Archive for November 6th, 2011

6th November
written by amber


I have a large miller moth on my conscience. Oh, I know that’s not the politically correct terminology for our visitors. We’re supposed to call them the Euxoa, but really – those long grey cape-like flaps they have, like folded moth wings, and their upper ‘arms’ waving about like moth feelers or proboscises or whatever. Everyone calls them the miller moths.

But not just anyone has killed one – I think I am unique in that. I didn’t mean to do it, but I doubt this excuse will save me. Or any of us.

They’ve been among us for a year and a half now, and I’ve never heard of one dying before this. And not much about them has been hidden from us. They made sure everything was broadcast widely – their meetings with diplomats and military types when they first arrived, then face to face talks with world leaders. Oh yes, they could speak English in their weird vibrating voices, they’d been watching us for years, but from such a distance and with such futuristic monitoring devices, we never had a clue.

They were afraid – of us and for us. Afraid we would make ourselves extinct before we made it off our planet. Afraid we’d find the way into the stars before we learned how to control our violent impulses. When the first possibility seemed imminent, they stepped in.

Oh, it caused a sensation. Curiosity, disbelief, hostility, panic – you name it. We went through months of widespread xenophobia. The miller moths buzzed in approval – they said it was a crucial step for us to overcome the racial, sexual and religious differences which had threatened to annihilate us. A sense of unity was achieved, and ultimately – a realization that any quality we considered to be ‘human’ was shared with these tall, grey, cloaked beings. This understanding was intensified when the Euxoa told us about the Acronikta, aliens who possess not one quality we would consider to be human, dire enemy of every intelligent species in our galaxy.

They told us that the Acronikta are coming and that we need to be prepared. Our brightest and our best joined with the Euxoa to establish our defences. But I am not among the brightest or the best, and my job was the same job I had before the miller moths arrived. I clean the washrooms and hallways and classrooms of the university. Our university got a Euxoa lecturer, who taught 24 hours a day (they never sleep) in subjects ranging from interstellar propulsion methods, power generation using gravitational forces, genetic enhancements to permit humans to tolerate the stresses of galactic life, and so on.

I’m not an enlightened sort – I can accept that the miller moths are here, and they’re our friends and all that, but I’m just not very comfortable being around them. With only several thousand of them on Earth, until the Euxoa guest lecturer came to my college, I never had to worry about it. Back-to-back lectures leave very little time for cleaning, and I’m not as quick as I was when I was younger, so the junior cleaning staffers got that job, but my turn came over the holiday season. The miller moths say nothing about our various faiths, but they don’t observe Christmas, so the lectures continued and it was up to me to dash into the classroom during the 15 minute breaks to sweep and swipe as best I could.

He didn’t speak to me, I certainly didn’t speak to him. Or her – in light of what happened, I guess it was a her. She was making the strangest noise. I’d been in the room with it about five times by then, I’d never heard a noise like that. She sort of fell over, except that sweep of grey skin like folded wings held her up. I’m sure I heard her whisper, “Help me.” There was orange goop seeping out and I lifted up that leathery grey skirt and saw something biting at her. I thought it was one of those Acronikta, I don’t know what they look like, but that’s what I thought it was. I pulled it off her, and she – and it – they both just kind of deflated. And as she withered, I know I heard her correctly this time, she said, “My baby.”

I locked the classroom and put up a sign, ‘Lectures Cancelled for the Holidays,” but I know that won’t delay for long the moment that my crime will be discovered.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

Thank you for this first line to Candas Jane Dorsey.