“Paris 1993 [Eiffel tower] Thursday July 22rd 17:53 [same shot of the Eiffel tower with a vast spaceship hovering over it]. The first recorded appearance of the intergalactic space villain, self-dubbed ‘Vermouthinator’ (over two hundred appellations to his name have been recorded – all honorific titles, apparently self-created as an expression of his extreme egotism). Vermouthinator contacted all humans on Earth directly, simultaneously entering their minds instead of all forms of traditional communication. His message was short and cryptic and has been pieced together from a variety of surviving sources [montage of confused Parisians]:
“Greetings human filth. It is I, the Ineffably Wondrous Lord of the Demiverse, Sculptor of Wonder, Imbiber of Galactic Fluids – the one and only Vermouthinator. Congratulations are due to your mixologists and cocktailliers. It is martini time.” [photograph of a martini glass]
This initial contact may have been mis-calibrated in either its force or content. Certainly the overture while apparently contemptuous, did not speak of an intent for the carnage that ensued. While all of humanity received a message (albeit in English, which was wasted on many), the area immediately around Paris, in a roughly 1000 mile radius was particularly affected by the intensity of the communication [map with big red circle]. Religious fundamentalists appeared to take the brunt of the damage, suffering from the now well-documented ‘Mental Expulsion Trauma’ (see appendix xii).
In summary: the contact forced a paradigm shift upon those affected. Undeniable evidence of non-terrestrial life or the sudden telepathic contact so vastly exceeded their supposed realities that their natural mental plasticity (the ability to compartmentalise irreconcilable information) was unable to cope. The result: their mental states were forced out of their physical structures to a point 14 inches to the left of their skull [image of a ghostly brain hanging above a mannequins shoulder]. It is notable that individuals suffering from schizophrenia and related disorders were less likely to be fatally affected.
Of the affected individuals 98.995% are now deceased, their vegetative states determined permanent. Rumours persist of sentient plants and animals who were within that 14 inch translocation range [photograph of 'Benny the Signing Dandelion' and 'Aquat, the Scholarly Squirrel']. Few of these cases have been verified, nor have the accounts of sightings of Alpha Strangemind and the Galaxy Team in heavily affected regions apparently armed with “high-tech butterfly nets” [artist's impression of techno-net].”
The film jerks to a stop, black streaks overtaken by white which flicker over the curious figure hunched before the screen. He is tall and thin, dressed in a fake silk dressing gown with a dragon cheaply embroidered on the back; his feet and ankles are bony and uncovered. With a snort of disgust he spits on the concrete floor and stabs the button on his arm rest which re-starts the film. The shadows cast by the television throw his long body back across the bleak room; his head tails weakly off the top of his shoulders. The shadow is no trick of the light: his head really is tiny. This is Pip, first child of Anne and Doyle Humpester; Galactobrain to his fans; Milkymind to his brothers; Bollockface to his enemies. The last is cruel but apt observation. He stands and hurls his Kit-Kat mug across the room. It falls short of the opposing wall and shatters on the concrete sending a coffee slick into the cracks.
“Oi. You can clear that lot up right now mister,” the door flies open to reveal the voluptuous figure of Comely Strangemind, wife and partner to the legendary Galaxy Team patriarch Alpha (formerly Mr and Mrs Doyle Humpester). She stands there with her stark black mask in place but otherwise wrapped in a towel, steaming from the shower.
Pip whirls around, his eyes bulging in surprise. They’re the biggest thing in his head, which looks exactly like someone’s taken a tennis ball and stapled a pair of poached eggs onto it. He bursts into tears. The way his face is squeezed means that his tear ducts are unnaturally pressed against his cheek bones and the tears spurt forward like windscreen washers.
Comely crosses the room and crushes her son to her breast, “Oh Pip, you must stop watching that.”
“I just hate him so much mum, it’s all his fault…” his tears soak into Comely’s towel. Quietly Comely extrudes a length of tail-like flesh and scoops the broken mug up and into the waste basket by the door. She sits down and pops Pip on her knee where he continues his bitter sobbing.
Pip is one of only twenty-three human survivors of the ironically titled Vermouth Thursday’s Mental Expulsion Trauma. At the time of the Vermouthinator’s fateful message he had been seven, an outwardly normal boy (if rather tall) with extraordinary mental powers. He had been instrumental in the development of Galaxy Team since before he was born and so had been involved in some of his parents’ earliest experiments on he and his siblings.
On Vermouth Thursday Alpha and Comely had strapped Pip into a device of their devising intended to map and amplify the already prodigious mind he possessed – the augMentation. Pip was a willing participant, keen to expand and develop the neoScience of Galaxy Team. His mind was wide open, the virtual tendrils of their machinery exposing and teasing apart his mind. When Vermouthinator blasted out his greeting to humanity Pip’s mind was naked and vulnerable. The words blasted into him, amplified a billion-fold by the augMentation. Unlike the millions who died almost instantly, the extraordinary mental prowess enabled him to find an escape from the endless reverberations of alien inanities. He tapped into the Quantum Occlusion (which shielded the village of Llandwi-ge-Hw from outsiders) and ejected his mind past the 14 inch limit. He went too far. Bent around the Occlusion, it strained his mind and the physical matter of his brain out into space and beyond. The stream of his ideation found its entangled particles and flowed around the converse edge of the universe, re-emerging into real space inside the Small Megallanic Cloud where it discovered structure sufficient to accommodate his mind, though massively dispersed.
Despite Alpha’s best efforts they had been unable to reverse the process – Pip’s brain was no longer located in his body – it was a galaxy two hundred million light years away. On Earth the shell of his head had buckled, cracking and collapsing unable to tolerate the vacuum within. Somehow he still controlled his body though it was some weeks before he fully integrated his disparate mentality between the stars. When he did regain the power of speech it was a huge relief to his parents who had almost ceased their experiments on their other offspring in concern. With the return of speech came a darkness born of the deep space in which he now lived, and despite being only a child, he swore vengeance on Vermouthinator.
Anne had grown used to finding Pip watching the news reports of Vermouth Thursday over and over again. Despite his galactic intelligence he just could not find it in him to forgive Vermouthinator for destroying his face. That he had likely gained immortality at the age of seven by replanting his consciousness in another galaxy was small comfort for a young man who ought to be chasing girls like the Beastlie Brothers (though hopefully with more success). All of Comely’s attempts to steer him away from revenge had failed. It seemed the only thing to do was to help him avenge himself.
“Pip, we know he’ll be back one day, people like him always come back.” Pip judders with rage and the force of tears firing upwards from his eyes.
“He’s not a person mum, we don’t know where he’s from or what he is.” Pip’s fingers begin to jerk in a complex pattern of virtual keystrokes and command gestures.
“Let’s try and find out shall we? You know your father’s been working on the Vortex. We could go and find him, out there.” The holographic screen appears in the room before them, engineering designs, molecular structures and anatomical diagrams flash away with a single gesture from Pip. A detailed image of the Milky Way resolves itself in the air and streaks past to reveal the cloudy mass of stars that compose Pip’s mind. They pierce the outer halo and streaks of stardust. Comely cannot help but wonder what part of Pip’s mind they are looking at. What happens when a star dies in his mind…
Pip’s tears dry up and his face takes on a distant, calculating aspect. He points at a cluster of stars and the view zooms in to show a star with its orrery of planets gliding by, “I wonder if he’s in me.” The thought makes Comely’s second skin crawl under her towel.