First Sign of Madness

"Now then...let's see..."

Please don't forget, please don't forget...

"Oh yes...your long overdue transfer."


It's taking Terl every ounce of restraint he has to remain silent, to let the good news come to him rather than reach out and seize it. Lack of restraint cost him dearly in that senator's daughter instant and he's served as chief of security on this blue-skyed hellhole as a result. But now, finally, he can do what he was born to do...conquer galaxies while baby psychlos still learn how to spell their names.

"You must be looking forward to get off this disgusting excuse for a planet."

"I...just want to do whatever serves the corporation best sir."

Terl knows he's pandering to the representative, that anyone with half a brain cell even in their claws would be able to see through his over the top acting. Then again, considering the representative has bought the idea that dogs were this planet's sapient species rather than man animals, maybe it's to be expected that no-one can see through his desire to take on a more meaningful task and leave this world to rot.

"Very admirable," the representative continues, smiling like every other psychlo in the room (which seems to be slanted for some reason. Maybe it's the security cameras doing those strange shots again). "And I must say, you've done a first rate job as interim security chief."

Scattered applause echoes throughout the room, and Terl cannot help but bask in the glory. He's gone from the proverbial box office bomb to a box office hit (to quote that strange saying he found in one of the man animals' ruined cities). Surely nothing can go-...

"Which is why we've decided to keep you on for another tour of service."


Terl feels something twitching. Not his ridiculously long hair, not his breathing apparatus, but something within his very mind. Indeed, he's felt it before. It happens every time he enters another scene, or where he looks at camera footage. Something Only thing is, this time he knows what the problem is. He's still stuck in this, planet. He's losing it. And the news that this may not change anytime soon isn't doing the security chief any favours.

"There must be some mistake..." Terl says slowly, not sure how to approach the situation.

"Oh, Home Office does not make mistakes," says the representative coyly, smiling like...well, like something that smiles (certainly psychlos rarely smile...or give any emotion that might benefit a story).

"Of course not," Terl answers. "But have you read my files sir? It explicitly says that this is a temporary assignment...yes?"

No one answers. All but Ker grin like something out of a bad horror movie he found at that dump called Hollywod (or something. One of the letters had been blasted off in the invasion of this barren rock). Certainly he feels like he's in one now.

"Are you not aware that I graduated at the top of my class?" Terl asks again. "That I-..."

"Quite an accomplishment," the representative interrupts.

Terl sighs. He's not sure where this is going, or why it's going like this. Why he's the only one engaged in dialogue of any kind, or why everything seems to be on an angle now. His very perception of reality seems to be failing him. And the only hope of remedying the situation is to get off this world and out of his current B-rated circumstance.

"I don't mean to second guess the Home Office," muses Terl, wondering if he's fighting the same battle the man animals tried to fight a thousand cycles ago-a lost one. "But surely I can be of better service to the corporation-..."

"Home Office is well aware of your academic achievements and obvious talents. That's why we've decided...not to keep you here for another five cycles."

Once again, silence falls over the room. This time however, it's a pleasant one. Even the strange angle of vision Terl seems to be experiencing fades, replaced with...well, actually it's not replaced with anything. Still, at least he's able to laugh now, along with everyone else in the room. A cure to insanity if there ever was one.

"Oh thank you sir," the psychlo breathes, in-between his exclamations of joy. "I don't know if I could have kept my sanity, to be here another five cycles."

"We've decided to keep you here for another fifty cycles!" the representative declares, shattering what little Terl's regained of his sanity in an instant. "With endless options for renewal!"

That's done it. He's lost it.

Terl stares into space as "with endless options for renewal" plays over and over like a bad record. He shudders as his fellow psychlos laugh in slow motion, drawing out the ordeal far longer than any piece of fiction or reality should be. But that's nothing compared to the greatest horror of all...the one thing that will send him over the edge and inadvertently doom the psychlo race...

Everything's on an angle!


I've admittedly never watched or read Battlefield Earth, so this isn't really a vessel for any feelings I have either way. Still, with the film regarded as one of the worst sci-fi movies of all kinda begs to be lampooned.