Note: Posting it here cuz I have no wish to deal with the copyright tangle that is Suckerberg's creation.
And I don't want this becoming public. Discretion would be appreciated.
Mei Tanaka slunk down the hallways with an unease that betrayed many of her ilk. She wasn't paralyzed by fear as a few others would have been but it would have been expecting too much of human nature to expect her to be completely fearless. She was a transfer student, not the first to walk down these hallowed halls and definitely not the last, but she was the only one in the middle of the academic year and she had no comfort of a familiar face, or even for that matter, an unfamiliar one to keep her company.
The corridor was completely empty.
Not a very unusual sight during class timings or even before school started, she couldn't fathom why there wasn't a single soul in sight. The clerk had told her to show up at 9 so someone could give her a proper tour, helpfully drawing her a map but he needn't have bothered. The fountain, undoubtedly the site of regular dunkings, was very hard to miss.
She took a seat on the cold metal bench in the small courtyard where the fountain was located, figuring she'd wait for her escort there instead of trying to give herself an orientation tour. Minutes turned to hours as wandered about the small patch of greenery and introduced herself to the koi fish in the pond. A bizzare fusion of East-meets-West, she decided not to question it. The MACademy was known for its gentle eccentricities the same way a rabid pitbull was known for not liking water but it was an accepted fact that it was one of the best institutes for education in the country.
Growing frustrated, she checked the time again, deciding to leave if no one showed up in the next ten minutes. But just then, a shout drew her attention. A short figure with a lot of hair waddled down the hallway, one ear in the firm grip of an even shorter person screaming something about fruits.
“You damned irresponsible Melon!” the shorter person growled as she (Mei could make out it was a woman, or at least, feminine in nature) gave him a shake. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”
“I am sorry!” the... Melon(!?) howled as the woman finally stopped her charge and landed to a sudden stop in front of a very surprised transfer student.
“Good Morning” Mei said politely, suddenly remembering her manners as she assessed the newcomers. They looked nothing like students, she realized as she gave them a once over. The woman was short, coming only upto her chest, and looked familiar. The man looked nothing like a melon she decided, too skinny for one, and had funny hair. If she squinted, she thought while he rubbed his abused ear, he looked like an over-turned broomstick.
“You must be the transfer student.” the woman smiled suddenly and her grin was sunshine and sparkles. “I would stay and chat but I have some other work to do. This is the counselor. He will be your guide for the day.” she gave the wary man a painful looking pat on the back and zoomed off, charging down the corridor with Intent and Purpose to dispense justice as she saw fit.
Mei blinked after the rapidly retreating figure but was drawn out of her reverie by a very deliberate clearing of throat. “I am Anirudh Melon. Menon, I mean. I will be your escort for the day.” And he started walking, throwing her a look over his shoulder when she did not make a move to go after him. She followed him as he spoke, keeping pace with the easy stride he set, feigning attention whenever he turned to look at her.
The tour wasn't really necessary, she realised as they turned more and more corners. The layout was far from confusing and every corridor had a large map, pin-pointing the exact location of the viewer every two steps. He had refused to comment when she asked him their purpose, mumbling something about blondes and sisters and back-breaking labour. She had given up questioning him after a few innocous queries here and there which had received roundabout replies and let him continue his rambling which consisted mostly of bad jokes and terrible puns.
A few sharp turns later, she realized that this was no meandering examination of rooms and corridors that looked copy-pasted over a few times but a march down the very same hallways with a Destination in mind. Her guide practically rushed down tiled floors in his haste to get wherever he had in mind and she regretted not paying enough attention to figure out what triggered this mad rush. Still she followed him, unsure of what else to do. And finally after a lot of rushing (running in the school halls was forbidden) they arrived at their destination.
Mei could literally hear the background music as the counselor gazed up almost reverently at what had led them here. The Fruit, as she had begun to refer to him in her own head, seemed to have completely forgotten about the student he had to babysit for a day in favour of an inanimate object. She studied it a bit closer, hoping for some clue as to the reason of his fascination with it. Maybe it held the cure to cancer or the answer to Life's Ultimate Question. But, she realized with a sinking feeling, that did not seem very likely.
It was a vending machine.
“It is a vending machine!” he was exclaiming into a phone which he had managed to whip out when she was busy examining the aforementioned object. “It really is a vending machine! Next to my office.” He was nearly in tears.
“Yeah, Happy Birthday” the other person on the phone waved off his gratitude with the air of a person unused to being on the business end of such gushings.
“My birthday is not for another four months.” Melon mentioned off-handedly and just when Mei thought he would say goodbye, the gushings began again. “It has Bournville and Dairy milk and junk food and Thumbs up!”
“Yeah good.” the person on the other end of the line said in a tone of finality that screamed 'shut up or else.' Mei was inclined to agree.
“Ummm” she cleared her throat then shook him by the shoulder when he was too busy figuring out the little buttons on the side. “The timetable says I have my first class in ten minutes and I still don't know where my class is.”
“Oh. That.” he looked confused, unsure of why he still had a tail when he had already Dispensed his Duty. “We passed it two turns ago.” He made a waving motion and went back to his phone call. “Yeah I'll get the Thumbs up. Want anything else? You wanted to eat mints yesterday, right?” After a frown at what was clearly a negative reply, he cut the call and began making his way up the stairs. Mei hadn't the heart to tell him that waving the bottle around like that was not a good idea. He and his friend would find that out soon enough.
She let out a little snort at the mental image and turned around. There was a class that needed attending, classmates-to-be that needed meeting and and Introduction that needed making.
First days were vital to the rest of the school life and she was not going to mess up one of the most important rituals in a transfer student's career. All that practice in the shower would not go to waste.
Let those sniggers come. Mei Tanaka was a prepared woman.
Aurelia, please draw me some pretty pictures to go with this?