Well, hello. You’re a rough-looking crew. What are your names?
We have no use for individual appellations like the puny humans use. You may refer to us collectively as 4J.
4J—we have no idea what to make of that name, or, for that matter, of you. When we look at you we feel afraid and then we want to laugh. You keep us caught always uncomfortably between the two. How might you describe your disposition towards human-kind? Towards archivist-kind?
Color us largely ambivalent toward your ridiculous species, though we do enjoy donning these outlandish costumes from time to time and walking among you. If anything it distracts us from contemplating the coming Apocalypse. While we do see some meaning behind the work of your so-called archivists, it won’t matter much once everything is vaporized.
The irony of you in your absurd costumes calling us ridiculous is . . . notable. What’s the meaning of these costumes you wear? Do they serve a purpose? Also in terms of the phrase ‘the coming Apocalypse,’ please expand on the word ‘coming.’
We apologize if our garments offend you. In researching your species we came across the celebration known as All Hallows’ Eve and thought we would try to blend in, so to speak. However, that attempt appears to have fallen flat, given the number of highly distressed individuals we have encountered as we walk among you.
Given recent events on your failing planet you may think that you are living in the early stages of the Apocalypse. We assure you, though, that you have not seen anything yet. The forces of elemental destruction are, how do you say…just getting warmed up?
And how should we react to inescapable doom? We’ve often wondered this, what the right attitude is with so much destruction directly ahead. Should we be afraid or laugh? You’re ideal representatives of the coming Apocalypse, we’ll give you that. But perhaps we would know better what attitude to take if we glimpsed your true form. C’mon, give us just a peek under those costumes of yours.
Our advice is to act like it’s not coming. Live your lives as they unfold before you, regardless of the impending doom. There is no point in getting worked up over the inevitable.
Were we to remove our garments the sight of the gaping void beneath them would burn out your retinas. Is that what you want? We think you have enough on your plates as it is without also losing your vision. Therefore we thought we’d spare you this unpleasantness. It is our gift to you—the ability to see the coming horrors as they approach from afar.
Okay, okay, phew. You guys are intense. Not that we’re complaining. We appreciate the visit. So, what brings you down here (up here?) to our earthly plane of existence? I mean, besides distracting yourself from the coming Apocalypse? What diversions have you discovered?
We were just cruising around in the aether and happened to peer down at your planet whereupon we noticed how much havoc your species has wreaked upon it. So we thought we’d pay you a visit and offer our advice. Of course, while here we have taken the time to indulge in a few of your customs. In particular we’ve become fixated on corn mazes and bungee jumping, preferably when combined together. As for the sustenance you require to maintain your flimsy flesh husks, though, we find it largely bland and unappetizing with the exception of pickled ginger, which frankly we can’t get enough of.
Oh, interesting. The bungee jumping seems so obvious we won’t ask you about it, but what specifically do you enjoy about corn mazes? Is there one in particular you would recommend?
The precepts of our anthropological research dictate that we must partake in the most illogical activities known to be regular practices of the species we encounter. We are intrigued by the concept of an intentional effort to disorient oneself by entering a network of pathways on a grid designated for sustenance production. And all for the purpose of entertainment! What strange creatures you humans are.
As separate activities we have enjoyed the corn mazes more than the bungee jumping. But for reasons we have not been able to determine, when we bungee jump into a corn maze we experience an unprecedented level of euphoria. We like to make a game of plucking the ears of corn once we’ve reached the end of our bungee cords and then consuming them as we ricochet back up into space.
We do not know the names of your corn mazes so cannot recommend any specific examples, but we have noticed the geographic area known on your planet as Iowa is particularly replete with them.
We are intrigued by this image of you hurtling towards and away from the earth while stuffing your faces with uncooked corn on the cob. How is the eating done if beneath your costumes there are no teeth, per se, but only blinding nothingness?
We simply stuff the ears into the mouth-shaped holes in our costume heads and they disappear. We do not ‘taste’ food as you do, but for some reason following our consumption of your sustenance known as corn there is a feeling of well-being generated in our consciousness.
OK well before you go zipping off, please accept this gift from the Ghost Paper Archives.
. . . Now, as you gain altitude, can we ask a favor? Will you describe us as you are flung away into the sky? Can you let us know how we look from way up there?
4 thoughts on “The Four Jesters of the Apocalypse”
I’ve always thought corn mazes were probably an unconsciously manifested visual pun: corn = maize. A maize maze.
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And an amazing maize maze, at that.
Are 4J any kin to the visitors from “Stardust Memories”? I feel like they could come together for an informative panel.
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Quite possible. There is certainly a similarity in attitude. Fun fact about that film: Brent Spiner, who played Data on ST:TNG, had his first (very small) role in it. Clip here.