14 December 2012
By Curtis C. Chen
"So," the human asked, using the translator in his computer tablet, "what's a nice pupa like you doing in a place like this?"
Anafful suspected this was an attempt at what humans called "humor," and what her mother called "useless vocalization," especially if it came from one of Anafful's friends.
It was lunchtime, and the friends in question had all abandoned Anafful to gawk at the aliens milling about the cafeteria downstairs. She had seen this human walking around the wards previously, talking to various people until he was shooed away by the nurses.
Anafful suspected he was a galactic census adjunct or some such boring thing. She had watched as he approached, mystified as to why all her friends found these endoskeletal beings so fascinating. To Anafful, the human looked pink and squishy, like an oversized and undercooked land grub.
His appearance made her a bit nauseous, to be honest, but she did her best to be polite. After all, he was a guest in her star system.
"I will soon enter the chrysalid phase of my adolescence," Anafful said, speaking slowly so the translator program could follow along. "My ancestors are among the custodians of this institution, and thus my family enjoys the benefit of its medical care."
"Got it. Trust fund baby," the human said, operating the tablet with his soft, fleshy fingers. They made a disturbing, wet, thwack sound with every impact against the touch-screen.
"I do not know what that phrase means," Anafful said.
"Don't worry about it. So, your friends who were in here earlier, are they classmates then?" the human asked.
"Some of them, yes. My school is—"
"And at least one of them was male, is that correct?"
Anafful suppressed any display of annoyance at his interruption. "Two were males. Gaddlim wore the bright red cap, and Driicha has the emblem of ascension etched into his left wing carapace. They—"
"Have you engaged in sexual relations with either of them?"
Anafful could not help fluttering her mandibles at that. "Why are you asking me these questions?"
"Or are your eggs not accessible until later in the metamorphic cycle?"
"Who are you?"
"What about with the other females?" the human asked, apparently oblivious to Anafful's objections. "Have you ever performed mutual—"
Just then, a nurse passing by the open door of Anafful's room burst in, seizing the human by his lumpy shoulders and spinning him around.
"Hey!" he yelped.
"You again!" the nurse said, and shoved him out the doorway. "Out! Right now, or I call security!"
"I'm allowed to be here!" the human protested from the corridor.
"You're not allowed to harass children!" The nurse slammed the door shut, then turned to Anafful. "Are you well, miss?"
"Yes," Anafful said, clutching her bedcovers close to her shell. "But confused. He was asking me all sorts of... strange questions. Who is he?"
"Just one of those soft-brained human scholars." The nurse shook her head. "I swear, it seems like all they ever want to talk about is sex."
Image: I'm looking through you by Gabriela F. Ruellan, February, 2007