They’re Made Out Of Meat

Like everyone else, I’ve been dealing with the global pandemic and am in the midst of rearranging the story as it stands to make sense in our current reality. As such, we’ve decided to release a fun little piece originally written by Terry Bisson back in the 90s to fill the gap.

This particular story has been produced by many different artists in various formats, so I humbly offer my own rendition to the record.


“They’re made out of meat.”

  “Meat?”

“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

  “Meat?”

“There’s no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”

  “That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars.”

“They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

  “So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”

“They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

  “That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they’re made out of meat.”

  “Maybe they’re like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”

“Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?”

  “Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”

“Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”

  “No brain?”

“Oh, there is a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat!”

  “So… what does the thinking?”

“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

  “Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?”

  “Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”

“Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”

  “So what does the meat have in mind.”

“First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual.”

  “We’re supposed to talk to meat?”

“That’s the idea. That’s the message they’re sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?’ That sort of thing.”

  “They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?”

“Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.”

  “I thought you just told me they used radio.”

“They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat.”

  “Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?”

“Officially or unofficially?”

  “Both.”

“Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing.”

  “I was hoping you would say that.”

“It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?”

  “I agree one hundred percent. What’s there to say?” `Hello, meat. How’s it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?”

“Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”

  “So we just pretend there’s no one home in the universe.”

“That’s it.”

  “Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? You’re sure they won’t remember?”

“They’ll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we’re just a dream to them.”

  “A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat’s dream.”

“And we can marked this sector unoccupied.”

  “Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?”

“Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotation ago, wants to be friendly again.”

  “They always come around.”

“And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the universe would be if one were all alone.”


Story by Terry Bisson
Performed by James Bethell
Produced by Dee Kaph
Recorded at Shadybrook Studio


The Time In Which I Died

There he is again… that man in the corner of the room. Watching me.

Watching me, watching him.

Yes, I see you. Now go away.

How many years has he been there? I find myself confused in time. Events are muddled, their effects preceding their causes.

There’s a tingling in my spine, like something is about to happen. I resist its urge, like a man who despises vomiting spitting saliva into a toilet at 3am after he’s had too much to drink and the world is spinning. Maybe it will feel better if I just let it happen… or maybe this is it, the moment when I shed this corporeal prison and am released back into the ether.

No. Too much work left to be done.

She told me that she knew this was her last time here. I was inclined to say it was not mine, but that’s only because I haven’t finished what I’ve started. So I better get on that.

Here I am in middle age, this shell of matter I’ve borrowed for the adventure beginning to malfunction and all the goodness I knew with certainty was ahead of me suddenly stacked up like a long queue at the till five minutes before close, the patrons checking the time nervously.

By all reason I should feel that I’ve got a great deal of time left, that “pushing 40” is merely a halfway point statistically, but something’s not right. This timeline I find myself in doesn’t adhere to how I’d envisioned it in the zeal of my youth, when I put off The Work for research.

I suppose it’s time to shit or get off the pot, because none of us knows when our time is up and if I were to keel over tomorrow I’d be remembered as little more than another in a great long line of confused creatures, stumbling through existence with little to show for all of it.

Right. So get to work I say, and regard the man in the corner. He returns my gaze. I wonder if seeing him now as I do is a sign of my decline, or is it of my elevation?

Does my awareness indicate I am ascending… or going mad?

I’m going to invoke Pascal’s Wager on this one: If I am going mad and all my knowledge is just delusion then it doesn’t matter and I’ll simply pass into nothingness, but if I am in fact correct in my awareness then The Work must yet be performed. In either case, I lose nothing.

All this I traverse though while laying in my bed, typing this madness into my laptop, the haze of my vapour drifting lazily in the beams of the midwinter sun through the gaps in the curtains.

The Man seems to nod, and then is gone, as if he’d been vapor all along.

* * *

Few things can make one more pensive about life than staring down the barrel of one’s own mortality. Despite a few decades wandering the Earth all the while considering the hard problem of consciousness and exploring Life’s joys and sorrows, I find myself more than ever at a loss as to where to begin.

My hope – my expectation – as a young explorer had been to drink up the experiences, that one day the self-evident Truth of it all would flow with ease. 

Turns out, that is not at all the case.

The longer I spend here the more confusing I find it to be. My understanding of what’s going on has cemented in my mind and yet I find myself now more than ever unable to express it. So much nuance. The enormity of it weighs on me.

Some wise man once said, the more I see, the more I see there is to see.

* * *

When I close my eyes, I can see lights, fluttering sparkles like butterfly snowflakes dancing in the January breeze. Beauty unfolds before me in unspeakable patterns… they sent a poet and I still can’t find the words. No wonder these creatures are stuck.

* * *

Time is an illusion, but one I still must entertain, bound as I am in this mortal coil. Duration is its daughter, a quanta of action. Putting on tea is a series of events, though it consists of many frames it alone is remembered in whole, not the acts of raising arms and fetching water and pouring and stirring.

In this life, I sip my tea.

Stretching out like parables from other universes where the laws of physics began with different criteria, my mind drifts away from the ethereal and back to this casual reality. The eyes open and collapse all probability back into being. Quarks shake their fists at me.

A check engine light, persistently amber on the dash of my instrument cluster. Inputs reading errors. It must be meant to be, otherwise it wouldn’t be, would it?

Recall Pascal. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

In this space, I disappear. There is no self. A sound outside, it could be snowplows or it could be a transport ship coming in for a landing. Where am I? When?

Parades of visitors come and go by the bedside. It is unclear which of them belong to this timeline and which are manifestations of my long slow slide out of it. Children both made and imagined, thoughts which had burst into my awareness and then slipped off to find existence elsewhere. Another time I could meet myself missed in my infinite selves.

Familiarity betrays me at times. The looks of concern on some of their faces when I address the others indicate I guessed wrong. They don’t know each other and I want to introduce them but their reality is persistent, a line they clutch in fear and probably arrogance. 

Poor fallible things. Trapped in a dream.

Stuck.

I pity them even as they pity me.

Someone is talking but all I can hear is color, a cascading fountain of bent illumination  showering from their direction, shapes spinning along their swirling vectors. It’s some language I don’t know anymore, intention is a yellow hue, the words meaningless and distant in the brightness of the communication. Peripherals fade but the picture remains, a single image which is the story of life – of all life, of existence in self-aware disparate parts.

The man holding the picture is the shadow. It is me, watching from all points within the drifting vapor. 

I close my eyes, and re-join the lights.

~ :

Written & Performed by James Bethell

Produced by Dee Kaph

Soundtrack, “From A Distance It Seems Like A Dream” on Spotify

Recorded at Shadybrook Studio

The Creatures Inside The Box

You lock the door, reflexively, on your way past to bed and reflect on the futility of it.

The monster’s already in here.

If anything, you’ve trapped yourself.

Pause to consider this, and try not to panic.

It will not be waiting for you under the bed, you know… You locked it safe inside that box – with all the others – and then hid it in a place nobody would want to go, covered in sticky layers of academia.

Ugly little things. That’s where they deserve to be.

Why don’t they just go away?

Still, you can hear them scratching to be free, and every now and then you catch a glimpse of one, in the form of a flash of sweat at the sight of white powder maybe, or the quick dark movement over the shoulder of your awareness, as in mirrors and shadows.

Drifting like smoke in the peripheral awareness.

After all these years one might have hoped to have had them die off by now, but they have not. And one knows why, of course. Knew all along but, but did it anyway. It was always informed consent and plausible deniability be damned – that was the deal.

They are well-fed.

They were supposed to stay in that box but when nobody is looking you let them out and nourish them while you rehearse the lines you will inevitably recite when the moment arrives, again and again.

It’s not as bad as it seems – and that’s not a lie.

It’s much worse.

Brazenly, like a foolish child feeding the family dog in secret under the table, right in front of everybody, so she has room for dessert.

You wait with your lines.

~ :

Written & Performed by James Bethell

Produced by Dee Kaph

Recorded at Shadybrook Studio

Comic by Blitz: http://www.sudohuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/sudohuman-thecreaturesinsidethebox.pdf