“WHAT AN UNEXPECTED SIGHT.” The excited yells of a random stranger quake through my skull. It doesn’t do my headache any good, although I do share the sentiment. I did not expect to see this, whatever ‘this’ is, nor did I expect them to be so legged yet so fashionable. Now that I think of it, I heard their voice in the baggage claim, too. Their personal belongings hadn’t warped in properly, or something. They made such a fuss about it! Their desperate shrills resonated at such a wavelength, the head membranes of seven respected Zone 4 diplomats popped.
It was a mess, it gave me a headache, a minor political crisis ensued, and now the fool’s at it again. But fair enough, those luggage warpers are truly terrible. Some poor sod’s husband’s ashes were transmuted into a grade 3B cosmo-terror. And now HE has to pay for damages! No wonder they still transport folks with ships.
Still, I’m just glad my stuff popped up alright. Heck, it’s a miracle the package is intact at all. I’ll forget to mention to my employer I made a little sidetrip to Old Earth. It’s been a struggle for the tiniest shred of joy to thrive there for the past few centuries, and last month central authority’s confirmed that it’s impossible for the natives to grow happy anymore. Least I can do is bring some happiness from the outside. Reaching Europa B5 is always a hassle. Levels B1 to B3 have been taken over by the central governing AI’s. It’s not that they malfunctioned and became murderously evil or anything; that only happened once, on Planet AI, formerly New Old Earth.
I mean, don’t run ‘feelings.exe’ and expect them to suffer your dirty fingertips on their motherboards. No, these AI’s are actually really nice, albeit a bit talkative. Since they failed their directives to “keep at least one (1) person alive”, but lack a termination sequence, they spend their time consuming ancient media and share it with me when I’m around. B1 loves science fiction audio-books spoken by its bethrothed ‘Microsoft Sam’, Sophia is into history and critical gender theory, and B3 really likes the sound metal currency makes when placed inside of a leather bag. It’s rather incredible what those Old Earthlings came up with, despite not being able to jump very high or love one another.
I’m sure you can see how it takes a while for me to get through these three levels alone. Just now, they had me read this work of fiction called “History of the Mighty Sovereignity of Humans Who Are the Best And Also of Non-Humans Treated as Second-Rate Citizens, Vol. 4 (2733 – 2850)”. Whoever you may be, Collective of Authors Chronicling Human History for the Good That Is Humanity, your name is weird and your novel is TERRIBLE.
Europa B4 is probably my least favourite place in the universe – and I’ve been to Planet Nightcore AND Zone 3. No offence to Zone 3’ers, but it’s no Zone 2, which is better than all the other Zones, which are not Zone 2. First time I went there, about fifty years ago, it took me forty to get through. Sophia told me that B4 was wiped out after someone who was happy had written a book about a palace. The author was so thrilled about putting her thoughts and fantasies on paper, one of her happiness crystals burst, spilling euphoria over the pages. Some kind of mold formed that rapidly expanded and absorbed all living tissue it came in contact with.
In a couple of minutes, B4 was transformed into an organic, baroque-style palace. Year forty of my wandering that exuberant hell, I had to go to the bathroom. Seated, it was there that I found a leatherbound novella titled ‘PALACE’. It was 60 consecutive pages of the selfsame sentence: “I will not wait in line for heaven, I will carve a palace from within.” Page 61, for some reason, was left blank aside for a scribbled “i sell all for heaven”. I thought that was a really weak ending, so I drew an anatomically-incorrect heart over ‘sell’. When I then left the bathroom, I was standing in front of the entrance to B5.
I’m pretty cheerful. I say this, because Europa B5 never fails to make me feel a bit hollow. Not in a ‘void of space’ kind of way, mind you. Because honestly let’s face it, the cosmos is full of life and it’s all so diverse and vibrant. It’s a rather Earthian way of thinking, that the universe is ’empty’ outside of that shitty planet. But yeah, Europa B5 depresses me. It came as no surprise that happiness can’t grow there anymore. I always visit whenever I pass by Old Earth, but I have to balance it out with an injection of euphoria or an overdosis of ataraxia. I need these crystals to live, to feel passion, to feel anything. The whole universe does. No one wants to be in a place or exist at all without happiness. But such is the case in Europa B5.
Imagine, just four unhappy kids, left to rule over 3,930,000 square miles of starless waste. From what Wesley told me, the governing AI was taught passion by his mom, the colony weaver. It tried to process that, and suddenly there was a whole lot of nothing. I showed them the package I was carrying. I could actually see crystals forming on their dried skins! OGRE-YOU-ASSHOLE produced a joyful sound that caused a minor earthquake. Joffri clapped his hands in delight. His many, many hands. Imp didn’t show any visible reaction to it, but I’m sure that, although xe is seven jet-black monoliths, it was appreciated. I said goodbye, and those emotional little critters cried an ocean that allowed me to swim back up to the surface.
Now I’m here on Planet X, with a headache and a space fashionista shining a loud and bright monochrome because they found their luggage. Five plastic cubes, filled with… weird liquids? Reality isn’t supposed to do that, I don’t think. “I’ll have you know, the universe used to be full of this stuff. It’s called ‘colour’. Here, I’ll show you.” Even though I didn’t say anything, the leggy alien starts to open a box. The liquid spills upwards into the world like it’s supposed to. Amazing! The buildings, the air, and even myself get covered with this ‘colour’. I feel the crystals growing, I can feel myself becoming happier. So very happy. Before my skin fully crystallises, I take out the package – a tiny, ornamented silver box – and open it. Apparently it’s ‘the last music note’ – I have no idea what that means, but it sure sounds nice. The crystals of my body begin to adopt a distinctly different ‘colour’ than what was poured into the world, begin to emit a distinctly different ‘music note’. I see everything becoming crystals. Not a single atom, not a single thought, not a single concept is left unhappy. The universe is happy. I am happy.