Jou shuffled back from the O-tent. The beds of fake flowers were dim. Henshin lay the other side of the membrane. It was easy for those outside to see Henshin. It was Henshin’s job to look content. It was Henshin’s duty to appear content.
The outer edge of this orange zone was picked out by such figures in partial repose. All gentle against the pavilion wall. They had it better than the Reds and always felt that, of all the Oranges, they were favoured by those above. What other Orange zone could boast the birthplace of Apo-te Tse? It was a given for Henshin’s father that if his child demonstrated perfect contentment then he would rise to the Yellow.
Jou turned the child-sized backpack in his hand. The picture on the back was faded and skipped frames as he did so. In his other hand he rolled his guide orbs. They made a click, click, click like the damaged bearings on the skateboards from Hawks Green.
Kick, push, kick, push. The motto of Hawks Green mocked Jou again. He’d tried. Henshin had helped. All of their credit spent on bribing their way to the top of the treatment list. A Blue Doctor. One of the lords with a saviour complex. Just another parasite. This one feeding on the hope of an addiction beaten. At least in the Orange the hawkers and harvesters admitted it. There was no pretence of altruism in their part of the rainbow. The Heirophants though were the same no matter the colour.
His Hierophant had demanded more and more of Jou. More visitors. More worshipers. More donations and more … supplications. He’d assumed it would stop when he got older. In a way it did. He was no longer the receptacle of the Hierophants graces. Instead he was now the procurer. The accomplice. Sweet Henshin who had done everything to help Jou. Sweet Henshin who now lay in the O-tent with their new friend who was approved of. This one wasn’t a street hawker, a tour guide, a bawd for a Hierophant. This one wouldn’t drag Henshin towards the milk.
Jou shifted position again. He hadn’t intended to get a better view but he did. It was too uncomfortable to sit in one position for long. There was Henshin, eyes wide open, staring into the dark haze of night. Henshin’s protector sat close and cross legged. He looked to be as old as Jou but there was not a trace of scars or sores that he could see.
As the filtered sun rose Jou lay back. He let the milk take his breath from him while holograms of long dead flowers and bees flicked to life around the tent. Beneath the blisters of the dwellings on the wall he could hear the stall merchants setting up while the shanty town broke down. The light of the sunrise faded and he heard the call to prayer. He heard the answer from all across the zone.
“Violet knows best.”