Alias was killing time, occasionally peeking through a keyhole where an incalculable scattering of incandescent spheres of varying proportions glimmered in the hermetic silence of a pitch black infinity. Admiring the little he was able to see of his creation through the tiny aperture, he felt a fleeting sense of irritation at the faint ringing of bells: someone, or something - somewhere - was persistent in their pursuit of the reprehensible habit of functioning according to time, which included fixing memory within time frames. How long ago he had completed the work of art he espied through the keyhole was of no concern to him, for time was something Alias gave no credence to. He believed measuring time with numbers was a foolish and dangerous game, a countdown to death. And that killing time was preferable to allowing time to kill you if you choose to live by it.

Bony knuckles white over the handle of his walking stick, he steadied himself to reunite with Stasis, the work he considered as his masterpiece.

When he entered the space the curator shuffled gingerly  forwards, a hint of servility in his gait, tumescent lips contorting into a semblance of a smile in his anaemic visage, sparse clumps of wiry hair crackling with static electricity. Anticipating their meeting, the curator had carefully rehearsed a script which he hoped would help him through what could potentially be a stressful encounter. But before he could utter a word, Alias came to an abrupt halt, the expression on his face clearly conveying displeasure.

Instead of taking in the breathtaking majesty and immeasurable scale of the work, he rummaged through his satchel, took out a telescope and focused on the seemingly insignificant detail of a tiny speck.

'Mr. Curator.' He snapped. 'You seen any bears on the loose in these parts?'

His script suddenly in tatters, the curator's answer was a feeble croak.


'Bears.' Affirmed Alias with a snarl. 'Travel as a threesome. Ply their trade as gumshoes, tracking down folk who sleep in beds that ain't theirs to sleep in. Folk who eat porridge they shouldn't be shovelling down their greedy gullets. Folk who squat their unwashed asses in armchairs where their unwashed asses don't belong.'

The curator had not been programmed to understand humour. Bears? He had no inkling as to what the artist was referring to. Was the venerable one mentioning three bears a metaphor? True to his reputation as a prankster, was he about to crack a joke? Before he could come to anything resembling a conclusion, the artist drew his attention to the tiny speck on his masterpiece, pointing towards the offending area with the tip of his walking stick.

'Skullduggery.' Alias said. 'Some kind of alteration to my art. A microscopic transformation on the greater scale of things, admittedly, but an anomaly nonetheless. See? Right there. That tiny spot. It's moving, godamnit.'

'You're right!' The curator gasped, his wan eyes protuberate. 'Bugs? Can they be tiny insects? Alive in the art?'

Adjusting the telescope's focus, the artist's rancour escalated.

'I'm getting analytical data. Bacteria! Billions and billions of squirming micro organisms. Carbon-based life forms. I'd need to make an in-depth study of the pathogenesis, but I can see Deinococcus radiodurans in there. Curious. Such bacterium is normally only found in radioactive waste sites and hot volcanic springs. And looky here. Helicobacter pylori jitterbugging around in there too. Hold it. I'm getting elements. Nine, ten, yes. All eleven elements required for life are there. And what do I see here? Bad enough that they're in my art, but the scum have dared to make their own. And I hope what happened to their art is not indicative of what their existence might do to mine. Listen to this broadcast.'

Distorted through the telescope, a plasma screen flickers. A tweedy academic with an affected studious countenance strolls through vast halls in an empty museum, his tone solemn as he speaks into a microphone.