Interspecies Relations Part Four

More from my Confluence 2003 Short Story Entry!

* * *


Hannah briefly considered, but discarded, the highly attractive urge to fling herself out the bathroom window and escape.  She opened the door.

The inestimable Mrs. Henry Fuller stood bordered by Secret Service men in black suits.  Under her suspicious glare, Hannah found herself toeing the carpet, making up excuses and thinking of all the reasons she’d left home in the first place.

“Um, phone cut out.  Strangest thing.”

“Oh, just let me in before that crazy lady from Channel 5 takes my eye out with a microphone.”  Her mother dismissed her entourage with a royal wave and marched into the foyer.  Hannah shut the door.  Locked it.  Leaned against it.

“And I don’t know why you couldn’t just stay in your old apartment.  Not good enough for the bug, I suppose.  Had to have his own little dung ball to roll around.”

Hannah scowled at the door, wishing she dared to answer that.  The truth was, the Tharku emissaries had in fact refused to allow X’sizza’’ryk’n’a’’a’nix to live in the middle layer of a citizen hive.  There had been discussions concerning a penthouse suite until the aliens learned that even those living on the top floor still had to obey the building supervisors.  Hence the house. Which was a very nice house in an intimidatingly upscale community, with all the things that should have made her mother very happy, like a heated pool and a walled garden and even a meditation room, but if she brought them up, she knew her mother would eventually twist them around and get her to admit that yes, she only had them because Nix’s people had insisted, and that made the Widow Fuller’s only chick and child a kept woman. To a bug.

Mrs. Fuller had her hands on her hips, the better to survey the meager lump of Hannah’s possessions strewn among the great heaps of Tharkan furnishings.  “All right, where is it?” she demanded.  “I brought fly paper.”

“Mom!” Hannah groaned.

“Well, you’d better get used to it.  These are the problems you let yourself in for when you marry a bug.”

“Don’t talk like that in front of Nix.  We’ve both had a hard day, and –”

You’ve had a hard day!  Did you see your daughter on the morning news coming out of the courthouse after getting married to an alien? A courthouse, Hannah! You weren’t even wearing white and the whole world saw it!”

“—and,” Hannah continued resolutely, “you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with your alien in-laws.  Nix comes from a very high-ranking family.  Only the ambassador has more authority here on Earth.”

“Well, they’ve already carried off my firstborn, I fail to see what more they could oh my god!”

Hannah considered the expression of horror as it manifested on her mother’s face, took a deep breath, and turned around.  Nix was striding towards them from the bedroom, waving its antenna and bobbing its head in cheerful greeting.  Its mandibles had been painted fire-engine red with lipstick, and it was wearing a lace-edged apron and two sets of fish-net stockings.


12 responses to “Interspecies Relations Part Four

  1. I know I should root for the hero and heroine of the story but, I just love the mother and the things that come out of her mouth. So funny!

    • At the risk of sounding smug, I’d just like to say that the second and third place winners as well as both the runner-up stories featured humanoid aliens or humans in an alien setting wearing the fishnets. But by God, I gussied up a bug.

      In retrospect, I think a starsquid would have been funnier…tentacles in four pairs of stockings….yeah, I missed a golden opportunity there.

  2. I thought the lipstick was a nice touch. Lol
    Btw, this is OT, but I’m 34 yrs oldd. I still–occasionally–get an irrational panicky feeling to run and hide when I hear the garage door signaling my mom’s home. Just thought to share!

  3. I love this story! Nix is so comically innocent I just want to pat his wringing feelers and kiss him on top of the head, and yet, he is reassuring Hannah that he has everything under control. 🙂
    One of my favorite things about Gann was the language barrier. I realize this is a short story so Hannah doesn’t have “novel time” to learn a new language but I’m incredibly curious about something… If you were to write a short story like this now, would you use a translator?

    • I probably would for *this* story, simply because it’s so short and I don’t have time to address the language barrier any other way. Also, because it’s not unreasonable (in my mind, anyway) to think an alien race initiating first contact would develop translators before they started negotiating a formal alliance.

      For future stories? It would depend entirely upon the context. I’ve always felt that language barriers should be addressed as part of what makes a plausible scenario…and when you write as far out into FantasyLand as I do, plausibility is on the Top Ten of Things That Make or Break a Book. Personally, I also liked the barrier in Gann, because it was one of those things that allowed me to flip who the “alien” was. Writing English as unfathomable phonetic gibberish was lots of fun. Unfortunately, it also ate up several chapters as Amber and Meoraq struggled to understand each other, adding to an already mega-long book. I don’t often consider the length of the book a factor in whether or not I should write a scene (I like long books when I’m reading), but when I start tickling 700 pages, even I look at trimming stuff down and a lot of people just don’t think of language as important.

      • I agree about the initiators of first contact being responsible for an attempt (or non-attempt, depending on the motive) at communication. I was just thinking about your previous post on language and your feelings about translators.

        I am ALWAYS wiling to read more pages and be pulled into the reality of how crucial “communication” is, (be it different languages or a failure to listen and actually hear someone who is speaking the same language) rather than cock my head to the side with a REALLY??? expression when reading about two different species immediately falling into conversation. “Hey Baby that third teet is hot!” “You are such a pig! Take me to your pod and ravish me!”
        It means the difference in finishing a book and thinking it was pretty good or walking around for days with a book you’ve read a dozen times wishing the woman with the dragons in her hair would be standing on the next corner!

        You never fail deliver.

        Thank you for taking the time to respond

      • I laughed a lot harder than “Take me to your pod and ravish me” probably deserved. I have got to say that in real life some day. Some day soon.

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