The Sequence of Kai
School wasn’t always this boring. Back home school used to be kind of fun. I still hated the school part of school of course but you could avoid that.
I liked talking to my friends, I liked going to cheerleading practice, I liked flirting with the guys. OK, I didn’t like that part but that was more to do with the guys at my old school than anything else. I liked the idea of flirting with the guys.
Now that I’ve been forced to move to this stupid rainy island, I don’t like anything about school. I don’t have any friends to like talking to, the girls in my class talk to me but they’re not my friends.
I get it, I joined their class during the last year of school, the social groups were already set. They don’t even do cheerleading here, they expect me to join, like, the art club or some shit. And even if the guys in my old school weren’t exactly top tier, all the boys here are English, there’s no conceivable way they could be less worth flirting with.
Oh, and there’s the uniforms. Why does anyone put up with these? The shirts are ugly, the jumpers are itchy and the skirts are too long. Who would want to wear a skirt anyway? Skirts suck. They were always the worst part of cheerleading, I used to practice in jeans.
It’s because I don’t have any of these distractions that I have no choice but to concentrate on the school part of school. I have to listen to the teachers because I have no one to gossip with. I have to write answers in my copy because I have no one to write texts to and it’s too dangerous to message anyone I used to know.
I’m so desperate for anything at this stage I’m considering flirting with some of the girls. A good way to make sure none of them ever get friendly with me, I think most of them are still a year or two from considering that option.
I look down at the exam I’m meant to be doing. I can only let my mind wander so much before I start looping back on myself, I’ve already done so three times since the exam started. I have to force myself on to the next question.
QUESTION 1: If-
I don’t want to do this; I don’t want to think about it. I know this stuff is important, but I don’t want to. Thinking about important things has never done anyone any good, it just makes them upset. I just want to do things, not think about them.
*ding ding ding*
Uh oh, school is over. Looks like I’m handing up another blank exam.
Mr Bartley calls out to me and beckons me towards his desk. He hasn’t managed to learn my name in the couple of months I’ve been here. He’s pretty old, looks like he might drop dead any moment, so I haven’t bothered correcting him. It’s not like it does any harm to me.
“What is it, sir?”
“You slept your way through that exam.”
“I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how to answer any of the questions…. I’ll do better next time.”
“I can tell the difference between someone trying and failing and someone trying to fail.”
He looks up at me from his desk with an expectant look, trying to lead me into answering a question he hadn’t asked directly. I stay silent, I don’t want to engage with this type of counselling.
The silence gives way to a sigh, he probably doesn’t have the energy to push harder.
“Do you need anything else, sir?”
He hands me a stack of papers.
“I need you to deliver these to Kai for me.”
“You want me to do it?”
The school I go to now is small enough, they don’t have the spare staff to deliver school work to this Kai girl so they cycle through the students to get it done.
“Oh, that’s right, you still haven’t met her have you?”
“No, she hasn’t been in any of the days I have.”
“Or any of the others… She’s a bit… difficult, I’ll get someone else to do it.”
He tries to take the papers back, but I yank them out of his hand.
“No, it’s OK, I’ll do it.”
He pauses at my eagerness. I’ve heard the passing gossip about this girl. Nothing substantial, I don’t know, for instance, why she isn’t coming into school but whoever has had to deliver her that week’s work complains about having to do it.
She’s so rude now.
She’s dyed her hair.
She used to be so much fun.
Fuck her, she didn’t respond to anyone’s texts.
It’s all that sort of gossip.
Lately, it seems some people don’t even bother bringing her the work or they just drop it through the letterbox. She must be really lonely if that’s how her classmates feel about her.
“Alright, here’s her address.”
Mr Bartley hands me a piece of paper with an address on it. I take it and head straight for the door.
I turn back to him with one foot out the door.
“Why do you seem so happy to be running an errand?”
“I don’t have to have a reason to be happy, do I?”
The reason I left so quickly was that I wanted to change before I deliver these papers. It wouldn’t do to meet someone for the first time in uniform, it’s such an unfriendly look.
This girls place is on the opposite side of the city according to my phone, so I need to move quickly if I want to get there before nightfall. I could’ve gotten home instantly if I was allowed to use my ability, but Paul told me not to. I know why, I just don’t like it, walking everywhere is a pain.
I manage to get to Paul’s before Aaron gets back from college. I was hoping I would because if I didn’t, he’d try and come with me. I pop my head into Paul’s office just to check in.
“Hey, you need me to do anything?”
He’s writing his thing, whatever it is, again. His office is so dull.
I gently close the door back over and go to my room to change. I open the doors of my wardrobe and all of my clothes fall out onto the floor like usual. I look over the pile and wait for something to catch my eye. The faded purple jeans and pale blue top strike me as pretty approachable so I decide on them.
I look at myself in the mirror, the sort of girl I’d like to see is looking back. I give her a wink and she winks back, I wonder if she likes me?
I realize I’ve wasted enough time here so I stuff the papers in my backpack and rush for the door. Just as I reach the bottom of the stairs, the door opens and Aaron announces his arrival.
I try rushing back upstairs to avoid his questions, but he’s already spotted me.
“Yo, Trish, you’re back early.”
“Yeah, I am, we got out early today, haha…”
I know I’m a bad liar and he, being the one who gets lied to, knows that as well.
“Really? Where are you going then?”
He points at the backpack I have on.
“Uhhhhhhhh…. I just got back. Like just now. I’m only in the door actually.”
“When did your school swap the black skirts for purple jeans?”
I hate when he gets like this, when we both know I’m lying. He could just get straight to the point and tell me I am, but he wants me to admit it myself. I won’t give him the satisfaction, so I close my eyes and hope he just goes away.
Not gonna answer him.
“Trish, why are you doing the eye thing again, I thought we said you weren’t going to do the eye thing anymore.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Trish, stop being such a child.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder and I brush it off bluntly.
“Who told you you could touch me?”
“Then why did you?”
“I wanted you to open your eyes so we could talk like adults.”
Shit, he tricked me. Eyes shut, eyes shut!
“If you want to talk like adults then maybe you should treat me like an adult and mind your own fucking business!”
“Very convincing, very mature.”
“Go away please.”
“Not until you tell me where you’re going.”
I open my eyes but make sure they look angry. I see him try to stifle a smile as I do so. I know I’m bad at being angry, shut up!
“Mr Bartley told me to deliver some papers to an absent girl.”
“And that’s where you were going just now?”
“See this is why I didn’t want to fucking tell you.”
“What, I was just asking if you were planning on going alone?”
“Well, I’m clearly not going to be allowed to anymore am I?”
He tries to soothe me with a big genuine smile, trying to get me to ‘understand’ that he’s just worried about me. I get that Aaron, I really do, I just don’t like it, I can handle myself.
I start back up the stairs suddenly, there’s something I need to do.
“Where are you going?”
“I need to change.”
“But you already changed.”
“That was before I knew you were tagging along, I need to change again.”
I rush up the last few steps and into my room. That little act ought to buy me some time. He’ll be too embarrassed to consider that I could be up to something.
I consider my options. I could jump out the window but last time I did that I hurt my leg and he had to carry me back in, I don’t want that to happen again.
I could wait for him to go into another room and then rush out the door. He’d probably wait in the hall for hours though and, even if he didn’t, he’d knock on my door to check if I was OK before he did anything else.
That means I have one choice, I have to use my ability. I mentally apologize to Paul for breaking his rule again and I concentrate on my destination.
I feel my surroundings shift and crack and suddenly my body is gone.
When I open my eyes again, I’m in that abandoned house once more, wood rotting, air damp as it ever is.
It’s been a couple of months since I last used my transfer ability so I nearly throw up on arrival.
I transfer here because it’s safe to do so, I scouted out this place when we moved to Brighton last year. My transfer ability isn’t identical to teleportation, my body doesn’t move itself, I’m just able to connect points in space, allow one to engulf the other in an instant and arrive on the other side. Things move towards me, not the other way round.
That’s why I need somewhere unchanging, it’s fine when I can see my destination in front of me but for places far away, I risk transferring an object inside my body. I suppose there’s every chance I one day transfer myself into a collapsed version of this place. It’s worth the risk though, different kinds of suffocation.
I have to be fair to Aaron I suppose, I didn’t used to be able to take anything with me when I transferred, clothes included. He made that thread for me to make such a thing possible, clothes will stay with me now, anything inside my bag can come along for the journey.
I like this place. Odd to call such a lonely, broken place comforting but it is. Captivity is warm, freedom is cold. The chilling breeze that runs through this house reminds me, that at all times, I am free.
The house is a bit out of the way, on the north edge of town whereas this girl I’m meant to meet lives nearer the west edge. Nothing to be done about that I suppose, I better get a move on.
I step out into the cool winter breeze that Brighton has to offer these days. It’s pleasant at this time, when the sun is still just about in the sky, making the wind chill pleasant and not quite uncomfortable. Things change when night comes, of course, that’s why I packed my favourite jacket. It’s big and fluffy, really cosy, I love it.
Another thing I love is being able to walk around the streets of Brighton like this. It’s not that it’s an especially beautiful place but I love taking in the little bits about a place that make it unique.
The cracks in the pavement, the chips on the bricks of the houses, shops with names that seem like they’re a typo but somehow aren’t. The surprising number of fish and chip places in a row, quickly made unsurprising by the abundance of pubs just around the corner.
I love all this useless information, that I can walk past these streets and say to myself ‘that’s the street with the French bakery run by a Ukrainian couple’, ‘that’s the one with four corners and five corner shops’, ‘that’s a street I’m too scared to walk down, I wonder what’s there?’ Stupid little things to think about and relax the mind.
Paul says I shouldn’t walk about by myself because Kohsan’s men could be around any corner, hiding behind any door. But I don’t believe that, who would ever come here looking for someone? Those men are too important to ever come to a place like this.
An hour or so passes before I realize I haven’t made any progress towards my destination; I’ve just been wandering. The sun is beginning to set and it’s getting cold. I put on my jacket and can’t resist rubbing my cheeks against the fur trim of the hood. So soft!
There’s no problem with me taking my time in theory, I don’t have to walk back in the dark or the cold. It’s just that I’m sure by now Aaron is out looking for me, even my best flattery wouldn’t paralyze him for this long. It just means I have things to work on and no time left to be idle.
My phone informs me that my wandering has still managed to bring me decently close to my destination and in a couple of minutes I’m there.
A three-story apartment building painted a white that has become very dull from the elements. I’d say it hasn’t been painted in a few years if I had to guess but otherwise it looks to be in good condition. Quite a few of the apartments seem to be available to rent, which is quite odd in this city, I wonder if something happened here?
The complex has one of those pedestrian entrances with the metal gate and a number pad to call up to any of the apartments. I check the address I was given, she’s apartment 7 so that’s the number I ring for.
I try again.
“Oi, what are you doing?”
A middle-aged man in a suit confronts me out of nowhere. He’d look like he was just returning from work except he has no briefcase or bag of any kind. By the state of his suit, I can tell he doesn’t own an iron either.
“Oh, sorry, I’m just dropping off some schoolwork for a friend who’s sick, but she won’t answer….”
His expression changes a little, less hostile but still uneasy.
“Oh, you’re one of her friends. She’s not going to answer the bell, next time text her or something.”
The man steps in front of me and enters the code to the door, pushes it open and waves me through.
The man gives me a nod before stepping through and closing the door behind him.
“Do me a favour and tell her if she’s going to come home so late to be quieter about it. I only get a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep a week these days.”
With that, he goes past me and up the stairs to the second floor. The signs indicate that apartments 1-10 are on the ground floor so that’s where I head.
What was that about her coming home late? I was under the impression that she was a recluse, that she hadn’t talked to anyone from school in months. I wonder what she could be doing out at night, I hope she isn’t in any trouble. I nearly stop to consider why I care about that, it’s not like I know this girl after all.
I’m here, outside her door. I shouldn’t be nervous about this, I’m just going to put the papers in her letterbox and be on my way.
Here we go. One….. Two… Thunk! The papers hit the letterbox and bend backwards. I try jamming them in a couple times, but I just end up bending them more, the letterbox is forced shut somehow.
“OK, calm down Trish, all this means is you have to knock on the door. This is why you’re here anyway right?”
I breathe myself into a state of calm. I need to prepare myself mentally and physically.
I put the papers down, take my backpack off my back and begin my stretching routine.
Stretching is absolutely essential in these sorts of situations, nothing could be more embarrassing than getting a cramp while introducing yourself to someone for the first time, I’m not letting that happen again!
After making sure I’m nice and limber, I resolve myself once more and knock.