Beep. “What is this? Did it just beep? Why is the red light flashing? Is it humming? Maybe it's an explosive! What if it blows me up- AHHHHHHH!” *crash* Beep.
Beep. “Oh. Well, it didn’t blow me up, as I am still here. I pressed the two triangles pointing to the left, and I heard myself say words that I already said. So, I pressed the sideways triangle, the same as last time. Did this record my scream? How does it work? It didn’t blow me up, so I guess it’s okay… what have the Scorpios done this time? What will happen when I press the button with a red dot-” Beep.
Beep. “Hello. Heeelllloooooo. My name is Aurora. Can anyone hear me?” *Silence* “Do you know what an endoplasmic reticulum is?” *Silence ensues* “Okay, no answer? Fine. I can ignore you, too.” Beep.
Beep. “After hours of extensive research, I know what this is now. An ancient tape recorder. That would be why no one was answering me. This is perfect. Listen carefully, whoever you are.
So, the other day, I found this device in an abandoned village. It’s from a few centuries ago. At first, I thought it might be a prank the Scorpios played on us. They think it’s hilarious to scare all the other Zodiacs, especially us Virgos. But this isn’t a Scorpio prank. When I press the button with a sideways triangle on it, it makes a whirring sound, and a red light turns on. It records my voice. When I hit the red dot, it stops recording my voice. I can skip forward or rewind, as necessary.
Not that you, whoever you are, care about how ancient technology works, but just thought all you other Virgos out there might appreciate this extra information.
So, um, hi. I’m Aurora Virgo. I was born a Leo, but since I am the most introverted person, like, ever, Leo’s government thought it best to transfer me to Virgo, where I could pursue my intellectual interests and not demand attention. I don’t like being in the spotlight, unlike most Leos. Everyone in my class loved our mandatory theatre class, but I loathed it. I have been living in Virgo for a few months now, and I am already much more comfortable.
I mentioned a transfer to another Zodiac. It might be easier for me to show you. As well as I can since you are listening to a prerecorded message. We are going on a trip to my adopted family’s home, where you will hear what life sounds like there. The tape recorder will be in my pocket, so don’t expect great sound quality.” Beep.
*Muffled sound, a door opening* “Hey, Mama.”
“Hey, Aurora, will you help me with the dishes? I have at least a dozen other things on my daily Virgo checklist. I would appreciate it if you tackled the dishes.”
“Of course, Mama. Anything else I can do?”
“Not right now. I’ll let you know if I think if something later, okay?”
*The sound of dishes being washed* “So, people, you heard Mama talk about her checklist. Every day, every Virgo citizen has a checklist they have to complete. Usually, it consists of a few chores, something to do with family, some community service, and an instruction for some time alone. Like today, I was told to check my horoscope (every citizen everywhere does that at the beginning of their day), attend my classes, take two hours to do something I enjoyed, offer my help to three different people, and do the laundry for my family. Every Virgo’s list varies day-to-day. No one complains about the list, as it gives us all some sense of satisfaction when we complete it. Even me, and I wasn’t born a Virgo. Every citizen’s list is made according to their age. My father’s list is usually very short because he spends most of his day at work, but Mama’s list is usually full of smaller things.”
“Aurora. Are you talking to yourself again?”
“Hey, Austin. How’s your checklist?”
“Fantastic! I’ve crossed out five out of the seven items. One is to check on my new little sister and see how she’s doing with her recent transfer. And also, to inquire why she is still talking to herself.”
“I love it here, Austin; you ask that every day. I’m doing great. What’s the last item?”
“Take someone I appreciate out to dinner. I still don’t know you very well, yet Aurora. I’d like to get to know you better.”
“Oh! Um. What about Jasmine?”
“My girlfriend can do without me for one night. I talked to her earlier, and it’s okay with her.”
“Awesome! Give me a few seconds to get ready, okay?” *Sound of thumping feet and a closing door* “You hear all that? I hope so. The tape recorder is coming with me to the restaurant, so stay tuned.” Beep.
Beep. “Isn’t Jasmine a Lupus, Austin?”
“Yes. She was born on one of the transition days between Zodiacs.”
“She tried to live in both Pisces and Aries?”
“But she decided she didn’t belong with either group, so she transferred to the main group, Lupus? The Zodiac for all those who don’t belong anywhere, or have no Zodiac?”
“Yes, Aurora, you know that. Why are you quizzing me?”
“Oh. Um, no reason.” *sound of silverware falling on the floor* “Oh, ha-ha, look at me, dropping my fork. Let me pick that up.” *crash* “OUCH!” Beep.
Beep. “I was lucky the tape recorder didn’t break when I nearly fell on it. The recorder did turn off, and Austin heard the telltale beep. So now, he knows about the tape recorder and is planning to help me record. First, we are-”
“We are going to recreate the conversation from the restaurant that you missed because Aurora turned the tape off when she sat on it! Wow, you’re right, it’s weird having a conversation with no one.”
“Austin, please let me do the speaking. It will be easier for our listeners if it’s just one person. Here we go. How the conversation went, take one.”
*monotone voice* “Aurora! Are you okay? You like... fell out of the booth!”
“Austin, you have to do better than that. You sounded so bored.”
“I AM bored! I don’t think they care about this conversation.”
“Maybe they do. Just bear with me, please. Again, from the beginning. Here we go.”
*More excited and concerned voice* “Aurora! Are you okay? You like... fell out of the booth!”
“Much better, Austin!” *sound of throat clearing* Yep, I’m okay, thank you for asking. Help me up.”
“Are you sure you’re fine?”
“I’m fine, my pride is just a little sore... and so’s my butt.”
“Ha-ha. Fine, Little Sister, I’ll help you up.”
“That’s a good idea, as I have no coordination.” *fake-sounding laughter*
“What was that beep?”
“Um, what beep? Did you hear a beep? Because I definitely didn’t hear a beep... No way.”
“Are you lying to me?”
“Pfft. Me? Really?” *voice increases in pitch* “Would I lie? Because I don’t think I would lie.”
“Aurora. I know you heard the beep. Because of your terrible lying skills, I know that you are hiding something that has to do with the beep. I am not an idiot.”
“Fine. It was a beep. And it was a tape recorder. I am trying to record my daily life on this thing. That way people will know what life is like living in the Zodiacs.”
“Who are you making it for? Everyone here already knows what life is like, as they are living their own.”
“Just thought it would be good to have. Just in case.”
“Whatever, Aurora. So why is this a secret? Why do you care if people know what you are doing?”
“It would be more legitimate if the listeners got what life really was like. You just experienced why I don’t want people to know. If they know, they sound like they are acting in one of those movies with bad actors. Austin, you sounded like you were in a movie with bad actors before I made you put your heart into it.”
“Okay, Aurora. I see your point. Let's go home now.”
“And here we are! That’s basically all that has happened since I accidentally turned the tape recorder off at the restaurant. Just imagine Austin’s laugh sounding more legitimate.”
“I tried, okay?”
“Okay. Anyways, that’s why I was trying to get you to talk about the Lupus Zodiac, Austin. So the listeners would know about it.”
“Okay, anything else you want to tell them?”
“Nah, I have already given them enough information. Any more and they might not catch it all.”
“That’s what the rewind is for.”
“Well, okay. That’s true. I’m just saying-”
“They probably don’t want to hear us arguing. So, I'll turn it off!”
“Austin, not ye-” Beep.
Beep. “Austin is doing his checklist, so now he can’t turn off the recording before I’m done. As I was trying to say before Austin so rudely cut me off, is I think I should take you to the youth group Austin and I are a part of. This club meets once a month in The Park to try to brainstorm ways to help the environment. The damage done to the Earth several decades ago is irreversible, but, hopefully, the funds we raise and the work we do in Youths for Change will make the environment healthier. We thought this would be a good way to introduce you to other Zodiacs, and it will give you an idea of the other Zodiacs.
Before we go, I should give you some more information about the Zodiacs, specifically, the Zodiac Austin and I were mentioning yesterday. The Lupus. I wish I could take the tape recorder to the Lupus, but Zodiacs are not allowed to go into other Zodiacs’ spaces. The Lupus are the wolves. Great at adapting, and they have the best leadership, organized in a way quite like ancient wolf packs. They lead the Zodiacs. Lupus is also the reason that transfers exist in the Zodiacs. Like Jasmine, all Lupus didn’t fit in with another Zodiac, so about three decades ago, Tamisra Valdis, who herself didn’t fit in with either the Aries or the Taurus, founded the Lupus. Nobody objected, because it was a solution to a common issue everyone wanted fixed. In fact, the Lupus quickly rose to the top of the government and was unanimously voted as the leader of the Zodiacs. Of course, that doesn’t mean much. Mostly, they settle disputes between different Zodiacs.”
“Mostly the Scorpios and Virgo!”
“Austin! I thought you were supposed to be spending an hour for yourself!”
“I was. But I realized that spending an hour for myself was different then spending an hour by myself. So, I came to assist you! And, boy, do you need it. You’re going to put all our listeners to sleep with this history lesson!”
“I thought they should know.”
“Aurora, stop pouting. They should know this, but you’re making it a boring history lesson, telling them about the Zodiacs. Let’s show them. Ready to go to Y4C?”
“Yes. I told them all about it.”
“Ah, poor listeners, listening to Aurora give terribly boring lectures. Let me see the recoder.”
“Recorder. And no, I’m holding it.”
*Scuffling sounds, unintelligible words* “I have the recorder, now, people! And we’re going to Y4C!” Beep.
Beep. “So, on the way, we will give you more information about the people in this club. It was started by a Capricorn who was very passionate about changing the way the Zodiacs are killing the environment. The Capricorn, (Breanna), invited her Sagittarius friend (Ethan), who invited Austin. Austin invited me, and I brought an old friend from Leo (Jonah). Austin also invited Jasmine, and the club just grew from there. Confusing? I hope not, but it will probably make more sense when we get there.”
“There are also a Taurus, Gemini twins (ironic, right?), an Aquarius, and a Cancer in Y4C. So, 10 in all.”
“Yep. Here we are! Put the recorder in your pocket, Austin.”
“Hey, Bre! How are you?”
*soft voice* “I’m great! Hey, Austin.”
*eager voice* “Aurora! It’s good to see you again.”
“Jasmine, good to see you too.”
“Hello, Breanna. And Ethan! It’s been a while!”
*excited, deep voice* “Austin! We should hang out soon!”
*happy voice, but a little out of breath* “Hey, all. Look at the shirt I have! Doesn’t it make my eyes look bluer?”
“It looks very nice, Jonah. But why are you panting?”
“I ran all the way here because I almost forgot about the meeting.”
“Glad you could make it, Jonah Leo. I think that makes everybody. With Jonah, Aurora, and Austin, that brings our total to ten, which means we are all here. So, I wanted to ask everybody about how we want to raise money for the new air cleaner that will go to the Cancer living space. Any ideas? James? It’s going in your space; what do you think?”
“Maybe we could sell something in The Park. It is a common place for people to hang out, and a great place for selling things and fundraisers.”
“I like that idea. Anybody have any ideas?” *A pause* “Austin, put your hand down, we will not do a bake sale, or a lemonade stand. Too basic. And no one wants to buy books anymore, except for other Virgos.”
“Darn it, Aurora!”
*laughter* “I agree with Aurora, bake sales and lemonade stands are too basic. We need something new. Does our Aquarius have any ideas?”
“What if we did some sort of Olympics? Like the ones people did centuries ago? We could charge admission.”
*Two voices at once* “That’s a good idea!”
“Look at the Gemini. What the ancients would call ‘twin telepathy.’ We can have thirteen events, and each Zodiac can have an event that’s for them.”
“I love where this is going. Maybe we could also-” Beep.
Beep. “Austin didn’t know how to use the recorder, so he accidentally turned it off. We really need to stop doing that. But we know where we are taking you next: The Park! We will listen to other conversations there. We should tell you some information, though, before we go.”
"The Park is where all the Zodiacs can go together, since Zodiacs are not allowed in different Zodiacs’ spaces (By spaces, we mean something like counties). We are one big city, but different counties, arranged in a circle with twelve points, Lupus and The Park in the middle. The Park is open to all Zodiacs, any time of day. That’s enough information.”
“No, it's not! It’s not even close to enough! You didn’t even mention how Tamisra Valdis also established the park, or how-”
“Okay, Aurora. We will sit on a picnic bench, and we will eavesdrop on the other Zodiacs. Somehow Aurora and I will let you know who is speaking. It looks like we are going to listen to a conversation with some Pisces. Recorder in pocket, now.”
*deep, masculine voice* “Luna, I’m talking to you.”
*soft, feminine voice* “Yes? Sorry, Daddy, I was thinking about the unicorn you said you had for sale.”
“Unicorn? What unicorn? We don’t have unicorns.”
“Oh. Maybe it was a dream. Too bad. I would like a unicorn.”
*agitated whisper* “Austin, that’s rude! Stop laughing! We need to be less obvious!”
“Okay, Aurora, sorry. Their conversation is kind of boring. Let’s listen to the Libra!”
*Sing-song voice* “Jake, if I were to adumbrate May’s whereabouts for the last 24 hours, would you be interested? Do you think that May’s actions are iumbrageous? Because she went to the government building.”
*annoyed voice* “Stop it, Lily! You know I have no idea what those words mean!”
“So, you could say I’m being esoteric.”
“I don’t know what that means. I would just say you’re infuriating, but that’s just me.”
*loud, fake yawn* “You’d think that people would have more interesting things to talk about, right Aurora? How about the Aries and the Scorpio to the left?”
*Nasal voice* “Clarisse, I’m telling you, you can’t sneak into the Lupus! It’s illegal to go into another Zodiac!”
*angry feminine voice* “Well, maybe, if you had come with me last week, you would know why I have to go! I’m an Aries! So, come on, Scorpio!”
“Now this could be interesting.”
“Yes, it will, Austin.”
*a pause* “Where’d they go?”
“...I don’t know. Oh wait, there they are, jogging to the other side of the park!”
“Let’s follow them! We can try to find out more!” Beep.
Beep. “So, it appears that when I got up, I accidentally dropped the tape recorder, and it turned off. It’s a very hardy thing; it’s been dropped like three times in the past week, and it’s not even scratched. It just keeps turning off, and I think it might need batteries.”
“So, by the time Austin got the recorder, Clarisse and the Scorpio she was with had disappeared. This is why I usually have the tape recorder-”
“To be fair, you didn’t only drop it, you sat on it-”
“Which is not the point. So, we don’t know where they went. But they were going to do something illegal. This recording took a turn from me telling you about my life to a spy movie.”
*door creaking* “Record what? A spy movie?”
“Mom! I didn’t know you were home! Let me show you the video I'm recording for school!”
“I didn’t know you were recording a video for school, Austin.”
“Pfft, yeah. It’s for, um, astrology. Let me show you what I have so far! See you later, Aurora! Don’t do anything stupid!”
*door creaks and shuts* “Well. Now what? What do I do? Oh shoot, the recorder’s low batt-” Beep.