CHAPTER SEVEN – The Nile

We first entered a small hanger area with what looked to be the same turret devices that materialised me standing on the sides of the room. They were being used to materialise similar camping gear they had given to me before. After which, we entered a corridor that looked fresh out of a science fiction show; I was expecting to find people dressed in bright uniforms around every corner. In some ways I was hoping it, wanting to find another human. Yet every corner we went around revealed just more empty corridors decorated with different doors. They made some doors out of wood, other’s metal, they had decorated others with gold, and others were plain. The corridor itself had strip lights either side of the ceiling and the walls were decorated with a horizontal wood strip. It had a minimalist look to it as if I was in an art gallery and the doors were the art.

No one said anything to begin with, we just walked. It felt better with this group, safer. I felt as if this large Tuhingan woman would look after me and everything was fine. My frayed nerves began to relax, although I was still jittery and feeling stressed. My heart was still beating quick, still felt the sweat drip between my fingers and every little thing made me jump. But it was a little better at that moment. Periclum then startled me by breaking the silence. 

“Why are we so quiet? It’s a little awkward.” 

“A time for contemplation is never awkward, my boy.” Re replied in his usual way.

“Well, all I am thinking about is getting a nice meal and drinking your finest cocktail Re,”

Re replied in a humourous tone while doing his strange gurgling sound, “you are welcome as soon as we finish here”

We continued down the corridor to find a stairwell to our left. There were these great gaping holes on the ceiling and the floor and a spiral staircase that went up through the middle. They made the stairs out of pure exposed metal, very different to the rest of the design of the corridor.  I was following the group as we made our way up these stairs. Counting the floors, I could see that we had gone up around four floors. It felt like a long way to climb and I felt so exhausted, dropping myself with the box I was carrying to rest on it occasionally. But we were soon on level ground again and making our way down a corridor that looked much the same as the previous one we were in. 

Periclum and Re had continued the conversation as we were walking. Talking about how it was awful for Periclum to be living in the Myremekes for so long. I learned how much Periclum craved proper home cooked food. He was starving for some of Re’s hospitality and couldn’t wait to try it. We came to a white door that looked much like the surrounding corridor. There wasn’t anything other than the cracks of the outer edge of the door to show that it was a door. The large Tuhingan woman seem to stare at it concentrating and then the door opened, sliding to the side to reveal the room within.

She entered without saying a word, leaving her guard to stand either side of the entrance. Periclum followed along with Re and then me. We had entered a very large, white room. All the others were gathering within a circle marked out on the floor. I looked around wondering what we were all doing and found my anxiety coming back, afraid of what will happen next. The large Tuhingan woman broke this moment of silence as I look around with confusion. “This is one of our VIP rooms, used for guests of honour and this time it is for you James.” She looked at me as she explained. I looked at her nervously, not knowing what will happen next. “Come on, James! It doesn’t work when you are standing there!” Periclum then said as he gestured me over.

I stepped forward, my stomach in my throat, I feared everything about this situation. The large Tuhingan woman turned after she was looking at me and looked ahead with her back facing the door we just entered. “Activating interface” she said, and I saw writing appear in front of me just like it did in the Myrmeke. This time I wasn’t willing to accept. The circle we stood in then started to rise to become a platform above the floor. It must have risen about a metre before it stopped and then I saw all three Tuhingan turn and focus on a single point in the room. “What type of place would you like James?” the large Tuhingan woman was asking, looking back at me. I looked at them all as if they were crazy. “James, have you connected to the interface?” Periclum asked me.

I looked back at him with an anxious look, not knowing what to make of this situation, not knowing how to deal with it. I just stood there, frozen. Periclum then turned to the others and spoke in a whispered tone “I think we should just choose for him”. Re then spoke loud, surprising everyone “when I was young I was trying to come up with a way to recreate the planet that the Rehew came from. Reading about the fantastic tales in the database passed down to their children inspired me to create something that matched their description. Let me see, let me just find it.” Re stood there for a moment looking as though he was concentrating hard, looking into blank space. The rest looked at him with a confused look. The large Tuhingan woman then spoke “I didn’t know you knew so much about this subject Re!?” Periclum continued with Re not hearing what was being said. “It will surprise you with what he knows!” 

“Ahh, here it is, this is what I designed”, he moved his fingers to a single point and then expanded. Everyone looked around the room as if looking at invisible decor, I was left there looking at them confused. “It looks like one of those Rehew colonies.” Periclum replied. I wondered what they were doing while we were perched on this platform so far above the ground. My grip on the box I had full of camping gear tightened. “It’s funny you should say, the Rehew based the colonies on their original homeworld. I got a lot of inspiration from old pictures of those colonies.” Re replied. “Lets do it!” Periclum exclaimed as I heard wind building up. I look around this large white room and it was changing. I saw what looked to be sand storms gathering on the ground. Wind was blowing my clothing violently and I found myself to be afraid that it will blow me off. I moved closer to the others on the platform in fear of that happening. The rest of them looked happy and excited as this crazy experience continued. 

The fear was being accompanied by surprise as I saw objects forming. I crashed to the ground as my legs gave way, my box of camping gear went over spilling its content across the platform and off the edge. The piece that went over the edge disintegrated. I was sitting there in shock and awe. Soon realising that I was looking at an entire landscape forming. There was a cliff face beginning to form, sand settling, several huts appearing. The dust started to settle, and the wind died down, I could see the sand beneath the platform had come up just under the platform. I stayed in the centre of the platform through fear; I didn’t want to move. Once again the sound of wind was beginning again. This time I saw water beginning to form on the other side of the room with a sun sparking up in the sky. I looked up at the sun, blinding myself but only just noticing the sky that hung above me. I could feel the heat of the sun on my skin. The sound of wind began to settle once again. But then it started again. This time I saw little blizzards of sand and dust forming in small places. Afterwards shells started to form, crabs, little creatures that looked like they could scurry into the sand.

This process repeated, again and again. Grasses, boats, lamps, furniture in the huts and a bunch of other stuff was appearing. Everything making the scene look more real every time the process happened. I didn’t know what to think; I didn’t know what to do. I sat there silent as the last bit of dust settled and the last creature had scurried away. Pericum began to place what was left of the camping gear back into the box. “Wow, this is detailed Re” the large Tuhingan woman said breaking the silence seemingly ignoring the spilled box. She continued, “I hope that sun isn’t going to cost us too much energy!”. Re replied quickly, “I can change it so it’s not so powerful…” “No, it’s okay.” She looked at me, “I’m a little jealous James”. I looked back at her and smiled the nicest smile I could out of automatic kindness. Periclum finished with packing the box, leaving it sitting on the platform and jumped off into the sand, “the sand, it’s warm!” he said as he looked at me.

Re stepped off of the platform and continued “I thought about this place for years as a teenager. I obsessed over it so much I had dreams about it and now I am standing in it.” He brought down his hand to the ground and scooped up some sand, allowing it to run through his fingers. “It is warm!” he said as he shuddered. 

“I can see you are pleased with yourself Re”, the Tuhingan woman said as she stepped down from the platform. “It is a beautiful place.” 

Re was shaking the sand off his hands as he began to describe the place. “These are some huts of fishermen who lived on the side of the river Nile. This water is that river, teeming with any fish I could find out of the Rehew database. It was hard to create them going on only vague descriptions, but it was fun to try. I hope they survive though.”

“You’re a clever man Re, I am sure you figured it out!” the woman replied. She looked back at me, “I hope you enjoy this environment, it’s one of our best! You should step down and enjoy this new sand beneath your feet.”

I looked back at her concerned, afraid of this newly formed place. She looked back at me with the same look again, “James! You are safe here. Nothing will hurt you.” 

Re interrupted with a kind voice “ehm, I would try to avoid the small animals, especially the long slithery ones.” 

The Tuhingan woman looked at Re “you put predators in here!?”

“Yes, I wanted it as realistic as possible. James will be fine though…”

Periclum broke Re off and screamed out, “ahh, something bit me!”

“Ahh, that will be the mosquitos,” Re replied

“Re, is this safe for James to live here?” the woman asked

I listened into their conversation and hearing about mosquitoes, snakes and all those other creatures from Earth. It all reminded me of those camping trips I took in hot countries as a teenager. Then I felt a little more comfortable, got up and stepped down. I took a deep breath and said, “This will be fine for me. Snakes and mosquitos don’t scare me.”

The woman looked at me, “okay James, if you are sure! If you get bitten by a snake, you can contact one of the medical team.” At that moment a message appeared in front of my eyes, ‘Captain Coactor Sagax wants to send you a contact. Accept?’. I looked at her and took a breath, “how would I accept this or even contact them?” I began tearing up once again, again feeling lost and unsure about what is going on. She replied in a soft tone, “take a breath and empty your mind. Try to relax.” I did as she asked, it was easy to empty my mind since I wasn’t thinking anything. “Look at the message, feel yourself connect with the message.” I focused on the message. “Don’t think of the response you want to use yet. Just imagine it to be a part of you like your arm, or your leg.” I took a deep breath and stared once again, feeling as if the message was part of me, feeling myself mould with it. Without me thinking anything the message soon displayed ‘contact accepted, “medical team” added to your list of contacts’. I began to smile and laughed a little at how easy it felt once I realised how to do it. The message began fading away. The Captain continued, “It will become easier over time, I will now send you my personal contact, if you have any problems you can contact me.” 

Periclum interrupted when he heard that, “what? You never give that out to anyone except your family!?” She turned to look at him “yes and you won’t pressure or trick James into giving you my contact will you Periclum?” He looked back and just gave a groan “no, of course not.” She looked back at me and asked me to accept. Once again I stared at the writing, trying to become apart of it. I could accept this one quicker than the last two times. Coactor looked at me and told me, “now you know who I am. I would like to get to know you more! After you have rested for a while Periclum, Re and you can come and join me for dinner so we can get to know each other more. Does that sound good?” She spoke to me using a soft tone and I felt a warm breeze blow over me. “Staying here?” I said in a surprised manner, “yes!” she replied. I took a deep breath and replied with “okay!” happy that I was in a nice place although confused about where I will sleep. 

Re turned towards the huts and began walking. “Follow me my boy!”, I looked down and noticed he was going bare-footed. I picked up my box and followed him “In here you will find everything you could need, I designed this environment to be very comfortable to stay in.” We entered a hut through the beads that hung in the entrance. It was very basic inside, with what appeared to be a simple bed with bedsheets covered in hieroglyphics. Re was already sitting on it. I was looking around and it wasn’t just the bed sheets that was decorated in hieroglyphics. They also covered the bed, the wardrobe, the dresser, the strange-looking basin and the bedside table. All of them covered like very good graffiti in an underpass, it was all so colourful. It felt cosy inside and was dimly lit by a gas lantern that hung on the wall. The hut itself was made of wood, the floor made of small strips weaved together.  “Oh yes, I think I got it right” Re said happily while looking at me. I moved over and sat next to him, sinking into the bed thinking it felt like a nice mix of memory foam and springs. I slid the box under the bed, then sat up and began to relax.

Re got back up and headed out. He spoke as he walked, “If you are needing a shower…” I wanted to just lay on the bed there and then. He poked his head back into the hut. “Let me just show you a few more things my boy and then you can rest!” He took a puff of his pipe. I looked at him forcing myself up realising how much I was aching and just wanted to lie down. Heading out, the sun felt so powerful, but then I saw Re putting his hand into the air as if he was summoning some spirit. His hand was facing at the sun and then I saw it move as he lowered his hand down. Soon the sun was setting down over the water, the light dimmed, the sun became orange and I found that it was twilight. It freaked me out but this time I tried to shake it off by focusing on the things that seemed normal to me. The sand, the trees, the water, the snakes, the mosquitos. Re was guiding me around the side of the huts to what appeared to be a mud type structure. “The Rehew never shower like this. However, I am never wanting a bathe myself and since there is already the river to bathe in, I thought I would do something a little different.” 

I entered this mud wall structure that wound round, like some showers you would find in an outdoor swimming pool. Inside I could see a long waterfall coming out from a small tub that sat against the wall. It jutted out along it, delivering the waterfall about a metre from the wall. The water fell from the tub. The floor was a cream colour, bouncy and a little spongy. There didn’t seem to be any place that the water could go through, the floor appeared to just absorb the water. I was shocked but also fascinated by it. I found my shoes were getting wet from the water gushing down. The water felt warm against my feet. It felt so relaxing.

“It was my favourite shower design as a teenager. I just wanted something a little more modern in this strange environment.” Re puffed on his pipe for a moment and looked at me. “You will also find an EMC in the wardrobe in the hut, James. I am sure you will figure it out, you just need to concentrate on it and feel you are a part of it. It will produce any clothing, or food, or anything you would like.” 

I looked at him for a moment in silence, not sure what to say. Re turned and walked back out as he returned his pipe to his mouth. I followed out just in time to see the platform we were using disappear down into the sand and the others approach the door. I walked over with Re and as I got closer, I noticed there were some steps that had formed down to the door from on top of the sand. 

“Now you rest James, you should be able to get some good sleep in here and get all cleaned up.” I heard Captain Sagax say. “Thankyou Captain”, “please call me Coactor, James”, I smiled back at her. I saw a message come in front of my eyes again, ‘Periclum Quaerere wants to send you a contact. Accept?’ I looked at it for a moment and tried to feel apart of it. “Just in case you want to contact me” Periclum told me as I was concentrating on the message. Surprising myself, I got it to accept the request quickly and it added the contact. I turned to Re, “You will see me again, don’t you worry about that. I look forward to having you down at my bar when the time comes.” Looking at Re I smiled and said “thankyou”.

They all said goodbye as they were leaving. It made me feel like I wouldn’t be seeing them for a long while and the door soon closed behind them. The steps came up, then both the door and the steps faded away to reveal the cliff face and sand. I suppose I should have felt trapped at that moment, but the environment made it feel as though there was plenty of space. I felt free at that moment. With a small smile on my face and still staring in the direction the door used to be, I collapsed. Ended up sitting on the warm sand I then laid back and spread my arms. A tear gathered on my cheek and I ended up sitting back up while I sobbed into my hands.

I was there for a long while, must have been half an hour before I stopped crying. At that point the air began to cool even though I was feeling warmer inside. My eyes were stinging and so I got up and stumbled towards the hut to settle down. Once inside, I went straight to the sink. I couldn’t figure out how to use the tap. It was this large stone scoop that protruded from a mud wall that stood there just for the sink at just over a metre tall. The sink was made of some resin material; it looked like a matt plastic of high quality. It was a stone colour although brighter than the mud wall or the stone tap. I moved my hands beneath it expecting a motion sensor to start the tap, however it didn’t work. Then attempted to tap the tap, yet nothing came out. Taking a deep breath, I ended up scratching my head, wondering how it could start. 

Imagining the tap running I got a message flash in front of my eyes ‘Send out connection request to “sink 03”?’ Sighing, fed up of this crazy technology that I didn’t know how to work and feeling like it was so alien. I felt so lost. I never asked for any of this. Taking a deep breath, I focused on the message, imagining it being an extension of my body. The tap is another limb, it is a part of me. Then the words ‘connection made’ flashed up and the tap turned on. I felt relieved and began washing my face. It felt a little better to wash my eyes however it just made me realise how cold my feet were. I had been in wet shoes for at least the past hour and should take them off. I looked across the room and already realised I had brought sand and water onto the weaved floor of the hut. It didn’t matter so much because the sand seemed to fall between the weaves and onto the ground below the hut. I sat in the hut’s doorway to take my shoes off. Placing them on the side outside knowing they wouldn’t get wet from rain because of an overhang on the roof of the hut. Taking my socks off, I hung them over the edge of where the door stops and sand laid below. 

I pulled myself back up into the hut and realised that it was warmer in the hut than outside. Then took off my t-shirt and trousers, leaving myself in my boxers. I placed my clothing hanging over the headboard of this double bed. Once I got into the bed, it felt as though I was in a whole different world. My world and I was lying on a cloud so fluffy, so comfortable. My pillow was also soft as I placed my arm under it, wrapping my arms around it, feeling so warm and cosy I drifted off into a deep sleep.

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