Human Endurance

No Place Like Home

By Aoibhe Hegarty, Science Fiction Summer Camp


Rakkah was deeply concerned for the safety of some of their human companions. Lola, Michael, and Jean were in the dining hall, deep in discussion about their various injuries over the years. Rakkah was occupied with becoming increasingly worried as the injuries listed by the humans became increasingly dangerous. Michael was describing how he once plunged his hand into a deep fryer when Rakkah decided they’d had enough.


“How!” Three heads turned towards them. “How are any of you still alive? There is no plausible reason for beings with no natural armour, such as yourselves, to remain alive through such extensive physical injury.” Three heads nodded. “So how are your bodies still fully functioning?”


“Mine’s not, really,” said Jean, twirling a flyaway hair between their fingers. “I had pneumonia, like, four times between the ages of eight and ten. I wasn’t expected to reach twelve. My immune system has since been like that of a newborn victorian child. I am on so many medications I’ve learned braille to avoid turning on the lights in the morning.”


Rakkah’s jaw dropped to the floor. They quickly picked it up and reattached it. They learned soon after meeting humans that parts dropping from the rest of the body was not a universal norm. “Is high endurance a common occurrence in humans?”


“Well, it sort of depends on genetics,” Michael supplied, “if you have any illnesses, pre-existing medical conditions, age, there are environmental factors as well. But don’t quote me on any of that. I’m a space diplomat, not a doctor.”


Rakkah looked at Lola for confirmation. She nodded, then made various gestures with her hands that Rakkah knew to be sign language. They recognised a few words, ‘girl’, ‘hand’ and ‘finger’, then turned to Jean and Michael for translation.


Jean spoke first. “She said she once had a girlfriend who shattered half the bones in her hand in a car accident and got surgery to have them fixed, and a few years later cut her finger on a nail with a little bit of rust on it, forgot about it, and now has one less finger.”


Rakkah caught their jaw this time.


“But we’ve got nothing on you guys!” Michael laughed. “Our limbs and jaws and things don’t fall off for whatever reason!” Lola snapped her fingers for attention, then cocked an eyebrow and signed something to Michael. “Okay, frostbite, I’ll give you that one. But we can’t reattach them like the Krull can.”


Rakkah rubbed the space between their left and middle eyes. “Could you describe to me the limitations of human endurance? Because the variability of it is going to make my head figuratively explode.”


Jean frowned, resting their head on their hand. “Well, um, it is a variable factor of human life, at least I think, anyway. I’m a technician, I don’t know this. Uhh… Lola, you’re the medic, you wanna explain?”


Lola began signing rapidly, far too fast for Rakkah to pick up any words. Jean seemed to be struggling to translate as well. She finished and looked at Michael expectantly. He waited a moment before speaking to finish translating everything she’d signed in his head.


“According to Lola, there is no rhyme or reason for human durability. A perfectly healthy twenty-five year old could get swept up in an avalanche and come out perfectly unharmed, then a week later trip in the shallow end of a pool, hit their head and die. There is no set minimum or maximum that a human is able to endure, it’s completely random.”


Rakkah heard their hand hit the floor. They felt their middle eye twitch and wondered if this was what an aneurysm felt like. They picked up their fallen hand but didn’t bother reattaching it to their arm. With an expressionless face, they whispered, “I give up with you humans,” and trudged out into the control room.