“Well.” I stood in my bulky environmental suit. “They do say different strokes for different folks.”
I thought the five Bungees I was with were going to fall over from laughter. So, I pointed to the strangest looking structure I’d ever seen, and asked, “What the heck is that?”
The little Google translator in my ear went nuts trying to translate what I’d said into their language, and then spoke lots of gibberish trying to translate what my Bungee friends had said in response. Something to the effect of, “That’s one of the apartment complexes we live in.”
Thing was huge. The Bungee people average nine feet tall. The science teams explained it was because of their weaker gravity. “They grow taller because they can. Given enough generations, we’d grow taller here too.”
Nine feet tall. So the floors would have been maybe twelve feet. And there were twenty floors in each leg of the structure. Over forty stories tall. “What’s that part that sticks out?”
After more gibberish, I pieced together it was something like a gymnasium, and shopping center, and an architectural balancing act. “Without them, the whole thing would fall down.”
As we approached the complex, we chatted. The Bungee loved to talk. They never really stopped. “You guys know, right?” I had to make sure they knew, “About the Kosmaj Monument in Serbia, on our world, right?”
Again, they all laughed so hard I thought they’d fall over. And the gibberish translated to roughly, “Oh, yes. It’s a bad imitation.”
“Yes. We sent the architectural team pictures of one of these. We served as their inspiration.” Which I thought rather nicely explained why the Serbs had made such a wacky monument.
We chatted as we walked between each of the five sections of the complex. “I sometimes wonder, how long have you guys been visiting Earth?”
“Oh, for tens of thousands of your years,” the one to my left answered.
“Oh, yes. We have watched your people grow,” the one to my right answered.
The one behind me answered, “We’ve explained it all to your scientists.”
The one to the front left of me giggled, “They said, ‘You mean, it’s true? All the stories about aliens?’.”
The one to the front right of me grinned, “Yes, it’s all true.”
Then they told me the story of how they tried to keep others from interfering in our natural evolutionary path. “It is not good to interfere with the natural progression.”
Talking with the Bungee was an experience in confusion, as they took turns speaking, always in the same order, with each of them saying one sentence. We spoke about the history of their watching Earth. Of different races that went to Earth, and deliberately acted to accelerate our development. “That acceleration is what caused the wars, and the lopsided economies, and the rich and poor problem.”
As we walked among the parts of the complex I finally realized, there were five Bungee in each group I had encountered in my time on their world. And there were five separate parts of the complex.
“Guys. Why five parts?”
They looked at each other. They nodded at each other. All five smiled at the same time. And they spoke, one at a time, in the same order as always, “Because each of us has five parts.”
“It’s why we watched your people develop. You are the only people we’ve ever encountered that exist in only one part.”
I stopped walking, “Wait. Wait. Guys. You mean, there’s not five of you? There’s only one of you?”
They all five nodded. “Yes. We are five parts.”
“We never get lonely.”
“We have always been fascinated by your people.”
“Because. All your parts are independent. You only have one part.”
As they guided me through the complex, I had to make one comment. “So. Perhaps this explains why we all live in boxes.”
I was actually kind of fun to hear the Bungee laugh. Especially knowing that all five of them were one Bungee. “Y’all are going to take some getting used to.”
“Indeed, Earthling. Indeed.”
“I can’t wait until you meet the Swarm.”
“They each have millions of parts.”
I couldn’t imagine that. One being. With millions of parts.
This exploring the galaxy thing was going to be rather interesting. I wondered how the science team would react to what Bungees really were.
Remember, people. The universe is weird. Much weirder than you can imagine. “I don’t think we’re ready to meet the Swarm.”
The Bungee spoke once more. “They will show themselves when they think you are ready.” It paused. “And no one is ever ready to meet them.”
This is written for Week 43 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. This week, I managed to beat the deadline. Barely. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.