Sunday, January 14, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 2. The Day
While the interior of this canal boat can give us an idea of the dimensions of Kosi's Tween House, it says nothing about the lack of windows or workaday decor.  

The Between house is the bathroom, my cupboard room, Hen’s room, and the living room all in a row. Father’s study at the end, is a room longer than it is wide with three doors out. He would probably say three doors in.

Hen and I have access to the study through the slider between the Tween house and the study. Hen comes and goes through what she calls the back door, the same door I will go through today. I woke every hour from midnight I was so excited. Poor Hen.

“Worry about yourself,” Hen said. “How will you take in all the detail your father will tell you?”

My father said everything twice, so I’m not re-telling it word for word. What it all boils down to is that I’m to make my way across to Parra Central, and then down to its 6th level. I’m to get its layout straight enough in my mind that I will be able to draw a map when I get home. And make sure to be back before dark. Three simple things. But he went on and on.

I interrupted. “Why are you making it all sound so difficult?”

My father got red in the face but the imp in me continued. “I’ve studied the visuals. I know the look of the concourse.” I was thinking at this rate there wouldn’t be any time for me to do some ordinary sightseeing, like where is the best food-stall.

Hen said, “I’ll get her dressed.”

She took me into her room. An open carry-cloth lay on her bed displaying a denim shirt stained with old sweat and muddy with I-don’t-know-what, and cargoes in roughly the same condition. Frayed edges. Lots of pockets the only advantage I could see.

I pulled back. “These are even older than my normal clothes.” 

“You’ll go out looking like a Fetcher urchin, not a target for every mischief because you’re the most ignorant kid in the concourse. Dozens of Fetchers running around, though it’s true that some of them are as new at it as you. No one will mess with you with the Fetcher House supposedly backing you.”

Hen said all this with a little smile playing over her face. Laughing at me about the way I pulled on the disguise while trying to keep the disgust off my face. I had to fold my top lip between my teeth to keep from pulling up my nose.

Next Hen misted my lion’s hair with water and brushed it flat. Then mussed it to resemble the casually disarranged hair of the ID pic of the Fetcher girl she’d found on the ParaNet.

I checked my new appearance in the mirror. “Mmm.” Maybe I did like it a bit.

Hen grinned with a finger in front of her lips and gesturing with her head toward my father next door. “We haven’t finished yet. You’ll remember the work we did on odour. Remember this smell?” She sprayed a horrible, dirty-smelling stink over me.

I gasped. “Not all over me!”

“You want to go out smelling of a Tween house?”

“This place smells?” Learning the odours Hen brought me in bottles and sealed in plasteel bags, I’d been proud of my quick nose. “I can’t smell anything!”

“Because you’re accustomed to it. Tell me what I’m spraying.”

“As sweet as rot, with sharp undertones of urine.” 

She nodded. “All Fetchers have some or other com-device, most of them at least as old as this one. I doubt this one can be made to work.”

She passed me an extremely old BigEars earpiece with someone else’s earwax still on it. I nearly gagged up my breakfast.

But what Hen insists on, I mostly do. We cleaned the earwax off. I fitted the gadget into one of my ears.

Before she led me back into my father’s study for him to check me over, Hen squeezed her lips together with her fingers. Warning me not to back-answer him.

I must have conformed to his idea of what I should look and smell like, because he gave me a cell phone with enough credit on it to get home from Para Central Level 6. His birthday presents.

Though he shrank from the stink enveloping me, I insisted hugging him, politely, for thanks.

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