“Friend Forty-seven-clicks!” Twistunder greeted the Winged who was hunched over the communal pool. “It is good to see you!”
“Ah?” the Winged raised his amber head and blinked as he focused his attention on the undulate. “It is good to see you too Friend Twistunder.”
Twistunder swam leisurely up to the prominence where Forty-seven-clicks was staring over the surface of the pool. Twistunder felt a stirring of unease as he approached. He was not particularly good at reading the emotions of the flying mammals. However the relative increase in folds and creases in Forty-seven-clicks’s facial membrane would seem to indicate distress.
“Do you wish to talk about your emotions Friend Forty-seven-clicks?” Twistunder asked.
Forty-seven-clicks bared his teeth and squinted his eyes in a gesture that even Twistunder could see was frustration.
“I would rather talk about human madness,” Forty-seven-clicks chirped out in anger.
“What did a human do this time?” Twistunder asked, genuinely curious.
“Not a human,” Forty-seven-clicks corrected as he dipped the tip of his wing in the water. “The humans psychology as a whole.”
“How so?” Twistunder asked.
“I was out on a long range scouting run,” Forty-seven-clicks said with a sigh, slumping down onto the perch. “We had a transport but it was flat-land only so we had to get out and fly or climb to explore.”
“There was a human in your flight?” Twistunder asked.
“Yes, a healthy young one,” Forty-seven-clicks replied. “So the expedition is going just fine but we get to a steep cliff where we needed to get out of the transport. I flew up. I needed to rest at least five times and even the human needed to rest from his climbing but eventually we reached the crest. The winds were strong so I followed protocol and attached myself to the human’s neck harness. After we finished the formal survey the human walked to the edge of the cliff and just…stared.”
“What was he staring at?” Twistunder asked.
“The emptiness of space,” Forty-seven-clicks replied. “That is all we can see at that distance, even with our superior sight.”
“Then what happened?” Twistunder pressed.
“The human’s heart rate accelerated,” Forty-seven-clicks said. “His breathing increased. Something was stimulating him.”
“But all he was looking at was the emptiness of space?” Twistunder asked.
“Then he asked me, without making eye contact, if I ever got the urge to jump off of cliffs too.” Forty-seven-clicks said.
Twistunder pondered this a moment. “That phrasing would imply that the human had the urge to jump off of the cliff.”
“Yes!” Forty-seven-clicks hissed out.
“Humans cannot fly,” Twistunder continued.
“Of course not with those ridiculously giant bodies!” Forty-seven-clicks said.
“It would be fatal to leap from the height you describe,” Twistunder said with rising horror.
“So I called off the mission and reported the human to the psychologist!” Forty-seven-clicks explained.
“That seems perfectly reasonable,” Twistunder said.
Forty-seven-clicks threw himself down on the perch and hung his head over the water.
“You would think,” Forty-seven-clicks said. “But apparently it was simply my ignorance that interfered with the mission. The urge to jump from fatal heights is a psychological standard in humans that I would have known about had I read the informational packet fully.”
Silence settled over the friends and Twistunder mused over this revelation.
“Having impulses that you do not act on is one of the defining elements of sapience,” Twistunder said slowly. “But I have never heard of such an illogical example of this.”
“Well now you have,” Forty-seven-clicks said with a sigh.