Humans are Weird – What a Tree
The glittering night sky domed over the last garden gate as Third Sister flicked her antenna in yet another futile attempt to catch the pheromones of Tenth Cousin and gave another futile press at the radio in her hand. It clicked obligingly as it sent out the attention call, but the only response was an answering click from the creature casually munching on droppings at her feet.
The most adventurous of the cousins by far, it certainly wasn’t unusual for Tenth Cousin to linger out beyond their Fathers’ garden for hours at a time. The land around the civilized gardens was remarkably safe for a colony world of such a small population. Sparse forests were filled with small and low energy herbivores which posed little threat to a grown Shatar. The multitudinous parasites that kept their numbers in checks were more likely to be beneficial to a Shatar than otherwise. Still the fact that Tenth Cousin had stated her return time and had gone past it was concerning.
“That human is absorbing into her membrane,” Third Sister said in a fretful tone, reaching down to stroke the broad head of Skitters.
She instantly felt her frill flush with amused embarrassment and Skitters tilted its head and turned it bulbous central eye on her. It’s stubby pseudo-antenna twitched as it detected her distress.
“Nothing is wrong,” she assured it with another stroke down it’s elongated thorax. “I was just rather forcibly touched by a rather amusing bit of hypocrisy. If carelessness of schedule is evidence of human contamination, then speaking to a non-sapient domestic lifeform is far more of a symptom.”
“Well as long as you aren’t conversing with him,” came a sudden voice from the radio in the husky rolling tones of a mammal.
“Third Brother,” Third Sister answered, unable to hide the relief in her voice. “Is Tenth Cousin with you?”
“Sure is!” the human answered. “She’s been a real help today! Sorry we’re so late. We’re just coming over the last big hill. We should be in sight of the garden gate in about twenty degrees!”
Third Sister fought down a surge of irritation and clenched her mandibles on a harsh reprimand. Traveling on foot the time was unavoidable and by the time she could ask one of the Aunts to activate a transport and get out to them they would be almost home. Again she reminded herself that even if there was a danger to a full grown Shatar in the open forests it was more than mitigated by they massive mammal.
“Make sure to have Third Cousin check you for parasites when you get home,” she finally clicked out, giving herself a nice compromise between wanting to pinch his antenna and knowing that she had no real authority over the human.
“Will do!” he replied. “No one wants a repeat of the Koala-Tick incident. Over!”
Third Sister felt a shudder run up her abdomen at the memory of the time the mammal had failed to detect the alien parasite. No matter how many times she reminded herself that the human had suffered little harm from the membrane puncture and the blood loss she just couldn’t get the memory to shed. Skitters turned away from the Koala droppings and rubbed his head against her lagging leg with a soothing series of clicks. She reached down and idly rubbed behind his antenna.
She took a deep breath and rolled her head, stretching out her frill to its full extent.
“Come on Skitters,” she said. “We better head in and see if Third Father needs help with the baskets.”
Skitters hopped after her as she left the garden gate behind.
She had finished stacking the fruit baskets and had begun gathering tomorrow’s greens when she heard the gate click with far more force than was necessary. The human’s voice soon was audible. Third Brother was speaking in a low but enthusiastic voice, presumably to Tenth Cousin. Third Sister caught a few words that she vaguely recalled from her basic botany classes. An image of a wild lichen clinging to the side of a tree presented itself to her imagination and she wondered what the human could find so fascinating about it. The two rounded a corner and a rather drooping Tenth Cousin flicked her antenna at Third Sister in greeting.
“How was your day?” Third Brother demanded without preamble.
“Longer than I prefer,” Third Sister snapped.
The human had the grace to look embarrassed and glanced at the drooping Tenth Cousin with a guilty look.
“Sorry about that,” he began, “I was examining some tracks-”
Third Sister tilted her head at him sternly and he closed his mouth quickly.
“Good night!” he said, giving Tenth Cousin a parting pat on the head and stumbled quickly off towards his hut.
Third Sister stood from where she had been crouching over the greens patch and tucked what she had already gathered into her bag. Skitters hopped up to greet Tenth Cousin eagerly.
“Did he collect any parasites today?” She asked.
Tenth Cousin flared her frill in exasperation and held out a specimen container.
“He had collected six blood sucking parasites and ten interstitial fluid sapping parasites!” she exclaimed.
Third Sister clicked in surprise.
“That is quite the haul even for Third Brother,” Third Sister observed. “Did he forget to bind his limbs properly?”
“No,” Tenth Cousin replied as they walked into the center of the garden. “He spent the whole day wrapped around this one tree. It was covered in lichen and the leaf eaters he calls the gecko-mice had a colony there. He was following their tracks through the lichen. They kept dropping parasites down the back of his neck.”
They fell silent and Third Sister pondered that information. She tried to imagine how a mammal that massive could “follow” the tracks of a creature a thousandth of his mass. She supposed he had traced them with those binocular eyes that rolled around in their socket. Her antenna started to ache with the effort and she sighed and rubbed her forehead.
“Did any of the parasites survive?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” Tenth Cousin said, giving the specimen container a speculative shake. “One of the blood suckers was still pulsing when I pulled it off but it went still pretty quick.”
Third Cousins mind wandered back to the human’s behavior despite her best efforts.
“He spent an entire afternoon studying one tree,” she said slowly. “How did he not get bored?”
“I don’t know,” Tenth Cousin admitted, “I was quite ready to leave.”
“Humans,” Third Sister muttered.
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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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