MG Adventure: SURF MONKS OF NEW HAWAI'I Feb 2, 2017 12:13:09 GMT -5
Post by lauralovestowrite on Feb 2, 2017 12:13:09 GMT -5
Pallie braced her feet against the permanently tilted floors of the cruise ship’s classroom and halfheartedly prepared to run. She held a piece of homemade chalk in her still-sleepy fingers and glanced over at Donovan at the head of the other line. The morning light filtered green through the ship’s scummy porthole windows, casting Donovan’s eager face and the entire classroom the sickly color of their morning’s seaweed porridge.
Seaweed porridge is only half as bad as one might imagine. Donovan, on the other hand, is fairly terrible.
He brandished his chalk like a sword. “I challenge thee to a duel, Lady Palanquin!”
Pallie sighed. “It’s been a week since you finished The Three Musketeers, D. Could you give the dueling thing a re—”
“A DUEL IN THE STARS!” Donovan cried louder and raised the chalk to her eye level. His teammates cheered.
Pallie didn’t feel like dueling, or trying, or doing much of anything this morning. She’d stayed up late studying for her First Mate’s exam, which could be coming any minute since tomorrow was her twelfth birthday.
“Come on, Pal! Destroy him!” Her teammates rallied behind her, patting her back as they waited for Teacher Bruce’s whistle to start their class’s favorite game. Oh, why did Teacher Bruce always make them do relays first thing in the morning? He smiled wickedly as he set up the chalkboard. Pallie yawned at the sheer cruelty of the education workforce.
Donovan wiped his sweaty forehead, leaving a pale chalky smear, and grinned. “Winner takes best chore.”
“Best chore?” Pallie arched one eyebrow at him. Today was Monday, and that meant worst chore day. If Pallie wasn’t called up for the First Mate’s exam, Pallie was almost certainly assigned to harvesting manure for the pool gardens. Having a choice between her imminently stinky future and Donny’s was worth its weight in… uh, gold.
“Deal, Sir Donovan,” Pallie said, giving in and sweeping into a full formal bow. “Though you doth perspire profusely. I hope thee hath prepared for…” she motioned with her own chalk sword, and the class bellowed on her cue:
“STAR! CHART! RELAAAAAY!”
“I’ve been ready since I was but a BABE in CLOTH OF SWADDLING!” Donovan yelled, hopping from foot to foot gleefully. “Viva la Resistance! Cabin 3125B!”
“Remember, musketeers,” Teacher Bruce said, raising both hands to settle them. “To earn full points, you’ve got to give me the constellation and its correct position by month and time of night. Ready?”
“Wait, what?” Donovan cried.
“You’re going down, Donny!” Pallie threw her head back with a villainous cackle.
With an epic blast of air, Teacher Bruce blew his whistle and screamed, “PEGASUS! DECEMBER! MIDNIGHT!”
Pallie burst into motion towards the long chalkboard, blank except for a compass rose drawn down its middle. Donny slipped and slid right behind her, but Pallie was faster. By the time Donovan lurched for the chalkboard’s rail to pull himself up, Pallie had already scrawled each point of the constellation in perfect mid-December pose. Donovan should have known better to duel for chores with the best student in Ship City! Pallie spent every night until last whistle studying the brilliant sky above the Hawaiian Fantasy. Sometimes, the Captain even joined her. Up on top deck, with the dark shape of the Big Island slumbering ahead, he’d throw his arm out wide, gesturing to the heavens undimmed by human-made light. “These stars guided the ancients, and they’ll guide us, too, Pal. You just have to learn their names and faces.”
So Pallie did. Memorizing the comings and goings of the stars was essential if she wanted to be promoted to the First Mates, which Pallie wanted more than anything. The First Mates were the most knowledgeable, helpful, and beloved people in all of Ship City, except for the Captain of course. They managed the chores, kept the ships’ few remaining systems operational, and even were trained in emergency medical care. More than that, if the Tourists of Ship City were ever, ever going to get Home, they’d need a well-trained class of First Mates to navigate them there. Though the Fantasy was tethered to the ocean’s floor by an anchor they couldn’t lift, with no fuel to power its turbines, and a slow leak off the starboard bow that tilted them degree by degree towards the ocean, the Tourists still believed it could take them Home, so Pallie did, too.
Okay, probably not, but why not learn an eternal map of the stars just in case?
Pal had already passed the chalk to her next teammate when Donovan finished his Pegasus’s last janky leg. Teacher Bruce awarded her full points. Her team roared in approval, and she roared with them. Choice of chore on a Monday was huge.
“Get ready to hold your nose for four hours, Donny,” Pal said, nudging him with a smile as they took their places in the back of the line.
Donovan swallowed. “Mayhap I shouldn’t have consumed so much porridge this morn.”
After the relay and all the chore bets were settled, Teacher Bruce motioned for them to take their seats on the floor. They didn’t have chairs or desks in their classroom like schools used to, but they didn’t want them, either. Teacher Bruce believed in a firm educational program of thinking while running, and chairs just slid to the room’s front corner anyways.
Teacher Bruce raised his hands to quiet them down. “Class, for today’s lesson in Pre-Storm Technology, I’ve invited a special guest to teach you about a very special relic.” He waited until all eyes were on him to whisper dramatically. “A cell phone.”
The class gasped. In walked Mrs. Bradshaw with her signature black purse. That purse was so big, it could fit three meals, and usually had at least two tucked away in its endless compartments. Everyone knew that if you were hungry between meals, Mrs. Bradshaw could hook you up with some half-wilted celery with a fresh side of lint. But Mrs. Bradshaw’s usual friendly smile was stretched tight today, and Pallie realized with a start what they were about to witness.
“You’re gonna show us the Powering Up?” Pallie asked.
Mrs. Bradshaw nodded slowly as the class erupted in whispers. The Hawaiian Fantasy lost most of its electrical operations long ago when it first ran out of gas offshore of New Hawaii. Well, it was just Old Hawaii then, before the Locals banished all the Tourists to the cruise ships and established their new government after the Storms. Now, all the Hawaiian Fantasy had left was a field of solar tiles on the very top roof of the ship. The power they harnessed from the sun kept the ship’s communication systems running, the water purifiers purifying, and the emergency lighting that blinked dimly throughout the ship’s corridors. Not enough power to spare for anyone’s old cell phones, laptops, or video games, most of which didn’t work anyways.
Mrs. Bradshaw had an old solar charger of her own though, and it was still operational, but just barely. She carried it everywhere she went and spent most days parked on the top deck to get the most sunlight possible. Even so, it took a year of sunlight to generate enough power for about three minutes of battery life for her phone. When the charger’s light would finally blink a weak green, Mrs. B would disappear into her cabin for the Powering Up. In those short three minutes, she’d check to see if she had any missed calls or texts from Mr. Bradshaw, whom she’d left home on the Mainlands while she went on her annual girls’ trip. But every year, she’d emerge from her cabin with a puffy face and swollen eyes to report that “networks were still down,” whatever that meant, and Mr. Bradshaw remained as unreachable as the Mainlands.
Pallie had heard Mrs. Bradshaw’s story many times now—she’d heard everyone’s Storm stories—but she’d never seen the Powering Up. Her heart pinched for Mrs. Bradshaw now, even though Pallie, like all the other ship-born kids, had always wanted to see a cell phone turned on.
Before Mrs. Bradshaw began, Teacher Bruce explained how cell phones work. Or, used to work, anyway. When the user placed a call, the phone transformed your voice into invisible bits of information that it transmitted via radio waves to the nearest cell tower in the area. Then that tower directed the radio waves to the next tower, and the next, and the next until the call is connected. Then, two people could hear each other’s voices through a little rectangle of glass and metal, no matter how far apart they were.
In other words, it was magic.