And now: part two of The Melendez in Mai's Shed
If she had not heard the sound
If she had not woken her sister up
If they had not gone down the garden path
If they had not opened the door
If she’d only paid more attention
All the ifs rushed through Mai’s brain because Aya had vanished and she was stuck inside one of the nets the Melendez had conjured for something she called training.
Her voice bounced back at her through the tangle of stringed code.
Code flew past her in a blur of florescent light. What was it Karina had said about cyberspace and navigating its nets?
“If you focus on a string, you can navigate your way through the net,” Karina’s voice echoed from memory.
She wished she’d paid more attention to Papa’s night time lectures, but was it her fault that music and arts appealed to her more than the abstract weavings of complicated equations? Her foot struck a line of code and it unraveled with a ping.
“Karina,” she shouted.
Surely the Melendez understood that Aya was the technical one. She squeezed her eyes shut.
“I wish I was back in my own bed,” she muttered.
She wondered if she was doomed to be stuck forever.
She sniffed and blinked back a tear. She wanted Aya. Even if Aya got exasperated at her dependence, she’d never ever left Mai behind. She sniffed again and reminded herself that Aya hadn’t done this thing deliberately. It wasn’t like her elder sister wanted to lose her.
She straightened her shoulders and narrowed her eyes. She would show them that she could do things on her own. She would too.
Her ears recognized a strand of sound as it zinged past her. Was that Pachelbel’s canon in D? She turned, stretched out her fingers and found purchase on the whirly end of a series of sixteenth notes.
At her touch, the code wound itself round and around. A bright cascade of tones rained around her, but she didn’t let go. Music welled up inside her and when she opened her mouth bars of music spilled out of her and filled the air with strangely beautiful dissonance. She lifted her hands. Her skin was glowing, she was splitting apart.
“Karina,” she yelled.
Just like that the Melendez was beside her.
In the darkness, the Melendez glowed. Her fingers moved quickly through the code surrounding Mai.
“I’m breaking apart,” Mai cried out.
“Not if I can help it,” Karina said.
Concentration shone in the Melendez’s eyes. Her fingers were swift and sure, pulling lines from the darkness, weaving together escaping bits of code.
“Where’s Aya?” Mai asked.
“Your sister is fine,” the Melendez said. “You’ll have to focus now and help me catch the last strand. I haven’t done musical code in quite some time and for all its simplicity, Pachelbel’s canon is a deceptive thing.”
“What do you want me to do?” Mai asked.
“Find the missing bars,” the Melendez said.
“Don’t panic. Look and listen, you’ll find it.”
Karina reached out and took hold of Mai’s hand and squeezed it quickly.
She could do this, Mai thought. She might not be as technical as her elder sister, but she knew music and the canon was one of her favorite pieces.
She looked up. The Melendez had projected the music onto a screen so it was visible to her in a form she understood.
Later, Mai would wake up in the quiet of the night and listen for the sound of clacking keys. She would strain her ears for quick footsteps. She would dream of the Melendez sitting in front of her giant screen, her fingers plucking away at the code, untangling, unraveling and then weaving them together to form a net so intricate and complex, only another
Melendez could comprehend its design.
“And now you understand a little bit,” the Melendez said to Mai after she plucked her from the web of musical code and after the sisters had been reunited.
“The web is a complex being. All these lines lead to somewhere and a disruption in the system could mean a disruption in the entirety of the web’s continuum.”
“I didn’t mean to disrupt,” Mai said.
The Melendez smiled. Her eyes glowed a bright green before they faded back to gold.
“Curiousity is always a good thing,” she said. “It’s what leads us to dig deeper, and sometimes breaking things can lead us to the creation of new and better things. That’s what’s so fun about being what I am.”
“Did we help you create a new thing?” Mai asked.
The Melendez didn’t reply. She only hummed at them, but Mai thought she saw a smile flit across Karina’s impassive countenance.
When they left the shed, the Melendez was at work again. She was fully focused on the screen in front of her, her fingers reaching out to touch code, weaving them into things of light and beauty.
“Will you tell me about your adventure?” Mai asked Aya.
“Tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.”