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Crop Circles Drawn in Dust - A Diona Tale

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“Hey,” the man calls.

“Yes,” the Diona responds from the other room.

“Hey,” he calls again. A man's face appeared around the ajar door connecting the kitchen to the dining area. The restaurant was so small. Could it even be called a dining area? Perhaps it was more of a cafe. Except you did not call it a cafe to that man. He would slap you silly for slandering his restaurant. “I need ya t' sweep tha' step when yer done wit' 'at. Get t'work.”

“Okay,” the Diona replied simply. It continued stacking empty dishes onto the tray one-by-one, giving each glass or plate special care and attention, as though the chipped ceramic were fine porcelain. They lift the full tray up with ease and shuffle over to where the man stands with the door open. The man steps aside to allow the plantmass to pass.

“D'ya ever think maybe we could have'a conv'sation where ya say su'um other than 'okay' er 'yes'?” the man asks.

The Diona carefully sets the tray in the sink before replying “yes” and making their slow way outside.

The man huffs a laugh. For a walking salad, the kid was alright.

Finding said salad on the side of the desert road was the real surprise. He'd been running his hounds when the dogs suddenly got real twitchy. They led him right to the Diona. It was just lying there, staring at the harsh sun. No clothes. No sign of life that he could see. Not until it turned its head and stared its eyeless stare right at him. It was something from a horror holovid. He nearly pissed himself thinking it was going to latch on and violate his face.

But it didn't. It just stared.

No self-respecting colony man was going to just let the thing catch fire in the sand like that. So he got it on its feet and brought it back to his house with his pack of dogs. Just another stray to adopt.

Fast forward a week and he didn't even know the Diona's name. It worked slow but hard, doing most of the clean-up work. It didn't have needs or wants. It worked all day without breaks. Free labor, he thought. But wasn’t that just cruel? He could at least make an effort.

Not today. It’ll talk when it wants to.

“Y'ello, this is tha' Sunset Bar an' Grill, how can I help ya?”

He sees the Diona watching from the corner of his eye. He writes down Old Woman Josie's order, only half paying attention. She orders the same damn thing every time, you'd think she'd just say “Hey, the usual” and hang up. But no.

Once done with that, he starts frying the chicken so it's ready for pick-up. The Diona is still there. Motionless.

“D’ya hav’ta watch me do everythin’?” he finally bursts out. The chicken continues to crackle and pop and fry away, but he isn’t watching it. He’s returning the stare the Diona is giving him. Has been giving him.

“Yes,” it replies simply. What must it be like, being so damn simple all the time? A world where everything has a yes or no answer?

“A’ight. Why d’ya watch me do everythin’?” he asks pointedly.

The Diona turns to the counter and picks up the pepper shaker. It hands the pepper over as though it didn’t hear him. He scowls at it. It finally speaks.

“Weir learn end.”

“Tha’ heeeeeell?” He stares at the thing like it grew another head. Could it grow another head? He wouldn’t put it past the Diona. It does weird shit. “Yer… learnin’? T’what!?”


“To… co’k?” He blinks. Several times. The Diona doesn’t.

“Space frays now,” it says to him as if he hasn’t been cooking his entire life. But really, he needed the reminder. He has a timetable for when everything is ready at the same time. He's a little off, now.

“Y'know, there're easier ways a'learnin' somethin' new.”

The Diona watches him spice up the fries. Why was it so interested, anyhow? It doesn't even fucking eat.

“Can watch vids. Holavids.”

He opens a can that day, hoping to pull out one measly little worm and he gets an entire shark instead.

He'd just finished a shower. He opens the bathroom door, towel still around his waist, and it's right there fuck it's going to eat my face!

One almost heart attack later, he gets up from where he fell on his ass in fear surprise. The Diona just watched.

“Need su'um, Kiddo?” he asks as calmly as he can manage.

“Yes,” it replies. And keeps fucking staring.

“And that is...?” he led on, irritated.

“Was a crop circle?” it fumbles. He scoffs.

“Really? ‘Wha's a crop circle?’ Been watchin' them vids, hav'ya?” he grumbles and shoves past the plant tree alien thing. He heads to his bedroom. It follows. It stares.

Well, he can't very well get dressed with it staring at him.

“C'mere!” he snaps. He hears several dogs move about in the living room. They know his tone. It's his “if you don't do what I say right now, you're sleeping outside” tone. The Diona gets it, too, apparently. It shambles over in its (his) robe.

He sighs. “A crop circle's a thin’ ‘at aliums left on Earth a long time 'go. Drew 'em righ' in tha' fields. Funny lookin' designs. Look.”

He takes a finger and rubs it into the dust coating his dresser. Really got to do more housework. Maybe the Diona'll do it if he tells it to. He doodles circles and waves in the inch of dust there.

“Looked su'um like that.”

It turns its eyeless stare at the dust drawings. At least it isn't staring at him anymore. He takes advantage of the Diona's distraction and gets dressed.

“Weir fund a sigh ants,” the Diona says. He flips the OPEN sign to CLOSED. Well. That side of the sign is a bit scratched, so it really looks like LOSE, but who cares.

“Science?” he grunts. “Wha's so great 'bout science?”

“We lake it.”

“Well, what kind'a science?” he asks it. It keeps staring. “Y'gonna answer?”

“All sigh ants.”

“Y'can't study all science, can ya?”


“Like college! All fancy an' shit! Wit'a degree! An'a shitton 'n credits fer a sheet a paper!”

He had gotten very close to the Diona now. It hadn't moved a muscle. If it even had muscles. It probably didn't.


It turns and heads back to the kitchen. He just stands there. Moments after the Diona vanishes, he hears the faucet run. It's doing dishes.

He really doesn't get that thing sometimes.

“Oh, Brad, you've wasted so much time already. Janet needn't know—I won't tell her!”

“Well, you promise you won't tell?”

“On my mother's gra...”

“Weir Crop Circles Drawn in Dust.”

He blinks and shuts off the holovid he was watching. He turns around slowly. It's staring at him. What more did he expect?

“Yer what now?”

“Crop Circles,” it repeats slowly. “Drawn in Dust.”

“No,” he says just as slowly. “Pretty sure yer a... not that.”

“Eats are name,” it tells him. Was it his imagination or did it sound happy?

“Fine, wha'ever,” he accepts. He is not paid enough for this. What is he thinking? He isn't paid at all for this. He chose this life. “'ll call ya... Crop. Er Dust?”


“No, tha's not a yes er no question.” Really need to see if the government'll pay him for taking this thing in under his roof. “Crop? Er Dust?”

It doesn't answer. And not in the “I'm slow and thinking about my answer before saying it” way.

“Fine. Wha'ever. Jest lemme know when ya decide if ya wanna be male er female,” he chuckles.


“Well,” he explains. “Crop sounds male. Dust sounds female.” It stares at him. Looks like Stare #31, the “you're sounding stupidly human” stare and my God he's got to get more if he's numbering these stares and giving them meanings.

“Okay. The air is the answer thin.”


“Crop is male,” it echoes. “Dust is female. Weir both.”

The day it left was hard. Harder than he thought it would be. Like it or not, he'd gotten used to having the little bastard around. But it was going to college. Full scholarship like holy fuck no one gets that shit and definitely not from this backwater planet. It was going off to bigger and better things. He may or may not have shed a single manly tear. The dogs won't tell and neither will the Diona.

He did, however, hug goodbye.

“Okay,” it said softly as it was bearhugged tightly. “Weir confused.”

“'bout what?” he did not sniffle.

“Hug yellow, not goodbye.”

“Ya can hug goodbye, too, Croppy.”

“Okay,” it accepts. It curls its limbs around the man. “Goodbye.”



  • Crop Circles Drawn in Dust speaks with a very literal version of an accent. (Teach ass twerk = Teach us t'work)

  • Crop Circles Drawn in Dust willingly responds to both Crop and Dust interchangeably.

  • Crop Circles Drawn in Dust is a Colony Kid

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