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Science Fiction & Fantasy
Flash Fiction & Poetry

Irresponsibly Human


I already got a body. Infiltrating their planet was easy after that; theirs is a simple culture, so unevolved that social media is still legal. Give me a week of using this body and the culture’s tech, and I’ll have enough experiential data to synthesize a whole army. They won’t even know we’re here until we’ve won. I’m going to be the first person to conquer another planet as a senior thesis project.

My biggest impression is these people are basically food. They have plentiful organs, their healthy body temperature is the same as a perfect dinner, and they have an oral appendage called a tongue that makes everything taste amazing. Phones. Floors. Small domestic pets. If I wasn’t busy preparing an invasion, I would taste stuff all day.

Yet my body is the best-tasting thing of them all. Their mouths are made of similar meat to their tongues. Don’t the people of this planet constantly taste themselves all the time? Or do they have a mental block against it so they can concentrate on survival? I suspect it must be the latter, because if they could taste themselves, they wouldn’t have any fingers left.

Cursory study of their social media suggests they are shy about how good they taste, confessing only to chewing on their fingernails. They must secretly know how good they taste. I’m making my first social media posts about how delicious everybody is. This will make me a social media star and help me disrupt their culture.

I can’t get my mind off all these juicy fingers on my hands.

For the sake of science, I’m going to try a thumb.

I’ve got plenty of fingers. What is one thumb?

Okay, I got a little carried away. I’m out of thumbs. Mostly out of fingers now. They’re too succulent. Chewing with their mouths has tactile satisfaction.

What’s unsatisfactory is this phone, which is one of the worst designed devices I’ve ever encountered. Very frustrating to scroll through an information feed on it using human toes.

How long does it take for human fingers to grow back? Social media should know.

Hang on. My phone is jammed with social media replies. People are responding to my encouragements to taste themselves with all sorts of cryptic images of crying yellow faces.

Are they mocking me? I’m enlightening you, you delicious fools!

The scrolling goes on forever. These people won’t stop talking. An image of someone’s baked confections; textual screeds espousing the most backwards opinions about politics; so many images of pets rolling onto their backs for belly rubs. No matter how I respond to anything, somebody disagrees with me. I just made a few posts about what their tongues are obviously telling them and it’s like I’m some pariah.

Wait, how much time passed? I can’t really have spent hours on social medias. It must be local time dilation. Our kind are too evolved to be sucked into dull trivia. Once we’ve invaded this planet, we’ll abolish social media for their own good. It’ll be our one kindness before we start harvesting their fingers.

Suddenly I’m experiencing internal distress. Fluids are moving in tandem with my ingested appendages, and I don’t quite understand the logic of it. It’s as though…

Oh, fluids are exiting me with considerable speed and discomfort. Why does it feel so awful? Why is this body doing this? Please, anyone from the home world, send help.

I asked for guidance and the locals on the social medias have only become more insulting. They think I’m a “bot account.” They’re making absurd claims that fingers don’t grow back, and that I need a hobby. We’ll see how funny they think it is when I crush their pitiful planet. They can’t shut up or log off their pathetic social media. I almost pity these trollish locals.

The constant feeds of stimulation are soothing, a continuous current of every imaginable inanity from every spot on the planet. Adults arguing about children’s cartoons; posed photos to make the users look more attractive than they are; people claiming they could run the world better. What ninnies. Soon enough, I’ll show them how to run a world.

I’ll scroll through these feeds for just a little longer. Then I’ll conquer their planet.

The sun is setting and I’m famished. Where did the time go? I must have been too engrossed in my work, studying these petty social media feeds. Not that I enjoy them. I could log off anytime. If I can barely put my phone down, that’s because I’m too dedicated to my work.

But I should eat.

I’ll ask the internet how toes taste.

Copyright © 2023 by John Wiswell

  • John Wiswell

    John Wiswell is a Nebula- and Locus-winning disabled author who lives where New York keeps all its trees. His short fiction has appeared in many venues including, LeVar Burton Reads, Uncanny Magazine, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Lightspeed Magazine. His debut novel, SOMEONE YOU CAN BUILD A NEST IN, is scheduled to be published by DAW Books in 2024.