Kayıp Rıhtım was originally founded on fantasy and science fiction, and today it is a platform that touches every aspect of literature and life. It started broadcasting in the first month of 2008. In addition, they have been publishing a selection of short stories on a different theme every month for thirteen years.
I took part in the April 2022 selection with the theme of Safari (Safari) with my story called Örneklem (Sample). The original link is in Turkish, but you can read it in English here – thanks to Enes Talha Coşgun for the translation.
“One hundred millionth of the population of Varavis is a good sample.” President Abanel told its assistant. Varavis was the name the Venusians gave to Earth in their own language. It meant “solid, concrete.” Abanel did not say this statement with its mouth open, for it had no mouth to open. Abanel had no tongue and no teeth. For them, talking was composed of changing some of the chemical compounds in their bodies. The bodies of the Venusians were like puddles of water, or mercury. Their bodies were all liquid.
That’s why they organized the most expensive experiment in their history. If they manage to use their body by infiltrating the brain of the most advanced creature on the neighboring planet, they would make a big breakthrough. They could be able to make sounds, walk, use tools. They were too bulky in their current situation. Tens of generations of Venusians -or “Omayrisses”, which was their name in their own language- could be able to finish building a space ship in hundreds of years through melting Venus’s soil, which a team of people could build in a year. “The picture of all mankind is here.” said the president. The excitement increased the salinity of Abanel’s body.
They passed by a boy. The child on the ground was groaning painfully between the teeth he was gnashing while he was pulling his knee to his stomach. “Mom!” he was screaming, the artery in his right leg was in an extreme pain. The liquid being passing through the blood path was tormenting as if acid had been spilled.
On the spaceship, there were children just like him, and adults, and elderly people. All the people lying on the metal floor were calling each other with their own tongues, praying in their own religions, expressing their pain. Surrounded by grey walls and illuminated by artificial white light, more than ten thousand people were lying in the confined space: Seventy-nine people from every country on earth.
The president and its assistant flowed down together. They moved towards the large area where the prisoners were gathered. In order to do that, they were making extensions in the direction they wanted to go, which could be called the “fibber foot”. But there was no need for fibber feet as they went downhill, gravity was adequate.
The reason people shouted in pain was because each one of them had an attendant Omayris crawling through their veins. The real work had not yet begun. These officers were there to prevent people from escaping. Their acidic compounds were stimulating nerve endings, revealing the feeling of pain.
During the experiment, the complaints were going to end. Because human brain couldn’t feel pain. Liquid beings were going to flow directly into the brain, melting different regions and observing the result to understand which brain region regulates which function. The price for knowing an unknown being called “human” was the lives of the prisoners.
The generations of Omayris knew that the Earth was a difficult and dangerous planet for them. The temperature of the land of Venus was much higher than that of Earth, and the air pressure there was much higher than here. This meant that the Omayris faced the possibility of freezing or evaporating outside Venus, which was just one of the risks they took. They injected liquids into their bodies to balance them before the trip. In experiments to discover the correct composition of equilibrium fluids, a few times the population of the human sample collected here today had died in Venus.
While the two planets are revolving around the single Sun and time is flying by like melting lava, humans evolved at great speed. In the century when the construction of ships began on Venus, only the spikes of towers and temples were high enough to touch the sky. By the time the construction was complete, planes and satellites were flying around the bright blue dot.
The president and its assistant were engaged in a playful conversation about the memories of their great ancestors.
“If we had come 50 years later, they would have definitely caught us. Fortunately, they were trying to kill each other with cannons and rifles while we landed our ship in the Atlantic waters.” Abanel knew common human languages and used to pronounce proper names in sentences to boast of it. One advantage of being an Omayris was that you could learn a lot of things quickly. Their liquid bodies, which gave them superiority in learning, turned into obstacles when applying knowledge in practical life.
“In those days, my ancestor’s ancestor was on the team that swam towards the European continent. The ocean was so cold that my ancestor split before it could reach land. My ancestor and my ancestor’s sibling went up to Lisbon on a snowy night in a fisherman’s net.”
Venusians reproduce asexually, they have no gender, so the kinship words express only degrees.
“The President,” the assistant said excitedly, “you know what? My ancestor was on the same team, and it also saw Commander Brush-mustache with its own eyes.”
“Lying is beneath you, I wouldn’t expect that behavior from you, Yiza.”
“I am for real! I feel it in my belly.”
The memories of Omayrisses who were reproducing asexually, transfer chemically. A Venusian new to the world would find the memories of all its ancestors present in its memory. That’s why the phrase “feeling in the belly” was invented, which means “remember.”
“There is noone called ‘Commander Brush-mustache’, Yiza. His name is Adolf Hitler.”
Abanel laughed when the assistant said, “Oh, whatever!”
As they talked further, Abanel continued to attract the attention of its assistant with the information crumbs it collected from the Varavis world. The part Yiza listened to the most was the creation myths. When Abanel realized that Yiza was interested in this subject, then went into detail.
After saying that people are not in consensus, Abanel talked about the existence of many beliefs and legends. “Which one should I start with?”
“As you wish. With the most common. I wonder how people were created.”
“Well, then.” said Abanel. “A place where you will never evaporate, where the composition of your body will never change, and where you will never suffer… You get hungry, and the meal is in front of you, suddenly! You’ll be able to live there forever. Even if you divide, you will not perish, and you will be able to see your children, and even your child’s-child’s-children.” There was no word for ‘grandchild’ in the Omayris language. The child of a child was called “child’s child”, and a “child” was added for each degree and so on.
Dividing was both having a child and dying. Therefore, an Omayris could not see neither its ancestor nor its child.
Yiza was about to boil with excitement. “That’s not possible! Could such a place exist?”
“Paradise…” said the President, longing. “It’s called paradise. The place where the great creator power rewards -the god as humans say- good people after their death.
“Well, then? What does this have to do with the creation of humans?”
“God created the first man Adam from the earth.”
“So that’s why their bodies are rigid. He created us from water I guess.” Yiza said. Abanel, on the other hand, got carried away, and continued without hesitation.
“He placed the Adam in the paradise I mentioned, and made only one rule for him, that he should not eat fruit from the forbidden tree. Everything else was free. Meanwhile Adam was lonely and felt bored a lot.”
The assistant suddenly said, “That’s why Adam was divided and had a lot of children!”
“No, Yiza, people can not divide! People need partners. And God created Eve from the rib of Adam. A wife… Then one day Satan came and persuaded Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. And God drove them out of paradise and exile them into the earth.”
“What does Satan mean?”
“The evil entity that deceives people.”
Yiza fluctuated. If it had a face, Yiza would purse its lips. “This makes no sense… If there was only one person, the devil could deceive him, but two people warn each other. They should have said, ‘This tree is forbidden to us, let’s stay away from it.’”
“But they encouraged each other. The Varavis are strange creatures, aren’t they, dear Yiza? After eating the fruit, suddenly they have become naked. With shame they tried to cover themselves with the herbs of Paradise.”
Clothes, nudity and shame… An Omayris could not be expected to have an opinion on this. “Unnecessary detail.” said Yiza. “Besides, what was God’s reason for banning that tree? What did Satan say that led people astray?”
“You find the details I say unnecessary, but you want new details.” Abanel said. “Let me tell you another epic of genesis.”
The experiment had begun. The moans stopped, and everyone gone quiet. People were unconsciously contracting and trembling under the influence of liquid creatures entered their brains. The president began to speak after moving to a convenient place where they could easily see the square.
“Izanagi and Izanami were the two gods who emerged from eternal chaos after the separation of heaven and earth. They met on the bridge that connects the sky and heaven, floating in the void. Izanagi showed his body. He was halfway there, and he didn’t like halfness.”
Abanel fell silent and listened to Yiza’s curious silence. His body was like a stagnant lake. He loved him in that way.
“And Izanami said, ‘I’m half, too. If we were together, we’d be one body.’ They walked towards each other on the bridge and united in the middle.”
Abanel paused and said, “I need to clarify a point. Male and female are the genders peculiar to people. You’ll think about gender in everything about people. For example, Eve is female, Adam is male… About half of the subjects, we’ve recruited here are females and half are males. A female mate with a male and a new offspring is born. Okay?”
“Okay.” said Yiza, impatient to hear the rest of the story.
“Izanami became pregnant from this breed and gave birth to her first child, Hiruko, the ‘leech child’. A crippled and deformed child…”
The assistant’s body fluid got cold. “Why?”
“Just like Adam and Eve, they had transgressed a prohibition. Izanami should never have been the first to speak. They put their children in a reed raft and put in the water. They were reunited, this time following the rules. They created the Japanese islands-the gods of rivers, plants, mountains, and winds.”
The spaceship was in a deep silence. The prisoners, whose pupils had slipped back, and their eyes were white, were lying motionless on the ground. They were lined up in properly. If someone was looked down from above, it would see a view looking like a striped notebook.
“Just as it was giving birth to the fire god Kagutsuchi…” Abanel said, “Izanami began to burn. It was weakened, the burns were growing, and someday died, went to Yomi, the land of the dead.”
“What about paradise?” Yiza said.
“It was in the previous story. Each story has its own place. Izanagi went to Yomi to get his beloved wife back, but he saw her body rotting and covered with worms. You’re terrified, Yiza. The death of varavis is terrible, they stink, get wormy, and rot. I saw so many Varavis corpses during the war…”
The assistant could not understand why Izanagi was going after Izanami. What drew them together? Yiza didn’t ask these questions because it was afraid to bore Abanel.
“We are lucky!” Yiza said. “When we die, we just dry out, without leaving a trace.”
At this time, the shadow of the four people standing up fell on the ground of the spaceship. Their faces were expressionless, their eyes were white. They took hold of the arms of two of those who were lying down, a woman and a man who may or may not have been twenty years old. At first, the captives were calm like dolls, but they came to themselves and started screaming and struggling. Their efforts were useless. There was no chance of getting rid of their power.
Four people dragged two awakened people to the president. They made them kneel. They grabbed their necks with their hands and stepped on their backs. The poor people were barely breathing in that position.
“The experiment was a success, President Abanel.” said one of the standers. “We were able to control the Varavis’ brain. We have reserved these for you. We selected the strongest and healthiest subjects from the sample. Go ahead, Mr. President, they are yours!”
Abanel smiled and flowed towards the prisoners, Yiza followed. With the help of false feet, they got on their knees, climbed into their bellies, passed from their shoulders to the face area and entered through their nostrils. The Venusian, who reported that the experiment was completed, was guiding them.
Yiza moved towards the sinuses. It was solving the anatomical structure of man through fluids entering his body, and was witnessing with amazement how complex and systematic this solid body was. It detected synapses, noticed that the neurons spread from the brain to the body like a tree. Is this the forbidden tree that Eve ate of? Were the electric currents flowing from the branches the sparks of the fire that burned Izanami?
Yiza discovered the brain, step by step, region by region, and had feelings that it had never tasted, words, meanings, controls, and perceptions it had never known. Infiltration was completed. Yiza worked for a few minutes, straightening its shifted eyes. It saw the outside world blurry at first, clear when it blinked a few times.
Abanel stood before her as a brunet, tall man. When these descriptions appeared in her mind, Yiza was surprised. A strange feeling filled her. A mixture of admiration and ambition, beyond these two emotions… The river of fire seemed to flow through her. Now she understood those legends, now she knew why the forbidden fruit was sweet and why Eve did not warn Adam. Now she knew why Izanagi and Izanami were half without each other.
She approached Abanel, stroked his cheek, and got up to her fingertips and touched his lips. Vamayrisses… The people of Venus… This was the legend of genesis of a new race, and it was beginning now.