“Art is subjective,” Twenty-Three Trills observed uneasily as Forty-fifth Flap licked his winghook and turned the next page in the massive sketch book.
“Not that subjective Forty-fifth Flap muttered as the page eased down in the thick atmosphere with a soft susurration of plant fibers gliding over each other.
“These creatures surely cannot exist,” Twenty-Three Trills insisted as he stared down in horror at the multiple rows of teeth.
There was a massive tongue, not quite like a humans, but Human Friend Jenna had made sure to draw the details down to the rough taste buds. It was ringed by jagged teeth, each roughly the shape of a winghook, clearly designed to rend flesh. The horrific part was how many rings of teeth there were. Some were fully extended from the gums, damaged and falling out. Some were just beginning to protrude.
Unconsciously Twenty-Three Trills ran his own thin tongue over his nice thin teeth, needle nommers, the humans called them, arranged in evenly spaced rows.
“Why would Human Friend Jenna spend so much time sketching creatures that don’t exist?” Forty-fifth Flap asked as he took an image of the page with his multi-tool.
Twenty-Three Trills shrugged.
“Art,” he offered again. “I have an aunt in my home-flight who decorates our family tree with all kinds of winged insects that look nothing like they do in real life.”
“Isn’t she the one you say uses scraps from the utility-harness manufacturing plant your uncle runs though?” Forty-fifth Flap asked.
“What are you sounding at?” Twenty-Three Trills asked.
“Your aunt’s imaginary creatures are the result of applying a medium that imposes restrictions on her art,” Forty-fifth Flap explained as he laboriously turned another page and took another image. “There are no restrictions at all in this simple drawing format.
Twenty-Three Trills gave a vague grunt at that and turned his attention to the drawings. Forty-fifth Flap was a scraping good scout but once he got started on the details of whatever art he was considering he would talk until your sensory horns went numb. Twenty-Three Trills was beginning to regret mentioning his artistic aunt. This page of the human’s sketch journal showed the creature in profile. There was a humans sketched in for scale.
“Those animals can’t exist,” Twenty-Three Trills said firmly. “Look at it’s size! Those are clearly terrestrial limbs and nothing gets that large in a gaseous atmosphere. The surface to volume ratio is just too skewed. The only question would be would it overheat to death before it achieved peak toxicity and died from toxin overload.”
“It might be aquatic,” Forty-fifth Flap said as he turned another page. “Look, here we see it coming out of the water. Those fins might be for heat diffusion.”
“Even if it is from a planet with low gravity to explain the size,” Twenty-Three Trill objected, “and high atmospheric pressure to provide enough of its primary gas, and it has a way to diffuse heat it can’t get around the toxin load-”
He cut off as the next page turned and the Forty-fifth Flap gave a soft trill of astonishment. The lower limbs were not finished in the sketch. The creature, imaginary or real had his head turned to look over his shoulder. The lines around the dorsal fins radiated in a way to imply they were generating light. It’s gaping maw full of teeth was wide open and a beam of light was blazing out at some target in the far background. Twenty-Three Trills squinted at the target.
“Is that an insect?” he demanded. “The legs and wings would indicate-”
“This must be how it releases excess heat,” Forty-fifth Flap said with a happy click.
“That isn’t real!” Twenty-Three Trills snapped. “Look at the insect! There is no way that wing structure could be that large! The gravitational force alone on the circulatory system-”
“Quite, quite,” Forty-fifth Flap muttered with an absent wave of his wing as the page turned again. “Here are the ones I wanted.”
“Oh,” Twenty-Three Trills looked at the new page with a faint feeling of weak wind. “Those are just studies of humans.”
“Yes,” Forty-fifth Flap said, rustling his wings happily as he began taking images of the sketches. “My cousin Seventh Flap told me that Human Friend Jenna did excellent human sketches. The art style emphasizes neo-natal features a bit but the over emphasis of the muscle structure is very useful for studying human anatomy.”
“I see,” Twenty-Three Trills dropped his chin down on his crossed winghooks and admired the drawings. “They are extremely accurate, though I must say that most humans I know would not be as flexible as the humans in these pictures.”
“Over emphasizing flexibility is a hallmark of art,” Forty-fifth Flap said. “In every species except the Gathering I believe. If you have joints the art shows the maximum use, not the average, especially studies like this.”
“That makes sense,” Twenty-Three Trills agreed. “Practice has to be a bit disassociated from reality.”
He paused and wrinkled his nose however as more pages of studies in human movement were turned in front of him. Forty-fifth Flap finally noticed his silence and glance up at him from the bench where he was examining the sketch book.
“What is bothering you now?” Forty-fifth Flap asked his nose frills bouncing in amusement, “we know humans are real.”
“The ears,” Twenty-Three Trills said slowly. “Not all of them, but some of them are … oddly shaped.”
Forty-fifth Flap glanced down at a crouching human and his head tilted to the side.
“While I have never seen humans with ears that shape I have heard that it happens,” he said.
“And there are marking on the face and sometimes the arms,” Twenty-Three Trills stated.
“Is Human Friend Jenna depicting their stripes?” Forty-fifth Flap asked.
“The markings are not stripes on the sketches and don’t follow the real patterns that the Undulates describe,” Twenty-Three Trills said. “None of this is completely out of range of human variability, especially if you take personal adornment into account, but it is odd that these elements are so concentrated.”
“I sound your meaning,” Forty-fifth Flap agreed. “The most common marking seems to be these vertical, triangular stripes on their cheeks. I have never seen any human decorate their faces like that.”
“Perhaps it is a technical marker?” Twenty-Three Trills hazarded. “Something to indicate something relevant to the physical position of the subject?”
“Unlikely,” Forty-Fifth Flap said. “It would be more prominently displayed and many of these are quite hidden. This is curious. I have never seen this in any other human art style.”
“What style of art did your cousin say Human Friend Jenna practiced?” Twenty-Three Trills asked.
“I can’t remember at the moment,” Forty-fifth Flap said. “It originated in some geographically isolated area so it is distinct from the general drift of the two dimensional art humans produce.”
“Curious,” Twenty-Three Trills observed. “Do remember to tell me when you ask Human Friend Jenna about it.”
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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
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