The novel is about the remnants of a civilisation of beings who, in their natural form, are non-corporeal.

Chapter One

= Chapter 1 = 

Stephanie had a car full of washing. She also had all day. Ewen Hill was a landmark she scaled every weekend, but it still inspired nostalgia inside her, and she fondly looked forward throughout the week to driving up it and arriving at Drago's house.

Her old Toyota Celica pulled up at this house on Princess Road. Frequently she was in a rush to get her washing done on the weekends—-she usually had to work on Saturday mornings. It always baffled her how her clients would suddenly require a contract to be completed at short notice after disappearing and going quiet for some weeks.

But not this weekend. Which was a relief. She enjoyed an opportunity to bask in the unkempt choas of Drago's two-bit operation. Some new development in his illegal backyard industrial laundry had always transpired, and she had missed the last two weekends of gossip. Stephanie was eager to find out who else now was on his shit list, and what new scheme he had hatched to steal more electricity from the power grid.

She heaved a laundry basket out of the back seat of the hatchback, and hoisted three pairs of trackpants under her other arm. This was an enormous load this time. She forgot if it had been two or three weeks without doing any laundry.

Stephanie hobbled over the concrete slab path through the front yard and onto the veranda, going back to collect whatever she had dropped. By now the tremendous din of industrial dry cleaning machinery was very present.

“DRAGO!”—-Stephanie always wondered why this old man refused to install a door bell or ... bell ... or some method of detecting human life outside the house during the operating of his laundry heist.


She took out her phone and began to dial his number. At that moment, Drago finally called out.

“Ah yes! Coming! Yes!” The front door opened, and the almighty wall of laundry machine noiose arrived with the old man.

“That is a lot of washing!” “Sorry, Drago—–”

“Nevermind, it won't take long. Come in, come in.”

Drago might live at this house, and sometimes might not. Quite often not. It was indeed his house—-or one of his houses—-Stephanie could never quite work out if he had another house where he lived, or whether he used this permanent dwelling for running a racket, and in fact chose to sleep in a tent, or trailer, or ... in the garage under the house.

In any case Drago was definitely not in a dressing gown today, and was looking quite well-presented. He was in whatever he wore when he was not in a dressing gown—-jeans and a flannel shirt. He had a big moustache, which was the same colour as his hair (quite well combed today)—-shock white.

“You look well!” Stephanie put her washing down in the living room, facing the old man.

“Yes! Yes! I feel excellent!” Drago beamed. “I have been out and about—-Lake Monger was quite nice this morning.”

“Oh, you were up early!” The old man seemed to Stephanie to be unusually organised and chipper this week. “I hear the uh, plant is running quite busily today.”

“Yes! We have entered the next phase—-I have won a contract with one of the army bases—-I think this might end up being quite lucritive!”

Stephanie was a little in disbelief, but Drago had pulled off some spectacular scams in the past. If he had actually assessed the security of his incoming work this time, this might actually be—–”

“I think this is the big one, Stephanie!” Drago seemed to have gone over to the livingroom's front window. He was facing the front yard, hands behind his back.

“You don't say! That's good news!”

“It has actually been quite a while now. Bedsheets, uniforms—-maybe three or four months now?”

“Oh—-gosh. I never noticed.”

“You have been very busy lately—-I don't think we have talked like this in a
long time.”

“You're probably right Anyway—-which base?”

“Swanbourne, I think.”

“Drago—-that's the SAS barracks—-I'd watch out if I were you! Aren't they the special forces?”

“I thought the same way as you, before, and at first there was a lot of scrutiny, but they seem to have calmed down now and looked the other way. It seems to be working out quite well—-so far, at least.”

“Wow. Excellent.”

“Yes that was the whole point of the laundry business in the first place. We needed to be able to get into the base—-perhaps use the uniforms—-I have some level of clearance now, it is quite the heist so far. I am quite pleased with my progress.”

“Why do you go to such lengths just to do something you could easily take care of through...” Stephanie always struggled with finding the right words for the strange concept of Drago's gambit—–“I don't know—-other means—–?”

“Things have not been going so well for all the old people back home.” Drago was still facing the window, but he was now looking down.

“What do you mean?”

“The people have been feeling weaker and more sickly as of late.”

“I'm sorry, I've been off without you—-I didn't realise it was going this badly so quickly.”

“Not, it has been like this for some time now, perhaps the whole time we have known each other. I wouldn't be here in Perth at all if I didn't have to be. I suppose I talk about Perth as if it is a prison or ... a wasteland—-and it is true that I did not move here out of choice, but I have grown to like it here.”

“There has to be some other way—-you could have chosen another city.”

“Oh—-no. Perth is nice and windy. Also it is exceptionally low in surveillance
and laughably incompetent in state control, I have been able to get away with
incredible missions undetected, even if a great many of them have failed.
Remember the satellite we almost stole?”

“How did you get away with that one?”

“I think I just sold it back to the TV company—-or did I jsut hand them back
control anonymously?”

“Wasn't this the 'eBay solution'?”

“Oh yes. That's right.”

Both Drago and Stephanie grinned nostalgically. Drago, however, quickily
appeared pensive, and sighed heavily. He turned to face Stephanie and the
enormous pile of laundry spilling out at her feet.

“We are in big trouble, my human friend.”

“Moreso than usual?”

“Yes, we are all sliding back very definitely into physical, corporeal form now, our ability to sustain the process of apperception is faltering very seriously. If someone or some faction doesn't make some progress to restoring our live force, I think the ... “fascists” ... I think you called them, will be able to advance. They have been noticeably stronger and more in number lately, and are much more vocal as of late.”

“I suppose that explains the urgency here of your mission here on Earth. Trying to infiltrate the Swanbourne Barracks may be the last chance you have at getting out of the third dimension.”

“Yes. The avenues we have for gaining access to enough conceptual apperceptive power are now severely limited. At least within my circles, we ony have one other strategy besides this one for gaining the upper hand if we fail—-again—-this time.”

“Yes, I think I remember you saying that.”

“I wish it did not have to be this way.” “Yes, I often think the same thing all
the time—-the human race has not been going so well either.”

“Both of our civilisations are sliding back into barbarism. If either of us fail it will mean the destruction of both our kind.”

“Really? How do we humans affect your civilisation at all? We must be like
little ants to you!”

“Well, my people currently have the ability to sustain the projection of a three dimensional space roughly three or four times the volume of your solar system's Jupiter at present moment, but at the rate at which that corridor of space is collapsing, I do not think we will be able to evacuate even most of the colony we have—-even if we start right now. There will simply not be enough time.”

“Has it gotten that bad?”

“Stephanie—-the collapse and destruction of my people will always be virtually certain so long as we have to subsist in three dimensional form.”

“You never told me that!”

“Yes, we are in big trouble. The operation to infiltrate the Swanbourne Barracks is scheduled to begin in a month's time. If I didn't see you today, and this mission also fails, It is highly likely that I won't ever see you again.

The horrible mid-20th century wallpaper peeing around the two was a ridiculous setting for a conversation of such gravity.

Stephanie stood there, dumbfounded. Her eyes darted around the gaudy room as she searched herself for some way to discover another set of options for Drago to consider.

“Well then I'm coming with you. And I won't take no for an answer. I feel
terrible that I have neglected you for so long.

Drago shrugged. “If you wish. I do not think you will be in any particular


“Of course you can come on the mission.”

“Won't it be dangerous?”


“Won't the infiltration of the base put our lives in danger?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Couldn't we be shot?”

Drago furrowed his brow. “What are you talking about?”

“I assume we'll be entering the Swanbourne Barracks base, and then commandeering a nuclear submarine or something, and harnessing its energy—-or something similar.”

Drago shook his head slowly, in slight disbelief at what he was hearing—–“no,
no—-quite a great deal of the mission will avoid three dimensional space

“I see.” Stephanie realised she had absolutely no idea what was going on. “Then what is the point of doing the military's laundry?”

“I forget what the Australian Army calls the head dictator of the SAS Barracks but so far as it concerns persisting in the third dimension of physical existence, I merely need to be in direct physical line of sight of this person, on Earth.”

“Why are you going to all this trouble, then?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why are you trying to get into the Barracks?”

“The Commandant or Chief Inquistor lives there.”

“No they don't.”

“Drago's eyes widened. “Is this an attempt at humour?”

“No—-the Field Marshall or Staff Seargent or whatever they are called lives in
Peppermint Grove.”

Drago moved to one of the luxuirous—-looking recliners to his left and threw
himself into it. He covered his face with his hands and groaned. “I have been
concealing the theft of enormous quantities of electricity at great difficulty
for almost nine months now. I was lead to belief the Assistant Admiral of the
SAS would be regularly having their uniform laundered.”

“Drago—-it is the weekend—-he is probably at home in his mansion in Peppermint Grove watching sport on his TV. I can take you there right now.”

Drago continued to shield his face with his hands—–“alright. Let's go. My comrades will not be pleased. The amount of transcendental apperception it has taken to sustain me in this form n Earth has been bleeding my community dry. I really have no idea what I am doing in this idiotic dimension!”

Stephanie leaned down and took hold on Drago's arm:

“Come on space man, it's not far.”