Back to The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun

Life and the other among the Homeless[]

“We should get a Sun Priest to do the ritual properly, that’s our religious duty!” Blue Tentacles piped up in a very Patrician manner and any number of tentacles pointed disapprovingly at him.
“When there are no Sun Priests around us we look after our own.” Silver Grey explained quietly. Disapproval among the onlookers turned to compassion after she and Purple had explained about the terrible marriage Blue’s cruel guardian had tried to force onto him.

The elderly Centaurian who was to officiate at the improvised death ceremony started. First was a comforting religious message and assurances that the departed Centaurian was already enjoying the divine mud of the afterlife and that divine mud was unimaginably superior to any swamps or mudflats that living Centaurians ever encounter. Centaurians from the audience raised and lowered eyestalks in agreement and mentioned they had heard similar messages from Sun Priests at proper death ceremonies. Indeed it was pointed out the ordinary Centaurian did not move his tentacles in the prescribed way of the Sun Priest or use the prescribed words of the Sun Priestly Ceremony but the message was true and correct.

“Simply nothing is superior to the very best intoxicants!” an unsteady voice sang out, then with humiliation all over her tentacles Silver Grey asked her drunken husband to stop disturbing the religious ceremony. Yellow started shaking his tentacles to show what he thought of his drunken dad and Blue joined in, both boys stopped abruptly when Silver Grey turned her eye stalks in their direction but by that time any number of adults were also shaking tentacles.
“We’re poor but we should keep to respectable standards!” Silver Grey scolded the drunk. She led her husband back to the vehicle.

All felt slightly better as the remains were weighted with stones and formally lowered into a spot where the mud was particularly slimy and sticky.
“I hope to be laid to rest in gluey mud like that when my time comes.” the older Centaurian who was officiating told them.
Younger Centaurians who knew how precarious life can be in the homeless swamps commented how fortunate the elderly Centaurian had been to live so long among the homeless and added they wanted the same type of gluey mud when their time came. More Centaurian tentacles were found, it wasn’t clear if these were from the same or a different flood victim but all were laid to rest with improvised ceremony and a promise that the deceased was in a happier and muddier place.
“Does this sort of thing happen often here?” young Blue asked anxiously.
Amber Tentacles, the elderly Centaurian who led the improvised funeral warned Blue Tentacles and Yellow they should on no account camp too near the sea wall.
“That wall protects paying Centaurians on the other side, it doesn’t protect us!” Amber explained. “Rogue waves and ordinary storm waves break against the wall, after crashing against the wall the waters surge back to meet incoming waves, the turbulence is unpredictable and can easily be lethal.”
After storms there could easily be far more mud on the far side of the sea wall and the mud there had a natural beauty that the carefully maintained mud flats and mudbaths in the tourist areas couldn’t imitate. Despite this the sea wall protected tourists and other Centaurians who could afford safer places as the sea wall stopped all but the very most severe storm surges. Staying alive was far easier in the protected area and staying alive was something that most Centaurians like most humans cared about.

“I’ll see that the boys find a safe place to live.” Silver Grey reassured them, from the vehicle where she was working to keep her drunken husband quiet during the religious ceremony. No Centaurian felt in the mood for feeding or fun afterwards but many felt sorry for the youngster who had left the comfortable Patrician life and would share their hardships rather than face an abusive marriage. Before returning to the vehicle the homeless group solemnly collected good tasting wild food and gave a large collection to Blue Tentacles so as to help ease the transition from Patrician life to homeless life though Blue didn’t feel at all like eating just then.