The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

(Chapter XII)

Posted by Matt on February 1, 2011

Previously

Nothing in particular stood out about that day. It was sunny, but with a refreshing gust that allowed Aia to lay about without having to find shade. She had already had her fill of the little crawling things, so she decided use the rest of the waking hours to rest on the beach, listening to the waves up close. This was her idea of a perfect day.

As she lay comfortably curled, something struck her. She didn’t know what it was, but it was strong enough to jolt her from her state of relaxation. She sat up, craning her neck side to side to see if she could see anything amiss. When she looked down, she saw a rusted tin. It must have been blown by the wind from the concrete platform that led down to the beach and ran into her. Nothing major. A minor inconvenience. She stood up and examined the can for a moment before dropping it back onto the sand. She yawned and stretched out, a tad annoyed that she was forced out of her pleasant state for this. She moved around for a few minutes to get herself working at full capacity; and while she walked in a small circle on the sand, she was able to get a glimpse of the road not far from her, and was shocked to see something moving on it.

From the distance, she couldn’t quite make out what it was, only seeing a dark mobile blob bobbing along the road. She could tell that it must be something larger than the flying things, and that it certainly didn’t move like any of the other living creatures she had encountered. She moved closer to the concrete platform, squinting from the bright midday sun shining above, trying her best to make out what it was. She walked up to the platform, where it began to become clear. Colour was there. A definite shape began to form. Oh no. It can’t be.

But it was, there was no mistaking it: travelling the broken road was a familiar little creature, hovering about and looking from side to side in search of something. It was Pearl. Why was it Pearl? What was she doing here?

Aia immediately rushed towards her. Of course, she had missed her dearly all this time, even as she succumbed to the notion that her Little Sister was much better off without her. She was desperate to know what was going on. How did she get outside? Why is she outside?

Aia hadn’t spoken in so long, she was still afraid she would be unable to, but soon found she still quite capable.

“Pearl! Pearl!” she called out.

Pearl looked over, and was overjoyed to see who was calling to her.

“Oh, Big Sister!”

The two met and embraced. There were tears and laughter and ‘I thought I’d never see you again!’ and other such exchanges. Aia was surprised how happy she was at this moment. It was real happiness, not the feelings of contentment she was now used to. It was a strange feeling, especially when she kept wondering ‘Now what?’. But she would save that for later, she wanted to know why.

“What are you doing out here?”
“I sneaked out when they weren’t looking. They were wrong to send you out here, and if you’re out here, I’m going to be out here, too!”
“But didn’t they give you a nice new home to live in? Why would you come out here? Don’t you know its dangerous?”
“I don’t care. The only home I have is with you. And I should get to decide what I do, and I decided I wanted to stay with you”

Oh Pearl, Aia thought, oh my sweet little thing. Why would you do this to yourself?

“Pearl, you can’t stay here. I’m here because I did something I shouldn’t have. I…”
“That’s what they said, but they’re lying! I know it! I know you, and you’d never do anything bad. You’d never hurt anyone”

Did she see the recording? Aia hoped not. Would she have done all this if she did? Maybe it would have been better if she did. How long would her loyalty extend? It has already gone to what she thought was insane lengths. She thought about her new life outside, and it made her feel worse. How was she going to hide all this from Pearl? Did she have to? This was complicating matters significantly.

“Pearl, I…”
“I’ve made up my mind. I’m staying”

Aia was getting frustrated at this point. Pearl, you wonder, you beautiful little…why can’t you understand? You’ve made a terrible mistake! Don’t you see I’m nothing but bad luck? You can have everything you need without me fouling it up now! Why would do all this for me? I’m not worth it! I’ve already let you down once!

She couldn’t think of anything she could at this point to convince her to go back. She would need more time. Until then, she just had to live with this. This could prove to be a problem. She loved her very much, but how could she integrate her into the lifestyle of an outcast monster? How could be subject to this dirt low existence she had come to see as normal? (Why did she turn against her new lifestyle so quickly? Was she not content with it not even an hour ago?) But that would come in time. Right now, she just needs to catch up with some things.

Aia introduced Pearl to her beloved beach and recounted all the things she had encountered since she was exiled. She described the screeching flying things, the demolished buildings, the rusted box, the three pieces of white noise, the thing in the water that annoys her, the oily detritus she found on the beach. She did not tell her what she had subsided on thus far. Then it was time for Pearl to update her on what had happened since she left.

“I was really sad when I woke up and you weren’t there. I went and talked to the man at the door and asked him why they were making you leave, and he said he didn’t know. I went to the security man I see every day on the way to the hall why you had to leave, and he said he didn’t know, either. I asked him if I could go too, and he said that wasn’t a good idea. But I knew I was going to find you! I know you didn’t do anything bad! I knew it, and I wasn’t going to let you be alone!
When I got back home, there was another man at the door. He said he was placement, and he was going to put me in a home. I told him no, I was going to go outside and find you. He said that wasn’t a good idea, and kept talking about all the nice people who would be willing to look after me, but I didn’t care! I wanted to be with you! I told him that, and then I ran away. I didn’t know where I was going, but that’s okay, I just found some stuff to do while I tried to think of a way to get out. I didn’t go back home for a couple of days, I just walked around talking to people to find out how to get out. The man came back every day and waited in front of the door, and I saw him every time I went back to check on the house. I didn’t talk to him again, because I knew he was going to just say the same things again.

So I talked to a lot of people asking them questions to see if they knew why they made you leave and how I could get out. Most of them didn’t know, not even the people we know. Some of the leeches said they make people leave because the Council didn’t want them here anymore because they didn’t like them. I bet that’s what happened! I don’t know why my friends’ Big Brothers and Sisters don’t like you, but I know you’d never do anything bad, so that must be what happened!

So when I found this out I was happy, because I had an answer! But I still wanted to know how to get out, so I asked the leeches that, too, because they seemed to know the answers to a lot of stuff. They said I could walk out, that no one would try to stop me. I said ‘Really?’, and they said ‘Yeah’. So that’s what I did. I did it a day ago. I just walked up to the door, and the man in the booth was asleep I think, so I walked out. Then I started looking for you. I saw all that stuff you were talking about, all the buildings and the flying things who make those annoying noises! And then I found you!”

“Pearl, you know you shouldn’t be walking around like that all alone, especially not for that long. You could have been hurt”
Aia told her. Weren’t things like this kind of petty now? She was slipping back into old habits.
“I know. But I really wanted to know, and I really wanted to see you again” Pearl apologized.
“And…I’m sorry, Pearl, I really am, but what the people told you isn’t true. I did something bad and I was punished for it, and that’s all there is to it”
“But you would never do that? Would you?”

Aia didn’t know how to answer. She wanted desperately to get Pearl to understand the truth, so maybe she could understand why Aia had to leave and why she should go back. But she could never go to the next step and explain what the ‘bad thing’ she did was, how she was a monster and a danger to everyone, which she knew now more than ever. She knew that withholding this information was the only thing keeping Pearl from going back and not throwing her life away; still, she couldn’t describe her grisly actions from that one night. She was so happy when she thought she would never have to torment Pearl with this knowledge directly, but now it seemed like she had no choice. Except…she did have a choice. She could not tell her. But then she would never leave. What would happen to them now that they are both out here? Why did she have to follow her out in the first place?

The two sat out by the beach and listened to the waves for a few hours, nary a word between them. If there was any good to come out of this, Aia thought, it was that Pearl would get a chance to experience the tranquillity she had found outside. The wonderful symphony of natural sounds that can clear one’s thoughts forever. She was still able to make the best of things.

She came to decide that the best thing for the two of them to do would be to explore further, to see where the broken road led to. Her current abode was good enough for her by herself, but for both her and Pearl, there had to be something else. She didn’t know what, but there had to be something. Anything.

“Hey, Big Sister?” Pearl’s unexpected chiming in broke Aia’s thoughts on that matter.
“Yes?”
“Outside is really nice, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”

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