Missing a week’s worth of classes was no joke. Raine was struggling to keep up with the lecture. She had no idea they had moved on to the next chapter of Anthropology Perspectives when she hadn’t even grasp the last chapter fully. “The father of Structuralism, Levi-Strauss…” a few giggles broke out in the hall. “No, not the jeans,” the lecturer chuckled.
Raine was busy flipping through the pages, trying to grasp the last few details from the previous chapter. Noone can really understand what the lecturer is talking about without fully understanding the previous chapter as they are all connected. Although the lecturer’s voice was loud and stern against the microphone, seeking the students’ attention, it seemed distant and echoic to Raine. She was lost in her own thoughts. Boas, Cultural Relativism, Inuits, yes, I know that, Malinowski, what was his theory again?
As the facts began to seep into her mind at an intense speed, trying to grasp as much as she could, she suddenly felt a wave of nausea hit her. She looked up from her textbook and saw the world around her begin to waver. Her eyes went blurry; she could barely make out the lecturer in front of the hall. His voice had reduced to a slur. She felt sick and dizzy, as if she were to get up on her feet she would stumble flat on her face.
She closed her eyes, trying to will the dizziness away. A flash of an image startled her. She snapped her eyes open. The noise around her slowly quieted, the air became still as vacuum. Images suddenly flooded her mind so fast she couldn’t make them out. A blinking lightning roared, and she heard screams in her ears. A stench like sulphur invaded her nostrils. The images keep changing from one to the other, flashing past in her head like a bullet train passing by. She tried to concentrate, tried to focus on the images as they appear and disappear.
Raine, my dear, there isn’t much time. A voice pleaded. She tried to listen to her mother’s voice, but the chaos of the images made it hard for her. Her chest felt heavy, her stomach tightening as if she’s about to hurl. She could hardly breathe. He shall regain power, and all that we’ve strived for will be lost. Seek Salvage, dear Raine, only you can stop him. The voice trailed off as the images became clearer. Raine could see women and children running away from a blinding green light, she can feel the pain and anguish as if she was there with them. The light turned into a horrible dark green and a burning smell engulfed her. Out of nowhere, a blue-white streak of light shone past the green light and split it open. Raine, help us! someone screamed in her ears and made her fell of her chair.
The fall snapped her back to reality. The images were gone from her mind, and she could no longer smell the stench. By now, every eye in the hall had turned to her, confused. “Raine, are you okay?” Kaelan’s voice ripped through her consciousness as sharp as knife. Disoriented, she looked up and saw his concerned face. He helped her up on her feet. She looked around the hall and blushed like strawberries. The lecturer had stopped talking and looked at her concerned. A few of girls at the back were snickering. “What a loser,” one girl scoffed. “I’m fine. Just a bit sick,” she said. “May I be excused?” she asked the lecturer. With a hesitant nod, she picked up her bag and walked out of the hall, closing the door behind a burst of laughter.
Kaelan found her sitting alone, smoking on the park bench after class. The huge oak tree next to the bench covered her expression, he couldn’t make out whether she was fine or not. Even her figure was merely a shadow, hidden from the rest of the world. The faint glint of the red ruby stone gave her away. “Hey, are you alright? You got me worried back there for awhile. You do realize you just fell off the chair, out of nowhere?” he said as he neared her. Raine gave a soft laugh.
“Yeah, well, I was trying to amuse you from that boring lecture,” she said, trying to lighten up. Kaelan frowned hard. “That sort of thing was not to be taken as a joke. You were white as a chalk,” She sighed. “I don’t know, suddenly I just felt so sick. But I’m fine now. No worries,” she smiled, trying to comfort him. It was such an innocent and beautiful smile that Kaelan felt obliged to forgive her.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, and she was so lost in her own thoughts to even appreciate it. The sky was so clear and unusually blue, unlike the days before. Soft wisps of pure white clouds were spread throughout the clear sky. She looked around her. A group of students were studying together nearby. Others were busy hustling about, talking loudly and deeply immersed in their conversations. A few were rushing to class, one girl was so panicky that she bumped into another person and dropped the pile of books she was carrying. University. Everyone was so busy with their own lives they took no notice of others. Raine was no exception.
These past few weeks had been miserable. The dreams came more frequently then before, and she had an awful feeling in her guts that something ominous is going to happened. She told herself countless times that it’s just in her head, yet she couldn’t really shake the feeling off. And just now, in the classroom, nothing like that had ever happened to her before. She had never had any visions or dreams in broad daylight, especially not one when she’s fully awake. It’s awfully weird and worrying.
Kaelan snapped his fingers in front of her. “Yo, wake up Raine. You were drifting off again. Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look like it. Maybe we should just drop by the doctor’s office. Just to make sure,” She brushed his fingers away. “I’m fine! God, Kaelan, what’s up with you these days, trying to be my mum or something?” she chuckled. “Seriously, I’m fine. Come on, I got Deviance next, how about you?” “Calculus,” he replied with a grin. “I’ll catch you later tonight after football practice. Just to make sure.”
She glanced up at the classroom’s clock. 2.50pm. Great, 10 more minutes to go then I’m out of here. Throughout the lesson she was unable to concentrate. Every 10 minutes she glanced up at the clock, ticking ever so slowly, as though the whole world was trapped in a time warp. Her heart was thundering against her chest inside her. Her mind was racing with thoughts, ideas, confusion. She looked around her. Her classmates were either busy listening to the lecture, or were busy scribbling something in their notebooks. Only a handful had she actually talked to.
A girl named Tamara looked up at Raine and smiled. She was friendliest to her. Every time she walked into the classroom, she would always wave at Raine. She always seem to want to befriend Raine somehow, but maybe because of Raine’s cold expression plastered on her face almost all the time, she didn’t really get much word out except for, “hello” or “how are you today?”. Raine thought she was pretty. Her raven hair fell all the way down her back, dark brown almond eyes, and pretty freckles line her cheeks. She had mention that she came from a mixed parenthood, her mother was Chinese and her father was Danish once when Raine was in a bit of a chatty mood.
Raine stared outside the window dreamily. Outside was getting darker than before. The sun had been completely blocked out by the clouds. Only a few rays were visible. She thought about Salvage. What does it mean? She wrote out the word in front of her in capital letters. She had a feeling it has something to do with war, or a battle. The images she saw sure look chaotic, and the feelings she felt was of despair and hopelessness. It has to be a war. But what war? In History lessons, no such war has happened before in Whitaker, except for occasional riots, but those weren’t bloody. Sure enough, Whitaker has always been a peaceful, quiet town. With a population of just 10, 000, nothing exciting ever happened. Except…she started thinking.
Her memory brought her back to when she was six years old, in her mother’s arms. Her mother was crying, kissing her on the cheeks, on the temple, on the eyes. Then her mother held her face gently, and she could never forget those beautiful grey blue eyes, her eyes. Her mother’s eyes were full of fear and sorrow, nevertheless, strong. It glittered in the dark. That was the most distinct feature of her mother’s face that she could never forget. “I’m doing this for you, my love, and for the rest that comes after you. Forgive me but it’s the only way. In time you will understand. I love you and I’m always with you,” her mother kissed her on the cheeks again, left her on the steps and fled into the night, never to be seen again. She remembered vaguely about that night.
She remembered the flashes of light that went through the night’s sky. She thought they were fireworks. She was so confused. After awhile when she realized her mother was never coming back to get her, she cried and cried. “Mother,” she had whispered. “Where are you? I’m scared. Mother?” she cried out. Then everything went to nothing but a blur. She could barely remember being picked up by someone and brought to somewhere warm and cosy. She was too tired and cold to even bother resisting. The next thing she knew, Hannah and Matthew had become her foster parents.
Without realizing it, her feet had brought her to the front of Whitaker Library. She looked up. She meant to go back straight after class, and had no intention of wandering about. Definitely not to a library, for she had given up on studying that day. Nevertheless, her heart bid her to go inside. She showed her student id card at the front desk. Students get free admittance. The library smelled old, a hint of cedar smell reached her nostrils. What am I doing here again? She thought. She felt like she has to be here somehow, her instincts told her that there was something that she had to do here. But what?
She wandered through the first hallway on her right, placing her fingers on the edge of the books and dragging them as she walked past. The bookshelves stretched upwards as far as she could reach. Probably eight to ten feet high. Rows and rows of books stretched horizontally on each shelf. Books on biology, on chemistry, on research and theories. She turned to her left. More books on science and research. She saw journals of past scientists, some that were too old they were kept in a glass case. Every book and every journal was tagged with a yellow sticker, with the words ‘Property of Whitaker Library’ printed on them.
She made her way to the second floor and lingered outside the open brass door. Her eyes caught a sign that said ‘Historical Events’ at the far end of the hallway. Instinctively, she moved towards that area. Along the bookshelves, books were categorized into different parts of the world. From North American to Eastern European, to Asian region countries. Her eyes searched for Ireland. Easter Rising, Ireland Independence 1920, Wars of Anglo-Irish from the 12th Century, The Journal of Bogside 1969…The list went on and on, none that she was looking for. She took the book ‘Irish Battles and Riots’ and brought it to a nearby study table. She browsed the contents table, looking for Whitaker.
Suddenly, she felt like someone was staring at her. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a girl standing a few feet away from her, glaring. She looked up. The girl was wearing a short pleated skirt and white long sleeve cotton top. Her hair was golden, and as she moved towards Raine, the colour was caught in the sun light that came through the window and glimmered. “If you can’t find what you’re looking for, come see me. I’m Lea, I work here,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’ll keep that in mind,” Raine replied with a nod. The girl turned away.
On page 3205, she found the history on Whitaker Town. Whitaker, a small town with the population of 10, 000 situated on the Southeast of Ireland, about 250 miles south of Cork, overlooking the Celtic Sea. Founded in 1785 by Sir T. Whitaker, after buying land from the British to serve as a migrant settlement. Raine continued reading. She skipped through the rest of the history, searching for battles that had taken place in Whitaker. In 1980, the ‘Battle for Salvation’ took place, a riot, although ’small-scale’, between the ‘peacekeepers’and the Runic Union. There was no interferance from the government at that time, and the article on the riot was too brief. No casualties were reported, though they did not explain clearly who these people were. Ten years later, a second Battle for Salvation occurred at a much bigger scale. No actual record of the event was attained, but random sources say it was a bloodbath.
“You know, that riot wasn’t really a riot, and it wasn’t called Battle for Salvation either,” a voice suddenly startled her. Raine looked up and saw Lea leaning down in front of her. “Shortly after the riot had happened, the government obscured everything. Had a major nationwide cover-up. I can show you what really happened, if you’re interested,” “How would you know? It’s in the history book, what else can it be?” Raine asked ludicrously. Lea was starting to annoy her. “That’s what they want you to believe,” she paused. She studied Raine. “Follow me,” Hesitantly, Raine got up from her chair and followed her.
Lea took her to the third floor of the building, then beckoned her to come into a smaller room at the end of the hallway. “Normally this room is off limits, no one is allowed in here, but since I help out almost everyday, the librarian trusts me with the key. I’ve explored every single corner of this library and basically know where each book is located. But this room is my favourite,” she said.
Raine stood still with her back against the door, watching her as she reached for a switch on the right hand side of the wall. A small light bulb flickered to life. The room was very small, almost like an attic. It was dusty and smelled of mould. There were bookshelves on either side of the room, but not as fancy as the ones she saw in the library. They were rotting, a few of the wooden planks were broken. The books that were lined up on the good planks were huge and thick. They looked very old, as if they came all the way from the 18th Century, maybe even older. Lea narrowed her eyes and scanned the books.
Then she carefully took one out and handed it to Raine. “Here. This will explain in detail what really happened,” Raine stared down at the book. Salvage Rain. “You can take it home. You can’t really read it in here, or else I’ll get busted,” Lea continued. “You trust me with this?” Raine asked, eyes widened. She couldn’t figure out why this girl was being so nice to her. “Of course. Anyway, it won’t mean anything if you steal it, these books here are not in the inventory. I have no idea why they still keep them. But I’m glad they did,” she said with a smile. “Thanks, um, Lea right? Thanks a lot,” Raine said with a smile, and with a casual wave she left the room.