I woke up, hugging something soft and furry. ‘What is this?’ I thought, ‘I don't remember my body pillow being furry.’ I opened my eyes to find myself buried in gray fur.
“Where'd this come from?” I whispered. Suddenly everything came back to me and I realized it must be Jackson. My face went red once more, and I panicked and fell out of bed, hitting my head on the wood flooring of his room.
He woke up startled, “Whuh, huh?” he shot up, “... are you ok?” He asked, looking at me and rubbing his eyes.
“Yeah, yeah I'm good.” I reassured him and myself, “How did I end up in your bed?”
“Well you kinda fainted, for whatever reason, I don't know. So I picked you up and put you in my bed.” He said, again like it was nothing.
“You wouldn't happen to be bisexual would you, like do you like guys as well as girls?” I asked, almost certain that he was.
“No, I only like girls in that way, why do you ask?” he said. I was speechless, how could he be fine with dragging me throughout town, and sleeping with me, and not be at least bi?
“Well, I should be heading off. I still need to find out how to get back home.” I said, wanting to leave before something else happened.
“Yeah, we should probably get going, but first we need to make sure Kate didn't wander off again.” Jackson said, assuming that he'd be coming with me. I was going to protest, but then he mentioned Kate.
“That's right, she's a sleepwalker. Let's check her house first so we don't go looking all throughout the village just to find her there.” I said. Running out of the house, leaving Jackson to get dressed, I went straight to Kate's, knocking on her door. As I waited for her to answer I heard other people whispering to each other.
Among the whispers I heard stuff like, “What is that?” “I've never seen anything like that before.” “Are they some hairless ape person?” “ew, what a freak.” I only laughed at this, for people who supposedly accept others, they sure didn’t seem very accepting of me. Kate finally opened the door, once again half naked.
“Kate, clothes.” I reminded her, looking away. Looking down at her topless self, she peeped, just like an actual bird. She quickly slammed the door, running back to her room to get dressed I assumed.
More whispers from people, “Oh my Tanri, what did they say to her?” “What an ass.” “Not just a freak, but a prick too.” “This piece of shit must have some loser friends if they have any.” that last one ticked me off a bit. Jackson arrived, and as he did the door swung open, and we got pulled in to Kate's house.
“Whoa what's going on?” I asked, basically being thrown onto the leafy couch along with Jackson. Kate looked freaked out, like she'd just heard the worst news ever.
“Guards are looking for you, you need to get out of here!” she practically yelled. I didn't like this at all, I’ve never gotten into trouble, at least not with the authorities.
“Why, what did I do?” I asked, getting a little defensive for no reason.
“It's not what you did, it's what you're supposedly gonna do. Our village is very religious, and our prophets have foreseen a new being coming to our world and destroying almost all of Eoria.” she spoke fast, which caught me off guard for a sec.
“Do you know what they said this being looked like?” I asked, hoping that I didn't fit the description.
“All I heard was that it looked like a hairless ape person except for some messy hair on the top of their head.” she said. Crap, who would've thought that my messy hair would mean the destruction of someone's world.
“So, do I have like a bounty or something?” I asked, thinking of an awesome pirate anime I watched once.
“Probably, which is why you need to leave as soon as possible.” Kate answered, while packing stuff in a bag.
“... how much is my bounty?” I asked, honestly feeling a little excited. I imagined me going on my own adventure, making friends along the way, fighting monsters.
“I don't know, but that's not important,” she tossed the bag at me, waking me from my daydream, “I'll get a wagon ready to smuggle you out.”
“Why are you helping me?” I asked. I had a feeling that if I hadn't met these two, I would've been taken to the authorities almost immediately.
“Because unlike most citizens of Valgior, we still follow traditions, and also if either of us get caught with you in our houses, we'll be fired as city guards.” She answered, with another smile showing in her eyes.
“Thanks guys, I hope we can meet again sometime.” I said, and then Kate threw a bunch of gross pasty stuff on me.
“You're welcome, now roll on the ground.” She said, I would laugh if I wasn't covered in gross goop.
“Why?” I asked, getting a bit of the paste in my mouth. It was nasty.
“Cause Jackson's shedding.” she answered, gesturing to Jackson, who was scratching behind his ears, getting hair everywhere.
“No!” I yelled, “I'm not gonna roll around in dog hair. Give me something else, like feathers or something. I could pretend I'm a chicken. There is no way I'm gonna be covered in dog hair. Besides I don't even have a tail.” I argued, feeling good about my reasons.
“That's why you'll be a mouse.” she answered holding up a pink hose looking thing, “But you still have to roll on the ground.” reluctantly, I rolled on the ground, all the fur and dirt sticking to me. I felt ridiculous, there's no way this was going to work. Then I heard something from outside that made me groan. It was raining, meaning I had rolled on the ground in the fur and dirt for nothing.
“Well at least everybody will be inside now. So we don't have to worry about being spotted. And we can play in the rain for a bit.” Jackson said, looking out the window, his tail wagging more hair onto me. I groaned even louder.
“Don't worry, this should give you just enough cover to get to the wagon unnoticed.” Kate reassured.
After Kate explained where the wagon was, and the plan, we headed out. Kate and Jackson were behind me pretending to hold my arms like I was a prisoner. Not running into any guards yet, I began to get suspicious.
“Hey guys,” I whispered, “Don't you find it weird that there's no guards around? I mean, shouldn't they be expecting me, after what the prophets said?”
“My guess is they might be waiting by the wagon.” Kate whispered back, looking around making sure we're not spotted.
“Maybe, they're not on patrol because it's raining.” Jackson added jokingly, “No, they're probably planning some kind of ambush, waiting in the shadows for a good time to strike.”
“Let's hope not.” I said under my breath, worried that if Jackson came up with it, it might actually be true. We were nearing the designated alleyway, and as I expected, the fake fur coating I had on washed away, leaving me exposed out in the open. Once we reached the alley way, I bolted through it, the wagon in sight.
“Hey, get back here!” Jackson yelled, according to plan. I ran through the alley, jumping over knocked down garbage cans and other various things. As I jumped in the back of the wagon, someone else jumped in at the same time. We smacked into each other, and because I had more momentum, we landed in the dirt on their side.
“I didn't do nothin’ get off me, I'm innocent I tell ya.” they yelled, sounding very feminine, they also had a slight Jersey accent. Getting up and looking at them I saw the reason why they sounded feminine, they were in fact female. I also saw that they were a Gremmlokk Loralian person.
“Wait a minute, you're no authority. What even are ya?” she asked, pushing me off of her.
“Hey, stop thief!” someone yelled. Looking, I saw someone running toward us, wearing what looked like leather armor. The wagon began heading off. We both hurriedly got up and ran towards the wagon in a desperate attempt to get on. She was faster and hopped into the wagon, I almost reached it, however, it sped up a bit, going a little faster than me. In a desperate attempt to get on, I leapt at the wagon, realising that I wouldn't reach anyways. Suddenly my hands were grabbed by furry hands. I tried to look up to see who it was, but it was kinda hard when being drug on the ground painfully fast. My legs felt like they were being torn to shreds. Dragging on the rocks and dirt on the ground. I was then being pulled into the wagon. Helping out, I tried my best to push off the ground. I eventually made it into the wagon, once again, landing on top of this girl.
“Ugh, you alright? That was a crazy stunt ya pulled there.” She said, “So why were you runnin’?”
“It's cause I'm human.” I answered, “What about you? What’d you steal?”
“How’d ya know I stole somethin’?” she asked, glaring at me with the one eye she had left. I hesitated to answer, being caught off guard by it.
“Well I uh…” I was struggling to find something to say, “I saw you hiding something in your pocket.” I lied, knowing that that's one of the only places she could hide something.
She stared at me for a good long while before saying, “You got a pretty good set a eyes.” She said, poking my chest. She then brought the same finger to my nose causing me to flinch.
“Boop” she said poking my nose, “Hey so what's so bad about bein’ human?”
“Nothing really, but apparently according to some dumb prophets I bring about the end of your world.” I said, annoyed by the fact that everyone would listen to someone without question.
“Really… you gotta name?” she asked. I was surprised she didn't hate me too, or fear me.
“It's Nespius.” I answered, holding out my hand for a hand shake. She looked at me quizzically.
“What are ya doin’?” she asked, “Do it like this.” She put my arm up in an arm wrestle position, then grabbed my hand tight, her arm in the same position.
“That's how. So you're Nespuh… Nes… Imma just call ya Ness.” She said, struggling to say my name.
“So what's your name?” I asked, finding myself staring at her missing eye.
“The names Lokaia, yea just like the trickster donvee from Loralkin mythology.” She answered, sounding like she explains it a lot.
“I actually don't know anything about this world, so I didn't know that. Also what's a donvee?” I asked.
“Donvee is short for donveom, a creature of evil created by Seytąn herself. Lokaia is one of the well known ones, causin’ trouble and mayhem wherever they go.” She explained.
“Oh it's a demon. And Lokaia is like the trickster God Loki.” I mumbled to myself.
“An’ where exactly did ya say you were from again?” she asked, staring at me with a look of amazement in her eye. And we talked and talked, just sitting in the back of the wagon. She showed me the Hakana she stole from a rich family, and I showed her the two that I had left from the Aifrits. She told me about the two deities of Eoria, Tanri and Seytąn and the lore behind it all. I told her that religion was complicated on Earth and that there was many different kinds. She told me more about the countries and continents, and I told her the same. We talked for hours and hours, we eventually began talking about our own lives. She told me her parents died when she was a kid, and that she never got to see her mom, so she grew up on the streets, doing what she can to survive. I felt bad, and told her that my life was hard too, but that all that I really had to deal with was depression and anxiety.
After talking for hours on end, she hopped off the wagon, “Come on, let's go.” She said. I hopped off, following her.
“So where are we going? Are we headed to your secret hideout?” I teased.
“One of ‘em” she smirked, “I got places everywhere, I travel a lot y’know. It's hard to get used to one place.”
“Do you ever get lonely?” I asked, imagining myself in her shoes… paws.
“I'm surrounded by people, everywhere I go. No matter where I am, there's always someone there” she said, obviously avoiding my question.
“But do you ever get lonely?” I repeated, “I know that I get lonely. Whether I'm in a big crowd of people or out by myself, I tend to feel alone.”
“You wouldn't understand where I'm comin’ from.” She sighed, “I grew up alone, I never had any friends, no family, nothin’ at all. I've been alone my entire life, and I always will be alone, y’know why? Cause I'm a freak. Look at me, there's not another person like me!” she gestures to herself then sits down, “I'm a pure Gremmloralian Voltorus, not a half breed like everyone else. Everyone's scared a me, so they treat me like shit, thinkin’ they can keep me in line, but I don't roll that way…”
“You don't have to be alone.” I hugged her, knowing it might seem weird, but I knew she needed it.
“Who asked you…” she began crying, “Why would you even like someone like me? I'm a monster. Just, leave me alone.” despite what she said, she hugged me back. We sat there for a bit as I cheered her up, and after she calmed down we sat in silence. It was a nice silence, calm and soothing, listening to everything around us. I began to think about my friends, and the times we shared kinda like this. Just hanging out, talking about whatever, and just chilling. I looked over at Lokaia, her blood red fur glowing in the sunlight, looking up with her soft beak pointed towards the sky, her wings hidden beneath her shirt as though in shame, her long rabbit ears resting on her coal black horns which curved like that of a rams, her right eye closed, forever sealed shut by a scar
“I was born in Tokhuula y’know,” she said, “That's how I lost my eye.” I looked at her, surprised that she had answered my question before I asked it.
“How?” I asked, “Did you get in a fight or something?”
“You could say that. Actually, I was a slave, I was born one. As soon as the slave keepers found out I was born they killed my mother, and my father ran. By the time I was 6 he told me what happened, one year later he told me to hide, but the slave keepers found me. My pop pleaded for em to spare me, in exchange for his freedom, they decided he deserved a different punishment, and I saw ‘em kill him right then and there. They grabbed me, attempting to do the same to me. I got away, only losing my eye. Now here I am, 25 and on the run.” she sighed, looking at the sky the whole time. I looked at her with utter confusion.
“You're 25!?” I asked, ruining the mood, confounded by the fact that she's seven years older than me.
“Yeah, it's young to be on your own, I know. How old are you like 26, 27?” she asked, confused by my confusion.
“I'm only 18!” I said, she looked at me with the same look I was giving her, which was complete and utter confusion. I sat there contemplating this for a while, she seemed to be doing the same.
“Wait,” we both said at the same time, “You're from a different world…” she said.
“Maybe time is different in our world's…” I added.
“Meaning maturity is sooner for you...” she said.
“And later for you.” I finished, “So at maturity years, I would be about…”
“Depends on what maturity age you're at where you're from.” she said.
“I'm now officially an adult at 18.” I answered.
“So you'd be 26 by maturity standards here.” she said.
“Also meaning you'd be 17 in maturity standards where I'm from.” I said, happy that we figured that out.
“That's a weird thought.” she chuckled, “Wonder what it'd be like living in your world.”
“I don't think you'd like it much, there's not really any Loralians there, and people aren't really the nicest either.” I explained.
“Hey!” someone yelled, scaring us, “Stop sitting on your asses and get out of here, I don't know what in Cehennem you are,” they pointed at me, “but your kind isn't welcome here.” they yelled, pointing at Lokaia, their voice like thunder. I got irritated and stood up, looking the ox person right in the eyes. I was not ready to fight this guy, but I wasn't gonna back down when Lokaia was the one being disrespected. He stared back at me, fury in his eyes. I returned with my best ice cold stare, I knew it was weak, I'm no good at being intimidating.
“... Ness we should probably go.” Lokaia said, tugging my shirt. Then the ox guy began laughing a hearty, bellowing laugh.
“You got some real balls kid, no one's ever stood up to me, let alone stared me down like that. Why’re you hanging out with scum like her?” he asked, glancing at her with a look of disgust. That pushed me over the edge.
“Hey asshole,” I yelled, “that ‘scum’ as you call her, is my friend! If you think you can be all buddy buddy with me, you got another thing coming! She's walks and talks and breathes, just like the rest of you, so why do you think she’s beneath you!? Maybe you need to go back to whatever shit hole you crawled out of, and think about that! So how about you fuck off and leave us alone!” He just stared at me, completely caught off guard by my sudden outburst of rage. I realised what I had said, and decided it was best to leave, still pissed off by the whole thing. Taking the shocked Lokaia by the hand, I pulling her along with me, not knowing where I was going. After a while of walking, I found a place that looked abandoned, and decided to head in there.
“Sorry you had to see that, I don't like yelling at people, but he just… ugh…” I said, feeling really bad.
“H-Hey, don't worry about it, it was cool. I never had anyone stick up for me before, and I never had a friend either. It was really cool what ya did for me back there.” she thanked me, trying to make me feel better. It wasn't working, I still felt like shit.
“Well yeah, what was I supposed to do, sit there and let him treat you like crap? You're my friend, and I won't let anyone treat you that way.” I said, trying to fight back the tears from missing my friends back home.
She scooted closer to me, “Thanks Ness.” she put her hand on my cheek, gently pulling my face towards hers. I looked her in the the eye and she looked passionately into mine.
“I'm sorry.” I looked away, “I can't.”
“Oh, I see.” she said, looking hurt, “I should've known.”
“No no, it's not that, it's just, there's someone else I like.” I said, realising I had hurt her probably more than she'd been hurt in a long time, “Don't get me wrong, you're beautiful, but I'd feel… I don't know, it just doesn't feel right to me.”
“... So how much does she mean to you?” she asked.
“Why do you assume they’re a ‘she’?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood a little.
“Or he, sorry, you just don't really seem like you'd be into guys.” she said.
“It's alright. She means, a lot to me, I miss her so much.” I said. Lokaia gave a weak smile.
“Y’know there's a good chance that you'll never see her again.” She stated, making me feel worse.
“I know, but I'm not giving up.” I said, hope in my heart, “I've gotta find a way back home, no matter what it takes.”
“Even if it means death?” She asked, fear showing in her eye.
“If I died, how could I get back home?” I smiled at her, reassuring her that I don't plan to die. She smiled back as the sun began to set over the horizon, evening glow shining through the broken window as we stared into each others eyes.
“It's getting late, we should probably get some rest.” She said, turning away and heading up the stairs at the back of the front room. I followed her. ‘Maybe it wouldn't be so bad staying here.’ I thought to myself, ‘If only my friends could be here with me.’
“So, we're sleeping here for the night?” I asked, looking around at all the old, dusty, and frail stuff throughout this building.
“Yeah, this is another one of my hideouts. I'm surprised you chose to come here, pretty lucky huh.” she said, opening a door to a room that looked a little better than the rest of the place; it didn't look like total garbage. In that candle lit room was a hammock hanging from the ceiling and a nightstand where the only candle rest upon.
“So, whatcha think?” she asked, “pretty cool right?” she seemed really confident about it.
“Yeah, you got a hammock. I mean, how many people even have a hammock?” I said, trying my best to sound amazed, “So, where am I supposed sleep?”
She looked around scratching her head, “Oh right, you want the hammock? I'll just take the ceiling.” she said. Before I could ask, she flew up on the ceiling and hung from it like a bat, quickly falling asleep.
“Okay, I guess that works.” I struggled to get on the hammock, “these things… are a death trap… waiting to happen” I sighed, finally making it onto the unusually high hammock about four feet off the ground. I lie in bed, looking up at the upside down Lokaia hanging above the hammock, her rabbit ears just out of reach. I smiled slightly, thinking of her as a younger sister, despite the facts that we look nothing alike and that she's a lot older than me, non maturely of course.
I woke up. Looking around I noticed I was outside underneath a tree. Something seemed off though, the land I was on wasn't very big, only about a mile all the way across. There were a few trees, and a bush resting in the middle of the whole thing. Examining the bush, I saw little berries on it, they were small yellow berries. Deciding not to touch them, I went off to find out why the land ended where it did. Looking over the edge was terrifying, I was so high up off the ground. I was too scared, I quickly backed away, not wanting to fall off. I noticed, however, that this mass of land wasn't attached to anything, it was floating. ‘Oh this must be a dream.’ I thought to myself. So losing all care for everything, I went over to the bush and plucked a berry. As I popped it into my mouth the bush got up, standing on two bush feet with two bush arms sticking out the side. It shouted something strange, and it's hands began to glow a purple color. Astonished, I just watched, still believing this was a dream. It shot the purple glow at me, hitting me in the chest, knocking me down. I got up, chest burning where it hit me, I began to wonder if this really was a dream. I tried to speak, but what came out of my mouth sounded animalistic. My hands shot to my throat, ‘What was that!?’ I wondered. I tried to speak again, and the same thing happened again. My body began to ache all over, I fell to my knees in pain. Looking at my hand I saw that my fingers began to fuse together, leaving me with only three fingers on each hand. My body shuddered as my bones began to crack and pop. My feet began to hurt, my toes bursting out of my shoes, fused into three toes like my hands. I tried to get up to run and find help, forgetting that there was nowhere to run, but my back had shaped itself so I'd remain on all fours anyways. My face began to burn, mouth and nose pushing outwards, shaping into a rounded muzzle. My eyes then began to burn. I closed them shut tight, hoping to wake from this horrifying nightmare. When I opened my eyes again, my eyes had moved to the side of my head and my vision felt sharper. My neck lengthened, giving my head more mobility. I felt bulkier, stronger, like I could lift five times my own weight. My tailbone began to ache, like it was being pulled outwards, and my spine lengthened more. I looked back at my… Tail!? I had a tail now. My ears began to change now too, becoming more pointy and migrating to the top of my head, like cat ears. Then my skull began to hurt like crazy, like something was pushing its way out the back and through my skin. I tried to look at what it was but to no avail. My skin began to feel hot, my eyes shut tight, crying from the immense pain all throughout my body. Forcing my eyes open, I looked at my skin as it slowly changed to a mostly red color palette like that of a... a Gremmlokks… I was becoming a Gremmlokk! My heart raced even more, my teeth sharpening, razor sharp in fact as I accidentally bit my lip. With my body finally having stopped it’s changes and calming down, I looked back at the bush that did this to me. Anger welling up, I couldn't control myself as I pounced on the bush. Pinning it to the ground, biting and ripping it to shreds. With every thrash and bite, I felt my knowledge drain. Eventually, I began to forget things; first my name, next was any memory of ever being human, then I forgot my family. Finally I felt the memory of my friends disappearing, I remembered their faces, but I couldn't remember their names. Despite not having control over my body, I began to cry. I was going to become a wild animal with no way to return back because nobody would know that it's me. Then they were gone, the memory of everyone I knew was gone, and I was nothing but an animal. I heard something behind me, wondering what it was I spun around, baring my fangs and growling at the possible threat. All I saw was a blur of a creature. It kept making some kind of noise, like those creatures that walk on their hind legs do. It was calm, not fearing me like the others did. It began approaching. I snapped at it hoping to keep it away, adding a roar for more fear. It stopped in its tracks, i had scared it. Then it began walking to me again, unfazed by me. It was remained calm, and extended one of its front legs toward me. I calmed down, feeling like I wasn't in any kind of danger. They approached me making the same noise. They sounded so familiar.
“Ness…” my eyes went wide, what did that mean? Why did it also sound familiar? ‘Wait, Ness… that's, me…?’ I realised, and then I saw the figure clearly. They had light brown skin, dark hair, and brown eyes. They seemed different from all the other ones I've seen, yet so familiar.
“Ness.” they said again. My head began to feel warm and good. They reached out to touch my nose, ‘What a weird place to want to touch.’ I thought. They changed the way their face looked, their mouth curving, the corners off their mouth pointing towards their eyes. It was weird, but they still seemed friendly nonetheless. I allowed them to touch my nose, closing my eyes hoping they don't hurt me.
I woke up to a weird red girl hanging from the ceiling, looking at me with worry in her… eye?
“What the?” I muttered, slightly startled by my own voice, “Wh- Where am... I?” I struggled to say, speech feeling foreign to me.
“Uh, you’re in my hideout… are you ok?” the girl asked. I looked at her confused, then everything came flooding back to me, causing a slight headache.
“Ugh… oh man, I just had the craziest dream ever.” I said, holding my head to ease the pain.
“Oh yeah? What was it about?” Lokaia asked, her interest piqued. Not wanting to disappoint her, I told her all about it, struggling to remember the ending.
“That is pretty insane.” she said, admittedly, “How can you dream of being something so vividly and not even know how it works?”
“That's what you're questioning? Nothing about the living bushes?” I asked.
“Gotheet are real…” she paused, obviously struggling with saying something.
“They steal your socks?” I joked, taking advantage of the moment.
“What? What are you talking about?” she asked, looking a little flustered at the fact that I keep confusing her, “No they raid towns and villages stealing infants and teeth.”
“That's a weird combination of things to steal.” I said, I little disturbed, “What would they want with babies and teeth? Are you sure they don't steal baby teeth?”
“I don't know, I just heard stories honestly. I just felt like freaking you out.” Lokaia said frankly. She seemed saddened about her failure.
“... I appreciate your honesty.” I said, placing my hand on her shoulder. She gave me a smile in return.
“So, what now, where shall we venture off to?” I asked, getting tired of sitting around and talking. I wanted to adventure, to see more of this world. She looked at me with a bit of regret in her eye.
“I'm sorry, I can't go anywhere with you, not anywhere around here.” She said. She seemed distraught, full of guilt.
“Hey, what's wrong? We can still be friends y’know.” I gave her a reassuring smile to calm her down. She looked at me with surprise, then began to cry hugging me tightly.
“I don't want to lose you, you're the most important thing that's happened to me.” She choked.
“Loka, it's alright. I'm here, I'll always be here.” I hugged her back.
“L-Loka…?” she asked, “I… thank you so much Ness. I want to be with you forever.”
“Of course. Like I said, always.” I said, caught off guard by the ‘forever’ part. As I held her in my arms, two things dawned on me; the first one being, ‘she has never had a single friend her entire life.’ The second, ‘I might never get back home to my friends.’