A story

“Where do you want to go tonight?”

“Oooh. Why not that blue planet again?”

“The blue one? Why?”

Trelm blushed, skin turning a darker shade of chartreuse. “Um.”

“It wasn’t that interesting. Unevolved bipeds.”

“But … It tickles!”


“Yeah. What are the five senses?”

“Touch. Sight. Smell. Taste. Electrcity.”

“Right. They don’t have that.”

“Yeah, but … what’s that have to do with it tickling?”

“You know how we communicate over long distances, right?” Trelm held up the small black box, just like everyone else’s, and mimed rubbing it along the sensitve patch on hir arms, just in case there was any mistaking hir words.

“Well, yeah, I know the principle. It amplifies the body’s electrical fields and transmits them. And receives them and converts them back so we can sense them. It’s a trivial device, just shifts the frequency up. Lets us have channels. Se we’re not all talking at once. And so we don’t have to touch.”

“Right. But the beings on the blue planet? They don’t have that.”

“Haven’t even invented simple technology like that?!”

“No! No, much more advanced than that.”

“Good, for a second, I thought you were going primitive on me.”

“They don’t have that. That sense. They can’t feel electrical fields at all.”

“That’s so .. so….” Hrml couldn’t find words for the mixture of pity and derision.

“They have this other sense. They can sense vibrations in the air.”

“Well, we can do that. When there’s a big truck. Or an explosion.”

“Not like that. They can feel each other move. They can communicate that way. Not terribly far, but they don’t have to touch. And no devices.”

Hrml nodded a bit more approvingly.

“So why does it tickle?”

“When they want to communicate over long distances, they use devices too. But theirs make vibrations in the air instead of touching the arms.”

“Yes, and?”

“It’s not a simple converter. It’s … complicated. And the signals, there are so many kinds. Some at frequencies you can feel. And billions of people on the blue planet. So many communicating at once. The blue planet tickles!”