It has been said that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Well, what happened to me when I was living in London a few years ago was stranger than either.
Well, we’re back! What an adventure. Some months ago my brave research lion, Aslan and I set off on a mission in my ‘Laws of Physics Violator XII’ spaceship. We were to explore the surface of the mysterious Yoga Ball Planet that had been cluttering up our lounge. What we discovered there was so amazing that it is bound to win us a Nobel Prize, which would make Aslan the very first Nobel Laureate whose brain is made of wool.
But like all the best tales, this one should be told from the beginning.
We left seven months ago, in Earth time that is. From our perspective, we only spent a few hours on the planet. Just enough time to make our discovery and run out of sandwiches.
It seemed like only moments after we took off from our living room that my spaceship was descending to the yoga ball planets’ surface, softly humming a Beatles tune as it settled gently on the ground. Aslan was so nervous that he had to eat our entire supply of avocado sandwiches.
“Hey, we were supposed to share those,” I scolded him over the hum of the Irresponsibility Drive.
“That’s what I’m doing — sharing. I get the lion’s share and you get the rest. That’s how we do it in the jungle. No-one ever complained before.”
I frowned at my greedy lion, but did not have the heart to point out that real lions live in the savannah, not the jungle.
The engine faded, which brought me back to the present. We had just landed on a Yoga Ball Planet!
We gazed out in wonder at a landscape reminiscent of the Earth before anyone made it useful. Spectacular mountain ranges lay about aimlessly in the dazzling sunrise. Purposeless forest festooned with flowering vines lounged in the blue distance; meaningless waterfalls fed silly streams and irrelevant rivers. Tree clad valleys meandered meaninglessly towards us like badly laid carpet, and just beneath our spaceship window an unpaved road hobbled by like a hunchback with no sense of the importance of the speedy progress of civilisation.
“C’mon Aslan. Let’s go and explore.”
Aslan looked out of the window. “What if there are monsters?”
“No problem — we’ll just distract them by feeding them these little tofu nuggets that look like cheese. They’ll love them.”
“But what if they aren’t hungry.”
“Monsters are always hungry.”
“What if we meet a lady lion, and she likes me because I’m so handsome and charming, and she asks me to take her on a date but I can’t accept because I’m a monk lion?”
“Now you’re a Monk Lion? That’s news to me.”
“Of course. You’re a monk, and I’m your lion, so I’m a monk lion.”
“I see. I think we had better talk about that when we get home. In the meantime, you’ll be OK with the lady lion so long as you don’t make her laugh. You mustn’t tell lady lions any jokes or they will think you like them.”
Aslan thought for a minute. “How about if I tell her a joke that isn’t funny?”
“That’s probably OK, except that it would be pointless. Look, you sure are asking a lot of questions. You’re not scared are you?”
Aslan was indignant. “Scared? Me? Of course not! C’mon, what are we waiting for? Why do I always have to take the lead?”
It really was a very pleasant planet. A little bouncy to the touch, but the climate was perfect — not too hot and not too cold — what astronomers call a ‘Goldilocks Planet’, like in the story. You know, the one where the little girl criminal breaks into the bears’ house and steals their food.”
We walked along the cobblestone road until we came to a small town. The first building was a psychic healing centre.
A mystic lady in purple robes with blue hair appeared at the entrance — our first Yogaballian native. She asked us to wait as she was in the middle of channelling Douglas Adams. In the waiting room I read a sign on the wall.
“Psychic readings $30. Student Concession $20 (please bring documentary evidence.)
I headed for the door. “C’mon let’s go.”
“What’s wrong?” said Aslan.
“If this great psychic can’t even tell whether or not someone is a student without documentary evidence, what is she going to know about my destiny?”
“Good point,” said Aslan. We left.
Next we came to a bookstore.
“Ask the man if they have any books about zebras,” whispered Aslan.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
“He might be afraid of a talking lion.”
I asked the attendant.
“Of course we don’t have books about zebras! We’re not barbarians you know. What kind of place do you think this is? In our bookstore you will only find books about dragons.”
We passed a school.
“Oh look,” said Aslan. “They have all kinds of interesting courses. “How to Survive the End of the World Five Times in a Row.” That sounds useful.
“I’ve done it,” I said. I can teach you how in about five minutes.”
“How about this one?” said Aslan. “Meditation with the Love Taken Out?”
“I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with these people, Aslan. I definitely don’t want you to go to their school.”
We passed a fuel station that pumped wheatgrass juice and then came to a yoga center.
“Oh look”, said Aslan peering through the window. “A yoga ball. Can I play on it?”
We entered and I asked the yoga school lady. “Excuse me, may my lion have a go on your yoga ball?”
“That’s not a yoga ball, it’s a planet.”
Aslan and I took turns looking at one another meaningfully and making expressions like they do in the movies when they reveal something amazing and scary.
“That’s amazing and scary,” I said. “What about that one over there?” I pointed to another yoga ball — a pink one.
“That’s also a planet,” she said. “And it has zebras on it.”
Aslan was suddenly alert, his tail twitching.
“But lions are not allowed on that one,” the yoga lady said quickly, glaring at Aslan.
She indicated her collection of yoga balls, all manner of colour and sizes. “They’re all planets, and they each have yoga balls on them which are also planets, and so on ad infinitum.”
My eyes went wide like octopuses eyes. “You mean that there are planets on planets on planets, getting smaller and smaller and smaller?”
“That’s right. Everyone knows that. Haven’t you heard of the fractal universe? No? Well, you’re living in it so you’d better get used to it. By the way, has anyone ever told you that you resemble an octopus?”
“Not recently,” I said, bewildered. Perhaps it was the eyes.
There was an awkward pause. “What about this planet we’re on now?” I said. “Do you think this one is a yoga ball too, on a bigger planet?”
The woman laughed. “Of course not! Don’t be absurd.”
As we made our way back to the space ship, we thought about all those little yoga ball planets with their yoga ball people, with their yoga balls with more even tinier yoga people on them…
“My brain hurts,” said Aslan. “Understanding the Universe is hard work. Can we go home?”
“Good idea, let’s go. Anyway, we must report this discovery to the Earth scientists without delay. I wonder if they’ll believe us.”