Aug 27, 2013

Vega and Centari sitting in a tree - pt 2

This month, I'm sharing extra stories from my WIP, Strella PAX. Let me know what you think. 

~*~

The second time Vega knocked on Centari's door, he was fourteen and she was seventeen. Roughly.  She had forgotten her exact birthday, and never knew Centari's.

There wasn't much to do in Habitation, Stars didn't visit with their neighbors, and Vega's method of entertainment was reading.  PAX never gave her a choice of titles, Sharon just gave her new books when she noticed Vega has finished the previous ones.  They were all non-fiction.

In the newest stack had been a book about the best articles in a paper of a British paper, all from nine years ago.  It had been a strange find, PAX had restrictions on what Stars could read.  No fiction, nothing about emotions or thought. Art was a rare subject, it dealt with emotions too much, as was writings about the events of the outside world.  What mattered was PAX, not how the current president's tax breaks for technology companies would increase the loss of human jobs or the ramification of the countries of South Africa merging into a rather large, religiously led state.

Many of the news articles she didn't understand, though she supposed one or two of them could help explain what she had seen Witnesses' minds the past few months.

What really caught her attention was that all the article had been published before she had become a Star.  It was a record of the outside world on events that might have had effect on her parents while she was living with them.  Vega couldn't relate to any of the pieces published in the collection, not really, but in another world maybe she would have.

There was very little a book on the history of money that mattered living underground Chicago.  Even if she had never joined PAX, she doubted it would have affected her life.

But this collection of articles....maybe.  She liked the idea of the possibility.  Vega had long ago stopped thinking of life outside of PAX, or what her life would have been like if she had never been taken.  The book in her hand changed that.  How would her life be different? Would she know the names the journalists wrote about? Would the book give her a more mature understanding of events from her childhood?

It was a connection to a real outside world, not just an imaginary one, and Vega had a mental itch in the shape of Centari.  He too, maybe, would like to read it.

When Vega knocked on his door and Centari opened it, she held out the book right away.

Centari stared at it.

“I thought you might like this book.” She said, expecting him to take it.

“I do not know how to read.”

Vega knew he was lying. There was an image in his head of him reading and writing in relation to making a report about a Reading.  Mentally, Vega called him out on it and Centari amended his statement.

“That book is too advanced for me.”

She had not considered that possibility, though now she was faced with it, it was logical. Her formal education had ended when PAX brought her here, Sharon had helped her improve when Vega had asked her to in an effort to understand the yearly reports more.

“I could teach you.”

Centari's face didn't change, but he pictured a question mark and Vega's response was a handful of mental images neither she nor Centari fully understood.  The two of them standing side by side, connected by a string, her parents old house, and then a yellow house she didn't remember but knew from Centari's reaction it was his childhood home.

She tried words.

“I have no emotional investment in the task or you. You could disappear tomorrow and I would not care, but it would be a lie to say I do not feel drawn to you.  Centari, you are proof PAX is not the world and that one time I was outside of it's walls.  Sometimes, often, I forget that.”

“And the book?”

“Is news from the year we arrived here.”

There was no table and chairs in any Star room, so they sat thigh to thigh on his bed, Centari picking out the definitions of unknown words from Vega's mind and Vega encouraging him to sound out words.

~*~

The day after their first teaching lesson, Vega had a day of strange medical exams.  She was shown pictures of men and male teens of various age, ethnicity, and stages of dress. Of co-ed couples spending time together, of men and women holding hands, touching their lips together, taking their clothes off.

They monitored her brain before, after, and during each image.  She just stared ahead, looking at the pictures and then pushing the image aside in her mind.  It was just like dealing with witnesses, look at the facts of the images in their heads and ignore the emotions. They weren't worth the time.  Vega stared at the images, make observations about the subjects and the locations but disregarded why they such actions were being performed.

The day finished with a physical exam and then Solidad asking her a question with Rigel behind her to check for lies.  “What were you doing in Centari's room yesterday?”

“Teaching him how to read.”

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