03. Take me there | The Mark of Orion

December 11, 2020 Sujay Sarma

I spent a few months learning a few new skills and dampening my surprise at things in the so-called “sandbox” that Sharada had created for me. Then one day when I returned from my usual evening cycling around the neighborhood, I found Sharada in my room. But she was not alone. This time she had…

I spent a few months learning a few new skills and dampening my surprise at things in the so-called “sandbox” that Sharada had created for me.

Then one day when I returned from my usual evening cycling around the neighborhood, I found Sharada in my room. But she was not alone. This time she had brought someone. Some thing. Definitely not human.

“Hi.” She greeted me.

“Is that what you really look like?” I asked, closing the door behind me. Mum may walk in at any time.

She was surprised and turned to look in the full-length mirror on the wall.

I laughed. “Your friend.”

“Oh!” She smiled and introduced me to the new comer. “This is Keyaiwah“. The way she said the name was so strange. “It’s a multi-dimensional name. You can call him Keya.”

“Hi, Keya!” I smiled at the new entity and offered a hand.

Keya did not react. Keya was unlike anyone and anything that I had seen. There is no equivalent ‘gender’ for Keya here on Earth, so I will use the neutral form: ‘it’. It was about eight and a half feet tall when ‘standing’ and was quite literally a creeper plant with about four or five heads. The heads were not statically placed. They seemed to be continually moving and some of them even appeared and disappeared at random intervals. I could not make out if Keya had any limbs.

“Keya communicates in a different way.” She explained, indicating I should retrieve my hand. “I will translate.”

I sat down. “What’s this about? A new lesson?”

“Those are done. We would like to make you an offer.” She grinned. Her teeth gleamed suddenly. I had come to understand that she could make her teeth gleam, and it did so when she was particularly happy… or being naughty.

“Oh?” I wondered what made me particularly qualified for an ‘offer’.

“You see, Keya represents the Outreach division of the Ta’arboujan University. And he tells me that they have decided to accept your application.”

I shook my head in confusion. “Wait, wait… Tar… what? And what application? When did I apply?”

Sharada suddenly looked to Keya and seemed to nod in agreement.

“Rewind and tell me from the beginning.” I offered.

So she started at the beginning. Sharada told me about the Ta’arboujan University, a place far far away in both Space and Time. It was a place of learning and collecting all the knowledge of the universe (my understanding of that word was about to change for ever). A place to where, periodically, people like herself and Keya invited capable minds from different worlds all over. We were then taught that knowledge to come back and teach it to our people back home or use that knowledge for the betterment of our worlds.

“So….” She ended, with the implicit question.

“Are you sure I can handle that kind of knowledge?” I asked in self-doubt.

“I am sure you can.” She answered matter-of-factly and looked to Keya. “And Keya thinks so too. That’s why he is here.”

I took a deep breath. “Can I take some time to think about it?”

Sharada laughed. “Time.” She said. “Sure. And when you are ready…” she got up, crawled across my bed to where I was perched and whispered a spell into my ear. “Just go there.”

With that, Sharada and Keya disappeared from my room.

It took me a couple of days to digest the chain of events from that day in the desert when Sharada had first come to me to the present moment. All the things I had learnt from her. All the things I had to unlearn — and yet remember. And now this invitation to a stellar university. I wondered what further wonders — and horrors — awaited my mind. Secretly, I was ecstatic that they considered me worthy of such an opportunity.

I also wondered what would happen to folks back home when I mysteriously teleported away from here. My parents would suddenly find their only son missing. My college, college mates would notice I was gone. What would they think? That I was kidnapped? That I ran away? How would that be managed? And what when I finished my studies at the university and came back — how long would that take? Would people have moved on? Would they be open to learning where I had been actually?

For almost a month, I tossed and turned and could not sleep.

One day, I clambered over the parapet wall to the top of the shingled roof of my house and lay down to stare up at the sky. I saw the sky very differently now. I had already learnt so much about what was ‘up’ there. I closed my eyes and began to cry.

I felt a hand on my chest, familiar fingers sought out mine and entwined themselves. I did not need to open my eyes or look to know who it was.

“What am I going to do?” I whispered.

“Have you ever looked at the clock when you came back from Vajiler?” She shot back. Vajiler was my sandbox.

I turned to look at her. Her deep black skin glistened in the moonlight. A trace of moisture on her lips. She turned to lie on her side and looked at me, propping her head on her elbow.

“You don’t just travel through space, you dummy.” She smiled. Noticing my gaze, she looked enticingly at my lips. “You also travel through Time…”

We kissed. It was not our first time.

I nodded, tears streamed through and dripped on the shingles below us. “Take me there.”

“It’s not up to me.” She said. “Go do your ‘I dont know when I will see them again’ ceremonies and then use the spell I gave you.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I am ready.”

She snapped her fingers. And just like that we rematerialized at Ta’arboujan in a nanoinstance.

About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".