A conversation recorded before the end of the experiment

An excerpt from a new story by Abi Hynes, published in the first Splice anthology

This story appears in full
in the first Splice anthology,
which is available to order now.

First, we feel we ought to recognise
that the adjustment period has been
difficult for both sides. We knew there
would be challenges and we prepared
for those as best we could, but there
have also been difficulties we did not
foresee. And we acknowledge that
there were no plans in place where in
hindsight we ought to have anticipated
certain… eventualities. And this has
caused suffering for all concerned.

Hind. Sight.

Yes. A wonderful thing, as they say.

What is—?

Oh, of course. My apologies. Hindsight.
To, um — to look back, behind you, at the
path that has brought you to this point.
If we’d known then what we know now.
We would have done things differently.

To look behind you.

Yes.

To look back.
At your hind legs?

Well.
I suppose so.
In a manner of speaking.

Okay.

Okay?

Nodding. We are nodding.
That we hear and understand
what you are saying though not
necessarily that we agree.
Yes?

Yes?

That is the correct way
to mean the nodding?

It’s — yes, it’s a start. That we are
listening and understanding each
other — that’s an important start.
I think we can agree on that!

We are nodding.

Okay, then.
So.
One of the things I think I should
explain is that it was a shock to most
of us when we arrived and saw you
for the first time. In the flesh, as it
were. You see, there was propaganda
back home. We’d been told you were
not so different from us.
And of course that’s true in some
ways, we do have plenty in common.
But you see, at first sight…
They’d used the word — it’s offensive,
I know, I see that now — but the
messaging back home used the word
humanoid, and that led us to think…

You thought we
would be having legs.

It… It surprised us that you didn’t.
That you don’t.
Among… other things.
It was just a bit of a shock, really, and
I think that — that shock — it frightened
some of us, and that’s why some of us
didn’t behave as we, they, ought to
have done. But then of course — and I’m
not making excuses for those initial
settlers here — we must remember that
this is the very first time two parties
have tried to share a clean world. There
were bound to be teething problems.

That we do not agree.
Our teeth are not
a problem.

Well. Not for you, perhaps. But for us—

Our teeth are not
a problem.

It’s…
It’s an expression. It’s an idiom, which…
which… complicates things, I realise.
I’m sorry.
I mean simply to say that there were
bound to be some problems.
To begin with.

Bound to be.

Inevitably.

To be.
Bound?

Well…
Look.
Perhaps — perhaps we —
perhaps that’s where we should begin.

To be bound.

Boundaries. The bounds. Our
territories, and the marking of borders.

It will not help,
this marking.

We think it might.
If boundaries are to be enforced—

How is it you would
enforce boundaries
against us?

Enforce?

You said:
En.
Force.

Oh. I see.
I see the misunderstanding.
Look.
We’re not talking about anything
involving actual physical force.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Boundaries can be maintained
simply by mutual agreement.

Enforced without.

Without what?

Force.

Quite.
Well, yes.
Exactly.

Read ‘A conversation recorded before the end of the experiment’ in full in the first Splice anthology, which is available to order now.

About Abi Hynes

Abi Hynes is a drama and fiction writer. Her short stories have been widely published in print and online, including in Litro, Interzone, and minor literature[s], and she was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction’s ‘Novella-in-Flash’ Award in 2017. Her plays have been performed in venues across the UK. She graduated from Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting Course in 2018 and is currently developing original projects for TV.