Quilx’tch was quite muzzy from sleep and stared down in perplexity at the water catch basin in front of him. He hiked up his comforter around him, blocking off the fuzzy view of the rest of the massive cleansing room provided for human use. The catch basin really should not be that color, he finally decided, feeling a bit proud of himself for forcing the thought up through layers of sleep deprivation. A stray thought thread suggested that he really should have petitioned the central university for this sector for that assistant when he had the chance, but the blood-berries had been blooming in the south slopes and none of the preservation techniques this base had access to would have preserved the protein structures quite right.
Quilx’tch brushed the pad of one paw over his primary eyes to dismiss the stray wisps of thought.
“I’m getting as bad as Human Friend Scotty,” he said ruefully.
Another stray thought tried to lead him down the path of wondering if human behavior contain was playing a role in his current state.
“It was not as if my University time showed much better behavior,” he clicked to himself idly.
Bloodberries. Yes, the humans called them that because their eyes showed the glittering orbs as a single color. They claimed it was the same color as their primary circulatory fluid. Now, Quilx’tch wondered why he was thinking of that as he stared down at the discolored catch basin.
The material for the catch basin had been harvested from the local rocks. Human Friend Scotty had eagerly explained the process.
“We used to have to carve things like this out of larger chunks of rock,” the human had said. “Now we just grind up the fragments til we get the size we want and then we micro-compress them into shape. Folks like it because it looks like rough granite, smooth with shiny bits inside”
Quilx’tch now stared at the shiny bits visible under the coating of fluid.
“I think,” Quilx’tch said to himself, feeling a bit uneasy. “The humans would also call that blood red.”
He pondered what the substance might be as he walked across the edge of the cold catch basin to gather up his grooming brush and chelicerae pick. He gently pushed the comforter back, letting the harsh cleansing room light sting his secondary eyes as he gently brushed out his hairs. He found his gaze repeated drawn back to the layer of bio-matter, or at least he thought it was bio-matter, in the catch basin. Usually Human Friend Scotty was quite careful about cleaning up after himself. So it might not be biomatter after all. Though Quilx’tch couldn’t imagine what Human Friend Scotty would have been doing this early in the morning in the cleansing room. His grooming finished he gathered up his comforter and trotted out to the main sleeping area, massive to his scale, but seeming quite filled by the mass of the human who was currently wriggling into his day clothes.
Quilx’tch scampered over the spider-walk along the wall and tucked his comforter back into his hammock while Human Friend Scotty arranged his protective outer layers against his hairless skin. That task seemingly complete the human reached down for his foot armor and proceed with a Trisk-check. Quilx’tch couldn’t help chuckling anew at that. Why the humans were, to a person, convinced that his kind liked to hide in there foot armor was a mystery, but one that provided far too much amusement on distant base to be probed into too abruptly. That final ceremony over Human Friend Scotty set his binocular vision sniping around the room to locate him.
Quilx’tch waved to catch the humans attention.
“Tiny spider friend on his bunk,” the human stated in the dim but satisfied tone of one fulfilling a checklist.
“Human Friend Scotty,” Quilx’tch interjected.
He knew that if he did not catch the human’s attention quickly at this time of day nothing would keep the human from bolting for the coffee that was brewing in the cafeteria once Human Friend Scotty had located him.
Now the human visible paused in his preparation to lumber out the door of their room.
“What’s up little guy?” the human asked, fighting back a yawn.
“Why is the catch basin in the cleansing room the color of bloodberries?” Quilx’tch asked.
Human Friend Scotty blinked slowly as he processed the question. Then his face flexed and his chin lifted with a grin as he clearly parsed the answer.
“I forgot to rinse out the sink after brushing my teeth this morning!” he said. “Sorry bud!”
The human turned swiftly and went into the cleansing room, which soon emitted the sounds of rushing water. The human came out still grinning.
“All clean!” He declared. “Won’t happen again!”
“Thank you,” Quilx’tch said, feeling distinctly uneasy now. “However that was not my question.”
“Thecolor?” Human Friend Scotty asked in surprise. “That was just my blood.”
The human stared at him with expectancy as he waited the polite six seconds to reply. Quilx’tch felt himself “puffing up” as the humans called it and Human Friend Scotty’s expression rapidly morphed form expectant to concerned.
“Why,” Quilx’tch asked carefully, “were you bleeding into the catch basin this morning as you cleaned your teeth.”
Human Friend Scotty’s face lit up with in the way that Quilx’tch was beginning to understand meant the human had an easy answer to a question.
“You remember I accidentally broke my sonic cleaner?” he asked.
Quilx’tch replied in the affirmative. Watching the human first fumble and drop the item on the floor. Then kick it into the far wall, only to finally step on it, damaging both the device and his foot in the process had been very educational on the value of the spider walks the humans insisted on installing in jointly occupied bases.
“And I told you that I would be switching to the old fashioned method of teeth cleaning?” Human Friend Scotty went on.
“Mechanical friction and chemical layering with a brush applicator,” Quilx’tch replied, bobbing his head in a yes gesture.
“Well, you always bleed a little when you switch back,” Human Friend Scotty said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Sorry I forgot to warn you about it, and sorry I forgot to clean my blood out of the sink after.”
Human Friend Scotty seemed to consider this revelation the end of the conversation and without waiting so much as a second for a response turned and left the room, presumably in search of coffee. Quilx’tch paused, waiting for him to come back and explain...something...anything more about the situation. But the door of their room stayed stubbornly closed.
Quilx’tch took a deep breath and ran his paws over his primary eyes.
“Right,” he said to the empty air. “First I will speak to the base medic. Then breakfast.”
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