“I’ll be home before midnight.”
Ben kissed his wife and left their small home on Badger Lane in the Rowe district of Gearford. Boarding a trolley, he headed towards his destination in Mayberry district. He was going to his volunteer work at the Temple of Mell. The sights, sounds, and smells were so much different in Mayberry than where he lived, but Ben had become used to it.
He stepped off trolley and approached the temple, Sister Maris greeted him.
“Good afternoon, Benjamin.”
“Good afternoon. How are you this fine day?” asked Ben.
“Doing the Mother’s work. A job that never seems to end,” she replied smiling.
“Indeed. Do you know where I’ll be going today?”
“Yes, I’d like you to go to 324 Yoke Way. A house was vandalized, some possessions were stolen. Truly unfortunate. Bring this box of food and clothing with you. Oh, you don’t have a problem working with vibranni, do you?”
“Not at all, Sister. They’re no different than anyone else in need. I’ll go and see if I can help.”
The walk to Yoke Way was not long, though the box made it more challenging. The streets were not pleasant. Many of the houses had boarded windows. Small groups, of both vibranni and humans, huddled together deep in conversation. Ben may have been used to the sounds and smells of Mayberry, but he was still not used to humans and vibranni getting along.
Ben felt about vibranni no different than he did anyone else, but there were many in Rowe that seemed to regard them as low class citizens. He didn’t fully understand the reasons and felt a little ashamed of his race for it. He found the door labeled 324 and approached it, knocking whilst balancing the box on one arm.
A young man opened the door and looked at Ben. The sounds of children playing in another room could be heard.
“What can I do for you today?” asked the man in the doorway.
“Hello, my name is Ben Morris. I’ve come from the Temple of Mell to offer any assistance you might need. I also brought a box of food and clothing, since your home was broken into.”
“That won’t be necessary. We can take care of ourselves.”
“At least take the box.”
The vibranni sighed and backed out of the doorway. Ben walked inside and placed the box on a table. Two young girls came running out of the other room.
“Pradi, who’s this?” asked the older of the two.
“He is from one of the temples. Take your sister into the other room and play for a little longer.”
“Wait,” said Ben. “I think I have something in here for you.”
Ben reached into the box and pulled out a rag doll, which had a tail like the vibranni, and a small, wooden great horned deer on wheels. He handed them to the children, who beamed with joy. They started to run to the other room.
“Ah, ah. What do we say?” asked the father.
“Thank you!” shouted the two girls in unison before rushing off.
“Thank you,” said the vibranni. “My name is Mikel. Sorry, I was a little short with you. My wife usually deals with these kinds of things, but she is at the mills working.”
“A pleasure to meet you Mikel. And don’t worry about it. You and your family have been through a lot.”
Ben and Mikel unpacked the box. Afterward, they began to repair some of the damaged furniture.
“Ben. I must ask. Why are you helping us? I haven’t met many humans from outside of Mayberry who are willing. There aren’t many in Mayberry for that matter.”
“Well,” Ben began. “Mell asks that we help those who need it and one of the core beliefs of the Technocratic Party is that those who are capable of doing something should be the ones doing it, and that includes helping those less fortunate.”
“You’re a technocrat?”
“Dear me, no. I’m registered with the Technocratic Party, but I’m just an accountant at the Arlow Mill Complex.”
“You like the technocracy?”
“I think it’s a good system. It may be a little rough, but the people in charge aren’t politicians, so I can’t say I’m surprised. I take it you don’t like them.”
“No. I suppose I believe in those that are good at something should do it, that is the Pavostanni way. But, the technocracy has only served to limit us. They may say we are equal, but that has not changed how we are treated. Most of us are still forced to live here, like this.”
“I don’t understand why we treat you the way we do,” sighed Ben. “The reason I help is in the hopes that one day things will be better.”
“You’re only one man. I don’t know how much you can change.”
“All I can do is help and hope it inspires others to change.”
The two finished fixing the chairs and shelves. The night was getting on, and Ben took his leave.
As Ben walked out of the door, Mikel stopped him.
“Thank you, Ben. I wish there were more humans like you, willing to help. Treating us the way they treat other humans.”
“I wish that, too. Maybe someday there will be. Good night.”
Ben strode down the street, smiling. Happy to be returning home, but happier to have made a friend.