulled down his jeans.

The girl didn’t scream.

He hid his cock from her as he moved forward, telling her not to look down.

The girl didn’t look down.

He stopped and stared at her half-developed body, saying again how she was better-shaped than at least two of the other women.

The girl didn’t scream.

He put his hands on both thighs and smiled as the vein shot through his neck and pulled out his throat.

The girl didn’t scream.

The lean Korean’s windpipe landed on the girl’s stomach, with a mini soi tum of blood.

The alien scientist reeled the vein back in and told the girl everything would be okay now as long as she got up and got dressed and ran back home.

The girl stared up at the monster above her, shaking or shivering or both.

‘… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …’ it said, waving its claws.

The girl crawled backwards, screaming.

‘… … … … …’ said the alien scientist, nodding. ‘… … … … …’


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