Middle of the Night [22]

I woke up on my belly, arms and legs flung wide, my face slightly damp from the puddle of drool in the pillow it was buried in, my hair going wild in every direction, having escaped its ponytail.
I felt like I had gone to a spa, been melted down and reconstituted. I hadn’t felt this totally relaxed in recent memory. I didn’t want to move.
It was still night. The glowworm jars had the room lit dimly in a rainbow of colors, but the arches at the far end of the great room framed a starry sky over moonlit treetops, and the occasional small rustle or crackle from behind the screened-off sleeping areas told me that the members of my host family were asleep.
I rolled over and laid there for a while, revelling in how good I felt, and then decided I’d better go find the “bathroom bucket” Tremayne had mentioned to me. So I made my way downstairs. Sure enough, out in the little ‘backyard’ area was a pot almost the exact shape and size as a standard commode. I wandered down to the waterfall and had a quick bath.
Returning to the “birdhouse”, I decided to have a little piece of the fruit that was still on the table. I pulled out the Bowie knife from where I had tucked it in the corner and sliced off a small piece, peeling and eating it daintily, without making a huge mess- unlike the day before. It was a wonderful breakfast. I took the remainder of the cut fruit with me and went downstairs. I set it on the ground outside of the house, since I didn’t know what their disposal methods were.
I couldn’t get over how good I felt. Better than I had in years. My aches and pains were gone, my energy levels were up, and I felt… happy. Considering how crazy life was at the moment, this was a new thing for me. I decided to like this change.
The moon was very bright and the light it cast was a sort of lavender color. Given that it was reflecting the light of two suns, I supposed it made sense. It was bright to the point of things looking like twilight on Earth. I could clearly make out the shapes and sizes of things, even though everything was oddly grayish in color.
I was unable to sleep any more, and wanted to do something.
Tremayne had mentioned that the nights were 40 hours long, in this world, and I probably had slept a full Earth-night already. So I decided to take a walk in the moonlight and look around a little bit.
I walked down the spiral pathway to the field we’d entered from the pathway, and carefully noted the landmarks around me before walking out into the center of the big open field we’d crossed. As I walked along I noticed there were flattened areas of red earth with no grass, and areas with small white stones, and other areas with the grass carefully clipped and groomed. I turned around a few times and slowly realized that I was standing at the center of a giant piece of artwork, probably only visible from the air. Which of course made sense, as I considered it. I hoped to get a look at it somehow.
I wandered to another spiral ramp, and looked up it. The house was the same as Tremayne’s, with some small differences in the shapes of the arches. I started to wonder about the third stories of these buildings. I began to wonder if all of them had ramps to their second stories. And I began to wonder if Tremayne’s was the only family that had had contact with humans.
I walked back to Tremayne’s ramp, and found a vantage point that overlooked the big field. I couldn’t make out the imagery completely, with the purple graying light, but I could see that there was a repeating geometric pattern to it, and that there were large circles placed within the pattern as well. I remembered that as we’d entered the area, there were bird-people sitting within those circles, and others standing around them.
So this was definitely an organizing space, perhaps a market or a school? I would find out when everybody else was awake, I guessed.
There was a small rustle and a brief wind in my hair, and I turned slightly to see Tremayne’s leg beside me. I looked up at him.
“I am used to the middle of night risings your people do,” he smiled. “They said your nights are much shorter.”
“Yes, I couldn’t sleep any more. Sorry about that.” I said.
“No worries. I get up many times in the night to keep watch.” he said.
“What do you have to watch for?” I asked.
“The usual. Weather changes, predators, fires,” his voice trailed off for a moment, and he turned slightly, neck extended, peering towards the trail to the thunderbird eggs. Then he looked back at me. “Hmm.” he said.
“Hmm? What’s hmmm? What are you hmming about?” I asked. “You can’t just hmm at me and not explain yourself.”
“It’s probably nothing. I just thought I heard something.” he said, wryly, a small twinkle in his eye. He wasn’t telling.
I let it slide for the moment. “What’s up on the third floor?” I asked. “The top of your house?”
“That is where my mates and youngest babies live,” he said. “We do not allow the nursery to be easy to get to. It is safer that way.”
“Safe from what? And you mentioned predators. What kind of predators?”
“Snakes. They eat our eggs and young. There used to be a lot of them, and very very few of us. We were almost all gone. We nested on the ground, then. On the flat. They had no trouble sneaking up on us. We were dying. So we learned to build our houses.”
I was trying to imagine a snake big enough to eat the young of a 25 foot tall winged electric humanoid, and then decided it would be better not to dwell on such thoughts.
“I noticed that big pattern on the ground, while I was out for a walk. Is it a market? A school?” I asked.
Tremayne made a slight hissing sound. “Please be careful about your walks,” he took a deep breath. “Predators, remember?”
I said, “I will be careful.”
“Thanks. Yes, a trading place. Also an information exchange, and also where we decide things together.”
“So that’s what you meant by ‘city hall’?”
“Exactly. Grace once used a funny word for it, ruck… ruck something.”
“A rookery? Wow, that’s a perfect word for it, yes, it’s a word we use to describe the big colonies of sea birds in our world.”
“We are not sea birds,” Tremayne said, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“Oh. I… you’re right. You’re right. I’m sorry. City Hall is better, I think.”
I was truly abashed. In picking up on Grace’s “clever” terminology, I had just blithely reduced his entire advanced civilization down to a cliff full of gulls squabbling over nesting space.
“I’m very sorry, Tremayne. That was very primitive of me.” I stammered.
Tremayne looked at me for a moment, and then smiled a beautiful smile. “That is the first time I have heard one of your kind speak with so much understanding.” he said. “Albert and Grace are lovely people, lovely people. But they seem to not see themselves well.” He paused, “They seem to only see parts of themselves well. I do not know how to explain it. But you seem to see yourself a little more clearly. I like this in you, Lo Rell.”
I felt a little better then.
I asked, “What do you call that fruit that you brought me? It’s wonderful.”
He smiled, “We call it “red inside” fruit. I’m glad you like it. I will bring you other things to try when it is daytime. You can’t only eat one thing all the time.”
He continued, “When I went to the town hall, we all spoke about you and there were a lot of ideas. One idea was that you should stay for a long time and wait for the right timing for the return to your place. Another was that you should go to the other gateway, which is far away from here, and then go to your place from there.”
He paused, and looked at me. I wasn’t really pleased with the idea of staying “a long time”, despite how lovely things were. My affairs at home needed tending to, for one thing. And the idea of a long journey through jungles filled with giant snakes and God/dess knew what else wasn’t too appealing either.
“There were two other ideas that were not so good, but I will tell them to you. The first was that you should be sent to a different place that we know of and ask them to send you to your place after you go there. This is not so good because those other places are not always happy to see your kind. The second was that we call on the larger beingness to help you. This is not always so good because the larger beingness can be … tricky sometimes.”
I took a deep breath. “Can we take some time to decide? Does this have to be decided right away?”
Tremayne chuckled, the deep rumble sound again. “No, Lo Rell, we don’t have to decide right away. We can go slowly.”
Then he asked, “Do you have any hobbies?”

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

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