Old writing: Archivists

cartographerI’d forgotten how much I loved Mir…I’ve got this marked as 2006, which is probably about right. This is just a snippet, and it transformed into a story about people living on another world with the addition of a mystery bunch of time-and-space-movers, of whom Mark is one. It’s definitely got too much tell rather than show, and is still very mystery-girl-saves-the-day, but…I do keep meaning to go back to this sometime. Maybe Mir will show up in a future work.

The image is Cartographer by Donato Giancola, which was a lot of the inspiration.

A girl had been working at the table by the wall, unnoticed by Mark. All that he could see of her was a black leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up. She had dark trousers and sturdy calf-length boots, and she was bent over a scroll, drawing something onto it. Mark slipped off his chair, moving slowly over to try and see what she was doing. She was drawing on one of the scrolls, using red ink…he could see a brown hand holding the quill, with a green bracelet curving up her arm. The girl seemed to sense him watching and turned her head to see who it was.

Mark blinked. The girl had fine brown hair that framed her oval face, and dark eyes that met his with surprise and shock in equal measures. She was pretty in a quiet sort of way, and seemed quite young. The girl carefully put her pen down, frowning, and then unbent from the table to look properly at Mark.

The girl’s eyes scanned the boy’s face, noting the blue-green eyes and brown hair, the boy’s high cheekbones and straight nose. He was wearing slightly odd clothes – a rather ragged grey top and dark trousers. He seemed about fourteen, but had a bewildered look that made him seem younger. His hair was messy and he looked tired, and his eyes had a look of hopelessness in them that seem to be ingrained. What had happened to him?

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice faintly accented. “Did Mirell bring you in?”

“Mirell?” Mark said, his voice suddenly becoming husky. He swallowed hastily. “Who’s Mirell?” Did they speak the same language or did she speak his, he wondered? He obviously wasn’t at home, and it didn’t look like anywhere on Earth. Maybe he was dreaming…he’d got hit on the head and this was a delusion. It had to be.

The girl pointed behind him to where the two men were bent over another table, discussing something intently. “Mirell’s the younger one – he’s got blue-tint hair. The other’s Teol. And Jir just left, just before you came in.”

Mark stared at her blankly. “Mirell found me. Someone called Liumenn wanted to know who I was and what I was doing here, and Mirell pretended he knew me…how does he know me?”

“And brought you up here. We’ve been expecting someone.” the girl said simply. “We’re the historians, you see. The Archivists. We keep the records, the maps, the files. Everyone else regards it as a lost subject. So we don’t bother correcting them. There are only a few of us, spread amongst the centres, but we have some special skills.”

“You shouldn’t be telling him that.” said a grumpy voice behind them.

“Why not?” the girl answered calmly, looking over Mark’s shoulder at Teol.

“We don’t know who he is.”

“Alright.” Mirell said, walking over and touching Teol on the shoulder. “Let’s get this sorted. We have a strange boy who has simply appeared in the middle of the centre. We have no idea who he is or where he’s come from, yet I bring him up here…mainly to get him out the clutches of the professors and scientists. He’s not from our world and has no idea of what’s happening. About right, Mart?”

Mark sat down on the chair again, feeling bewildered as Teol and Mirell began to talk together again. So he had just appeared here? He didn’t understand…what had happened? Where was he?

The girl was looking at him in sympathy. “You won’t have any idea about our world, I guess.” she said. “It’ll be totally strange. I’ll try and help you, because until we figure out where you’ve come from and why you’re here, you’re stuck here.”

Mark met her dark eyes, feeling despair slowly creeping over him. Everything was far too strange and was too much for him to take in…what had happened?

“You’re on a world called L’uimal.” the girl explain quietly as Teol and Mirell began to talk about something else, Teol hurrying over to another table to find a piece of paper. “This is a centre, a place of learning. There are three continents, and this area is called Reingnne. Are you okay so far?”

Mark nodded.

“Now, the Archivists – which is us – are special. We have some contacts with other worlds, mainly through documents left by others who travelled. In the past, there used to be people – called Andres – who could travel between worlds. We’ve lost the skills and we don’t think that any have visited us for the last three hundred years. We don’t know what happened to them. But anyway, that’s purely academic.” The girl smiled. “Mirell studies that. It’s his subject. Anyway, you’ve just suddenly appeared from nowhere. I…I felt it happen, and Mirell happened to be down there and brought you up. Liumenn would have loved to have you to study.”

Mark stared at her. People who could travel between worlds? “How many worlds are there?” he asked after a moment of silence.

“There are numerous spheres – I used the wrong term saying worlds. There’s one universe, and millions of spheres in that. The worlds are inside the spheres. There can be several worlds inside one sphere, for example.” she explained.

“I come from…” but he couldn’t really remember. It all seemed like a dream. He didn’t want to go back there, to be hit and starved…how could he get back, though? If he didn’t know how he got here how would he get back?

“Earth.” the girl filled in softly. “Mirell got your name wrong, but Mart is a better version for here. Mark is a little odd.”

“How did he know my name?”

“It shows. You look like a Mark.”

“How much do you know about me?”

“Enough.” the girl said absently, listening to Mirell and Teol. “I think Mart is better. And you’re a youngling…that’s someone who comes to see what we do, or gets adopted and becomes an apprentice later. Mirell seems to have adopted you, so that’s okay. We’ll have to see what you’re here for. I don’t know how you got here but you must be here for a reason.”

The door opened and Jir slid back in, his open, honest face smiling. “Greetings, people. Who’s this?” he added, spotting Mark.

“Mart. Mirell’s adopted him as a youngling.” the girl said before Mirell or Teol could speak. “He’s from Earth. I’m wondering what he’s here for.”

“What’s your name?” Mark asked as Jir wandered over and the two older men began to argue the girl’s question between themselves.

“My name?” the girl said with a grin as Jir leaned on the table nearby, listening. “Which name would you like?”

“She’s Mira, normally.” Jir filled in. “Your full name’s Miranda, isn’t it, Mir?”

Mark stared around him, the knowledge that he was in a foreign and alien world finally sinking in. He couldn’t get home, and had no idea about how this world worked. Abruptly, he put his head in his hands and began to cry with helpless tears.