CHAPTER ELEVEN – The Temple

It looked very much like every other building however it had more of an extravagant vibe. Like it was there to entertain. The other buildings that surrounded it were plain and minimal in comparison. This building was covered in small statue flowers painted gold and strange hieroglyphics shaped like dancing figures, dressed in a frame of that transparent material. There were windows everywhere in many shapes and sizes. I could see a variety of different rooms with different aliens inside. Some just dancing, some eating and some doing stuff I have never seen anything do before. It was all very bizarre.

Periclum was holding the door for me, “Come on!” he shouted over. The doors were tall, even for me and made of some transparent material frosted in design. I entered a large extravagant hall with curved staircases either side of the room. Covering the walls of this hall were hieroglyphics depicting different tales. There was this strange mix of golds, silvers and elegant woodwork on the stairs. I was standing on a marble floor looking around and then saw Re coming out from behind the staircase. “James! You made it my boy! Welcome to my bar, hotel, club, cafe or whatever you want it to be.” “It’s more like a lounge.” Periclum continued. “Quite right, Periclum! Come, I have to give you the VIP treatment and get you settled right away!”  Re then beckoned me to come down closer to him, he quietened his voice, “What is it you are craving the most James? Whatever it is, I can give it!” I looked at him confused. He looked back at me with his eyes that were an unusual shade of yellow and said, “describe the pleasure you desire.” It felt like a creepy moment looking into this small creature’s eyes as he was suggesting I should tell him my desires. 

I felt awkward and then had to force myself to come round. “Just a beer and good company Re.” At the sound of my voice Re burst out into the most rampant gurgling I had heard yet. “I can see you are feeling much better James! Come, good beer, good company and good entertainment coming up! I have a band I would love you to meet.” Re continued to guide us down the corridor that lead down under the stairs. “Come, come!” he said as we followed down the hall. He opened two large stone doors with very interesting carvings and they revealed a large concert hall on the other side. We stepped inside and could see a group of Tuhingans on a stone stage unpacking instruments. The Tuhingans on the stage greeted Re excitedly and continued to talk about the gig, equipment and crowd. 

As they were talking, I looked around the hall and saw tables and chairs scattered to the sides of the rooms. All different sizes for different sized people. But mostly furniture that fit to the size of a Tuhingan. It had a vacant area in front of the stage and several levels above us with what looked to be theatre seating. There was a bar at the back made of stone and decorated with beautiful ornate gold sculptures painted the most vibrant colours. 

“Everything is original, you know!” Periclum said behind me. I turned to look at him, “This entire building is original.” He continued. 

I looked at him, “Are you telling me that this building is thousands of years old?” 

“Yes it is! Rehew would have wandered these very halls!” 

What a great thought! That human architecture was having an influence in the design of a building that was then used by an alien race for thousands of years. It filled me with a strange sense of wonderment, joy and pride. 

I continued looking around the hall while walking across the vacant space in front of the stage. Periclum overtook me, walking to sit on the seats that sat against the wall. He turned and allowed himself to crash into the seating, then continued to spread himself out as if he owned the place. He looked at me, “come James! Let’s relax.” I went over and sat down on a seat at the table that Periclum sat next to. Re came over to us looking excited, “I hope you two enjoy the show! I’ll get those beers you wanted!” he looked at me as he was saying this and then bounced to the bar to get the drinks.

I looked over at the band, wondered about the music they will play. The instruments they were holding were different in design to the instruments I was used to seeing back on Earth. There were a few wind instruments of a bizarre design, weird twists and turns in the disjointed metal. They had an ordinary drum kit, although it looked a bit different in size, shape and covered in hieroglyphics. They also had some string instruments that were guitar shaped and appeared to be played the same way.

The musicians began to play as Re was still getting the drinks. It was a unique sound. It took a moment for me to realise that it was music. However, as I listened to the rhythm, I began enjoying it a little. The singer’s had very high pitched singing voices although it was pleasant to hear. They were singing in a language I didn’t understand, but it didn’t detract from the song at all. “What language are they singing in?” I asked Periclum. He did that strange gurgling sound and then said “The same language I’m speaking James. Concentrate on the song and request for a translation.” I looked at him for a moment confused and then laughed to myself when I realised. The chip in my head that gives me the ability to interact with computers must give me the ability to understand what is being said around me. I concentrated on the music, allowing the music to become apart of me and for a moment the music became distorted. The lyrics overlapped and then long pauses came about as the singer sounded like they were singing in English. I could tell it was a song about boredom on The Liberty, but it sounded terrible.

“Ehh, how do I turn it off? the song sounds awful in English!” Periclum just looked at me when I said that, “James, you need to hear the original song. Then just combine it with the translation so you can enjoy it in Tuhingan and understand what they are saying.” I tried to do as he asked but the only thing I did was switch between the song being sung in English and then Tuhingan. Then Re came back from the bar with three drinks, my drink larger than the others. “You look like you could do with this” Re said as he handed it to me. “Thanks”, I said as I picked the glass up and sipped my first sip worried about the size of the glass. Also worried about how pushy Re could get when trying to get me drunk.

It didn’t taste like beer, it was fruity and a little salty. However, it looked and acted like beer and tasted amazing. “This reminds me of the beers I have had in Poland.”, I said during a moment of reminiscence “What is Poland, my boy?” I looked back at his Tuhingan face and then became sad, “it’s a place that used to exist Re.” At that moment everyone leaned back in their chairs and went silent. 

Periclum broke the silence, “James, we are trying very hard to get Caroline and the other companions back. But it’s difficult with the Galactic Union, it can take a long time to for anything to happen.” 

“I hate Bureaucracy, especially with the GU. Let me manage a bar any day but never allow me to become a politician!” Re broke in.

“That’s a shame Re, I always thought you would make a great Captain or Prime Minister,” Periclum replied while taking a swig of his beer.

Re was smoking his pipe and looked up into the air as if to think. He then looked back down at Periclum shaking his head. “You know, you might be right my boy. But I think I will stay where I am for now. The bar is mine and it needs me.”

Music continued and somehow without thinking, the lyrics were still in Tuhingan but I was understanding them. The music began to sound great. As I drank, I could feel something else hit me other than alcohol. I turned to Re and asked, “Re, what drugs are put in these beers?” Re looked at me for a moment, looking as though he considers the question odd. “It’s just a normal Tuhingan beer my boy. A mixture of Alcohol and Lenimen.” I looked at him for a moment, surprised at the odd name of a drug in this drink. So I continued to ask, “What the is Lenimen?”

Periclum looked at me for a moment confused, “it makes you feel calm James.”

“Like Cannabis?” I replied.

“What is Cannabis?” Periclum asked and then Re interrupted, “It was a plant on Earth that had similar effects as Lenimen. The Rehew had some of those plants, but I read that they were wiped out by a disease that came from Mana Ao, our homeworld.” I acknowledged Re and then put my drink down for a moment. It was difficult to adjust to the strange sensation I was feeling. I felt calm but a better calm then I would on weed. The music felt more vibrant and I felt relaxed. The conversation continued.

“I feel tired!” I said as I was sinking into the chair I was sitting on.

“Don’t worry my boy. We have a room ready for you here if you decide to stay? We’ll be able to take you there when you are ready!” Re said to me in a confident tone.

I smiled back and then noticed Periclum looking at me. “What does that mean?” He asked inquisitively. I looked at him confused, “What?”

“That thing you do with your mouth where your curl up the corners towards your eyes. What does it mean?”

I looked at him for a moment and then realised I have never seen him or Re smile with their mouth. It was always with their eyes. I thought about my response for a moment and then replied respectfully, feeling like an idiot explaining it. “It’s a smile Periclum. I’m happy.” 

“Strange way to be happy. I don’t even think my mouth can do that.” He continued to attempt to curl the corners of his mouth by concentrating on his face. He wasn’t able to do it and then resorted to using his fingers to force the corners of his mouth up. Even then he said it was uncomfortable. 

The conversation about the differences between humans and Tuhingans continued for quite a few hours. I learned a lot, like the Tuhingan have two small tails that stick out just at the bottom of their spine. They will never allow them to be on show. They believe they evolved them to get the attention of a mate. Although an argument went on about that between Re and Periclum for some time. Then they continued to explain the courting process for a Tuhingan male and a Tuhingan female. The Tuhingans live in very large families due to them being polyamorous and the family would consist of many husbands and wives living together. All looking after the children together. They often would have large buildings to house them all.

To me it was all so strange and it made me feel a little uncomfortable. Once Re explained Tuhingan mating. I had to stop him several times however it confused both him and Periclum as to why I was getting embarrassed. The Tuhingans have a very open culture and are more than happy to share their most intimate moments.

After that, Re talked about one of his wives, explaining how she was in the bedroom and then mentioned differences between all six of his wives. He was telling me he had eight children, although only one was genetically his. Then continued to tell me how great his seven husbands have been in bringing up the kids. He was saying how he doesn’t spend enough time with the family these days. The Temple has become his life, although they visit him from time to time. He was saying this in sadness and a little regret. However, I didn’t understand how that could happen in a place like The Liberty where everything was so free and you didn’t have to work much.

“It’s pride James, this place is my baby and I have nurtured it to become what it is today. I will not allow it to fail or for a disaster to take it just because I wasn’t here. I wouldn’t be like this if I could find someone else who could be as passionate and look after this place as much as me.” Re continued.

I nodded in agreement and then there was a moment of silence before Periclum began to describe his wife. He seems to be away from his family much more than Re, however Periclum is much younger. He told of his adventures and how his wife was with him on one of his adventures. She likes her men and was reluctant to settle down. However, Periclum promised that he wasn’t wanting any children anytime soon and she can continue dining her guys. Periclum isn’t at home most of the time and he spends a lot of his time with his parents when he comes back home. It was perfect for them both although he was telling me that he misses her a lot sometimes.

In Tuhingan society it felt as if there isn’t any strong feelings of ownership. No one really owns anything and doesn’t fully commit to just one person. It all seemed so alien to me. But then again, these are aliens. 

Conversation went into the night. Re had to occasionally get up and go to places or talk to the occasional person. But he spent most of his time with us. The music continued and the hall filled with people as the night went on. We stayed in the same place all night. I drank slowly since I wasn’t used to this strange drink and it made me feel very different to what I was used to. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Although I expected to have a very large hangover in the morning or something similar. 

The end of the night soon came and then the discussion started deciding where I would sleep. Re mentioned that he had that room available that he mentioned before. He said I could use it for as long as I wanted. I was asked if I wanted to continue to use the VIP room and I said “No!”. Even though I got so much for free in that room, it felt a little too fake and lonely compared to being down here. I felt I had more purpose being down in the centrifuge. Re had such a large venue that it didn’t feel like I was intruding if I were to stay in one of the rooms. Periclum sent a message to the right people to get them to turn off the VIP room I was staying in. I had a moment to think about the box of camping gear I had under the bed in that environment. However, I didn’t give it a second thought since I felt so welcome by Re and was given everything I needed.

I was drunk when I headed to the room. Re and Periclum were guiding me and gurgling at my antics all the way. I didn’t remember much of the corridor or the people I bumped into on the way to the room. Just when I entered.

“Make sure you get some rest, my boy. I will make sure no one will disturb you!” Re explained as he stood at my door watching me stumble in.

“I’ll come and disturb you in the morning. Make sure you are okay!” Periclum said as he did his amused gurgle.

I went into the room and went straight to the bed. It was a big bed and the sheets were thick, with thick pillows. It was big enough for me and at least three other people. I could see that it was made of wood, carved with many figures decorating the posts. As I laid on the bed, the posts towered over me to make a canopy above my head. I could have closed it. I was about to try but then I just shut my eyes and immediately dropped to sleep.

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