Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
“So when’s your kill frenzy?” asked the giant, barbed Tark beside me. His name was Jant. We were both assigned to navigation in the starship. It was our first day. He had hundreds of holes in the back of his uniform to accommodate his spikes. I’d never met a Tark before.
“Sorry, my what?” I responded.
“Your kill frenzy. Once a month for two days, my race has to kill something or go insane. My next one’s coming up in six days. When’s yours? If we sync up, maybe we can kill together.” Jant said and smiled, sheathing and unsheathing his talons reflexively in a disconcerting tic. He had too many teeth.
“I’m a human. Uh, we don’t have kill frenzies.” I said to him
All of his eyes widened in shock.
“Really? Gosh. I thought all sentient species had a kill frenzy. It’s how to maintain a peaceful society. Has your race ever experienced murder?”
“Indeed we have. We can kill whenever we wish to. We have social laws and many religions that stop us from doing it, though.” I said, feeling a little strange about the picture I was painting.
“But those laws and that other thing you mentioned, rell-i-jun? They haven’t stopped the killing.” he pointed out, obviously confused.
“Uh, well, no. But, I mean, the hope is that we, uh, maybe mitigated it. I guess.” I finished lamely. I really hoped he wouldn’t ask me any questions about wars. Or holy wars.
Jant eyed me guardedly and took a small step away.
I changed the direction of the conversation, “Uh, so how do you deal with your kill frenzy when you’re out in deep space like this? We can’t get back to your planet in time. Do you lock yourself in your room?”
“No I told you. We go insane if we don’t kill.” said the Tark, “I have several months worth of victims in my storage allotment. I merely pull one out, bring it to my quarters, and spend two days killing it.” He kept tapping in astrometric data. “It’s why my quarters have extra soundproofing and a drain in the floor.”
I blanched. “Do you eat it afterwards?”
“Good heavens no. We’re not barbarians. Who would eat living things?”
“Well we did.”
“I didn’t think that was possible. Well it must have driven you insane not to eat them, right? You had no choice.”
“No, it was optional.”
“Well, at least you never killed for sport, right?”
“Actually that was quite popular”
“With your fangs and…claws?” He looked me over, finding no evidence of naturally occurring offensive weaponry.
“No, mostly with weapons we designed to uh…kill from a distance. More effectively.”
In the ensuing silence, I felt as if I’d said something sacrilegious. The soft pings of the control panels and the dull hum of the engine reactors bridged the awkward pause.
“Hey, you torture living beings for days so….” I blurted out. My back was up.
“They evolved to enjoy it. It’s how their spores are released. They look forward to it and experience ecstasy as they are skinned. It’s mutual. And it’s not….by….choice.”
A chilly, more permanent silence descended.
“I may have to request a transfer away from this station.” Jant said. “You are too frightening to me.”
Under my breath I whispered, “Yeah, said the eight-eyed, two-and-a-half-meters-tall bristling collection of barbs and claws that has kill frenzies.”
That was two months ago. I haven’t spoken to Jant since but I hear he’s very popular on the ship. I hear he’s very kind.
I, on the other hand, am having a hard time making friends.