The Goatmen of Aguirra is one of my favorite stories and, based on comments, popular among my readers (thankee!). It appears in my self-published Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, as an individual ebook The Goatmen of Aguirra: A Tale Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, and was serialized in Piker Press in 2019.
I’m sharing it here because a friend is having some challenges using 1st Person POV, and The Goatmen of Aguirra uses 1st Person POV throughout.
Hope you enjoy.
The Goatmen of Aguirra (Part 5)
755015:500 – Sanders consented to an attempt at open communications. Aside from the robotics and the collar, I’ll be going alone. I suggested a holo for first contact, in case these creatures are hostile. Policy and the others went against my suggestion, and I was selected as Odd-man-out. No robotics indicated anything like these Goatmen, so no xenopologists were assigned to this crew.
This isn’t what I was trained to do and I don’t like it.
755015:940 – When they saw me walk around the Blind, all immediately lowered themselves to their knees with their arms at their sides and hands on thighs, fingers pointing inward, their backs straight and their faces always towards me. I felt like I was entering an Aikido class. The way their arms arc out from their bodies I can only think of “I’m a little teapot short and stout…”. Jeremy so loved that song. I would sing it to him and dance, positioning his little body to the lyrics of the song. Ah, well.
As I approached, in unison they held out their left hands and bent slightly towards me. One of the Goatmen communicated. The communication was audial, but was in the infrasound range as I felt it more than heard it, like feeling the vibrations of a big bass drum as a parade marches by. The vibrations stopped and, again in unison, they extended their right hands, still bent slightly in my direction. I was told by a friend from Nambia that most white men smell like goats. The wind has changed and, if this is how we smell, we should bathe more often.
If they used audial communication, I would try the same, hoping my voice was neither beyond their hearing nor painful to their ears.
“My name is Gordon Banks.”
They communicated amongst themselves, this time in the audible range. What I immediately noticed was the physical cues to communication. When one spoke, he leaned towards his listener and extended his left hand, then showed he awaited a reply by extending his right hand. The listener kept his back straight until he spoke. During conversation – as opposed to communication – both leaned into each other and their hands darted forward and back quickly but rhythmically. During oration (if that term can be applied) the listeners sit with their backs straight. The patterns for conversation and communication followed when more than two Goatmen were engaged.
I remember that my reaction to their physical cuing was the amount of respect it showed for speaker and listener. I wondered if this physical cuing was ceremonial or cultural.
Their voices remind me most of excited horses and sheep, a combination of high bleating, neighing, and low bellowing. It is obviously a complex language. As they went through their posturings the wind brought several subtle smells to me. Could there also be an vomeronasal component to their communication? How I wished for a Goatman’s nose! Is the grotesque physical animation necessary due to the torpidity of the face? Does their vomeronasal sense supplement that? And if so, how subtle and sophisticated is it?
Why did none of the robotics reveal this culture here? Why are there no other such creatures or cultures anywhere else on this planet?
They extended their left hands again (a sign of placation or offering?) and bent towards me. When the one Goatman – I’ve decided to call him Gomer, it is as close as I can get to his name – spoke, I tied in the translators. He is, I think, a middle-aged male of some importance. “You are from the …” He made a sound at the end of his question that the program couldn’t translate.
Again their right hands came forward. All stared at me, waiting. I spoke into the collar, “Can the computers give me anything on that last phoneme?”
Sanders answered me, although I could hear the others in the background and imagined them all huddled around the holo watching and taking notes. “Something tied to their mythology is the best we can do. Some kind of primary cultural icon, we think.”
I wanted to echo “We think?” but know Sanders was incapable of an original thought unless the flight manual expressly indicated it. Instead I said, “Thanks. I’m talking with fifteenth-century Christians and am about to say, ‘Jesus Christ? Holy Spirit? Sorry, I have no idea what those are.’ I hope their culture is more aboriginal.”
I tied in the translators and spoke. “Can you understand me?”
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