The Ark (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2
‘A map?!’ their mother exclaims excitedly. Alder and Oak’s mother loves those old maps. She loves them so much that it was part of bedtime story, every other night, since the twins can remember. She will tell them about lands that existed hundreds of years ago. Continents of land, low sea level lands and mountains that are thousands of feet high that explorers tried to climb but mostly failed. Rivers, large cliffs of land, lands with only sand that goes on and on. She told them stories of different cities – different cultures and many variations of people. She says the world used to be a total of seven billion people and counting. There were different languages and along with those languages, there were thousands of dialects that came along with it. She told them that some languages died along with time as well. That information used to send shivers down Alder’s spine – the romanticism of it all. Were there THAT many people back in the old days? How could they fit in such a small city and survive? She also told them about how man used to have techs to navigate through space, the sea and on land. They have ‘social networks’ which caused problems with real life communication. Apparently, families did not speak to each other but used these techs to communicate with each other instead. They thought this was rather amusing and sad at the same time. A box that shows what’s going on around the globe, all up to date not like their news now that is about, give or take, a week or so old. But one of the best tech stories that they heard from her was about ‘hover boards’. They said that people travelled around in hover boards and have flying techs which carried a number of people. These techs will take people to places that are too far and they will get there so quickly because they used the sky instead of the water to go to another city.  When they were younger, Alder and Oak had a favourite story. It was bout a certain man called Doctor who liked to take companions and time travel all over the time and space. Til’ today, they wonder if that ‘Doctor’ exists and if he would one day show up in Krakatoa and take them both as companions. How they hope he would show them these techs and speak different languages. Such adventure! Their mother tells them there is documentation but they have yet to find proof. It is probably one of those ‘myths’ but that doesn’t stop the brothers from dreaming. Oak loved the myths. He remembers all the stories from his father. Orange used to tell the boys about the old world myths. Their favourites would be about a struggle with the ‘One Ring’ and how a group of different people from different tribes would come together and destroy the evil ‘One Ring’, a certain forest god called ‘Totoro’ who lived in large forests along with other creatures that helps people who are in need and a woman called Carmen San Diego that no one can find. Their father tells them that if he ever was in that point in time, he will surely find this Carmen San Diego woman and marry her. Of course, he will not say this in front of their mother. She once caught him talking about it and she threw a jar at him. This also serves as a lesson to never talk about another woman in front of the woman you love. Jars will be broken and it’s expensive.
There are many other things that the boys learnt from their relatives, about different influences and ‘religions’. There were many gods and sometimes, it led to a lot of confusion and disagreement which the boys think is ridiculous.
Oak loved these myths so much that he used to draw them and to this day, his drawings are prominently displayed on the walls of their houses and some are at the Wilnoix artefacts gallery. Alder writes the fanfic – that is what it’s called when you write about it, his father says. Writing is a little bit different nowadays. It’s difficult to maintain if you don’t have a garden. Their father writes a lot of fanfic so the garden is always filled with different writings every week. Alder has a small space but he gets more space in the garden as he gets older. Remembering them is easy enough for the twins. Oak loves to tell them to the children in Krakatoa. He’s so popular with story time that they have it once every full moon at a bonfire. Alder will help tell the story as well, along with other groups and they will act it out. The last one they did was called Godrizza. It was about a creature from the waters, at the deep end, which crushed the old cities, looking for something that it lost but at the end, saves humanity from other creatures that want to completely destroy the world. Oak feels a connection with Godrizza, that when he plays the creature – he ‘becomes’ the creature and he accidently knocked down Lug’s hut. Oak explains to Alder that he was ‘feeling’ it. The crowds of people were pleased but Lug was too drunk to actually care at all. He always slept by the bridge all the time anyway. The twins rebuilt the hut for Lug right after the story time and Alder had to endure the whole night of Oak talking about his ‘connection’ with Godrizza. Of course, when the twins were younger, this caused a lot of talk and the world that we now know of thought the family was a little bizarre but who wasn’t. Everyone was different and that’s okay.
And the world we know now is so much different from the history and myths that they hear of.
People all looked different. Some are blonde, some have red hair, some have all sorts of hair colour and some have different coloured eyes, different shapes and sizes. But they are stockier than the people we are used to, a little taller and live a little longer. Orange used to tell them the average age for humans in the old world was sixty. Nowadays, it’s two hundred, minimum. Some pass away at three hundred at least. Back in the days, they aged so quickly and got sick easily. Their father tells them it is probably their lifestyle and they stop growing at eighteen when humans nowadays stop growing at least fifty. He talks about diseases that kill quickly, some slowly. It was an odd time to live. People rushed too quickly with things they do not understand. Perhaps, it’s the choices they made. It may be even the techs that they made. It was a chaotic world. According to some documentation, many were sad and felt alone even if they were surrounded by so many people, another bizarre trait. Even chutahs live until one hundred human years; their ancestors only lived until eighteen ‘cat years’ or one hundred and twenty six human years. 
There are only three main cities: Krakatoa, Vesuvius and Pelee. Pelee is the city that never sleeps. It never sleeps because the smugglers gather in the city to trade all the time. Even if it is the most guarded, it is certainly the liveliest. The Labs are located in Pelee. All large scale trading are done at the Labs. If you are lucky, you will get treasures that they consider rubbish. A large wall of figurines is lined up at the Wilnoix home. There’s a woman with long blonde hair with a rather small waist and big eyes; a bird like creature with a mask; a man with a white robe holding onto a ship mast and a man in all black, wearing a mask and his back that glows, to name a few. Their father assumes that this may be old gods that people pray to – and often, the boys will ask the figurines for a safe journey whenever they go out to the waters.
Vesuvius is a smaller island, just like Krakatoa. Smugglers don’t go to Krakatoa or Vesuvius because the people who live here don’t really have anything they can take and besides, both islands have different smugglers’ protection because it used to be their home. You would quickly assume that these kinds of people would be power hungry but there is a certain respect among smugglers. The twins’ mother would tell them that this time is probably the most peaceful timeline in the history of man. She tells them stories about war against countries. How the more powerful countries ‘colonise’ different areas of the world. This is a sad story, of course and rather preposterous. Their father tells them of weapons used during these wars; cannons, laser guns and glowing sticks, just like one of the figurines is holding, flying birds, large whales and large houses that has cannons. As a boy, Alder would sometimes dream of these wars and he’d wake up in the middle of the night, crying. He used to have nightmares of being in a flying bird, falling from the sky very fast and he did not know what to do. Oak would dream of the hover boards. How quickly he could get to the cities without having to wait for good winds.
Mango is inspecting the cylinder.
‘It’s a bottle,’ she concludes. She looks at her boys and her husband with a serious expression. Orange starts to smile and everyone in the room give each other a goofy grin.
‘Let’s open it?’ Orange suggests.
Mango looks at the stopper on the bottle and pulls it off. It makes a popping sound which surprised Orange and the twins. She puts a finger in the mouth of the bottle, trying to reach paper inside. Her expression changed from excited to dread all of a sudden. Oak looks at her with concern.
‘What’s wrong, Mamu?’
‘I’m…’ Mango looks pained and starts pulling the bottle from her finger, ‘I’m stuck,’ she says and makes a quick swipe, hitting the bottle on the table but it just creases and goes back to its original shape.

‘Oh no…’ her husband says, pointing at the bottle, ‘…it’s plastic.’

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

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