Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Once they were gathered on the elementary school playground, teams needed to be selected for a game of Grobnars and Subjugates. Dinklebarg, a grobnar, was today’s selector.

Greg, a human, raised his hand and asked, “When we play Grobnars and Humans, how come I always have to play the human?”

Dinklebarg flapped his gills in consternation, the tips of his tentacles pinking in embarrassment at having this conversation again. “You’re the only human in the group, Greg.”

Greg responded, “But Fleeznar and Wyndleflang get to be humans sometimes. They’re grobnars. They get to play different species. Why can’t I?”

“Because we can retract four of our tentacles to look like a human.” Dinklebarg retorted.

Greg was aghast. “Look like a human? What? But you’re green! And you have more eyes than I do!”

Dinklebarg shrugged his torso mass “Well, I mean, it’s close enough, isn’t it?”

Greg gestured to another child. He was a tall, black, spidery creature that was listening to the conversation. “And Jeevnitz here isn’t even a grobnar! He’s a nurktick and he gets to play human too, sometimes.”

“He can crouch on his hindstilts, pull two of his forelegs in and fold his antennae down. If you’re looking straight at him then his mouth pincers look like lips and his wings are transparent. The profile’s pretty convincing, I think.” said Dinklebarg.

Greg crossed his arms. “That’s ridiculous.”

Dinklebarg yellowed in anger. “Look, are you making trouble? You humans are so sensitive.”

Greg said, “All I’m saying is that it sounds like you’re saying that all species are interchangeable with humans but that humans can’t be anything else.”

There was a pause on the playground. Everyone was listening now.

“Oh, here we go.” said Dinklebarg with an exasperated fluff of his tentacles.

“Am I wrong?”

“Look, you lost the war”

“Oh here we go.” said Greg, mocking Dinklebarg.

“Am I wrong?” whined Dinklebarg, mocking Greg.

Greg said “Yeah, well, Jeevnitz’s race lost his war to the grobnars but he gets to play as a human.”

“His race put up a respectable fight.” barbed Dinklebarg.

Greg continued, “AND he gets to play grobnars AS WELL when it’s necessary.”

“Well….he doesn’t make trouble like you do”

“I’m not making trouble!” shouted Greg.

Jeevnitz’s nickturk buzz chimed in “Uh, Greg, could you leave me out of this?”

Dinklebarg and Greg stared at him and then back at each other.

“Look, bonebag..” said Dinklebarg.

“Oh, excuse me for having an endoskeleton.” replied Greg, curling his hands into fists.

Jeevnitz drummed his legs and hummed to Dinklebarg “Hey, you can’t say bonebag. That’s speciest.”

“Thanks for finally showing up, Jeevnitz.” Greg smiled at Jeevnitz.

“I might be insectile but I’m no speciest.” replied Jeevnitz, fluttering his wings.

“Oh, you subjugated races just love sticking together, don’t you?” pouted Dinkleflarg, his tentacles striping red in defeat.

Greg persisted. “All I’m saying is that I can play a grobnar once in a while if it’s needed.”

Dinkleflarg relented. “Okay okay. Fine. You can play a grobnar today. Happy?”

21188 pistoned over to the conversation, face shield projecting the letters “HEY GUYS WHAT’D I MISS?” with a smiley emoticon. He ticked, waiting for a response, servos whining as his silicate head swiveled from face to face of the other children.

Greg blushed “Oh man not this guy again.”

Jeevnitz rolled his eyes and clicked his mouth pincers in annoyance. “Awkward.”

Dinklebarg said “We’re not playing robots today, 21188. Go on standby or something until recess is over.”

21188’s face lights changed to “YOU GUYS ARE JERKS” with a frown face symbol as he turned to motor away.