Rynd, mill technician third-class, specialty fermentation microecology, was trotting along, enjoying the warmth of the heated floor against his scutes when a deep gurgle of amusement pulled his nose to the side. Sprawled over a battered leather bean bag in a recreation nook, the base’s chief medical officer was blinking lazily at him while gnawing away on what had probably been the hard bun from dinner.
“Doctor Drawing,” Rynd called out with a cheerful bob of his head. “What has you sifting humor?”
“You!” the old doctor grunted out around the pulpy wad of well chewed bread he held in his teeth. “Bouncing along like a hatchling, with your tail in the air!”
Rynd might have been offended, would probably have been offended if it was any other person on the base to call him out like that, but there was only good natured humor in the doctor’s voice and his tail thumped in lazy approval against the bean bag in a way that was somehow endearing in the scuffed old officer. Besides, Rynd’s tail was pretty high in the air tonight.
“I finally got permission to share sleep warmth with Grimes!” Rynd called out, letting his paws give way to a happy shuffle.
The doctor positively grinned at that and Rynd couldn’t resent it. The old scute snout gave a few more leisurely chews on his pulpy bun wad before speaking.
“Hope you don’t mind a cold snout,” he said, before turning with a dismissive wave of his tail.
Rynd gave a perplexed grunt in reply but no further details came out of the old doctor so he turned back down the corridor towards Grimes’s sleeping chamber. He scratched at the door and a sleep slurred human voice responded. The door opened and Rynd scampered in, only to stiffen in shock as he was engulfed in a smothering blanket of cold. For a stunned moment he dropped down to the warmth of the floor and glanced around frantically for the source of the problem. There, one of the higher windows was open, letting a steady draft of cold air drift down.
“Rynd buddy!” Grimes called out, in sleep slurred tones. “Get under here. S’cold out there.”
Rynd glanced over and saw that the human was already bundled under the many insulating covers the mammal used. One massive arm was holding up a corner of the covers and letting precious mammal heat escape into the room and out the window. Rynd darted across the floor and scrambled up the side of the human’s thick sleeping pad. Grimes shifted with him, rolling to the side and dropping the heavy covers over them before grunting and near instantly dipping as deep back into dormancy as a mammal ever went.
Rynd snuggled up to the toasty mass of heat that Grimes put off and wriggled deeper into the covers. Belatedly he was recalling something about most humans preferring a fairly low ambient temperature in their sleeping spaces and a cocoon to trap their own heat. Rynd shivered at the memory of the cold draft from the window and was resolving not to leave this nice comfortable warmth cocoon until morning forced him to. That resolution held until he realized it was getting a touch difficult to breathe. He wriggled forward until just his snout was poking out of the covers. The cold air slid in and tickled his lungs. Grimes gave a soft grunt and one of his arms wrapped around Rynd, pulling them close.
Rynd balanced the positive delight of all that mammal heat against the chilly sting at this nostrils and heaved a sigh. Why couldn’t human sleep like normal people?
Author Betty Adams Books
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