Saturday, October 17, 2009


Category: Issue 17



It was adoption day at the facility. All those humans slated for euthanasia looking so bewildered, frightened and lost. How can anyone just leave them all to die? Thork and I rolled by the glass fronts of the cages stacked three rows high. So many of them. There must have been several hundred. They stared back at us hollow eyed and distrustful. Most had given up any hope of rescue. It was so sad.
Thork and I would take them all home if we could. As it was, we had already rescued six over the years. They make such wonderful pets. So grateful to have another year or two of life. Loyal, loving and kind, there’s nothing like a mature human to make a bleem a pronk. I look at their faces. I believe I can read a lot into their expressions. These are the unwanted refuse that clutters our streets. Picked up like vermin, breeding in dark corners, mongrels the lot of them. And yet, I believe, there is a dignity in even the lowest of them. Clean them up and feed them and they are the equal of any pure bred expensive variety.
  I have had nothing but good experiences from my rescue pets. Oscar was beloved by all in the years he lived with me. It broke my org to flush him but he was so broken, he was not worth fixing. To this day I don’t know how he got under my roller. But I believe that every life is special and that there is something cute and worth saving in all of them. I roll by slowly and check out their faces. I nudge Thork with my appendage and point to a female in the third row. A mature female beyond child bearing years with a soft belly and sagging breasts. Water streams from her eyes like they do when they are sad. It touches my org. “She’s the one,” I tell Thork and he rolls off to get the attendant.
The attendant expertly wraps an appendage around our female and rolls her to the front. They are so small and delicate. The attendant examines her and gives her her shots with a big needle. She lets out a little yelp of pain and he puts her in the carrier we brought. We give the attendant credits and Thork carries the human to the transporter. We will keep her in the cage with the others. They seem to like their own kind. Outside the air is cool. The human whimpers and cowers in the corner of the carrier. I smeem to Thork, “Look, she shakes. That means she likes me doesn’t it?”
“Perhaps she is frightened or cold,” Thork knows nothing about humans.
“Perhaps,” I smeem back unconvinced. “I will call her Oscar like my other one. What do you think?”
Thork smeems assent. I stick my appendage into the carrier and stroke the creature. It shrieks. I can tell it likes me.


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Old Comments

  • I just re-read this and I have to say, the premise runs against my understanding of… what can we call it, evolved inter-species communication.  There’s a story of an elephant and a dog and their behavior suggests to humans that they care for each other.

    As deep as I can imagine into the extremes of sentient - or, let’s say conscious - behavior, there’s always a heuristic: does this behavior help my situation?  If Thork and the narrator’s species have humans “at the pound”, it stands to reason that they’ve classified some behaviors as results of pain and others as results of pleasure.  The ones in cages would have figured out this mapping - unless maybe they’re two-year-olds.

    Still, the idea that one can completely misinterpret the affects of - really anyone else - is an interesting point to play with.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/31  at  03:22 PM
  • You are absolutely correct as far as ‘human thinking’ goes but don’t forget we are dealing with aliens here and the only thing you can about ‘alien thinking’ is that its, well, alien. Thork and the narrator don’t even recognize us as intelligent let alone sensitive and aware. I think the alien/human relationship is fraught with mis-understanding. I have several stories on this same theme. I’m going to put one up now on Litmoc. See what you think. Thanks for the comment.

    Posted by tobiash  on  12/31  at  04:23 PM
  • I see potential.  Perhaps you can expand the story to include the whispered wisdom of the kept aged pet(s) and how it changes the life of one or moer of their keepers.

    Ever heard of Robert Heinlein?  Ever heard of the Heinlein contest?

    Good luck,
    Art (GFS)

    Posted by Green Fingered Skinner  on  03/02  at  12:18 AM
  • It IS interesting.  I was going to agree with Dave because I’d like to believe in inter-species empathy etc. and there certainly is a lot of it… but then on the other hand we have cases where humans can’t seem to recognize or care about each other’s suffering. 

    On the other hand, in this story there are some mixed signals or something.  The narrator uses words like “loyal”, “loving”, “kind”...“frightened”,
    “cold”...  seems to WANT the human to like her (it?)... If all these words have their ordinary meanings, then it seems that the narrator has a lot in common with us, and the whole possibility of misunderstanding the pet seems, well, no more twisted than some actual pet owners, I suppose. 

    It is a thought-provoking story.

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/02  at  10:56 AM
  • I think the narrator is well meaning and wants to take care of the unfortunate creatures but being so alien totally misreads the human emotions. The narrator mistakes fear and terror for affection, this sets up a strange contrast between the humor of the aliens and the grimness of the reality from the human’s point of view.
      I explored this theme again in a story posted here called A Simple Misunderstanding. I was wondering if you read that and what you thought of its theme of alien mis-communication.

    Posted by tobiash  on  03/02  at  11:18 AM
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