TALES: Look Alike Part 2
The two hopped down the stairs of the apartment complex, both bearing boisterously big grins. It was nice to get out of the house and meet/make friends. "Ryne's nice!" Twisty blurted as she rounded the second floor."
I couldn't understand a thing he said." Strange, it was almost like the entire building was designed in that same tan color palette.
"He needs to learn English. Oh!” Twisty nearly popped as another overly optimistic idea popped into her head. “I should teach you Squickish!"
"I don't think I can make the squeaks the way you can."
"It might be a bat thing."
The two opened the aging apartment complex's glass doors and stepped out into the warm air. The sun was still up; there was plenty of day left, though there was no dragon to be seen. Had he already left?
"Damn it," Anna whined as she observed the dragon-less plaza. It seemed to be filled with everything but a dragon; children at play, residents catching up over small talk and even a man with a hotdog cart near the street. "We couldn't have been in there that long."
"I guess we shouldn't have forced him into coming?"
"Probably not," the cat replied as she put her hands on her hips. "I bet he's close to home by now. Kinda wish he could use a cell phone."
"Oh!" the bat enthusiastically squeaked, "we should get cell phones!"
"That'd be nice," Anna dismissively said as she led the bat down the building’s stoop, "but I don't think your house has great cell reception."
"Remember those metal pillar ruins on the way to your colony?"
"Yeah," Twisty responded as one of her ears twitched in response to a fly. It was easy to remember those ruins. It was the only oddity on the long journey to her old home.
"Well, those things are needed to use cell phones. You'll find them hidden around towns and the like, but you won't find them in the wilderness; too difficult to maintain what with wild dragons and tribes always ruining things."
"Boo," the bat whined. "That would have been neat to get."
"There're still plenty of things you'll find today that you didn't even know you wanted." The two had reached the street and began walking back towards the direction they had originally come from. A bank was in that direction, which was what Anna needed to get some spending cash for her batty friend.
"Where should we go first?" Twisty asked with peaked interest.
"Dunno," the cat casually replied. "We can window shop until you find something that interests you, but remember, we have to carry everything home."
The bat’s eyes reflected the dreams of everything this world had to offer, even if she had to drag it back to her house. "I'll carry all the books in the world if I have to."
Anna let loose a small smile and stifled a laugh. "How much can you carry?"
"A backpack with a turkey," the bat responded as she watched a minivan drive by. How weird the sounds it made were to her ears, and yet still so brilliant a sight. A fascinating desire began to well inside her to just ride in one of those contraptions.
"So twenty five pounds or so?" Anna joked.
"Uhh," she mumbled back. "Maybe? All I know is that it was very difficult to carry. Those shoulder straps were impossible for me to even use."
"Actually," Anna murmured as they had reentered the downtown area, "that does remind me, I need to pick up a new backpack."
"Sorry," Twisty mumbled as her gaze turned to the pavement.
"It's okay," the cat replied as she patted the bat's back. "I told you to stop saying sorry."
Anna couldn't help but roll her eyes. The bat was always so quick to apologize for things that weren't her fault. Why in the world was she like that?
The crowd had thinned out since they last trekked through these streets. The traffic was still predominant, but it wasn't something they would have to worry about. The bank was quickly found. It, like many of the businesses in this section of town, took up the entirety of the first floor of the building’s they occupied. Everything inside was so orderly, pretty, and quiet. The carpet was pressed short and had a dull pattern of dark colored boxes mixed in gray lines. The counters were made with such splendid and smooth design. Potted plants dotted the room to soften the place up from the mixture of the drab floor design and bright tan walls. A golden chandelier hung in the center of the lobby. It glowed with such magnificence the bat had never seen before. Anna had to remind Twisty to not stare agape at what she saw. It looked weird to the locals.
A few individuals stood behind the counter, each separated by an extension. A few cats, a duck, and a rat assisted the customers already in line. Each wore undoubtedly expensive and equally decadent dresses, while small golden necklaces weren't uncommon on the lot. "Next," the rat behind the counter squeaked out.
"That's us," Anna whispered as she gently pulled on Twisty's arm to drag her out of her trance. The rat had soft looking brown fur with a petite yet warm and inviting smile. Her ears perked up as the two approached.
"Hello, what can I do for you today?"
Anna pulled a small wallet out from her right pant pocket and drew out a small white paper card. "I need to make a withdrawal today, please."
The rat took the offered card and placed it down in front of herself as she typed the information into her computer. The rhythmic clacking of the keys was oddly relaxing to the bat's ears which turned and twitched to the sound. Her keen senses capturing the faint, unnoticeable echoes cast about from the surroundings, with the sense of hearing only a bat possessed. "And how much will you be withdrawing today?"
"Two hundred will be fine." With nimble fingers and practiced speed honed through endless execution, the rat had quickly counted up the bills to be exchanged. "Thank you," the cat said with a thankful smile and a polite nod.
After exchanging the customary pleasantries, Anna led the enthralled bat outside with her. "Did you see how fast she did that!?" Twisty squeaked in amazement as she fumbled her fingers in front of an imaginary computer's keyboard in a failed attempt to copy the female rodent’s movements before. Although she had to give up when her fingers began to resemble a pretzel and go numb.
Anna couldn't help but laugh at the sight. "Having trouble?"
Stretching her fingers to relieve the sudden tension, the bat responded, "How long do you think it took her to type that fast?"
"A month?" Anna answered with as much uncertainty as anyone who would have made an educated guess. "It doesn't take long if you practice every day."
"Buh," the bat huffed, sending with it her recent explosion of excitement. She retracted her hands under her parka to privately wiggle some sense back into her fingers. "What now?"
"Shopping, of course," the cat answered with a smile and a casual rub of the bat's hair. A predictable squeak arose in protest. "Let’s see if we can't find you a better parka. One not made out of bat fur." Twisty glanced down at her covering distraught that her homemade parka might be past its prime. It may not have been fancy, but it was made by her family, which was comforting to her when she lived so far away.
"I like my parka," she mumbled out.
"And you'll love the ones on sale! Besides, no one is saying you have to get rid of what you have now.”
With a hesitant grumble, out came the word, "Sure."
"Now If I remember correctly," the cat started as she tapped her chin as if it would access her difficult memory. "...Yes. I think we passed a clothing store around here." The signs above the stores were decent hints, of which one down the street stood out in particular: Shaw's Clothing Outlet. Perfect! A short walk brought them to the front of the store, where large glass windows displayed a small selection of the goods inside; shirts and pants that wouldn’t fit the bat nor coincide with her interest of style. Nonetheless, with a coo of interest, Twisty led the way inside for the first time.
The sterilized lighting was bizarre to the bat's eyes, as the unnatural fluorescent lights and window placement here was vastly different from the bank. However, the first thing to strike her was the scent of the store. The racks upon racks of clothes had no real smell; they had no owner to absorb a natural odor from. They were like blank slates. To anyone else, this was a basic department store; to the bat, it was a new culture of wonder to embrace.
"There should be a section for flyers around here somewhere," Anna stated to a bat that wasn't listening. Twisty's ear twitched as she vaguely heard the cat's words, but her mind was focused on all the pictures on the walls of models in all the latest fashions. How utterly odd this place was. "Found it!" Anna declared as she pulled the protesting bat along.
The section for clothes fitting those with wings was a relatively smaller section of the store located near the back. It had racks of the open side shirts for winged arms to be slid through, but the two had focused on the parkas. They were amazing to the bat. Hers was made by the seamstresses of her colony out of shed hair, but these were made from such unknown fabric. It was comfortable and lightweight; perfect for a flyer. They were arranged in so many vibrant colors and inlaid with so many detailed patterns of squares, diamonds, flowers, and other shapes. The bat knew if she wore any of these back to the colony she would be the talk of the caves.
It took some searching, and plenty of fittings, but eventually Twisty had a selection of parkas, pants, and shirts that she refused to leave without. Anna didn't really pick anything out for herself, as she was finding the bat's enjoyment of the event to be fulfilling enough.
Twisty encountered another fascination when the two stopped at the checkout counter. The bat was enamored by the beeps when the cashier rang up the items, and the workings of the cash register itself. She watched as Anna handed over the majority of the bills she had received from the bank teller to the cashier. Yet for the life of her, Twisty was unable to tell the value of the money. She had no idea if she spent a lot of Anna's money or hardly any of it; though she wasn't fond of the notion of spending the cat's money without any way to pay her back. It's not like she had a job, after all.
In her distraction she had failed to notice that Anna had finished the transaction and was standing a short ways down the walkway to the exit before calling out, "You paying attention?"
"Sorry!" Twisty squeaked as she rushed over to the cat.
"What did I say about saying sorry?" Anna held out the bags for Twisty to carry. It would be good exercise for the bat.
"Sorry," she mumbled again before turning her attention to her new belongings. She took the bag and examined its contents again with a smile at the thought of wearing them. Now she wouldn't look like a country bumpkin anymore and could finally blend in better. Her bat-hair outfit stood out from the designer clothing everyone in town seemed to be wearing. Oh how she couldn't wait to wear her new stylings!
The traffic outside had picked up as the day wore into evening. There was a bit of a gathering at a brick building a few stores down. Judging by the style of the building it seemed to be of a more recent construction. It was single story unlike its neighbors with tall windows and outside tables behind an iron half fence. The loud music and mass chatting couldn't dissipate before getting picked up by the bat's acute hearing. Something of interest must be taking place as it was the only business that had a sizable crowd.
"What's going on over there?" a curious Twisty asked as her ears twitched to the sound of distant gossip.
Anna peered over to the group with slight disinterest and a nod of her head. It was called Tyrie's Bar and Grille according to a sign on the building. "I guess the dinner rush has already started."
Twisty was starting to become lost at the sight of the eatery and crowd. It was so foreign and exotic to her, yet sprinkled with familiarity. Her colony would gather for food and gossip, but the caves had nothing on this designed architecture and its patrons whom were so well dressed and, at least in regards to her, cultured. It was an inviting warmth of interesting discourse, though she knew she wouldn't fit in; after all, she was no socialite.
"Where to next?" the cat asked as more of an end to the distraction than anything else.
The bat, to the surprise of Anna, already had an answer. "Books!" she blurted out. The intricacies of the social hub couldn't hold a candle to her true desires. "I want to get books!" Besides meeting Myst, this was one of the most important things she wanted to do today.
"Books, okay," Anna mumbled as she tried to think of a decent place to go for that. She didn't know the layout of this town as much as she pretended to. There was the library, of course, but returning a book when they lived so far away would be a bothersome chore. Perhaps there was a store nearby. The obvious solution, of course, would be to go to Tyrie's Bar and Grille to ask around. "Follow me," the cat said, grabbing Twisty's wrist. "I'm going to ask around the restaurant for directions."
"Okay," the bat mumbled as Anna led her down the street to the eatery. It was even more glamorous up close. With only a motion to stay put, the cat left to venture inside this marvelous place. There was such a variety of residents here; it was the exact opposite of living in the colony.
It didn't take long before Twisty heard the almost painful resonating of a high pitch whistle. She searched for the offending source and quickly found its maker standing behind the iron half fence. It was a tan haired horse whose size made Twisty seem like a dwarf in comparison, and he seemed to be staring at her. The equine gentleman wore a navy blue button up shirt with tan pants, and his hooved hand that wasn't resting on the fence held a bottle of some generic beer.
Certainly he wasn’t trying to get her attention, and equally, why would he? Twisty pointed to herself, expecting the horse to shake his head, and secretly hoped he would ‘nay’ for comedic effect. To her surprise, he nodded and motioned her over. Hesitantly, she inched closer to the fence.
"Hey pretty lady," he called out. His breath reeked of ale; a smell she was very unaccustomed to. "What're you doin' out there?" he slurred. "You should be over here, havin' a drink with me."
"I-I'm waiting on a friend," the bat nervously responded.
"They comen' join. I'm all for that. The ladies...they love it."
What was this guy on about? The bat wanted no part in alcohol consumption, if that's what he was getting at. "I think you've been drinking too much," she surmised.
"Yes...yes I have. But that won't keep me down. Hey, it'll be fun. You n' yer pal come on back to my place n' we see where the night takes us."
"I'm kinda busy wi-" Another voice cut her off.
"Hey, Ron, Alice is here, so make yourself presentable." It was another horse of equal stature, and oddly enough, wearing similar clothing. He seemed more collected about himself. He gave one judging look at Twisty before shaking his head. "Stop fucking bats, man. They carry diseases."
That's quite insulting and on so many levels, too! Her ears fell flat as she scowled at the second horse. Surely that will teach him. "H-hey! I'm not-"
"Put yer words in yer d-hole, tha's where they go," the first horse interrupted, butchering a sentence in the process.
"Oh good, you've already been drinking." The second horse chided condescendingly. Why were these horses so rude!?
"Twisty," Anna called out as she left the restaurant. "I know where the bookstore is now." She stopped at the bat and had such a big smile. "And the bar has a good selection." Twisty couldn’t bother to be interested in that feature.
"Anna!" the bat squeaked out, "there's this guy here who-" As she turned back, both horses were gone, as if they simply vanished.
"They...he said I was diseased." She had brought her bag filled arms to her chest as her mind raced back to that rude conversation.
"Why?" Anna asked. "Do they not like bats? Some people think bats have rabies."
Twisty threw her arms down in disgust at that insinuation. No one in the colony had such an illness! "I'm not diseased!"
"I'm not saying you are! I'm just saying that's what some people think." Anna placed a comforting arm around the bat's shoulders and pulled her in to a half hug. "Ignore what they said. Let's do something else. I know where the bookstore is." Twisty gave a solemn nod; she wanted to leave this restaurant. She wanted her books. She wanted to go home. "Good. Follow me."
The walk gave Twisty plenty of time to dissect what had happened, even if perhaps she shouldn't have for her mental well being at the moment. Aside from the noises she was beginning to grow accustomed to in this town, Anna began talking about something so and so, but she didn't pay attention; she was in her head again.
It's just...that was a weird experience for her. She was never insulted like that; everyone in the colony was always so nice, generally speaking. And certainly not diseased! Then there was the insinuations from the first horse and the 'time' he wanted to spend with her. She was not into that, thank you very much! Twisty had witnessed enough of that from the more shameless members of the colony.
Anna had stopped at a window to gaze at an item in display. Without looking, the cat reached out to grab Twisty's shoulder before the distracted bat wandered forever into the distance. She did walk miles aimlessly one day, after all. "Ew, look at these," Anna sneered.
The sudden yanking had drawn the bat out of her trance and, with confusion, tried to comprehend her situation as her senses of the outside world returned. She was staring at handbags and purses made out of shiny brightly colored scales, much like Sanny's. It had really caught her eye. There were bags, purses, shoes, and hats of all sorts of colors. They were gaudy, for sure, but they gave her a warm feeling as they opened up the floodgates holding back the memories of her draconic friend. "What are these?"
"Stupid dumb things," Anna responded with a dismissive wave of her hand. There was a sort of malice in her voice; a deep rage that was barely being held back. "They're made from dragon hides, and are only for the well off due to their high price. No idea why this small town would have these."
"Dragon hides?" Twisty gave a closer look at one of the red bags. No wonder it reminded her of Sanny. It was made from dragons! And to think they made him come to this town. She was starting to understand more about his fears, and equally, she hoped he was all right. "Why? Why make these?"
"Cause it makes people feel superior. Pfff." Anna had already begun walking again, which was fine with Twisty. She wanted to put this out of her mind and just get to the bookstore. All this was was more for her to just lie awake all night and think about, and it's not like she needed any more of that. She still had traumatizing reoccurring nightmares about Muck and Ayruis; she didn't need one about her friend becoming a handbag, too. "Here's the bookstore."
"We're here?" she asked incredulously. "Everything is so close."
"We've walked five blocks." Anna glanced over her shoulder to the trailing bat. "I'm surprised you're not exhausted from all the activity today."
"I'll have you know that I'm not the same little weak bat you knew before. I've been getting stronger." Twisty attempted to demonstrate her talk by lifting the bags she had been carrying above her head, although her tired arms could barely muster such a feat. The grunting of effort didn't help either.
Anna couldn't help but laugh at the puny bat's attempts to appear strong, but she had to admit Twisty was indeed becoming more used to these bouts of activity. Months ago she never would have expected the bat to be able to last this long walking while carrying around bags of items. Even light clothes can become heavy over time.
"Little weak bat," Anna mocked playfully as she took the bags out of her hands. "You'll need the free space."
"I'm not weak," Twisty mumbled under her breath before brushing past Anna to enter the store. It, like every other building in this district, was made from bricks with a large glass pane to serve as a showcase for select items inside. It was what was inside that made the bat squee in glee. The shop had bland gray carpet and tan walls covered in motivational posters with books as their common theme. There were rows upon rows of bookshelves with meticulously place and alphabetically sorted sections. So many books! So many genres she never knew existed! She was like a kid in a toy store with no parental supervision.
"Can I help you?" The clerk sitting behind the desk, a blue jay, asked, more as a greeting to his existence than a helpful proposition.
"Just browsing," Anna replied, having already lost track of the bat.
The aisles of books formed the bat's dungeon of treasure. Horror, history, science fiction, fantasy, biography, fiction, and on and on and on! So many choices! How many would she be able to get? Anna had joked that she could only get as many as she could carry. Perhaps she should take the cat up on that offer.
'The History of the North'. Twisty still didn't know much about the world, as the TV could only do so much, and it didn't help that half of what she saw was made up. This book could help bridge that gap! 'A Dragon Named Olaf'. It seemed to be a heartwarming tale about a pug befriending a dragon and overcoming society's challenges. Why, she should read this one to Sanny! Surely he'd enjoy a story like that! 'The Weight of a Shadow'. A horror, for all she knew. She had never read a horror story before, and she didn't really enjoy the notion of intentional fright. 'The Ancients: A World of Mystery'. This one talked about an advanced race that lived long ago but vanished mysteriously. It might be worth a look.
"There you are!" came the sudden and startling voice of Anna as she rounded the aisle corner. "How did you vanish so fast and how come you don't do that when you try to hide?" Her smile betrayed the serious tone she had set up.
"I dunno," the bat mumbled out. She had already gathered quite a collection of books, since she was struggling to carry the dozen or so she had pulled from the shelves.
Anna could only grimace at the amount of books in the bat's arms. "Twisty, I have some bad news." That was all it took to remove the joyous grin from the bat's face. It was so easy to create despair in her mind. "See, the clothes took up a lot of the money I took out. You're going to only be able to get three or so books."
"Can we return the clothes!?" Twisty quickly blurted out. As much as she loved the new clothes, these books had to come first! Clothes couldn't offer the knowledge that was contained within these tomes!
"Stores are closing down. It’s getting late. We'll have to come back another day."
Three books!? How could she choose!? There had to be a way to leave with all that she wanted. "But what if-what if...!?"
"It's just...so many."
"I can find a way to pay you back!"
"No, please don't."
"I could cook for you!"
I don't think that would work." Twisty had yet to work her way around the stove or oven in all her time at the house. Her cooking experience was limited to the microwave. That would have to be worked on, which they could probably ask Myst for help with that.
"Well how about four books? Or maybe just five?"
"I...." The cat's ears fell as the pleading began to break her. Twisty was so persistent! The most startling part about this was that she had never seen the bat so determined and invested in anything else so far. Not even her education about the world, and she was fairly excited about that. "Just...just those that you have, okay?" Anna took the books from the bats’ with defeated reluctance. She knew she could carry the bags and the books a lot easier than the bat could.
"Thank you-thank you-thank you!" With arms now free, Twisty wrapped her wings around Anna in a deep hug. The cat still shuddered; it was like a leathery lukewarm blanket.
"Yeah. Let's just buy these before you find more." When Anna turned for the checkout counter, Twisty couldn't hide her devilish grin any longer. She knew she could get those books. Persistence can break almost any iron will. It was the same strategy she used to get Sanny to do anything that he didn't want to do.
With the books bought, the two left the comfort of the store. For Anna it was relief. For Twisty, it was misery. The bat had graciously volunteered to carry the clothing bags once again. Anna couldn’t complain about that proposition.
"If we stay here any longer we'll have to walk home in the dark, and I don't want to get a hotel room." Twisty couldn't argue with that. As much as she loved this foreign little world, she wanted to return to the comfort and seclusion of her home. Besides, she had a bunch of new books to read, and the sooner they departed the sooner she could get home and lay on her comfy couch. The two hour trek home wasn't going to be horrendously boring, though.
"Do you see that?" Anna's sudden question sent the bat's head spinning to find whatever the cat was referencing, as she didn't point out the object in question. When Twisty did finally see it, a sheepish grin grew on her face. At the end of the block a long red tail dragged across the cement, with a spike at the end of it.
"I thought Sanny went home!" Twisty declared.
"Yeah, so did I." Anna was by far more perplexed. She was certain he would have left with how uncomfortable he was.
"Let's go!" the bat shouted as she awkwardly ran off to catch him. The over sized clothe bags she was carrying made her hilariously wobble in her run. "Saaaaany!" she called out as she drew closer. Anna, even carrying the heavier load, was easily keeping up. The dragon turned his head around the corner, cocked at the two approaching him. "Sanny! We thought you went home!"
"Uhh," he mumbled out as he readjusted his large frame to face the two girls. He took up the entire sidewalk, while his folded wings extended into the street.
"Look at all my new things!" Twisty gleefully shouted as she held up her shopping bags for him to inspect. He seemed more confused than anything. "I got new clothes! Things not made from bat fur! I can't wait to get home and use them." She lowered her bags as one ear fell flat against her head. "Come to think of it, we could get you some blankets or...other things you may like." She lowered her head as a realization crossed her mind. "I've known you for months and don't even know what I could even get you."
"Twisty, give him some room!" Anna jokingly ordered as she patted the bat's shoulder. "Don't need to talk him to death." Sanny didn't really respond other than by just standing there. He still just looked confused. "Listen, I'm sorry." Anna extended a hand to pat his snout, but he quickly pulled away. The cat grimaced and sighed. "Still upset? I'm sorry, okay. I shouldn't have forced you to come. I won't do it again. How about we just go home? Let you rest, yeah?"
"Come on!" Twisty eagerly shouted out. "Let's go! I want to get home!" The bat didn't wait for an answer before turning and running off to where she thought she needed to go.
With a weak smile, Anna called out, "Wait for us!" The dragon watched the girls run down the street, waddling with their items in hand. Without saying a word, he followed.
TALES Shorties: The Dragon Knight
Next: TALES: Look Alike Part 3
Previous: TALES: Look Alike Part 1
The preview image was drawn painstakingly by , which can be found here!
Sanny is of course myself.
You might consider occasionally having a big space between lines, especially if say a scene changes or there's a major development. Overall this seems pretty well written and there's certain things in the background the piqued my interest (like when they mentioned the cell phone tower ruins).
Anyway, good job on this, and good luck with your continuing story.
This is actually one of the few stories I have where I didn't use a page break. I use page breaks when there is a change of environment, perspective, or time, which most of my other chapters have.
Thanks for the comment!
Hmm, alright. Well I was still about to follow it pretty well, mostly because you break up the paragraphs well enough into separate speaking sentences. Though I'd always recommend one or two page breaks in any story that starts to run long just because it's easy to get lost when you start reaching the middle of a big block of text.
No problem, I figured I should give my feedback since you've offered to help on one of my projects; I'll keep an eye on your page, and comment whenever I can think of anything interesting to say.
Also I got your note, I'm just running through some errands here and answering correspondence. I'll get to it tomorrow probably.