Tasting the Waves was patiently explaining to the seventh concerned Shatar that his situation was perfectly hygienic, that the presence of the mass of mammalian matter would not pose any danger to her small cousins, that he had every confidence that his symbotes could easily contain any harmful microbial growth. He had hardly expected his choice to retain the matter for observation would have caused such concern among the families that came to bask in the specific mineral concentrations of the shore where he lived. However he had hardly begun his observations when the first – a stern Third Cousin from a nearby hive – had approached his well marked speaking nodule and had demanded an audience on sanitary issues. The first one had been confusing and had not gone in such a way as to engender friendship with his motile neighbors. However he believed that he was growing more effective with each confrontation.
This particular Second Brother was a member of a Shatar line that seemed to have favored flashy patterning that pleasantly resembled leaves on a forest floor. Splotches of red mingled with lines of green in a way that almost resembled human camouflage. Tasting the Waves had several thought nodes dedicated to admiring his outer membrane while the greater portion touched his fears and tried to redirect them.
“How do you propose,” he was currently demanding, “to manage keeping airborne particles controlled? It is very damp today. It is even starting to rain!”
“That is a circumstance of great benefit to our mutual goals,” Tasting the Waves assured him. “The general downward motion of the water and the lowered temperature will make spreading of microbes, or even non-viable toxic matter, far less likely. Moreover the resulting runoff and draining tends to draw the biomatter out into the ocean-”
“But you are actively capturing and holding much of the runoff in your extremities!” protested the Second Brother.
“I would hesitated to apply the word much,” objected Tasting the Waves, “and such a motile species as yourself should easily be able to avoid the areas that I store what I do capture in. They are clearly marked-”
“Clearly marked as the prime play areas for my sisters!” the Second Brother protested. “How will we complete our exterior training if the only places that are not covered in razor grass are -”
“Second Brother,” a deeper, calmer voice addressed the excited Shatar.
The smaller Shatar immediately fell silent and tilted his antenna respectfully at the massive female who approached. Tasting the Waves had lived on this planet for most of his current memory and had over long seasons learned to judge the ages of at least the Shatar very well. This was First Sister to the Second Brother, but she was far, far older than him. Tasting the Waves rather suspected that there had been something unusual in the birth order of the local hive, some interruption on the normal progression of reproduction, but every question he had put forth had been politely but firmly redirected so he had eventually stopped asking.
“I think we can trust that Tastes the Wave won’t poison us Second Brother,” First Sister said.
“But!” Second Brother protested.
First Sister clicked soothingly and reached out to run a rough hand over his head between his antenna.
“Peace,” she said in a firm tone. “You will go down and direct the younger sisters through the safe areas. Keep the microbe sampler out if you feel uneasy. It is a simple thing to-what is distracting you?”
Second Brother had suddenly twitched his antenna and tilted his head to the side, his pseudo-frill rapidly changing color. First Sister altered her position as well and Tastes the Waves spent some time determining their new concentration vector. It was out towards the beech where the mammalian mass rested on the sand. Tastes the Waves adjusted his focus to the fibers under that area and felt a ripple of surprise.
“What are the humans doing?” First Sister asked as the watched the human hatchlings rapidly approaching the decaying mass of mammalian matter.
“Hive Smithe organized an outing with the mid-growth stages today,” Second Brother offered curling his antenna in unease. “We were to meet them on the beach and exchange out-garden survival techniques. That is Third Brother Smithe and First Brother Lee. They are-”
He paused and licked his eyes uneasily.
“I didn’t think that human microbe resistance was quite as high as this behavior indicates,” he said, glancing down at Tastes the Waves.
“It is,” Tastes the Waves confirmed. “There are many professions where humans handle decaying mammal material. However I had assumed the human disgust reaction would not permit them to get so close.”
“You know Smith Hive better than I do Second Brother,” First Sister said. “Dose their Third Brother have an underdeveloped disgust reaction?”
“His is rather over developed in my opinion,” Second Brother observed.
They watched in fascination as the humans rushed up to the dead animal that was the cause of their contention. With his extended tendrils Taste the Waves could hear the humans chatting and laughing over something. The noise continued as they dropped down onto the carcass as if it was a garden seat. There was a brief moment of silence where the humans’ mass sank down into the decaying flesh, before they propelled themselves into the air with yowls of disgust and horror and rushed back to where the rest of their party appeared to be unloading foodstuffs from their vehicle.
“That explains the behavior,” Tastes the Waves said in a cheerful tone. “They did not see the carcass.”
“But they must have seen it,” Second Brother protested. “They made it their goal!”
“They thought it was a fragment of a dead tree,” Tastes the Waves explained as he was able to extrapolate what he had heard of their conversation.
Second Brother’s antenna curled in irritation.
“I know their eyesight is better than that!” he protested.
“It is odd,” First Sister interjected smoothly. “Why don’t you go investigate?”
Second Brother turned and scrambled down the path, clicking rapidly to himself.
“They couldn’t just not notice the mammal body,” he grumbled.
First Sister let her frill glow with amusement and offered a brief thanks to Tastes the Waves before she followed her brother.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 180 reviews and ratings! If you bought the book and enjoyed it, it would really help me out if you leave a quick star rating on Amazon. A review would be great but just stars would be a huge boost *****!
QUICK NOTE: RE: everyone who asked. The book is avaliable in Amazon regions US-UK-DE-FR-ES-IT-NL-JP-BR-CA-MX-AU-IN. HOWEVER The above link only takes you to the US Amazon site. The one indicated by the .com ending. If it says "not avaliable in your country" that just means that you need to click over to your Amazon region.
Of course if you want a signed first edition you can email me at the email on my website and I can ship you a signed Author copy of the first edition for the same price as the crowdfunding campaign $35 domestic and $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.