The Quandary of Arthur Quisling

Despondent about the Earth’s ecological state, Arthur Quisling, a fifty-two-year-old scientist with an Einstein-like appearance and a green spacesuit, entered his six-by-eight, pyramid-shaped Dimensional Flier. His solar-powered yellow ship, which was capable of elongating and navigating through celestial holes, was preparing for its launch.

Before leaving his private aircraft hangar at dawn on New Year’s Day, Arthur sent the following vlog to NASA:

“According to all tests, my Reincarnation Spores would have eliminated injurious climate changes, the lamentable diminution of biodiversity, the mankind-manufactured imbalance between carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous, the toxicity-mired water supplies, the damnable depletion of the ozone layer, the shrinking fish supply, as well as cancerous deforestation. Nonetheless, an egregious blight would have remained on this terraqueous world—humanity.

“There is a planet out there that deserves my innovations. This planet is not it.

“On this day until my demise, I consider myself to be divorced from this world. Disconnected from your prejudice, wars, greed, jealousy, plagues, and pollution, I am now, at last, a human being who is true to his existence. Absolute Freedom is my father, and Inner Peace is my mother. Beyond your doomed dwelling, I will parent myself in a home that does not lodge guilt.

“Ad astra per aspera.”

By accelerating to a rate that was almost as fast as light, the ship disappeared through a cascading aperture. Since that day, neither the scientist nor his ship was found for a long time.




Still traveling slightly under 6.706e+8 per hour, the misanthropic widower who never had children went farther into the cosmos. His eyes, heart, and soul married the majestic space before him. Completely separated from the government and scientific community that funded his experiments, Arthur was an unattended terran with unlimited places to engage his ponderings.

Beams of light flew passed his craft. Struggling to find a comparison, he thought they looked like hurled javelins. Blurred images of stars and planets appeared around him. The universe seemed as if it was being viewed in a carnival’s convex mirror. The surreal scene was similar to a lava lamp. Space travel had a hallucinogenic effect on his mind. Resisting a need for Dramamine, the scientist went onward.

Convinced mankind was not worth saving, Arthur Quisling continued his journey through space in search of a better existence for years. Along the way, with the aid of Now Gen Sender Lenses (video goggles) and his ship’s computer, the scientist taped each dimension he visited. The unfortunate part was only a minute portion of the archival material survived the trip. Years of recorded material was lost.

Fortunately, these tapes were recovered by another ship sometime later:


Video Archive # 3

“Amazing yet true, I am in a dimension that has mammoths made of ice. Never could I have imagined creatures with a skyscraper’s height walking around. Odder still, they speak in a strange language. Their voices remind me of ice cubes rattling in a glass.

“Cursed with stalactite-shaped tusks, ears, and trunks, the snow-pale behemoths spew blizzards from their mouths and freeze humans to death. From my ship, I can hear the pained screams of people. Oh, how I wish there were a way to stop this genocide. Perplexed by it all, I do not know what caused the polar creatures’ tyranny. I suspect it is a vendetta for the rape of their environment.

“What I do know is the bitterness of minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder still is my fear of capture. It demands an expedient departure.”


Video Archive # 205

“Stuck beneath the sun’s flesh-frying heat, I feel this dimension is toxically tropical. Only a beast or a fruit can thrive in a place such as this. I mean, look at the deluge from my pores. Because of the humidity, I am as wet as a sponge in a sink full of water.

“Wait, what is going on here? Let me adjust the goggles. My sight, I cannot, cannot understand it. Through this jungle foliage, I can see adult-female-sized bees sting and kill humans. It’s an entomologist’s worst notion come to fruition. Much to my disgust and terror, I am looking at sword-long barbed stingers impale and inject what could be apitoxin in various individuals. Whatever is being injected is lethal. These people are succumbing to respiratory problems, swollen tongues, rivers of nausea, tomato-red protuberances, and finally, death.

“I do not want to join the ever-growing amount of victims. Therefore, a return to the ship is prudent now.

“All right, since my last transmission, I’ve been monitoring news services from the Dimensional Flier. Judging by the media transmissions that I am picking up, cellular telephone usage incites insect rebellions. Human communication devices make the bugs homicidal. Quite literally, it’s making them bug out.

“Is that a quick-moving raincloud or is that a swarm speeding towards me? Something tells me to not wait for an answer. Utterly unable to save anyone, the situation requires an expedient escape.”


Video Archive # 303

“Even here in a new and pleasant dimension, there is another peril. Sure, pure, almost intoxicatingly clean air is filling my lungs. Admittedly, my respiratory system loves this place. No question about it, my eyes are mesmerized by the great amount of greenery here. It has the appearance of Finland and Iceland, but bigger. I would remain in this Edenic place for the rest of my life, if not for the sentient, goose-stepping trees making mulch out of humans.

“See, there in the valley, I believe those are oak trees. I am not sure, though. An adjustment of the goggles’ lenses may help. Now, I can get a closer look. What I am seeing would confound any dendrophile. These trees have dark eyes and mouths that communicate by barking. Between making nerve-needling noise, those mouths are chewing and spitting human beings. The frightening and nauseating action is something like a wood chipper or a meat grinder. Any comparison I come up with will not help make this disgusting scene anymore logical or viewable. All I know is, carnal refuse is being raked by other trees.

“Hold on, there is movement behind me. My God, these trees are as tenacious as a platoon. They found my location on this mountain. My ship’s hull won’t be able to endure much more pounding from the trees. An expeditious departure is damn necessary now.”


Video Archive # 443

“Yet again, I am in a very bizarre dimension. Way up high, from my aerial view, I thank Providence for not landing. Sure enough, a world that I want the most does not want me at all. Everywhere I go, no matter the country or continent, animals are killing humans in the most horrific ways possible. Believe me, I am no zoologist. But, so far, at various locations, I saw Amur Leopards, Mountain Gorillas, Sumatran Elephants, Javan Rhinos, South China Tigers, and other beasts kill humans. Those creatures, if memory serves, are all on my version of Earth’s endangered species list.

“Anyway, most disturbingly, the humans below my ship are not fortunate to have a means of escape. Complete revulsion is making it difficult for me to speak about the way these creatures are preying upon humans. Damn, these people are being treated in a manner befitting turkeys on Thanksgiving. They are being slaughtered. Oh, my Lord, in a matter of seconds, people are being reduced to bones before my eyes. Outside of a butcher shop, I never saw so much blood.

“Other than fall victim to an attack while attempting to save a few unfortunates, what can I do? Understand, there is nothing pusillanimous about my actions, all right. Thus far, each dimension had perilous problems that were too much for a single explorer to handle. I know, I know, when my detractors see these videos, they will say the only thing brave about me is grandiloquence.”


Video Archive # 444

“Miles from all that sanguinariness, I am, much to my disappointment, back in space. Though it hurts, I must express my regret. Blindly, I traversed a dream, only to discover a nightmare. Thus far, each dimension proved that I must return to my own world and save it while it can be done. I was wrong about my homeworld. It has to be saved.

“Aptly, Gauguin said, ‘Was I to have made this far journey, only to find the very thing which I had fled?’”

Above another version of Earth, the Dimensional Flier went through the blinding light of a wormhole.

Unharmed, Arthur and his craft returned to his own solar system. Only a mere amount of miles separated him from the Earth of his childhood. Tired of either living in the ship’s confining confines or camping outside, the itinerant scientist was pleased the odyssey was over.

Afraid that his vessel would be perceived as an alien threat, Arthur transmitted an S.O.S. signal. Also, as a precautionary measure, he sent the bulk of his vlogs to NASA.

Unbeknownst to Arthur, instead of NASA, brief segments of videos were received by an alien spacecraft from Andromeda. The ship in question had the appearance of a submarine-long lightning bug. Its 12-person crew of the installation was more concerned about finding a habitable planet to survey than transmissions from Arthur. Nonetheless, stygian-blue male and female cosmological explorers on the ship took an interest in Arthur’s attempts at communication.

Perplexed by the language, the crew watched grainy images the old scientist sent. Many repeated attempts to improve the sound and contrast did not make the transmissions comprehensible. The unexpected viewers of Arthur’s vlogs never heard of the English language. And, to make matters worse, only some of the videos were viewable. Most were unattainable.

Defects and all, they watched the salvageable fragmented transmissions.


Video Archive # 446

“Oh, Arthur Quisling, you’re a fool. What have you done? Nothing is the answer. I am too late, too late because of my apathy. Dear Lord, it’s nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit down there on Earth. It’s similar to Venus. I will not be able to examine the effects of this hellish temperature. No mortal can survive those conditions. Had I dedicated science to my homeworld, there would be a world to call home now.

The dams in Arthur’s tear ducts broke and a deluge of liquid depression ran down his worrisome and wrinkled face.

“If only time were chalk lines on a blackboard, I could erase all of the flaws that created this destructive error. But, there is no point in considering such a singularity. Such a notion is for science fiction stories. Laws that regulate this universe are unchangeable.

“While being fully aware that this last transmission is not being received by NASA, I must communicate these final confessions in the hope that other life forms out there will not repeat my detrimental decisions.

“Unworthy of the life my world gave me, I will now search for a planet to serve as my cemetery.”

End Transmission.


Once more, through yet another searing aperture, the Dimensional Flier entered bound for undetermined terrains.

An alien race, which was quite confused by the testimonials of a foreign man, went back to its mission. The mission was to find and use a planet’s natural resources without destroying anything or anyone in the process.



Bob McNeil is the author of Verses of Realness. He was published in The Shout It Out Anthology, Brine Rights: Stanzas and Clauses for the Causes (Volume 1), Not My President, San Francisco Peace and Hope, and The Self-Portrait Poetry Collection, etc.

Bob wants his artistic work to be a fortress against despotic politics. After years of being a professional illustrator, spoken word artist, and writer, he still wants his work to express only one cause—justice.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 11:31