THYZZYL, HOLD THE PAP • by Gerald William Parks

The Traveler’s name was Renapath, it was Wastool… once Schloopy. He had answered to all these names. Quick jumps among a legion of hosts clouded the memory, and few Travelers could recall clearly their origins, hampered as they were by the lack of a home planet or legitimate parents. He could be classified a parasite, or a flying Dutchman of near immortal strand, surviving dissolutions of worlds one by one, waiting and watching until certain patterns inexorably brought the same disastrous result.

The new face staring back at him in the wall mirror was little Donnie, a tiny toddler aged thirty months, sole survivor of the Newson family’s clash with upheaval. He was Traveler’s last refuge when his adult host exsanguinated in front of the family’s seventy-six-inch flat screen television. An absurd bowtie festooned the collar of his shirt, and after attempting its removal with chubby, clumsy fingers Traveler realized it was sewn on.

Out the front door he waddled, legs pudgy and unsteady. A motley of feral adults fought in the streets, in their yards and homes. The crack of sporadic gunfire prompted pained screams, and in all this havoc a chirping bird sang cheerfully in a tree. Traveler glanced at it, amazed how oblivious it could remain.

An enraged man with a metal pipe charged him, his mouth foaming. He swung the pipe in a merciless arc and Traveler leapt from the luckless little shell, invading the lunatic’s sweaty form to set up housekeeping in a more formidable body.

For a second he regarded Donnie’s little corpse, but a sense warned him of danger, and he spun to see a pair of muscled men in warm-up suits hurtling toward him. The pipe split the head of the leader, but the second maniac pistoned a knife into his new body with staccato fury. Traveler jumped and the attacker discarded the knife next to the not-so-formidable body. He turned and ran away.

This new body surged with athletic vitality, and when predators ran at him he evaded them easily. One got too close and he thrust a stiff palm into his nose and killed him. He did not blame the man, nor any of them. They convulsed helplessly in the waves of a tsunami caused by the flapping of a butterfly’s wings half a planet away in a past century.

After a mile of tireless loping he spotted a Cadillac in a driveway that looked unharmed. A silver-haired woman attacked it with a leafy branch, mewling like a demented cat. He hurled her away and opened the door. Crazies raced toward him, brandishing weapons. Traveler dug under the dashboard with desperate haste, found the right wires and seconds later roared down the street, leaving behind a sea of waving fists.

He drove to Cape Canaveral where security guards shot him dead. He eliminated them all, then jumped into a scientist he found barricaded in the complex. After three months of toil, sweat, and osmosis his new host finally got NASA’s latest treasure ready for launch. The spacecraft traveled very, very far. By the time the ship was pulled in for recovery by an advanced people, the scientist’s body had rotted to sterile dust and Traveler had forgotten what it was like to be corporeal.

He leapt into the first being to enter the ship, a hapless tech named Gyrixxl. Claiming diarrhea, Traveler excused himself and went home, his female counterpart meeting him at the door with a kiss and a thyzzl. He sat in the living area resting and observing his new surroundings.

How long? He wondered. How long before I have to flee this planet too?

His counterpart came in from the galley and freshened his thyzzl. She picked up a small black box and thumbed the stud that powered a screen on the wall. Gyrixxl’s eyes widened as he watched two uniformed beings with guns chase a runner. One of them barked, “Frizzl, punnkter — Pollizzeir!”

Gyrixxl sighed heavily and drained the thyzzyl, even swallowing the vormdyll. More pap, he mused, the well-known lowest form of mind desecration; the flapping butterfly wings that would ignite holocaust.

Here we go again, he thought gloomily, closing his vision ports as the punnkter got blown out of his footcovers. And not much longer at that.

Gerald William Parks is married with four children, and an avid reader. 

If you want to keep EDF around, Patreon is the answer.

Rate this story:
 average 3.8 stars • 24 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I wanted to be able to give this more than three stars. There was some really good writing here.

    I thought the escape of the traveler was too rushed, too many bodies invaded, too much action – like an over-the-top movie chase scene, or a never-ending zombie ruckus, where I find myself thinking – okay, I get it.

    How did traveler take a space ship on a flight “very, very far” and by happenstance end up at home with his mate?

    At the end I felt there was too much crammed into it without substance – the history of the traveler, the two butterfly references which I failed to understand their relevance.

    I was unfulfilled at the end.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

      Not “his mate.” The mate of the sentient being whose body he inhabits as his current host.

      Google the “butterfly effect.”

      • “went home” … “female counterpart” who served him the drink

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

          “..went home” in the body of the “hapless tech” whose counterpart greets him warmly at the door…

          • Thanks for the “aha” moment 🙂

      • Re “Butterfly Effect” all I could think of was Butterfly Kisses 🙂

      • You’re absolutely right! Thank you.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Another one of those stories whose beginning lines make me think “geez,” and that absolutely captivate by the end. I loved this, and the point was so beautifully made without preaching. Bravo. Five stars.

    • Yes, the beginning was really, really good.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

        Actually I was cringing at that first line, but this piece had an irresistible pull. The convention of alien names almost entirely composed of razor-edged consonants really irritates me. None of ’em are like, say, Hawaiian?

        • LOL I thought the first line set up what was to come quite appropriately. And I liked the gritty consonant names. Perhaps its the translation from the native language to English.

    • Thank you for your great feedback. I love your comments about my story, and I must tell you it was very much improved by the directions the editors gave me for making the narrative more explicit. True constructive criticism is hard to come by.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

        EDF’s editors provide the equivalent of an MFA, for free and at warp-speed. It’s not necessary to agree with every point they raise. But even in the disagreeing, one develops instincts re what to revise, and what to fight for. It’s worth it, sticking around here…

  • Michael Stang

    Freeze punk, the police– Really?
    Captured by the Butterfly effect and the overall message of doom, but this had too many worm-holes for me.

    • Funny – I liked that line in context with the story. It would certainly be cliche in a traditional police story.

      • Michael Stang

        Gonna have to swallow a few more vormdyll, and get my head around this.

        • I could use some too. My decongestant and antihistamines aren’t working this morning.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

      “People Are Alike All Over…”

      • I took it as shtick

  • Carl Steiger

    Maybe I should start reading more zombie fiction, because I
    really enjoyed this. I do have questions
    about Traveler’s nature. Specifically,
    if he can survive for an indefinite time aboard a spaceship without a living
    host, does he really need a host in the first place?

    • I took it as a need for a disguise of what must be an unnatural appearance/form.

    • Camille Gooderham Campbell

      I assumed it was needed to interact with his environment. It would get pretty boring as a non-corporeal being if you couldn’t so much as open a door.

    • Michael Stang

      Worm-hole, worm-hole.

    • Good point. The traveler was just an observer to watched the end of civilization and draw parallels. As someone who wastes too much time vegging in front of the tube, I hate television with a passion, and I blame it for the plunging popularity of books as well as the increasing ignorance of the the populace.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    The premise behind this story is similar to that of the body-jumping demon in ‘Fallen’, a really spooky film and a really spooky idea. I found ‘Thyzzyl, Hold the Pap’ engaging, but ultimately felt there was too much packed into such a small space.

    • My favorite was the cockroach in Men In Black II

  • S Conroy

    I don’t know if it’s some kind of acceptable science-fiction device, but I found it quite confusing using Traveler as a generic traveller/species – ‘The Traveler’s name was’…. – and also as his real first name. I also got pulled out at this sequence: He drove to Cape Canaveral where security guards shot him dead. He eliminated them all.
    Something about the voice annoyed me, but this is such a vague and personal thing that it would not be fair to vote here.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

      Your last sentence–that’s what I felt about the first sentence of this story. But then the rest of it seduced me…

      • You know, I wasn’t too happy with either the first or last lines, but when I changed the first, the story seemed to grow uncontrollably. The tone seems to be set by that line. I wanted the last line to communicate the hopelessness for the future brought on by the demon tv.

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

          Listen–that demon TV brings us the “Twilight Zone” marathon every year…

    • That’s fair, but gimme a high rating anyway. It’ll make me feel good.

      • S Conroy

        I’ve just reread this (9 months later) and have no idea whay I didn’t like it first time round… It’s rivetting 2nd time round.

  • Cool concept and a fun little story. A little confusing in spots but most sci-fi is like that for me. I second Sarah’s irritation at alien names comprised of mostly consonants, but I was able to overlook that for this particular story. I enjoyed the action sequences as well, and the ending was great. Excellent work here. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re an intelligent and charming reader.