Hello once again on this fine Friday(If its Friday). It’s been a good first week of this thing, and it’s going quite well, if I do say so myself. Luckily for me, this also marks a free weekend for me, in other words a weekend where I don’t have any glaring threats on Monday. This means a lot more time to write, and a lot more time to relax and prepare for week two. Word Count : 10, 705. Here you go, Chapter 6 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Apples,” Ryan said as he entered the old building. The door creaked silently and the sound of the resonating bell gave him a warm welcome. Ryan was greeted with a large wooden stair case. The building was unsurprisingly two floors. As Ryan turned his head, he noticed that he was surrounded on both sides by a thick hallway. Doors lined each side, and Ryan felt overwhelmed by the gradating presence of the unknown. This was a new addition to the norm, and it was something that he could come to get used to. Ryan could laugh, have fun, and find a place to call his own. This norm was finding shape, Ryan thought. However, he couldn’t realize what that would mean for him, nor why it happened. To Ryan, it was all apples and oranges; both of which he didn’t find quite appealing.
One impeding factor that Ryan would never come to understand was that the building was complex. Paths were winding, hallways caved in, and rooms were hidden. The building was truly large, he thought. Perhaps too large for him to even get a grasp over it. After all, the only thing that would never change about Ryan, was his sense of direction; or misdirection.
As Ryan began wandering the first floor of the building, he heard a voice. It was more of a whisper than an actual audible sound, but Ryan followed it nonetheless. Every step was heavy, as each step came with the great burden of echoing wood and creaks. Aside from this, the building was quiet, in fact, it was deathly quiet, and Ryan took it as so. Without realizing it, he had slowly slipped into his stupor. His vision had narrowed. The wood of the panels, the wood of the door, and the glint of the glassed windows all began fading. The hallway converged into a tunnel of black nothingness. The smell of old wood began fading and was replaced by a sharp metallic rust. Every step slowly faded and the sole of his shoes to the grain of the planks felt like a stroll among clouds. The aftertaste of wood shavings and flour escaped the air, and soon enough even his own footsteps became like water. Ryan continued towards this nothingness which he was so accustomed to.
“Mister! Hey!” Ryan was lost within his own world, but soon found himself back with the incandescent chatter that he was subjected to.
“Hmm?” Ryan snapped out of his stupor, and found that color began filling his world. Ryan was surprised to see a small child in front of him, even more so that there were two. The first child had sharp eyes. His light brown hair contrasted with the rot of the wood around him. He was physically smaller than Runner, but Ryan concluded that he was a bit older than him. The second boy stood by the walls slightly behind the first. He was staring at the window, minding his own business, almost wistfully; as if he was searching for something, however, Ryan didn’t notice this. His eyes looked tired, but his posture was refined. His hair was dark and scruffy, but it didn’t seem to bother him.
“You’re the new kid, right? You don’t look like a kid,” the first child said.
“The name’s Spear.” The boy used one hand to point to himself, and with the other, pointed to the child behind him, “That’s walker.”
“You alright? You looked pretty spooked to me,” Spear asked.
“Yeah, I was just….Spacing out.”
“Lorna does that often, but she usually trips. I wouldn’t call it safe.”
“Duly noted. So what are you guys up to?
“We were just talking when we noticed you.” Ryan figured that the whispers he heard must have been from Spear and Walker.
“About?” Ryan asked.
“About how someone like Hailstone could be related to Sunflower.” Ryan was suddenly hit with a weird sense of déjà vu.
“Aliens. There is no way they can be related. They act so differently. And they don’t even…They don’t even look the same.”
“I wouldn’t know. What’s so different?” Ryan was unfamiliar with the concept of family or siblings. He understood a basic premise, but he himself had never really grasped what it was to have a sibling, nor why one would be confused or seen as a sibling to another.
“Well, they have the same hair. However, Hailstone has her’s a bit shorter.”
“Like ours.” Ryan slowly began piecing together an image of Hailstone. However, it was a bit construed and the only thing he could see was a male Sunflower; a bit of a playboy, he thought.
“Her eyes are different as well. And if I squint my ears I can hear a slight resemblance in their voices.” Ryan ignored the notion of Spear squinting his ears.
“So her hair, and her eyes are different. That it?”
“From what we can tell, that’s it.”
“And from that, you conclude that she’s an alien?” Spear nodded at the summary of his brilliant revelation. Ryan decided to place the revelation at the back of his mind, in case he ever needed to bring it up again.
“By the way –” Walker spoke up, seeming to have broken from his trance. His voice was very crisp, unlike Spear who always spoke in a very urgent manner.
“You don’t have a name yet, do you?”
“No. I don’t. Lorna said that I didn’t need to say it.”
“Right. It’s because you’re an old kid.”
“Yeah. Look at us. And look at you. Even Lorna is an old kid, she just doesn’t admit it.” It took Ryan a few moments to realize what Walker could have been implying when he said “old kid”.
“If Lorna is an old kid like I am, then why can she use her name, and I can’t?”
“She’s an exception. She’s an old kid, but she makes the rules as well.”
“So I can’t say my name because I’m an old kid?”
“Yeah. When we all came here, she made us all say our names first, and then gave us nicknames.” Ryan found it strange that she would only find out the names of the younger children. This implied that there are people around Ryan’s age that could be staying here, or did stay here, Ryan thought. However, Ryan couldn’t satisfy his curiosity until he knew why Lorna picked up the names of the younger children in the first place. If Lorna calls them by their nicknames anyway, then why the need for their real name, Ryan thought. Although he was used to the nicknames that these children had, he was still very unfamiliar with the concept. To him, it was a thing that had long been lost in his norm, but now that he has found a new norm, he was willing to learn more.
“So Lorna won’t let me say my name. Will that mean she’ll give me a new name?”
“She might. It’s all up to her whether you get a name or not. If you do, it’ll be easier than referring to you as ‘mister’ all the time.” The thought of being called mister wasn’t so bad to Ryan, however, he did want to receive a name. After all, Ryan still found it awkward whenever Lorna called him that.
“How did it go with your names?”
“She gave mines after a day,” Walker replied.
“She named me on the spot,” Spear said nonchalantly.
“What’s the longest time she’s ever given a name?”
“I think the longest was Winter. It took her two days.” Ryan grew slightly agitated by the fact that Lorna could have possibly been messing with him. Ryan didn’t see it all too difficult to believe that Lorna just wanted to tease Ryan; the thought of her just simply forgetting was also not too farfetched.
“But don’t worry too hard about your name. Your name is earned, I think. And it’s an important and special thing to receive your name. Lorna’s probably just…. thinking really hard about it.” For some reason, Ryan couldn’t quite believe in Walker’s words.
“Oh yeah! Didn’t we say we would go help out Spark today?” Spear suddenly intervened.
“Right. I was wondering when you were going to remember. We’ll catch you later, just remember to bring up the topic with Lorna, or she’ll never give you a name.” As Walker and Spear walked towards the entrance of the building, Ryan was left to wander about once again. Even if Ryan wanted to find Lorna, it would be impossible with the sheer size of the building he was in. The only thing Ryan could do at this moment was let the dice play themselves. In his case, he had already expanded his list of acquaintances and met two new kids. If anything, meeting more of the children in this building was also a prospect that Ryan saw as rewarding. His norm was constantly expanding, whether Ryan knew it or not, and it wouldn’t stop for him, nor did he stop for it.
“Looking for a name, I see.” Suddenly, Lorna appeared behind Ryan. The door behind her was still open, and as Ryan turned, she stuck out a finger pointing at him. Ryan gave her an uncomfortable stare, which prompted her to continue, “Well look no more, because you’re looking at just the right person.” Ryan didn’t respond.
“Tough crowd. Tough crowd. Well, if you really are looking for a name, I’m the one to determine that. After all, this is my orphanage.”
“Right. And you’re going to give me a name?”
“No. Of course not. Why would I?”
“Because! Because you will receive a name. Just not now. There’s a reason behind my names. You’ll soon realize it. I just haven’t found yours. You’re a tough cookie, you know. A tough one.”
“Is there some kind of test behind your names?” Ryan replied sarcastically.
“Actually, there is. It’s a bit of a naming ceremony.”
“It’s already happening.”
“Just know that I’m always watching you. Even when you don’t want me to. I’ll watch. Even when you watch me watch you, I’ll watch.” Ryan ignored her bantering, as is his best countermeasure towards Lorna.
“But don’t worry yourself over it. You will get a name. I promise you. If you’re ever going to get comfortable around here, you will need one. I know that. So trust me.” Lorna’s tone had shifted to be much more serious and mellow. Ryan had noticed that she can change her tone and mood without hesitation, and that when she did, she spoke much more clear and slower. At this point, Ryan couldn’t do anything but nod and agree. After all, it was up to Lorna to decide. Ryan had no say in it, and it gave Ryan relapses of his previous norm. Ryan had always been one to take. He believed that when given, if given, you take. No questions asked, you do what you do, and you get through. His benefactor drove this fact to the very core. For Ryan, it’s always been up to another person to decide. For Ryan, his life had been another’s, even now, even then. He couldn’t do much. However, he gave his trust to Lorna, and hoped that it was well placed.