It was the most boring flying saucer I’d ever seen. And it wasn’t even a flying saucer, it was an aeroplane. But I saw it, and that’s me. Every time I look up, there’s something. Clouds, some sky, the edge of a tree. Sometimes a bird. Why all the alternation? I was pretty sure it wasn’t being done for my benefit. And something taking that much effort and organisation couldn’t be a chance affair. I decided to record what I saw in a notebook I called MY SKY PROBLEMS and lucky I did. Pretty soon a pattern developed - for a start if I counted white sky and blue sky as two different objects. A dash dot morse code jamboree was playing out over my head and I wanted to know why. After three years of this business I was all full of beans about my results and tried to tell everyone, who mostly punched me or at least looked away. I spent a long time decoding it and after getting rid of a lot of nonsense it came down to one thing, a message from maybe god or the nature above us loud and clear: ‘Look out below for everything you mothers because I hate you all and am determined to first fry you and then freeze you and soak you all in a short period of days and I remind you you’re not just meant to get used to it. I been planning this for years and now I will unleash upon you everything I just said. Pay me attention down there. Hey down there, hey.’ But even science article magazines did not care for my decoding of what I see every day. Clouds, some sky, the edge of a tree. Sometimes a bird.
In what has been described as a ‘stupid bid for attention’, Thomas Sumpter, an injection-moulding technician from Dayton, Ohio, released an undernourished leopard into Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion on Saturday. The animal sprang onto the top of a cupboard and watched anxious visitors without saying anything. Apparently sensing that the animal had no intention of mauling anyone at the mansion, Sumpter attempted to entice the leopard from its perch by holding up some chewing gum and making a sound like a cartoon fish. The leopard pounced on Sumpter and became snagged on his garish shirt, tearing itself free with only minor injury to Sumpter’s chest. Security staff from Memphis Zoo and Aquarium cornered the big cat in the media room, where it had fallen asleep. When they fired ten tranquillizer rounds into the beast, it awoke in surprise and attacked both men, injuring George Harrod, 38, and Terry Heem, 26. Sumpter finally spoke to the leopard in a whisper and he and the cat left by a rear entrance. Onlookers claim that Sumpter merely whispered to the carnivore that he had become bored with the escapade and that it was time to go. When traced to his Dayton home on Sunday, Sumpter expressed bewilderment at accounts of his antics and claimed that he had not left his home for three days. Doctors have found no wounds on his torso and there was no evidence at Sumpter’s home to suggest the care or maintenance of a leopard or similar animal. Injured zoo employee Terry Heem stated on Sunday that he was ‘angry and flushed’. Family and friends of his colleague George Harrod told news media that Harrod was ‘beaming’ and talking like a child. The leopard may still be at large.
© Steve Aylett (text and art)
The electronic version of "Sky" and “Graceland” appear in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the author. They appear in the author's collection Smithereens published by Scar Garden, 2010. Book ordering available through amazon.com and amazon.co.uk
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Steve Aylett is the author of Novahead, Slaughtermatic, LINT, Fain the Sorcerer, Atom, The Crime Studio, Bigot Hall, Rebel at the End of Time, Toxicology, The Inflatable Volunteer, Shamanspace, And Your Point Is?, The Complete Accomplice, and Smithereens. He was a finalist for the 1998 Philip K Dick Award (for Slaughtermatic) and recently won the Prix Jack Trevor Story (or Jack Trevor Story Memorial Cup).
Visit his website: http://www.steveaylett.com/