One Mind-Chapter 13

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 13 (v.1) - Meet the Tribe

Submitted: June 21, 2016

Reads: 57

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Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Chapter 13

The next visit to the old city was exhilarating for Stella, knowing the possibility existed that she might meet this shadow again.  That evening she sat on her comforting bench, eating, while feeling anxious for the next chapter of her night to start. 

With her protectors pulling up, she knew she would soon have her chance to meet that moving vapor from last week. The Protectors seemed to park a little longer than usual, then again, Stella thought, this could be only her imaginings.  Finally with a subtle roar, the car started up and pulled away. 

The moon being brighter this time, Stella was able to see the source of some of the shaded coverings when she arrived on the other side.  Buildings and refuse that before had only been dark spaces with the blurred edges, now took on more familiar forms.  Stella wanting to be sure she, like many of these objects, could not be exposed in the moon's glow, quickly slid down the main road.  It wasn’t enough to just be here now, she wanted to explore. She took her first left, being cautious to note the direction she traveled in. 

She passed former stores, which quickly gave way to more of an abandoned neighborhood area.  Hearing the creak of a rusty chain, Stella looked to see a school with a rusted swing set on the playground.  A place which looked as if the children had gone home for the weekend and would be back to swing and play again on Monday.  Stella sat down on a swing to rest, something she hadn't done since her own children were little.

Several minutes of silent swinging later, Stella heard a voice from a broken window in the school next to her say defensively, “Who the hell are you?”

“I am Stella.”

“The governor’s wife?”

“Yes but how did you know?”

 “I know what I need to know.  Why are you here?  Shouldn't you be looking for your husband or daughter or something?” asked the voice.

Stella stared at the window where the voice was coming from. When Stella's eyes began to adjust to the window itself, she saw the girl's eyes, hidden beneath a hood, imperceptable almost unless you looked closely.

“I was looking for him, for them.  I thought maybe here...”

“Maybe here is nothing but spooks.  Large tribes of spooks who don't exist, but do, in this hulk of a city.”

“Do the spooks have names?” Stella replied. This girls latest words had given her comfort, for in Stella’s world, she too had become a spook, an outcast, looking out of the windows of her solitude into society, always watching but never participating.

“This tribe has many names. Elizabeth for me,” said the girl chasing away Stella’s thoughts.

“Then perhaps I will be back next week.” 

 “Hey you know, spooks need to eat lady.”

“They do,” said Stella with a smile, feeling a special comradery with this Elizabeth voice.The week after meeting the Elizabeth apparition, Stella packed a small bag to take with her.  Edward noticed the bag when Stella was about to leave.  Edward always noticed.  “Pretty big bag for a 'Bridge' game.”

“Well since this bridge night is becoming a regular event, I thought it would only be polite to bring a dish for the food table.”

“Yeah you say so,” said Edward, going back to the video game he was playing.

Stella glanced back at her son, settled on the couch.  Despite everything going on in their current life, she had to smile.  He was so much of Lenny and her, and yet still so much of himself.

Once Stella arrived at the hall and within full view of her protector’s car, she pulled out a pan of brownies.  Stella was bringing food.  It would a simple explanation to what the protectors would see as an alarming turn of events.

Once inside, Stella began her weekly walk to the food table, this time bringing the brownies to the table with her. From that point on, her weekly routine continued until its inevitable destination to the bench outside.  After getting comfortable she ate, pulling a thick paperback out of her bag, when she was done.  After reading several pages, she listened as the protectors left.

Once Stella was sure her protectors would not return, she crumpled up a tissue with the pretense of throwing it away.  She waited, holding the toss, until the dark reflections of a nearby overhanging tree covered the trash container's corner completely, then she made her escape.

  Stella walked directly to the swing set, leaving her offerings between it and the house.  The offerings Stella brought were quickly and silently accepted by the other side, the rebels, as she had begun to think of them.  This was the first of many trips Stella would make to this self-improved neutral zone.

Throughout this time, Elizabeth remained nothing more than a shadow.  Stella always watched from the swing where she sat, intrigued from a distance about this mysterious creature, not wanting to alarm this moving, dancing wisp.

Visit after visit, the being that was Elizabeth, began to trust Stella, never enough to come out of the edges, still they could both feel it growing.  A mutual glance or a moment’s hesitation of movement that would occasionally give them a reason to hope.  

Finally one night Stella found a list left for her.  Stella was pleased with this turn of events.  Rather than guess what this tribe needed, Stella could quietly provide some of their needed items.

It was several weeks later, with the list becoming a white flag between them, when Stella placed the requested items where they were always placed and waited.Time passed, yet the food still sat there, untouched. Concerned, Stella finally rose, about to search for the missing Elizabeth, when she heard a voice behind her.

“Thank you.”

Stella turned slowly to see a girl of not more than 12, her hood down.  Her sparkling green eyes and the care on her face, both speaking of responsibilities well beyond her years. 

“I’m Stella, glad to finally meet you,” she said.

“I'm sorry I had to be sure,” said Elizabeth.

“Sure of what?”

“That you were safe.  That you weren't...” said Elizabeth pointing her head toward the other side.  “One of the “normal” ones.”

“I used to be,” said Stella, “Until El.”

“Another Other, huh?”

“How did you know?”

“I’ve been reading about her when I pick up papers during crossovers.None of the articles have said it outright, but you can read between the lines.  Besides we're easy to pick out if you know what to watch for.  You sense it immediately, especially if you’re one too.”  Stella looked oddly at Elizabeth for a moment, who smiled back. 

“Crossovers?”

“Other Rescues, Transient Transports, whatever you want to call them.”

“So can I ask then, why you live here?” Stella asked.

We used to be over there too,” Elizabeth said, “until your government retrained our parents.  Before they left, a couple of us were brought here, to keep our type of human safe.  Soon the word spread about our little tribe, at least in the Other circles, so more came.  Now we're almost a hundred strong.  Which is why the food is appreciated, it really is.”

“There must be a parent?”

  “You're looking at her pretty much.  It's not that difficult.  For the most part there's no trouble, most of us are pretty kind-hearted.  Quirky, yeah, but as long as you let our quirks be, we get along. I've got to get back but thanks again,” said Elizabeth as she handed Stella another list then disappearing back into the night as quickly as she’d first appeared.  Stella was left only to shake her head to wonder on this tribe.

  Stella was so impatient to arrive at the other side the next week, that she even thought of not attending the Bridge game, not making the march.  She knew skipping it though, would raise an alert.  An alert with the women who had come to plan on her semi-weekly parade to the other end of  the hall as their proof of madness on display,  their source of discomforted superiority in this world full of supposed equals. 

Stella slipped through the hole the minute the protector's car turned the corner at the far end of the building, the next week. She raced down the empty streets toward the playground, ignoring the spirits of buildings which had not so long ago, caused her to jump and skitter away herself.  These frameworks of their former selves were nothing, but pieces of the landscapes tonight, markers to usher her deeper into this world of archeological relics, into this world of the past which she felt held a piece of her future. 

As Stella approached the swing set, she could see Elizabeth waiting.  Without taking the bag Elizabeth quietly said, “Follow me.”
 “Why?” said Stella.

“Well if you truly are one of us, you might as well meet the tribe,” she answered. 

Stella followed, with Elizabeth in the lead, fascinated with the fact that she’d somehow instantly been accepted into this new society without asking.  She was one of the tribe whether anyone approved it or not, a decision which had been made without her prior consent or approval. 

Elizabeth went down several side streets and up a third, leading Stella into the depths of a vacant metropolis she had not even begun to explore.All these buildings in the daylight would make sense, Stella was sure, would be what they were.  Here in the cloak of night though, they had transformed, into gentle animals content on watching as these two figures quickly moved through the landscape that one of them called home. 

Halfway through this jumble of a maze, Elizabeth stopped in front of a boarded up, lonely looking building which was as bleak and industrial looking as the neighbors surrounding it.  A conveyer belt, Stella noticed, hung menacingly out of a window, threatening to tumble onto anyone who might dare go near it's second floor. 

Elizabeth reached in her pocket for a key chain, finding an older key which seemed to fit perfectly into the large lock on the door.  With a final look up and down the road, Elizabeth rushed in with Stella right behind her, the door closing with a decidedly industrial click behind them.  Stella felt panic for a moment, not knowing which way to go or which way was safe, even wondering if the building itself was structurally sound.  Dank smelling hallways with a maze of silver metal jaw like stairs appeared in the middle of this vast complex beckoning them to move upward. 

Elizabeth quickly began an ascent up the stairs, two at a time.  Stella, putting her trust in this child, followed her into the interior of this industrial beast.  Their feet clanking on the metal stairways spoke to the present ghosts who must have worked here in a past time.

On the third floor they took a left, into an echoing hallway, finally stopping in front of a gray metallic door.  “We're here,” said Elizabeth.  “Let them come to you, be careful and remember spooks spook too.” Stella nodded quietly as Elizabeth pulled out her keychain once again and unlocking the door.

Stella wasn't sure what she expected but it certainly wasn't what currently unfolded in front of her.  There were children everywhere, each sitting on their own worn blanket, spread across this former factory floor, silently staring back at her.

“Okay everybody, this is Stella.  She's here to help us.”

“I am?”

  “You are,” said Elizabeth with a smile. 

Stella walked between the rows with Elizabeth as she did her nightly check in with each tribe member.  Here she would stop, covering someone with a blanket, there finding a stuffed animal and always listening to their chattering about what they did during the day.  It seemed each of them, no matter what the age, had a project they wanted to talk about. 

At the end of the walk, Elizabeth and Stella stood quiet, watching everyone slowly drift off to sleep.“So many,” said Stella dazed.

“They are,” said Elizabeth “and it seems there are always more to come.”

“Where do they go during the day?”

“They stay here, for safety,”

“Don't they get restless?”

“We all do at one time or another, but we have our projects to keep our minds busy.  Whatever their passion, that's what lights their path, that's where they follow.”

“And if they ignore that path?”

“Some try that.  It seems no matter how far away they get from their path though, it always drags them back to that one road, whether they want to be there or not.  So most of us have just learned to give into our passions early and often, it's easier that way.  We better get going, you need to get back before the protectors know you're gone huh?”

“How did you know...”

“We’re all wary of the protectors.  Many have taken our parents away to fix them.They” she said nodding to the now sleeping children, “at least many of them, have only vague memories of what happened but they’re still cautious.  I don't worry them though.  Here, I am the one who keeps a close watch for the protectors.”

With one more glance the two were soon down the stairs.  The walk back to the swings was a silent journey, neither participant wanting to risk the sound of their voice being carried onto the night air.

With the handing of a new list to Stella and a quick good-bye, Elizabeth disappeared into the evening mist like an ethereal being, making Stella wonder if this night really ever happened at all.  Stella walked back to the fence on a path that her feet had almost begun to know by heart. 

With a quick glance to ensure an empty parking lot, Stella slipped back into the world she inhabited during the daylight hours, leaving the world she was beginning to love behind.  This tribe had restored Stella’s aliveness, her humanity, her beingness and for that she would always be grateful.

The week dragged by with Stella feeling her normalcy was a mask she wore only to get her through the work days.Friday found Stella once again, excitedly hurrying through the fence for her next visit.

  Elizabeth met Stella at the swing set, this time with a child in tow.

“And this is?” asked Stella.

“Peter, a pick up from a few minutes ago.  His parents are under investigation.  A neighborhood sympathizer delivered him.”

The little boy, who could not be more than two, stared at Stella.

“Quiet isn't he,” she said.

“Not a surprise, a lot of us are late talkers.  He'll talk when he's ready, when  he’s done”

“Done?”

“Done taking everything in, processing everything he needs to process.  Just because he doesn't talk, doesn't mean he doesn't take it in or doesn't understand.

  The journey to the tribe's home was silent although emotions spoke loudly.  Glances and occasional slowings of caution passed back and forth between Elizabeth and Stella in a well choreographed symphony orchestrated over these increasingly frequent visits.

Both Stella and Elizabeth settled in the tribe for the night, all the while discussing the differences between the two societies.  Elizabeth taught as Stella learned, her mind opened to a new way of looking at both of their worlds.

As Stella stepped back over to the Community Center lot that night, after finding a space for Peter her discussions with Elizabeth pre-occupied her mind.Not so much though, that she didn't notice a new movement out of the corner of her eye. 

Stella stayed hidden behind a trash receptacle.  Suddenly though, she came to an instantaneous decision, there would be no more hiding.  Standing up, she came out from the dumpster, turning to meet this person now emerging from the dark.There she came face to face with her son.  Stella hurried Edward behind the trash receptacle again to avoid being seen by anyone

“Thank God Edward.  For a minute I thought, well never mind what I thought,  just Thank God.”

“You alright?”

“Yes I appear to be and you?”

“Alright, considering.”

“Considering?”

“Considering I haven't been home and haven't had any sleep.”

“Then it sounds like we both need the same thing, let's go.”

“We can't.”

  “We can't?”

“They know about you or at least suspect,”

“About me?”

“Yeah and whatever you've been doing at your 'Bridge games.'  What the hell have you been doing?  Whatever it is you seem to be making an awful lot of officials nervous!”

“I'm not doing anything, Bridge games is all.”

“Yeah right, my hand held communication device with its stored official communications says otherwise.”

“That won't tell you a thing.  E-mails like that are hack proof.”

“Apparently not.  By the way, there's a thousand different kinds of Others you know,” Edward said with a smile. “07-02-2065 Subject: Bridge Game- returned from Bridge Game-three hours after it completed....07-09-2065 -Seen disappearing in black hole in the fence.  07-16-2065 No reports from plant of seeing Stella-642 reappear at the Bridge game after leaving.  Shall I go on? The reason I left was the last one 07-23-2065 set to infiltrate house.  Edward, son, will be held until parental units resurfaced or captured.  Send to HLU 536 retraining holding cell.”  Edward turned toward his mother.  “Thanks anyway but I'd rather take my chances with you.  So lead on fearless one, any ideas as to what we do?”

“How much time do we have?”

“I made the house look like I'd only gone out for a few minutes.Like you’d been there earlier and I just messed it up.  You know me, typical teenager.”  Edward grinned.

The irony of the situation, crossed Stella's mind.  Here the two were, damp, cold and sitting behind an odorous trash container, yet in the midst of their dilemma this was the closest she had felt to her son in many years.  “Alright, I think I've got it, at least a place for the moment.  You've got to trust me understand?”

“Sure, do I have any other options?  I'm keeping you out of trouble, now you can keep me out of trouble.”

“Or get you into much more trouble, I'm not sure which.”

Edward smiled.  “I don't know what's happened to my family since El left but I like them a heck of a lot better.”

“Alright, follow me I only hope we can get back there.”

“Is this even legal?” said Edward when he saw the hole in the fence.

Stella just glanced at him disparagingly before she said “Hurry up before they find us!”

Stella's response answered the question enough for Edward who replied ” Cool.


© Copyright 2017 Carla Charter. All rights reserved.

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