Xenomorph - 1993
The Supernatural - RA Asplin
(page 4/7)

"A Beginner's Guide to the Esoteric Paranormal and Related Supernatural Phenomena"

or

"The Afterlife - How it can work for You"

Reprinted below are a few excerpts from the hitherto private journal of Prof. Horace 'whoops!' Quimford, H2O - psychic investigator, author of the best-selling "Arthur C Clarke? Wanker", Oxford University Press 14.99, and mother of three. Sadly, only a handful of chapters are available on the subject of the supernatural; the Professor's later work seems to be more geared towards the study of modern social behaviour such as the problems of shaving, the problems of women and the problems of shaving women. Still, for what it's worth (very little), here they are (refreshments will be served between chapters).

Have you ever stopped to ponder the mysteries of the paranormal? Psychics, telekinesis or out-of-body experiences? Clairvoyance, poltergeists, Bob Holness? No, neither have I, but for those of you gullible to fall for that sort of nonsense, I present a brief yet feeble guide to the mysteries of the mind, which will attempt to answer questions such as 'if fact is truly stranger than fiction, is Isaac Asimov getting paid too much?'.

To be-'as they say'-gin, we must make a brief attempt to define our terms. What is 'the paranormal', how long has it been around and what time does it shut? The word is derived from 'para' meaning beyond' and 'normal' meaning ... well, meaning normal obviously (Jesus). Consequently (long word huh?), we have paranormal meaning 'anything that is beyond normality' (I can't believe I get paid for this stuff). Of course, not everything out of the ordinary is supernatural. Oooh no way Betsy. For example, someone able to accurately predict future events is described as paranormal (or 'beyond the usual') whereas someone disguised as a squirrel singing 'I got rhythm' to a selection of cold meats is described as being a bit silly (or 'a spazmo'). To unearth genuine phenomena from the multitude of fakes, fraudsters and downright fibbers takes scientific application, rigorous testing and months of research (or alternatively, wielding a big knife and threatening to stab anyone 'taking the piss' can bring about similar results). Supernatural occurrences (or to give them their latin name, 'Christus; how did thato happenicum') can be categorised thus (now pay attention):

Prophecies

Prophecies, nay predictions, nay forewarnings, nay bours (everybody needs good nay bours) are, put simply, 'visions of what is to come' or put very simply, 'glimpses of the future' or put arse-slappingly peasily 'spooky stuff'. These can be in the form (that's 'form') of apparitions, visions or in some cases hallucinations: future events relayed in dreams are slightly dubious and those received through the post are right out. The most infamous and certainly the fattest prophet was Nostradamus (1503 - 1566). A tall man with a beard, known as 'Nosty' or 'The Big N' (that's the man, not the name of his beard obviously. Although you never know. The sixteenth century wasn't 'brain-city' by any accounts), he flummoxed all and 'sundry' with predictions such as these:

"A mounted fellow shall hold a pole, but 'ouch' will be his cry" - It is believed that this refers to Henry II of France who was stabbed in the eye during a jousting tournament
"In the singeing sixties, those not crisped will be sick of toast by Christmas" - Obviously a reference to the Great Fire of London
"A small moustache and firm salute and ribboned flags of reds and blacks, shall rise and wear a smart beige suit and choke the body that foreskin lacks" - Any suggestions? I haven't got the foggiest

And perhaps most famously:

"The common grower shall plant his seed at times that seem erratic, while partner cleans the babe and robe in Radion Automatic" - Undoubtedly a reference to the saucy goings-on between Arthur and Mrs. Hewitt in Eastenders

Telekinesis

Telekinesis, or more literally 'telekinesis', is what most would call 'Mind over Matter' (not to be confused with 'Rind over Matter' which is a similar sort of affair, except for the heavy emphasis on pre-wrapped bacon). This phenomena manifests itself (I know all the lingo, take note) as the ability to move objects (books, plates, discreet battery-operated devices) at will, using only the power of thought, without any sort of physical contact or action and definitely no tying string to the object and wiggling it when no-one is looking. This gift is most commonly found in young girls between the ages of six and fourteen (this not only bewilders investigators into the supernatural, but succeeds in cheesing them off something chronic as gifted individuals invariably only want to levitate My Little Ponies). Currently (bit of a 'bun' gag there), extensive study is being concentrated on one eight year old who has demonstrated the power to move sets of keys across the table unaided, cause Marks & Spencer cardigans to unravel themselves into woollen effigies of Les Dennis and explain the appeal of the American sitcom 'My Two Dads' (however the later is believed to be a simple conjuring trick). Other famous examples include the telekinetic Dr. Norman Knobakitten, who, in 1934, caused a family of four to hover indefinitely and Maureen Limpfloss, the renowned psychic and cheese fondler, who, in the early '50s, performed levetatory acts with dessert spoons that caused qualified trapeze artists to blush. So how are these phenomena possible? Who knows? Not me matey, I just make this up as I go along. You want answers? Well crack a book someday, thicko (oh yes and while we're about it, stop wearing that anorak). Really, sceptics, when faced with attempting to account for tclckinesis, often choose to fall back on 'scientific errors', which can be very painful.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

This is perhaps the most baffling phenomenon that man...sorry, that people-kind has ever come across (excluding the current hairstyle of the pop idol Elton John, obviously. I mean, what is the barnet all about? Surely it can't be a tupe, because, let's face it, if you could choose to have any hairstyle ever created, you wouldn't choose that one, would you? But we're getting off the point rather). Spontaneous human combustion is the ignition and burning of a human body without any contact with an external source of fire (e.g. jamming your head into a three-bar heater before falling asleep would not count. Believe me. I've tried it.). In some cases, the damage is slight - maybe a singe around the ears or a burning sensation in one's spleen. I myself regularly experience a warm feeling around my trousers, but that's another story. In other cases, the victim may be reduced entirely to ashes, which makes clothes shopping very difficult indeed. Often, the chair, bed or even the car that victims are consumed in remain unscathed (in the cases of Austin Allegros, more's the pity).

Recordings of spontaneous human combustion made their debut in seventeenth century medical journals. Examp1es were common in Austria, very likely to occur in France and almost compulsory in certain parts of Wales. Books of the period report that victims, prior to being engulfed in a raging torrent of flames, experienced certain symptoms; these include dizziness, shivers, sparks appearing at the nostrils and feelings of revulsion and nausea (not unlike watching William Shatner in T J Hooker'). The celebrated case of the Countess di Washungo of Verona, or 'Hotflaps' as she became known, was recorded in 1732:

'The Countess, in the eighty-first year of her age, was all day as happy as Larry (who too was full of spirits) and showed no signs of singeing. She retired after familiar discourse with her maid and some prayers. Twas not till an hour hadst pass'd that the mistress was heard to remark such as "Hmmm, is it hot in here or is it just me?" and whenst the door was open'd, I wiuttnessed a deplorable sight. The air of the chamber was filled with soot and, two feet distanced from the bed was the Countess, leaping around on all fours, arse alight, smoke billowing from 'neath her pinafore and wailing like a banshee 'I'm on fire ! I'm on fire ! Don't just stand there fatso, get some water! I'm on fire!". From this did I note that in most likelihood my mistress was on fire.'

Modern science is still baffled. The famous Dr. Herbert 'call me Herb' Hippowick has been quoted as saying "Human combustion? God knows. Now sod off, I'm busy". So the question exists: why do people ignite? Or have centre partings? I don't know. Mind you, I don't know how my stapler works, so I'm no 'Norman Knowledge' by any accounts. Your best bet is to carry a large bucket of water with you at all times and just hope for the best.

Next week, well be looking into whether J R R Tolkien was a homosexual, with particular reference to the naming of his autobiographical work 'The Lord of The Rings'.

RA Asplin

Follow the life support hoses to find which astronaut is going to drift away and DIE horribly in the harsh blackness of SPACE!