When the Ass came I was among the first to be invited to meet them. Their ship, hanging metres above the ground in the same way that Douglas Adams never did, gave no clues as to their purpose, whilst the Asses themselves were of such alien physique that we did not recognise even a face with which to converse, only a kind of crevasse.
I, being one of the world’s finest code breakers, was asked to decipher their black-brown writing, a spindly, scratchy ephemeral, ethereal scrawl which shot out of what appeared to be phallic mandibles. Without any contextual information about their home planet, their reason for being here or even whether they recognised individual or group consciousness, it’s fair to say this was very tough.
I worked alongside a language specialist for three months, cross-referencing sounds, glyphs and what we could only describe as twerk-like gestures, though we had little idea about any possible correlation between these. We worked in the dark, with only the light of science and previous success in our respective fields to guide us.
But we raced against time. The Chinese and Russians also had the Ass all over them, and they were beginning to come to their own conclusions as to the language: war, it seemed, was on the horizon. Would these two superpowers work together with the aliens to enslave the West? Our superiors grew impatient.
We needed to know more, and so had to learn more: were there individual Asses? How much of their language was visual, and how much was audio – were these two linked? Was one Ass actually one person, in our sense, an Ass-whole? Did they speak in the same time-frame as us, or was their language more similar to that of the Hopi Indians? We recorded their guttural noises, studied their movements and waded through their inky words. The answers to these would help, but finding out would take time.
But time was not on our side.
During the fourth month we were pulled from the Ass-ship, ripped from its bowels to be told we were packing up and leaving. The Chinese claimed they’d made a breakthrough – an alliance. The Ass-ship had to be evacuated.
But what we didn’t know was that the Ass had been studying us. They knew what we were doing, and so – once our language had been learned – just as we were leaving they ‘spoke’. Words and gaseous images appeared in my head which explained to me their purpose and granted me the code to their spectral script.
What I learned was this:
There was no language. The script, their text, was shit. Actual shit: Ass shit. They had shat everywhere knowing that we would try to intellectualise what we didn’t understand, assuming that communication was the purpose. In fact they were playing with us, and had been travelling the galaxy to have a laugh at various life forms’ expense, and we were the shittiest.
In short, we didn’t know what we were playing at, but the Ass knew exactly what we were playing with. As the Ass-ship left us, hands blackened with the alien effluent, we noticed a crude piece of extraterrestrial graffiti on the underside, what looked like an upside-down rocket ship shooting bullets. The Chinese took this as a declaration of war, but for the first time I deciphered the code with no help.