Preamble: This the sixth chapter of a serialized science-fiction short story concerning animal control and an exterminator. (Previously: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 and Chapter 5)
by Cheeseburger Brown
"Are you completely mental?" I wanted to know. "You're some kind of activist, right? Save all the poor whatevers -- isn't that it?"
She watched me pace, eyes tracking patiently side to side, top to bottom.
"I've run into your kind before, of course," I added, wagging my index finger. "Oh yes. It's nothing new. Same old nonsense. Think of things as people, people as things. As if. As if you'd harbour that malarkey if you'd worked an honest hour in your life! What are you -- a university student?"
"We are not a student, no."
"A professional layabout, then? A hedonist? A scientist?"
"We are Queen of Space."
"That's ludicrous, lady. Do I look cognitively impaired enough to believe that? If so, at which frequency?"
"Your belief is immaterial to the fact, citizen."
"My name is William. Please use it. I won't be called 'citizen' and have you think every time I don't bother to roll my eyes I'm endorsing your bunk."
She closed her eyes briefly, then opened them again and tried afresh. "William, we implore you to stop the assault on these people."
I cocked my head, confused. "What people?"
"The people of this world."
"Are you one of those oddballs with way too many pets, and you confuse them for children? Level with me: you're a crazy ape lady."
"These apes are our progenitors, William."
"You think I don't know that? There's not a thing about ancestors I don't know, lady. Trust me. I've been in this racket for nearly nine decades. I wrote the book on ancestors. Like, almost literally."
"Have you ever taken a moment to converse with one of them?"
I squinted sceptically. "You hear apes talking to you?" I took a careful step away from her. "When was your neurological integrity value last probed?"
Her face tightened. "The progenitors are not capable of proper human speech, of course; but they are fluent after their own manner. Their speech is like a scaffolding that gave rise to our own. A different form, naturally, but the grammar is familiar -- if elementary."
I grimaced. "But it's liquid communications, isn't it? It's all ripples in a medium. Like smoke signals."
"Are you capable?"
"Well of course I'm capable. It's just a bit off-putting. The idea."
"But you are not afraid to attempt it?"
"Of course not."
The self-crowned crazy ape lady straightened, her chin high. "Then let us share with you the details: touch your finger to ours. And we will convene a council with their appointed speakers, and you will come to understand what we have."
I swore quietly and shook my head, then offered out my ring finger. She touched the tip of hers to the tip of mine and a bunch of foreign details trickled into my blood. Oscillation patterns encoding verbs, adverbs, nouns and noises.
I looked up. "This better be good. I'm on the ministry's clock."
"Prepare yourself to be astonished, William, for in a moment you will peer into the face of time itself and see the eternal essence of your own kind reflected there."
I had to look away. "Sacred dung. You really are unbelievable, lady."