“Wow, James. Looking good! I guess you did still exist under that mop of hair!” exclaimed Emma. She must have slept less than me, but she looked as vibrant as ever, even more so than a week before. “Yeah-yeah. Aaliyah cut it for me. I hadn’t even realized how long my hair had gotten.” I replied. She smiled and said, “Great job, kiddo! You’ll have to get me again sometime soon!” I blinked and then looked from Emma to Aaliyah before saying, “You only mentioned that you did your father’s hair.” She grinned and told me “I never said ONLY.” Well, I supposed Aaliyah had mentioned the difference in washing “boy hair”. I just never would have thought she had a hand in Emma’s exotic styles. “Boss-man, sir,” said Aaliyah, “We need to keep going or we’ll be late for your first school session.” Emma looked surprised when she asked “Why are you starting school already? It’s only July.” I truthfully told her “I wasn’t planning on it, but this is yet another thing I’m not going to argue with Aaliyah about. There’s no real reason for me to put off my education. Whether I start now or in a year, I’ll be attempting to get a degree while already at my dream job. Might as well get the learning over, so I’ll be better at my job.”
Emma and I parted ways, and I walked with Aaliyah back up to the third floor study. Though she told me I could log into Mila from virtually anywhere in the house, I felt that not making use of such a room would be putting it to waste. I found the all-glass appearance of the room to be disconcerting still, but I knew glass and mirrors in this house were far beyond mere transparent surfaces. I was disappointed to find that the glass chair seemed slightly uncomfortable, but I was sure I could find cushions somewhere for it. My desk appeared to be made entirely of glass as well and served as a touchscreen interface along with the monitor that rose out of it. Placing my hand on the glowing outline on the desk made the entire room come alive. I was startled when the chair moved but found that the minor discomfort was gone. The back wall and ceiling were no longer opaque and now allowed for a wonderful view of the backyard and sky. The other walls and floor were shifting between different room designs. “Oh boss-man. You never even ran the setup program yet. I guess you won’t get through as much as I had hoped today. This will take a bit.” stated Aaliyah with a sigh.
Aaliyah took a seat on my lap as Mila started guiding me through the room’s features and capabilities. There were a multitude of presets I could use to make the room appear to be virtually anywhere. While in here, I could feel like I was studying under the night sky in the arctic with the aurora borealis overhead. I could sit on the head of the Great Sphinx of Giza and watch the desert sands fly. I could admire the beauty of a tropical rainforest and listen to the sound of leaves hitting the leaves. The list went on-and-on with enough possibilities to make me feel like sitting here all day. Each one I tried was immensely beautiful and probably entirely too distracting for my own good. “Why aren’t more of the rooms like this?” I inquired. Aaliyah turned to look at me with her secretary glasses on and said “That would be extremely expensive, boss-man, sir. PLUS there are many people who don’t like the idea of transparent walls.” I smiled and wistfully told her “I can understand that, but a room where you can feel like you are anywhere is worth ten of most other rooms.” Then I asked “How is it that my chair seemed to move and grow more comfortable?” She shrugged and said, “The chair moved.” I had to inquire “What else can move in here?”
Aaliyah smiled, stretched her arms out, and whispered “Everything.” before saying, “Mila! Office 42.” The room became much less eye-appealing to me, resembling what I imagined an old farmhouse would look like if no one cared much for maintenance. To make things odder, a towel rack appeared to be next to the door, complete with a towel on it. This in no way prepared me to turn around and find not only that the wall seemed to have a window but that outside the window were enormous letters in flames spelling out “We Apologise For The Inconvenience”. I turned back to my desk to find there was something on it, a thin object in a plastic cover which bore the words “Don’t Panic”. I suddenly realized why all of this seemed familiar. “You designed this one after Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, didn’t you.” I said. Aaliyah continued to smile and said, “Mila! The music!” To further confirm my suspicions, the song “So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish” started playing. “You are by far the coolest twelve-year-old on the planet,” I said, only to be shocked again when she lifted the guide off the desk. “How is this even possible?” I asked.
When Aaliyah started explaining the mechanics of the room, I once again came to understand a few things that occasionally slipped my mind. First and foremost, I more fully realized how little I actually knew about anything, which actually gave me a boost to my drive to learn. Second and probably least important, I realized that the particular shade of yellow on the wall had no business being used for anything that came to mind. I swore there could not be a saving grace for that particular shade even if used to designate a life-saving device. Then I attempted to regain some measure of focus on the nearly incomprehensible words coming out of the tiny girl’s mouth which led to the last reminder: despite being far younger than me, Aaliyah was not only vastly more intelligent than me but more knowledgeable. I spontaneously gave her a hug, which prompted her to inform me “Your shirt tastes sweaty, boss-man, sir. I’m definitely scheduling shower time after your training sessions from now on.” Even in apparent disgust, the girl was extremely adorable.
After changing the study to something less distracting, I finished the tutorial on the study’s functions and then signed into my business’s training course. The lessons were actually far more delightful than I anticipated, considering Brandon’s complaints about needing them. Though no where near as entertaining as Ancient Tribes of Earth, the lessons were implemented in a game-like format to which I easily grew accustomed. I was surprised when Aaliyah stopped me from starting another lesson and said, “You’re out of time, boss-man, sir! If you keep going, you won’t have time to shower before joining everyone for more gaming!” She looked up at me pleadingly and asked “You don’t want me to beg, do you?” Part of me did want to continue with the coursework, since I felt behind my employees, but I also felt guilty about letting Aaliyah convince me to do coursework while I was supposed to be babysitting her. Besides, I needed to get to know Brandon and Brenna better, and the twins would probably physically haul me to the ballroom if I didn’t show up soon. I told Aaliyah I would meet her down there and headed off to shower. Ignus Ashenwake’s time had arrived once more.