Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clean Get-Away

In the pretense of saving time, Maral skipped past the drinking fountains and darted through the library to reach her classroom. Missing the first five minutes of Psycho’s lecture that probably included the phrases ‘latest news’ and ‘alien abduction’ along with a demonstration of psychedelic computer graphics that surely proved the existence of life within electronics — that wouldn’t be bad. It would be a little refreshing, like staying in bed that extra 5 minutes despite the likelihood of falling back to sleep. The real reason she ran to class was to make it look like she couldn’t stop and talk with the group of kids clustered in their usual spot at the end of the row of fountains. Bypassing their controlled center was worth getting down on all fours and risking the librarian’s wrath. Miss Woweac was a bit of a clean freak, and the idea that people in modern civilization should walk on the same paws they did everything else with horrified her. “You may as well eat roadkill with sauce cooked on a toilet seat!” she hollered after Maral, causing the students using the library to grin behind their books. Maral made a note to apologize to her later, or for sure she’d revoke library rights for the day. Rising up on her feet once more, Maral softly slid open the classroom door and slipped inside. Psycho was too busy explaining dots on an image to notice anybody come in late. A different shock met her when she tried sitting in her normal seat, and found it occupied by a small creature with an armored shell. “Grebo,” she whispered guiltily, glancing up at the rest of the class. Some were getting their beauty sleep in, others taking the time to brush their fur or sharpen their claws. Maral dropped her [memory] card pouch on the floor, caught Grebo up in her paws, and curled on her seat. ‘Thought you’d ignore us today too?’ the pet seemed to say, staring up at her with mournful eyes. Her friends must’ve sent him ahead to intercept her. She didn’t want to talk to them! She knew what they would say; “Why were you picked?” “They do a random drawing or something?” “Hey, why didn’t you put in a word for us?” “Jeez, you could’ve told us you were cheating.” No matter what she said, they wouldn’t believe she was heading outworld on merit alone. Maral wasn’t a bad student, but she wasn’t special, and she couldn’t think of a good reason she’d been chosen, even if it was as part of the cleaning crew. Miss Woweac was partial to Maral because Maral’s best class was her library course on home hygiene. Maral wasn’t a clean freak, but she was good at sniffing out mold, and a master wielder of the window-wiper. “So what do I tell them,” Maral asked Grebo in a low voice, “that I was chosen for my smelling sensation?” Somehow she doubted that would pass. “Maral-chi....” Maral looked up quick to see the teacher, and the rest of the class, staring at her. Guiltily she brought her tail around in apology and grinned, “Yes, sorry Pasi-alorum.” “Since you seemed to have missed ev-ry-thing, I will start again. Today’s topic is the senses, to see to hear to smell. Can you say ‘I smelled a flower?’” Of course she could. Her babysitter had been from Licket, so most of the language was intuitive. She glanced down at Grebo. Well. That certainly was a good point if the ship was dealing with Licketmen. Feeling much better about herself and life in general, she smiled wider at the teacher and gave the class an example of almost perfect Licket.

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