Mark Sykes’s Sixth Sense of Humour

From Issue 13 (Sept 2011)


People of Earth, I have a warning for you all.

Usually, the Sixth Sense of Humour articles are quite lightweight, frivolous and sometimes even witty and funny, but this issue’s column comes in the form of a deadly serious warning that only a fool would ignore.

It’s about 2012. Specifically, December 21st, 2012.

Some people would like to think they know what’s going to happen when that ominous date rolls around; some may choose not to speculate, and (like I used to) just adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude. But I now know what’s going to happen on December 21st, 2012, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

How do I know? Well, mainly because last week I ate some egg foo yung that I found at the back of Joe’s fridge. Afterwards, I wandered outside, walked awhile, and fell into a fitful sleep. When I awoke days later, naked and alone in a Kloof Street doorway on a rainy Sunday morning, I started to recall the dream I’d had, brought on by the miraculous chemical reaction of the fermenting Chinese food still living in my stomach. Except it hadn’t been a dream.

I’d had a vision.

An extremely large ship is headed for Earth, and the unthinkable distance between its planet and ours is being slowly worn away as the months clock off inexorably towards December 21st, 2012 – their arrival date.

But why are they coming? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that their mission is, for now, one of peace. I know that they set off with only the best intentions, namely to share with us their scientific knowledge, to bring to the nations of Earth a message of galactic harmony, and to invite us to join the Galactic Federation of Worlds. All well and good.

The bad news is that they’re going to see our movies before they arrive.

My vision revealed that their ultra-advanced ship is able to intercept from Earth any transmission signal it likes, including TV signals, and that the entire crew (don’t ask me what the visiting race is called, because I couldn’t think of a good name the vision didn’t show me this) is using this technology to do a lot of cramming on the subject of Earth in preparation for their visit, and part of that cramming involves studying our entertainment media. By and large, much of it is going to be considered harmless. But I tell you, we’re all going to die in a rain of fire from the sky!!! I know this because I watch a lot of sci-fi movies. And the general message that these movies send out is that if you’re not from here and you visit Earth, vast oceans of virtually impenetrable human ignorance await you. Even if your mission is one of peace, exploration or discovery, you’re still in for a shitty, shitty time. Expect xenophobia, relentless pursuit, being shot at, imprisonment, undignified poking, prodding and general scrutiny, dissection, and treatment normally reserved for microbes in a Petrie dish.

How do you think an alien race would react to movies like 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still? I mean, Klaatu steps off the ship, basically says,“I bring you peace…” and pow, someone pops a cap in his extraterrestrial ass.

And what about Starman, or District 9? Yes… yes. Are you starting to understand the problem now? Can you deny that any of the visitors in those movies got anything other than a big old ‘fuck you’ from the people of Earth?

Take E.T., for instance. It doesn’t matter that he got away in the end, if only by the skin of his teeth (did he even have teeth?); if I were the commander of the ship on its way here, and saw the shit E.T. had to wade through first, I’d immediately find any and all ‘Peaceful-Aliens-Coming-to-Earth’ movies to get a better idea of what to expect once the ship has touched down. The more I’d watch, the more I’d realise that any non-terrestrial species unlucky enough to find themselves on our backwater planet, whether they land in Washington D.C. or Shitsplash, Tennessee, is going to be hunted down by the authorities like a fox in Dorset.

Now, do you really think that they’re going to land on Earth with the same good-natured intentions with which they set out, or will their plans change drastically en route? Again, if it were me in the commander’s seat, I’d get all my men together and say something like: “Look fellas, I know that we were supposed to get to Earth and share our amazing scientific knowledge with all the nations’ leaders, and mate with the gorgeous Earth women, and take a contingent of humans back to our planet (whatever it’s called), but these transmissions I’ve been studying over the last few spligmoks* have caused me to completely reconsider the mission, and now I must tell you that our directive has changed. We are no longer ambassadors, we are warriors. All fifty thousand of you will arm yourselves with full battle hardware – including the new head-melting bombs we’ve been dying to try out – and once we arrive on Earth, I’ll declare the entire planet… oh, I don’t know, an official hazard or something, according to the so-and-so declaration of the whatsisface counsel of Planet X, yadda yadda yadda… and then we proceed to eliminate every last human being, starting with their leaders, right down to the bottom-dwelling movie producers, until Earth poses no more threat to visitors. Actually, having seen some of Earth’s nature programmes, I think it’d be a great idea to turn the whole planet into a human-free botanical garden, so it serves a useful purpose in the galaxy. Now get cracking, men – we arrive in six grebtars, and I don’t think everyone’s had their flu jabs yet… we wouldn’t want to catch anything nasty on Earth while we’re busy wiping out the dominant species, now would we?”

Dear readers, let me stress again that this is not a joke, or meant to be taken as anything other than the most serious of warnings. December 2012 is coming. Aliens are coming. But my vision was only of a possible future. There’s still time to save ourselves. We just need to start making movies where friendly aliens are welcomed to Earth with open arms and treated like fucking royalty, otherwise we’ll have no-one to blame but ourselves when the head-melting bombs begin to fall.


* One spligmok is equal to about four-and-a-half grebtars, or as long as it takes for a mouse to learn the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Image from The Day The Earth Stood Still © Twentieth Century Fox

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Mark Sykes

What can be said about Mark Sykes?

Film actor, world traveller, model, novel writer, piano and violin player, ballroom dancer, deep-sea diver – he is none of these things.

Actual achievements include the odd play or musical, avoiding death by starvation through singing to people around London, and completing all three Halo games on ‘legendary’ level.

Literary influences include Philip Pullman, Carl Hiaasen and Iain M. Banks.  Favourite activities include vacuuming, buying stationery, applying sun lotion to total strangers, catoptromancy, going to Paris to see his brother, getting lost in Derbyshire, and trying hard to tell the truth at all.

After being Something Wicked’s “Man In London” he now lives in Cape Town and is enjoying the sun.

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