26 May 2022

Dei's First Day

The air smells distinctly of shortbread; their favorite of their mother's baked goods. And then an infusion of lavender and a diffusion of something they do not recognize, fills their senses and surrounds them. Looking over their left shoulder, back across the green green grass, toward what looks to be a patch of garden, by a large, decrepit house and its wrapping porch, they walk over toward the buzzing garden. ZZiioozzit. They whip their head around at the sound. "Dei!" they hear ever so softly on the air. Turning, they look down at the top of their right shoulder, toward the sound. A tiny ladybug stands waving its arms, trying to get their attention, "Dei!" "Hi," Dei begins as they lift their left handpalm up up to their shoulder, "Would you like to come over here?" The ladybug, "It's Ladybug," the ladybug interrupts. "Just Ladybug," Ladybug corrects. Ladybug quickly scurries onto Dei's comfortable palm.

"You need to go that way," Ladybug points— full Warrior Two — "to the barn." They follow the line of Ladybug's point and see a large red structure in the distance. "Yea, that's it. It's big, right? It's called a barn," Ladybug informs. "I see," Dei responds. "Well, let's get on with it, then," Ladybug directs. Cautiously, Dei turns and slowly faces their body in the direction that it needs to go. "That's it," Ladybug encourages, "You've got it." And then they continue to stand there. "Shit!" Ladybug shouts, "Your list! Hang tight, I'll be right back." Ladybug zooms off into the house in front of which Dei continues to stand, hand held — palm up —directly in front of themselves, staring off, over the green green grass, toward the big red barn. They hear the audible grunts of someone mumbling on the second floor. Looking up, they see someone pacing on the balcony above. Mumbling and grumbling, the person disappears back into the house. They look back over the green green grass at the big red barn beyond and sigh.

Within a moment, Ladybug returns — flying clumsily— with a small paper roll. "Here you are," Ladybug states as it sets the small paper roll into the palm of their hand, "Your list." Breathing heavily from carrying such extra weight, Ladybug pants with arms atop knees, bent over, distraught. A large soap-like soap bubble begins to form around the big red barn. "Dei!" Ladybug shouts as it points toward the barn. "You're late!" List in hand, Dei clutches the thing tight and begins to run toward the big red barn as fast as they can. Slowly, the once clear bubble begins to turn a gentle purple. "Hurry!" Ladybug yells into Dei's ear as it buzzes along beside them. Just as the now purple bubble begins to rise and lift off the ground, Dei reaches the large sliding barn doors, slides one to one side, the other to the other, and dives — head first — into the gelly. Outside, the purple bubble pops, the zipper pull of the lamp's chain rips through the air, and day turns to night.

Once fully exited from the entrance cavity, Dei sees Jei standing mightily, pull-chain in hand. Ladybug buzzes as loudly as possible. "Sit!" Jei commands with a lifted palm. Ladybug quickly assembles itself on the outstretched palm of Jei. "It's not Dei's fault," Ladybug begins. "Obviously," Jei states. "I forgot to pick up the list before Dei arrived," Ladybug explains. Jei lowers their head and sighs a deep sigh, "Ladybug. If you're too busy, you're too busy. You need to know your limits." "I know; the Listmaker just yelled at me. I'm 'to hire an assistant immediately.' I've chosen to choose a lorikeet of my own," Ladybug explains. "That sounds like a good plan," Jei congratulates. "It seems, at least, that you were quite effective at instructing Dei," Jei begins as they shift their attention to Dei. "Dei, do you have your list?" Dei nods and holds out a hand— palm up— to reveal the small paper roll. "No time to read it, just yet, I imagine?" "No, of course, but who would want to read such a thing?" Dei wonders aloud. Jei ponders this, too, "I suppose a Monitor does not necessarily need to know such things, so perhaps, you're on to something." And then Ladybug immediately jumps in, "Jei! Are you crazy? Dei must read the list." "Why?" Jei asks. "Because that's what you do! That's what you all do! You read the lists." "But they're not really for us, and we're not messengers," Jei retorts. Ladybug sits back on its haunches and strokes its chin with its right top arm while the left top arm supports it, "I suppose you're right."

And then, Ladybug pops up, deploys its wings, hovers in front of the face of Jei, "Goodbye, then. I'll leave you two to it!" Ladybug salutes a small salute and buzzes off toward the entrance. Dei waves a lazy hand, "Bye." "Thanks," Jei smiles. "So," Jei turns his full attention on Dei, "Would you like to see your house?" Dei nods and shrugs, "Of course." "Or, maybe we should start right here in the foyer of the Post. Or, no, we have plenty of time before day, so let's head on over to your house," Jei finally manages.

Jei walks Dei past the study that sits to the right of the foyer, when entering the Post in which they're currently standing. They walk by the extensive kitchen on the left and then immediately turn to the right through a door that leads through a garage out into a back lawn. Beyond a healthy-sized garden, "It's a field," Jei interrupts. Beyond a healthy field of, "Peanuts!" Jei shouts. "Peanuts?" Dei asks, "Why peanuts?" "It doesn't matter," Jei responds, "It could be anything." Dei nods. They walk side by side around the, "It's best to just refer to things in relation to yourself," Jei offers. "With the light, there's no real coordinated directional metric." They walk side by side around the left side of the peanut fields toward two modest cottages nestled cozily at the end of a cul-de-sac, lassoed by a road that seems to lead to nowhere. "Not nowhere," Jei corrects.

Jei presents the two houses to Dei with a sweeping arm, "You are the Senior Monitor, therefore, the choice is yours." Dei considers each from the outside, "Are they the same on the inside, floor plan, appliances?" "It's whatever you like," Jei informs. "I think I prefer the green one," Dei states as they point to a gingerbread-house-like cottage with moss green stucco, forest green trim, and large, celadon shingles. "But I think I would like to go inside before I settle on a choice." Dei walks— first — toward the not-green cottage that is — instead— a lively orange. Once inside, Dei walks the halls and inspects each room of both houses.

In the middle of the paved cul-de-sac, Dei and Jei stand, arms crossed, mulling over the two cottages. Until finally, Dei asks, "Do you have a preference?" Jei stands up straight and then admits, "I—too—have been preferring the green one simply for its color." They stand contemplating the situation. "Is it so weird to make them both green?" "Or we could choose different greens but both have green?" "Deal," Dei states with an outstretched hand—palm up. Jei reaches out a hand, and awkwardly, they shake hands. "But which one do you want? The right or the left?" Jei asks. "Right," Dei remembers as they sit and contemplate once again. "Oh, alright," Jei agrees. "Oh, no, I meant. Well, right it is," Dei agrees, and again, they shake hands. "Well, I'm off then," Jei salutes. "When will you return to the post?" Dei asks. "Sometime in the somewhat early morning," Jei answers. "I see," Dei nods, "See you." "You should try to get a little rest, but not too much, if you know what I mean," Jei waves.

Dei stands at the end of the drive to the house that now belongs to them. They take in a deep, satisfied breath. Looking around, they decide that they are not tired, so after quickly familiarizing themselves with the house, they walk back toward the Post.

Inside, they begin to understand the enormity of the task. Luckily, the entire Post extends vertically high beyond anything that they can see, and the entirety of the Post is lined with books and shelves and shelves full of books and books on shelves. In a lifetime, (no one) few could possibly read all of the books stretching up into the Post. "But I am not a being to whom you can refer as 'one,' therefore, I am confident, I can read all of these books in my lifetime," Dei challenges. "That's better. Thank you," Dei thanks. Lost, Dei scales the staircase spiraling up and through the enormous collection of books, plucking one here, another there. And then finally, the time arrives.

Through the windows dotting the lamp's post, peeking through the shelves of books, the darkness outside begins to shift. Quickly, Dei descends the stairs— realizing the books had really distracted them—and readies themselves at the base of the dangling chain. Slowly, Dei sees the large soap-like soap bubble forming outside, in the pitch black of darkness. Carefully, Dei watches as the bubble turns a soft lavender on its way to purple. Dark again, the bubble begins to lift the barn— and all of its contents —into a neighboring realm of time and space. Dei pulls down hard on the chain. The bubble pops and drops the barn back into Time. A loud, tremendous rip tears through the sky and rides on the air until the special click of the lamp turns night into day. 

. . .

[for the U.S. edition this story continues on a bit longer]

Moments later a piercing sound, the sound of death, rips through the sky as Dei jumps, scared as shit at the sound. Within an instant, Jei comes rushing in through the back entrance of The Post. “No,” Jei sighs while seemingly seeing through the wall at the far end of the Post. “What is it?” Dei asks. “We need to go,” Jei instructs. “Where?” Dei asks, concerned. “Out there,” Jei points as the two make their way back through the entrance gelly. As they emerge, they see a man—a human man—wielding something that they do not recognize but that looks very familiar. A weapon. “Stop!” Jei shouts, running after the man. The man begins to run. 

Dei hears the familiar sound of Ladybug’s wings, “Where is that man headed?” “The school,” Ladybug whispers softly while landing gently upon Dei’s right shoulder. “Why?” Dei asks. “Who knows?” Ladybug responds. Dei begins to move in the direction of the school. “No,” Ladybug gently instructs. “Why?” Dei asks. “There’s nothing to be done,” Ladybug explains. “About what?” Dei asks. “About Men,” Ladybug states. And as Ladybug lifts off Dei’s shoulder in order to rest upon Dei’s palm in front of Dei’s face, they both hear the deafening sound of death once more and then again and again until finally, the Listmaker emerges from his house as two Bromides appear in a green, film-like bubble between the Listmaker’s house and the school.

Jei walks toward them with the man held in his grasp. The Bromides approach the man, looking him up and down, taking him in, whispering whispers back and forth to each other. Eventually, one of them asks, “Why?” And just as the man opens his mouth to speak, Jei—with a snap of the fingers—stops Time within the man, and the man falls with a thud, in a heap to the ground. The Bromides look at each other and then look at Jei and then look back toward the Listmaker’s house. “To the Land of Men,” they say out loud, for the ears within the vicinity to hear. The Listmaker drops his head low while resting his hands atop the banister of the balcony upon which he stands as he overlooks the Ranch. Jei looks toward Dei. One of the Bromides begins to walk toward the school as the other walks toward the house, and within a few paces, one begins to be surrounded in a film-like bubble of blue while the other turns red. A few more paces, the entirety of the Ranch succumbs to an overwhelming hue of green, a cracking whiplash-type searing cracks through the sky, and the Bromides turn to air. All returns to the clarity of day. 

“But the kids,” Dei whispers. “It’s an allegory,” Ladybug consoles with its middle set of legs firmly propped up against its hips while it stands, defiant, upon its bottom (or back) legs, its top legs lifted in the air as if saying, What did you expect?