Author: Mary-Wren Ritchie

My gut alerts me with a plague of insects in my head and a whirlpool cascading waves through my phalanges.

But I’m already on the spacepod and I feel the shape of Gemini projected onto my scales.

I meet the constellation arrangement of the fligo’s seven assorted eyes.

They stir their three antenna through the heavily controlled air supply creating milky protein vapor overhead.

“Are you OK?” They ask via vapor.
“Uh. Yeah.”
“Do you have a fligo?”
I am tempted to lie. Fligos usually leave molin alone when they’re spoken for. Deciding integrity over safety I hear myself say, “Why?”
“Maybe I’m interested.”
Acid douses my insides and my scales stand on end. I’m surprised by how angry this makes me — the assumption that the most important part about me has more to do with another creature than it has to do with me.
“I am an extremely interesting being. The least of which is my fligo status.”
“That’s fair.”
“You make a good point.”

Is this fligo fucking with me? Or is there something wrong with its possessive processing center? I’ve heard tales of malfunctioning fligo ousted for not desiring domination and control but wrote them off as mere fables meant to give young molin hope. Maybeeee…

I look closely at this fligo. Lavender pockmarks sprinkle its eggplant face. Their yellow eyes twinkle reminding me of my first star reading lesson. I repeated my families words before setting out to Earth today, “Trust your instincts even if you’re unsure. Atmospheric interference differs from planet to planet.”

The fligo is studying me just as intently, crunching on its tentacles, regenerating new ones.

“What do you enjoy about being a molin?” they ask. Light green aura radiating genuine interest. I decide to answer despite their species exploiting the answer to this very question for centuries.
“Our commitment to each other and our natural gravitation towards the stars.”
“Oh. Have you ever been in a black hole?”
“What? Of course not. No one has been in a black hole and escaped. That’s the entire concept of a black hole.”
“It could happen.”
“Really? Have you been in a black hole?”
“Oh. OK.”

I stare out at the stars through the port window. The speed of the pod and vastness of space reduce the huge balls of fire to fleeting lines of light.