I saw Danny coming back from his work which was in a morgue across the river. He said that at work a body had come in and it was unmarked, no marks of any sort. Marks is better, obvs, he said. Doesn’t take so much time. With no marks, clearly, you have to go right in and not come out until you know. So they went in and the body had no heart. It hadn’t been excised. There just wasn’t one. The various tubes that you’d expect were there but they just ran into each other cleanly without the heart in the way so to speak.

Danny was a mortuary assistant so he didn’t actually get to go in he had to prep the body for the medical examiner who went in and straightaway called the forensic science technician which you had to do if anything weird or foul play came up.

It was a total puzzle, Danny said. Basically impossible. It made me wonder if the body had its shoes and socks on. I wondered this because if the body had been placed in the park or wherever by people from out of space based on copying what they could see from afar then they might think that shoes and socks were part of the body. How would they know they were clothes? There’s no reason they would have that concept.

They would work down the leg using their long-distance viewing technologies and they would come to this what we call woollen sock but they, of course, would not have this in their repertoire of what they know so they would assume that the red band is continuous with all of the flesh of the body, much as we regard the stripes on a creature in our world.

They would see the what we call hairiness above the red band and assume that these fibres abruptly became denser at the red band area and that they were simply another aspect of the structures and colouration of the lower limb and pedal area. Were they to dissect this part of a leg – they had, of course, no means of doing so – then they would expect to find that the denser red fibres extruded from the interior of the leg as did the sparser what we call hairs that covered much of the upper limb.

So if they wanted to learn more about what we call the shoe and they saw as a thickening of the limbs at their extremity they would take the out of space equivalent of a knife perhaps like a ray or something and cut around the top of the shoe into what we call the ankle area. The shoe would still not come off so they would cut right through to the other side.

This would show them that actually the ankle etc is a complicated piece of our body but they would not be put off making a copy for whatever purposes. I use that phrase ‘for whatever purposes’ because their thinking from another galaxy would be as strange to us as our bodies to them.

Anyway I said to Danny that obviously the body would not have a heart if this was its provenance. What we should worry about is eventually they will learn the idea of clothes, that you take off and beneath these clothes is what we call our bodies and in them are hearts and so forth.

In Arms
This is How