Akarian Rising – Part 5
After Dave had shown Akarian round the ground floor of the hostel he directed him to one of the shared dorms and pointed to one of the single beds along the back wall. It was just after 6pm and the hostel was filling up with those who needed a warm bed for the night. The hostel housed around 75 people every night. They had to offer this on a first come first serve basis as the number of people who needed shelter was just too high. They all had varying reasons why they needed to be there and Dave simply could not choose between them and so was forced to do it this way. It generally pained him but he had no choice. He was petitioning for more funding so that he could renovate the other 2 floors of the building but he thought it would be a long wait so for now he would have to settle for the small amount of good he could do.
As a child Dave had spent most of his life in places such as this, moving from place to place with his mother. His father had left them taking with him their car and all the money they had. He’d left them in there one bedroom caravan with no source of income. He’d only been 6 at the time so he didn’t remember his father but the hatred that burned in his soul whenever he thought about him told him if he ever met him he’d probably beat the hell out of him. They had had a hard life it felt as though they were constantly on the run. He’d been to 7 schools and ended up dropping out of secondary school at age 13 to work and help support him and his mother. His mother became ill and eventually the dreary existence of her life took its toll. She died aged 47 of a heart attack. His breath caught in his throat when he thought about her, after all these years it still hurt just as much as it did then. It was as though no matter what he did no matter how many people he helped he could not help the one person he wanted and that was his mother.
Shaking himself out of his misery he looked at the silent Akarian who walked by his side. The man was strange there was no doubt about that but Dave sensed a good soul inside the man. He didn’t believe everything he had been told but he understood the need to hide yourself from others. He’d done it often enough. Akarian walked through the crowd of people getting their bunks ready for the night as if he was in a museum. He watched everyone, his head whipped from side to side as though he had to take everything in. It was peculiar behaviour and made Dave feel that Craig had been wrong. This man had not been on the streets for long if he had he would be more street wise. He wouldn’t be gawking at people and acting so bizarre.
Akarian gripped the towel he was holding to his chest as if it were his armour. The flood of emotions running through the room were overwhelming. He felt like he was in the water again struggling to rise above the surface. Anger, despair, self-loathing battered him just like the waves had. Had his mother not taken his powers he would have been able to stop the constant flow of human emotions that threatened to drag him down. It made his head hurt. He sat down on the bed and rubbed his hand along the thin sheet. He was incredibly grateful to Dave for giving him shelter. He had expected to sleep under the stars which didn’t sound so bad until he took in the fact he was responding to his environment like a human susceptible to cold.
Dave watched him carefully trying to suss him out. He just couldn’t read him but he hoped in time he would come to understand him. “You can leave your towel here Akarian, it will be safe. We need to go to the kitchens now and get you something to eat and I need to check everything is ok over there.” Akarian raised his head and looked at Dave.
“Yes we don’t just offer a warm bed for the night we also try to feed as many people as we can.”
Akarian looked away analysing this new information. Dave was one of the good humans. He hadn’t asked for anything in return and this humbled Akarian. He would store this away to tell his mother when he returned. “Can I help at all? I would feel more comfortable if I was doing something in return for your kindness.”
“Well yes of course we would welcome the help, please follow me.” Dave led the way out of the dorm but as he went lots of people called to him saying hello and asking how he was. He was well respected and loved here and it made him feel like part of a family. Something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Akarian watched as Dave moved through the crowd of people like an angel, commanding attention and filling the room with a lightness. Akarian tilted his eyes at Dave as he followed him, if he narrowed his gaze it was as though the room around him darkened and he could see the colour of Dave’s soul. It was a bright blinding light with no darkness or other variations of colour in it. It was pure. He only wanted to help those around him, he was sincere. Smiling to himself Akarian opened his eyes fully. He hadn’t lost all of his powers, those innate ones like his soul sight were still with him. It would aid him in knowing who to trust and who deserved his help.
They walked in silence to the kitchens both wrapped up in their own thoughts. As they walked into the large mess hall which was bustling with activity Dave led them to the line, which consisted of 8 fold away tables with large trays of food on it. Most of the trays contained different soups as this was the cheapest thing to produce and went a long way. It was also served hot which was something these people needed, a warm meal on a cold evening. Not all of those present would be staying at the hostel, in fact around half of them would be going to their local spots to sleep the night away on the streets.
Going behind the line Dave called out to the volunteers patting an arm here and there. He introduced Akarian as he went. Heading out the back to the actual kitchen he grabbed two aprons and a pair of gloves for each of them. “Come on then let’s get you working.” Smiling he led Akarian back to the line. He placed him at the end so he could see what the others were doing. People were queuing now so they needed to move fast. “Ok Akarian all you need to do is give everyone a spoonful of the tomato soup in front of you unless they don’t ask for it of course as we’ve got lots of different soups on offer tonight. Normally they will just hold their bowl out to you if they want some, ok?”
“Yes I think I can do that.” As he got into a routine and started to feel more comfortable he began interacting with the people he was serving. It felt wonderful to be doing something and contributing. His headache had gone now but his stomach still felt sore because he was hungry but he could eat later he told himself. These people were more important. If he had known not all of them would be staying in the hostel with him he would have given up his bed in a heartbeat.
4 hours came and went and Akarian had met some truly fascinating characters but he also met a few unsavoury ones as well. One lady spat the soup back him and complained it had no taste and that he should just have given her hot water because it would have tasted better. Akarian stared wide eyed at her unable to speak. Dave effortlessly handled the situation and led the angry woman away. Akarian was rattled why was she so angry at him? Was it because he was smiling? Should he have been more sombre so as not to upset anyone? Or was it that because she was unhappy she was taking it out on those around her? He knew humans often did this, taking out their frustrations on those who were trying to help them or those they loved. It made no sense to him but perhaps on this journey he would begin to understand some of the things that drove humans to do these things.
Once the hall had cleared out Dave brought him a tray of food and led him to one of the empty tables where they sat and ate. He had a bowl of chicken soup with a bread roll on the side and a sandwich. There was also an apple and a banana on the tray as well.
“You did really well tonight Akarian thank you for your help.” Said Dave around a mouthful of soup. Akarian had just tasted the chicken soup and he thought it was fantastic, full of flavour and instantly his stomach began to quieten down. He tore into his bread roll with zest which made Dave grin.
“I am the one who is thankful. This food is amazing, I didn’t realise how it would feel to be hungry.” At Dave’s frown he mentally kicked himself, once again he had put his foot in it. “I mean I didn’t realise how hungry I was.” He quickly corrected.
“It’s far from amazing but it does fill a hole as they say.” Akarian stored this saying away in his head for use at another time, humans spoke funny sometimes and he aimed to pick up as much as he could so he would fit in better.
“I would like to come back tomorrow and help.” Surprised but moved at the same time Dave smiled.
“Well of course you can we would welcome the help whenever you can.”
“That is good, I will try to help out as much as I am able to. I was wondering do you know where the local church is?”
“Yes St Mary’s is about a 5 minute walk from here. I will take you tomorrow if you would like?”
“Yes that would be most helpful.” Feeling as light as air now that he was fed he walked with a spring in his step back to the hostel. The shoes were still strange on his feet but he was slowly getting used to them. He did however have a funny taste in his mouth after the soup.
Once they arrived at the hostel Akarian told Dave he needed to use the toilet, Dave waved goodbye and told him he would see him in the morning and that he hoped he slept well. Akarian repeated this phrase back to him and bid him good night. Stepping through the door to the toilet he was hit by a disgusting smell. This was going to be a very weird experience for him having never needed to relieve himself before. He went through the motions having seen human males do this countless times but still he managed to squirt urine all over the place. He was horrified, how was he supposed to control it? He tried to hold it in but it just kept coming. When he had finally finished he used nearly a whole toilet roll trying to wipe up his mess. He found the smell disgusting. At the sink he washed his hands three times and rinsed his mouth with water to try to take the horrid taste away. He knew humans used some kind of paste to clean their teeth but there wasn’t any in the bathroom. He would ask Dave in the morning.
Akarian then made his way in the dark through the snoring people to his bed. He laid down and as his head hit the pillow he literally passed out as exhaustion took him.
Akarian Rising © Leonnie Turner-Bruce 2013