A man’s home is his castle but it should never become his fortress. Mythili remembered reading that somewhere. She did not know where. She was at home. Or at least, what she remembered as home. A building which looked exactly like her home with all the objects that were in her home. Home was never her castle. The one man who understood her was always busy with his Elves at the North Pole. Home was not something she ever enjoyed. Her castle was some other place. A place she could not remember… It was lost like a lone island in the vast, chaotic sea of her memories. Nothing worked. No electricity. No water. The food in the refrigerator was stale. The whole place was dusty and filled with the iron stentch of death. There were no books. She was the lone island of life standing in the calm waters of the dead sea of decay. Life… There were those creatures on the outside… Deep down, she realised that she was soon going to have to make a choice. Live and rot in this hell… Or go outside and face the Devil.
She sat on the floor. She was tired from all the running. Home or not, this place was now her fortress. She did not know what to think about. The dinosaurs? The suffocating lack of people? Her sudden growth? Her lack of memory of anything that had happened between that morning when she read the newspaper and this morning? By now, she was at least sure that those were two separate mornings. It was just a feeling. Finally, there was the issue of her clothing. Someone had deliberately gone through the trouble of replicating her old school uniform. She did not know whether to take this as a good sign or a bad sign. For one thing, this little detail meant there was probably someone else out there. But who were they? Where were they? Were they trying to help her? Were they toying with her ? Or, God forbid, were they already dead? Was she the last one alive, after all?
Loneliness. She realised she had never really felt true, absolute loneliness before. She may have felt out of place or prejudiced against or hated… But she had never felt true loneliness. Or if she had, it was nothing compared to this. There was always someone. Someone who called themselves a friend of Mythili even if she didn’t feel the same way. Someone who offered her a jam bun as she sat alone and ate her lunch. A teacher who shared her love for dinosaurs. A father who always thought of her even though he was almost never present. A mother who cared about her in her own hard, sharp way. A cat. A creepy guy who had a crush on her and sometimes made her feel unsafe when he was around. Someone was always there. Someone always mattered. There was no one now.
She then remembered someone’s words. She brushed aside these thoughts. “Screw this!” She thought, “I’m sure there’s someone out there! And I’m gonna find them! That will be my Ziel from now!” She looked around the house for something useful that she could take with her. Almost everything had decomposed. There was her school bag, which was still intact and good as new. “Is it because it’s a part of my school attire?” She thought. Then it hit her. “School! Whoever this is, they want me to go to my school’s building! I’m sure I will find something or someone there!” And so, armed with this hope, she stepped out of her fortress. She saw something running out of view in the distance. “Was that… A T Rex?!” She thought. It wasn’t on the way to her school. She took a deep breath and took a step forward. “No going back now!” She said, “I’m going to find hope one way or another!”
As she walked on the road, she briefly considered stealing one of the several empty vehicles. “Idiot!” She thought, “what makes you think they have fuel or even work now?!” She did not know whether she knew how to drive. She remembered watching her father drive his car a few times. She decided to give it a go. If it worked, it would be amazing. She picked up a stone and broke the glass of a car. She opened its door and got in. It felt rusty and frail. She then realised there was no ignition key. It was hopeless. “Now I wish I had watched those movies where the guy hot wires the car…” She thought. A joke. She had just made a joke about her situation. She did not know how to hot wire a car. Something that was vital for her. She recalled what Creepy Guy had once said to her. “If you can joke about something, you’ve already half conquered it!” She still didn’t know what it meant but it felt good to look at it that way. She gave a slight laugh, got out of the car and continued walking towards her school.
It was becoming hotter and hotter. She knew she had to be careful because she didn’t have any water to drink. She tried to walk in the shade as much as possible. It was going to be a long walk. It normally took her one hour to reach her school by walk. She couldn’t hear or see any dinosaurs nearby. There was always that huge one gliding around in the distant sky. She couldn’t exactly make out its features. “Quetzalcoatlus?” she thought, “Those things can grow to be as big as a giraffe…” She felt something vibrating in her bag. She frowned and opened it. There was nothing in there that could possibly vibrate in that manner. Just a few replicas of her note books, a pencil box which wouldn’t open and a pen that was out of ink. She felt the vibration again. She felt around the bag. She felt something hard. “What is this?” she thought. After a few seconds of delicate finger work, she was able to discover a hidden pocket within the bag. Inside, was a phone. It seemed familiar. Her fingers curled around it like a climber around its support. It seemed to complete her hand. She remembered. It was her phone. The one she always had.
It was an old phone even when she first bought it. Nokia. She had forgotten the model number. But it was a gift she had given herself on her thirteenth birthday. It was one of those old phones with a tiny screen and a keypad which seemingly had an infinite battery life. Earphones were attached to the phone. She didn’t remember having earphones. Colour display. SD card. Bluetooth. 10% battery. The SIM card was in but there was no network. There was another wire connected to it. It was charging. “Charging in my bag?” she thought, “How the hell is that possible?!” She then remembered why that was possible. Her bag was a science project. She had worked on it with her physics teacher’s help. It wasn’t for a science fair or anything. It was something they had done during a summer just for fun. The outer layer of the bag was something that could generate electricity from light. Specifically, sunlight. She had forgotten most of the specifics. She couldn’t remember anything. Just something vague about silicon and hydrochloric acid. Whatever the case, the result was this. Possibly decades into the future, when her phone had run out of battery, she had unknowingly charged it up again by walking in the sun. “I wonder if all my stuff is still in the phone…” She thought as she pressed the middle button and then the star button to unlock it.
After a few seconds of tapping buttons, she realised that all of her stuff was gone. “Ugh!” She said as she put it back into her bag, “All my eBooks on paleontology! Gone! Replaced with songs and other trash! Why would anyone do something so stupid?!” She now had to contemplate another troubling scenario. If it turned out that the only other human on the planet was responsible for what had happened to her phone, she would have to consider killing that person. More jokes. “Great!” She thought, “For the moment, I’m sane enough to know a joke when I hear it… But what happens when I lose that? What happens if, by the time I reach the next human being, I’m just crazy enough to actually kill them on a whim?” She realised she was letting her mind go off on a depressing tangent. She needed something to keep her mind busy. Something to keep it from depressing her any further. She then remembered another philosophical jewel from Creepy Guy. “Why do I listen to such loud, chaotic music? Because my mind is too active. It always needs to be doing a certain amount of work. Otherwise, I’ll go insane with boredom. That’s why I listen to this music. It’s the perfect flood of information to drown my brain in. It keeps me distracted from the boredom and sadness that would otherwise eat away at my sanity-” and he went on and on about sadness and chaos and sanity and drowning. She had walked away by then. But she remembered at least that much. “Music…” She thought, “This had better work!” She took out her phone from her bag, plugged the earphones into her ears and opened the music app. “Alejandro by Lady Gaga.” She read, “Nah. Doesn’t sound like a nice name for a song… Alice Cooper… Nope. All of you is all of me. Alone Together. Am I Wrong. Oh just shut up and pick a song! Fine! All of you is all of me!” It was a song from an anime called No Game No Life. Anime? Japanese cartoon. She had heard Creepy Guy obsessing about anime on several occasions. As far as she was concerned, all cartoons were a waste of- her thoughts were paused.
The song. It filled her mind. No. Not just her mind. It seemed to be pouring down her neck, into her heart, lungs, stomach and hitting the tips of her fingers and toes from inside. She felt like a balloon being filled up by the song. It was just instruments. No lyrics. Yet, the sounds were speaking to her. They made sense. It was an uplifting song. It seemed to give her a strength she had never known before. She moved faster to match the speed of the song. She walked faster and faster until the wind beating against her face seemed to be in tune with the song. It was this speed that she wanted to maintain till the song ended. Confidence, hope, happiness. How could such gigantic emotions be contained in such a small file? How could they be pouring out in excess with each sound she heard? She didn’t have the time to even follow those thoughts. The song was all that filled her mind.
Sound is movement. Sound is disturbance. Sound is chaos in the air. Silence is terrifying. Silence is death. We, who conquered this Planet, have also killed Her sound. And deep down, we know we have killed that song which She used to sing. And so we desparately try to remake it in our own image. Our own songs. We dance in ways that mimic primordial chaos in an attempt to once again feel the life that was once singing and dancing on our mother. Such is the melancholic truth behind music and dance. Mythili’s world had long forgotten the mother’s song and dance. There were no humans left to make their noise either. In a city drowned in a sea of silence, stillness and desolation, this small island of chaos and happiness floated on towards Cambridge Public School. Little does she know what lies in store for her…