Breadcrumb #237


She stands at the bar, surveying her surroundings. She’s never been in a place such as this: the intergalactic hub at opposite end of her Solar System. A barkeep passes by with what looks like a towel thrown over its shoulder. She motions for another one of the turquoise looking concoctions that stands drained in front of her. 

    She’ll need the liquid courage if she plans to allow anyone around her to approach.

    “Is this your first time, honey?” asks a twelve foot tall monster, with a head so high up she can barely make out what few facial features it has. “Let me buy you something to eat.”

    “I’m fine, thanks,” she says, sipping at the drink in front of her. Salty, with a hint of hazelnut, which settles into a burning sensation that stretches all the way from her throat down to her toes.

    It holds out a giant, leathery tentacle, which she grasps, shaking with all of the power she can muster.

    Confused, it grunts, “What do you think you’re doing, miss?”

    She glances down at her hand, still grasping the slimy thing in front of her, when she notices a second drink down on the bar next to her own. She lets it go, and whispers, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

    Something reverberates throughout the entire building, and she thinks it might be this thing’s attempt at laugher. Or disgust, she couldn’t be sure. Other patrons around them stop mid conversation for a moment to gawk, before returning to mind their own business.

    Without another word, her new friend slinks off, sidling up to another woman across the room. She isn’t sure whether she should be offended or relieved, but in the moment decides for the latter.

Something reverberates throughout the entire building, and she thinks it might be this thing’s attempt at laugher. Or disgust, she couldn’t be sure.

    The barkeep returns, chuckling, “You won’t last another day here.”

    “And why would you say that?” she spits, a little too indignantly.

    “You humans, you’re all so jumpy. I’ve never had one of you last longer than a month,” it glances up at the wall, to what looks like a clock, and finishes,  “My money says you’re outta here before I close for the night.”

    “I’m not that green around the gils, you know. I’ve just never done anything like this.”

    “Tell me something I didn’t know,” chuckles the bartender, a martian with skin bluer than the Atlantic ocean.

    Another patron, this one with a skin the color of snot, decides to pipe up. Its features are humanoid, but you can tell by its face that it’s never called the Earth home. “You’re all the same, you know that? You think you’re so special because your skin is pink and silky smooth. That just because they don’t wear make up or come from earth means they’re somehow less than. You make me sick”

    “I take offense to that, and I’ll have you know...” she starts, but doesn’t know where she ever meant to finish, instead staring into the bottom of her glass and staying silent.

    “You would,” it groans, belching loudly and stalking off after another, more accommodating hostess.

• • •

Breadcrumb #233


They came from planet Earth.  That’s what they told us.  The word sounded foreign on our tongues, “Earthhhhh.”  It was hard for us to get our mouths to make the scratchy, whispery “th” that was nowhere in our language, which is all silky and smooth and full of long “ooohs” and “ahhhhs”.  We communicated with the Earthlings mainly through gestures and misunderstandings, trial and error, even our gestures were different.  Apparently, on Earth you communicate the affirmative by moving your head vertically.  The misunderstandings diminished exponentially once we figured that out. 

    One Earthling was especially skilled at translating our gestures.  She seemed to understand that when we came close to her face and exhaled in a deep sigh, we weren’t trying to intimidate but to welcome, and she soon tried her own, stunted version of the meeting ritual.  Soon she had taught her fellow travelers, and the streets of our planet were filled with Earthlings and our people breathing deeply on one another.  

    Marcia, that was her name, was good at imitating our breathy language, and seemed to really want to learn the meaning of our words.  Within a month, she spoke more fluently than a three hundred-year-old child, and we were all impressed that she had learned so quickly.  We made little effort to pick up the Earthlings’ language after that.  It was too harsh and rough on our lips, and we had Marcia to translate for us in the interspecies meetings that were held twice daily in the Planet Center.  

We made little effort to pick up the Earthlings’ language after that.

    Still after the first month we were unsure of the reason behind the Earthlings’ presence on our peaceful planet, and Marcia, try as she might, was having extreme difficulty explaining it to us.

    “We want to see,” she said.


    “Because it’s there.”


    “Because we can.”


    “Because…”  She stalled, apparently lacking the vocabulary to go further.

    “Do you wish to take from us?  Our resources are many.”

    She appeared confused, and denied any intent to steal, borrow, or barter.  

    We believed her.  After all, this was our Marcia.  Our friend, our curious ally, our translator and representative.  If only we’d known how soon we would come to regret it. 

• • •