I arrived without a sound. Without terror, without threat. I meant the humans no harm, though their horrified expressions portrayed otherwise.
The captain jolted. The officers gasped. Everyone froze as I stood there—the foreign alien—tentacles floating carelessly above my head.
I sensed their fear and their desire to run. To destroy me, to be a hero and save themselves.
I raised my hands—isn’t that what the humans do to look innocent? I only wanted to help—to know what it was like to be one of them.
A roach crept along the floor, pausing to glance at me.
“What do you want?” the captain growled. I felt his nerves, his thoughts, thinking I meant to kill them. Nothing more than a murdering beast, here to destroy them all.
I raised my hands—isn’t that what the humans do to look innocent?
I twisted my hand, gazing upon it with curiosity. My dark skin was cracked, covered with scales. Sharp, angled claws protruded through the stubby tips of my fingers.
Is this what terror looks like?
“I want to help,” I said. But they didn’t understand. Human minds are small. My words, nothing more than a garbled mess of angry snarls, translated to, “DEATH IS NEAR!”
Hands crept toward weapons.
Am I that easy to kill? I wondered. Is my image that revolting?
My eyes closed. My tentacles twisted and formed and melded together. I allowed myself to relax.
I played my song. Quietly at first, and then louder, letting it float its way to the corners of the room, under the floor, into the ship’s operating systems.
The worry hung in their thoughts—the realization that the space roaches were slowly destroying their ship, along with the passengers inside.
I called, and the roaches came. They slipped through cracks in the floor. They wormed their way out of broken wires and compartments. They all came to me.
As the roaches followed, I did what any other human would do—I announced a price. Sketching the number, I scratched the floor with a claw, sending a sharp, grating sound into the air.
Seven thousand. That was my price.
The captain’s mind was slow, but his brow hardened when he finally put everything together. I heard his thoughts as he stared at me. This creature wants me to pay it for taking our roaches? Human money?
Creature. Is that all I am?
Finally, he nodded. “Rid the ship of the roaches. The money is yours.”
I bent to the floor, song quieting. The roaches gazed at me, patient, waiting for my command. My body pulsed; the power inside increased. I raised my arms, forming a circle with my looping tentacles. I created a dark portal, leading into the empty void of space.
The roaches skittered inside. I looked up to see the crew staring at me, mouths open and eyes wide.
I took a bow. I rid them of their roaches. This is what they wanted, and now they had to understand. Now they had to see me as an equal.
The captain shied away as I held my hand to him, outstretched for the payment. “Go,” he hissed. “You have no use for men’s money.”
I created a dark portal, leading into the empty void of space.
The curves on my scales lifted. He meant to go back on his deal. He meant to betray me.
But how—after what I had done? I saved their ship and their lives.
The captain stood, arms crossed, glare pinpointed on my yellow eyes. “Go,” he repeated, and I knew there was no changing his mind.
Just as I arrived, I left without a sound. One moment I was there, the next I wasn’t. Instead I watched their ship from a corner of space.
There, in my corner, I fumed. Roars rose from my throat; a fiery hatred burned at my soul.
What did I do wrong to be treated like this? Was I really nothing more than a creature to them?
I shuddered as my body flexed. Spikes released, claws sharpened, my melody intensified.
If they refused to treat me as an equal, then I would unleash my power. I would show them what it’s like to be rejected and ignored.
I hurled myself to their ship. This time I arrived with many sounds. Loud, crashing notes of song, screeching in their ears. Revenge—that’s what I felt as they wailed and writhed.
Loud, crashing notes of song, screeching in their ears. Revenge—that’s what I felt as they wailed and writhed.
“AM I THAT MEANINGLESS? IS IT THAT HARD TO TREAT ME AS AN ALLY IN THE GALAXY?” I screamed this in their faces, though they couldn’t understand.
I took my place at the front of the ship—exactly where I had placed myself before.
The crew went silent. Their faces reflected pale, white creatures.
Creatures who refused to pay my price.
My eyes closed, and I gifted the crew a final performance. The melody rose, but this time I did not take roaches. Instead I took those who still yet didn’t know the cruel ways of this universe. I took those with small minds I might be able to change.
The cadets—the young officers. They followed my song’s commands and marched into the portal.
And I followed them, with the desire to teach proper manners of the galaxy, and the intent to never return.
I arrived without a sound.
I left with distant echoes of my piping song.
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Meet the Author
Katie Grace is an aspiring teen author, determined to spread hope and light in this messy world. She’s overly enthusiastic about stories of all kinds, and sometimes writes 20,000 words in a day (do not question her insanity). Along with binge-eating pizza and staying up long past midnight, one of her favorite things to do is to connect with other writers — especially on her blog and Twitter.