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"The feeds from Earth aren’t live. Saint Freddie’s dead and the Divine David’s," he paused, he could barely look at me. "He’s old, Tom. They’re all old. They age like we do. They’re not immortal, they’re not … they’re not gods."
I didn't know what to say. I was torn between incredulous stupor and some razor-sharp remark. A combination that came out as a silence you could cut with something sharp and pointy.
"We had to do it," he said. "Music was changing on Earth. Everything we loved was being trashed so we - Christine, Carlos and I - we cut the live feed and started recycling the old recordings. Splicing bits in here and there, altering the timestamps. We thought it’d be temporary but … things got out of hand. They started deciphering the other Earth files back on Mirra, the non-music ones. Maybe we should have done so earlier, but most of the broadcasts the probe picked up were music and we had to launch soon, we couldn’t risk delays or the mission would have been scrapped like the others."
He paused to take a breath, his shoulders heaved, his face taut with emotion.
"Who could have known what the other files contained. Who could have known how many different languages there were?"
He looked at me, questioningly. "Why would a species sing of love yet act so differently? You wouldn’t believe what they were doing on Earth. Mirra went to pieces, they wanted to recall the ship. We were a danger, we might bring the humans back to Mirra. It was terrible. Mirra was rife with dissent, the hatchlings revolted. We could see the same thing happening here. So we cut the lines to Mirra, passed it off as terminal fault, recycled the old Earth feeds and kept the lie going."
He took a deep breath and ran the back of his hand across his brow.
"And the lie grew into a cult. Recycled video feeds became our primary source of entertainment. Time did the rest. Time and our Mirran propensity for imitation. We didn’t want to make gods out of rock stars but … it just sort of happened and it’s been good for us. Don’t you think?"
He looked imploringly into my eyes. I didn’t know what to think. I was still coming to terms with the Divine David being old. How could he? He was a god, they all were. We aged and they stayed the same, we got sick and they kept on rockin’.
"Which is why we can’t let the ship reach Earth. It would be disastrous. Christine and Carlos were having second thoughts. I knew if I killed them and buried the code deep enough, none of the new hatchlings would find out what I’d done. If I could sabotage the ship, slow it down or throw it off course, then we could stay as we are, develop our own culture, away from all the chaos and hatred of Earth and Mirra. Three deaths for the lives of thousands. What’s wrong with that?"
"But why try and implicate the Brothers?"
"I thought they’d found out. Vinny was asking questions about Christine’s death, I thought they knew something. I didn’t know that Len was Christine’s pod-brother. I thought if I framed them for the murders I’d get them out of the way."
"And the milk vampire?"
"I didn't know what else to do. I drugged Carlos like I did Christine. But I couldn’t have got the dosage right. He started to come round and I panicked. I saw the wine bottle on the table and hit him. I wasn’t thinking straight. It was supposed to be suicide but now everyone would know it was murder."
"So why drain his blood?"
"It was full of the drug. I was going to pass it off as a street crime gone wrong but the drug meant premeditation. Someone might have seen Carlos come to my apartment. So I found a hypo and started a line."
"And the milk?"
"To draw attention away from the blood. Maybe throw suspicion on the Droogies - I’d heard someone call them milk vampires, the image kinda stuck."
And would do for quite a while.
"It can still work, Tom. You know it’s for the best. We’ve made a real world here. Help me alter the course away from Earth and we can live like this forever. This ship can run for another thousand years without refueling."
Another morning, another decision. It felt like a flameburst day so I pulled on the hipster flares and buckled myself in, climbed onto half a foot of gold and silver and wobbled back to admire the reflection. Wouldn’t see anything finer if you tossed a hand grenade into a paint factory.
As for the murder enquiry … that was now closed. A couple of Heads found John Home hanging from a railing on the Stairway to Heaven - suicide - his life snapped out by a pair of paisley suspenders. There’d be no more murders now.
As for me, I had a message from the Divine One over the Earth feed.
"Can you hear me, Major Tom?"
He was talking just to me, like he always did. We were a trillion miles apart, floating in our respective tin cans far above the moon. But this Major Tom had a plan. Now, I love truth as much as the next dude but as I looked out the window at the colors and the sights - the smiling faces looking up at those giant screens as though gazing on the face of God. How could I end that? OK, so they may not be gods on Earth but here they were. Jimi, Eric, David and Freddie. I couldn’t kill them.
And neither could I kill myself. Not yet. Though I was tempted for a while. In love with the idea of stepping through the door and floating off into space. Ten out of ten for romance but zero for fashion care. Have you seen what space does to corduroy?
Well, neither have I but it can’t be good for the complexion, can it? So until I have wrinkles to match, I’m staying inside, strutting the metal and keeping the peace.
Which could be for some time, seeing as how the ship keeps altering course and dropping out of hyperspace. Every time they think they’ve got it fixed something else happens. Very strange.