Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Orange Door- part 2

So far: Ani Raye has been asked to appear for an appointment at her principal's office. This is a strange request and she finds herself wondering what could possibly await her behind his orange door.

‘Yin very quiet; Yang wants to know why’
Khyran slipped into the empty chair in front of me and smiled his fey smile I figured I could identify from a thousand other smiles all mashed together into a melded mess.
‘Yin unhappy, don’t want you, go the hell away’ I countered, with a weak-hearted attempt at sounding annoyed at him. I just sounded pathetic. Annoyed at myself, I scratched my pointy nail against the faux wood table, carving patterns into it.
He sat back in his chair, smiling, the very essence of Yang as they taught us long back in the Grade B Ancient Philosophy class- male and light and active, a thing of the azure sky, of celestial origin. I sulked at him, feeling quite the essence of Yin- female, dark and earthly…not to mention extremely pissed off at the world, which the ancient philosophers hadn’t bothered to include.
We sat in silence, something everyone thought incapable of us. The orange door revolved in the back of my mind; my stomach lurched in protest, and the large sandwich K was eating didn’t help one bit.
It was massive; he must have made it himself at the Make Your Own counter and then filled it with probably everything on the counter, and then topped it with a bucket of tomato ketchup. A smear of red stained the corners of his mouth and I watched him lick it off slowly, the orange door forgotten because of his actions.
‘Ew, gross, K. Stop that!’
He grinned happily, taking another huge bite. I suspected he was doing it to get me to talk, because he said ‘My mouth, my tongue. What’s it to you, Ani?’
I scowled petulantly at him, making another scratch on the table. The orange door resurfaced at an angle that made my stomach go queasy again.
‘What did you do? Bit someone? Kicked dirt in someone’s eyes? Bopped Trainer Mee on the head?’
He recited it like a grocery list, and I actually flinched at the last one. K could be very loud-mouthed at times…no, strike that, most of the time.
He was big-mouthed too; I couldn’t help but notice, seeing as he was putting that sandwich in his stomach fast enough. I wondered if he was at it with so much gusto because he wanted one more.
‘Ani Raye’ he said in a mock stern voice, leaning forward. ‘, Tell me what’s bugging you’
I chewed on my bottom lip. ‘It’s nothing, K. Just-’
‘Raye! Zevre! Move, NOW!’
Trainer Stratten’s voice was one loud, unfaltering bellow that nearly made K drop his plate as he scurried to get off the chair and out the door. I watched the plate fall from his hand, watched his fingers close lightly around the rim, quick as the wildest lightning, while he swiped a glass off the table at the same time and downed what was left of my water.
‘Bye, Nee…see you!’ he called as he dumped the plate into the dumpster and disappeared.
I continued to sit there miserably, watching his empty chair, like it would suddenly metamorphose into someone who would tell me, in calm and soothingly mellow tones, why there was an Appointment at the Principal’s Office.
My frown deepened as I picked tomato slices off my plate and chewed noisily on them. It was unheard of. No one went in through that Orange Door. No one even saw the Principal, unless their immediate family had suddenly died- but even then, I remembered with a pang, he’d come out to tell you. And again, I had no immediate family.
Once- just once-that door had opened for someone…and that had been Fayne.
The last of the Croppers.
A shiver shot up my spine at my memory of Fayne, looking wondrously regal and warrior-like as he strode purposefully to the door. Close-cropped hair; neck and face showing battle scars; one arm useless from an attack. I had been five then, but the sight of him had impressed on me what no textbook could ever teach us- the majestic worth of a Cropper, the hope they were.
He had seen me peeking out from behind the thick marble-veined columns and smiled. A scar ran down one corner of his mouth, disfiguring the smile slightly, and there was something that told me that wound was fresh. He looked almost like an android version of a patchwork quilt, but I’d felt safe under that gaze just the same. He’d reached into his pocket and pulled out a bar of chocolate and beckoned to me, and of course I hadn’t gone, so he put it on the floor, smiled at me again and disappeared through the orange door.
Later, sharing the rich chocolate with K, we’d gushed for hours about how we’d be nice to young kids and give them all chocolates if only we’d been lucky enough to have been born with the gene that made us Cropper.
I’d heard about Fayne getting a bionic arm later on. Maybe he could throw chocolates with both hands now.
There was no reason that door should open for me.
‘Lost in thoughts? Again…’
Trainer Stratten took K’s chair and pushed a glass of the lavender potion they kept feeding us towards me. I let my fingers fold around the glass, feeling the sweet numbness of ice against my skin.
‘I have an Appointment’
Trainer Stratten frowned. ‘Hm?’
‘With the Principal’
He poked at the glass in my fingers and I raised it to my lips, wincing as the cold liquid scalded my throat, the way it always did. A warm, energetic buzzing pulsated through me, setting my nerves tingling.
‘The Principal. Hmm’
The mess hall had emptied except for the Lowers- the silent servants- on work cleaning up. Trainer Stratten brushed a hand through his close-cropped hair and watched me with a scorching intensity to his black eyes.
‘Who told you?’
‘Trainer Mee’ I mumbled, putting the glass back on the table and wiping my hand across my mouth.
‘Zoran doesn’t get his facts wrong’ Stratten said, thoughtfully. I nodded, more to myself than him, and watched a Lower scrape the remains of the sandwich toppings off the counter. ‘ ,It could be about a transfer’
‘Transfer?!’ my voice ripped through some twenty octaves and came out a shriek- a sound of pure despair.
He took my hand and squeezed gently. ‘Oh…relax, Ani’
‘They can’t!’, I cried, anxiously. ‘, They can’t do that! They just can’t!’
Everything seemed to have dissolved into a blur of colors. My chest heaved with the sudden tightness in my breathing, and panic grabbed my throat in a choke-hold.
‘Ani, come on- .’
‘They can’t do that! They can’t…’
Stratten stood, reaching across the space between us to clamp my mouth shut.
‘Quit it, Ani- don’t make a scene!’ he snapped, and the no-nonsense tone cut through my haze of panic. I exhaled once, softly, and felt the heat of it in the small space between his fingers and my mouth. His skin smelled of sweet soap and I pulled away, rattled by the fact that I’d even noticed that.
‘Listen. If you want, I’ll come with you. They won’t be pleased about it but-’
‘I’m not a child to be clinging to your finger anymore.’ I said, quietly, ‘You told me to face my fears, remember? “Don’t let even the shadows of doubt in. Remember, it’s shadows they play with”?’
Stratten grunted. ‘Maybe I still see you as the baby I brought to the School’
I smiled at that, scratching another line with my nail. I had been scratching alphabets unconsciously. AK. Ani and K.
No one ever said Ani or K individually except when speaking directly to us. It was always ‘Where’s Ani and K? What’s Ani and K upto?’
We were plural in numbers but a singular entity to the School. Ani-and-K was one being to the staff and students. Yet, I hadn’t told him about the appointment.
Crap. I’d have to find him and tell him before it or he’d lose his mind over where-Ani-could-have-gone scenarios.
‘You and K going in together?’
Stratten’s question was so in sync with my thoughts that I nearly yelped out loud in surprise.
Strangely enough, a small smile spread across Stratten’s face. ‘I’ll be going then. Don’t worry’
I watched him go, a little bewildered. Trainer Stratten had been the one who had found my after my parents’ death and brought me here to the School. According to the Sickbay nurse Willa, K and I had arrived together, two babies under three thrust into her care in a single day.
‘Your names fell the moment we saw you both- one fair as snow, the other so completely the treasure of the earth. We called you Khyran and Ansinah because of their meanings in my language- white and black, light and dark’
Willa never tired of telling that story, loved us both like crazy and was like a mother. When K had nearly killed himself accidentally by swallowing an inch long piece of glass (when he was off-the-planet stupid at seven) Willa had stopped sleeping for nearly a month so she could just hold me (off the planet weepy at six) on her lap while we waited for him to recover.
Trainer Stratten never mentioned anything about K though. While I knew my parents’ names, K knew nothing. White Stratten was always nice and fatherly to me, he bullied and picked on K like it was a ritual. I wondered if Stratten ever saw K as the baby he’d brought to the school, like he claimed he did for me.
I could probably have talked Stratten into stopping his nastiness to K, but K would be angry with me. He would not accept Stratten’s kindness unless it was obtained through his own merit.
Off-the-planet proud at twenty- that was what K was right now.

2  b continued…

Image courtesy: the net. Guns and roses- that's how I sum up Shaded sometimes.


Going away for two days, so till then tata....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pages Description- Author's Note

Before Orange Door part 2 comes up let me direct your attention to the Pages tab.
Here there are a few pages. Although Ani explains most of the terms in her story, she does live in a different world and thus some of the stuff she says can be difficult. In the page EXPLORING ANI"S WORLD, you can read more about some of the stranger stuff in Ani's world. In the page BACKSTORY, I talk about the Creation and Chronology of Events that occurred which led to Ani's world being as it is. In the GALLERY, the most fun part according to me, you will find artworks, maps and other details so you can see Ani's world the way I see it.
I hope this doesn't distract anyone.
You can read the first post here

The Orange Door- part 1

This is my world, encompassed in four walls that held me and two hundred other kids inside a sprawling fifty-acre plot. Here, bloody fights and bloodier gang brawls were as common as the rising sun.  I could navigate with ease the cobbled pathways worn to rubble by pounding feet even blindfolded.  I knew every stone of the walkway leading to the cliff just past the wall; the memories of hatred and love and fighting and passion etched into each one like a permanent tattoo. The tall and torturous climbing wall, the fake war zones, the bright classrooms, the arena with its adrenaline rushes….everything was as by-heart to me as the back of my own hand.
Lots of random facts about the School was loaded into me, too- like the fact that the Trainers are hard-assed jerks; or that you could always predict the weather for the day if you knew the sea well enough to look from the cliff and make out the subtle changes in it; or that below the solitary cedar at the far end of the campus was the best hook-up/break-up point; or that if Trainer Mee dragged you out of bed and stuck you on a race track it means he wants you to run a marathon.
So, all things considered, I should be an expert on the School. A scholarly genius who could, at a wink of her eye, dispel all your worrisome doubts about the School.
So I was stumped when I couldn’t intercept the meaning behind the words eight-thirty, Ani, appointment at the Principal’s office.
‘Eight-thirty, Ani, appointment at the Principal’s office’
Trainer Mee’s moustache had quivered when he said that to me, and something about his frigid blue eyes seemed out of sorts.
I had felt strangely displaced, tossed rather nastily out of the ordinary course of my life at the School. A cold little feeling crept into my spine and numbed me from head to toe, and I had to pinch myself hard so I could come out of my sudden trance.
I had squawked out a ‘Yes, sir, all right, sir’ but it had mashed into ‘What the HELL?’ which was what I really wanted to ask, and come out as a tight, cringe-inducingly shrill ‘Yes, what the, sir?’
Trainer Mee had squared his shoulders and huffed a little, his bushy eyebrows drooping into his winter-fire eyes. He chewed his lip for a moment before saying ‘Oh, how do I know, Ani?! Just be there on time!’
 He’d snarled the last word at me before striding off into the misty Trainer’s Corridor which no Trainee was supposed to ever take.
(A rule every Trainee disregarded, of course, because only the Trainers’ bathroom ever had sweet soap- we got fat yellow lumps that gave us all rashes)
I had stood there, hugging myself, concerned at how my routine had suddenly become warped and at how all I could think of was that conspicuously fluorescent orange door that said in serious letters, P INCIPAL, the R having been torn of long back by the more rebellious Trainees. It was as though all of my immediate future had grabbed their bags and left me to spin in circles around a single event which would happen behind that orange door.
I was still thinking of it during lunch time.
‘Eight-thirty, Ani. Principal’s office’
Another squeak escaped my lips and I paused gorging on my sandwich long enough to collect my suddenly scattered bearings. Trainer Mee gave me the evil eye as he passed by my table, empty except for me.
I had come back from the Trainer’s Corridor, slightly nervous, and had no idea how I had even got out of all the activities before lunch so I could sit in the library and muse on that sentence, ‘Appointment at the Principal’s office’, trying to decode it as though it may be a cryptic message, pondering on every syllable. I would still have been in the cold and eternally damp library had not the grumpy librarian shoved me out by shouting in my face very loudly.
I watched sauce drip onto my plate. Somewhere at the back of my head, an orange door rotated slowly, like a very scary, very rectangular clock ticking away all my time.


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