Chapter 2: Daytime Savings
The morning felt different in the new world. Instead of the slight twitching of a thread to alert of the morning, I awoke to the sound of a soft tapping on a wooden door. Soon I found myself drifting out of slumber and into a unfamiliar room, until I fully awoke did I relive I was in Martian's living room, using his couch as a makeshift bed until the building was enlarged. Raising my large body off the couch, I found a few loose metal springs sticking out of the soft surface. I hope Martian has no love towards the couch. The early morning air flooded the room, but I couldn't afford to enjoy the warmth of the sun, as the tapping evolved into a rapping that continued to annoy me.
"Martian, I know you're awake." A female voice called through the door. Martian was in the building, in his bedroom down the hall, but I assume he was still deep in slumber, since the loud knocking didn't stir him. With no other choice, I carefully avoided the surrounding furniture; the coffee table, the television stand (which I still find confusing), and the small corner table with the picture frame of Martian and the mysterious Julia. Although I was much taller than the door frame, with my head barley scraping the ceiling, my reach towards the doorknob was easy, and soon the door creaked open.
"About time." The voice replied to the movement of the door before it could fully open. "I have the final copy of your...."
"Um, Martian's still asleep, but I can take a message." I replied as the door swung open. The female visitor was about Martian's height, but with red hair hung down to her shoulders. Swung around her shoulder was a bag, which she was reaching in before pausing in fear. I guess she couldn't see my face, but my lower body, which was a mass of black legs covered in fur. A ear piercing scream ruptured form the visitor, and she collapse to the ground.
"What the flying freak was that?!" Martian called from the other room, emerging from the hallway.
"I-i-i-i just opened the door, and...." I mumbled, moving aside to allow Martian to see the fallen strange. Her reaction scared me to core, and fear of a repeated past...
"Ah, shock me..." Martian mumbled.
"Next time call me before you come over, Scarlet." Martian said as he handed the female visitor coffee. I sipped on water, still shaking from the encounter. After everyone had calmed down and explained the issue, Martian and I changed into new clothes for the new day.
"How was I suppose to know Gerald had put you in that Host program?" She replied after taking the cup. "That guys never tells us anything."
"Yeah, you're telling me." Martian replied, sitting down.
"Not a fan of coffee?" Scarlet asked me, holding the cup out.
"N-no, Arachnes can't have caffeine, its like a drug to us." I replied.
"Ah, well, different races, different needs, right?" Scarlet replied as she chugged the coffee.
"What did you come over for again anyway?" Martian asked.
"She said something about a final copy, but then she freaked out." I replied, and caught a menacing glare from Scarlet.
"You never expect to be greeted my a spider's lower body, alright?" She replied. "And I was talking about this." She finally reached into the bag and pulled a blue book, and handed it to Martian. He took one look, and opened the cover.
"Huh, the second book also became a huge hit?" He asked, flipping through the pages.
"And this time, not just to humans, but to Extraspecies here and around the world." Scarlet replied. "It's a pretty good hit."
"The first one did, but i never thought it would get a hit over there..."
"I never though you were an author. Maybe the Director helped get the book famous at the Isles." I spoke up. Both Scarlet and Martian looked at me, then at each other, then shrugged.
"Eh who knows with that guy?" Scarlet said.
"Eh, maybe." Martian said.
"What's the book called?" I asked, looking deeply at the covering, recalling a similar book I was given...
"Its just called Journey, which I based off the appearance of the Extraspecie Nation." Martian explained. I paused, calculating the information in my head, and suddenly something clicked.
"You wrote Journey?!" I said almost loudly. This startled Martian and Scarlet.
"Y-yeah I wrote the first one about three years ago, and finished the second one last month." He explain, shaking the second copy. "I'm guessing you're a fan?" I shook my head in response, then reached into my small bag and pulled a worn out red book, with a similar pattern on the cover.
"When I came over to the Human Nation, the Director gave me a copy, and well I guess I loved it since." I stated, fiddling with the worn book.
"Well, I'm not surprise." Scarlet stated. "Alot of Extraspecies love Journey. I even heard the Dragons of Skytown enjoy it."
"Skytown?" Martian asked.
"Its the capital of our nation." I explained. "the Dragons used ancient technology to rise their city. Sadly it made a few Dragons jerks, but to have a human story reach their libraries... It's a big deal."
"I guess so..." Martian mumbled. "Julia would've loved it..." Before i could ask again about Julia, a loud knocking at the door startled everyone, and Martian stood up to answer the call. Standing in the open doorway was a large human male, with dark skin and black hair. A beard dotted his chin and he wore a strange orange shell on his head, which I assume is a type of hat.
"Brendan? You're here early." Martian remarked.
"Yeah my boss wanted to get ahead of the project. S\According to Gerald, the sooner the better." He replied, shaking Martian's hand. Scarlet stood up, a evil glare in her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" She asked him.
"Doing my job, Scarlet, like I promised." He replied.
"It's ok, Scarlet." Martian quickly said.
"Did you forget what he did?" She asked loudly. "Did you forget what he did to...!"
"Ah young people are quite noisy in the mornings." The Director stepped out from behind Brendan's back, wearing a white suit with a purple tie. "Good morning, Martian. I hope we didn't trouble you."
"Gerald. Once again, without calling ahead of time." Martian sighed.
"Its a habit. Oh, and don't worry, Scarlet. I have my eye on this young man." The Director said placing his hand on Brendan's shoulder. "I hope you have plans in the city, because this job will require their fullest attention in a short time."
"I was planning on taking Sekret to the city, just to explore." Martian replied.
"You do have a vehicle right? I don't plan on walking in this heat." I replied. Martian mumbled something under his breath, but I couldn't hear it.
"Sekret, come outside. Its easier talking face to face than through a door frame." The Director said. With a nod, I quickly walked to the large back door, and around the building until I spot a large cast of humans in orange vehicles, which must be used for construction. I recalled some calling humans barbaric, but they have a form of intelligence if they are able to create large machines like these. Once I reached the front, I saw a large vehicle in the parking lot, similar to what the Director drove me in yesterday.
"That's quite a pickup." Scarlet whistled.
"Its a standard prototype for Extraspecies deliveries." The Director replied. "Some species, like Sekret, require larger vehicles until we can afford to create cars for Arcahnes or other large body species. Oh, no offense, Sekret."
"It's fine, Director." I said, walking up to the car. I noticed at Martian was staring at the front of the vehicle, fear gripping his mind. "Martian, are you ok?" I asked as I placed my hand on his shoulder. He quickly jumped, and shook his head.
"Um Scarlet can you take Sekret to the city?" He asked. "I'll just ride my bike up to the fountain."
"Eh, whatever." She replied with a shrug, and climbed into the car.
"Martian, make sure your fear doesn't control you." The Director told him. "And please don't leave Sekret in the dark."
"I won't. I promise." He said as he walked into the garage. The Director nodded and walked over to the construction people, with Brendan following.
"Let's roll, Sekret." scarlet called as the metal machine roared to life. I climbed into the back area of the car, and braced myself as the machine rolled forward.
"What's wrong with martian? I never seen him so scared before." I asked Scarlet.
"I keep forgetting you're new here." She replied. "Martian has a human fear called Amaxophobia."
"Its a fear of riding in a car. Martian got into an accident a few years ago, and it warped his mind." She replied. "I would like to say more, but its Martian's problem, not mine." We sat in silence for a few minutes, while my mind was plagued with questions; what was Martian's full story?
The city, called Lubin City, was a large, futurist human city created for the coexistence between human and Extraspecies. While it wasn't as grand as Skytown, it was still amazing for humans to construct such a mighty city. Despite it being build in the heat, Lubin City was placed right next to a ocean, so harbors dot the west end of the city, while a large, silver tower stood in the center of town. The tower, commonly known as the Peace Point, is the central headquarters for the Extraspecies Intelligence Host Program.
The fountain Martian spoke of was near the tower, but close to the entrance where Martian was coming from. Through the summer heat i could see him as a small figure riding an odd looking device, which I can guess was a bike or something like that. Once he showed up, he placed the bike near a small gate and locked it with a chain.
"Sorry for the inconvenience, but let's take a look at what the city has to offer." Martian said.
"I suppose so." I replied. "What's around here to explore?"
"Well, the city itself is quite a maze, but I know a few areas that's easy to get to and worth your time." Martian replied. "I guess we can start with the mall. They got some good stores in there." Martian lead me towards a large building filled with people. Lines of smaller vehicles dotted the lot outside the entrance. The inside was almost crowded, but I still found it easy to move around. He first took me to a book store, which oddly didn't present the newest volume of Journey, but he assured me they will sometime next week.
"Does anyone but your friends know you wrote Journey?" I asked him when we left (and after purchasing a few new books).
"N a I don't write for publicity." He replied. "I write because I promised to."
"Yeah. Actually, Journey was her story when she first heard about Extraspecies." Martian sighed. "I just followed her notes, and wrote the sequel when the first volume got famous."
"What did happen to Julia, Martian? Where did she go?" I finally asked him. He simply shook his head and continued to walk forward without looking at me.
"A better place..." Soon he took me into what i guess was a music store. I can say that human music is ok, but when it's not screaming into your ears. He bought some cds, then took me a large area with chairs and tables, and the brilliant smell of food. But not just one single meal, but many. He told me it was a food court, and asked me which caught my fancy. Knowing my ancient bloodline, I chose the one with the Greek font.
"Wait, you're part Greek?" He asked.
"All Arachnes are. Who did you think made up the story of Athena and Arachne?" I replied. "My race are collectors of knowledge and stories. That's why we enjoy to read other stories."
"Ah, make sense, I suppose." He replied. The food was ok, but it wasn't great. Once our meals were settled, we left the mall and now headed towards the oceanfront. From the srea we stood, you could see all of the coast of Lubin City, and the dozens of people who flooded the sandy bank. I could even a few Extraspecies enjoying the sun, (But only those who enjoyed the water. I knew no Arachnes would dare go near water). While Martian guided me around town, I felt a strange tug in my heart, a sense of being homesick. I was miles away from the lands I knew, in a city I never though existed until the Director came to our islands. And now here I was...
Our tour came to a stop when the sun began its dip into the horizon. Martian led me back to the fountain where his bike was, and unlocked the bipedal machine.
"Since the sun's going down, it'll be alot cooler walking home." He explained. "It'll take a half hour to get home."
"I still don't understand why you live so far away from the city, and in the middle of the heat." I said.
"I guess I didn't felt a part of the whole Extraspecies Treaty. The city was made for coexistence, and since I wasn't a part of the Host Program, I didn't see sense taking space for someone else to use."
"But the Director could've allowed you to stay."
"Oh, he did, but I chose to live out here. Its kinda peaceful, but it does get lonely."
"Maybe that's why the Director put you in the Host Program." I stated. Martian paused to think, then nodded.
"Yeah, now that you mention it, it does make sense..." He mumbled. "But he also did say he put my name in the Program in case he needed to find a home for someone. Is that why he put you in with me?"
"Well... I guess I kept going off how I loved Journey, and he did ask me if I wanted to meet the author and said yes, so..." I mumbled. Martian chuckled loudly.
"Yep, that's Gerald..." He paused, staring off into the distance. I followed his gaze, and noticed a vehicle driving down the road on the other side from where we were walking. The headlights were on, which blinded me and I'm assuming Martian. Then something in my mind clicked; Martian's fear. Without a single other though, I pushed Martian aside to break the gaze at the vehicle, but I suppose I was much stronger than he was, or he was unprepared as he shot downward into the ground. Once the vehicle roared past, he stood up, brushing the grass off his pants.
"Thanks." He said as he lifted the bicycle off the ground.
"Are you ever going to tell me your fear of vehicles?" I asked. "The Director did ask for you not to keep me in the dark." He took a huge sigh, then looked up at the sky.
"We were driving one night, Julia and I." He started. "I was driving, and Julia was in the passenger seat. We were just young and having fun, you know? But... I wasn't paying attention. We came to an intersection, and before I knew it, in the window next to Julia were a pair of headlights, then nothing..." He paused, his body shaking from recalling events that I knew were heading into a down spiral of sadness.
"When I finally woke up, a week later, I found out from Gerald about the accident. My car was completely scraped, and I had a broken leg." He said, lifting his pant leg to reveal a nasty scar on his right leg.
"And Julia?" I asked. Martian shook his head.
"When I woke up, Gerald was crying." Martian replied. "I already knew what he was about to say..." He stopped talking, resuming his walk in silence.
"I'm... sorry, i didn't mean to..."
"No, its fine." Martian replied. "You did ask, and well, I did deliver." For the rest of the walk, we said nothing until we both gasp in unison. Martian's house was twice as large than before, with an added floor and larger rooms. The interior looked almost the same, but with larger leg room. The Director sat on Martian's new couch sipping a cup of hot tea (the old one with the springs sat lonely outside. Martian didn't notice).
"So what do you think of the new establishment?" The Director ask.
"I gotta say, whne you got a project in mind, you don't screw around..." Martian mumbled. "Does that mean Sekret has her own room now?"
"Indeed, with some furniture that I can assume was hand made by Arachnes." He replied. "Should feel right at home now."
"That's great, thank you." I said, bowing.
"Hey why did you add another floor?" Martian asked. "I don't need more rooms."
"You may, depending on issues with the Program." The Director replied.
"Issues with the Program?" Both Martian and I asked.
"Ooh, i knew I was forgetting something." He said. "You see, there are families to expect a small humanoid Extraspecies to come live with them. However, in the very common chances they find something larger than normal like Arachnes or Centaurs, the family rejects them and we get no word about it.
"That's horrible..." I mumbled. "It isn't fair how humans treat Extraspecies."
"Hey, I don't." Martian spoke up.
"Ok, a few. Still, it isn't fair."
"Quite. Which is why Martian is running the Extraspecie Hotel." The Director chimed.
"A hotel? For homeless Extraspecies?" Martian repeated.
"Yes. And don't worry about prices, I can handle the costs. All you do is make those far away from home feel at home here." The Director explained. "Its quite simple, right?"
"Y-yeah, but why me?" Martian asked. "i mean, I don't have a huge issue with it, but why here?"
"Because you have a gift, Martian." The Director said. "You can accept people for who they are, not what they are. Look at Sekret. Sure, she has the lower body of a spider that would make humans scream in terror. No offense, of course."
"None taken." I replied.
"But instead you took her in, treated her like a fellow human and gave her trust. That is your greatest gift."
"Well, I never really though of about that..." He mumbled. "I guess I do, since I told her about Julia."
"Good, that's good to hear." The Director said. "Well, I shall let you explore your new place. I have papers to sign."
"Good night, Director." I said.
"Oh, and Martian. Remember; Trust your heart, and if you g\have any questions, come to me." He then left, closing the door calmly.
"What did he mean by that?" I asked.
"Aw, its Gerald. Who knows what goes on in that guy's head?" Martian replied. "Now where is my room?"