Nobody has ever really seen them. Well, actually, some people have seen them but not really recognized them for what they are. They blend with the crowd. They come and go unseen if they want to - and usually they do. When you start thinking about what you've just seen your mind considers them so incredibly unlikely to be really there that it instantly purges them from your memories.
Honestly: Nobody would believe that there are several people standing on the sidewalk, just besides you, right behind you, with these black shoes and these black trousers and these black suits and these black sunglasses and these black hats. They just look too ridiculous to be true, too abnormal to be real. Because of this and because of their remarkable ability to leave people's memories as they please, they have never appeared in any stories, in any historic documents, not even in any book of one of these ufo-zealots or conspiracy-theorists. There is nothing that could prove their existence - mainly because just that is their job.
They are nice people. They would help elderly people over the streets if any of these would ever ask them. But - and some of them feel a little bitter about this - they never do.

There are many things in this world that we don't understand and there are even more things we wouldn't understand if we ever saw them or knew about them. Our mind is just not capable of accepting every single unfiltered fact that our perception presents us; we try to match everything against the patterns we have already acquired. If we see certain shapes, we automatically draw conclusions, picture previous events and react in a way we consider appropriate. When you see a cloud of virtually any form, you almost instantly - upon losing focus just a tiny little bit - see an elephant, a cow or the face of your mother in law. That makes their job quite a lot easier.

They work like the sweepers. They come, mostly at night, when we sleep. They have got their black leather cases with lots of amazingly strange looking instruments. They put them besides our beds, switch them on and examine us with absolute precision. Every night. Every single night.
They take a really close look at us, at our thoughts and our memories. If they find something unusual, something unuseful, something unrealistic that we have seen, done or heard of, they take it away, sweep it away with another one of their strange instruments. Then they leave again and wait for the next night to come.
They also come to you in daytime, when it's necessary, when you've just experienced something extraordinarily unusual. Then, they don't only sweep your mind, they also remove parts of your memory, put you in a different place and create new memories so that you will exactly remember how you got to that new place, and why.
You may have just been witnessing the landing of an UFO right in front of your house. You may have made first contact with them, you might even have been inviting them to stay for dinner. But as that is something quite unusual, they may have come, examined, filtered and purged your memories, put you in the place where you are now and inserted the memory of how you came there into your mind - seamlessly. You'd never notice.
But they are not perfect.
Sometimes they, too, make mistakes.
Especially the younger ones.
Nobody is perfect when he starts a new job. When the young ones go on tour with one of the older, more experienced ones, they often make mistakes. Probably they don't know how to handle those interesting instruments. Probably they don't yet know how careful they have to be not to wake us up. That is the worst thing that can happen to them.
It doesn't only take time if they are not careful enough. We wake up and wonder why and it sometimes takes a long time until we can go back to sleep again. When they wake us up and when their sweeping is not yet complete, they leave artifacts, little pieces, tiny fragments of the unusual, unuseful or unrealistic memories or thoughts in our minds. This makes their job even harder because finding many little things is generally much more difficult than finding fewer big things. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they don't.
And that is where it happens. That is where their lack of perfection results in something wonderful, something beautiful, something we call "creativity". Almost every time they forget to remove something or remove too much, we remember fragments of these events or perceptions when we wake up.
It happens all the time.
Have you ever been sitting in a bar, taking little sips of your drink from time to time, staring out of the window when you got an idea for something nice to cook?
Have you ever watched the raindrops run along your window, completely lost in this very moment, suddenly hearing a piece of music in your head that you feel you need to write down immediately before it is swept away again?
Have you ever been on the bus, sitting at the seat near the window where you can watch people outside walking and running and shouting and crying and gazing back, and have you ever thought in that moment that you should really write a letter to your girl-/boyfriend that starts with some specific words that just seemed to pop up in your mind from nowhere?
Have you ever been lying on your bed, reading a good book, listening to good music when you notice that you haven't really been reading the last couple of lines but instead been thinking about some nice sounding words that you really could construct a poem around?
These are results of their errors. They have placed you somewhere, modified your memory so you remembered how you reached this place and purged almost all memories of the strange event you encountered. Almost.
Have you ever sat down and tried to write all this down? Did you notice how difficult this is sometimes?
They are not stupid. Sometimes, they notice their mistakes and come back to correct them, to remove the remaining parts. Then everything is gone as quick as it has come, you suddenly can't remember these special ingredients for the recipe, you forget the special harmony, the wonderful words and the beautiful rhymes. It is gone forever and this moment of inspiration is lost.
Still, sometimes they are too satisfied, too lazy or too inattentive to notice that they missed a fragment. Then these memories remain.

When I sit down and write something, I always smile. I smile because their imperfection helps me to create something. I smile because I am thankful for what they do and I am thankful for that they, in this very moment, missed the tiny fraction of my thoughts that made me inventive. For a moment…

(march 2004)