In a galaxy called Dhul Dhimatay, a galaxy now colloquially referred to as The Milky Way, don’t ask me why all the inhabitants of this universe have accepted this farcical name. All I know is that this childish nickname wouldn’t have come into existence if it weren’t for, and in large part thanks to, the dim-witted, primitive people of Earth. Earth is an Exile Penal Planet in this galaxy, and it’s where we send our X2-level felons to live out their sentences in squalor. And once a month in a chilly, damp community centre basement located in Whitechapel, London, a group of Kirizaag felons congregate.

Today’s turnout is more than just a tad unusual. Two dozen black group members enter the windowless room, where they are met at the entrance by the group leader who is holding the Wazwayuk Bucket. The felons each take turns spitting into the bucket, where their saliva is scanned by biosensors. And when each felon’s DNA is recognised, their name and prison numbers show up on a small monitor by the door. After this compulsory act, everyone takes their seat in the circle of chairs. The group leader is a short Djiboutian woman in her late fifties, sporting a raven-black fringed bob, who flies into London from Djibouti every month. She is the last person to take her seat. Cheerfully swinging her tiny legs in her chair, her eyes circle the room as she takes a minute to smile genially at every individual. And each felon receives her smile in the respectful customary kirizaag way, by rolling their eyes at her.

“Welcome fellow Kirizaags, to this felon support group. This place is a safe space where you can speak freely and share your experiences on this awful planet. And lord knows we need it. My name is Xaviboorka, but my Earth name is Fatima Shireh. Now, can I get you all to press your implant button to deactivate your human shell, so we can commence?” Everyone in the room including Fatima, simultaneously shove their right index fingers deep into their right nostril, pressing hard until they hear a loud beep. What happens next can be best described as pressing hard on your thumb and then releasing it to watch the blood gathering back; all their black skin tones transform into a dark maroon complexion. And while their bodies from the neck down remain the same shape, their heads expand rounder, doubling in size. Their cheeks balloon out like tennis balls. And everyone’s eyes now flicker luminously with neon yellow pupils.

Fatima takes out a pocket mirror to check her hair isn’t out of place as she says, “We can thank the Hedriyarch Saints for that little invention, eh? So, before we begin, there’s some news I’d like to share with you all. As you are all aware, 10 years ago, The Correctional Skin Implant Distribution Office had introduced a new initiative, to include more black skin shells to be given to our felons. This was a result of complaints highlighting an unconscious racial bias on our planet’s part to exclusively mass-produce Caucasian skin for all our convicts. With the success of all of us here today, being included in the first rollout of black skin shells, next month we will be introducing various other skin tones as well as sending more kirizaags to other parts of this planet, places other than America and European countries. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed not only living in an African Country but also scouting other possible host nations for new arrivals. Right! With that out of the way, let’s begin, shall we? Who’d like to start?”

Fatima scans the circle and notices a new red face among the group and gestures for her to speak. The new arrival who looks to be in her late twenties, removes her arm that was comfortably resting on the back of her clearly irritated neighbour’s chair. She flicks her long brown box braids behind her back, then adjusts the collar of her long navy-blue denim coat and leans forward, “Hi everyone. I’m Kaladavox. And my Earth name is Ayan Jama.”
“Hi Ayan,” everyone says.
“I was caught stealing power-generating pearls from a Hedriyarch Temple’s vault, and then harshly sentenced to live like a human for 30 years. I guess some people might say I was cursed by the saints themselves. Well, where do I start? Since my arrival, I’ve been finding it hard living among these Balaayegs–”
“I’m Sorry, Ayan is it? We don’t use that word here,” Fatima explains, before swiftly turning away from Ayan’s menacing glare, to fidget with the papers attached to her clipboard.
Ayan looks away from Fatima with pity in her eyes and faces the other felons, “Alright then, these humans. You see, every time I see them, they’re obsessively on their bloody phones — it’s like an addiction,” Ayan abruptly pauses. She shifts her attention to a handful of Kirizaags who are ignoring her as they scroll through their phones. It takes a few seconds, but they eventually pick up on the sudden silence in the room and they all immediately put their phones away and apologetically smile at Ayan. She rolls her eyes at them then proceeds to continue, “and here’s the kicker, these humans actually call those archaic blocks, smartphones. I miss the sensory connector implants that we had back home, how we communicated using all our senses to feel the person at the other end. And my oh my, the benefits that provided for long-distance interplanetary dating, I could never put into words.” The room erupts with laughter with everyone including Fatima nodding at each other in agreement, “Believe me guys, I have tried to find common ground with these simpletons, but it’s like trying to converse with a toddler playing in a sandbox. That’s all.”
“Thank you for sharing, Ayan. Being planet-sick is quite common for new felons, but the only remedy is to immerse yourself in their menial activities. Or, if your £50000 a month convict stipend proves insufficient, you could always find a job, and preferably one that won’t accidentally reveal your superior Kirizaag intelligence. And on the social front, I’d highly recommend maybe trying to dumb yourself down a bit to a human level when conversing with a potential new friend. Would anyone else like to share?” Fatima asks.

A tall felon in his 60’s, wearing a grey flat cap and a khaki trench coat raises his hand. “Hi, my name’s Zakuraanchi. And my Earth name is Chidozie Akinwale.”
“Hi Chidozie,” everyone says.
“I was caught trying to create a hybrid clone of two of my ex-girlfriends.” On hearing Chidozie’s crime, the entire room fills with a cocktail of gasps and whispers of appal.
“Hang on a minute! But isn’t attempting to replicate our perfect and pristine genetics an X1 offence, death? How in the hell did you wriggle out of that to get an X2?” Ayan asks.
“My father was having an affair with a Tribunal member. Actually, wait, no. If memory serves me right, my father actually started the affair for me after I got caught. And to be honest, 245 years on Earth is worse than any death sentence if you ask me. Especially when you’re not allowed to perform any scientific experiments on this planet or its Neanderthalic inhabitants. I spend most days alone with all my brilliant thoughts and ideas. My mind is nothing but a vibrant vehicle with the engine running, wheels clamped on a dead-end road facing a docile existence. I’d gladly swap… swap,” Chidozie chokes up, covering his face with his hands to muffle out his screechy cries, making the entire room uncomfortable. But after a brief pause, he gathers the courage to force himself to push through his words, “I’d gladly swap this hell for an X1.”

Fatima puts her clipboard on the floor and walks towards him, “Don’t be alarmed, Chidozie. But I’m going to pat your shoulder a few times, it’s a human consoling technique that I’ve learnt here. Would that be OK with you?”
“Yes, if it would make the pain go away,” Chidozie says.
“I can’t guarantee that,” Fatima then takes a tissue out of her trouser pocket and hands it to Chidozie, and with it, he wipes away his now cascading neon-yellow tears. “Oh, dear Chidozie. I know it can be hard to create a new life on this disgusting planet, but it does get better,” Fatima assures him. And in that moment, Chidozie looks up, halts his tears, and smiles at the sight of the entire circle of Kirizaags all rolling their eyes at him in support.











Photo by Raamin ka on Unsplash