My skin reflects shadows of the jungle. Deep jade greens and umber skip over my new surface, chasing each other like butterflies. My hand, its virgin nevus splayed between my fingers as if it wants to web, looks alien; a messenger from their world.

“Does it hurt?”
“Not really. It throbs a little.”

It swells and rises with the tides of another world. It feels their sunrise and the direction of their wind, wet and pregnant with spores. It thrives on the rhythms of alien moons as it gnaws its way up my elbow.

“Do you retain sensation? Do you feel this?”
“Yes. A stabbing pain. Sharp.”

The pain is like a story told by someone else, told to a hand that picks kauma berries from inside a ripe solar cluster, a meaningless story hardly worth repeating.

“You are very brave, Miss Levy. This mission is invaluable to – ”

The silver sheath is spreading up my shoulder. Every day, I am a little less human, a little more myself. Reflections chase each other up my breasts, down my shoulder blades: yellow flares like lantern eyes, the deep burgundy of the night sky. Electric bursts of lightning spread down my belly, tantalising and sharp.

“The Kaai expect you. They will probably send a ship. We don’t understand everything, but –“
“I’ll wait.”

There is a mirror in my room. I like its duplicity, its pretence of companionship. I look into myself through its warped surface, and I am looking into a jungle. The Kaai welcome me with sweet water and soft leaves.

They call me Silver, for the colour of the reflections of the cities of Earth that forever chase each other over the surface of my skin.

5 thoughts on “Contact”

  1. I think this one is scaring everyone away ;>. It’s beautifully, beautifully written; the poignancy and poetic flow of the internal bits is wonderfully set off by the matter-of-factness of the dialogue. You do amazing things with dialogue, it’s inspiring me to do something stupid like write my next three entirely as dialogue just so show I can, because I suspect I can’t. The blurring of the prosaic identity with the alien one is inevitable and powerful.

    I love your imagery; I love the sensuality of the colours and the intrusion of moons and butterflies and spores and the rhythms of the natural, if alien world. There is an amazingly vivid immediacy here to what is essentially an imagined experience. The whole thing succeeds very beautifully, and completely seduces me away from my immediate and cynical sf-geek response, which was to go “oh, yes, this one, seen it lots of times before.” Most recently in Avatar, but you rub our noses unmercifully in what Avatar could and should have been.

    Single jolting moment: “its virgin nevus splayed between my fingers”. This is a lovely phrase and the unfamiliar term is all about estrangement and the weirdly unfamiliar and works in sheer effect, but it’s bugging me because I thought a nevus was a lesion on the skin, and I can’t make my mind see how it grows between the fingers rather than on them. If you’re seeing the adaptation sheath thingy as a sort of growth which starts as slimy stuff on your fingers, it’s not quite coming across.

    But I loved this. Thank you. Beautiful writing.

  2. p.s. docinatrix, voted person most likely to be sunk completely if we limited comments to the same number of words as the actual story. Sigh. I fear I’m professionally verbose.

  3. I loved the central ideas in this one – almost always these transformations are expressed as horrific, scary, disorienting or all of the above. Instead your character seems to yearn for it – to loose the internal part of her humanity long before the external; also she doesn’t feel alone but apparently the opposite – as if joining something bigger than herself.

    Like how little is told about the who and why of what is happening the character as the character doesn’t seem to have such mundane cares any longer.

    I enjoyed the multi-leveled aspects of the reflectiveness; especially the idea of the two worlds reflecting in her body which you seem to imply towards the end. In criticism I only really began to understand the ending (that the Kaai are kind of present around her and with her already) on a second or third reading and perhaps this aspect of the reflections (that the kaai can see our world through her reflection and visa versa should be more explicit)

  4. This piece is beautiful and strange. It took me a few readings to make full (kind-of) sense of it, but even initially it was lovely and poetic. As elementalsystems says, usually this thing is full-on horror, but here it is a beautiful, sensual and transcendent experience (even though it is still a little creepy envisioning this thing climbing up the narrators arm).

    I love your descriptions of what is happening to the narrator – and through them the alien world. I particularly love “Deep jade greens and umber skip over my new surface, chasing each other like butterflies,” and the paragraph that begins “The silver sheath…”

    I like the symmetry of the beginning and end – with the images in her skin described. The juxtaposition of the dialogue and internal monologue also serves to highlight the narrator’s increasing alienness and removal from the world of the dialogue.

    Thanks, I really enjoyed this.

  5. Our Hero, I believe, is on another world, living beneath jungles. She is undergoing a transformation, perhaps imposed on her by aliens called the Kaai. Slowly a silver sheath is growing over her, and she expects that the Kaai will send a ship to fetch her and take her to wherever it is that she should be.

    I love the description in the last sentence, about the reflection of the cities of Earth. Also, I like the consistent breaking of the prose with the dialogue; in my mind it sets up a beat to the piece that paces my reading of it: a bit of description, a bit of action, a bit of description, a bit of action. I thought it was effective.

    > Umber
    Great word! Had to look it up, but will be remembering it.

    > Do you feel this?
    I enjoy how the action isn’t describe, but implied via the dialogue.

    I thought this was a lovely piece. Thank you.

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