Humans are Weird – Shots
“Yeah, just got the call, I’m needed down in the engine compartment, so sorry, later.”
Fourth Sister stared blankly out after the back of the retreating human as she tried to process the suddenly empty medical bay. She clicked her mandibles thoughtfully and placed the syringe back in the sterile cabinet she had drawn it from. She lifted her hand to the comm unit on the wall and activated it.
“Chief Engineer,” she said crisply. “This is Chief Medic.”
After a moment the device chimed.
“Yes?” the cheerful answer came back.
“Did you summon Fifth Engineer to aid you?” Fourth Sister asked.
“Fifth? Oh you mean Robinson?” Chief Engineer asked. “No. He’s scheduled for a medbay visit today according to the chart. Why?”
“He just left the medical bay in a state of agitation citing the necessity of his presence in engineering,” she explained.
“Well that’s weird,” Chief Engineer muttered. “Was he done with his treatment?”
“No!” Forth Sister snapped. “In fact I was just about to administer-“ She cut herself off remembering the humans’ restriction on medical information but Chief Engineer burst out laughing.
“You were about to administer his nutrient shot,” he surmised. “Yeah, he’s scared of needles. You’ll have to track him down and basically drag him back to the medbay for that.”
“Human law does not allow for forced medical treatment,” Fourth Sister pointed out
“You won’t have to force him,” Chief Engineer assured her. “This is literally a do-or-die situation. Tell you what. I’ll have Jonsey drag him back and sit him in the chair. Oh yeah, be prepared for him to pass out. Safety restraints might be a good idea.”
Fourth Sister clasped her mandibles together and laid her frill back against her head. There was so much wrong in that statement she didn’t know where to start.
“How precisely,” she finally asked. “Is Second Navigator, going to capture and return him to the medical bay? She is perhaps a fourth of his mass.”
“I told you,” Chief Engineer said cheerfully. “It’s not a matter of force. She’s the best to convince him.”
“I have seen Fifth Engineer walk into the medical bay,” Fourth Sister said thoughtfully, “under his own power, with a handspan of cryo-steel lodged into his thigh. He was laughing over it.”
“So?” Chief Engineer asked.
“Why is he afraid of a sterile sub dermal needle, to the point that safety restraints are necessary?” Fourth Sister demanded.
“Spike me if I know,” Chief Engineer said cheerfully. “Phobias aren’t supposed to make sense. There we go. Jonsey says she caught him in the cafeteria and she’ll have him back in your seat in two shakes of a cat’s tail. Cheers and remember the restraints.”
The comm chimed off and Fourth Sister lowered her hand. She drew in a long breath and released it. Humans.
It was the 5th of April, 1943. The U.S.S. O'Bannon was cruising the Solomon islands when they pick up a radar ping. Deciding it was an enemy sub sitting boldly on the surface the American destroyer hauls around and heads for the target at ramming speed. But at the last moment it occurs to the U.S.S. O'Bannon that this might be a mine layer. It was apparently considered much less wise to ram a mine layer than a regular sub. So the destroyer turns hard and ends up basically berthed right beside the enemy sub. An awkward silence follows as the crew of the U.S.S. O'Bannon realizes that a) this is in fact a regular sub, b) they are far too close to bring their great big destroyer guns to bear on the sub, c) no on on the deck of the O'Bannon was armed, and d) the enemy sub very much had a defensive gun mounted on its deck.
The enemy sailors rush for their gun. What does the crew of the O'Bannon do?
Yes. There on the deck of the O'Bannon was stored a large number of potatoes. The crew grabbed them and started lobbing the spuds at the enemy sub. It was later speculated that the enemy sailors thought they were grenades but whatever the cause the sailors on the sub rushed about picking up the potatoes and tossing them into the sea. This gave the O'Bannon time to haul around and pound the sub with something more substantial than potatoes. The sub was later confirmed sunk.
When word got back to the Association of Potato Growers of Maine they cheerfully seen the O'Bannon a commemorate plaque.
Due to a long and hopefully amusing (as in I hope I will be able to laugh at it one day) events there were almost no posts last week. This involved a long day of driving to start the week, laundry shenanigans, mysterious headaches, thunderstorms, very specifically timed power outages, and what is probably a broken toe.
Possibly a broken foot. It is hard to tell where toe ends and foot begins but with all that bruising and pain something is broken. Stupid coffee table.
Anyway this week should be better for posting. At least there are fewer thunderstorm icons on the forecast this week.
No increase in scientific method or raw factual knowledge has ever served to rid humanity of superstitions. Perhaps they are too closely tied to the instincts that keep us alive to die out, perhaps we are fond of them like old clothes, but they are still with us and will be so long as we can be called human. We have already and will continue to carry them into space. So how will these manifest in science fiction? What will be the superstitions of the stars?
Well here are a few possibilities.
What do you think will be our 'black cat' of space?
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
Best part of the Alien Daze festival? Meeting an old Scott who recognized the tagline to my book.
For the past ten years I have been assigned a vehicle for work. It is like all the other vehicles that are assigned in my crew and the various other crews we work with.
Except every year, EVERY BLEEDING YEAR, something is mysteriously wrong with mine.
My crew was laughing over that pattern yesterday as the seasonal vehicles arrived. They were laughing even harder when the vehicle that was randomly assigned to me by the computer suddenly and mysteriously malfunctioned.
I know I am technically a plant scientist. It is still a perfectly legitimate use of work time to photograph fungus. Especially when it has its grubby little mycorrhizae wrapped around my willow roots.
Humans are Weird – Downgrade
“Maria, I will need assistance in the astrometrics department tomorrow,” Forth Sister said as she passed the communal room.
Several seconds passed with no response from the human who was sprawled out on the Shatarian couch. Fourth Sister tilted her head to the side in irritation. She understood that human joints didn’t bend the same way as hers did but was it truly more comfortable for them to spread out from the floor to the back of the couch in that almost Undulate manner? They did have an internal skeleton after all. They should act like it.
“Maria,” Forth Sister attempted again but with no better results. “Dr. Torres!”
Deciding that she wasn’t going to get any response through sound Fourth Sister reached back and unlimbered her utility rod from its sheath on her back. She eased up to within a length of the couch and lightly rapped an exposed elbow.
Maria yelped and scrambled onto the floor. She blinked her odd concentric eyes at Forth Sister and bared her blocky, enameled mandibles in a friendly gesture. Her fibrous frill was formed into twin braids that almost mimicked proper Shatarian frills from the southern fens. She had even thoughtfully added bright red ribbons to show her general placid attitude.
“What’s up Sis?” Maria asked brightly, pulling her headphones back.
“I will need your assistance tomorrow,” Fourth Sister repeated, laying her frill back carefully to conceal her irritation. It was Maria’s day off after all. “The final decision on star cluster radius has come down and we will need to update the star maps that are not directly connected to the main systems and any printed data.
“Cool, gotcha!” Maria said brightly as she leapt to her feet.
Fourth Sister had to fight back another wince as the human towered over her. It was odd, going from the tallest species in the confederation to the second tallest, odd and unnerving.
“Would you like preference on the printer for personal reasons?” Fourth Sister asked.
“Why would I need that?” Maria asked in confusion.
“This is not your regular duty,” Fourth Sister replied. “The base commander likes to make sure that anyone asked to perform outside of their job description gets some reimbursement even if it is minor.”
“I know that,” Maria said with a dismissive wave. “But why would I need access to the printer?”
“Nearly three quarters of the wall decorations in your room will need to be updated,” Fourth Sister pointed out. “Ah! Perhaps you did not realize the decision will affect the Polaris system.”
Maria fell silent and Fourth Sister had to twist her head several times to analyze the wild flush of colors that rushed across the human’s face.
“Are you ill Maria?” she demanded, feeling her frill flatten with concern. “Did you get up too fast?”
Maria snapped her head from side to side and Fourth Sister had to remind herself that it was a sign of negation rather than a request for more information. Maria’s fleshy mammalian lips opened and closed a few times and then the colors in her face suddenly cooled.
“They are reclassifying the Polaris system to what?” She finally hissed out.
Anger. Fourth Sister suddenly realized. That widely diffused anger that had no target and left humans so unpredictable. She frantically tried to figure out what had triggered this response in the normally gentle and merry human.
“They simply clarified that the outer two stars are not a part of the core system making the actual system a tertiary,” Fourth Sister answered the obvious question.
“What!” Maria demanded, her voice hitting an octave that Mother of Eighth used to sterilize the grain crops back home.
Fourth Sister tried to repeat the information but the human interrupted her.
“They cut off the fifth little piggy?” Maria demanded. “Not just the fifth, the fourth too? Oh sweet stars above this is preposterous! That has always been a five star system. Think of how many times I chanted that song as I skipped rope. Think of all the babies’ toes that were pinched to the rhyme!”
She slapped her hands together and stalked out of the communal room.
“Oh the central University is going to hear about this!” was the last think that Fourth Sister heard as the human left.
She stared blankly at the door and realized she was holding her datapad in front of her defensively. She carefully lowered it and carefully raised her frill into a calm position. All evidence indicated that Maria was furious over a technical designation change on an uninhabited system, but that could not be correct. It was patently illogical. She would call her cousin who lived on the mixed colony. If anyone could explain this behavior it was a Shatar who had to deal with these strange beings her entire life.
Maria Dasic Todoric and Peta Lemon have crafted a delightful romp through an anthropomorphic barnyard. In “The Fed-Up Cow” Hilda (the titular cow) goes on a journey of self discovery. You see, Hilda is fed-up with being a cow. The grass isn’t just less green on her side of the fence, it is positively bland. So she sets out to be something else.
If this sounds like something you have heard before, well you have. It is a very common story line but Lemon and Todoric add something refreshing and rare. There is discontent in the book, that is the point, but there is no bitter resentment. Hilda wants to self explore and she does. The other animals do laugh at her attempts to change but there is no malice in it and she takes to umbrage at their natural reactions to the surprising. Simply put, Hilda does Hilda and lets all the other animals do what they do. It is as much an object lesson in loving both the conventional and the experimental as it is about finding your place in the world.
The art is fun and easy to enjoy. All of the farm animals are well drawn but colorfully simplified in a way that both children and adults can appreciate. The backgrounds are simple and tasteful. The color pallet is calming and logical.
All told it was delightful book that will please both children and adults. A parent might get good and tired of reading it “one more time” but otherwise this is a solid bedtime story
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.