ELEVEN

WELCOME TO PERSEOPIA

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Sammy woke as Mehrak came up the stairwell, carrying a steaming cup in each hand.

“You’ve slept in late,” he said. “It’s nearly lunchtime.”

The chandelier in the ceiling swung left and right in time to slow beats that reverberated up from below. They were moving. Sammy rubbed her eyes with her palms.

Mehrak held out one of the cups. “Mushroom tea,” he said.

Sammy took the cup. “How long have we been travelling?”

“Not sure exactly. We set off early this morning so we’ve been going a while.”

Sammy slid out of bed, cupping her tea carefully. She shuffled to the doorway leading to the front balcony, stopped for a cavernous yawn that made her hands shake and her tea slop, then pushed forward through the curtains to find –

“It’s still dark.”

“I know,” Mehrak said, as he followed her out. “What did you expect?”

“I thought it would be brighter.” Sammy walked to the railing and leant on it. “Where’s the sun? You said it was morning.”

“Sun?”

“The big yellow ball that floats in the sky when it’s daytime.”

“I’ve seen paintings of that big yellow ball in museums,” Mehrak said. “I’ve only ever read about daytime in history books though. A bright glowing sphere in a blue sky. We used to get the sun, as you call it, a few hundred years ago.” He stopped. “You know you’re a pretty convincing Mother Worlder.”

“What’s one of them?”

“That’s what people from the Mother World are called. The place you say you come from –”

“Where I do come from. And how come you’ve heard of where I come from? I don’t know anything about this place.” Sammy made a broad gesture with her cup, slopping some of its contents over the railing. “Sorry, Louis,” she called down, hoping she hadn’t spilt any on him. He didn’t flinch so perhaps she hadn’t.

She turned to Mehrak. “What is this place?”

“It’s Perseopia,” he said. “As if you didn’t know.”

“I don’t, actually!” Then the anger bubble burst. “Perseopia?” she said. “I have heard of Perseopia.”

“What a surprise.”

Sammy clenched her teeth and took a deep breath. “The old woman that gave me the bracelet with the dial, Esther, she said something about Perseopia. So this world is Perseopia?”

“It’s more of a realm than a world, but yeah, this place is Perseopia. We used to be part of your world twelve hundred years ago.”

“So why doesn’t anyone where I come from know about this place, except for that old woman?”

“Perseopia was sealed from the Mother World to keep it perfect; a secret paradise away from overpopulation, disease and corruption.” Mehrak made a gesture that looked like he was tracing the shape of a rainbow in the sky.

“This is the place that was sealed away by that shepherd.”

“Yeah. His name was Yima and he sealed Perseopia with a golden ring. Information that it would be impossible for a Mother Worlder to know.”

 

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