The morning light drifted down through the canopy of the garden and scattered over the glowing white net that was rapidly growing up from the dancing fingers of the First and Second Fathers of the local hive. Their First Grandfather was settled comfortably on a garden couch, itself woven from some living vine, and was offering occasional instruction. The visiting human Matron, accompanied by a tangle of her students, had folded herself down beside him on the ground and was observing with interest while her charges had scampered off to fetch the components of the complex meals the humans shared on common with the Shatar and the Winged. Above them the fluttering of the Winged added a constant soft music as they added the experimental pattern to the weave.
Rollscomfortably shifted her own grip on the weave that was drifting down from where she perched half in, half out of the deep irrigation canal. Below her several of her fellow colonists were busily chanting an old weaving shanty as they finished the coral guard in a simple and easy pattern. The upper half was something of a tangle as they had tried to mimic the, unquestionably beautiful, pattern the joint Shatar-Winged effort was producing. Despite their best efforts replicating the two-dimensional pattern that represented various native flying predators had produced only rather comical lumps in the thicker strands of the coral netting. Then they had tried replicating the concept with representations of aquatic predators, which had resulted in slightly longer comical lumps in the netting, and about a third of the way down they had given up and simply begun weaving a simple coral growth pattern. The underwater weavers had come to a curve and were redirecting the weave, something that took more than usual concentration, but they finished the direction change and one of the gestured up at Rollscomfortably.
“Are the winged and the Shatar still having that argument about the sleeping girl?” Prodscarefully asked.
Rollscomfortably shifted her attention and listened to the conversation.
“-dislocated joints are nothing to snuffle at!” one of the Winged was chittering excitedly. “I’ve been grounded myself with spinal misalignment.”
“That was a bad one,” another voice piped up.
“He couldn’t fly for weeks!”
“But the compression that causes joint misalignment is so glaringly obvious. I think we can trust a nearly grown human to avoid something that causes direct pain.”
“Yes,” Rollscomfortably confirmed. “It seems that First Father and Second Father are waiting out the current flutter of excitement in the flight before they reply.”
“Is the human podling still showing the contested behavior?” Prodscarefully asked.
Rollscomfortably took some nice wet appendages and waved them to catch the light coming from the young human’s direction. Under a particularly old trunk the human Matron had set some cushions for the one student who had not been feeling well. The Matron had explained it as some cyclic internal hormonal imbalance and had let the young one rest while the others had gone off of the errand. When the human had first sat down she had sat much as the Matron sat, with her limbs stiffly folded, but the young one had quickly shifted positions and was no only nominally on the cushion. One leg was bent behind her, one arm was curled around the cushion, her head lolled back against the roots of the great vine trunk and soft, rhythmic sounds came from her head. The cushion she was clutching showed traces where her powerful teeth had jaws had gripped it for some unfathomable reason as if she had been chewing food.
“She is,” Rollscomfortably said. “I really think she looks quite comfortable.”
“Don’t forget her joints,” Prodscarefully reminded her. “At least I think it is the joints that cause the issue. At least that is where the fluid constriction is supposed to happen according to the fisherman who visits our coves.”
“There is nothing constraining her,” Rollsscomfortably observed.
“Never mind the human girl!” called up Pushes along from deep below. “The argument is the interesting thing!”
Rollscomfortably dutifully turned her attention to where First and Second Father were now speaking in tandem. One tossing out a thought after the other.”
“It is more than just damage to the joints one has to consider,” First Father was saying.
“There is the propriety of the matter!” Second Father insisted.
“Of course it all goes back to joint health in the end,” First Father corrected himself.
“And cardiovascular health,” Second Father added, his antenna twitching with excitement.
“Most issues of propriety do go back to health at their first causes.”
“But one must consider the propriety too.”
“But what does propriety have to do with sleeping position?” a Winged demanded.
“Slovenly habits reflect badly on the discipline of the hive!”
“And on the genetics of the hive!”
Rollscomfortably listened attentively. Fortunately her part in the net weaving required little more than anchoring the top of the net in the general area of the rock she was half perched on, leaving plenty of appendages free to either dip back into the water to hydrate or to wave about catching the sound, or to vibrate her translation down to her workmates.
“Why are the Shatar and the Winged so excited about this,” wondered Prodscarefully. “It is hardly more than an academic curiosity at best, and a bit of needless prodding at worst.”
“Gossip,” Rollscomfortably offered. “The humans call it nosey gossip.”
Here workmates hummed in interest over the new word as the debate raged on until the rest of the girls came trooping back carrying preposterous volumes of liquid and solid foodstuffs. The Matron rose to busy herself with the preparation and orderly dispersal of the food while the various net weavers left their work to help.
Rollscomfortably kept her attention on the sleeping human girl for a few moments longer. The human twitched at the noise and chemical clouds of nutrient scent that wafted through the air. Rollscomfortably had been told that one of the reasons land dwelling species heated their food was to create these scent clouds. They did seem to effectively summon the girl out of her dormancy phase. Her limbs slowly realigned themselves, causing her to topple over and slump on the ground. There was a moment of scrambling that clearly indicated at least partly numbed appendages accompanied by muttering as she finally gripped the trunk of the vine to pull herself upright and twisted her head around to direct her binocular vision in search of the source of the smells.
“Food!” the girl happily called out as she trotted towards her companions.
“Well,”Rollscomfortably, “both joints and propriety aside it seems that despite the fears of the Winged and Shatar the girl suffered no harm from improperly using her pillows.”
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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
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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.