CHAPTER SIX – Processing

I watched when the woman had asked all her questions. The creature would then go to another three Tuhingan that appeared to scan that individual. They used a strange device that stood at least eight metres tall, with large boxes suspended down in four corners. The machine made various mechanical sounds as an individual would stand in the centre. Afterwards, the humanoid creature went to collect a box of camping gear and ended up going over to a seating area and sat at a picnic bench. They placed their box under their seat and received food and liquids on the table. The Tuhingans asked each one about their dietary requirements and what they drank.

I watched the creatures that sat at the tables. There was a lot of confusion. Some did something different from the others, but most looked around then realised where to place their box and what to do. For the ones that did something strange, the Tuhingan were soon there to guide them. However, some were still struggling to eat, looking as if they would puke. Some devoured a lot, some drank their drinks and were fine, others drank and then had a severe reaction. It was a crazy mess of disgust, sickness, violence, upset, despair and only the occasional silent contentedness.

I looked back round to see the creatures in front of me acting in odd ways. One kept going out of the line and back again. Another in the line kept walking into where the other creature was and then the pacing creature would scream at them to come back into the line. The creature that took its place would always back away as soon as it was screamed at, then would always take the other creature’s place when it left the line. If I am honest, it made me feel a little crazy. Another creature in the line at the front was making odd whimpering sounds, like a dog, but a little higher. All were different colours, some had fur, others didn’t, but they all seemed similar to me. At least compared to some creatures I had seen before. 

The whimpering creature was up next. The conversation was silent but the whimpering creature would let out a large screech type moan like they were in pain and ecstasy at the same time. It was a strange sight. “The strangeness of the universe never ceases to astound me”, I heard Re saying next to me. “I’ve seen stranger!” Periclum continued. Re made a strange gurgling sound as if pleased by the statement and then continued, “I bet you have my boy. You have been about a bit. You need to stop by the bar after we get through this mess and tell us all of your adventures!” Re sucked in on his flameless pipe and I saw how his face relaxed straight after he had done so. “I will. Have you got some of those mushrooms we were taking last time?” again Re was gurgling a strange gurgle sound and then said “oh, you want some of those do you? Only the best for you, Periclum!”

The conversation about drugs seemed to continue between Re and Periclum. Soon it was time for me to go through the processing. I left Re and Periclum talking. They told me they will wait for me. Then I went to the desk to begin. I answered the questions as best as I could, although they seeming a little strange and confusing. “Which sector was I from?”, “What government system governs planet Earth?”, “How did I end up on a Myrmekes?”, “What reason do I have to have a Nkri Companion?” I did not understand what she was talking about. So I mostly answered “I don’t know”. The woman was looking at me intensely, almost looking as though she was trying to figure out if I was trying to manipulate her. I felt uncomfortable with her stares, but continued answering the questions the best I could. 

Soon the woman told me to continue on. I didn’t hesitate when she waved me on to be scanned. The three Tuhingan guards around me appeared to be well armed and ready for any trouble. “Please step into the scanner”, they gestured towards the platform in the middle of the machine. I stepped on, wondering what will happen next. The mechanical sounds I heard before started up again, except this time it was much louder. I held my breath as I felt claustrophobic standing in this large and open machine. I could see everyone else, yet I still felt the machine closing in around me. The sounds stopped and then one of the Tuhingan asked me to “move along to the inventory table”. I went to the table he was pointing towards and I looked down at a Tuhingan standing below me. It was packing a box on the low table in front of me.

“Sleeping bag, tent, ground mat, heater, light and that’s it. Oh, and remember to come back for your clothes later. It shouldn’t be too long, an hour, maybe.” This wiry Tuhingan was looking back at me with messy hair and deep pink eyes. I couldn’t quite tell if it was female or male. I just nodded my head and said “thank you.” “Make sure you get plenty to eat if you can hold the food down. We are not sure what your species eat yet, but hopefully the scanner was correct and we won’t poison you.” The Tuhingan looked back at me with a very serious expression, it continued “it happens, sometimes, it’s not an exact science, it gets complicated but we try our best. Besides, if you end up poisoned, we can soon re-materialise you again. Could you step over to the tables and find yourself a place, thankyou!” it waved me over to the picnic benches to sit down with the other creatures. 

I began walking towards the tables and looked over. Periclum was standing on his own, looking over at the large door we approached earlier. I looked over to see Re talking to a large Tuhingan woman surrounded by at least four armed guards. It confused me, so I stopped for a moment to look. There was some movement in the corner of my eye. I turned and looked to see Periclum approach me. “You’re becoming quite the celebrity!” I looked at him, confused. “It seems others have noticed your genetic similarities to the Rehew. It’s the first time us Tuhingan have discovered another species that is so similar.” I look at him shocked “I am no celebrity!” In an attempt to run away, I turned and continued to walk towards the table. Periclum was running after me, “I’m sorry James, but you are, you are too similar to the species that liberated us”. I stopped and turned to look at him for a moment, trying to register what he just said, “Liberators?” I replied. “Yes, that’s what I said. The ones who freed us.” It was at that moment that I realised these creatures saw me as some reincarnation of some long dead saviour figure. 

I turned again and continued walking. It scared me to think these Tuhingan saw me that way. I didn’t want to be seen as anything but James Foreman, a scientist working on the CERN project living on planet Earth and going about my mundane, boring existence. Yet here I was on this weird alien spaceship called The Liberty, being told that I have genetic similarities to some liberators and these little creatures seem enthralled by my presence. This moment wasn’t helping with my anxiety. I was almost at the table where the other creatures were sitting. Desperate to be treated like one of them, it felt as though I was reaching out for some, if just a little, of normality. I could feel Periclum watching me as I sat at the table, placing my box under the seat, and waited for my food. I began staring at the table, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Periclum was soon next to me again.

“James, this is amazing! You shouldn’t fear being this way, you will be treated like a VIP now.” I turned to Periclum, “I don’t want it, I don’t want any of this! I barely know what is going on and everything just feels weird to me. Now you tell me I am some Liberator! I am just a small human who lives on Earth and has worked hard to unravel the mysteries of the universe using a microscope! I don’t want to be some celebrity for something I haven’t even done, something that doesn’t even make sense!” My breathing became heavy. I was furious. I did not know how else to deal with all those confusing and intense emotions that had built up inside me. However, I showed no signs of violence and I think that was the reason they did not take me out. However, there were soon several armed guards surrounding me, preparing with their weapons. I spluttered and cried, hiding my head in my hands. 

“My boy, I think it is time you had some rest. You should come with me and we will find you a comfortable and private place. Does that sound good to you?” It was Re. He had come back over while I was having a moment of upset and I didn’t see him. I took a deep breath and then took my head out of my hands to look up at Re. I looked across and saw that large Tuhingan staring at me with her four guards standing close. She seemed to stand at around a metre and a half, muscular, had pale purple eyes. Covered in brown hair with grey streaks. We looked at each other and she appeared to have sympathetic eyes. She had a stern sounding voice compared to the other Tuhingan, “we have the perfect place for you to rest. We will look after you well.” I heard this voice before and realised it was the same one that greeted us all when I was still frozen. Re looked at me and continued, “come on my boy, let’s get you somewhere comfortable” and put out his hand. 

I didn’t grab his hand, instead I grabbed the box under my seat. No one told me at that moment that I needed it, but I felt it was necessary to keep whatever was given to me. I didn’t know if and when I would get anything else. So I carried it with me as I followed this large Tuhingan lady surrounded by her four armed guards to the large door. Periclum was on one side of me and Re on the other. We all walked in silence as everyone else was staring at us and moved out of our way. The Tuhingan at the door moved to the side for us and let us all through. Then, one by one, we went through the smaller door.

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