Gatlin felt weird. The whole world seemed to be capsizing around him, and he felt…magenta? He knew the feeling was usually called cold—he was shivering—but for some reason he was equating the tactile chilliness with the color magenta; he could feel it crawling across his skin, little flickery blobs of purple-red like paisley come alive. He collapsed on the ship’s ramp and dry-heaved for what felt like a very long time before Danica found him and helped him inside.
She sat him gently on a bench in the cargo hold. “What happened?” she asked. “You were fine an hour ago. Do you have any allergies?”
“I don’t think so—oh. Oh! Do you see that? It’s like a river!”
Danica looked behind her, checking over each shoulder. “What are you talking about? What’s like a river?”
“When I talk. My sounds. Watch. Hmmmmmm.” Gatlin lolled his head in big circles and hummed until she firmly clamped his cheeks one-handedly between her thumb and fingers.
“Gatlin, did you eat anything?”
“No,” he said between smooshed lips. His eyes darted around like a cat’s, chasing specters no one else could see. “Just some of those walnuts your pointed out.”
“I said they were like walnuts. It’s not Earth food, Gatlin. How many did you eat?”
“Just a couple. Handfuls.”
“A couple handfuls?! It’s a hallucinogen!” She hung her head and sighed, and then began pulling on his arms. “Come on, we can’t let the captain see you like this. You can sleep it off in my bunk while I work.”
“Ha! I’ve been trying to get into your bunk for months, and all I had to do was eat some space nuts.” He grinned. Wait. Did he say that last part out loud? Shit.