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 8)
805015:0800 – A brief walk around the village reveals little. There are no family dwellings as such, although there are some common constructions. The one I was in is evidently for the sick and infirmed. One seems to house foodstuffs. I have not ascertained what the others are for in detail, although it seems one is a common sleeping hut. All are marvelously constructed to withstand the elements, as are the goatmen themselves. Perhaps their physiology precludes the need for dwellings. Even so, I would think that over time they’d come to prefer them.
Which brings up an interesting detail. I asked Gomer what they call themselves. His nostrils flared and released, flared and released, as if beating with his heart. With each flaring he gave a name. He was signaling them by scent, I believe, and perhaps expecting me to be able to do the same, much as we would point to one person after another.
“No, no,” I said. “What are you named all together?”
His level of confusion demonstrated there was none. Again, if I were a xenopologist I would have expected that. This also demonstrates there are no other sentients on the planet, I think. If there were others, wouldn’t the Goatmen have developed the language to separate themselves from these hypothetical others? Or is this my prejudice placed upon them, By-the-Book Sanders versus Not-By-the-Book me.
Or perhaps there are no other intelligences who have revealed themselves to the Goatmen.
I then told him what we called ourselves – “human” – and his left hand shot forward. “How many of you are there?”
I told him I didn’t know.
“There are enough so you don’t know each one?”
“Oh, most definitely.”
“And all of you are in the home who wants to be a rock?”
He waited for my answer.
Damn my lies. Damn them. Damn Robin. Damn Sanders, Tellweiller, Galen, and Nash. Damn the Goatmen.
“Oh, I misunderstood before. No, many of us are in the …” and I used that word.
He brayed, something which the translators evaluated as laughter, and gave me a gentle butt. I am sure it was gentle for him. It damn near cracked my skull. “Go on.”
They know when I lie. Perhaps my scent gives me away. Yet the gentle reproof. Am I teaching them that some stories can be fun?
I told him we call them “Goatmen”. What he heard was “Goat Men” and he laughed again.
“Can half a people hope to survive?” he asked, still laughing.
The last thing I remember was him giving me another gentle butt. Soon after I slept.
The village is multi-generational from what I’ve seen so far and the divisions are fascinating in themselves. I wonder if these creatures come into a mating season, still tied to some ecologic bio-rhythm, so clearly are the generations demarcated.
Lactating females seem to have longer hair, or perhaps they simply haven’t shed their winter hairs as easily as do the males and non-lactating females, of which there are few. Around the nipples of some lactating females there is a bloody stain. Perhaps some of the kids don’t give up the tit soon enough.
Closest to me is one female still suckling a young. There is a tenderness common to all sentient creatures between parent and young – and yes, I’m aware of my many assumptions.
I surmise I’m witnessing a parent and child simply by the interaction between them. It reminds me of Robin nursing and nuzzling Jeremy. There was a tenderness between them which did not extend to me, often intentionally excluding me.
I remember, there was one time, I watched her holding him crooked in her right arm, unbuttoning her blouse and folding it down, then pinching her nipple as he rooted back and forth, his little mouth open and reaching, until he found her. His eyes slowly closed as she sang to him, almost too quiet for me to hear. Once she was secure he had found her milk, her eyes, like his, slowly closed.
She rocked then, rocked in rhythm to her song, and his mouth went lax without ever loosing her teat, every now and again his cheeks would tense and he would suck, perhaps six or seven times. She would smile and then he would sleep again.
That these creatures are sentient there can be no doubt. They have long since passed Keiger’s Porpoise Test – another anthropomorphic egocentrism, if you ask me. Twentieth century sociologists learned to be participant observers to best understand a culture. Agreed! Goodbye Robin, farewell Jeremy, my son. Sanders, you were my commander, never my superior, even as an officer. To Tellweiller, Nash, and Galen, serve him as best you can if not at all.
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