Prompt: The prompt for this story was actually a drawing of a small fishing boat near two giant creatures, one submerged in the water and one flying nearby.
The pterafriend pumped its wings and pulled them through the clouds swiftly, so its passenger wouldn’t get too wet in the process. What the passenger wanted to do exactly was not clear, he had some sort of strange vessel, but he was friendly enough, and the pterafriend offered rides to anyone and anything that was friendly enough.
“So what’s the metal thing for?” the pterafriend asked, curving its long neck around to look at the human passenger upon its back. The human looked confused, so the pterafriend stuck out its absurdly long tongue and tapped the hull of the human’s small fishing boat. “Dis fing,” it said through a mouth full of tongue.
“Oh, that’s a fishing boat,” the man said. He wiped some of the cloud sweat off of his hairy forearms and adjusted his hat. Then he broke out his starscreen and began applying it. The clouds were thick now, that was how he got his opportunity, but it might not last. “I need it to stay steady and dry while I use this.” He carefully stood between the pterafriend’s pumping shoulders and walked across its smooth green scales to the boat. He dug out a rod and reel; the were classics, without any built-in A.I. or anything.
“You humans barely ever bring anything down here,” the pterafriend commented once it had reeled its tongue back in. “Usually just fancy clothes and those… what are they… shoes? The shoes that let you walk on our seas. Oh and talk. You bring plenty of talk.”
“Those are the ambassadors,” the hairy man was quick to say. “We’re not all like that. I’m just here to fish. I’n going to be the first man to catch and cook something from another planet. You know, all of us were at least excited to find you guys here.”
He remembered back to when he’d heard the news on his ship’s only channel. A new planet! Something that could maybe get the human species to unite once more! It had life no less, and it was intelligent. It was colorful and varied, like a mural from a quirky liberal arts town brought to life. Huge stomping dinosaur-like things with only kind words to share. Creatures like the pterafriend, always eager to lend a wing.
How many years had it been since he’d seen his own family? He had a daughter somewhere. With as much traveling the average person did across the wet edges of time and space, she could be older than he was now. It was just so easy. They had machines to build all their ships, and everybody could have their own. You could strike out into the galaxy and find a corner where no one could bother you, as the hairy man had done.
“We’re here,” the pterafriend said as they broke through the clouds. A dark blue sea spanned to the horizon. He thought the pterafriend was going to land like a seaplane, but a platform rose out of the ocean to meet them, a platform of more smooth scales, big purple eyes with horns for lashes, and teeth the size of safes. The pterafriend perched on one of its brows and told the man to get in his boat. From there it slid the vehicle down one wing and into the water. The man rose, wobbling only a little in the placid water.
“Uhh, thank you!” he called out to both the pterafriend and the living platform. By the look of its neck extending deep into the sea, he guessed the creature was as tall as a skyscraper. He didn’t know if it was intelligent, but it was quick to demonstrate.
“Hello,” it said with a voice so deep it sounded like it echoed from the center of the Earth. Well, not Earth. That polite greeting started somewhere leagues below him, in a chest he could live in for the rest of his life. “A new friend?”
“Oh yes,” the Pterafriend said with a nodding head. “He’s got more hair than the others. And he talks less. I like him. He’s going to fish.” The pterafriend nestled down in the muscles of the larger creature’s brow and watched intently.
“Uhm… did you want to watch?” the man asked.
“Yes please,” the large one said. “We can be quiet if you need to focus.” The lower half of his head sank back into the water, leaving nothing but the eyes and the pterafriend. He didn’t see the harm. They both held very still, and the shade of the creature’s bulk might actually attract fish. He readied the rod and skewered a piece of bait. It was a small piece of composite protein, of his own design, red and white. It would wriggle just like a living minnow with the right flick of the wrist.
He stood, pulled back, and cast his line. The reptilian aliens stared in fascination, tracking the bait perfectly. The man glanced at them. He was a little nervous they would tattle to the next ambassadors, but he would likely be long gone before they came back. He wasn’t supposed to be there, he didn’t have clearance, but the laws of the land meant little when they could refer to so many lands on so many of the little clay marbles out in the galaxy. He could do what he wanted, and he wanted to fish.
“I’ve got a bite!” he declared after just thirteen minutes of waiting. He pulled back, locked his feet into the holdfasts built into the boat, and started the arduous process of catching his dinner. It didn’t matter that he had about three hundred years of concentrated vitamins and protein in the tank aboard his ship. He was a hunter. His stomach cried out for the fresh real meat of a new world.
“He’s got a bite,” the creatures repeated to each other. “He’s got a bite.” They leaned in. He’d darted away from his home planet ages ago to avoid audiences like this, but there was little he could do about them, and he wasn’t interested in getting swallowed over the small matter of them watching. The reel nearly popped out of his hands. He was distracted. No more. Everything was on the line.
He managed the tension to the best of his extensive experience. He’d caught swordfish on a hundred worlds, all imported obviously. He could get whatever this was. Closer. Closer. His arms burned and felt like they were about to pop from the socket. This thing fought for its life, but it didn’t stand a chance. He’d cut his muscles on this exact process. It was his oldest memory, since he’d had the earlier ones digitally cleansed.
With one last tug his feet came loose, he stumbled back, and he hit his head against the plastic. Luckily it was the sort meant to absorb human clumsiness and cause minimal damage. His prize landed on his chest: a strange orange and black fish with a big head, a gasping mouth, and wiggly eyes on stalks. He snatched it by the tail and hoisted it into the air, showing off for his alien friends.
The only problem was, others watched now. Thirty pairs of eye stalks weer above the water, encircling his boat like an angry patch of crabgrass. Two of them showed their full faces.
“Give us back our child!” one of them burbled. The other hissed.
“Oh… I’m so sorry,” the man said stupidly. He moved toward the edge and dropped the creature back in, where it joined its parents. He was sad to see it go. It would’ve made an excellent trophy, or tray of fillets with Saturn limes. “I didn’t think the fish were smart.”
“Oh you never know what’s smart,” the biggest creature said, “until you talk to them. That’s what’s weird about you humans right? All of you are smart. See, my father is just an animal. That fish right there…” he extended his own strangely long tongue and pointed to one of the sets of eye stalks “… is dumb. That’ one’s dumb. That one’s dumb. Those two are smart.”
“Oh,” the man said, crestfallen. “Can I… eat any of them?” The eyes hissed and bubbled in unison, some bearing their rings of teeth. The pterafriend lunged from the largest creature’s head and snatched the man by the shoulders, flying him high enough to avoid the fishy assault as they slammed into his boat and leapt into it. “Wait… I want to make ammends.”
“They’re touchy,” the pterafriend said. “They’ll only accept blood or eggs or something. Your firstborn would probably do.” The hairy man thought a moment.
“I can do that. Bring me back.” The pterafriend did as he was told, telling the fish to calm down so the man could get back in the boat and dig out his firstborn. The fish gasped at the sight of it. It was a perfect beautiful egg. The man offered it to them, even topping it with salt. “Here is my firstborn.” He relied on their ignorance to keep humanity’s reputation in the black. “The first egg I ever laid. Will you accept this as a token of my apology?”
They were glad to have his hard-boiled child, and left him in peace afterwards. It was supposed to be the sliced garnish for his dinner, but he supposed the experience was nourishment enough. It seemed the ambassadors had their uses after all.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Dwaiquiche during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!