Dim red spectrum light, a concession to the few but increasing human guests the hive hosted, lit the round corridors of the hive’s storage dens. A few roots, too thick to be easily trimmed wandered down the walls and spread over the floor. Second Cousin easily lifted her feet over these as she noted the marks carved over each door. She finally saw what she was looking for, the symbol for warmth and comfort modulate with the symbol for membranes. She put her hand out to brush aide the hanging barrier and entered the inner room of the storage den.
Inside the crowded room she examined the pile of absorbent materials, pollen covers, and thermal insulation with a critical curl to her antenna. She glanced over the rows and worked her mandible.
“Blankets,” she said softly. “A quarter the length longer than the human and about a tenth of his mass.”
The human in question, one First Plant Geneticist, had willingly submitted his bio-metrics to the hive medic before arriving so this decision should not be that difficult. She paced down the shelves passing rags, dab towels, and shrouds without really noticing them. She reached the larger thermal covers that First Father had commissioned for their human guests. She reached out and touched a dark mass of fabric and snatched back her hand with a click of annoyance.
It felt like the bark of one of the oil producing trees, dense and slightly slick like dried sap. Second Cousin was interrupted by the sound of quick, light footsteps scampering down the corridor. In a few moments the barrier swished apart and two chittering children came tumbling in.
“Not that one!” Fifth Sister called out. “That one is a ground tarp!”
“It’s for sleeping outside of the hive when scouting,” Fourth Cousin announced, obviously proud of her information.
“You must be the help that Second Mother sent me,” Second Cousin said, feeling her frill flutter with amusement.
“Yes! We are here to help you!” Fifth Sister said. “The blanket you want will be heavy. We can help you carry it.”
“First we need to find the thermal insulation,” Second Cousin said.
“The humans call it a blanket!” Fourth Cousin said. “Pick a soft one!”
“That follows the humans’ vines,” Second Cousin agreed.
“We will feel the bottom rows,” Fifth Sister said, “you feel the top rows.”
She walked along, her nerves relieved by the presence of her cousins. Their chattering was an enjoyable contrast to the muted dimness of the storage dens. Her fingers traced over the soft surface of a natural fabric.
“I have found a soft one,” she announced. “Treated seed transport fibers.”
Her cousins eagerly ran up to her as she tugged the blanket down and jumped back as it fell with a thump.
Fifth Sister gathered up one end in her arms and strained to lift it up.
“It’s heavy,” she exclaimed.
“We will have to work in unison,” Second Cousin informed them.
She found the middle of the blanket and lifted the greater portion of the weight. It was heavier than she expected and she was relieved when Fifth Sister and Fourth Cousin took their respective ends.
“Now we take it to the human?” Fourth Cousin asked.
“He is called First Plant Geneticist,” Fifth Sister corrected.
“Walk carefully now,” Second Cousin reminded them. “Step high over the roots.”
The passed through the barrier and worked their way down the corridor. Second Cousin felt relieved when the stepped out into the dim morning light of the garden.
“Is the human going to be away yet?” Fifth Sister asked. “Second Father says that humans are very tied to the sun and that they aren’t always aware early in the morning.”
“I checked his schedule,” Second Cousin assured her. “He should be coming aware just as we arrive.”
The two younger cousins kept chattering as they passed through the garden and into the guest quarters. The squat square buildings the humans preferred still looked very alien to Second Cousin and she couldn’t help twitching a bit as she stepped up the stairs and into the structure. Fifth Sister, in the lead, used a foot to open the door to First Plant Geneticist’s bedroom and they trooped in with the heavy blanket.
“Wha-” First Plant Geneticist sat up suddenly from the bizarre supine position he rested in and narrowed his strange fleshy eyes at them. “Huh?”
“We brought you that heavy blanket you said you wanted yesterday!” Fifth Sister announced, dropping her end on the floor with a thump.
“Blanket?” the human asked, now blinking his eyes.
“It will make you more comfortable when you sleep!” Fourth Cousin announced scampering up to his raised platform bed.
“Right,” the human said slowly running his eyes along the blanket spread out on the floor.
“What is wrong with your face First Plant Geneticist?” Fifth Sister suddenly asked.
He blinked at her in confusion.
“Fifth Sister!” Second Cousin said her frill stiffening with horror.
“What?” Fifth Sister demanded. “His face membrane is all droopy. First Teacher said that means humans are sad.”
She tilted her head and stared at him.
“Do you miss your hive?” she demanded.
“I am sorry,” Second Cousin interjected. “Fifth Sister is still very young-”
“It’s okay,” the human said, his voice growing more clear. “I have a little sister back home too.”
He pulled back the fleshy coverings of his mandibles and exposed his blunt white teeth as he focused on Fifth Sister.
“I am a little sad,” he admitted. “It is very clever of you to be able to tell that from looking at my face.”
“Why are you sad?” Fourth Cousin demanded. “You you miss your sister?”
“Well,” the human said, opening his mouth in a gaping gesture as he drew in a deep breath of air. “I do miss my Second Sister, but-” he paused as he swung his long thick legs over the side of the bed. “That’s not why I look sad this morning. Thanks for the blankets.”
He bent down and lightly picked up the massive blanket with one hand and tossed it on the bed.
“Why are you sad?” Fifth Sister demanded.
“I had a sad dream,” First Plant Geneticist said.
“But it was just a dream?” Fourth Cousin asked, tilting her triangular head to the side. “The things human have where you see things that aren’t real while you sleep?”
“Yeah,” the human said with another gaping gesture of his mouth.
“What did you see?” Fifth Sister demanded.
Second Cousin was aghast at their rudeness, but couldn’t deny she was curious too.
“I can’t remember,” the human admitted.
“How can you be sad about that something that wasn’t real that you don’t remember?” Fourth Cousin demanded.
The human blinked at her a few long moments and then burst out laughing.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It is one of the great mysteries of life. Look, thanks for the weighted blanket but I need to get dressed now.”
“What are you going to wear today?” Fourth Cousin asked.
“We will help you get dressed!” Fifth Sister announced.
The human’s skin flushed read and while Second Cousin didn’t exactly know what that color meant in a human she doubted it was anything good.
“We will not help him get dressed!” She said firmly. “We are leaving now!”
The younger two protested, but they did have other tasks to attend to and the human shot Second Cousin a grateful smile as she herded them out into the garden.
“Stop being sad about fake stuff soon!” Fifth Sister called out as they left. “That’s just silly!”
“I will!” the human assured them as he closed the door.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 180 reviews and ratings! If you bought the book and enjoyed it, it would really help me out if you leave a quick star rating on Amazon. A review would be great but just stars would be a huge boost *****!
QUICK NOTE: RE: everyone who asked. The book is avaliable in Amazon regions US-UK-DE-FR-ES-IT-NL-JP-BR-CA-MX-AU-IN. HOWEVER The above link only takes you to the US Amazon site. The one indicated by the .com ending. If it says "not avaliable in your country" that just means that you need to click over to your Amazon region.
Of course if you want a signed first edition you can email me at the email on my website and I can ship you a signed Author copy of the first edition for the same price as the crowdfunding campaign $35 domestic and $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.