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“Don’t you know it’s rude to turn up in a woman’s bedroom uninvited?”

The visitors quivered. It was hard to read that as an expression, taking place as it did on masses of slightly wet tentacles that occasionally flicked, waved, and rubbed against each other. There were six of them, including one perched on the railing of my metal-framed bed behind me, and they did not come any closer.

I felt a damp limb land on my collarbone, too fast for my flash of fear to propel me away, and suddenly my mind was full of music.

“We require your skin for communication,” the message chimed, feeling like a song but arriving as pure meaning.

“I understand.” The music was beautiful, far in excess of its workday message. It was difficult to stay focused on the bizarre situation bringing it to me. “Do you understand that you should have alerted me first? By knocking, at least?”

“Your sensory modalities are new to us,” the next song said. “We must investigate them.”

The group approached me, each placing a wet limb on an ankle, forearm, or other bit of exposed flesh. Each added an instrument to the unfolding orchestra. Each note was sublime. Each chord made fear a more and more distant memory.

“This species can communicate over distance using pressure waves,” one song observed. “What a remarkable modality.”

“Is that not something you can do?” I asked.

“It is not. Our communication is as you experience it now.”

“Your world must be so different from ours.”

“In ways you cannot begin to understand.” The songs turned a bit sad.

“I’d like to.” I breathed a heavy breath. “But first, you need to get used to knocking.”

My alien visitors became a regular occurrence. They pounded on a window or door a few times each week, and each time, we showed each other something new. With their tentacular wire directly into my experiences, I could show them what a human feels while petting a cat, or eating beef rendang, or looking out the window of the Harbourfront cable car at Sentosa Island, or listening to music—not thought-music, but the kind that makes the air move.  They, in turn, shared their memories of their home planet with me, with all its maze like spires honeycombed with holes and tunnels they navigated almost entirely by touch. Each exchange was a harmony of understanding that made going back to the regular world of traffic on Raffles Place and arguments with managers so much less concordant. Nothing was as beautiful as the music.

Each had a name in their language of thoughts, meaning as lost to antiquity as the deeper significance of John or Xinxin is to us, so I gave them all names of my own: Sonata, Pantoum, Erhu, Contralto, Fugue, and to my favorite, Rachmaninoff. It took an evening to explain my choices to them, but I think I succeeded.

On the thirty-fifth day, Rachmaninoff sang into my mind: “Our time is concluded. We must return to Orchestra Prime.” They all felt the sadness in my mind-song. Rachmaninoff continued: “We are authorized to take you with us if you desire.”

I looked around, at a life that felt more and more hollow and quiet the more I took in what my alien visitors brought me. “I do.”

“Then let us travel.”


Alyssa Gonzalez is a biology Ph.D., public speaker, and writer. Her fiction uses science-fiction and fantasy elements to explore social isolation, autism, gender, trauma, and the relationships between all of these things. She writes at The Perfumed Void (, on the subjects of biology, history, sociology, and her experiences as an autistic ex-Catholic Hispanic transgender immigrant to Canada. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with a menagerie of pets.


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