“I must admit” Second Sister said as she dipped her proboscis into the chilled nectar, “I used to be quite smug about Cousins who picked up new and interesting paranoias from human exposure.”
“It is quite a different bundle of twigs when you must deal with aliens yourself,” Expanding To The Horizon observed, his voice coming lazily from the depth of his mound as he absently turned over a few surface leaves to give a semblance of the color of amused agreement.
Here under the shade of the overarching vines imported from the original mother world, between two gently flowing streams the temperature in the garden was almost moderate and certainly well within the safe zone for a Shatar. Above them the uppermost canopy was in a constant state of death and rebirth and the artificially vigorous vines sacrificed the top leaves to shield the lower ones even as the bacteria nodes on their roots pumped the extracted nitrogen into the ground. These aggriforming vines provided an excellent source of biomatter for the Gathering who chose to come to this planet. Second Sister tilted her head to the side to angle her vision down at the leaves under her feet. Expanding To The Horizon had assure her that all of his tendrils were too deep for her to damage them at this time of day but she didn’t intend to step on him accidentally.
“Are you expecting to develop a new or unusual paranoia of your own?” Expanding To The Horizon asked in a tone made of rustles and clicks.
The Shatar curled her antenna in slow agreement and indicated something coming towards them, drifting down the gentle current of the stream. There was a faint rustling at the edge of the stream as Expanding To The Horizon extended several light sensitive nodes above the duff and detritus of his main mass. These silvery orbs bobbed and weaved in the still air as they took in the scene.
One human, female, was laying back in the water that was just deep enough to float her body. Her eyes were closed and the only movement in her body seemed to be in the hands that trailed back behind her head. These she must have been using to maintain her vector, feet first down the stream, but Second Sister was not sure how such small movements could counter the natural hydrodynamic tendency to shove her body sideways in the stream. The human had chosen to wear an extremely thin, white radiation shield made of plant fiber. It covered her from neck to ankles and when dry at least offered excellent solar protection. However wet it clung to her like a membrane giving her the appearance of something mummified and several centuries dead.
They observed her float past in companionable silence as Second Sister lapped at her chilled juice.
“What in this do you find so disturbing?” Expanding To The Horizon asked. “From my perspective she is simply using her recreation time to good effect. Absorbing fluids and minimizing mineral loss to evaporation.”
“She is giving off death signals,” Second Sister explained.
“Ah,” Expanding To The Horizon said, retracting his light sensitive nodes. “This is one of those cross cultural things. Differences in biology.”
“Not so much,” Second Sister observed. “Other humans find her behavior disturbing as well, observe.”
She pointed again to where another human was slowly trudging along one of the vineyard paths and was about to round a corner that would put the floating human in his line of sight. He came around the trunk of a large vine and his binocular vision crossed over the white form in the water. He jerked back with a low exclamation and clutched his hand over his heart for several moments until his breathing slowed.
“Too hot for this,” he muttered as he moved to walk on.
“Way too hot,” the still form of the female in the water agreed languidly.
“So why does she do something that makes others react to her as if she was dead?” Expanding To The Horizon asked.
“She says,” Second Sister replied with a sigh. “It’s just too hot.”
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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 97 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 *****!
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