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From Part Three - Emu and Dodo


Elissi cleared her throat and sat up straight.

“For thousands of years we’ve been exploring the galaxy. We’ve found hundreds of inhabited worlds and on all those worlds the people are humanoid like us and live in societies similar to ours. While every world has its own languages and culture, the use of speech and the basic grammatical structures are much the same everywhere. There’s infinitely more variety amongst the animal species on even a single world than there is amongst the sentient beings of the whole galaxy, and for this there can be only one plausible explanation.”

“A common ancestor,” Todd said.

“Exactly, but perhaps ancestor is the wrong term. I belong to an order dedicated to piecing together the truth that lies behind the folklore and creation legends of all the peoples of the galaxy. We’ve discovered there is indeed an underlying truth, and the events unfolding here and now have their roots in that ancient past, in what we believe to be a long-forgotten common beginning for all of us.”

“Come out here,” she said as she rose and walked to a clear area in the backyard. We all followed. “That small group of stars up there, can you see them from Earth?”

I recognised the constellation immediately, even though it was slightly distorted by the parallax effect of being sixteen light years from home.

“We call it the Seven Sisters,” Peter said.

“Its proper name is the Pleiades cluster,” Jason said. “It’s about four hundred light years away and is a close-knit group of relatively young stars.” My son the astronomer, indeed.

“That’s right,” she said, smiling at him. He smiled back.

A shiver ran up my spine. When I was very young I’d had a scary dream. I can’t remember now what was scary about it, but I do know the Pleiades was a part of it. Sometimes, even now, I dream I’m looking up into the night sky and see a vast cluster of bright stars, hundreds of them, and I know it’s the Pleiades, coming for me. The scared little boy inside me was rapidly rising to the surface.

I looked up and saw Elissi’s eyes were focused on me.

“Tell me what just went through your mind,” she said softly, almost in a whisper. I did my best to describe my dreams and the unease I felt whenever I happened to glance up at that cluster. When I’d finished she nodded.

“I’ve had the same dream,” said Peter. “Someone or something from the Pleiades is after me, coming for me.”

The call of an alien night bird rang out across the valley and I shivered again. If someone had said ‘boo!’ just then I’d have probably died of fright. I looked back up at the constellation. They called it the Seven Sisters, but most people could only see six of them with the naked eye. I could see eight, and for some unfathomable reason that scared the hell out of me. I stared at those eight stars like a kangaroo dazzled by the headlights of an oncoming car, trapped a split second away from death.

‘Emu has to go home.’

I don’t know where that thought came from, but it was suddenly imprinted across my mind as if written in a brightly flashing neon sign.

“Emu phone home,” I thought aloud, creating a parody from a movie I’d loved as a kid. Everyone looked at me. I wiped my brow, surprised to find it was dripping with perspiration.

Dodo has to go home,” Peter whispered. I looked across and now he was staring at the Pleiades. “They have awakened.