This story is written in first person, which is weird because it’s from the perspective of an alien creature native to the planet Mercury. It’s also short. But somehow I was able to squeeze in the creature’s entire life cycle in 300 words. Published in June 2019 by Local Train Magazine, may they rest in peace.
The Thin Rim of Mercury
by DL Shirey
I crawl from the carcass of my motherfather. Me and thousands of sisterbrothers. Weaker ones are eaten to gain the strength needed to push against the baked shell of dirt above us. Most die trying, each arching a feeble spine against unbending crust, all eighteen legs pushing up, straining to crack through.
The ground gives above me, a fissure forms and the heat doubles. I push through vulva-end first and am immediately penetrated. The weight of my writhing suitor keeps me from pulling my phallus-half out of the ground. I brace myself until shehe is finished, then wrench the rest of me into massive sunlight.
Had my anatomy allowed it, I would have smiled.
I conjoin anything that moves, and in return am mounted. On release I run to mate again. My lifetime is not measured by a short span of hours but in the quantity of unions. Our narrow world is defined only by copulation and a temperate median between hypothermia and heatdeath. Some stray this slender perimeter with a wanton tumble into frozen darkness, others are boiled alive for chasing one last partner onto the brightside. More succumb to scavengers, all claws and teeth and spiny armor, who somehow hear our frenzy or smell the lust. They burrow up and gorge.
For me it was a good day. Spent and bloated at the same time, I’ve only enough energy to scratch my way beneath ground again and surrender to what feels like sleep.