The Wayward Son
Part IV: Accommodations
The house we’d been assigned as a dorm was pretty big, built in a brick colonial style. The others seemed impressed but I’d been used to nice accommodations; my father and stepmothers had always been fairly wealthy as one of the world’s leading experts in weapon design companies were lining up to purchase his service whenever a contract was over, while my step mother was a renowned heart surgeon.
I explored a bit, getting the layout of the place; The bulk of the place was a common room with kitchen and dining room along with living room in an open plan. Rooms on one side and bathroom on the other. The back had a sun room and a door that lead to the backyard. The second floor was more rooms, a small lounge and a balcony overlooking the living room and kitchen.
I went back downstairs and joined the others, food having been prepared for us already. After a brief pizza dinner, which thankfully included a vegetarian one with tofu, vegetables and a load of cheese the others started pairing up for room assignments. I looked on the board and found myself rooming alone on the second floor, which suited me alright.
There were twelve others in my group, most of them girls. Only two other dudes were in our group; Tyler who looked like a skinny white nerd with his retro gaming tee and the other was an east-Asian guy named Mace who was dressed all proper like he was going clubbing and whom I noticed was just looking up the ladies.
Speaking of them, among the girls there was Caroline with the flowing white hair, Charlie whose name was fitting as she was really kind of boyish, Amber who was really tall and dressed like she’d just left a funeral, Yougen the average white girl in a wheelchair, Yikaru who was Asian and looked more like a soldier than a teen, Annabelle who was a little pudgy but just kind of there. Then there was the black person, Allison whom I was fairly sure was supposed a girl even though she had a flattened chest and very boyish presentation.
Two not-quite humans had joined us; Rowan whom I assumed was a paramorph. If Rowan was an alien, it was a species we’d never heard of before. And then there was Ahti the Itharii, a genuine alien; Orange with black spots and luminous blue lines scouring the body.
Still out of everyone, the person who caught my attention was Jaime; not only did she look deathly thin and her skin was sickly colored but I noticed how she fumbled around when she’d reached for the pizza, as if she couldn’t see where it was.
As everyone meddled I stayed back, just taking mental notes on everyone for a while. Rowan the paramorph had taken offence to Ahti being called an ‘it’ correcting Jaime to using them. I also saw that Allison, although sh— They kept quiet was fuming inside; fists clenched into a ball at Jaime’s words.
Once the situation over, Jaime left the building, mostly likely to cool down and the others decided to watch a movie. Rather than join them, I went into my room and unpacked my things.
I hadn’t brought a whole lot in terms of clothes or personal effects, I didn’t own much. The one exception had been my religious objects. Although I had never been sure where exactly I stood on the question of whether I believed or not that the gods were real, our religion had always been an important familial and cultural part of my life. Also being one of the few times where my father and I had really connected as father-son rather than as mentor-apprentice.
I took my time setting up my puja shrine on the desk, I had one in my lab anyway. Taking out and arranging the small statues I’d bought and put them on a red and golden cloth; There was one for Shiva, another for his consort Parvati, their son Ganesha; remover of obstacle and deva of sciences and finally Murugan; patron god of the Tamil. Along with the statues went the usual paraphernalia; offering platter and bowls, incense holder, deva lamp, bell, the water vessel and the kumkum container.
Once everything was set up, I left the room. The others had settled down to watch some silly action movie which didn’t interest me. Instead I snuck outside and went toward my trailer which was parked just slightly downhill.
Although Ravenhold was build on a hilly place there were ramps leveled grounds just about everywhere to make the climb easier. Which was where my Trailer had been parked.
As I opened my trailer, I noticed Jaime sitting under a tree not too far. Just looking at the ground morosely. I debated for a moment on what to do; I didn’t know her and had stuff to do, but I couldn’t help to feel sorry. When you were as I was; graduating high school at ten and earning a doctorate at fifteen, things could get lonely… And I didn’t like seeing someone else having to go through that.
I closed the door to the trailer and decided to do the right thing; there would be plenty of time to work. But only one occasion to help. I walked closer and looked at her. She hadn’t cried, instead just looking depressed and numb. The setting sun hit her red hair, making it look almost radiant and giving their skin a hint of color.
“Hey, are you okay?” I asked.
“Leave me alone…” Was all she said.
“Are you actually trying to alienate everyone?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Well, if you’re going to be part of a team, you might want to be nice to people you’re with.”
“Why bother? They already hate me.” She said with a shrug before muttering the next part; “Everyone always just end up hating me.”
“Well, for people whom you’ve supposedly offended they seem to have gotten over it quickly, they’re watching a movie.”
“I… they…” She didn’t say anything else before staring at the ground again.
“It’s bloody cold and windy out here, you should go back inside.”
As if to answer, she shivered a little. I gave her a hand, which she hesitantly took — or maybe it had taken her a moment to notice it. As she rose up I could see her try to repress pain, still she made a grimace.
“I better go.” Was all they said.
“Alright, go ahead.” I said. “Oh free tip; Ahti the orange alien, Rowan the big snarly thing and Allison the black person mostly likely go by they/them for pronouns. Just remember that and you might have a chance. If anyone confront you just say you’re sorry and you made a mistake.”
“Thanks… I guess…” Was all she answered before walking away.
“I’m Sanjay by the way!” I said louder so she’d hear me. She didn’t answer but that didn’t bother me.
Once she was out of earshot, I muttered a prayer to Ganesha, begging for him to aid her, before heading back to my lab. I might not have my armor, but I had plenty of ideas.