The Minou Saga: Part 1
Anxious teenagers waited in line outside the movie theater in downtown. The line extended around the block and the ticket booth attendee worked quickly to get through everyone in line but being it was his first day he was causing most of the delays. The associate next to him rolled her eyes and chewed her gum. She wasn’t going to help him out because it wasn’t her job to train him, it was her manager’s job and she’d be damned to pick up the extra workload. In fact, her manager was there for an hour but left to attend to a dispute in one of the theaters.
“Next please.” She called out through the holes in the glass window that separated them from the outside. The line moved slowly as some got restless and started complaining that they’d miss the movie.
“Geesh, this line sucks. Do you think we’ll make it in before it starts?” One girl said to her friend. They were waiting in the middle of the line clinging to each other for warmth despite the thick coats, scarves, and beanies on their heads.
“I don’t know and we got here an hour early too.” The other girl said.
The boy in front of them over heard them and interrupted, “I hear there’s a new guy at the ticket counter and he doesn’t know what he’s doing. They should put someone there that knows what they’re doing. It’s opening night and you’d think they would know that!”
“Word.” His friend said, “I’m going to complain to the manager when I get in. This is stupid. It’s going to take us another hour just to get up there and by that time it will be halfway through the movie and then we’ll have to get tickets to the midnight show. I ain’t trying to stay up all night, I got to work tomorrow.”
“Shut up fool, you work in fast food, no body cares if you give crappy service there. Just flip them burgers.” His friend said teasing him. The girls laughed and seeing the opportunity he invited them to sit with them for the movie.
“I’m Samantha and this is Ava.” Samantha said smiling. The line started moving and in a few minutes they were at the front.
“Next please.” Said the blond at the ticket counter still chewing her gum. The two guys went up to the window.
“Next.” Came a male voice. The manager had come back and was helping the new ticket guy again. The girls went to the window.
“Two tickets for ‘Tapped’ at 5. It isn’t sold out yet is it?” Said Samantha.
“No it isn’t.” The ticket attendant said bluntly as he looked at the manager to make sure he was right. The manager nodded.
“You’re new aren’t you?” she said. He looked at her perplexed but didn’t answer her and handed her the tickets.
“Here you go, two for 5 pm. enjoy your movie.”
“Thank you.” Ava said.
“He was kind of cute.” Samantha said as they walked in to join the other two guys they just met who were waiting for them at the concession stand.
“His hair is too long but his eyes are hot. Never seen green eyes like those before. Must be contacts.” Eva replied hurriedly. The guys paid for their sodas and popcorn and they found some seats in the middle. The theater was packed with high school kids and a few of them were from their school. As the previews started and the lights dimmed, everyone quieted down and got in their seats. Some latecomers came in looking for seats in the front rows and within a few minutes there was a scuffle between the group of guys that came in and some people that were already seated. They started arguing and then fighting and falling over other people in havoc.
“Wow what’s going on over there?” Samantha said pointing at the fight in the front row. “Come on, let’s go tell security. I really want to see this movie and not them fighting.” The two girls got up and left the theater.
“Do you see the manager or a security officer anywhere?” Samantha said looking around.
“Over there by the front door. I think that’s the manager.” Ava replied and started walking towards him with Samantha following her.
“Excuse me, miss.” It was the guy from the ticket counter. He stopped in front of Ava. “May I have your necklace?” Ava touched the stone pendant.
“This old thing?” She asked taken aback. “No, you can’t. It was my grandmother’s and she gave it to me.”
“Here, I will pay you with lots of these paper things.” He said taking out a wad of money from his pockets. Samantha’s jaw dropped and Ava became irritated.
“I already told you no. It’s not for sale and I don’t care how much money you offer I won’t sell it to you.” Samantha looked at her like she was crazy to refuse the cash.
He looked at Ava confused and said nothing. His manager saw them talking and came over, “Hey, what are you doing? You’re not on break. Get back to work.”
“What, you want me to go back in the box? I don’t like it there. Thank you but no thank you.” He replied matter-of-factly. The manager looked at him shocked that he did not do what he was told.
“Are you quitting after two hours of work?”
“Yes.” He replied with the same emotionless expression on his face. The manager didn’t know what to say in response but his attention was broken when the fight from the movie theater spilled out into the lobby. His eyes widened and he radioed for security and then rushed towards the fight to break it up. A man from the crowd stood looking perplexed at Ava and then pointed at her. As if it were some kind of silent communication three other men stopped and directed their attention to her as well.
“Come on we’ve got to go now.” The ticket attendee said grabbing Ava’s arm and pulling her out of the theater followed by Samantha.
“Wait, what is going on?” Ava yelled at him once they were outside.
“We have to hurry and get out of here before they catch you.”
“Why, who are they?”
“I’m going to fleet so hold on to me tightly. We won’t get away if we don’t.”
“Wait, what are you talking about.” Samantha asked alarmed that they could be in some kind of trouble without knowing it.
“I’m going to run really fast to get us far away from here but you have to hold on to me and close your eyes or you’ll fall and die.” The girls looked at each other scared. “Well I don’t know about the die part but you will fall for sure and then I’ll lose you somewhere and have to go back to find you.” Ava held on to his arm and Samantha held on to Ava. Suddenly the wind was in their hair and neither girl could see anything. They shut their eyes tight and their cheeks started to sting. In seconds they were at the other end of the city. Ava felt for her beanie that fell off her head and quickly brushed through her brown hair with her fingers. Her hair was in disarray and so was Samantha’s and she quickly got out a compact to fix her blond bangs.
“What are you two doing? We don’t have time for that we have to go now.” He declared trying to catch his breath.
“Well my hair is a mess and I lost my beanie so I need to fix it.” Samantha said looking at the mirror. He rolled his eyes at her. “Earlier I had curls and now I have a mess on top of my head.”
“Do you think now you can give us some answers?” Ava asked.
“No.” He replied.
“Then at least can we get your name? Isn’t very fair to us to drag us all over the city if we don’t know what for or even your name.”
“My name is Nimai.”
“Nimai? That’s interesting. Why’d your parents name you that?”
“I don’t know. Stop asking me questions.”
“Hey, you don’t have to be rude. We didn’t drag you all over the place.” Samantha shouted back at him putting her compact back in her purse.
“Well I wouldn’t have to take you anywhere if you’d just cooperate and give me the necklace like I asked.” He heard running behind them in the distance. “Damn, they’ve caught up already. We need to keep moving.”
“We’re not going with you. They want you, not us.” Samantha retorted.
“No, now you have to come with me or they’ll kill you for the stone now lets go.” He demanded back. Ava grabbed hold of his arm.
“I’m ready.” She said.
“I can’t do that again. I’m too tired. I need to gain energy so we’ll have to hide somewhere instead. Sorry but the two of you aren’t exactly light.”
“Hey, are you trying to say we’re fat?” Ava asked offensively.
“No. Come on, this way.” He started running and ducked into an alley and then back onto the main street and into a revolving glass door. Samantha and Ava followed him into the hotel. The concierge took no note of them as a few guests were checking in at the counter. There was a grand staircase leading up with a balcony overlooking the lobby. He walked quickly up with the girls trying to keep up behind him. Before they could reach the top he stopped in his tracks.
“We can’t go this way.” He whispered and turned back down. “Those people up there are looking for us. I can’t believe they made it so fast to us.”
“Over there.” Ava said pointing to a side door. They slipped outside unnoticed. They ran through a few more alleys and when Nimai thought they were safe he slowed his pace to a fast walk.
“How did you know those people were looking for us?” Ava asked.
“I could smell them a mile away. I know that smell anywhere and it’s a dead giveaway every time.”
“Who are they?”
“Monsters?” Samantha repeated mockingly. “They don’t look like monsters to me.”
“Of course they don’t, they hide among you and pretend to be like you but they’re not. If you can’t smell them, their eyes will give them away because they’re bigger and brighter than normal eyes.”
“Really? Well what do they want with Ava?” Samantha didn’t believe him but some of what he was saying had to have some truth to it otherwise why would a complete stranger drag them all over the city and how could he run so fast that the wind kept their eyes closed and the ground below them seemed to disappear?
“They don’t want her. Hey, didn’t I tell you to stop asking me questions? They only want the stone but now that they know she has it, they’ll come looking for her so I think you two better come with me instead.”
“Wait, before we do anything you say, I think we better know who you are.” Ava said.
“Ok but just keep walking.” He replied just wanting to keep moving. He couldn’t afford to get caught. “I’m from the third district. This is my first mission but seeing how we’re running out of time I don’t think they’ll be too happy with me when we get back. I wasn’t planning on extra baggage but since your identification is already compromised, well…leaves me no choice.”
“So why were you working at the movie theater then? Doesn’t look like a top secret job to me.” Samantha said again trying to catch him in a lie.
“I don’t work there. I knew the stone was going to show up there and they had this “help wanted” sign up and when I went in to ask about it next thing you know I’m in this glass box with this girl that smells like strawberry bubble gum looking at me like I did something wrong. Then they tell me to give out tickets for a movie in exchange for green printed-paper. So I gave out tickets and put the paper in my pocket because there was nowhere to put it. Some one asked me for change and I went out to ask the manager and that’s when I saw you two again.”
“Wow, you got a job without even wanting one and you stole money from the theater?” Samantha said laughing.
“Not purposely. I’m going to mail the paper back later since I don’t need it.”
“It’s not called paper, it’s called money. Don’t you know what that is?”
“No. Am I supposed to?”
Samantha started laughing hysterically and Ava just looked at her. It was obvious to Ava that Nimai was clueless. Why he didn’t know the most basic of things was anyone’s guess but she didn’t like how Samantha poked fun at him at the expense if his incomprehension. “Sorry Nimai, my friend is being rude.”
“I don’t mind. I knew what she was thinking before she said it just like I knew you wouldn’t give me the stone. I can read minds so I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself unless it’s something you want me to know.” Samantha stopped laughing. “And yes I knew you had some kind of attraction to me when we met and now you think I’m an asshole. Not sure what all that means but judging by the tone in your voice I’d say you don’t like me.” He said to Samantha who had no words for response besides a blank star on her face.
“So what are you?” She finally muttered.
“I’m a vampire.”
“No way, I thought vampires couldn’t come out during the day because the sun would kill you.”
“No, where did you hear that from? The sun doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I can look strait at it and it won’t burn my eyes like it would yours.”
“Wow, I never knew that. I guess the movies are wrong. But what about blood drinking, do you drink human blood?” Ava asked interested. Neither girl had ever met a real vampire or even thought they really existed so the chance to be able to talk to one was intriguing to both of them.
“Can you be any more disgusting? Human blood is terrible and besides I’m not that kind of vampire. I drink animal blood because it taste better.”
“Oh, well that’s weird.” Ava said a little disappointed that this young blood drinker was anything but the romantic vampire type of the movies.
“No it isn’t. My master said that when I was a baby they tried to figure out what kind of a vampire I was so each day they fed me blood from different animals. I drank each time with no problem. One day they gave me human blood and they said I drank it and then threw it back up all over the floor. It was a mess.”
“Ewe gross!” Samantha said scrunching her face.
“So wait a minute, I’m confused; you were a baby before? I always thought vampires were made, not born. You know, a vampire drinks a human’s blood and then gives the human some of their blood to drink to make them a vampire.”
“No, I don’t know. In fact that is a ridiculous story. I can’t bit you and expect to draw blood. I’m not a lion or a tiger. I don’t have sharp teeth like that.” He said and showed his teeth that looked exactly like human teeth but perfectly strait and white. He saw the disgruntled look on each of their faces and wondered if they were hoping he was freakishly deformed and wanted to kill them and drink their blood. “Did I disappoint you with the truth?”
“No of course not,” Ava said as Samantha shook her head, “It’s just that what we know of vampires is completely different from what you actually are so it’s a little shocking but not disappointing, really.”
“Oh, well if it makes you feel better I can do anything you can do but a lot better and faster.”
“Kind of like a super-human.” Ava said smiling. “Are there other vampires where you are taking us?”
“Um, no. Everyone else in the third district is an immortal. I think some of the other districts have vampires but I haven’t been out that much to meet them.”
“How old are you anyway?” Samantha asked.
“I don’t keep track in my time but in your time I’m 49 years old.”
“Wow, you’re so old but you look like you’re our age.” Ava exclaimed.
“49 isn’t old. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I suggest you not speak out of ignorance. Just because you’re thinking something doesn’t mean you should say it.”
“Well you didn’t even know what money or a job is so I think we know more than you do. Besides, what does it matter what I say when you can supposedly read my mind!” Samantha practically shouted back at him.
“Whatever, you ask too many questions. I’ve heard human girls talk to much and you two confirm it.”
“Geesh, aren’t you flattering. First you call us fat and now you say we talk too much.” Said Samantha.
“Come on, I’m all better now so I can fleet again.” He said holding out his arm for them. The girls held on and again they sped through the wind and seemed to be flying but their eyes remained uncontrollably shut by the roaring wind. When they stopped again they were out of the city and standing in an open field. There was a small outhouse looking shed and nothing else.
“Um, you took us to the middle of nowhere?” Samantha asked looking around at the sporadic cacti and tumbleweeds. The moon was bright enough for her to see there was nothing around them for miles. Nimai said nothing but walked towards the outhouse. The two girls followed him. Instead of there being a toilet inside, there was s staircase leading down into the depths of the earth.
“I can’t see down there. It’s so dark and creepy.” She said looking into the darkness.
“I can.” Nimai said. “Wait here and I’ll get some light for you.” He ran downstairs and they listened quietly to his footsteps. They heard a little ruffling like he was going through a box and then his footsteps again heading back up.
“Here.” He handed them two flashlights. “Lets go.” His dark green eyes seemed deeper in the moonlight. Ava caught herself thinking about them, “Damn” she thought. Nimai heard her but pretended not to. He wasn’t sure what to make of the human females and thought it best just to get them to Ami so she can take care of everything. He started off down the stairs again and the girls used the flashlights to help them see but they moved slowely. “Hurry up.” He yelled up at them. He was already at the bottom.
“We’re trying. Just wait, we’ll get there.” Samantha said.
“And they called me old, they move slower than a snail.” Nimai thought to himself. They finally reached the bottom and he led them through a tunnel. A single torch lighted the end of the tunnel as they neared; the steel door at the end opened and a woman came out. She had very short black hair, ebony skin, and she was tall and slender like a model. She was even taller than Nimai by a few inches.
“Nimai, you made it.” She said.
“Of course I did. Did you think I wouldn’t?”
“He’s polite to everyone isn’t he?” Samantha whispered to Ava.
“I was just worried. I wanted to make sure everything went ok so I watched you through the sphere.”
“Thanks but I don’t need you spying on me. Bad enough I had to shake off those minions and then carting around these two didn’t help much either but I got what Ami wanted so I hope she’s happy.”
“Hey, you didn’t have to cart us anywhere. We were doing just fine until you showed up.” Samantha retorted. He ignored her.
Not wanting to see a fight, Vivienne interrupted, “Since you’ve already been acquainted with Nimai, I am Vivienne.”
“Nice to meet you Vivienne, I am Ava and this is my friend Samantha.”
“Ok, introductions are over let’s go.” Nimai was annoyed. He was tired of their constant chattering, complaining, and slowing him down. He walked off ahead of them and they followed. Being just like an ever-attentive mother, Vivienne caught up to him to see why he was so irritated.
“Ami is waiting for you. I don’t think it was a good idea to bring them with you.”
“Well I didn’t have a choice; the quiet one didn’t want to give it to me. What was I suppose to do there were minions all over the place.”
“Then we’ll just have to erase their memory later.” Vivienne suggested.
“Inductions are dangerous.”
“I know but it’s the only way.” Vivienne sighed. Nimai stopped suddenly and put his hand on his head. “Nimai, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, I feel so tired.” He dropped to the floor. His eyelids felt heavy and he could not keep them open. Vivienne called out to him but her voice was fading away into darkness, an abyss where no sound escaped or entered. An unfamiliar nothingness enclosed him as he slipped into unconsciousness.
“Do you know why I summoned you?” She batted her eyes and lifted her head off her arm. She was in Amari’s chamber and the angry queen sat in her giant bath looking at her. The immortal Amari ruled over all the districts. Being a gracious and private immortal she rarely made appearances and often brought an unsuspecting immortal by force for counsel by sleep. Although she was respected and revered by her subjects she was also feared for her temper. Ami was a dwarf compared to Amari who stood as tall as a five-foot building. She searched Amari’s glass-like eyes for any sign of emotion but found none on her expressionless face. Amari’s skin was translucent like water, and sparkled like the millions of starts in the sky. An otherworldly character, Amari could change shape to human size and change her appearance to look like anyone or anything. As one of the eldest immortals, she helped establish peace with their closest otherworld neighbors from a war that went on since the birth of the universe. Many of the elders who participated in the earth’s early development had gone away to other planets to live their lives free of mortal responsibilities and some went to new earths to aid primitive life forms in the process of evolution. This was the fate of the immortals, to be keepers of worlds and assistants to the stars. They didn’t dictate the fate of planets and stars but their influence greatly affected which star systems survived and which ones didn’t. A few candles lit the room. The walls, floor, and even the bath were made of black granite. Specks of diamond dust glittered in the granite with the flicker of the candles.
“Yes. I know why I’m here.” Ami rubbed her eyes. Her soft brown curls that came down to her shoulders and cherub cheeks made her look like an innocent schoolgirl.
“Betrayal is a hard thing to accept for any leader but nevertheless it seems to be a sort of necessary evil for those in power to endure and as queen I am more the able to confront such matters.” Her voice echoed through the room.
“Yes my queen.” Ami put her head down in shame. She lost and there was no sense in resisting.
“I also understand your district is aware of your doings. I should punish them all but instead your banishment will suffice. Being that I am merciful you may take one with you so you do not suffer alone and I will make an example of you both. Which shall it be?”
The proposal before her was staggering. Could she betray one of her own and if so, who and why was Amari offering her this? Ami thought quickly, perhaps someone could be useful even in limbo but limbo was not an easy place to live. In reality it was the depths of a black hole in which no light escaped and time bent and stopped as if it didn’t exist. It was a place of no movement, only thought and its inhabitants were locked in a doomed isolation. Although everything Ami knew about it was hearsay for she had never met an immortal that had been there and returned. The glass queen sighed with impatience.
“Nimai, I chose Nimai to go with me.” Ami blurted out wondering about her fate and the one she just sealed for her young apprentice.
“Very well then, I will summon him here. Close your eyes.” Ami did as she was told and faded away into limbo.
Nimai awoke to find himself in the dimly lit chamber of Amari. The chair Amari sat on shown through her naked frame and the sparkle of her skin glistened with even the slightest of movement. He blinked in wonderment of how he got there but remembered that Amari can summon anyone in a blink of an eye without them being aware they are being taken away until they awake before the glass queen.
“Arise young one.” Her voice echoed in his ears as he unconsciously did as he was told. “Nimai, I just had an audience with your district leader, Ami. I am very displeased by her actions and by the silence of her apprentices for not informing me of her mischief. Do you know about this?”
“Yes. I do.” He answered.
“I have banished her to the limbo of the immortals. Do you think my punishment is harsh?”
“No my queen, you do as you see fit. Your word outweighs mine and any other immortal on earth. So I believe your punishment is just.” He stood before her no taller than half her leg and could not imagine what Ami did to get them all in trouble. He lied and said he did know but the reality was, he was clueless. He searched his memory for answers and remembered that recently Ami had a meeting with an immortal from another world. He wondered if that had something to do with it.
“Lying to me is punishable as well. I know you don’t know what I’m inquiring about. You are very young and foolish and it’s a shame you had a master that betrayed you too. You should not stick up for one such as her, especially against your queen.”
“Forgive me. I thought I knew but I don’t. May I ask what this is about?”
“Before I banished her I asked who she’d like to take to suffer alongside her since it was to my knowledge that her whole district was aware of her doings but apparently some of you were not informed. Ironic that she chose one that knew nothing of her betrayal to join her in limbo.”
“What?” He replied in disbelief.
“Yes, she chose you but I will not grant that request. Just before your arrival here I received a message that you have uncovered the stone. This is a great accomplishment for a young immortal, congratulations.”
“Thank you.” He replied still stunned by what Amari revealed concerning Ami.
“I am sending a new district leader over. He will be there shortly and I trust he will be of suitable guidance for you. Even if you were not involved in Ami’s treachery, I trust you will find this a learning experience.”
“Yes, I do thank you. May I ask who you are sending?”
Before Nimai could say anything else his eyes became heavy again and fell back into the same sleep that brought him there. When he awoke again he lay in the same spot but Vivienne and the two girls were gone. He wondered how long he’d been gone and as he got up his head started to hurt. A few moments and the headache went away and he telepathically listened for Vivienne. He heard the quite one, “You are so pretty Vivienne.”
“Yeah, I love your hair.” Samantha added, “How do you think I would look with short hair?” She turned to Ava who sat next to her on the couch and held her long blond hair so that draped around her head above her shoulders.
“I think it would look good and maybe dye it.” Ava suggested
“I was thinking of doing the black underneath but I don’t know because it’s so played out now.”
Vivienne sat on the lounge chair listening and jumped out of her seat as Nimai entered the room. “Nimai you’re back. I’m glad you came back. I saw what happened.”
“You were watching through the sphere again.”
“Yes, well you just disappeared into thin air and I thought it was Amari so I hurried to check and I was right. Did she tell you about Ami?”
“Yes, she did but I don’t think we should talk about that in front of them.” He said looking at the two girls who sat on the couch watching them. “Amari is sending II here. My guess it’s so he can clean house. She’s out to get anyone involved. You’re not involved, are you?”
Vivienne shook her head. She knew for a while that Ami was up to no good but didn’t tell anyone, not even Nimai. Vivienne was a lot older than Nimai and she looked after him like a little brother. Sometimes it made Nimai mad and other times he was grateful that she was there when he needed help.
“I see you got the stone.” Vivienne had it in her hand. He turned to the girls, “I guess it’s time for you two to go home.”
“What about those things that were following us?” Ava asked, “Won’t they be back?”
“I don’t think so, now that you’re not in possession of this anymore they won’t even bother.” Vivienne said looking at the stone. “I’ll get the car and meet you two outside.”
“Nimai, I’m glad that you’re safe too.” Ava said with a slight smile. It was a shame he’d have to erase their memory. Even thought they talked too much he kind of enjoyed their company.
“Thanks. I’ll walk you out.” He took them to the front of the house. Vivienne was already in the car waiting for them.
“Can we come back and visit you again?” Ava asked. It seemed to Nimai there was a motive to her question and he sensed her blood rushing through her veins and heard her heart pounding in her chest as if it scared her to ask.
“Sure.” He lied.
“Ok. Well I will see you later then.” Ava said smiling as she walked out and into the car. Samantha said bye and followed Ava and soon the car was out the driveway and down the street. Nimai knew that when they reached their house Vivienne would erase their memory. She was the best person to do it because she was the most gifted with spells and summons and spent most of the dark ages as an advisor to warring kings. Nimai sat on the couch and his thoughts wondered. Ami had betrayed Amari and whatever wrongdoing she had done was bad enough for such a terrible punishment. He thought about Ami stuck in a black hole, frozen and unable to move in a place where time did not move. Although her dilemma lay heavy on his mind it was darkened by thoughts of the elusive II who Amari would send to keep the district in order. He heard about II from Ami and Vivienne for both were there at the dawn of civilization but II was there when the earth was formed for the second time. Nimai never asked how II got his name but since the quiet one inquired of his own name’s origins he wondered about II’s. Maybe Amari named him that because he was born during the second formation. He was the eldest next to Amari of all the immortals on earth. Nimai recalled Vivienne explaining that II played a particular role as a war god to the humans in many ancient cultures. While many of the tales of his brutality transferred into the world of mythology, the immortals once had a very real relationship with the humans but now that friendship has fallen by the wayside as the immortals stood by and let the humans have their run of the earth. II carried out all of Amari’s special orders, even those that required the elimination of another immortal. As one of the most powerful, II could destroy planets if he wanted to. Ami told Nimai that along time ago when man was still in a primitive stage a comet was headed strait for the earth. Amari didn’t want to start over again with her world so she sent II to meet the comet and destroy it instead. II was also a vampire but he was one with no discrimination, he drank what he pleased even if it was from an immortal.
“Hello, Mr. Burke’s office.” Tamara answered the phone in the most professional voice she had. Every time the phone rang reminded her of the year she worked as a customer service representative. Being a personal secretary wasn’t as glamorous as she once thought during those summer days in the small town she grew up in. That summer before her senior year in high school she watched “Working Girl” and “9 to 5” over and over again and wished she could work for a big firm. Her job was a far cry from exciting and there’s nothing fun about bringing your boss coffee every morning and picking his suits up from the dry cleaners. If the maids missed his wastebasket in the morning, she’d take out the trash and replace the bag. If someone called that he didn’t want to talk to, she’d have to lie on the phone that he wasn’t there and take a message. She never filled out his appointment book with a pen; she always used a pencil because he constantly cancelled one meeting for another one. Many of the other women in the office thought she was so lucky to work directly for Mr. Burke because he was the most handsome boss any of them ever had. Little did they know that instead of leaving right at 5pm for happy hour like everyone else, she was there ‘til 6pm on a Friday night making last minute flight arrangements and anything else he thought of.
“One moment please and I’ll see if he’s in.” She put the caller on hold, adjusted her glasses and knocked on the door before entering. “Mr. Scrapples is on line one for you. He’s called two times already; what do you want me to tell him?”
Her boss looked up from the portfolio he was examining, “I’ll take the call.” Tamara closed the door and went back to her desk. Mr. Burke’s office was on the 25th floor of a very posh building in downtown. The higher you’re up, the more important you are and there were only 26th floors if you count the roof and Mr. Burke had the entire 25th. She tried to get back to entering some data when the phone rang again and like clockwork, Lydia stopped by to drop off a visitor that was there to see Mr. Burke. She signaled to her and Tamara signaled back that it was ok to leave while trying to listen to the person talking to her on the phone.
“He’s in a meeting right now, would you like his voicemail?” She patched the caller through. The man sitting on the couch had slick black hair and a black suit to match. He had thick eyebrows and dark almond-shaped eyes and square head. He sat looking at her while she was one the phone and went over to her desk when she hung up.
“I’m here to see Mr. Burke, my name is Allen.”
“He’s on a phone call right now but as soon as he hangs up I will let him know…Oh, he hung up.” She said looking down at the phone and noticing the red light to the line he was talking on was off. She buzzed him on the phone and he asked her to let Allen in.
“I’m going home now Mr. Burke. Have a good weekend.”
“You too.” He replied and she closed the door to his office.
“Nice secretary. I like your office.” Allen said admiring the dark cherry wood desk and matching bookcase. There was a tall swanky fish tank with tropical fish between two chairs on one side of the room and a wall mounted TV on the other side with a fireplace beneath it and a black leather couch facing it. “What a view, you can see all of downtown from here” Allen walked over to the window covered wall and looked down. The sun was going down and streetlights were coming on and hundreds of cars filled the freeway with commuters on their way home from another long week of work.
“Actually you can see just one side of downtown. The other side is viewable in my other office.” Mr. Burke said jokingly. “It’s good to see you again Oran did mother earth send you?”
“Yes and she said to stop killing her trees.” Oran responded playing into the joke. “Actually her majesty is on her way here to see you.”
“Really? Just when I was getting use to being a human.” He sat down at his desk and Oran took the seat opposite him.
“I am only a messenger.” Oran said.
A spark ignited in the middle of the room and grew bigger and then suddenly Amari was standing before them in her human form wearing a black shirt and red skirt. She might have been ruler but she didn’t know anything about fashion or how to dress, all she knew was that it was customary to wear clothes when she changes skin. Both men stood up and bowed to her.
“What do I owe this visit to?” Mr. Burke said.
“You are taking over Ami’s district.”
“Well it’s my lucky day.” He said sarcastically. She ignored him.
“I’ve recently banished the third district leader on account of her betrayal. It is to my understanding that she was plotting with another elder who wished to take over all I have created. Fortunately one in her district informed Oran about it but I don’t know if there are others who were scheming with her. Either way, the district needs a new leader. Vivienne is incompetent to lead and Nimai is too young to handle such responsibility. I’m sending you in Ami’s place. I want you to run the district and in the meantime find out if there were others involved.” Amari walked slowly towards the window and looked out. “What a terrible city.” She added.
“Interesting to hear that Ami would betray you, she was once my pupil.” He said thinking about what reason Ami could have had to be so foolish and to go against Amari.
“And that’s why it only makes sense to send you, II.” Amari eyed him and he felt her uncomfortable gaze. Apparently Ami was too predisposed to keep the territory in order so you’ll have to do a little house keeping as well and dispose of the minions running rampant.”
“I’ll get rid of them, all of them.” His anger flared thinking about the havoc the minions could cause if not destroyed. His face turned dark blue and his eyes crystal clear.
“There’s one more thing. I will be paying you a visit there shortly. Our Nimai has discovered a rare stone and I believe it could give us some insight on what Ami was working on and who we can expect to come calling soon.” She started fading away, “Don’t disappoint me.” Oran took his queue that the meeting was over, he jumped out of his seat, waved goodbye, and disappeared as well.
Vivienne finished the last of the dishes and dried her hands with a nearby dishcloth. The computer in the living room chimed with a message. It was from Rei and he was asking about Ami. She typed back that she wasn’t sure what happened but apparently Ami was plotting against Amari so Amari banished her and is sending II as their new district leader. A few seconds later Rei responded about how crazy it was that Ami would betray her and now they have to deal with II. She didn’t want to be bothered by him so she wrote back that she was tired and had to go. The house was quiet and it was getting very late. She wondered how Nimai was doing and went up to his room. She knocked on the door and he said to come in. Nimai sat on his bed looking out the window. It was dark outside and Vivienne suspected he was thinking about everything that just happened.
“How are you doing?” She said as she sat next to him on the bed.
“Those girls were pretty nice to give us the stone. Once I told them about the importance of the stone they were very eager to help and gave it to me. I guess a little negotiation goes a long way.” She smiled.
“The important thing is that we have it. I don’t care about how nice they were.” He said somberly.
“You know Nimai, I think Ava had a little crush on you.” Vivienne said teasing.
“Crush? That doesn’t sound good.” He replied looking at her blankly.
“Your innocence is so funny sometimes. There’s lots you don’t know about the outside world that you will know in time.”
“I don’t see any point in it. The fact is that mortals don’t matter because if we really wanted to we can destroy the earth and start over. The only other ones that could matter besides us are the other immortals out there.” He was looking out the window at a full view of the starry sky. Vivienne looked out too but then turned her attention to the matter at hand, the thing that started everything.
“She betrayed all of us you know.”
It was better to talk about it and the tone in Nimai’s voice confirmed that he needed to talk about it too. “I wish I knew why. I wish I knew why she wanted to overthrow Amari and why she kept all those secrets from us. Why didn’t she tell us? Did she actually think she was going to get away with it?” He looked at Vivienne searching for the answers that he knew she didn’t have.
“I don’t know why she did it. There’s a lot that you don’t understand yet about our world and the worlds around us. We were even contemplating if we should send you to get the stone because you have never been outside the realm of the districts. I’m glad that we did though because you have proven yourself beyond our expectations.”
“You know what Amari told me? She told me that Ami was being banished to limbo and that Ami wanted me to go with her. Why would she want me in that prison with her? I don’t understand why she would to punish me for something she did. I still don’t know what she did.” He looked away. “This is so stupid.”
“Yes, sometimes it can be.”
“And why do we have to live with all those stupid humans? You know those girls talked my ear off with questions about this and questions about that. And they destroy the earth with their freeways and big structures everywhere pumping toxic fumes into the air as if it were beneficial. When I was out there I almost became claustrophobic even though there was nothing bounding me. Maybe it was the pollution in the air or the noisy cars going by that made me nauseous, I don’t know but in a way I’m glad I’ve stayed in the confines of our home. I’d rather be here than out there with all their insane ideas and make belief antics of what reality is.” He was standing up and pacing the floor in a heated mess of emotions.
Vivienne smiled, “Oh Nimai, you are a silly one. You are very smart and you know of things concerning out universe that the humans cannot comprehend but despite your knowledge, I think there is must to learn from these primitive beings. Hey, don’t worry yourself over this. Amari didn’t let you suffer with Ami because she knew your heart was pure and that your mind was free of wrongdoing. It’s getting late so lets leave this until tomorrow. Oran was here while you were gone and told me Amari herself was coming here tomorrow to examine the stone. We’ll find out what is going on one way or the other but for now get some rest.” She put a comforting arm around his shoulder.
“Ok I will try.” Vivienne. Out of all the immortals she was the most complex he’d ever met. She was a mother, a sister, and although he’d only seen the nurturing side of her she was also a war goddess and was often against II for many of the human wars. But it wasn’t that they were against each other it was that each god took sides because human affairs excited them and kept them occupied from their mediocre existence. Vivienne was not born out of the fire pits of the earth’s volcanic eruptions like II was; she was born from blood. In fact her mother was an immortal of the forest and very beautiful but very conniving and selfish. She was involved romantically with an immortal from a warring galaxy. Amari heard of it and sent II to kill her. But immortals don’t die so easily, she was bled to death. As her blood flowed out of her day and night it created a puddle and from that puddle she put her last breath and breathed life into a child. II found the child and knowing it was her reincarnation he wanted nothing else but to destroy it but being that was an obedient subject he brought the baby to Amari and she raised Vivienne as her own. Although Vivienne claims to harbor no ill will towards Amari or II, Nimai often wondered if somehow a part of Vivienne hated them both.
Voices down the hall awoke Nimai from his dream. It was morning and he was glad to have rid of sleep. He had the same dream again. He was running through a series of dimly lit corridors searching for something and running away from someone at the same time. Sometimes Vivienne was there with him but this time he was alone. He guessed he was in a sewer because he could smell the rotting leftover waste of the humans in the dirty water. He hurried along the small ledge all the while trying desperately to keep his footing as to not fall in the disgusting, contaminated water. The river of waste carried dead bodies downstream. Some of them looked familiar but he didn’t have time to figure out who they were. Rats were everywhere and he tried to watch his step as to not step on any of them as well. Then, just up ahead there was an opening and a light. Thinking this was an exit he ran faster to it all the while thinking in the back of his mind that whoever was chasing him was far enough behind him for him to escape. As he entered the open doorway, the bright light blinded him and he put his hands over his eyes. The light dimmed enough for him to see and his eyes adjusted to see Ami standing in front of him.
“What are you doing here?” He said crossly.
“Don’t be mad at me Nimai, I did it for your own good and for the good of the immortals. I don’t have much time. I’ve used all of my power just to get here as you know my body is in limbo.”
“How can betrayal be for my benefit? You’ve put us all at risk and to make matters worse, you wanted me to suffer with you? What did I do that I deserve that?” He couldn’t control his anger. His voice was shaky and his throat dry.
“The plan was for you to go with me but you would be freed right away. I have allies that will come for me soon and I wanted you to be there. Amari is out of control and her relationship with the outside immortals is growing thin as more and more are turning from her. This is our best chance to redeem ourselves and prove that we are our own individual beings and that we don’t need an elder to watch over us. Nimai, you are the youngest and the most vulnerable so I asked that you be imprisoned with me so you would be protected when the war begins but now that you are staying behind, there is not much I can do to help you. You will have to defend yourself.”
“Nothing you say can scare me and I don’t believe a word that you are saying. You’re nothing but a liar and a rotten enemy. I hate you.” He screamed at her.
Ami nodded. “I don’t expect you to ever forgive me. Just know that I tried for you and for all of us.” She started fading away. He said nothing else as he became alone in the room and then the ever pressing feeling of the chase began again as he heard the footsteps behind him nearing closer. There was no other exit besides the door he came in from but there was a small manhole above an old rotting desk in the corner. It was his only means of escape and he quickly ran towards it, jumped onto the desk and up into the hole.
Nimai tried to make sense of the dream as he sat up in bed thinking about it. Vivienne knocked on the door, “Nimai, are you awake?”
“Everyone is here. Come downstairs when you can.”
Amari sat on the couch in her human form drinking hot chocolate from a mug. Every time she came, Vivienne made it for her because it was her favorite. Oran examined an ancient relic from the Bicentennial period. The carved stone was encased in a glass case. Vivienne collected many different articles from the past, some of which were commissioned in her honor as the goddess of war. Vivienne was the consultant of many ancient kings and she told them their future according to the star map of the immortals. Many of the ancient civilizations did their best to map the stars for themselves but were limited to what they could see with their human eyes. Ironically some, like the Aztec Indians were able to create elaborate timetables that were greatly accurate but still, mankind lacked the knowledge of the star map.
“He will be down shortly.” Vivienne said as she sat down on the lounge. A burst of lighting shot through the room and II appeared dressed in a dark blue suit.
“I see captain gigolo has decided to grace us with his presence.” Vivienne snickered under her breath.
“Nice suit.” Amari said taking a sip.
“Thank you, my queen.” He said kissing her hand.
“Oh, Vivienne I see you’ve cut your hair. Interesting.” He said not sure if he liked the new look. Nimai had come down to join them and Vivienne introduced him to II. He looked at the war god peculiarly because he was dressed like a businessman and didn’t resemble anything Nimai imagined. Nimai thought he would be a big burly man with huge muscles or maybe some black wings and horns but not a tie and a suit. Was this some sort of costume or alternate identity? His thoughts were abruptly ended when a bolt of lightning came through the room and Rei and Mina came shooting in. The twins were the leaders of the 1st and 2nd district respectfully.
“Our apologies for being late. Mina was still doing her hair.” Rei said pointing to Mina’s abundant red curls set halfway in a diamond-encrusted clip.
“Don’t blame me. I was ready, you were the one taking long.” She retorted. Sibling rivalry extended to the immortals as well but often outlasted a lifetime in place of perpetuity. Likewise rivalries of any kind were considered hostile to an immortal’s wellbeing and war could go on for centuries. “Good morning Amari,” she said bowing. Rei rolled his eyes that Mina was sucking up already.
“Good morning Amari.” He said kissing her hand.
“Now that everyone is here, may I have the stone?” The queen said coming to her feat. Vivienne handed the stone to Amari. She looked it over as she turned the stone around in her hand. She closed her hands over it and closed her eyes as the others watched in anticipation. A few seconds later she opened them again, “This is a stone from Minou. It’s a placement stone that is normally deep in a planet’s crust and doesn’t emerge unless the planet is dying. Minou is dying or it could already be dead because you have to take into consideration the time it took for this stone to travel to us. Oran, where is Minou from us?”
Oran took a small device from his pocket and proceeded to check the whereabouts of Minou. “Here it is.” He declared. “I will project it on the wall so you can see.” He aimed the device towards the barren wall and a million star systems covered the wall and zeroed in on one. “Roughly 45,000 light years away but if there were immortals inhabiting that planet then they would have already been here. Or at least could be. Hmmm.” He said thinking about his hypothesis.
“So what does that mean for us? Do we need to send for assistance?” Vivienne asked.
“No,” Amari began, “They will come, yes but let us wait before calling on our neighbors for help without any kind of knowledge of these foreign immortals. There should be more pieces here on earth.” II’s eyes darkened and Mina looked worriedly at Rei.
“This is not good.” Rei said under his breath.
“Why?” Nimai asked.
Amari continued, “Minou is quit a distance from here and we don’t have any established relationship with its immortals. Habitable planets are a premium even though there are a vast number of stars; the planets that form around them do not always support life. This stone means that the immortals will come here. It could either be a warning or a blessing. We wont know until they arrive.”
“What should we do in the meantime?” Mina’s glossy pink lips and blue eye shadow made her look a teenybopper in distress rather than a four hundred year old immortal.
“I suggest each of you make sure your district is in order and that everyone knows what is expected of them. We might have to fight to keep our planet. I will ask inquire of our neighbors and if need be I will request an audience with the council. Some of them might know of Minou and therefore can help us. Nimai, since you found the first piece I would like you to see if you can find more.”
“Ok but I don’t understand why the stone fell here. Did they pick our planet out from the bunch?” He asked confused.
“No, the stones fall into the universe during the first signs that a planet is dying and land by chance on another planet. They are drawn by the magnetic fields and oxygen of a planet. In a way they search out livable planets so that the inhabitants of the dying planet can have a chance of survival. Even though we can still thrive in the open universe, immortals have an uncanny need for stability and surroundings worth dwelling in. All they need to do is follow the trail of the stones right to us.”
“And then once they reach us, it’s war.” Vivienne said. The room was quiet for a moment.
“Not necessarily. We can’t assume they mean to take over. We’ll just have to wait and prepare ourselves for anything. I’m sure there is someone out there that knows of the immortals of Minou.” Amari said optimistically. “That is all for now, I will be in touch shortly.” As instantly as she appeared she disappeared again and left them with the conviction that the only home they knew could be destroyed or taken from them.
To Be Continued…
Causes alicia villasenor Supports
ASPCA, The greater good network, best friends network, petfinder, care2