anima (n.) – The base mentality of mind, defined as the overlap of four distinct animentals: persona, or how one identifies; thought, or what one thinks; emotion, or how one feels; and resolve, or what one does.
Scene 1: City Streets: Early Morning
“Have you ever had one of those moments when a surge of clarity washes over your mind, causing you to perceive a full understanding of everything that, until that point, made no sense to you?”
The scene cuts to a busy street, with people from all walks of life in the midst of their morning routines: businesspeople carrying briefcases and purses rush to their scheduled consultations, elderly couples walk hand-in-hand as they laugh and reminisce about the good old days, and young adults in casual attire make the most of their youth.
The view focusses on one lone individual, a young male with fair skin, fiery ginger hair with vivid blue at the temples, and a pair of gently-curved markings of the same hue on each cheek, with the upper markings noticeably longer and more curved at the topmost tip. His outfit consists of a vivid blue shirt, navy pants, a black leather jacket with matching boots and gloves, a tooth amulet, and a deep blue satchel slung over his left shoulder, resting at the buttocks. He monologues with an Australian accent.
“For me, said moment happened recently, and the aftereffects have… persisted, to say the least.”
The scene cuts to the individual standing in the middle of an open-air plaza as he wraps his arms around his torso in a semi-crouch, before suddenly flinging them outward and screaming as his body is engulfed in surging ripples of blue aura that coalesce into a vaguely anthropomorphic shape around him. Just as the people around him begin to panic, the scene cuts back to the present.
“It has been a number of months since its occurrence, and I foresee no simple transition from this adjustment period anytime soon. The emergence process has been a lot to comprehend, including a dramatic shift in basic bodily functions.”
The individual notices a poster describing sleep disorders, and the left corner of his mouth stretches in bemusement.
“For one, sleep. I had a normal circadian rhythm for the first few decades of my life… well, normal in the sense that it was rhythmic, though I slept at an adult human rate of eight hours during my childhood, which continued to shorten during, and beyond, puberty… that may have been an early indication, in hindsight…”
The individual drops a handful of coins into a donation bucket held by a charity volunteer, before smiling and holding his right hand in a semi-wave as he walks away.
“The one thing I must keep in mind is to integrate into Solacean society as seamlessly as possible… try to act normal… wow, that’s always been tricky for me… this means keeping a low profile… and not forming long-term attachments to anyone…”
Voice: Hey, Jack! Jack! Over here!
“Something much easier said than done…”
Another individual runs into view from the opposite direction. He has pale caramel skin, dark hair, and emerald green eyes. His outfit is mostly grey, with accents of green and pink, and his jacket is worn unzipped, revealing a forest green shirt emblazoned with a gold silhouette of a lóng dragon. “Jack” turns to face the individual, smiling and waving in the same manner as before.
Jack: Ah, Max. How are you?
“Max” slows down as he reaches Jack, before lowering his headphones around his neck. He speaks with an Australian accent.
Max: Good, good. You?
Jack: Yeah, not too bad, thanks.
Max: Good. Shouldn’t you be at uni by now?
Jack winces slightly.
Jack: Yeah… uh… I slept in a little late…
Max: You? Mr. Always-on-Time? Slept in?
Jack: Everyone makes mistakes, heheh…
Max: Say no more. This is perfect, then!
Jack’s left eyebrow raises.
Jack: It is…?
Max: Yeah! We can walk there together, y’know, as buds!
Max playfully mock-punches Jack’s right upper arm.
Jack: Well… I suppose we could…
Max: That’s the spirit! Let’s go!
Jack nods as he and Max begin to walk along the street.
Max: Hey, maybe we’ll see Penny on the way.
Jack: But… isn’t their first lecture an hour from now?
Max scratches his hair through the opening of his baseball cap.
Max: Oh yeah, that’s right… well, I’d expect nothing less from Mr. Always-on-Time.
Jack: Yeah… let’s go with “Jack," okay?
Max: You’re a tough one to please, O Sire.
Jack: You’re starting to embarrass me…
Max: That’s the idea!
Jack: Heh… and it’s “Osiris."
Max: Eh, I like mine better.
Jack: Oh. You weren’t referencing-
Max: Of course I was, dude! I mean, that whole series is freaking amazing. The idea that aliens visited Earth in ancient times and influenced our culture?
Max sighs with a smile.
Max: Man, that’s the sort of thing that captures my interest. It’s why I chose ancient mythology as my minor, you know.
Jack: Wait… is that even a valid choice in your degree?
Max: Not exactly. That’s why I’m doing a second course.
Jack: Like every meal you eat in the Loft, you mean?
Max: Oh, HA. HA. I can’t help it if your brother keeps stuffing me with tasty edibles!
Jack: Well, he does always make enough to feed the entire neighbourhood…
Max: That he does. It’s funny, though… a lot of what he makes is so exotic that I haven’t even heard of half the things I’ve tried.
Jack: I know. You eat almost every batch of Ostrumic cupcakes before I step through the door.
Max: See, there’s an example right there. “Oss-TROO-mik?" What does that even mean?
Jack: Simple answer: “purple." It’s derived from Latin.
Max: But why use it as the name of a dish if it’s from an extinct language?
Jack: It isn’t “extinct," per se.
Max: Yeah, yeah, around 50% of modern English is rooted in Latin. I’ve been to some of your all-night cram sessions, remember?
Jack raises the corner of his mouth.
Jack: You always doze off by 12pm the latest. Well… 12:32pm, to be precise.
Max: How can you possibly know the exact time? Are you psychic or something?
Jack: That depends. Do you believe in psychic abilities?
Max: Sure, I’m willing to keep an open mind about that stuff. If it’s good enough for you and Penny, it’s good enough for me.
Jack: Then for all you know, I could be psychic.
Max: Yeah… or maybe a flying lizard that spits ice-cream cones and flies at Mach 15.
Jack’s expression falls flat.
Jack: That’s not funny.
Max: Ooh… sorry… was that offensive? I didn’t mean to imply that RPG players-
Jack: It’s cool.
Max: Oh. Uh… so… still friends?
Jack awkwardly feigns an expression of deep thought.
Jack: Hm… I dunno…
Max: I’ll join in one of your wonderful tabletop-LARP things if you say, “Yes” …
Max: Good, then it’s settled. Wait… you answered a little too quickly…
Jack: The next session’s this Wednesday, 7:10pm. I believe you know the place…?
Max: Yeah, I do… oh, Penny is never gonna let me live this one down…
Jack: After you swore to them that you will never sink so low as to play any roleplaying game that doesn’t use at least 75% computer-based technology?
Max: You don’t need to rub it in, okay?
Jack: Apologies. I’ll let Yvette make the playfully condescending remarks.
Max: Please do. In our little group dynamic, Penny’s the insightful one, I’m the playful one, and Ethan’s the one who always puts up with my-
Max: I was gonna say, “crap," but sure, let’s go with yours.
Max: And that, my friend, is what makes you the-
Jack: The what…?
Max’s voice softens to a whisper.
Max: Uh… I think someone’s staring at us.
The scene cuts to a view facing behind Jack. A partly obscured figure in a dark overcoat and sunglasses is staring in their direction.
Jack’s head twitches for a split second, as though ready to look over his shoulder.
Max: No, don’t look! First rule of stalker flicks. That’s how they know you’re watch-
Max pauses again.
Jack: “Watching them” …?
Max: Uh… yeah… anyway, they’re gone.
Jack: Gone? Where?
Max: No idea… one second, they’re there, the next… they’re… you seem less concerned about this than I thought you’d be.
Jack: Uh… I didn’t sleep properly last night.
Max: Oh… so that’s why you slept in. Cram sesh?
Jack: Well… my evening was-
The scene cuts to the night sky, as seen through Jack’s eyes. A headwind sweeps through as Jack gazes at a near-full moon. The scene cuts back to the present.
Jack: You know me so well.
Max: Well, how long have we been friends?
Jack: Officially, or metaphorically?
Max: Officially? A few months. Metaphorically… I don’t know if you believe in that whole “meant to be” preordained biz-
The scene cuts to Jack as he stares into a shop window. His eyes widen, his irises glowing with royal blue light as the facial markings draw onto his cheeks in a similar glow.
Jack: Wait… how could this have happened…?
The scene cuts back to the present.
Max: -but if anything was meant to be, it’s our friendship.
Jack smirks in an awkward way.
Jack: You think so?
Max: Yeah, dude! If reincarnation is a thing, then why not fate?
Jack: Well… if you believe in our “fated friendship," then what about Penelope?
Max: Well, duh! Without them, Artemis, Ethan, Henry, Yvette… well, our group dynamic wouldn’t be the same, would it?
Jack: Pretty sure Artemis wouldn’t consider Yvette a part of the “group” dynamic…
Max: Well, every group needs an in-house rivalry, right?
Jack: Not necessarily, though it’s a common trope in fiction.
Max: See? I pay attention to what you say!
Jack: Only if you’re not distracted by stalkers apparent.
Max stops walking, prompting Jack to pause and look in his direction.
Max: Yeah… there was something… off about them, you know?
Jack: Did you get a good look at them?
Max: Well, they were… this is gonna sound nuts, but they had a… Men in Black kind of vibe.
Jack’s eyes slightly widen, his irises glowing blue.
Jack: Men in Black?
Max: Shut up! You know what I mean.
Jack: Yeah… I kind of do…
Max: Okay, let’s get going. You know how our lecturer is whenever we’re late!
Max starts walking at a faster pace, whereas Jack slows down and ponders.
Max: Jack, come on!
Jack looks up as his irises flash blue. He grins, then increases his pace.
Scene 2: Cafeteria: University: Early Afternoon
The scene shifts to a young woman sitting at a white table. Their curly, shoulder-length brunette hair is bound by a cream-coloured toque, and they wear a pea green anorak over a cream jumper and magenta-framed glasses. The woman is reading a hardcover book as they eat a pasta-based dish.
A polyphonic melody sounds, prompting the woman to pull a magenta ‘00s era flip phone from their coat pocket. The scene cuts to the display, which depicts an amber yellow box that reads, “1 new message.” The woman opens the message.
See u in 5.
The woman smirks, closes their phone, and slips it in their pocket as a brown paper bag drops to the table with a rustle. The woman speaks with an American accent.
Woman: If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this bag contains a custard bun, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, with a hint of strawberry jam in the centre, as presented by one Maximus Tyler.
The woman peeks inside the bag, a smile slowly spreading across their lips.
Woman: However, that would be impossible. Despite this bag containing the aforementioned baked good, Maximus Tyler couldn’t have been the one to present it, as he said he would, and I quote, “see me in 5," which in Max speak means not five minutes, but anywhere between eight and twelve minutes.
The woman looks up and sees Max standing there.
Max: Then my presence after only five seconds must render your hypothesis null and void, Penelope Drake.
Penelope: Not necessarily. For all I know, you could be an imposter masquerading as a human, although I must applaud you on the accuracy of your chosen disguise. Assuming, of course, that this is indeed the case.
Max: I can neither confirm nor deny that theory. Lovely fnorgle we’re having on this beautiful gleenfnub, is it not?
Penelope laughs as Max sits opposite them.
Penelope: So where’s Jack?
Max: Uh… he was right behind me…
Max looks to his right at the cafeteria entrance.
Penelope: Well, he can’t have gotten far.
Max slowly faces the centre of the table.
Max: Maybe the Man in Black got to him…
Penelope: Have you been staying up late reading those comics again?
Max: No! Well… uh…
Max: What? They’re as much a form of literature as those romance novels you read!
Penelope: Okay, firstly, those novels aren’t mine. They’re Henry’s.
Max: Um… what?
Penelope: I’m more into hard fantasy stuff, like-
Max: Hold up… what’s this about our literal group Maverick enjoying Mills & Boon?
Penelope: Secondly, any form of literature which is in excess of fifty percent images is graphic art at best.
Max: Ah, but whatever happened to the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” thing that everyone says?
Penelope: I think it was left with “I before E, except after C” and all those other weird, obsolescent examples of speech at some point prior to the turn of the millennium.
Max: Well, progressive minds think on similar wavelengths, I suppose…
Penelope smiles, revealing their perfectly aligned teeth.
Penelope: You really are insightful. You know that, right?
Max: Uh… maybe? Wh-Why do you-
Voice: You two are starting to sound like one of Henry’s novels.
Penelope and Max look up at another young woman. Her outfit consists mostly of deep blue and indigo, and her dark, shoulder-length hair is marked with royal blue at the tips. A chain with a round, crescent moon-marked silver locket rests at her breastbone, and her cheeks and lips are lightly marked with faint silver, with the rest of her face mostly devoid of makeup and jewellery. A pair of silver ear hoops is clipped to the top of her left ear, each marked with a tiny sapphire. She speaks with a soft, calm English accent.
Penelope: Ah, Yvette. We were… I mean-
Max: We just… uh-
Yvette: Ah, the first sign: denial.
Penelope’s eyes bulge.
Penelope: Uh… W-We’re just friends!
Max: Yeah! I mean, an in-group relationship-
Yvette: I’m just teasing, you two!
Yvette chuckles as she sits, carefully placing a plate of sliced cucumber roll onto the table in front of her. She laces her fingers and rests her chin against the backs of her hands, using the points of her elbows as support.
Yvette: You both know what I’m like.
Max lifts his backpack and pulls out a container with a green lid.
Max: Honestly, I think there are layers of permafrost within your soul that are just waiting to thaw and reveal their secrets, like a seedling that sprouts into full bloom on the cusp of spring.
Yvette: How is Artie today?
Penelope: Oh, she’s fine.
Yvette: Still rehearsing for… well…
Max removes the lid.
Max: Yeah, you should see her on that stage. Anyone would think she’s an actress!
Penelope: Max, she’s in the same performing arts degree as Jack.
Max: Yeah… I knew that.
Penelope and Yvette shake their heads.
Max: Shut up! I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten since yesterday.
Penelope: And what’s on the menu today?
Max: Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it.
Yvette readies a pair of silvery-blue chopsticks.
Yvette: Another leftover helping of Nani Lakshmi’s curry, I see?
Max: Actually, Ethan made this, if you must know.
Penelope: Ooh, let me try some!
Penelope picks up a clean fork and takes a strip of meat from Max’s container.
Max: Hey! Penny, that’s for-
Penelope speaks mid-chew.
Penelope: Oh, come on, Max! It’s clean! Oh… wow, um…
Max: See? Didn’t I tell you?
Penelope: Is this the stuff Ethan was making at the Loft last night?
Max: Yep. Bet you regret leaving before it was finished, huh?
Penelope: Well, yeah. It’s delicious. My compliments to the chef.
Voice: Your feedback is appreciated.
The group looks up at a young man. His dark brown hair is marked with streaks of purple at the temples and the tips of his spiked fringe, and his cheeks are marked with purple patterns in a similar style to Jack’s. A brown suede jacket covers his purple turtleneck, and his hands are covered by a pair of brown leather gloves. A pair of copper half-frames rests in front of his brown eyes, and a dark brown leather satchel slings over his right shoulder, resting at his left hip. He speaks with an English accent.
Max: Ethan! I mean, “Professor Archer." I mean-
Ethan: Relax, Maximus. The lecture is finished for the day, so “Ethan” is fine.
Penelope: Wow, Professor, I’m surprised you’re allowing a first-name basis with someone on campus. I mean, Max is a student.
Ethan sits between Yvette and Max.
Ethan: Part of maintaining an ideal student-teacher dynamic is ensuring there is flexibility in how people of such contrasting roles address one another. Name and title are certainly adaptable, and I am fine with Max referring to me on a first-name basis outside of his allotted study period.
Max: Your leniency is appreciated, Professor Ethan.
Ethan smiles with a slight chuckle.
Yvette: Then what does Jack call you during class?
Ethan: Oh, he calls me, “Professor Archer."
Yvette: And he does so voluntarily?
Ethan: Most definitely. Jack is something of a free spirit, yet when it comes to rules, laws, and societal taboos, he always makes sure to be as respectful as possible.
Yvette lifts a slice of cucumber roll with her chopsticks and takes a small bite.
Max: You’re telling me. Anytime we’re watching something and his shoulders tense as soon as two characters start kissing-
Yvette: And what, exactly, is wrong with the sight of two people kissing?
Max: No, not “kissing." “Kissing."
Yvette looks at Penelope.
Yvette: A translation, if you would?
Penelope: I think what Max is trying to say… is that Jack’s a little squeamish when it comes to romance.
Yvette: Isn’t that true for men in general?
Max and Ethan suddenly face Yvette.
Yvette: In general…
Max makes a mock expression of surprise.
Max: Oh… suddenly that makes it okay.
Ethan: You are, of course, correct, Penelope.
Penelope smiles as they eat another bite of pasta.
Ethan: However, it runs a little deeper than face value.
Penelope: Oh, I’ve read about this in psychology class.
Max: Read about what, exactly?
Penelope: Well, I’m not sure if it’s the case, and I honestly don’t know him well enough to know if he’s aware, but… I think Jack may be asexual.
Max’s eyebrow raises.
Max: As in… he reproduces by splitting into two of himself?
Penelope: As in he has no desire to… kiss anyone.
Max: Wait… is that why he refused to go clubbing the other night?
The scene cuts to Jack and Max inside a spacious apartment with minimalist décor in blue and gold accents. Many pieces allude to themes of snow, the universe, and dragons. Jack is wearing his gloves, and is seated at a desk, his laptop open as he types a document. Max is seated in a blue suede armchair, facing the opposite direction.
Jack: Sorry, tonight’s no good. I really need to get this script finished.
Max: A script? For what?
Jack: Drama club.
Max: As in an extracurricular that you can finish any time after tonight?
Jack: Why is it so important, anyway? We went mini-golfing yesterday.
Max: Why is it so-
Max covers his face with his hands and sighs, before swivelling to face Jack.
Max: Don’t you ever want to meet anyone? Girls? Uh… guys…?
Jack looks at Max.
Jack: Another time, maybe.
Jack continues to type.
Max: So what’s this script you’re writing?
Jack: Oh, it’s just a superhero parody sketch…
Max suddenly stands and dashes to Jack’s side.
Max: Ooh, can I see?!
The scene cuts back to the cafeteria. Penelope smirks.
Max: I know, right? Who wouldn’t want to go out and meet potential love interests?
Penelope: You are such a dork.
Max: Keep those compliments coming!
Max: Oh, Ethan?
Ethan: Yes? What is it, Maximus?
Max: We… uh, Jack and I… were stalked this morning… I think.
Ethan suddenly clears his throat.
Ethan: I… wouldn’t worry about it, Max. Jack’s a resourceful lad. He’ll be fine.
Max: “Lad?" How old are you, Ethan?
Yvette feigns a look of surprise.
Yvette: Maximus Third Place Tyler! You must never ask someone their age!
Max: Okay, am I ever gonna live down the spelling bee incident?
Penelope: Max, your word was “drake." As in my surname.
Yvette: Nani must be so proud.
Max: This is… I mean-
Ethan: There really is no need for concern, Maximus.
Max squeezes the bridge of his nose with his left thumb and index finger.
Max: You’re right.
Max lets go of his nose.
Max: I mean, you’re his brother. You know him better than anyone, right?
Penelope: I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for the incident.
Yvette: Perhaps the supposed stalker was merely a student in Jack’s drama club, practicing improv in the field for the superhero sketch.
Max grins as Yvette takes another bite of cucumber roll.
Max: You’re right, Yvette. Thanks, that really helped ease my discomfort.
Yvette smiles as she chews.
Max: I think two layers of permafrost just thawed your heart into growing a bit bigger.
Yvette stops chewing as her expression turns blank.
Max: Well, time for my calculus exam. Later!
Max grabs his backpack and stands, leaving his container on the table, before leaving the cafeteria. Yvette shakes her head with a slight chuckle as she continues to chew.
Yvette: Oh, our “little group dynamic” would be dull without him, that’s for sure…
Ethan: Is… that the stew I prepared yesterday evening?
Yvette looks at her plate as she lifts the last bite of her cucumber roll slice.
Ethan: But how did he even have access to it?
Yvette doesn’t bother to look up as she chews.
Yvette: Breaking and entering.
Ethan and Penelope suddenly look in Yvette’s direction, prompting her to look at them.
Yvette: Of course, it’s possible Jack let him in.
Penelope eats another bite of pasta.
Ethan: I doubt it. Jack is… a deep sleeper.
Penelope: Really? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a nap.
Ethan: Again, it-
Yvette: -runs a little deeper than face value?
Ethan stretches the corner of his mouth in bemusement.
Ethan: Well… yes.
Penelope: I suppose humans need sleep to function, right?
Ethan: Indeed they do.
Yvette lifts another slice of cucumber roll.
Yvette: My mind wanders to thoughts of our Maximus sleeping through his calculus exam.
Yvette takes a bite.
Penelope: Oh, he isn’t that bad, Yvette.
Ethan: Actually, in this case he’ll be unconscious for the duration, due to acute odontophobia.
Penelope’s eyebrow raises.
Penelope: I thought he said he’s taking a calculus exam.
Yvette chuckles as she rolls her eyes.
Yvette: Of course he’s going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning.
Penelope: Boy, he sure loves his puns… wait, then that means-
Ethan: I’m afraid so.
Penelope: He needs anaesthesia for something as minor as a scale and clean?
Ethan: Maximus had an unfortunate experience as a child, though he refuses to share the specifics at this stasis in time.
Yvette is concerned, whereas Penelope’s eyes narrow slightly.
Yvette: That is somewhat troubling to hear.
Ethan: In any case, I have offered to escort him from the clinic to his apartment.
Yvette: I suppose it is a simple request, since Max and Jack occupy the same building.
Ethan: Indeed. If you would please excuse me, I bid you good day.
Ethan stands and bows, before leaving the cafeteria.
Penelope: “Stasis in time?" Who on Earth says stuff like that?
Yvette: I believe he must mean moment in time.
Penelope: Maybe Jack and Ethan are actually Nordics from Proxima Centauri, and they’ve come to Earth to observe us mere humans in our natural habitat.
Yvette: Too overused. Besides, Jack isn’t Ethan’s biological sibling, is he?
Penelope: You’re right. Oddities aside, there’s no way Jack and Ethan are aliens.
Scene 3: Ethan’s Car: Dusk
The scene shifts to a view inside Ethan’s purple convertible as it drives along a damp highway, the headlight beams distorted by droplets of rain. Max sits in the passenger seat, sleeping off the anaesthetic. A chime sounds in the console.
Ethan: Salve. Ethan here.
Voice: Salve. This is Bardoth del Ilibris, Alta Indantis ad-Alarc del Nataltis.
Ethan: Ah, Venere.
“Bardoth”: You requested to speak with me?
Ethan: Were you watching my brother this morning?
Ethan’s voice takes on a brief, slightly stern tone.
Ethan: In plain sight?
“Bardoth”: Of course.
Ethan: A little reckless, do you not agree?
“Bardoth”: You are aware that local minds are unable to retain awareness of our kind, right?
Ethan: For their sake as well as ours. An inherent trait of sapient development.
“Bardoth”: So what’s the harm?
Ethan: You were spotted… by Maximus.
“Bardoth”: Yes? And?
Ethan’s eyes glow purple.
Ethan: He retained no memory.
Ethan: You mustn’t lower your guard! Our charge may be in danger, even now. Please… you must be careful from now on.
“Bardoth”: Well… sure.
Ethan’s eyes shine purple as he calmly speaks.
Ethan: Venere… please… be prudent, if only for this task. You recall Dreamland, yes?
“Bardoth”: You have my word.
Ethan’s eyes return to normal as he breathes a sigh of relief.
“Bardoth”: Vol gratum. Vale.
The transmission subsides. Ethan glances at Max, who murmurs slightly in his sleep.
Ethan: Let’s get you safely home, young one.
About the Creator
You’ve heard of the Many Worlds Theory? Well, Orion J. Zed has imagined hundreds of worlds in his creative endeavours, many of which are documented in some form.
He rarely refers to himself in the third person other than “About Me” sections.