After dinner, they rigged up a hose to the kitchen sink and took makeshift showers with hot water. And no one showed up to chase them out. It seemed as if they had truly gone to paradise.
No one discussed Sariel’s story. It was enough, Chess decided, that she had entrusted them with it. There would be time, later, to talk, and to ask questions.
In the late evening, Chess sat at a table in the main room, fiddling with the newly-charged link-phone. With the wrinkled map spread out before him, he was searching through the available satellite images of the area, wondering if one of the shadowy buildings he saw might be Lodestar.
Gryff’s words came back to him, from that night when they had been looking up at the stars.
Was there a satellite up there, Chess wondered, that could see Gryff, out under the stars, right now? “There’s plenty of steaks for you, here,” he whispered, blinking at the momentarily blurry screen.
Suddenly, the light around him dimmed, and new lights, like colored stars, began to sparkle over the dance floor. A song started up through the speakers and, as he watched, Sariel pulled an amused-looking Ileana out into the open area, and they began to dance close together, slowly.
For a few more minutes, Chess struggled to continue his project in the low light. But when the girls sank to the floor, their bodies shining in the sweep of the spotlights, he put the phone down. Stretching his arms, he laced his fingers behind his head, leaned back in the chair, and watched.
The next morning, Chess, hand-in-hand with Sariel, told Ileana, “We want to stay here.”
Ileana set down some packages of food with a sigh. “Someone left here in a hurry,” she said. “This place won’t be empty for long. Maybe Razor’s men will come along. Or maybe another gang.”
“We know,” Chess answered, glancing at Sariel. “But we’ll die happy. We’ll be happy ‘til then.”
Ileana stared at their faces for a long time. And then, finally, she smiled indulgently. “We’ll stay one more day,” she said to Chess. “Sariel and I will go through everything here and decide what we want to take. You try contacting your Lodestar. Tomorrow, we’ll get back on our way.”
Chess nodded. They would follow her. There was never any question of that.
They finished stuffing their backpacks in the kitchen. “It could take a while for Lodestar to get back to me,” Chess said. “I can only contact them through the samiz network that they use, and the technology is just so foreign to me...” He shook his head. “I spent a lot of time researching it at, uh, Razor’s, but I didn’t find out very much. It’s all based on short-range transmissions: that’s all I know.” He frowned in the direction of the walk-in freezer. “Should we take some frozen stuff, just for tonight?”
“Sounds good to me,” Ileana smiled. “But you have contacted Lodestar before, right?”
“Oh yeah.” Chess shrugged. “I couldn’t get them to tell me about samiz… or where they are located… but they were happy to talk about their game with me. Uh…” He watched Ileana grab a large black marking pen from the nearby counter. “What are you going to do with that?”
In answer, Ileana shrugged. Walking over to the freezer door, she wrote on it, in large letters:
Chess the master thief was here
Chess stared at the black words on the steel door. “I thought we didn’t want to be noticed.”
Ileana lowered the pen and turned back to him. “I did a lot of thinking while we were in the custody of Razor’s men,” she explained. “I heard them talking, and I could tell they were worried. And then, when you started attacking, I heard a few of them yell stuff – something like: ‘it’s him,’ and, ‘I told you.’” She nodded thoughtfully. “The villagers have heard stories. Razor’s men have their own stories from the night that we left.” She raised her eyebrows. “And they were afraid.”
“They had nothing to be afraid of,” Chess shrugged.
Ileana stared at him levelly. “That’s why this might be useful.”
“Is that what you’ve been thinking about, looking so dark, all this time?” Chess asked.
Ileana just shook her head silently. She looked so fragile, Chess thought. But she was not.
Continued next page...
And while the rhythm swings
What lovely things I'll be sayin'
'Cause what is dancing
Making love set to music, playin'
- Come dance with me by Frank Sinatra
It has been said that in the basic ideas of Eastern Mythology vs Western mythology, the central difference is that the individual can affect his destiny vs. the world is what it is. In his TED talk, Devdutt Pattanaik traces this back to the idea that in western mythology, the individual has one life -- so be all that you can be. In eastern mythology, the individual has many lives. Even the gods have many lives. Everyone lives infinite times, “until you get to the point of it all.”
Some people -- mostly westerners, it seems, accept this as a wonderful idea. But many people do not. Buddha, it seems, was someone who did not care for the idea of infinite lives. He called this returning samsara, and seemed to view it as a bad thing, something to be overcome by letting go of the desire for this world. But whether you like the idea or not, as the speaker says:
Two different mythologies, two different ways of looking at the world. One linear, one cyclical. One believes this is the one and only life. The other believes this is one of many lives...
And everybody asks me, "Which is the better way, this way or that way?" And it's a very dangerous question, because it leads you to the path of fundamentalism and violence... Depending on the context, depending on the outcome, choose your paradigm. You see, because both the paradigms are human constructions. They are cultural creations, not natural phenomena.
- TED Talk by Devdutt Pattanaik, 19 November 2009
From the culture develops the mythology, and from the mythology, it seems, develops the accepted norms of the culture. It’s all cyclical, I guess, and it’s all about perspective.
...when you study it, you realize that different people of the world have a different understanding of the world... There is my world and there is your world, and my world is always better than your world, because my world, you see, is rational and yours is superstition. Yours is faith. Yours is illogical. This is the root of the clash of civilizations.
- TED Talk by Devdutt Pattanaik, 19 November 2009
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