“Will this ever end?” Human Friend Ester cried out in a wail of agony.
Fourteenth Sister laid her frill back and reminded herself that she needed this employment. She was fully molted. She was perfectly capable of putting up with human idiosyncrasies.
“Are you referring to this particular stretch of the path?” Fourteenth Sister asked, more to stop the nymph like chattering of her companion.
“Ughh! No!” Human Friend Ester replied. “It levels out just around the corner. I mean this hike! Why is it so long?”
“Did you not chose this route when we were planning the excursion?” Fourteenth Sister asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” Human Friend Ester said with a dismissive wave of a hand. “You’ve never been in this neck of the woods before. I’ve done this hike like three times. I swear it get longer each time.”
“Are you suggesting?” Fourteenth Sister demanded, her frill laying flat against her shoulders in irritation. “That someone has come out in the time since your last visit and restructured the course of the path?”
“What?” Human Friend Ester glanced at her and tightened the twin flap of skin over binocular eyes. “No, no. I mean it just feels like it. I sear you have to be mad to make this a pastime.”
Fourteenth Sister coiled her antenna and fell silent as she tried to parse that statement. While there was the possibility that Human Friend Ester was questioning her sanity, Fourteenth Sister’s experience to date suggested it was some colloquialism. Still, the rules of deep space exploration did dictate that she follow up any such suggestion.
“Are you suggesting that my mental health is impaired?” Fourteenth Sister asked.
“Huh?” Human Friend Ester glanced back at her with that unfocused look that was so very disturbing on a species that so obviously was designed to focus.
“You suggested that anyone who would make climbing this trail a pastime was mentally unstable,” Fourteenth Sister explained. “I have chosen this as a pastime.”
“No, no!” Human Friend Ester said with a laugh. “Just a slip of the tongue. In that case I’d be right nutters too. I invited you out here after all.”
“Yes you did,” Fourteenth Sister observed. “I am beginning to wonder why.”
“You make a great hiking companion,” Human Friend Ester said. “Not that I mind carrying the cuddle mops or the Hell Bats but you know it’s good to just free- ah, travel without having to be constantly thinking about not having to sit on someone you know?”
“You could simply request that your companion not use you as a resting surface,” Fourteenth Sister suggested.
“Nah!” Human Friend Ester said. “Wouldn’t want to offend the little cuddle buggers. Besides, you can nearly keep up.”
“Nearly?” Fourteenth Sister arched her antenna in query.
“Yeah,” Human Friend Ester went on. “And the little bit you do slow me down is a nice break from this lung popping hill.”
Horror rippled through her frill at the image that conjured. The massive, inflatable human lungs, of such a volume that they doubled as buoyancy organs, would indeed ‘pop’ spectacularly.
“You do not need my presence to justify traveling more slowly,” Fourteenth Sister pointed out, desperately trying to rid her imagination of that image. “This is recreation.”
“What would I complain about then?” Human Friend Ester asked.
Fourteenth Sister actually stopped in her tracks as she parsed that.
“You wish, you desire...a reason for complaint?” she asked.
Human Friend Ester glanced back at her with that strange contortion called a smile playing over the human’s face.
“Complainning’s the national pastime where I’m from,” Human Friend Ester replied. “Gotta keep in practice.”
Fourteenth Sister resumed her pace and began counting the days until her period of service was over.
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.