Part V: Things Left Behind
Rather than stay at the library, I merely checked a few books out before going back, I’d have plenty of time to read them later on. I went into my room and despaired at the mess. In only three days, my roommate’s side had become a mess, with dirty clothing on the floor, notebooks leisurely dumped wherever space was available and her bed had been left undone.
Although it wasn’t my job, I began cleaning the laundry off the floor. I doubted I would’ve been able to study if I hadn’t… As I did, a picture slipped out of one of the clothing pile and fell on the floor. It depicted Amber and a girl of similar appearance, smiling at some kind of outdoor event, one of them holding some pink floss thing on a stick. Amber came into the room just as I was looking at the picture.
“Is this yours?” I asked, more to begin the conversation than as a genuine question. Who else could it belong to?
She snatched it from my hand forcefully.
“Where did you get that?” She yelled. “I use your pen and you yell at me but you get to sift through my shit?”
“I didn’t, It fell on the floor as I was cleaning.”
“Why would I lie?”
She didn’t answer.
“Is that your sister?” I asked.
“It’s none of your business.”
“What have I done to get stuck with someone like you…” I muttered.
“Someone like me?” She asked confrontationally.
“You’re loud, rude, aggressive and unclean. I mean look at this mess, how can you live in that?”
“What did I do to deserve someone as stuck up as you?”
“You say that as if you have it bad, but what have I done to irk you so badly? You were the one who used my pen without permission and I’ve cleaned up after you.”
She didn’t answer, instead laughing. I just stood there for a second confused.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Nothing, I guess you just remind me of someone.” She said, her expression quickly changing from amusement to grief.
“The girl in the photo?”
“None of your business really.” She muttered, looking away.
“Something happened to her, didn’t it?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Stop digging.”
“Fine.” I threw my hands up.
Rather than argue with her any more, I left the room. The kitchen was bustling with activity so I opted for the attached conservatory, sitting down and opening one of the books I had taken from the library, reading about the history of extraterrestrial beings on this earth. It began with the Aldaar arrival in the sixth decade of the twentieth century which believed to be responsible for mutants and all the way to the Tzari invasion four years prior.
The new comers came into the house, having taken a detour to administration and as a group we all moved to the backyard, minus Allen who had yet to come back but no one had seemed to notice his absence. Or perhaps they did not care, he had seemingly offended some of them with his choice of words during classes.
Food had been prepared and been placed on a table outside. It was a small assortment of sandwiches and other snacks, but I didn’t take any. I was offered a piece of cake by Caroline the white haired cook, but I politely declined.
“Aren’t you hungry? you didn’t eat this morning either…” She asked me.
“I only need to eat once a day, it’s a perk of my powers.” I reassured her.
She scrutinized me for a second. “Oh alright, I was just slightly worried, like what if you didn’t like my food, had allergies or something.”
“I’m sure it’s perfectly fine, I just tend to eat at midday rather than in the morning.”
She seemed appeased by that and left to be with a dark skinned girl I knew as Charlie. I turned around only for Yougen to come my way, a plate in one hand.
“Hey, you came.” Yougen said, giving me a smile.
“I did.” I answered, finding myself smiling back.
“Want to go sit?” She nodded at a long chair a little further away.
I followed her and took a seat on the chair. There was a moment of silence as she ate some of her food, having filled her plate up rather generously.
“Where are you from?” I asked, breaking the ice.
“The province of Lotharingia, at least it was before the Earthfall. There isn’t much of a government to claim it as such.” I knew enough to know it equated to parts of Belgium, Germany and France on this world. “What about you?”
“Narragansett Bay, it’s in the new world. Part of Rhode Island on this world. How long have you been here?”
“About a year and a half, you?” She answered.
“Only two months.”
“Oh wow, your English is amazing for such a short time. Because last I heard, it wasn’t spoken back home.”
“It wasn’t, but I can’t take credit, one of the Alephi hero did something to my head that let me understand it.”
“Ah, color me jealous.”
“It was unpleasant to say the least.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Did you leave anyone behind?” Yougen asked.
“Just the other members of the Narragansett Bay militia.” I answered with a shrug. Although we were close in some way, being all infecteds we also knew we couldn’t and shouldn’t get attached…
“They passed away when I was young.”
“It’s alright, it was a long time ago.” I answered, giving her a smile. I didn’t remember much about my parents, just the odd flash. “What about you?”
“My mom, my dad and an older brother. I hope they’re doing well, I mean they should be, they live in the city so it’s not like they’re in big danger and without me around they won’t be forced to live in the quarantined district anymore.”
“By law all infected have to live within a special high security district so we can be contained if we go feral…”
“But enough negativity!” She declared firmly. “Let’s talk about what we like about this world. First thing for me; the food.” I had to smile at her positivity, it was kind of contagious.
“Variety is nice, although I still don’t understand why the bread here is so sweet.”
“Oh yeah, that took a while to get used to. So, your turn now, what do you like about this world?”
“Integrated heating, definitely.”
“Ooh, that’s good. Also, hot water.”
I let out a laugh. “Sure does make washing easier.”
“So, what food have you tried?”
“I tried fried rice and tacos here so far. They were nice.”
“Oh yeah, Tacos are good, have you tried curry?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Mein Got, you have to try. They don’t serve it in the cafeteria, but we have to make something up. It’s seriously amazing.”
“I guess I will have to try it.”
As Yougen narrated other things she loved about Earth Aleph Rowan came toward us, slowly walking on all four.
“Can we talk?” They asked.
“Sure, but probably somewhere quieter. Yougen, you might want to join us.” She raised a brow and Rowan glared at me. “She’s like us too. But let’s talk somewhere more private.”