The elder’s house was on the side of a mountain at the end of a long dirt road. It had taken me months to find this elder. It wasn’t the only one still around but it was the most accessible to me even if I had to spend several hours of driving on poorly graded roads. Many had died off in the previous fifty years since the crash and others had simply disappeared.
I knocked on the door and waited. The door swung open and the elder alien inside glared at me. Its outer mandibles flared wide with annoyance. A string of hisses and coughs were yelled at me.
“I’m sorry I don’t speak our language,” I said. I tried to angle my mandibles in submission but years of keeping them tightly closed except during eating and speaking made it difficult.
“What do you want?” it said. Its voice was hoarse and choked. One of its eyes dilated as it turned to look at me.
“Were you on the ship?” I watched body language that I only half understood. Should I raise my secondary arms? Should I look away from it? How should I act? I didn’t know. I had been born – hatched – on Earth. My parents – egg nurses – had raised me, like the rest of my generation, to fit into Earth society as much as humans would let us.
“Of course I was on the ship. Anyone older than forty was on the ship.” It raised its secondary arms to its sides.
“Can you tell me what happened?” It closed both sets of its mandibles with a hard click.
“No.” It slammed the door in my face.
I knocked again and waited. After a couple of minutes, I started continuously knocking. The door swung open and the elder alien stepped outside hissing and coughing at me. Its primary arms pistioned forward as it walked right into me forcing me back off its porch. I lost my footing at the edge and fell backwards.
“Please, I just want to talk,” I said. The elder alien stood over me.
“My parents won’t tell me about before the ship crashed. I don’t know our language. We were forced to fit in with the humans but as much as we try we can’t really fit in. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”
The elder alien lowered both sets of its arms. Its eyes stared at me. “We didn’t crash. We landed.”
“What?” I asked. It lowered itself into a crouch beside me.
“We came from so far way that by the time we reached earth, humans had become the dominate species. The ship wasn’t made for a return trip. We set down on what we thought was isolated terrain. The humans got to us much faster than we thought they could and that’s when everything started to go wrong.” Its eyelids closed then half opened. “Come inside and we can talk.” The elder stood and extended a primary arm. I grabbed it for support as I got to my feet.
The elder turned and walked back inside its home. I followed, closing the door behind me.