CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO POST
Here’s what happened in my last post Chapter 1, That Can’t Be Good . Emily and the rest of the Keepers were in the old, broken down parking garage when they heard a frightening roar come from the back of a cave.
Now, on with the story!
Pretty Cool, Huh?
One Month Earlier
Emily left her uncle’s apartment a little early so she could check on Athena. As she walked up to the small building, she was a little confused by how run down the Arcadia School for Experiential Learning looked. There were weeds growing between the cracks in the sidewalk and around the perimeter of the building. The plants in a small, above ground garden, looked like they were in desperate need of either watering or of someone to put then out of their misery. The brickwork on the side of the building was chipped in many places and was covered in years’ worth of dirt and grime.
She had imagined it to be much more high-tech looking. Instead, it was more like an abandoned building; waiting to slowly crumble into dust. She felt disappointed and somehow cheated. She had left her grandmother’s side with hopes of learning to be a Keeper and to go on exciting adventures surrounded by beautiful architecture and state-of-the-art equipment, like her uncle had described. This place looked worse than the abandoned mall at home.
She slowly made her way up to a set of plain, heavy looking, grey metal doors and tried to peer in but the abundant amounts of dirt and dust as well as the heavy wire used to reinforce the individual panes, prevented her from seeing anything of the interior. She sighed, grabbed the handle, and pulled. The door opened so easily that she fell back, almost losing her balance. She stepped back up to the thresh hold and peered inside, a cool breeze flowed past her. Well, at least the air conditioning works. Emily stepped inside and just as quickly pulled her head back out.
Something wasn’t right.
She checked the outside of the building again reassuring herself that, from out here, the building was the size she thought it was.
She stuck just her head in again, then pulled it out. What the heck?
Emily let the door close then walked past the “garden” to the nearest corner and peered around. This side of the building looked to be just as run down as the front and there was no way it was big enough to hold everything she saw when she looked inside.
She took a step back and looked the building over again. How is this possible? She looked around to see if anyone was watching in case this was some kind of trick. She was all alone. I guess there’s only one way I’m going to find out! She went back to the door, took a deep breath, pulled it open then walked inside. The door silently closed behind her.
This building, the inside building, was everything she hoped the school would be. She was standing in an atrium that must have been at least thirty feet high. On either side of her, plants, of all different shapes and sizes cascaded down. It looked like a living, green waterfall flowing from the very top of the building. In front and behind her, sunlight flowed in through walls of glass. The atrium reminded her of a scene in an adventure movie where the main character emerges from a dark dingy cave into a lavish jungle clearing.
In the center of the atrium was a giant blue sphere. It was so big that Emily had to tilt her head back to see all of it, but even then, the very tippy top was still out of sight. A thin layer of water, which looked like it started from the very top, gently flowed down around irregular, green colored shapes that extended out from the surface. The water stuck to the curved surface under the sphere (did Dad tell me that was because of cohesion or adhesion or both, I can’t remember) eventually dropping into a stone lined pool built into the floor. The way the giant sphere rested in the pool made it look as if all that massive weight was floating on its surface. It slowly rotated, creating gentle ripples in the crystal-clear water.
A voice from behind her made her jump. She turned around to see who it was but there was no one there.
Please keep the door closed.
She breathed a sigh of relief realizing it was the door talking to her. She let it go and watched as it silently swung shut by itself.
Turning around again, she felt herself being drawn in further into the building by the beauty and magic of the setting. She walked up to the sphere and noticed that the shapes that extended above the blue surface looked familiar, but there was something not right about them. She stepped back a little to get a better view. This thing is obviously a globe, and the green things are landmasses, but what planet is it? None of the shapes seem to match ours. Emily moved closer noticing wisps of mist that swirled in some places and hung in lazy arcs in others.
They look like clouds! How in the world are they moving over the surface? That’s impossible! She stuck her finger into one of them to see what would happen. She could feel the coolness of the fine particle of water as the cloud altered its original path to swirl around her finger. She pulled it out and watched in amazement as it magically reformed into its original shape and continued to slowly make its way across the green land mass.
“Pretty cool, huh?”
Emily jumped and quickly turned. A fox with long white hair was sitting behind her, it was looking up at the globe. She wasn’t sure if it was because of her past experience with the crane at her grandmother’s house or hearing the story about the Giant Flying Grizzly, but she wasn’t overly surprised that she had just heard a fox ask her a question, it was almost as if it was an everyday occurrence. She replied, “Uh, yes. Yes, it is.”
It looked around the building then up at her. “You know, this place is a lot better looking from the inside, than it is from outside, right?”
She nodded and said, “Way more. To be completely honest, I found the outside to be disappointing.”
“Exactly! That’s exactly what I said! Disappointing! I was expecting something much more high-tech.”
“Right! That’s what I thought too!”
It pointed at itself then at Emily and said, “Ha, see? Great minds think alike!” It extended its paw toward her. “Hi, I’m Kit.”
Emily bent down and took the tiny paw in her hand and shook it gently. “Hello Kit, I’m Emily, pleased to meet you.”
Kit put his paws on his hips then motioned with his head toward a door to their right. “You’re Athena’s Keeper, right?”
“Yes, I am.” She looked at the door then back to Kit. “Is she alright? Have you seen her? She was brought here yesterday, and I wanted to get here early to see if I could find her.”
“Relax, she’s with the others. C’mon, I’ll introduce you.”
Emily was suddenly worried that she was late. “Everybody else is here?” She didn’t want people to get the impression that she didn’t want to be here.
Kit ran toward the door then stopped and turned as if he was going to answer her, but instead looked behind her and said Oh, Hey Süchō, I was just going to introduce Emily to everyone.
“Out loud for now please Kit.”
“Oops, my bad. Sorry.”
Süchō stood next to Emily and put her hand on her shoulder. “That’s alright, just try to remember for next time. Why don’t you hold on a second, we’ll all go in together and then you can introduce Emily?”
Kit sat and said, “Yes, Ma’am.”
Süchō looked down at Emily, smiled and said, “Hello Emily. Don’t worry, you’re not late, the others got here yesterday and have been up for a while. I think they’re anxious to get started. By the way, I’m Süchō, one of your mentors.”
Emily looked at her and searched her brain for the proper response, hoping that the words she chose would not offend Süchō. She had never seen an ape up close, never mind one so tall and dressed so elegantly.
The only thing she could think to say was, “I like your tunic.” She cringed after she said it because, out loud, it sounded so silly.
Süchō laughed gently and replied, “Oh, thank you. That’s very kind of you.”
Emily added, “My grandmother has something similar to it. It’s part of a ceremonial outfit she wears for special occasions.”
“Yes, I believe I know the tunic you’re talking about. She always looks so proud when she wears it.”
Emily’s mouth dropped open. “You know my grandmother?”
“Oh, yes, Kaya and I go way back. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Misabe Mukwa. He’s always asking when he’s going to get the chance to meet you. He wants to find out if you’re anything like your grandmother.”
Emily shook her head and said, “I can’t believe you know them.” She thought for a second then asked, “But how? I mean, she’s never mentioned you before. Not that I remember anyway.”
“Ah, very good questions, but…” She moved toward the door. “… you’ll have to wait a little longer for the answers. Right now, let’s go meet the other Keepers.”
Kit jumped up on que and opened the door. He let Süchō go through first then turned to Emily and whispered, “She’s so cool, isn’t she?”
“Way cool!” She went through door and thought that this has to be one of the strangest and most wonderful days ever!