Music to my Ears

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sometimes, when you least expect it, good things happen to those you befriend.

From orbit, the planet below displayed a remarkable similarity to Earth. Although the continents were clearly not the same, there seemed to be an equal distribution between landmass and ocean.

“Standard orbit, Captain,” the Navigator reported. “All probes indicate conditions acceptable to humans.”

The Captain rubbed his hands. “Good. Good. Call away the standard exploration team.”

An aide behind him said, “Yessir,” and departed through the hatch.

An hour later, seven crew members, five men and two women, stepped from the shuttle onto the surface of the planet.

Their choice of landing sites had been chosen by the apparent flatness of the terrain. To the North were steep, pointed mountains with a strange bluish tint. Surrounding them in the middle distance was lush green grass, perhaps three inches deep. The Eastern land was dotted with mounds approximately six feet tall. Closer yet was a small pond filled with green water. Over half of it seemed to me covered with lily pads. There was an occasional oddly pitched croak from a hidden source.

One of the landing crew took a deep breath. “Smells quite fresh. Sort of lemon tang, or some kind of citrus.”

The Captain pulled a comm unit from his belt. “Radio check.”

The other six reported in turn, making a test transmission of their own. The radio operator on duty up in the ship responded, “In working order, Captain.”

“Very well.” To the exploration party, he said, “Let’s get busy. We have a lot to do. According to the ship, local nightfall is five hours away. We’ll meet here.”

Everyone responded positively and scattered into their assigned routes. They traveled in pairs, leaving the captain standing by their shuttle.

* * *

Over the course of two weeks, they had found many fine examples of fauna, now carefully preserved and sent up to the orbiting mothership for storage. At first, they were overwhelmed by the amount being cataloged, but on the third day, an odd thing transpired.

Professor Kodaa happened to be passing an “earthen” mound while whistling his favorite Puccini Arias. At first, he simply thought he’d heard some type of echo. Pausing, he stood in one spot and tried several test notes.

They were returned nearly immediately from what appeared to be an opening at the top of the mound.

“How odd,” he muttered, trying another series of chirps and tweetles.

He was soon surprised to see a triangular head with two compound eyes and long, sweeping antennae peering at him from the mound.

“Bee weep,” it said.

Kodaa responded with the same two tones in near-perfect pitch, “Bee weep.”

“Chirp twaaaaa bee chiiiing,” the head tweeted.

Faced with the knowledge he wasn’t a Xeno-linguist, Professor Kodaa backed away slowly, lifting a hand in a gesture of friendliness. A thin, green stalk lifted above the head and the tip rose and fell, duplicating his movement.

Once he was away from the mound, Kodaa lifted his comm unit to call his wife, who was their linguist. “Barbara, where are you?”

“Over by that group of what looks like banana plants, Bernard. Why?”

“I seem to have made contact with some sort of intelligent species.”

“What! Did you say contact?”

“Yes. I whistled to it.”

There was a pause. Then, “You whistled to it. Any response?”

“Yes. I think it answered me.”

Another, longer, pause. “I’ll be right there. Turn on your beacon.”

Kodaa flipped a switch on his comm unit and sat on the ground to await his wife. When she arrived, they moved closer to the mound, and the professor whistled “bee weep” at the top.

A head, similar to the last—maybe the same one—appeared and answered him, “bee weep.”

There was a rustling sound, similar to canvas being dragged across the ground, then the head rose much higher, followed by the long, articulated neck and shoulders of an insect-like creature.

Startled, the two scientists backed away several steps and watched as the rest of the mound’s inhabitants appeared.

“Looks like a Mantis,” Barbara remarked.

“It does, doesn’t it? Some notable differences, though. Look at the upper arms. They don’t seem to be folded. And the abdomen is slimmer. I wonder what those two spurs on the back legs are for.

The answer was provided almost immediately. With quick movements, the spurs rose and fell against the back legs of the creature. “Bee weep Sweeeeee.”

“Like a cricket!” Barbara exclaimed. “Makes sounds with its rear legs. Whistle back, Bernard.”

Bernard responded as best as he could, repeating the “greeting.”

This brought forth a torrent of melodic tones from the creature.

“That’s beautiful,” the professor remarked. “Their language seems to be made up of compositions in place of words. You should get cracking on translations, eh?”

“You bet,” his wife said.

* * *

A week later, with the assistance of the ship’s computers, Barbara Kodaa had managed to translate most of the Krall language from their melodic tones into standard English. A working vocabulary had been transmitted to each member of the away team so they could communicate with the beings they’d designated the Kodaakiis, in honor of the professor who made first contact.

The Kodaakiis had been flourishing on their planet for thousands of years, developing into a highly intelligent race. They had their machines, which the team was allowed to view once they’d gained the confidence of their hosts. Living underground, they explained, was logical as there were no usable areas on the surface where they could raise their families.

Kodaakian’s had a primitive form of hunting in which they poked among the reed-like fronds growing near the lakes and feasted on amphibians closely resembling toads.

Their primary form of entertainment, however, was hosting story telling sessions in which great orators stood and offered their musical compositions to the crowd. Applause, as one might imagine, was deafening.

One elder Kodaakian, whose name was Bleeoop, sat at the Captain’s side and translated some of the more obscure portions of the singer’s oration. During the performance, the captain noted there were several of the Kodaakian who didn’t participate in the festivities.

“What is the function of those sitting at the side?” he asked Bleeoop.

“They are outcasts,” he sneered. “Unable to make even the most basic of sounds pleasing to us. They will eventually be killed as undesirables.”

Withholding his opinion on how harsh this sounded, the captain only nodded.

At the end of the program which lasted nearly three hours, the away team returned to their shuttle and prepared to depart for the orbiting ship. They were startled to discover one of the Kodaakians huddled in a corner of the cabin.

“What have we here?” demanded the captain.

Barbara Kodaa spoke up, “This is one of those poor beings who can’t communicate, sir. I told him I’d try to help him.”

“You did, eh? How do you intend to do this? You realize he’s set to be executed, don’t you?” He paused in thought. “Wait a minute. You’re trained to advise us on extraterrestrial legal matters, aren’t you?”

“Yessir. We are about finished with our survey and I know we can’t take him with us. I’ll work out something to help him.”

“Hmm. Very well. But, remember, he cannot go with us.”

Barbara and her friend left the shuttle, walking toward the mound housing the Council. She rehearsed several arguments and settled on the best one that came to mind.

Twenty minutes later, she descended from the mound, face glowing with happiness. She’d saved her friend, who was finally able to croak out his name: Grrrch.

She’d left him knowing he wouldn’t be killed, simply ignored and allowed to go on his way.

When she returned to the ship, the Captain summoned her to his cabin.

“Well, Ms. Kodaa, did you fix things up for your friend?”

“Yessir. He won’t be killed. I have the Council’s guarantee on this.”

“How did you manage it?”

“I thought my best shot at saving him would be to have him declared non-compose mantis.”


Submitted: April 17, 2021

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


james di angelo

Good story Bill. Reminds me of some of the sci-fi humor stories of some of the 40s and 50s writers. [ IMO the best era for Sci-Fi tales. ]
Fun read, Bill.

Fri, October 1st, 2021 1:27pm


Thanks, James. Not everyone got the pun though. If a person didn't have a passing knowledge of US law, the phrase wouldn't mean a thing. The "I was nuts" defense isn't used very much.


Fri, October 1st, 2021 7:01am

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