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Some Form of Contact

Marie Vibbert's work has appeared in Analog, Asimov's, F&SF, and five times in Daily Science Fiction! By day she is a software developer in Cleveland.
Jody climbed the rusty ladder to the apartment roof, Mick behind her making the metal vibrate with his heavy male steps. His face was close to her ass, which embarrassed and thrilled her. He was the hottest guy in the whole apartment complex. She was already imagining kissing him on the sun-warmed tarpaper. She turned, breathless, to help him over the lip, blushing, sure the climb had been half foreplay.
"Cool." Mick gazed past her over the rooftop. Then he walked away from her and sat down against an air conditioner housing. He got his phone out.
Jody checked the romantic sunset to see if it was missing something. "What are you doing?"
"This is the perfect place to watch invasion footage uninterrupted."
Jody slumped next to him and tried to look interested. She'd been trying to forget current events. There were shots from cell phone cameras and official footage. Even some NASATV stuff. Mick liked the cell phone shots best. "That's authenticity," he paused and pointed at the photographer's bored friend, looking down at her phone as the spaceship slowly filled the sky over them. A baby in a stroller nearby was eating its fat fist.
The whole thing terrified Jody. "You notice they're over major industrial centers, right? Like Independence Day. Preparing to wipe us out." Terror made her horny. She slid a hand up his denim-clad thigh.
Mick ignored her. "Or population centers. To meet us. Ooh, Look at New Delhi. It's a party!"
Everyone was doing this, Jody thought. Staring at the images, torturing themselves with questions. There wasn't a spaceship over Dayton, Ohio, of course, which made Jody feel both relieved and left out. "What if we're all about to die?"
Mick shrugged and his warm bicep brushed her arm. "What you're feeling right now? It's like when the principal walks into the room, right? Everyone assumes it's bad news first. We're wired that way. But nine times out of ten, he's just there to tell someone their little brother's got lice."
Oddly specific, but Mick's little brother was a grubby kid. Jody snuggled her shoulder under Mick's and leaned her cheek on the soft cotton over his pec, comfort seeping into her with his warmth. He looked down at her, an expression of shock and delight sinking into his features.
On his phone, the video showed a hatch irising open. The camera shook, people running.
Mick stiffened. "And that right there? That's the principal clearing his throat."
Jai swam slowly, rolling all eir tentacles, filling the corridor space as Mai followed and, maddeningly, failed to bump into any of them. Of all the crew on Exploratory Ship Seven, Mai had the spiciest scent and the most nuanced colors. Jai had convinced Mai to take night watch with em in the hopes of finding out how pliable eir skin was, but all Mai wanted to do was stare at the watch feeds of humans. "Look how they gather under the ships. It's just like in that entertainment where the mind-controlled mutants attack."
"Maybe they want to look at us." Jai slid one of eir tentacles around Mai, feeling for the ticklish tips of Mai's suckers, playfully, as a friend, but maybe more? The nubs were firm, tight like control buttons. Jai couldn't help but linger on them.
Mai brushed Jai's tentacles aside. "You haven't read the briefings, have you? These humans are violent and dangerous! Even their reproduction is violent!"
"Reproduction. That's a great topic." Jai tensed eir skin to deepen eir color to sexy darkness. Ey thought smooth, attractive thoughts.
Mai finally looked at em. "We have nothing in common with these creatures and we're trying to make contact without triggering their very triggerable aggression. Aren't you scared?"
"Very." The fear heightened eir longing for contact. Jai trembled with want.
Mai rolled eir tentacle tips and turned a sarcastic shade of purple. "If only the humans were more like you. Instead of bracing for warheads, we could open our vent flaps and brighten our skins and copulate our way to galactic peace."
Jai bumped eir head into the hollow above Mai's tentacles. "We could try?"
Mai pulsed, colors mixing and deepening, annoyance, a scent of frustration. Jai's embarrassment seeped from eir skin. Amused ripples of pink on Mai's soft skin gave way to compassionate red. Ey wrapped a tentacle around Jai. "We could."
As they caressed each other's tender vents, the warm waters of the watch corridor permeated with excitement, the drifting emotional signatures of all the crew, the tang of the hatch opening.
On a rooftop in Dayton, a phone tumbled forgotten under two pairs of denim-clad legs. On the screen, human and cephalopod advanced toward each other, both hesitant, both straining every sensory organ, like lovers alone for the first time.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 10th, 2020


I wanted to create a flash piece that told a first-contact story from both sides, to show how intra-group fear is universal and shouldn't stop us from taking a chance on each other. It was challenging to squeeze everything down to fit but still give the characters personality and the aliens alienness.

- Marie Vibbert
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