Friday, December 10, 2010

Communication Error

In the moments being asleep and awake, the most basic part of Alex’s brain determined everything was right enough to not worry. He was somewhere dark, comfortable and warm. Didn’t even need to open his eyes to double check.

Something soft moved in his arms and panic shot through him. His body twitched as the rest of his brain came to life and demanded all the information it could get, leaving him disoriented in the darkness before he remembered where he was and that it was Carbon who had her face pressed against his chest.

Last night started to filter back in, achingly slow. Carbon had been eager enough to get him into her bed, the two of them zipped into the bunk in the dark. She had been recalcitrant to do anything else with him, explaining that she did not want that particular memory tainted by accidentally getting drunk and then throwing up on him.

Alex understood that well enough, he’d never been fond of his drunken memories... At least, the ones he remembered. In return, Alex had confided to her that despite his bravado, the idea of having sex with an alien freaked him out a little bit. He had explained it more delicately at the time.

Carbon had sounded so relieved and he heard the smile on her face when she had replied, saying she felt the same way and that they may have rushed things more than they should have. She had fallen asleep in his arms moments later and he joined her quickly, happy with that.

She stirred in the now and made a low rumble as her head poked out of the comforter. He could just barely make out the gloss of her eyes as she inspected the clock over his shoulder. Carbon sounded like she wanted to be annoyed but was too tired for it. “Alarm is not go off for hour. Why awake?”

He gave her a squeeze and shrugged, not actually knowing why. “Just did. Go back to sleep.”

“Okay.” She rubbed his ankle with her own, a gesture he now understood as affectionate. The glint from her eyes disappeared and she curled up under the comforter again, wheezing softly.

Alex wasn’t going to go back to sleep so easily, the surprise he’d received waking up had flooded him with adrenaline. Maybe he could just get a shower and start breakfast before she got up. Alex reached out and felt around for a zipper pull on the comforter. There wasn’t one on the wall side of the bunk, which he was facing.

The prospect of having to extricate himself from Carbon in the very limited amount of space he had and then roll over to get to the zipper wasn’t very appealing. There were many worse ways to spend an hour.

He believed that for at least thirty minutes. As it turns out, when you are wide awake letting someone sleep in your arms isn’t that exciting. Adorable, perhaps, but not so much in the dark. Carbon had somehow managed to press her shoulder into his arm in just the right way to pinch the nerve, rendering his right arm numb from the elbow down.

The alarm clock going off was the sweetest sound he had heard in a month. Carbon seemed to disagree, squeezing herself into a ball for a moment before grumbling as she poked her head out of the bunk, ”alarm off. Lights, ten.”

Pins and needles flooded his arm as the alarm went off and the lights came on at ten percent brightness. She crawled over him and sat on the edge of the bunk, eyes bleary and more bedraggled than he’d ever seen her before. “Sleep okay?”

“Yes. I have... Nh, hangover? Overhang? The appropriate one.”

Alex rolled over and sat up next to her, suppressing a laugh. “Had it right the first time.”

Carbon nodded, then latched onto his arm and rested her head on his shoulder. “Thank you for last night.”

“It’s...” He wanted to say it was nothing, but he knew that was wrong. It had clearly meant quite a bit to her, even if she’d only gotten his shirt off. It might have meant something to him, as well. “It was my pleasure.”

She smiled and squeezed his arm before getting up to dig through her dresser. “I am just sorry that there are not enough females on board for you.”

Carbon said that with such a matter-of-fact tone that for a moment, Alex thought he was out of the loop with his own species. He turned the statement over in his head a few times, but it never made any more sense. “Huh?”

“Your... mating requires two females.” She picked the word carefully, apparently for a very deliberate statement of fact. She didn’t look like she was putting him on as she plucked an article of clothing from the open drawer and tucked it under her arm.

His eyebrow went up, wondering where she’d gotten that idea from. “Uh, no. We usually only have one partner at a time. That’s how its worked for me.”

“You do? That was not what I saw-” Her face twisted from surprised and earnest to a sort of abject horror before it smoothed out into an unconvincing sort of composure. “I fear someone has played a joke on me. I require to take a shower now.”

“Uh huh.” He made a mental note to enquire about this exchange later as she shot across the cabin, fleeing as quickly as she could.


  1. Poor Carbon was taught about sex from a 17 year old boy, wasn't she? ;o)

  2. No, worse... Adults with the brains of 17 year old boys.

  3. Didn’t even need to open his eyes to double check. Great opening to contrast his upcoming shock.

    She had been recalcitrant to do anything else with him, explaining that she did not want that particular memory tainted by accidentally getting drunk and then throwing up on him. This is a fun description but it also feels distant, like the reader is missing something (embarrassment I imagine)not being in the moment with them when they had this conversation.

    There were many worse ways to spend an hour. I know what he means here but it's vague, like he might decide either action is an ok way to pass the hour. Maybe 'he relaxed back into the mattress and decided there were many worse ways to spend an hour.' Something like that to show he gave up the plan.

    pinch the nerve I know the 'falling asleep' phenomenon is compression of nerves and blood vessels but pinched nerve makes me think of shooting pain. Maybe she presses her shoulder just the right way to put his whole arm to sleep?

    “Yes. I have... Nh, hangover? Overhang? The appropriate one.” Love her not quite awake English.

    “Your... mating requires two females.” Ha! Poor Carbon's been watching the wrong movies.

    Not a bad morning after all things considered.