Blue Grey Tentacles was small and couldn’t easily keep up the same pace as the adults. He felt sure he could hear them whispering about how he had upset a whole planet. Were they pushing him because the place was crowded? Were they pushing him on purpose? A brown tentacle nudged him.
“Try to keep up or it will be the worse for you.” Blue Grey recoiled.
“Just shift your rotten tentacles and leave me alone!”
“Look, I’m trying to help, they always pick on me because I’m older than the rest.” The prisoner with the brown tentacles moved a bit away keeping just close enough so the youngster noticed him. Both struggled to keep up with the young adults as far as they could. Two guards kept their eyes on the prisoners.
The guard who had come with little Blue Grey Tentacles told the prisoners,
“The Sun our Lord sends flares to remind us all that wrongdoing will be punished.” He refreshed himself with a muddy water container that the prisoners weren’t allowed to use, “When you finish your sentences you should behave better so the Sun will like you again.”
Some Centaurian prisoners lowered their heads and tentacles miserably when they remembered that their God the Sun didn’t like them very much anymore but others dared to grumble.
“How can we live honestly?” a Centaurian near Blue Grey mumbled, “Who will employ us with our records?”
“Flares happen now about as often as they usually happen.” another murmured.
“Stop whispering, move smartly there”, the other guard quickly interrupted.
Tentacles scraped on the hard, rough surface and hurt, prisoners struggled to keep up an even pace against the wind that was even stronger than usual after the flare. The one guard lectured on and on about divine punishment while the other saw to it that the prisoners kept moving and the Sun beat down relentlessly from the sky. The planet’s surface had been heated and dried out during the flare. Centaurians evolved in muddy swamps and wet habitats so very dry conditions are a torment for them. Hot, dry and uncomfortable the prisoners shuffled round and round.
Eye stalks pointed desperately, then hopefully towards the sky, yes clouds were definitely forming. All that evaporated water would fall back to the planet as rain. A cloud went in front of the Sun and already it was just a bit cooler. Then the thunder started and the rain fell in torrents and tentacles spread out eagerly to catch the water. What could the guards do? They knew that the heat from the flaring Sun caused convection rain. The Great Lord Sun had chosen to send rain and ease the punishment. The more religious of the guards insisted that the prisoners should rest and soak up the rain as long as they wanted so he was very late back home to his family.