Fiction: Of Light And Shadow

Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh spotted the man in the crowd; it was easier than he thought because the man stuck out like a black cloud in a blue sky. He was tall, perhaps just a slight illusion caused by his hair which was pushing out of his head towards the sky like unruly weeds in a flower bed. He also was, of course, dressed unlike anyone else on Yernin Six, which was to be expected for an off world traveller. The long brown coat, what he suspected was an off-world version of ceremonial robes in a dark blue and garish red shoes that did not seem to match either of the former articles of clothing.

In fact, it was hard to believe this was the man who had just saved his entire planet from a race of cyborgs, but it was a fact.

What bothered Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh was the orders he kept getting from the world’s ministry about the celebration they had planned for the alien. As he was the saviour of the planet, every little thing he asked for was almost law, from the memo that tonight at midnight everyone should get a present from their friends and family, to the other proclamation that said tonight would also be the start of a new cycle on Yemin Six, this one to be called a ‘new year’, to be marked by parties and celebration, rather than the days of meditation and reflection that occurred when one of the Yemin elders declared a new cycle.

It was an affront to everything his culture stood for, and he intended to give this strange looking ‘Doctor’ a piece of his mind. Delvenoosh pushed through the crowds towards the throng of people encircling the alien, who, despite his wide grin and ample play in his words, seemed almost wary of this celebration, like he would like to be anywhere else but here.

The crowd rightfully made way for Delvenoosh’s sash of the fifth order and as he reached the Doctor he tapped him on the shoulder.

“Doctor?” The man turned his grin on him and Delvenoosh could see how the leaders in the capital city could have been charmed by such a face. It seemed to almost burn with energy and charm. “My name is Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh, the top council in this port city of Parthos. I would like to have a word with you… on official business.”

“Certainly.” The Doctor turned to the people surrounding him, the burning grin unable to hide a look of relief. “Sorry, have to go now, thank you very much, official business you see, and you can’t get anymore official than official business, can you?”

Delvenoosh led the Doctor out of the press of bodies and into the doorway of a small shop, closed for the sudden ‘holiday’ as the alien called it.

“So what can I do for you, Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh?”

“I am concerned about the celebration you have planned for our victory, Doctor. As grateful as I am, like any loyal subject of Yemin Six, you must understand that the suddenness of this event as well as the nature of how it is celebrated is not the usual way we mark great events in our history.”

“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? To live a little, shake a leg, show a little emotion. A celebration, if you will, of what was almost taken from you by force.”

It was Delvenoosh’s turn to grin. “Doctor, I am a Yeminian seer of the eighth order – I can see when a man is lying to save face or save another grief; it is my livelihood.”

“I see I can’t get one past you, Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh.” The Doctor started rummaging in his pockets. “I have a card here for the intergalactic debate team; you could be the goalie.”

“And now deflection. Come now, Doctor, will you tell me why you have shaken our culture’s roots like a child does a sapphire tree in the time of warming or will I have to put a halt to this celebration several minutes before it begins?”

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Finally, the grin dropped away from his face and you could see another man inside, a colder and more rigid figure. This man Delvenoosh could see repelling an invading army. “Because if you don’t millions of your people will all die in the exact same moment.”

“I trust you can explain such an extraordinary claim?”

“Have you ever heard of the Vashta Nerada? They are a race that lives in shadow and most likely one of the most prevalent races in the universe. They were able to accomplish this by evolution, adapting to the environments they lived in like any other creature. They are here, like on any other world. Thing is, as I said, they are such survivors because they follow the main rule of survival, which is adaption.”

“So?” Delvenoosh was getting aggravated with this alien. “What does this have to do with the celebrations?”

“Imagine you are a race that feeds on flesh, like the Vashta Nerada and you ended up on a planet where flesh itself was in short supply, replaced by metal and plastic?”

“I suppose they adapted.”

“Exactly, Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh, and they adapted to feed on emotion, but like anyone they prefer a certain kind of meal. They feed off misery, sadness, and tragedy. The only way they can be defeated is through the kind of food that is almost like poison to them, something that is hard to find on the planets this breed of Vashta Nerada adapted to. Happiness, joy, and the spirit of love.”

“This does not explain, however, any of the memos I have been getting. I don’t see how a choice between ‘Candy cane’ and ‘mistletoe’ as decorations has any bearing on this new invading force.”

“Candy cane.” The Doctor said, the burning grin alight once again.

“I’m sorry?”

“Candy cane. Much better choice. Two colours in one and fresh breath, brilliant.”

“But are these choices significant?”

“Well, not really – you can find happiness in anything but I kind of adapted some ideas from random holidays on a planet called Earth. Your culture has no precedent for this kind of thing, Delvenoosh. I had to use outside sources to make it work.”

“As this week long celebration is about to start, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to these emotion-eating aliens.”

“Some will leave, follow the original Cyber invasion force, some will starve. Others will be starving so badly as we eliminated the first call from the dinner bell and will try and literally eat happiness before they realised they have just poisoned themselves.”

Behind the pair, just off the docks the sky began to come alight with what were termed as fireworks.

Delvenoosh pointed to the skies that were now almost alive. “And these things will keep evil at bay?”

The Doctor placed his hands in his trouser’s pockets and turned to Delvenoosh. “We can always hope, Grand Sernoon Delvenoosh, that even the coldest Winter will lead to the warmth of Spring. Hope is a choice after all.”