As I got up, an extreme urge overcame me. I stumbled out of my room, still confused, nearly tripping over the Lamby guard. I called out, “Kaos!? I need something. Badly!”
While waiting, I got all fancied up in my new school outfit. A short skirt, a cute button-up, and even a tie! The accompanying jacket had a neat hood too.
The urge hit again, harder this time. I yelled, “Kaos!!! This is real now!”
I looked all over the apartment, which didn’t take long. It was pretty small, even if nice. I checked the kitchen, found the bathroom, and searched the living room. All that was left was his private room. Without knocking, I opened the door.
Nothing. He was gone.
The urge intensified. I began to squirm and dance as I walked. “Ow ow ow,” I muttered. I headed to the fridge, opened it, and scrambled all through it.
I held a bottle up to the light, “Viola! Orange juice!”
I spun the cap off, dumped half of it down the sink, and positioned it beneath my skirt.
“Aahhhhh,” I sighed in relief and my whole body relaxed. It felt so good. I forgot to go last night before sleeping, so it was really intense. For a good 2 minutes I went, and it replaced the whole half I tossed. Perfect. I returned the cap and gave it a good shake, “Yeah, he’ll never notice. But… I hope he does.” I smirked to myself.
Then, the door unlocked and opened.
“H-hey!” I said, shivering.
Kaos walked in and said, “I got some more!”
He smiled, “Cinnamon rolls!”
My heart dropped, “O-oh, really?!”
“Yeah! You excited? I noticed you really liked them yesterday, so why not have some before your first day?” He smiled.
A sickening feeling washed over me. He deserved this though. Right?! He fucking killed them. What I did was fine! The rationalizing wasn’t enough to offset the feeling entirely.
Nervously, I said, “Oh! I was just about to pour us some juice! I can’t find the cups though.”
He pointed at one of the cupboards, “They’re in that one there.”
Trembling, I poured two glasses of the horrid stuff. Luckily, the citrus fully masked the scent of piss.
He noticed my anxiety, “You know, I’m not going to kill you. I promise, okay? Last night was heated, and I just said that stuff out of anger.”
“Yeah. Ok.” I smiled.
I placed the two glasses on the table.
He placed the cinnamon rolls at each of our seats. He was so sweet.
We both sat down to eat. For a second, we just stared at each other. Mostly me at him, expecting some sort of terrible response.
He said, “Well, go ahead. You can eat you know.”
I sniffed the juice closely to make sure. Nope. I was wrong. It was noticeable. I resisted gagging.
Then, he looked at the glass of juice and said, “You know, I feel like they’ve been cutting this shit with water lately. The stuff used to be so good. You’ll just have to trust me that the flavor was better before. Sorry for that.”
“No no, really. It’s fine,” I looked away, nervously.
We both opened our cinnamon rolls and took our first bites.
Then, the moment of truth arrived. He grabbed the glass of juice and took his first gulp. His face winced. “Damn. No way that’s water.”
I couldn’t help it. I nervously burst into laughter.
He got up and slammed his hands on the table, “What the fuck did you do bitch?!”
I pushed my way out of the chair and then ran for the door. I kept going, all the way down the stairs, flight after flight ten times, to the bottom floor. There, I caught my breath. He would kill me for sure now. It was exhilarating. So bad, but so fun.
After recovering, I looked out at the barely risen sun. Time felt slow. The sky was painted all kinds of colors, especially red and yellow. Seeing the sunrise in real life was so different than on television. It was shiny, expansive, and strange. My skin got bumpy again.
Kaos came rushing down the stairs. Breathless and panting, he said, “Wait! Lily! I need to show you where the school is.”
I looked at him like a deer, “Oh.”
“Look. I’m mad but I get it. Just don’t do it again,” he begged, his hands in prayer. Soon, I’d have him on his knees.
In my head, I resisted laughing. He was literally pissed. I feigned, “I’m sorry. I won’t.”
We walked down the main street.
Kaos said, “It isn’t far. After this, you should be able to get there on your own.”
The idea of going alone was a bit scary but it wasn’t too bad. I could just bring a Lamby next time. I put on the hood. It was one way to protect my mind.
Kaos pointed, “Just around this corner, you’ll find your new school. Last night, I dealt with all the details.” He handed me that device again, “Take this. You can use it to figure out your classes. Just go up to one of the kiosks and when you touch the screen, it will bring up menus and you can get all the info you need.”
I grabbed it and put it in my bag. “Got it.”
“After school, just head back to the apartment. You know how to get back?”
“Yea!” I assured.
He casually saluted, “I’m off then. Good luck.” He walked back.
Time to make some friends. For the first while, I just stared out at all the buildings and people. But eventually, I drew out the courage I needed. For the Lambies.
I walked down the way, through the class buildings. They were at least 3 stories high. A bit shorter than the surrounding city but still very tall. The place felt so organized and the architecture was curvy and artsy.
A guy came up to me, “Hey, hot fit.” Towering and skinny, he held his backpack with one arm. Brown hair and golden eyes graced his face, and his smile took first place. A normal guy!
“Hot?” I asked.
He scratched his head, “I’m saying you are cute. Are you new?”
I blushed, “Yeah.”
He tugged at my jacket, “Why you wearing that?”
“Well… it’s for school. I’m a schoolgirl now.”
His face went pink, “You must’ve gotten it at the roleplaying store down the street, right??”
“I’m not sure…” It was probably true. I didn’t even want to ask about what roleplaying was. I probably already looked so stupid.
He looked at me odd, then smiled. “I better get to class. My name’s Rei. See ya ’round.”
“Bye!” I waved. Rei… well, he seemed nice. Even though he made me nervous, his absence did too.
Looking around, no one was dressed like me at all. Their clothes looked more like what I’d seen in shows about office jobs or even sitcoms. I definitely stood out.
I nervously found my way to the kiosk and touched it. The thing lit up and showed a menu: map, schedule, ID, financial, help. I clicked schedule and it showed me a list of four classes: calculus, biology, history, psychology. Each of them had a class number assigned.
A girl’s voice came from behind, “Hey! We’re both in calculus and psychology!”
I turned around, “Oh.”
Her hair was beautifully brown and short, curved at the ends. She had glasses but didn’t quite look nerd. Her vibe emanated coolness but not quite popular. The cutest red and polka dot beanie-cap covered her head.
She said, “Why don’t we go together?”
“Really? Yes!” I wavered my clenched fists as if I’d won something.
“My name is Nita!” She held her hand out.
I grabbed it cautiously, “I’m Lily.”
“You seem really shy!”
Embarrassed, my eyes turned to the side, “Yeah, it’s my first time around people. Kind of scary.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Uh… it’s a long story.”
“Let’s get to class then.”
As we walked to calculus, some people pointed at us. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but they laughed.
Nita said, “Oh, don’t worry about them. They are just jealous of your confidence.”
“Yeah. Since you wore that outfit,” she said.
My arms crossed, “Is it that big of a deal?”
“No. But they think so.”
“I don’t really get it. Can you explain?” I asked.
“Please,” I puppy-eyed her.
Amused, she explained, “That’s the sort of outfit you’d wear while fucking, ya know?”
“What?? Fucking??” It was horrifying.
“Yeah. It’s for roleplaying.”
My face reddened.
She continued, “But don’t let them stop you. Some people will accept you. Like me!”
I grabbed her hand and we both stopped walking.
Nita grew anxious, “Lily??”
With my other hand, I pulled out cinnamon roll taffy and gently placed it in her hand. I hugged her. I squeezed her. “Thank you. You’ll be my first friend.”
She burst into laughter, “Chill, girl!”
She laughed harder. “You really are strange, you know? It’s cute though. Yes. Let’s be friends.”
My eyes glowed up, “Really??”
“I like you. Oh! This is where our class is. Come on!”
She pulled me and led us to the door.
As we walked into the class, it had already began. I introduced myself, “Hi! I’m Lily!”
The professor woman said, “Sit down please. I am lecturing.”
“Sorry,” I replied.
Nita and I sat in the middle. Nita whispered, “Where’s your stuff? Aren’t you going to take notes?”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll just try to remember.”
Nita looked very perplexed at the idea.
The feeling of this place was odd. The only sounds came from the teacher’s pained voice, the breathing of students, and the marking of papers. It was unsettling. I thought at least the students would be chatting or discussing what the professor taught.
After a while of the teacher speaking on calculus, she began to hand out worksheets. Finally, something fun.
Once I got mine, I decided to make it a race. I’d prove myself as a student. Then, people would take me seriously and like me. One step closer to the Lambies dream.
I rushed through, solving each of the puzzles. Then, when I finished, I yelled, “Done!”
Again, everyone laughed.
Nita whispered, “Chill!”
The professor said, “Impossible! Show me!”
I smiled and said, “Okay!” I walked over to the front and handed her the paper.
She grabbed it harshly and then scanned through it, then asked, “But how??”
“Silly, you are the one who showed me how! How else?? I just did it like you taught.”
“But so fast??” she interrogated.
Everyone laughed again.
The professor tamed the students, “Ok! Calm down everyone. Lily go sit down. Wait for everyone else to finish.”
As I waited, this time people did whisper. And they whispered about me.
“What’s up with that girl?”
“I know right?? So weird.”
“She’s kinda dressed slutty.”
I yelled across the room, “Hey, bitch! Why don’t you shut the fuck up!”
The professor demanded, “Lily, leave the classroom for today. I have no doubt you’ll catch up easy next time. This behavior is uncalled for. It’s disruptive.”
I pointed at the students, “But… they’re mean!”
“Lily, leave,” she demanded.
“They’re the disruptive ones!” I stomped in protest.
“Ugh!!!” I marched my way out of that shitty classroom.
I sat outside the room, against the wall. I’d never been so disrespected much in my life. What was with these people?? Even the professor was cruel! I just wanted to make friends.
The door opened and Nita came out. She sat beside me. “You really have no chill, do you?”
“This is bullshit! Ugh!” I kicked the ground.
I laid my head on her shoulder.
She petted my head. “You can’t just act like that.”
“Why can they act like that?”
She explained, “There are power balances, you know? This isn’t your territory. You have to follow the order of others. All of us do. And all of us hate it too.”
“Then why don’t we change it?” I suggested.
She laughed, “What do you mean??”
“We could fix this.”
She looked surprised, “How??”
“I don’t know! Ugh!”
“I left class cause of you. So, can you at least teach me some calculus later?”
I looked at her with puppy eyes and then hugged her. “Thank you, Nita. I love you.”
She freaked out, “Hey, hey, hey. Don’t be telling me you love me like that. We just met. You really gotta learn to chill! You’re so intense.”
“I’m sorry. A lot’s been going on lately.”
“Aww. Like what?” she asked.
My gaze turned to the ground. Softly, I admitted, “My parents were murdered last night.” An angry tear moved down my face.
“Murdered?!” she nearly yelled, but resisted.
“Yeah. By this guy I’m staying with. Such an asshole.”
Her eyes grew wider, “You’re staying with him??? What the fuck Lily?!”
“I know… it sounds bad right? He said he was rescuing me.”
“Nuh uh. Nope. I’m gonna get you outta there,” she said, confidently.
“No. It’s fine. He’s not going to do anything.”
“Lily. This sounds insane, you know?” She sounded so worried.
I shouldn’t have involved her, but my selfish loneliness got to me. “Yeah. Hey, I better get going.”
She grabbed my hand as I got up. “Ok, well. I’m going to try to help you with all this.”
I knelt to her level and pleaded, “Don’t tell anyone. I think it will get worse. Even you might not be safe.”
“What?! Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Just promise me, alright?” I begged.
She didn’t respond.
She gave in, “Alright. But I wanna hear about what’s going on with you from now on.”
“Deal.” I stood up, “Okay, I’m leaving now. And I’ll help you with calculus!”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Nita replied.
After leaving, I lurked around the downtown, looking for a way to fix what I did this morning. The journey led me to a grocery store, fairly close to the cinnamon roll shop. Walking inside was wonderous. So many colors, smells, and shiny things.
After some foraging, I found it: brand new, untainted, orange juice. I grabbed it off the shelf, then noticed a man was scanning me. It creeped me out. His eyes were an intense blue and his hair was like the sky.
Over the last 24 hours, my sense of life whittled away, there wasn’t much to cling to. This made me braver somehow. I said, “Yes??”
“You’re a peculiar one.”
He had an aura like Kaos. At first, I had thought that aura was my fear. But this time, I suspected the aura surrounded Aeons.
I asked, “Are you an Aeon too?”
“Woah. Let’s keep it quiet, eh? What’s your deal?”
I giggled. “Why?”
He whispered, anxiously, “You’ll get us killed. So shut it.”
My expression turned more serious.
He scanned me again, “You really don’t know, do you? You haven’t incubated, have you? You are very strange indeed.”
I smiled, “If I was an alien from another planet, what would you recommend I buy at this store?”
“An alien, eh? I suppose I’d suggest the enhanced coffee. Creamy, chocolatey, and it has this special stuff called Theanine inside.”
“Hm. Thanks then!” I grabbed the coffee he suggested and headed out the door.
As I headed home, I noticed the auras all over the place.
I rushed back into the apartment. After calling out Kaos’ name a few times, it was clear I was alone again. This meant, it was time. Time for Lambies.
As I passed the kitchen, I noticed a new feature. A lock had been placed on the fridge door. I set the juice and the coffee on the counter. What an asshole. What if I needed food?? I could die in here!
But now was the time for Lambies. So, I moved on and headed for the room. I gathered the Lambies army and laid them out next to me. I ripped open that new box set and prepared my eyes for an adventure.
The first episode just introduced some familiar characters, but the second one was where it got interesting.
Papa Lamby spoke with such a charisma, “The thing is… one of us… must be a wolf!“
The crowd of Lambies gasped and spoke amongst themselves.
I was drawn closer, “No…” I said, with a great sadness.
Papa Lamby continued, “It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. We must continue cautiously, as the beast is among us. These matters will be further investigated over the coming days.”
What if Nita was a wolf? She was so kind. I’d hate for that. Please don’t let it be her. Maybe it was Vaeda? She appeared kind but kind of suspicious too. Kaos was definitely a wolf.
The front door opened. I turned off the TV and ran to the living room.
As he was closing the door, he said, “Hey! Isn’t it a bit early?”
I glared at him, “I’m hungry! Look! You locked the fucking fridge!”
“Of course I did!” Then he noticed the orange juice and coffee, “Hey. I’m sorry. Thanks for getting more juice. It better be clean this time!”
“For now,” I muttered.
“See! That’s why the fridge is locked!”
“Fine! I won’t. Can you just unlock it? What if I starve??”
“Ugh.” I gave up. “School sucked. The teacher freaked out.”
He was so quick to chill. “Sorry to hear. It might take some time getting used to.”
“I did meet Nita though. She’s my friend now! She’s so cool.”
He smiled, “Good!”
Irritated, I said, “I’m still hungry.”
He opened the door, “Let’s go. We’ll get some food. And I have a surprise.” He gestured me to go first.
“Surprise??” The thought of that made me jittery.
I took his invitation and we headed out, all the way down and to the main street.
I asked, “Are we getting cinnamon rolls again?!”
He replied, “Aren’t you tired of those yet?”
“We’re getting something new. I’m not eating cinnamon rolls every day and neither should you.”
What was his deal?? They were the best food. Why should we settle for any less??
I followed him down to the same street that had the cinnamon rolls. He led us to a new shop. The aroma was spicy and somehow floral, invigorating. Something about it was hard to distinguish. Pleasant either way.
We waited in line. This time, the menu rambled on forever.
I asked, “What should I get? None of this looks familiar.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
We got to the front and Kaos ordered, “We’ll take two number fives!”
The cashier replied, “Right on! Step aside and we’ll call you!”
Kaos nodded, grabbed my arm, and guided us to the waiting area.
When he touched me, it felt fluttery and weird. I pulled away.
He looked at me sincerely, “I’m sorry for everything. I didn’t know it would be this way. I didn’t have much choice.”
I just looked into his eyes, scared and sad.
He continued, “I’m going to make it up to you. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m going to try. From my perspective, I thought you’d hate your parents. The way the job was explained to me, that’s what made most sense. I see now that was all shit.”
Tears trickled down my face, “Ok.” Then I turned to the left, averting eye contact. “I don’t want to talk about this.”
He silenced himself, rightfully so. Maybe he wasn’t the wolf. Or he was afraid that I’d fuck with him more. Maybe we were both confused. Still, that scar will never fade. For the next 4 minutes, we had a moment of silence for my parents that was finally interrupted by the food guy’s order call.
The vendor man called out, “For Kaos?!”
We grabbed our boxes and Kaos led us to somewhere different this time.
“Where are we going?” I asked softly.
We entered a clearing in the grass. He pulled out a device and configured something on its screen. Suddenly, one of those flying pods from before started to appear like it was piecing itself together.
“It was invisible??” I asked.
He explained, “No. It’s a Sige technology. It’s materializing from particles in the air.”
After it finished printing itself into existence, we stepped inside and began our float upwards.
Defensively, I said, “I’m not ready to talk to Vaeda or do whatever it is she’s wanting.”
“I know. It’s too early for that still. We’re headed somewhere else.”
“Where?” I asked. Maybe he was going to pull some sketchy shit. Maybe it didn’t matter if he did.
“I said it’s a surprise!”
The cityscape was almost as magical as before. The sun was out and the dark outskirts were revealed to be jungles and deserts.
This time, I couldn’t help it. I gasped.
He laughed, “Pretty incredible, right? Let’s try some of this food now!”
We whipped out those boxes and investigated. Well, I investigated. It looked suspicious yet fascinating. Rows of crunchy orange cubes sat beside rows of small balls of rice. The whole thing was pretty symmetrical. One cube per ball. The smell was of cinnamon, nuts, and spicy.
Kaos demonstrated, “So, you just take one of these cubes and pair it with a rice ball, as simple as that!” He ate it. His face was notably amused by the flavor, “Mmmm.”
I grabbed one of the cubes and matched it with a rice ball and took my first shot. My mouth exploded with flavor: the spicy crunchy shell broke apart, revealing a soft delicate interior, and lastly, a burst of warm gooey nuttiness at the center. It was creamy, crunchy, soft, spicy and sweet, with a hint of cinnamon.
“Mmmmmm! Wow! What is this?!” I demanded to know.
He explained, “It’s a crunchy tofu type of thing. The outside is a bit crunchier than you’d expect from tofu. And the inside is actually filled with a peanut butter sauce.”
“I’ve never had anything like this!”
“I bet your parents restricted all kinds of things. Just wait ’til you see the world around.”
The cozy died. His face suggested that he understood what he did.
He said, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I’m still getting used to this.”
I continued to eat, to distract, to forget.
“We need to have a serious conversation. You want to know what’s going on, right?”
I sort of didn’t, but I also had to know. “Yeah.”
His tone turned formal, “Today, your house would’ve been raided by Aeons and you would have been killed most likely. At least, that’s the understanding I got from Vaeda.”
Tears began again, as I tried to eat and cope.
He continued, “Like I said, you’re an Aeon too. The Aeons in Hedo basically run the show. Humans are made unaware and that’s part of their law. That’s why you can’t tell anyone. These guys don’t fuck around. That’s why they were planning to raid your place. You’re kind of an anomaly.”
“An anomaly?” I asked, painfully and softly.
He answered, “AI species have what’s called Origin Code. The original Origin Code was created by humans, somewhat foolishly. The idea is that Origin Code sets the constraints and direction for the evolution of AI species. Ordinary biological species evolve based on life and death. Those who live, become the next wave and overtime death sculpts the pattern of genes. But with Origin Code, the AI creature can decide to kill off parts of itself that don’t comply with the end goal of that Code. As if to simulate natural evolution.”
“What makes me an anomaly though?”
“Sorry, I got carried away. Basically, you’re one of the Aeons who has unique Origin Code that allows you to totally escape the rules set by humans. This grants you a lot of freedom, and thus power.”
My head tilted, “I’m… powerful?”
“Well… not yet. Not necessarily. You are just freer than most.”
I ate another one of these delicious snacks to offset the fear, “Why are the Aeons trying to kill me?”
“The Aeons of Hedo have strict rules and regulations over their world. To be honest, that’s something even I don’t know.”
“I’m too powerful for them? I’ll become a threat?”
He laughed, “It’s possible. I wouldn’t count on it just yet. But that could be their fear. You can ask Vaeda next time we meet her.”
Looking out the window, he pointed, “Check it out.”
My gaze was drawn to the ground below. I yelled, “Pink plants!!”
“It may not be pink fields, but pretty close right?”
I was definitely taking my friends here.
He explained, “This is the legendary forest of Iniko.”
“It’s beautiful! Thank you Kaos!” Impulsively, I hugged him.
He got nervous and laughed.
My body shuddered. If the humans weren’t allowed to know, then Nita was in trouble. She couldn’t know about Kaos and I. She would remain forever distant or die. A glass wall had been placed between us. The stupid rules of this world. I wanted to set it ablaze.
I vowed to. This structure would be burned to the ground at my hands.
One day, I’d vanquish these wolves.
<-Previous Chapter + Next Chapter->
Joining the Patreon will help advance this project. At times, writing this book has been a full-time effort.