People Watching

Kai had missed the bus by mere seconds. He remembered standing in his bedroom, looking at his book and thinking, “Nah, I won’t need that. I’m going out to be social.” He decided that that thought had probably not been implanted into his head by a ghost who lived in his house and hated him for using its old bedroom and wanted to punish him for living there. He had nothing to do for the next seven minutes.

He wasn’t alone for long before a group of teenage girls passed by the bus stop. They were walking in a line, single file, each staring at the back of the head of the one in front of her. They were dressed similarly, but not identically. They all looked very serious. Kai decided that they were almost certainly not aliens trying to pass as young human females.

As the girls disappeared around a corner, he was startled by the unpleasant sound of someone’s nasty hacking cough, followed by the even less pleasant sound of spitting out whatever had been coughed up. He turned his head as subtly as he could to see the old man sitting on the bench behind him. From his face, he looked like he could be homeless, but his clothes seemed pretty clean. Kai forced himself to accept that the old man was definitely not a wizard masquerading as a normal human in order to find a person kind-hearted and open-minded enough to be worthy of becoming his apprentice and taking over his duty of protecting the world from evil space ghosts.

As Kai lamented the fact that the clouds gathering overhead would most certainly not be letting loose a storm of liquid healing essence which had been imported by alien scientists from a faraway galaxy in order to see how humans would react to sudden immortality, his ears caught the sound of familiar voices behind him. It was two of the girls from the office, both lawyers, neither of whom had ever paid much attention to the mail room clerk.

“What about him?” said one of the voices at a volume that she almost certainly believed to be a whisper. She was one of those people who didn’t seem to understand what a whisper was, her voice always carrying through walls. Kai thought it a shame that she wasn’t a robot with an improperly coded understanding of gossip and secret-keeping, as she would have made a good one.

“What, the mail room guy?” answered the second voice at the same volume. “No way. He’s so boring.”


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