Friday, May 11, 2012

Mai -- episode 3. A serial story.

The next episode in the ongoing story of Mai. Hope you like it.
Episode 3
The large-hulled ship was thirty minutes away from the beach when the man who’d been on the left got up from behind the controls and introduced himself.  He stuck out a hand, palm slightly up, for Yun to shake.
“Maryweather,” he said and waited for Yun to take his offer of a handshake. “I’m Maryweather.”
Yun took his hand.
“That’s Jacobs.” He pushed a thumb over his shoulder at the other man, the one now flying the ship. “Let’s give you the quick tour.”
Maryweather pushed himself past Yun and walked into the cargo hold. He stood near the cargo door that the two men and Yun had used to enter the ship.
“This is it, really. There’s not much to this cargo hauler. Lots of open space so we can carry lots of stuff.” Maryweather pointed to a row of rooms hidden by three separate curtains that were on the opposite side of the cargo hold. “Mine’s the one on the left behind the green curtain. Jacobs has the middle. The one with the blue curtain. You get the one with the orange curtain. That’s your door, so keep it closed.”
Yun inspected the curtain from a distance. It was wrinkled and tattered. A tear that started at the bottom and extended to nearly the middle had been patched with a sloppy stitch.
Maryweather kept talking. He was pointing to a sink that was just past his blue curtain. “We eat there,” he said. “Or we prep stuff there. Quick-make dehydrated meals are in the cabinet above the sink. Don’t use too much water. There’s only so much we can carry around with us, and we need it to do more than eat.” He elbowed Yun in the ribs and gave the boy a goofy grin. Yun jumped.
Maryweather stepped away from the door and started walking toward the back of the ship and a pair of doors that were marked “Crew only.”  
“You don’t go back here,” he said, trying to sound stern. “This is for me and Jacobs only.”
Yun nodded that he understood.
“Now why don’t you go get comfortable in your room?” Maryweather patted Yun on the back once. “We’ve got a lot of flying to do. We’ll come get you when we’re preparing dinner.”
Yun nodded and walked toward the crate he’d carried to the ship earlier. He’d placed the bag he’d packed on top of the crate before they left the island. He grabbed his bag and headed to the orange curtain.
The fabric felt scratchy and unfinished in his hand when he pulled it to the side. There room was only as long as the cot that came from the wall. It wasn’t much wider either. Across from the bed was a pair of shelves, one high and one low. Other than the cracker-thin mattress on the cot, everything in the room was made of metal. Cold and grey.
Yun tossed his bag onto the bed and sat down. He stretched out his legs the best he could, never getting his knees to pop like he’d hoped. He sat still for a moment and then exhaled a long breath.
He pulled his bag onto his lap and undid the zipper across the top. He pulled out handfuls of clothes and put them in sloppy piles on the top shelf. The bottom shelf he saved for the few personal items he was able to hurriedly grab. His headphones and music player. A book his uncle said his mother sent to him. A bag of beads that his uncle was teaching him to make into jewelry. That was all he had, and he spaced it evenly along the length of the shelf.
He lay back on the bed and felt the mattress flatten to the point that it was almost nonexistent. His feet hung off the edge of the bed at least a foot. He wiggled his feet and watched them puff the soiled, orange curtain.
Yun stayed in the bed, trying to clear his mind. Trying to calm these nerves. Trying to stop his mind from replaying the day. Nothing, though, would work. He couldn’t get it out of his head that the uncle who raised him sold him for 200,000. Yes, he could buy more weapons to sell, but Yun was family. You don’t disrespect family, not matter how bad it gets.
Yun reached under the bed, where he’d stored the bag after it was empty. He pulled the scrap of paper on which his uncle had written the coordinates out of the inner pocket. He rubbed his thumb lightly across the numbers and thought about the island and how quickly everything had changed that morning.
Yun folded the paper gently in half and put it in the pocket on the front of his shirt. He took a moment to fasten the button over the pocket then got off the bed and opened his orange curtain.
He stepped into the cargo hold and headed toward the lights glowing in the cockpit. He’d taken his boots off and slipped them under his bed and his socked feet made little noise as he crossed the metal floor.
The voices in the cockpit were growing louder. It sounded like Maryweather and Jacobs were arguing. Yun stopped just at a point where he couldn’t be seen and listened.
“You shouldn’t be so nice to the kid.” It had to be Jacobs. Yun didn’t recognize the voice.
“Why can’t we be nice to him?”
“We bought the kid for a reason. If you’re nice to him now, it makes it harder later.”
“Not that much harder.”
“Still, it’s harder.”
“If he’s going to have to be with us for a while, then we should at least be polite to the kid.”
“Look,” Jacobs said, “we both know what’s going to happen to him. If you want to get all buddy-buddy with him then it’s your choice. But when the time comes, you can’t go and change your mind.”
“I won’t,” Maryweather insisted.
Yun backed up slowly, sliding his socks across the floor, then spun and headed for his orange curtain.

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