I had sat down on my bed and was thinking about the day when I remembered that I needed to learn Norwegian. I quickly jumped off my bed and walked down the hall and stairs and looked for room twenty-six. When I found it I knocked on the door. A woman with dark brown hair and eyes answered the door. I recognized her from dinner.
“Mara?” I simply asked.
She turned and called Mara to the door.
“Bruce, I didn’t expect to see you so soon. Is something wrong?” She said.
“I just remembered I need to go to the library for a Norwegian language book. Could you come with me?” I asked.
“Sure. Good thing you came now, before I changed into my pajamas.” She giggled as she slid her jacket on.
We walked up a flight of stairs and out the door closest to the library. It was a short walk, no more than three minutes but I wish I had brought my jacket since the wind and the snow had gotten much worse. Once we were in the library I brushed all the snow off myself as Mara tapped her shoes in an attempt to get the snow off of them. She led me to a receptionist at a desk to the left of a flight of stairs. She started to speak Norwegian and gesturing to me. I was hoping that they would have a book to end this uncomfortable situation. The receptionist typed something and then spoke to Mara. She smiled and nodded at the receptionist than walked up the stairs with me trailing behind. We were walking for about five minutes when she turned to me and said “I know this is taking a long time but I’ve never been to this specific wing of the library.” She gave me a weak smile.
“It’s okay.” I mumbled. “I’m just glad you’re helping me.”
We continued to wander. We passed a group of men that were writing on a whiteboard and passionately discussing something. We passed a couple that was kissing quite fervently between the shelves when they saw us they both gasped and jogged in the other direction. After more wandering we finally came to a stop.
“The librarian said we would find books about the Norwegian language here.” She explained gesturing to the shelf.
“I can’t read any of the titles.” I pointed out. “Could you help me?”
She gave her usual smile and replied “Sure.”
I loved the way her smile could make me feel comfortable and serene no matter what the situation. She read the title of books that might be helpful out loud. After we had looked up and down the aisle I had a total of four books.
“Are you sure you need that many?” She asked.
“It’s better to have too many than not enough.” I answered.
“Indeed you’re right.”
I used my military I.D. to check them out and we headed back to the barracks.
“By the way, after 9 PM the doors lock, you have to ring the doorbell and show your I.D. to get in.” Mara mentioned.
“What time is it now?” I asked.
“Before 9 PM.” She said.
We once again went our separate ways once we were in the barracks. Once I was back in my room I sat down at the desk and started reading the books. About thirty minutes later my roommate, Blake, walked in. I gave him a friendly hello and he returned it. He sat down at his desk and started to work as well. I enjoyed this lifestyle so far it was quiet, calm, and pleasant. Soon I would be starting my career as a scientist and although it was for the military I was still excited about the mental stimulation it would bring. I was also comforted that I had already made one friend, Mara. She knew I was a monster but didn’t treat me any differently, that was a refreshing change. She was warm and beautiful too. She was a great friend to have and I felt glad to know her.
After studying the book for hours I looked at my watch. I was now 10:00. I had learned the alphabet and was beginning to understand the pronunciation of certain words. I would have to practice with Mara tomorrow. I remembered that she would be here to wake me up before 8’o clock, I didn’t have an alarm clock but I was a light sleeper anyway so I was sure I would wake up from her knocking on the door. I quickly stripped down to just my shirt and boxers and climbed into my bed without as much as a glance from Blake. These beds were so much softer than the ones in the infirmary and I fell asleep right away.
Sleep has been an unpleasant experience for me after I had the accident that turned me into a monster. When I sleep the Other Guy takes over and my dreams are filled with nothing but destruction and chaos. Burning cities, flying rubble, missiles destroying buildings, people screaming in terror, blood staining the streets. Although I know I need sleep the dreams is what I would want to do without. I was coaxed out of my dreams when I heard a tapping on the door. I looked at my watch; it was 7:18 A.M. I pulled myself out of bed and opened the door just a little bit, “Hello Mara. I’ll be out soon. Just let me get dressed.”
“Okay.” She replied.
All I had to do was put my pants back on. I hoped this military store also sold normal clothes; I didn’t like the idea of having to wait to get another pair of everything. I quietly closed the door and smiled at Mara. She smiled back and handed me a jacket similar to the one she was wearing. “I took it from my friend; I didn’t want you to be cold.”
“Thank you, I appreciate it.” I whispered.
We walked out of the barracks and towards the mess hall. It was still dark outside but at least the snow and wind had stopped. I knew this was going to be a long walk so I wanted to make conversation with her to pass the time.
“I’ve been wondering, if you’re in a search and rescue team why do you speak so many languages?” I inquired.
“Language is something that has always interested me.” She answered in her usual sweet and soft voice. “For me one language is never enough. Also, it’s very helpful if I have to rescue someone that doesn’t speak the native language.”
“I expect you pick up languages very easily?” I asked.
“I suppose you could say that. If I have help I can pick up a language in about two months.” She responded.
I couldn’t think of what to say next so we continued the walk in silence. My legs were starting to feel weak and wobbly by the time we stepped into the military dispensary. It seemed like it was miles past the mess hall and clerical building. As soon as we got in she gestured for me to walk down the stairs with her. She still had my list from last night. I slowly descended the stairs, holding onto the railing tightly as I did because I was afraid of my legs giving out from exhaustion. She looked at the list and had already grabbed a pair of safety goggles and a white jacket, similar to the one I was wearing now. She quickly walked to another aisle and returned holding a lab coat. She looked at me with concern.
“Bruce, are you okay?” She asked.
“I’m fine, I just didn’t expect that walk to be so long.” I explained.
“It was only two miles.” She informed me. “If you want I could get everything and you could just wait.”
“Thank you that would be great.” I replied.
She continued to walk up and down the aisles and finally returned holding several items.
“Do they sell normal clothes here? I don’t like spending all my time in the same pants and shirt.” I said.
She gave me a sympathetic look and responded, “I’m sorry but they don’t. We could go into town tonight when your shift ends and pick up some civilian clothes.”
“How long is my shift?” I asked.
“Eight hours.” She answered simply.
“So we would head for town around 4?” I asked.
“Yes, and be back by dinner hopefully.”
I nodded in approval. We got to the cashier, who required me to walk up the stairs again, and he rang up my purchase. He then asked me for my I.D. which I handed to him, was that equivalent to money here? Mara leaned over and whispered to me “The price of your necessary items will be taken out of your first paycheck.”
That made sense. It was a relief that I wouldn’t have to spend my money since I didn’t have any. Mara and I walked back towards the barracks but instead of going inside she told me she would wait outside so that she could show me wear the lab was. I hurriedly gave her back the jacket she let me borrow and put my things back in my room only taking the safety goggles and lab coat with me. As soon as I was back outside she started walking away. I followed her until she gestured to a three story square building.
“Good luck on your first day, just go all the way to the top floor unless you’re told otherwise.” She said with a smile.
“Thank you Mara. I’ll see you later.” I said as I was opened the door. She walked back to the barracks and I walked up the stairs, ready to see how my first day would go.
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