Part IV: The Lend
There was a little cranny on the second floor of the library, almost completely hidden by the odd arrangement of shelves which bore old and used copies of educational manuals. Although a large recliner had been put there, nobody seemed to come by that corner so I claimed it for myself.
After spending all evening researching Earth Aleph, I snuck back into the house. Thankfully, my roommate was already asleep by the time I arrived. As I undressed I noticed a pack of pens had been left on my desk with a note. Despite the penumbra, I could see very well, a side effect of the black blood.
‘Got you gel pens, happy now?’ It read.
Passive aggressive note aside, it was a peace offering of sort. It wasn’t like I could expect her to understand the meaning of my pen. Satisfied, I went to sleep, quickly drifting off.
After the previous day’s confusion, I was relieved to be assigned to physical training classes in the morning. First had been a combat skills test which I had enjoyed and done fairly well, even if my classmates hadn’t shared my enthusiasm and success.
During the next afternoon three more people had joined our group. There was Allen, Sage and Jaeger, the last of whom wasn’t completely human — as far as one could consider the others being mutants to be humans — having a deformed nose and ears.
Even though Erna had given me the ability to understand English, she hadn’t given me any other knowledge. When I had asked about it she’d claimed that doing it had been risky in the first place but given my situation at the military base she hadn’t seen any other option but she hadn’t been willing to risk adding anymore. Which meant I had to learn the hard way. Thankfully, I’d discovered the library of Ravenhold was stocked very well.
Once classes ended, I went back home to grab some supplies to last the night. Even though I didn’t need to eat as much, I needed to keep hydrated the same as any other person. I went for the fridge only for one of the others to turn around and hit me with their glass, sending sticky soda all over my clothes. I hadn’t talked to him, but I knew his name was Tyler.
“Shit, I’m sorry.” He said. “Didn’t hear you coming around.”
“It’s fine.” I removed my coat.
“Let me clean it up for you.” He offered.
“I’d rather do it myself, it’s very sensitive.”
“Oh alright, well if I can do anything to make up for it, just ask, okay?”
I nodded and went for the supply closet. My coat was a woolen one and I’d been told by Erna that using the machines would damage it so I washed it the same way I would back home; with a bucket of soapy water and my hands. When I finished, I left it to hang so it would dry.
Even without my coat, I decided to go out. It was cold outside but the library wasn’t far so far away that if I ran I would be fine. I opened the door only for someone to call me out.
“You’re not going out like that, are you?” Yougen asked. “It’s freezing.”
“I—” She didn’t let me say anymore.
“Where’s your jacket?”
“Soiled and drying.”
“Then let me lend you one.”
I was about to protest but the insistence in her gaze made me agree. She guided me to her room. I looked around and clearly her roommate was more organized than mine. She dug through her closet until she found what she was looking for; a purple hooded jacket with a felt lining.
“Okay, so it’s not quite your style, but it’s really warm. Might be a little loose on you though.”
“I’ll be fine.” I answered, taking the jacket and trying it on. The sleeves were a little longer than needed and it was a little baggy but it wasn’t that bad a fit. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She said with a smile. “You can borrow it as long as you need.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, I don’t see why not.”
“You’re black blooded, aren’t you?” I asked.
“How do you—” She began but I cut her off, unleashing my own transformation. “Woah… Does that mean you’re from Earth-d048 too?”
“That’s what they told me it was designed. Comet hit about forty years ago, black blood appeared in the years after.”
“That would be the one.”
“I can’t believe there’s two of us here, what would be the odds?”
“The person who sent me here told me someone like me would be here. She also said there are holes between worlds that sometimes appear, which we fell through. Where did you land?”
“They call it Greenland, lucky they found me from the rift thing making a detectable signature, there was nothing but snow as far as I could see.”
“I fell through somewhere in Alabama I was told.”
“Lucky you.” She said with a smile.
“So, I probably should go. But thank you again.”
“Wait. I know you probably weren’t told yesterday, but the others are throwing a party for the newcomers. Maybe you could attend? It’ll be in an hour.”
I paused, considering it. “I guess I could.” I then answered with a smile.
“I’ll see you later?”
She escorted me out and I went to the library, braving the cold weather without fear thanks to Yougen’s coat. It was really warm, but I missed the familiar weight of my own coat…