Chapter V: The SetMature

A living dog is better than a dead lion.

-- Ancient variation of the proverb: 'A bird on the hand is worth two in the bush'. Excerpt From Ecclesiastes IX


Caitlin Malcolm collapsed upon the bedding in exhaustion. Ashok Chandra looked down at her, surveying the playpen. It was pink, bright and edged like a doily. Celtic patterns weaved in and around its frames. Normally, it was a topless, five-sided cube. However, the front door of the crib was ajar, and a bent paper clip hung from the lock with modest innocence. A soft, blue blanket, folded twice, sat upon the padded bottom. And it was upon this bottom that Caitlin lay.

I'm the older one, why am I tiring first? she wondered. Ash is no athlete!

Ashok stood blandly, regarding the situation with curiosity. Then, his knees wobbled, and he fell forward onto his arms, "Argh!"

She sobbed with laughter, and then rolled over. A smile was exchanged, Ashok holding up his head with folded arms.

"Cait, nap?"

"No, Ash. Not yet."

"Y're doing it again."

"Hmm, I s'pose." I suppose.

Footsteps echoed down the hall.

Shit! They both thought, and then frantically slithered into the crib. The paperclip fell as the door swung closed, and thus, now they were trapped.




Quiet, alto voices. A mutual, thick accent; unknown through the muffled door.

"I don't understand."

"Neither do I."

"The old lady is paying us anyways?"

"I know, eh?"

The words made their way beneath the closed door, faint and muddied. The babies' eyes met, each a display of revelation; of what they knew not.

"I can't quite place those voices," said Ashok. His words were muffled too, but she had read his lips with uncanny intuition.

Caitlin exchanged a firm glance deep into his eyes, and then looked down at the toy piano. Its five rainbow keys were untouched. Neither of them had been willing to touch them yet, lest they accidentally play something remotely musical. They had lived their new lives trying to stay in character, as true infants.

Yes, we have been too silent. Ashok thought, pondering for a second.

Blang! Blang-blong... blang! He leaned down, his lower arm hitting all the keys, raised himself, hit again, dragged along to one side, and hit again!

"Waaaah! Waaaaaaaaaah..."

Surprised, Ashok jolted upwards.

"Waaaah..." she wailed. Damn, I'm putting on a good performance..

Blang! He grinned, striking the keys again, and again. Blang! Blang, bang... blang!

"WAAAAAAH!" Testing my limits. Are you, Ash? "WAAAAAH!"




"Hurry up!"

Wailing, dampened by the door. It was a darkened green door, mildly fire-damaged, the paint not yet flaking.

The nob turned, and the door swung open. Two boys rushed in, with a single worried look on both their faces. Unison, "Darn it!" Identical intonation.

"Waaah!" The crying made the boys inaudible. Who are they?

Blong! He struck two keys on the side, thinking, I can't see them.

Two identical faces looked over the edge of the pink playpen. The edges were lined with toys, and the piano was at an oblique angle to the backside of the pen. Blang! Two infants, one smashing the keys and the other dripping tears.

"Waaah!" No, not them! Not now! Any baby-sitters but them.

Their eyes were a dark brown. Their skin was pale, and without the warmth that Cait had. The jaw-lines only began to jut out below their cheeks. Noses, not yet vulturelike. Their hair seemed oddly effeminate, despite the sideburnless mullets. Both faces wore a mild amount of make-up.

Twins. Tweens. Twinks. Ashok also drew a wordless connection in his mind, Oh... zamala!

The End

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