by Blank canvas
I wanted to know people's opinions. Please comment what you think. Thank you in advance!
It was a lovely day, though not in terms of weather. No, it was simply one of those days where everything seemed to fall into place. A day where you felt peaceful, as if you were walking on sunshine. While leaning back into her work chair, Amelia keene pondered over whether it was on one those scarce days that the band famous for the song (walking on sunshine) first wrote their famous lines, the lines that would unavoidably leave them with generations of devotees. There was no way of knowing for sure, she countered, since anyone with the knowledge required to provide the answer to her inquiry had been dead for quite a few centuries. Although she wouldn't go as far as saying that it was as if Katrina and the Waves never existed, the heritage that came with their music and those of other past pieces, had almost completely died out. It was people like her, with their undivided love for foregone art, that kept the ancient music of the Earth alive. Without so much time and attention, the cultural euphony would simply blink out of existence as if being swallowed by a black hole. She had seen it happen, when certain languages ceased to exist or when plants stopped being introduced to the monotone environment of Archeon until they were forgotten and their names lost forever in the dark sinkhole of past cultures deemed unimportant by The Guard. The Guard, with their volatile methods, made up the government and ruled meticulously over all the celestial bodies of one of the four star systems implanted over the past century; the Aldiban system. Although they didn't have much to rule over, they did it with an iron grip. There was no such thing as a mishap, it purely wasn't part of their vocabulary and the constant watchful eyes of the cameras they implanted made America feel rather uneasy.
Archeon, being the smallest system in the galaxy, consisted of only three planets joined by long vitreous tubes of force fields that allowed the passage of merchandise and of citizens to and thro. The horizontal, pillar-like tunnels connecting them made the entire structure look like an enormous triangle if one were to go tens of thousands of kilometers away from it and looked down. These precious communication routes were being guarded by Sentinels, men of incredible size wearing monk-like robes with thin straps of leather attached to their torsos where their gleaming weapons lay. These vicious individuals, unwavering in their loyalty to the higher forces, were instituted by The Guard. They don't take any chances, nor should they, she added, for a rebellion is on the march. Or so they say. They being the wandering lost souls of the West end of Norfolk, one of the six cities of Archeon. Thankfully for her, they could be trusted with information although, with anything other than that, it was at your own peril.
Honestly, she couldn't see why The Guard would feel threatened by an insignificant bunch of rebels (as they called them) that haven't even gotten close to the Aldiban system yet. Although people don't care much for these news, too preoccupied by their insignificant lives, Amelia did. It was change in an unchanging city, for her that was enough. Yet, something peculiar had been constantly tugging at the edges of her mind, stealing away her thoughts during her work days, when the hours ahead seemed to stretch out for eternity and it became difficult to concentrate on her simple tasks. All of it was about the way The Guard made the whole ordeal look unimportant and yet, reinforced the borders between the planets with twice the normal charge of Sentinels. They were even talking about installing a curfew, which, unsurprisingly, seemed to be the only thing getting the citizens of Archeon to react. She laughed at this. What would happen if residents couldn't leave the stink holes they call their homes after a long day of work, all in the interest of getting drunk and forgetting their grueling lives? Nothing good she presumed.
Yes, it was a nice day, she decided. Although there wasn't such a thing as weather on Archeon where the temperature remained at a cool twenty-two all year long, the overhead sky seemed less clouded by the toxic fumes coming from the West end. That was probably just her imagination though - she reminded herself - being tricked by her desire for it to be so. She saw her sudden cheerfulness go down a notch as she stared through the stained window giving way to the fairly decent sightline of the city that had been granted to her when she had gotten her most recent promotion. There wasn't much to celebrate about getting more hours with the same pay and a slightly bigger office with a dirty window adorning the right wall. The East end where she worked - she had to admit - was much better than the West. Although it still wasn't much to look at, even without the typical smoke that hung in the distance over the west, she found herself enjoying the sight of the bustling crowds of regal looking workers going about their busy lives. Without making any noise, she got up and gathered her stuff. It was ironic, Amelia nagged herself, that she admired the well-off when she knew she would never achieve the level of comfort they lived by. Without a family, the only true source of revenue she could count on was, sadly, herself.
With a bitter smile on her lips, Amelia left her workplace at a brisk walk, weaving herself across the mass of people gathered in the square. It was rush hour and she hated not having left earlier. That damn promotion she swore under her breath. She had wanted to refuse it but what would she have said to her boss, ''Thanks but cash is what I need, not a ten-centimetre-larger office''? That would definitely had gotten her fired. It was the truth though, she needed the money, she needed every little scrap she could get.
Looking at the masses in front of her, she glumly registered the fact that she would much rather have endured another hour of painful work to escape the bottleneck of Busettleg Plaza where being stomped to death seemed much rather likely to happen than say, in a small cubicle. She could have, stayed that is, but her shift at the café had been put earlier since she was meeting up with Zander to celebrate the new year. Technically, it was tomorrow but, since she wanted to dodge the mob that created itself in Boagos Square during the holidays, she had decided to celebrate a day earlier. It was a wise decision she thought, there was bound to be less drunks and it would be easier for her to watch over Zand without the masses providing shelter to his deliriums. He straightforwardly could not handle alcohol. She chuckled and unlocked the door to her apartment. Although she lived ten minutes by car from the building, she walked as much as she could, it saved her money, not much – she admitted – but enough to pay the rent. Luckily, she wasn’t paying alone, Zand lived with her and she was quite thankful of him for that.
If someone had told her a year ago that she would end up being friends with Zander Calloway, the shallowest person to ever walk the floors of Bronx Elementary, she would have kindly driven them to the nearest mental hospital. As it turned out, they were both indeed good friends. According to the man, he changed his personality by following the values of Rosa, whom he added was a sixty-year-old woman who used to live on his back porch. Needless to say, Amelia hadn’t believed him for a second although, the serious expression he had worn at the time had made her laugh.
He had arrived on a Wednesday, on her porch, with a single suitcase and had asked her to be roommates. Having seen her startled expression and confusing it for distrust, he had promised to pay half the rent. For a second, she had hesitated. He had been very popular back in elementary school, as popular as one could be when living in the West end but the other few memories she had of him had remained quite vague. But, at the time, she had needed desperate financial help and in the end, had welcomed him inside her home. Amelia’s decision still shocked her every morning when she woke up to the sight of him sprawled out on the couch in the living room of the condominium they both now shared.
To all of her friend’s utter amazement, they ended up getting close. She couldn’t even refuse him when he had asked her permission to transform their apartment into a shelter for a stray cat he had found in some garbage outside the edifice. She should never have agreed to it she grunted. The usually tidy apartment now reeked of cat litter and was also coated over by a thin layer of cat hair. To make matters worst, his cat, Valentino, cost them so much both had to start working extra hours at the café a couple of blocks away. To be honest, she didn’t mind it so much, not the cat, but the work hours. Amelia liked everything related to coffee and working in a place where their fumes constantly clouded the air was the closest she had ever been to paradise. Coffee was her drug as Zander would say. Surprisingly, her work hours synchronized perfectly with those of her main job at the factory.
The only downside to her agreement with her roommate was his capacity to analyze every little aspect of her life even those that were nonexistent. For the past week, he had been imagining deep emotional problems with Amelia, to her constant exasperation. Tired of his insistent bickering, she had ended up lying, blaming it on ‘you know… it’s that time of the month’. Zander had turned bright red while muttering something unintelligible resulting in him never bothering her again. It was incredible what that guy could come up with and she frequently marveled over his capacity to invent weird stuff out of thin air.
Once safely inside the apartment, Amelia locked the door and half threw her keys into the emerald bowl on the kitchen counter besides the entrance. Over the door hung a thin strip of oak wood with the word ‘Entrée’ painted on with silver paint. She had created the piece when she had first moved in, five years ago when she had had no other place to go. Her parents had died in a fire at their workplace and as far as she knew, she had no other relatives. Having no one to take her in, she had had to find a way to survive. To her disappointment, the only choice had been to go live among the filth in the worst part of the West end where the rent, unsurprisingly was at it’s lowest.
‘’Valentino! You stupid brainwashed cat, get off my fricking couch!’’ Amelia shouted at the big brown ball of fur that was currently destroying her sofa with swats of its front claws.
‘’Hey! Watch your tongue, honey. You need to show more respect towards your elders, this cat has lived a very hard life, you need to take that into consideration.’’ Zander called out over his shoulder as he waltzed out of the neighbouring kitchen, milk cart in hand.
‘’No shit Calloway, he looks like a molested stuffed animal.’’ She grunted in answer. Moments later, only having received silence, Amelia casted a quick glance in his direction. He had dropped the milk carton on the breakfast table and was attempting to cover Valentino’s pointy ears, without much success. The cat squirmed his way out of Zander’s grip, jumped off the couch and exited the room with his head held high. That cat doesn’t have any respect whatsoever, she groaned out the corner of her mouth.
She made her way towards the kitchen, taking her shoes off as she progressed. The red cabinets in the cuisine combined with its yellow tapestry always seemed to give her a headache, no matter the time of the day and she was trying very hard not to let it affect her, to no avail. She quickly cooked some pasta, with white sauce, as Zand seemed to like. She let the pasta cook on the stove and joined Zander in front of the TV. Archeon had a total of seventeen government approved channels and theirs had only three; the news, in three different languages. The report was once again talking about the group of rebels.
‘’ It has been confirmed that the group of rebels originating from Iatis, the sixth planet of the Nuplao system,’’ the news reporter droned on monotonously, ‘’ are at cause for the most recent incident in the Aldiban system, where a store was vandalized. The government is asking everyone to be on their guard and to report anything suspicious. It has been decided by the security community of Archeon that a curfew will be set in place by the 18th of July and continue on until it is decided otherwise.’’
Amelia frowned and turned to look at Zander. He was looking right back at her with his right eyebrow raising in question.
‘’They’re in our system.’’ Zander said, bluntly stating the facts. It was her turn to raise an eyebrow. They both lapsed into silence, slowly eclipsing themselves into their own thoughts.
What striked Amelia the most was the vagueness with which they presented the facts. They were very precise about the things that weren’t important but very hazy about those that were. It didn’t seem right. There was definitely more to this than The Guard was willing to show and she felt an urgent need to discover what that was. This was probably because of all the detective novels she had read, Amelia realized. The novels had been her dad’s and he’d given them to her on her seventh birthday, a couple of years before he passed away. Both her parents had loved everything concerning their ancestors and the Earth but only her father had adored paper literature so much. Her mother had been more into music, no matter which type. She missed her parents, terribly.
The timer went off in the kitchen, announcing the pasta was ready. She jumped up, a little startled, and made her way towards the dining room. She put the table whilst Zand served the food. She was finishing putting the last plate when she looked over at the clock on the coffee table and gasped. Amelia dashed out of the living room and put two pieces of bread in the toaster. She was once again running late for work.
Zander had parents who helped him pay the rent and therefore he didn’t have to work as many hours as she did. Everyday, he enjoyed the sight of her running around like a mad man as she got ready for her shift at the café. He always watched from the dinning table or the sofa while calmly eating his supper, a big contrast to the two stuffed toasts Amelia had just shoved into her mouth. She didn’t have the time to cook meals like pasta and yet she always tried to defy the clock and eat an actual hearty supper. To her dismay, she always ended up running.
‘’What’s that face your making princess? Don’t worry, although your sense of timing is far from impeccable you haven’t even been late once, thanks to your long legs. Seriously, you should consider a career in track, you’d do great.’’ Asserted Zander with a thumbs up.
‘’Thanks.’’ She laughed rolling her eyes, ‘’and don’t call me that’’ She insisted with a glare as she made her way out the apartment.
‘’Call you what princess?’’ He added trying hard to hide a smile behind his plate of spaghetti.
‘’That.’’ Amelia called before slamming the door. Zand’s laughter followed her all the way down the hall, as did the lingering smile on her face.