All the Tuhingans were standing there dressed in sky blue clothing. There was a small group of around three of them, turning and looking at us. I looked back at them and felt worried about what they would do about our presence. One of them attempted to pull away from the group as they saw us. Another stared at us and attempted to hold the one pulling away back. He pulled himself away from the staring one and began heading towards us. The other following close behind him.
He walked right up to us and asked, “Are you James Foreman?”
I looked at him for a moment, wondering whether I should admit to who I was. “Yes, I am.” I said hesitantly.
The Tuhingans eyes smiled and looked at me endearingly. “Periclum talked about you for the small time I saw him. He was always more interested in new people than his own family.”
The Tuhingan girl, much smaller than most I had seen, caught up and spoke. “Why are you talking to him?” she asked in an agitated way. “Come on, we’ll miss the ceremony!”
A brief look in the distance showed that not much was happening. It seemed everyone was taking their turns to say their piece about Periclum. However, I felt it was important for them to be there instead of talking to me.
The Boy looked at the girl. “Right.” He turned to glance at Caroline and then at me. “It was nice to meet you.” He said gleefully. “Come over when you feel ready!” he continued to say.
“Why did you say that?” the girl asked him when they turned around.
“He seemed uncomfortable. I’m trying to help him feel more comfortable.”
“You are too nice for you own good sometimes brother!”
After hearing the warm welcome I had from the stranger, I moved closer to the ceremony. Still nervous, but feeling a little more relaxed since someone had introduced themselves.
Me and Caroline continued to stand on the outside of the group and stood in the open. Close enough to hear the words being said about Periclum. One of Periclum’s mothers looked over at me with a sour face and turned back to continue listening to whoever was speaking. I saw her whispering to the Tuhingan near her.
I tried to ignore that group and continued listening to what was being said about Periclum. About his brave antics and heroics. How he wasn’t like any other Tuhingan and how he could face even the scariest situations without even hesitating before taking action. He was kind, loving, crazy and some people even accepted that they knew it would end like this. They knew the personality he had and how he always ran into danger without thinking first. How he was away from home a lot on his adventures and brought back rich tales of beating annihilation several times.
Still, there were some references by others on how his annihilation wasn’t how they thought it would be. How it shouldn’t of happened and he shouldn’t have trusted strangers. I felt a little uncomfortable as the Tuhingans that were saying this were looking at me. Periclum may have been friendly, but there were members of his family that weren’t.
I was frozen on the spot. Unsure what to do when the ceremony was over. It lasted for a few hours and Caroline held my hand tight throughout the whole of it. It was nice to hear what Periclum was like and a nice ending to his life. I needed to accept his demise, and the ceremony helped me a lot to do that.
Soon, it was time to burn the pile of logs that Periclum’s body sat on top of. They set it alight, and the flames went up, engulfing the small coffin that sat upon the logs. It was an emotional moment for me and felt myself sad to have lost such a great friend. Even though I had only known him for a short time, it felt like I had known him for years. A tear fell down my cheek as I stood there watching the flames.
“Why did you come!?” I heard an angry voice say. I looked down to see one of Periclum’s mothers speaking to me.
“I’m sorry?” I asked.
“Why did you come?” she asked again. Wanting a reply to my answer as others were gathering behind her.
“I needed closure. Periclum was a good friend.” I replied, half thinking about what to say as I looked at the others gathering behind her staring at me. Now I know the Tuhingans are short compared to a human. But at that funeral there were a lot of Tuhingans. Enough to make me feel threatened, as this small woman asked why I was there in a hostile way.
They circled me and close in on me and Caroline. I glanced at the crowd gathering around me and Caroline. I saw Caroline in the corner of my eye, preparing to fight. When looking back at the mother, she was happy that I felt threatened.
“I heard you can be hostile. We Tuhingan’s don’t like hostile!” It was funny to hear her talking of hostility since that is how I felt they were being at that moment.
I felt my heart race and my head speeding through a thousand thoughts, trying to get me and Caroline out of this situation. Caroline was trying to pull me to go. But my feet were glued to the spot where I stood. I didn’t want to show any fear.
“I heard Tuhingan’s run when they meet hostility!” I said as confidently as I could in that moment.
“Only the ones who can’t do what is necessary!” she said confidently, without wavering. Her eyes became small slits. Narrowing in on me like she was attempting to focus all her hatred towards me.
The Tuhingan boy that came to talk to me before went to the Tuhingan woman. “Mum, what are you doing?”
“Stay out of this! This needs to happen!”
“Mum, James is not to blame for the annihilation of Periclum. You know how reckless Periclum was.”
“Facite, take your brother away from here. I don’t think he needs to see this.”
“Come on,” his brother said as he grabbed his shoulder. The adult Tuhingan’s still surrounding me.
“Get your hands off me!” the young brother said as he attempted to wriggle free. Then being dragged away by force.
“I came to give my respects to Periclum and get closure. Periclum was my best friend here. I never wanted him hurt!” I said as quickly as I could to make sure I could say everything without being cut off.
“A best friend wouldn’t annihilate him!” she responded.
“I didn’t know that would happen. I thought I would save him.”
A Tuhingan in the circle turned around and joined me and Caroline, facing the mother. “Maybe this isn’t what we should do!”
“Get out of the way! We agreed to do this if he came!”
“No, but this isn’t what Periclum would have wanted.” Another Tuhingan from the circle tried to grab the Tuhingan that joined us. The one that joined us pushed the other away. “Get off me!” This Tuhingan stumbled backwards into us and I tried to push him back up again to prevent him from falling.
“Don’t touch my cousin!” I heard a voice say next to me as I felt a hit to my leg. Whoever it was hit me hard, and I felt my leg give way to the force. I stumbled back up onto my feet while pushing the Tuhingan back into the circle where they fell over. The others came after me. I attempted to dodge each attack, moving quickly to allow their momentum to carry them to the ground after failing to push me over. Caroline was doing the same, but soon it wasn’t enough as Tuhingan after Tuhingan was coming to have their turn to beat me and Caroline.
Caroline began using her martial arts, and I continued to dodge attacks and dash. Someone drew a gun at close range and shot through my leg. It hit another Tuhingan in the arm and we were both screaming in pain.
“You shot my brother!” I heard another say just as I saw a gun facing my head. I closed my eyes and the last thing I heard was the mother that I spoke to before shouting “No!”. Then they fired the shot.
I awoke again with the sound of wind whistling in my ear. I couldn’t remember anything past the operation at that moment. Opening my eyes, I saw Caroline staring back at me. I smiled at the sight of her, thinking of how beautiful she was.
“He can’t remember what happened.” she said.
“How can you tell?” the doctor said.
“He has those puppy dog eyes he had for me before we…”
“Before you what?” the doctor continued.
“Never mind Medens. Tell him how he is.”
“James?” Medens asked.
I looked at him, a little confused, as flashes of memories started flooding back to me. The long times I had spent with Caroline playing out in my mind. An enormous smile crept across my face as I remembered, then my red face shone like a beacon as I realised where I was.
“James?” Medens said again.
“Yeah?” I replied.
“Ah, good. Can you remember anything about the last time you had to go through rehabilitation?”
I looked at him, confused. “You mean strengthening my muscles? Yeah, it’s coming back to me…” I said as the other memories continued to come back. Me becoming more and more embarrassed and trying to look normal.
“Good, and you are okay with having to do all of that again?”
The flashes of my time with Caroline kept coming across my mind and I couldn’t focus. “Sure, sure…” I said, trying to be normal.
“I’ll be able to make sure he does everything correctly again, Medens.” Caroline said as he stared at me. I felt his stare pierce into my soul, and I almost felt as though he could see what my memories comprised.
He was there for a short time before continuing. “Good. Okay. I’ll leave you too it.” He left for the door, shouting back. “I hope to see you again, James, when you don’t need medical help!” Then he turned around the corner behind the door and disappeared.
“Come on James, let’s go!” Caroline said to me as she began trying to help me up. I felt so weak again. Frustrated that I had to go through all of this again and embarrassed at the memories that kept filling my mind. I looked in front of me and saw four Tuhingan guards standing with rifles in hand, facing the ground. I looked up at them just as Caroline was handing me a walking stick. She looked at what I was looking at.
“Ignore the guards, James. They’ll just have to be with us for a little while.” I looked at her, confused, not sure what was going on about. She looked at me with an agitated look. “Your memories are coming back. You will soon find out what I am talking about.” I took a deep breath and continued with her support into the corridor and down towards the pods. We were in the bridge section of the ship.
I felt stressed, angry, and frustrated. My memories began coming back to me bit by bit. The nervous feeling of the journey towards the funeral coming to me and then a great feeling of stress and anger.
We walked down the corridors and I found memories began coming back. The events at the funeral disturbing me.
“NOO!” I shouted.
“What?” Caroline said back, shocked.
“She killed me! Sorry, they killed me!” I shouted just as loud. The guards stared at me, watching my every move.
“NOOOO!!!” I shouted again as I pulled hard away from Caroline. Then fell and grabbed Caroline by the shoulders and looked into her eyes with anguish. “Why the hell would they do that! Why can’t she give me that data!?” The guards were aiming the weapons at me.
“Let go of her!” I heard a guard say with a shaken voice.
“Why are you here?” I shouted at the guard.
The guard stuttered to give me an answer.
“I said, why are you here!?” I shouted. Furious at the situation and letting go of Caroline.
The guard just stared at me, unsure how to answer me, watching as I stumbled and then held the wall for support.
“NOO!” I said again, punching the wall. “No, no, no,” I said again and again as I continued punching and making my knuckles bleed.
“James?” Caroline said as she placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Get off me!” I said, pushing her back. Caroline stumbled back on her feet and the guards placed the butts of their guns up to their shoulders, fingers resting on the triggers as they aimed their weapons at me.
She ended up on the floor and while sitting there, she looked back at me, scared. “James, what is going on with you?” she asked with a tear in her eye.
“Ahhhh!!!” I shouted loud into the air and then I was shot, again.
When I materialised again, I was on the sand. I opened my eyes. I was staring up at a blue sky and birds were flying over. The sound of birds tweeting filled my ears. The sand felt warm against my skin. Again, my memories were gone. I could only remember up to the point when I was cured. I closed my eyes and relaxed for a moment, enjoying the warm sand, not caring why I was there.
“Do you think he is a danger to us?” I heard Captain Sagax say.
“No, I don’t think he ever mean’t to harm me.” I heard Caroline say.
I thought about what she said. Harm her? What did I do? I got up and saw her and Captain Sagax sat there on a chair in the restaurant me and Periclum went to all that time ago, looking out onto the sand. Behind them were around eight guards with guns. One of them approached Sagax.
“I don’t think this is the safest place for you to sit, Captain!” The guard said to her as he looked at me with a worried look. I looked back, confused.
“No, I am fine. There is this bannister in the way between me and James. We just need to talk.” She turned to look back at me and stood up. I tried to get up myself as a sign of respect, but struggled. She looked back at me and furred her eyebrows. “He’s weak?”
“Yes, his body is the one that was scanned right after we cured him.” Caroline said. “He’s no threat.”
Captain Sagax looked at me like a parent would look at a child they were disappointed with. “You messed up, James!” I still didn’t know what she was on about. However, I got flashes of me and Caroline doing things together. I was trying to hide my embarrassment. I gave up trying to get up at that moment, instead choosing to sit with one leg bent as to hide the predicament I was in.
I looked around and noticed that I was in the habitat they placed me in when I first arrived. There was some comfort in seeing familiar surroundings, however, I was in no mood to be interrogated since I did not understand what was happening. I saw the hut sitting on the side of the beach and was staring at it, thinking how much I would just like to hide in it.
Flashes continued to come back from my long time with Caroline. The things we got up to rattled through my mind like some electrical charge, arousing a lot of senses I didn’t want aroused at that moment.
“James? Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” I said back to The Captrain sincerely, looking up at her admirably. A powerful feeling of anxiety was washing over me, but I didn’t quite know why yet.
“We will give you some time. Are you wanting to go to the hut?” The Captain asked like I was some child that needed timeout.
I looked at the Captain and felt like she had just said the most wondrous thing. “Yes, please Captain. I would like that very much!”
“We will stay here then. Maybe order some food in this fine restaurant you and Periclum chose.”
I was happy to see them distracting themselves from me at that moment. They turned, walking to the tables, and the guard began sitting at other tables. Everyone ordering food from the androids. I felt my stomach rumble and I could feel I was a little hungry. However, I felt much more than just that at that moment. The memories of me and Caroline were taking control over me and preventing me from even functioning at that moment.
I crouched down as I struggled up and found I couldn’t stay on my feet for long before falling over. Determined to get to the hut, I crawled. After a short time, I saw two human feet with nail polish and sandals on standing in front of me.
“Here!” I heard Caroline say. I looked up. She was handing me a walking stick. I took it to help me walk, and she helped me on the other side. As we walked, she seemed to quicken the pace. Was she trying to make sure I was in the hut quickly? At the time, I did not understand why, as my time with her kept flashing back and I would giggle at the memories.
Once we got to the hut, she sat me on the bed and I looked up at her with lustful eyes. I stood up and went to kiss her. She stopped me.
“Not now, James! You are in a bit of a mess.” I sat back down on the bed and looked at her, confused.
“What is going on?” I asked as I had flashes of talking with the Captain, deciding to take a road trip and the road trip itself.
“It will all come to you, James. Let’s just wait.” She sat down next to me, watching my expressions.
I felt anxiety and anger grow inside me. Frustration filling me as I thought about how hard it was for me to get hold of the data within Periclum’s suit. Anger growing at people blaming me for his death. Upset at the fact that Periclum is no longer with us. Then the events at the funeral hit me and I cried. I cried quietly and comfortably. Feeling as though I was away from the world’s prying eyes.
I had flashes of what happened in the corridor. It made me feel worried about the aftermath of all that. After a while, I realised I was alive and so my mind had settled after some time. I knew I had all my memories returned to me and it was a wild ride. So many emotions lived in me, I did not understand how to deal with them. I had been through so much and with no one understanding me. Even Caroline, being as close to human as she was, didn’t understand herself. So how could I have expected her to understand me?
I slowed my weeping down and took a deep breath. Understanding that it was time to face whatever I needed to face. I could have sat there, in that cabin, comfortable with Caroline. But I knew the Captain was waiting and I would have to face this.
Caroline guided me out of the cabin and into the restaurant to talk to the awaiting captain. The guards seemed wary as we entered, however, the Captain got them to stand down. We sat down at a large table and the Captain asked what I would like to order. I ended up getting Caroline to order for me. She could see I wasn’t myself and I wouldn’t care what was on my plate. So she ordered me a simple fish dish, with an alien potato plant and a few vegetables that were red.
The Captain sighed, “This is one hell of a political mess.”
“Captain, as I explained before, James did nothing unlawful at the ceremony…”
The Captain held up her hand. “I know Caroline, don’t need to explain again.” The Captain then looked at me as if she was analysing my face. “You know James, we have The Galactic Union here declaring that you didn’t break any laws. However, we have several Tuhingan that claim that you did… Unfortunately for us, we have to follow what the Galactic Union tells us. I just need to hear one thing from you, James, just to hear it from you. Did you incite violence and hatred at Periclum’s annihilation ceremony?”
I was shocked, “What?” I asked. “No, of course not. I was trying to pay my respects.”
“By claiming you had a right to the data from Periclum’s suit?”
There was a long pause as I was trying to figure out what was going on. “No, I never talked about it!”
“Hmm, that is what your Companion is saying as well.”
“I also have proof.” Caroline said in an instant.
“Yes, yes, we know. You had your memories recorded.”
I looked at Caroline. “You can do that?”
She looked at me through the corners of her eyes. “Not now, James!”
The Captain took a deep breath and looked at me. “I guess that means we will have to let you go? The Council will not be pleased.”
“Thankyou Captain,” Caroline said as she stood up.
“Wait! We are not done yet!”
“You can’t hold us here!”
“No, but I think you might want to hear this!” The Captain looked back down at me as I was still in my seat. “James, Periclum’s brother, Elatio Quaerere, backed you up. He wanted to give you the data that Periclum had. As a minor, he can’t give that without his parents or guardian’s permission. One of his mothers is the one that seems to be the loudest in all of this, fighting against you. None of the other parents want to go against her.”
“Really?” I asked as this came as a pleasant surprise.
“Yes, he also offered us the data from Periclum’s suit to give directly to you. But we could not accept and had to give it to one of his parents.”
“Yeah, it was a very brave thing for him to do, coming forward like that. That family truly is remarkable.” The Captain said this in such a way that I realised she was suggesting more than what was being said.
“I can imagine they give you quite the headache.” I said, attempting to make a joke about the situation.
She made a strange clicking sound, then breathing in before continuing. “Yes. I don’t think they are going to stop James. I suggest you stay away from them for a long while.”
“I will!” I got up to leave.
“Elatio also asked me to pass on his contact details to you. I can’t give them to you since his parents wouldn’t allow it. Just wanted you to know.”
“Okay, thank you Captain.” I said as me, and Caroline turned to leave just as our meals arrived at the table.
“Yes, Captain?” I turned around.
“This habitat will always be available to you if you ever choose to come back.”
“Thank you, Captain. It’s a generous offer. But I think if I hide now, I will want to stay hidden forever.”
“Hmm…” she said as she seemed consider the answer. “Good answer.” I turned again to leave just as she stopped me one more time. “James,” I just looked at her. “Make sure you find yourself a volunteer job. Get yourself remembered for more than the negative things that have happened.”
“Thanks for the advice Captain. I think I will do just that. I hope to see you again soon.”
“You won’t, James, not unless you get yourself in serious trouble again or a miracle happens.”
“I always like to hope for miracles, Captain.”
The Captain made one of those strange gurgling sounds just as we were leaving. I could see Caroline seemed stressed from the situation.
“It okay Caroline, everything will be okay!”
“No James, it’s not okay. Let’s just get back!”
We continued in silence all the way back to home. I felt it was awkward between us and I could see that Caroline had been through a lot that she wasn’t talking about. I was trying to think of something to talk about, but everything I came up with seemed to make the situation even more awkward. So we continued in silence. Eventually, we arrived at the station and picked up another motor home. The same model we had before, except this time with an EMC machine included. When we arrived back, we had something to eat and got ourselves settled for the evening without saying much. Just as we laid down in bed, I got an anonymous message containing the contact details of Elatio. However, I kept that information to myself and after sending a request to him, we went to sleep.
Ohh I do love my feedback, how can I improve?
Tell me what I can do better!
Where do my challenges lie? Please, tell me.