“Yeah, it takes some getting used to.”
“You’re not from around here?” Marie asked, surprised.
Galen shook his head.
“I’m originally from Darth. I’ve done a good amount of planet hopping in my 31 years.”
“What’s Darth like?”
“You remember what Hershel was saying the other night? About all the planets looking the same, structurally, but ultimately being different?”
“Aarth, the First planet, is a planet that values wisdom over everything. They strive to know everything there is to know about the universe. Barth loves food. Carth is ruled by the incredibly wealthy. Earth is creative.”
“Darth loves war. And I do not.”
“Yeah. My husband and I were going to move out together, but things got complicated.”
“You were married?” Marie asked, looking for a ring, but his finger was empty. Galen turned and showed her his back. It was inscribed all in white with a design Marie couldn’t put a name to, made up of tiny dots and lines gently intersecting one another.
“That’s beautiful,” she said.
He smiled. “Arkon did it. That was my husband’s name.”
“What happened to him?”
“He died, in a battle on Darth.”
Marie gingerly put her hand on his shoulder.
Galen sighed and leaned back into the tree.
“It’s weird,” he said softly. “I came here trying to get away from what had happened. But when the time thing started to happen, he was the first person I ran into.”
Marie didn’t quite know how to respond.
“That must had been… weird,” she said finally, and Galen laughed.
“Yeah, it really was,” he admitted, “but nice, too.”
“If the time warp stopped happening, would you miss seeing him?” Marie asked seriously.
Galen was quiet for a long moment.
“I don’t know,” he responded. “I mean, yes, obviously. But it’d be a hell of a lot easier to move on if he would stop fucking showing up.”
Two days passed after Alice had initially asked Marie to spy on Xionsyes.
Two long, hot days.
After conferring with Elsy, Marie went into a few of the vacant houses to savage for clothing. The picking were slim, but she did find a few items that would work, as well as a crazily futuristic looking sewing machine – the first evidence of technology Marie had seen. Marie praised her fashion background for the first time in a long time and tailored some clothes that, if not perfect, actually fit her, including, mercifully, a few more pairs of underwear she made from scratch from a breathable, silky textured fabric she couldn’t name.
She went sunbathing for about an hour before discovering that the sun was extremely fierce, and spent the following hour trying to figure out whether or not Carth 3-A had aloe plants. They did not, but they had a distant cousin called verthra which, as Elsy showed her, secreted a milky sap.
Once, she thought she spotted young Elsy out of the corner of her eye, but she didn’t try to track her down again, having had quite enough the first day, thank you.
They started walking down towards to end of the road, in the same direction Marie had been going originally. Talking to Elsy without looking at her turned out to feel a lot more normal, and Marie was able to calm down considerably, when she started to stop thinking about it at all. She pretended she was on a stroll with a friend’s child, or perhaps her niece, if she’d had a niece, and they were on the verge of one of those heartwarming conversations of the nature of life that always turned out so well in movies.
It turned out that Elsy as a child was considerably more talkative than adult Elsy, and also that a heartwarming conversation about life was not what she was intending to have. She had the charming grammatical style of someone who was just starting to figure out how to use a language with any level of fluency, and no apparent boundaries on what she would tell a strange woman with a dog. Marie wondered momentarily where the hell Elsy’s parents where, and how they’d managed to find a community so safe they didn’t have to warn their children about talking to people they didn’t know.
“That’s where Steve lives,” Elsy was saying, pointing out a blue Victorian with red shutters. “He’s got a mean older brother named Darden.”
Elsy gestured at the yellow house beside it.
“And that’s where Missus and Mister Darven live, although you have to be careful not to confuse them with, because they aren’t families with Darden even though they sound like they should be. They got a cat because they’re rich. But they don’t got any kids. And that’s where Hershel lives, too, but he’s on Carth 2-A right now at school, Mam said,” Elsy finished, a little sadly.
“Are you close friends with Hershel?” Marie asked.
The little girl nodded emphatically. “Hershel’s the smartest person I know,” she explained. “Hershel told me about the houses on Carth and how big they are and how they’re made out of trees.”
Elsy apparently thought that this concept was incredible.
“Elsy, do you know why all the houses are made out of plaster here, instead of trees?” Marie asked.
“Because they are,” Elsy replied enigmatically. “These trees are too big to cut down, Hershel says, because they’re so old. He said they’re almost two planet lives old. I guess on Carth, they grow trees special just to made stuff out of them, and if you want anything made out of a tree, it costs like a billion dollars even just for a little thing.”
“Hmm,” Marie said. “Don’t you use paper? Paper’s made out of trees.”
“Paper’s way too expensive,” she said.
Marie was dumbstruck.
They walked in silence for a little while, down to the end of the road, which just ended unceremoniously in jungle, and turned around. Elsy started telling Marie about all her friends in school – of which there were many), and what she was learning, and how she’d gotten top marks in computer programming and astronomy this quarter.
“Do you know anything about Earth?” Marie asked suddenly, latching on to the thing about astronomy. They were almost back to Elsy’s house, and Milo barked and raced ahead.
“Oh, that’s easy!” Elsy laughed, “I learned about the other planets in school. There’s nine of them, Aarth to Harth, from oldest to youngest, and they made them all so the rich people don’t have to live with the poor people anymore.”
“What do you mean, the rich don’t have to live with the poor?” Marie asked as they got to Elsy’s porch, looking down, but the young version of Elsy had disappeared into thin air.
“No, seriously,” Galen said, his mouth full of wing.
Marie wrinkled her nose and looked away.
“I don’t eat meat. It’s a common lifestyle choice. What, you guys don’t have any vegetarians here?”
“We like to stay alive. It’s a common lifestyle choice,” Galen shot back at her. “You gonna eat it or what?”
Marie made a face, and he shrugged and pulled her plate towards himself.
“So, Marie,” Elsy started, as Hershel motioned for her other foot. “You still haven’t told us who you are and how you got here.”
“No, I’m not playing that game,” Marie replied through gritted teeth as Hershel poked at a particularly deep cut. “You guys are telling me where I am first.”
Galen and Alice exchanged glances, then Alice shrugged.
“Fine, but you’re not going to believe us,” Alice said. She shifted back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, drink still in hand.
“I told you before that you were on a different planet,” Alice started, locking her blue eyes onto Marie’s brown ones. “I wasn’t fucking with you, you’re actually on a different planet. But it’s worse than that. You’re also in a different dimension, and the rules here are not the same as on the planet where you’re from.”
“Okay, sure, and I bet there’s magic and you all have magic winged bunny rabbits you fly around on to get from place to place.”
“Fine. We’re on a different planet, in a magical otherworldly dimension.”
Alice sighed heavily. Marie pursed her lips and closed her eyes tightly for a second, as if she was trying very hard to bite back all the other things she had to say.
“Okay, okay. I’ll bite. What do you mean, the rules are different?” Marie asked, pulling her foot away from Hershel and leaning forward in her chair.
“The planet you’re on now is the personal property of a very rich man named Xionsyes Zelo. So rich, they probably don’t even have the unit of wealth that he’s got on your planet yet, and for whatever reason, he’s been running experiments, pulling people here from other planets, and fucking around with time.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Marie said loudly. “You can’t fuck around with time. Time just is.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” Galen laughed.
“How can someone just own a planet? I’d like a planet.”
“Carth 3-A is just a copy of the original planet, Carth,” Alice remarked, idly swirling the remains of her drink in her left hand.
“We just happened to be here when Xionyses bought it and started dicking around with it,” Galen added.
“What do you mean, a copy of a planet? You can’t just copy and paste a planet, can you?” Marie said incredulously. “What is this, the Matrix?”
Alice blinked. Clearly movie references were a waste of time with her.
“Oh, you can do a lot of things if you have enough money and power,” Alice replied vaguely. “Carth-2A was created a long time ago ago when the citizens of Carth decided they didn’t have enough elbow-room. Carth-3A was created for the same reason. When Xionyses bought it, a lot of the people who moved here went back to Carth-2A.”
“Why didn’t you?” Marie asked.
“I’m stubborn,” Alice said through gritted teeth.
“Gee, I hadn’t noticed.”
“Don’t be a dick.”
Word count – 14214
It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo.
Oh boy. Here we go, I guess.
I took the liberty of cataloguing the beginning into a page under the Writings tab, because if I started posted from the beginning, a lot of it would get reposted, and I’d also have an excuse not to write everyday. So if you wanted to catch up on that, it’s here.
Otherwise, brace yourself for a whole lot of writing related rambling for the next month on this blog. I may take a few breaks to write non – Anomaly things, but who knows.
Tata for now.
Word count – 10,524.
PS – Here’s a blurry, crappy picture of my rockabilly costume from last night. No one got it, but I liked it, damn it.