Premiere: Explore the “Zam Alien Canyons” of P.H.O.B.O.S.
“What the hell was that?” you ask aloud as you awaken in a cold sweat, soggy bedding clenched tightly between your white knuckles. Images of nebulae and ball lightning and great flows of time passing by like eddying whirls in a river suddenly flood your memory, but it’s all hazy, seen through a frantic, sepia hue, as if the images were pulled at random from a stranger’s photo album. Was it a dream? What time is it? “That can’t be right,” you mumble as you check the wristwatch on your nightstand, its luminous face casting a ghastly shimmer on the beads of sweat trickled about your brow. “3:15? But I was just watching prime time…” Your quavering voice trails off as you suddenly realize how eerily silent your house is. No juddering air conditioner, no whirring fan, no thrumming refrigerator. You frantically leap out of bed, flicking switches and testing remotes; no response, all dead. You’re utterly alone in a powerless house with only a gossamer wristwatch, 3:15 frozen like an epitaph to its face, for company. And yet… you sense, well, something. A deep rumbling from some distant place. An electric crackle in the air. A crawling feeling up your spine. As you strain all your senses to locate the source of this sensory data, a flicker of words spoken in a hostile, inhuman tongue returns to your mind unbidden. P.H.O.B.O.S. Phlogiston Catharsis. “Zam Alien Canyons.”
Before your reeling mind can even comprehend what’s happening, your bare feet are already carrying you toward the front door. As your legs shuffle forward, the faint rumbling you detected earlier grows stronger. It pulses and oscillates, a machine signal, an industrial wave, a beacon now pulling you through the front door and face down into the street. Like a marionette under a hostile intelligence’s bidding, you lift your fist and begin to slam it into the pavement. Its jackhammer rhythm syncs with the scratching, scraping, industrial pulse; your own flesh – now a pneumatic, percussive device – takes its place in an alien cacophony of crushing noise. A chorus of alien voices cries out from the sky above, or perhaps from the sewer drains in the street below, given the guttural tone and malicious echo with which they ring about in the empty urban canyon of of your neighborhood. Your fist bloodies as your arm sloughs off flesh onto the pavement, but you are powerless to do more than hammer along as more machine sounds join the medley; the street lights blink and buzz in unison as if to welcome the catchy lead drone from above. Your final thought as your consciousness fades into a single line of code in the dazzling signal of a foreign intelligence is but one word: “Home.”
Many thanks to P.H.O.B.O.S. for the close encounter.