“Human Friend O’Leary,” Trs’kts called out. “It is our designated break time. Would you like to accompany me to the beverage dispenser in order to stretch our motile appendages?”
Human Friend O’Leary twitched sudden at Trs’kts’s voice but glanced down at him with a strained smile.
“Sure Trs’kts,” he said as his hands flew over the control panel, closing out his program and shutting down his computer.
Trs’kts wondered at that. So far every human he had seen in a professional situation took the time to completely lock down the terminal they were on before they left it even for a short time. The behavior seemed rather unnecessary and wasteful of time, but it was not what had the Trisk concerned today.
The human finished the task and leaned back in his chair. He indulged in a period of prolonged, slow movement where he extended and contracted symmetrical muscle groups to their full extent before standing. The humans called it stretching and it seemed necessary to their muscle function. Then the human extended his hand for Trs’kts to walk out on.
“So how are you feeling this work cycle?” Trs’kts asked as he settled himself down on the human’s broad shoulder.
“Eh, so-so,” the human said, dipping his shoulders in a sudden shrug.
Trs’kts was very experienced in riding humans and he compensated for the movement easily enough. It was not the shrug that disturbed him but the humans response. Humans, and Human Friend O’Leary in particular, were notorious for exaggerating their sense of well being. If he were admitting that some part of his experience was unpleasant then he was probably experiencing some severe discomfort.
“May I ask what the positive element of the so-so is?” Trs’kts asked as the approached the water dispenser.
“The usual, I guess,” Human Friend O’Leary said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
“I like all you little guys. I get plenty of human interaction in the other departments. Got an actual physical letter from my buddy Jim back on Terra.”
Trs’kts clicked in sudden delight.
“Do you plant on sharing it with the rest of us during the sharing time tonight?” Trs’kts asked.
Human Friend O’Leary’s facial muscles gave the tiniest twitch of unease at the question.
“Of course the sharing sessions are not mandatory,” Trs’kts quickly assured him. “If the letter is too intimate-”
“Nah,” Human Friend O’Leary said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Nothing like that. It’s a perfectly un-intimate letter. Mostly reminiscing over old times you know. We were in a little garage band together as kids. He was on drums.”
“What was the purpose of the band?” Trs’kts asked curiously.
“We played music together,” Human Friend O’Leary said. “We weren’t all that good but we had a fun time.”
“That sounds enchanting,” Trs’kts said with a delighted skitter as Human Friend O’Leary sipped his water.
The human smiled and then his eyes drifted to the middle distance and he sighed. Trs’kts decided that the subtle approach hadn’t worked and prepared to jump right in.
“If the letter contained no disturbing information then why are you so disturbed Human Friend O’Leary?” Trs’kts asked as they headed back to the desk.
“Say what?” Human Friend O’Leary asked.
“You have been distracted and twitchy all day,” Trs’kts observed.
“Yeesh,” the human ducked his head and rubbed the back of it uneasily. “That obvious huh?”
“Indeed,” Trs’kts said.
“Well no problem,” Human Friend O’Leary said. “The reason why I’m staying home tonight from the sharing session is to get it out of my system.”
“Get what exactly out of your system?” Trs’kts asked.
“The hunger,” Human Friend O’Leary said, his voice deep with earnestness.
Trs’kts mulled over this while they went back to their work station.
“I was under the impression that it was unwise for humans to eat just before going dormant,” he observed.
Human Friend O’Leary laughed and shook his head as he deposited Trs’kts down at his work station.
“Different kind of hunger lil’bud,” he said. “We were in a band. Jim was on the drums and I was guitar. Some days I just need to play.”
Human Friend O’Leary’s fingers suddenly began the strange twitching pattern they had been attempting to complete all day and the human hummed out a few notes.
“The music gets in you,” the human with on with a far off look in his eyes. “It wants to get out.”
Trs’kts stared at him uneasily but the human shook himself and grinned down at the Trisk.
“Not to worry little bud,” he said with a dismissive wave. “I just let myself go too long without breaking out the old six string and giving her a spin. I’ll tune her up and be back to normal by tomorrow.”
Trs’kts idly wondered if ‘normal’ for a human meant something less confusing than the concepts that Human Friend O’Leary had just expressed.
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.