Chapter eighteen: Living it up

Chapter eighteen: Living it up

A Chapter by Thatonedawg
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Chapter eighteen. Have been busy lately, not feeling well. I hope anyone who reads enjoys it! Thank you and please comment if you enjoy it!

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-18- Living it up


No nightmares plagued my sleep, so I awoke in a typical stupor. I don't remember going to bed to be honest, but I woke in my room and rolled to the floor with a thud. Sometimes when I wake up, this place reminds me of my house on earth and I get confused. What a sad thing to realize, remember, and reaffirm every morning... This time was more delusional than before, I sat for several seconds staring at the wall, wondering what mom and dad would be doing today, only to remember where I truly was. It’s a somber and loathsome feeling, remembering you’re alone... the last known member of your family...

 

Standing with a feint groan, I staggered into the hall, dizzy and unable to see straight. The sun was already high in the sky and it’s light beat down, blurring my dulled senses. Somehow, I found my way to the shower and turned it on. Tossing my shirt off carelessly, my swimmy head began centering on the mild hangover I had. I didn't drink that much last night, right? I must be a light weight... The shower chased off my drowsiness and I was left to step out clear minded and free of residual fatigue. It was hot today, muggy, and unbearable in the showers steamy aftermath. Stepping into the aircondtioned hall, my skin tightening at the sudden chill, my other senses sharpened suddenly. The heavy heartedness I had felt was fading now too, but I fear it will never fully leave me.

 

“G’mornin!” Urving called solidly from the kitchen as I opened the bathroom door.

“Good morning!” I waved to him, leaning out of the hall before returning my dirty clothes to my room.


“Made ya some hotcakes, if you’re hungry.” Flicking off burners and disposing of pans, Urving did his best to look at me more than anything. “How’d ya sleep?” I saw him slip almost an entire pancake into his maw and gulp it down, before putting his plate in the sink.


“Pretty good, I felt a little woozy this morning.” Uneasy laughter was not shared, instead he checked my pulse and tempature, which gave me pause.


“Ya feel fine, prolly just the booze!” He bent over me to get a hug, grinning brightly.


“Yeah, I’ll feel better after some food and coffee, definitely coffee...” He chuckled at this, but I was serious, it’s become an addiction.


Without another word, Urving slid a plate into place at the table and my mug was added shortly after. I thanked him, but he just waved it off and continued preparing dishes for being washed. Eating and reading the paper, each sip of coffee opened my mind further, until I reached heightened clarity. Filling the void that was my empty stomach, I could feel both the sluggishness and energy a good meal gives you. Once finished with breakfast, the tightness of my belly made me want to head back to bed, that would have felt so nice right now! Something caught my eyes however and drew my curiousity to keep me awake.


Urving was acting peculiar this morning. No actions out of the ordinary, but he seemed to have something on his mind. Every few moments I would catch him watching me or completely entranced without any conceivable reason. I didn't want to pry, but curiousity was quickly getting the better of me. Once certain something was amiss, I walked my dishes to the sink, where Urving was having a cup of coffee, tapping away on his pager. He jumped at my approach, suddenly alerted to my presence. A predictably cheery “heya” was all he said, yet reading deeper, I saw he wanted to ask me something. Not knowing what it was sort of frightened me, yet curiousity drove me to want to know.

 

“Whats up man?” I asked after I caught him peeking at me for the third time.

 

“Oh nothing major, just hearing from Barkley and Phelix.” He chuckled uneasily, though I couldn't figure out why.

 

“They coming over today?” I asked with a twinge of eagerness, to show it would be alright.


“Nah, they’re going to a concert, it’s Phelix’s last day in town. They asked if we wanted to join them.” Déjà vu of yesterday, I nearly dropped my mug and choked on coffee.


“U-Urving... That’s a big leap...” I stammered, setting my mug up on the counter. “S-so many people. If I got lost...” Shaking at the very though of it, Urving sighed softly.


“Don't feel pressured bud. I’m not gonna push you out of you shell! But, I’d really like to go.” Urving smiled down at me, as I trembled and tried to find excuses. “If you’re worried about being around so many people, I’ve got ya covered.” Urving whipped something from behind him, presenting it to me.

It was a backpack, for someone Urving’s size. It’s was constructed from bright, electric blue material and it was made from a type of mesh, not cloth or canvas. His idea seemed stupid at first, but I understood the basic principles of why this should put my mind at ease. No one can kidnap me from Urving’s back, I’d have plenty of room, and could easily breath in this thing... Oh Christ, am I really considering this? What the hell would that be like? The zoo was so peaceful and personal, a concert sounds... oh lord...


“Think it over bud, we got a while. Just been on my mind this mornin.” Urving pat my shoulder, smiling and nodding, then headed to his room.

“I will, thanks...” Left alone, I felt greater apprehension fall atop me.

 

The zoo was a big step, but I sort of regret it, if I am expected to replicate that effort so quickly. Especially in such a drastically different environment! How am I supposed to remain calm about this? How can I be expected to put myself in such a situation? How can... how could I let Urving down? I’d be more secure than on his shoulder, right? Imagining the massive crowd that gathers for a concert, I couldn't avoid the hype it brought, though this feeling was dwarfed by trepidation. What kind of music is it? Who is it? I don't know... this may be a bad idea. What the hell do I do?


Urving returned after a bit and said he was going to have a smoke, so I joined when he offered. I have a lot on my mind, so I need someway to untangle it all. Not to mention after a big meal a cigarette is always nice. Escaping the impending decision I would have to make was proving impossible. I don't want to be lame and ruin Urving’s day, plus Phelix came out here just to meet me! But I’m so scared... The zoo ended up being fun, so maybe this wont be so bad...


To my surprise, Urving didn't seek out my answer. We headed back inside, nothing really different about today so far. Urving went to watch cartoons and I joined him, receiving ample time to see what the news had to say as well. It was funny watching him perk up when animation filled the screen, but dull out when a real person started talking. A few of these shows have grown on me, so I managed to enjoy both and Urving was enthused by that. From what I gathered the show Urving was watching was about treasure hunters and the ancient artifacts they search all over the world for. On the news, or whatever they call it, the reporters continued to cover the election and debate. This Grump guy seems to be all over the news, maybe he’ll be the next president... or... Hierophant. Yeah, that’s the word! Wonder who Urving’ll vote for or if he’ll vote at all?

 

Between the drastically differing shows, my morning was enjoyable. I grasped their cultures entertainment well, but I was far more interested in the goings on of the outside world, not the fantasies it produces for us. Hearing about a candidate dropping from the elections made Urving gasp sarcastically, but I was awash with confused and disconnected emotions. Why did he quit? What is going to happen to the election now? Urving changed the channel as the anchor said they would be back shortly and I really hoped that we would go back to it. I wouldn't say anything, for Urving showed great interest in watching cartoons with me, but it is a desire I have. It’s imperative I become a member of this society and that means caring about politics, or at least the values of the future leader.

 

Everyone was debating whether Ronald Grumps or Millaney Swinton would make a better leader and some expressed concern over the former. He’s was a business man before joining politics and his shady dealings left him with a bad image. However, his expansive following claims this is exactly what the world needs right now, a leader who understands commerce and logistics thouroughly. Grump didn't seem that bad though, very outspoked, and long winded. His overall goal seemed to be making this planet great again. What’s wrong with it is beyond me, but I’m new here so I wouldn't know.

 

After an untracked period of time, a sound interrupeted the uneventful morning. Unexpectantly, my pager rang and interrupted the days casual flow. Urving’s right here, so who could be calling me? Who has my number? What is my number anyway? Opening the device, a series of digits ran across the screen. This must be what an incoming call looks like when you don't have the person registered. This indecipherable chain of symbols are probably a telephone number or... code? I really need to find out how some of this stuff works!

 

“Hello?” I asked with firm curiousity.


“Heya kid! Wassup?” It was Phelix.

 

“Oh heya Phelix. Nothing much, what about you?” I tried to sound my happiest, though I knew why he called.


“Last day in my home town, sort of a bummer.” He sounded a little upset, but it didn't last. “Urving prolly already asked ya about tonight, right?” Phelix inquired.

 

“Wouldn't bet on it...” Barkley’s snide comment could be heard in the background.

“Yeah, you wanted to go to a concert? Who’s playing?” This got Phelix to laugh at Barkley, but return quickly.


“Just a local DJ, not even gonna be that many people. I just felt lousy having Urving ask you, when it’d be for me.” Phelix explained his reason for calling and I only felt worse.


“I just... I’m not...” Words all felt empty, I really hated being put on the spot like this.

“Don't worry about it kid! Shows not till tonight, just think about it for me, k? No pressure!” Phelix’s voice was understanding, but it didn't cut out Barkley’s teasing.

 

“You should come along Spaz! We promise not to ditch ya!” This snipping comment wasn’t goading, but I scoffed at it regardless.


“Yeah, of course I’ll give it some thought. Thanks for the invite.” Something told me they didn't belive my shoddy enthusiasm.


“No problem and don’t worry if you don't wanna come kid. Just wanted to ask ya myself.” Phelix insisted, but I could feel the disappointment.


“See ya Spaz! Hopefully later tonight!” Barkley called from the other end, as he heard Phelix preparing to hang up.


“Bye guys.” I responded, allowing my voice to match my half hearted feelings.

 

A high amount of animosity was being generated by this impending decision. A particularly strong self loathing arose within me at the very thought of not going. Yet logically, I should stay home for my safety. Why would I want to stay cooped up and protected? That doesn't seem like a good way to go about living, regardless of how stunted my past is. Moving forward will require change and a lot of time spent adapting to new circumstances, so perhaps this is just one of those moments. Even if I don't go, I need to make it perfectly clear, I don't require Urving to stay. That’s what I should start trying to think of... A way to tell him “please go alone” without hurting his feelings or letting him down.


Why can’t I be told about these plans in advance? That would ruin the intended surprise, not to mention this could have been a last minute thing... This sucks... I hate knowing I am going to let someone down, it kills me. What’s worse is I would have to go back out there and pretend everything is fine. I’m dreading that conversation later and seeing his saddened face, knowing I caused it with my weakness. It was mentally consuming, all I could think about. My decision felt paramount, but I already knew I didn't want to go... What’s the worst that could happen? I die an agonizing and bloody death, choking on my own fluids, as I am torn to pieces. Yeah, that’s all... why wouldn't I wanna go? With an unwilling sigh, I tossed my phone on the bed, then marched back out to Urving.


“Hey kid, theres a ralg game on, wanna watch?” Urving was as chipper as ever.

“Sure! Who’s playing?” I asked, absolutely sure I wouldn't know who he referenced.

“The greivers and the red locks.” Urving replied, a smirk on his face once I asked.


“Sounds tough.” I responded, as I reached the couch. “Who’s winning?”

 

“Greivers, they’re in green.” Urving pointed at the string of players in matching colors.


It was a tight match up, they only led by a single point. Diving to kick another player to the ground a tall tiger, managed to knee the ball away from his recovering opponent. Once back in play, several players roused the ball, kicking and shoving each other in the process. It wasn't particularly violent, but like most contact sports, someone got hurt due to the games sheer aggression. The energy and drive some players put into the game made it seem like life or death for them, which was great as a spectator!


It fell to the dire last few seconds. The greivers were now up by two and the red locks were struggling to drive the ball upfield. With a well orchestrated pair of kicks, the team scored, darting the ball around like it was caught in a tornado. Apparently scoring a goal in this game causes the timer to be increased by a few seconds. It varies, I’m unsure what kind of formula is used to determine the amount, but I have seen it range from three to twelve seconds. This gave the red locks a chance to come back and tie the game, which in turn gave them time to try and win. In the desperate last few seconds, where both teams fought tenaciously for the ball and inches on the field, the mvp of the red locks, slid kicked the ball toward the goal. In a swift backflip, a young feline kicked the ball blindly and with great strength. Like a cartoon guided it, the ball richocheted off the goal, off the back of the goalies head, and then through the loop! Urving cheered like a mad man and I couldn't avoid leaping up myself! Throwing a fist in the air, I watched the crowd explode with one of two responses, though all seemed impressed.


“That was amazing! Dude look at that!” Urving waved a paw at the slow-motion replay.

 

“What are the odds? It was perfect, too! Flawless!” I was slack jawed at how hard the defender tried to catch the ball, only to have it hit the goal post, then his head.


“That’s one for the history books!” Urving laughed, still standing as he watched them make the final call. “Damn right!” He declared when they announced a legal goal.

Watching the cat being paraded around by his teammates, I could see distinct shock in his eyes. Utter confusion broke for disbelief then crackled with excitement! You could tell he had not planned that, but he rode the wave of applause and glory! His performance in the game led most of the applause to fall solely on his shoulders, though the team was praised as a whole. How awesome does he feel right now? Maybe I’ll see that cat in the news or on a magazine? He’s sure to be at least a temporary star!

 

Urving plopped back into his seat, the spring loaded cushion cupping his fall. Though another game was on, Urving informed me those teams weren’t nearly as good and it probably wouldn't be as stellar. When I pursued watching anyway, he was more than welcome to the idea, but he also offered playing it on his console. That sounded fun, considering I just got to watch the game played by professionals, why not give it a try? Obliging without realizing what I was getting into, Urving popped up with surprising speed. His excitement for this was comparable to when he showed me dread bringer the first time, only less potent.

 

“Alright, this game uses totally different controls than dread bringer, so-.” I cut him off with minor heckling.


“Don't all games use different buttons?” I asked with a smirk and he laughed.


“Yeah, but some are closer than others.” Was his conclusion. “Alright, so let’s pick teams. We can be on the same team while you learn.” Urving’s offer was paired with him changing sides spontaneously.


“Defeat’s the best teacher. Let’s see how good I do.” It was easy to show my usual self when we played videogames, which had no real consequences.


“Alrighty, if you say so!” His friendly warning tone only made me smirk snidely. “I’ll play a real team, my custom made one is ridiculously good.” Urving clicked through and picked out a team I haven’t seen before.


Not knowing any of the teams skill levels or even how that is determined, I just picked the Red locks, whom just won the live match. Saddly, from the get go, it was perfectly clear I would not be guiding them to victory. Several times straight off, I got confused about which player I was actually controlling. This led to countless amounts of mindless movements and delayed responses, which cost me control of the ball. A few times I thought I was following and controlling Urving’s side of the field... My idiotic cheering was misplaced, but Urving didn't judge me, though I was upset with myself. I hate being a fool, especially around people I know.


“It’s easier to only watch your three glowing guys. The rest of the team follows them.” Urving pointed out, as he got a third of his players to all stop suddenly.


“Oh I see.” I replied, swapping my view to one of three main players. “How do I run, fast, like you’re doing?” I asked, trying to recover from how stupid I felt.

 

“Sprint is this claw. Light and strong kick are these two buttons, but if you want to kick another player, use this button or it’s considered a foul.” Urving explained the fair basics of the game, adding on how to pass and evade enemy players.


It was similar to other sports games I’ve played, but with immeasurable detail on every inch of the screen. Graphically, I could’ve been tricked into thinking we were still watching a live game, had it not been for the controllers. Back on earth I always found it funny how each rendition of a new sports game was just a polished version of the last one, but this... This blows them all out of the water! Accurate gravity, dynamic blood effects, perfect impact detection, all seemed easy as pie for this worlds game designers. Even the audience, a usually less detailed aspect, was fully alive!

 

The gameplay was difficult for me, as I am still not accustomed to the way these games are played. Not having to press a physical button to trigger reactions is something I have had to get used to. Even though I tried my best and Urving gave a minimal effort, his computer controlled players were just to much for me. I scored a few goals, nothing spectacular, but I did on my first try at the game! Knowing that Urving was going easy on me didn't really deter my eagerness, it was fun to try some of his other games, maybe we can play that racing one I saw last night!


“You got the hang out it! Good job! I’m gonna play defense, see if you can score a goal.” Urving offered, swapping to his blue labled player.


“Alright then, let’s see...” I began trying to coordinate the other guys, but it was very difficult.


Didn't he see me just a few seconds ago? He must want me to try while he plays goalie, something I greatly underestimated... Though I brought a commendable effort, I was crushed at every turn. Each approach, every new tactic, and all my plans were foiled in unforeseeable ways. It was obvious, either I had to get better or Urving was already quite skilled. I would say both now that I’m watching my sad performance. Even though I am consistenly harsh on myself, Urving showed endless endearment and appreciation for playing.


“You play defender now, try to hold the line and tend the goal, it’s a real challenge!” Urving instructed slash asked, as the next play set up.

Nodding, I saw Urving take control of the red hued portion of his team. It was strange trying the same control scheme, but at an entirely new goal overall. I think I like offense better, this is strenuous! Having to jump between forward defensive tactics and split second goal tending was wracking my mind! Having to act on two differnet fronts was, as Urving said, a challenge. I just didn't know the controls well enough yet to react in such short notice. Regardless of being crushed to dust without Urving even trying, I had fun. It’s an interesting game, but I see it’s repetition growing weary. This game felt more like a novelty, something to waste time on, not use it.

 

We played for a while longer until I was forced to concede to boredom. It added another thin layer to my dormant guilt, but didn't seem to bother him. Urving didn't skip a beat, offering to play other games, read a book, watch tv or a movie, and even asked if I wanted to go to the park. Seeing the day growing onward, I hated the idea of having to let him down, especially when he tries without limits. Every on hand option for fun was discussed, but not once did he bring up the concert... Maybe he doesn't want to go as badly as I thought? More than likely he’s just trying to make sure he doesn't pressure me. God damn...

 

Being in a public park sounded unnerving, not as bad as a concert, but still... Instead of going to the park, we hung out in the backyard, to keep me comfortable. I could see, yet again, he was disappointed, but unwilling to tell me... Once out back, Urving filled me in about our neighbors. To our left was a young couple, who seem to be very lively from the chatter we could hear. On the right side is an old widow, who had a lot of kids at one point, but lived alone now. To the rear was a quote “chill guy”, who owns the dog we hear semi-constantly. This informative speal broke for standard banter, an exchange of questions, and stories. We shared a few embarrassing moments, favorite things, first times, etcetera. Urving told me about his past, nothing astonishing, but tid-bits of his youth. You could tell he was stressing for topics when he began elaborating on the weather and something about the patio furniture. Our conversation required more and more effort, slowly changing the mood. Every topic Urving brought up suddenly felt desperate or spur of the moment, with no actual spirit to be seen.

It was painful seeing him try so hard, knowing full well he should be thrilled tonight. I could see the defeat being restrained and replaced with fake enthusiasm, which seems to be his way of coping with dissapointment... What do I do? I really will go, but I just cannot see myself having a good time. I’ll be petrified! Christ, I can’t even pretend to imagine what that’ll be like! So many people and so much danger, it’s just too much to put me through... Inside though, part of me would regret not going. Part of me would always harbor remorse and wonder what it would’ve been like.


“Urving... I’ll go...” I cut him off, not looking up at first, but when I did he was startled.

“I didn't know you were even thinking about it!” He replied laughing a little. “Nah, it’s ok bud. I understand, we can go to other shows someday. Just glad I get to spend today with ya!” His plucky response was like lemon juice to my wounds.


“Urving, be real...” I used a stressed, but annoyed voice, which made him scoff openly.


“Issac, seriously kid. It’s fine, I haven’t even been thinking about it!” The sparkles I normally see in his eyes were gone, it was painfully apparent he wasn't really alright.

 

“Do you... Could you go alone? Without me?” I asked, unsure of how this would effect him.


“And leave you here all by yourself at night? I’m not gonna do that to ya!” Urving’s face contorted a moment, his eyes examining that possibility.

 

“I insist! Just because I’m a coward doesn't mean your night should be ruined!” I was getting upset, he was purposely making this difficult.


“Oh don't start with all that now! Just chill kid, it really isn’t a big deal!” Urving’s face lifted into a tiny smile, devoid of the vivation he normally presents.

 

God damn it... I hate when people brush off my short comings, especially when I’ve let them down. Stuttering and stumbling over half words, I just sort of stammered a second then looked away, trying to think of anything to say. Peeking at Urving, my short glances were more than enough to tell me he was dealing with inner turmoil. I could tell he didn't want to force me, but really did want to go. This feeling and its obviousness was at least ten times stronger than when he asked me to go to the zoo. He really wanted this, so it is up to me to make it happen...


“I’m going, whether you want to or not!” I said sternly, hopping out of my seat and marching to get my pager.


“Wh-wait! Issac, really buddy you... you really don't have to just for me.” Urving stumbled to chase me, but didn't get far, as I turned around.


“I’m not doing it for you, Phelix asked me himself! Plus I would sorta feel like a wuss if we didn't go...” Sheepishly admitting to masculinities hold on my actions, Urving let out a broad laugh.


“You’re no wuss that’s for sure! Damn, I love ya kid! Thanks for being so brave.” Urving exclaimed, patting my shoulder and leaning forward to spotlight me with prideful eyes. “If you really wanna go, call Phelix and tell him so. I wont force ya or stop ya.” Urving awaited confirmation, but just grinned once I gave it.


The look on his face was night and day, an absolute change! Jogging to my room, I was actually a little excited. Seeing Urving return to his usual self was uplifting and yet somehow disparaging. I hadn’t fully interpereted his emotions and only now am I realizing just how different he was acting. That doesn't matter, we are going to have fun tonight, damn it! The zoo wasn't bad, this will be fun, and tomorrow will be alright. I’m going to be fine, everything will be alright... I hope... Regardless of my unavoidable worry, I was bouncing with excitement as I searched for a way to call Phelix.

 

Not sure what to do, I headed to find Urving, but think I figured it out on the way there. It started dialing in that odd rising tone and the numbers on screen were the ones Phelix had contacted me from. Putting it to my ear felt silly, as I have found these to be walkie-talkie’s more than they are cellphones. It just has all the features of a phone, I’ve seen most people use the video calling mode more than anything. Not knowing how to initiate the choice from this menu, I settled for a simple call.


“Yo spaz, wassup?” Barkley answered, but then a lot of rustling and scraping was heard.


“Issac? Ya there?” Phelix answered swiftly, a slight panic in his voice.


“Yeah, hey. What’s up?” I asked, a little confused by the multi answer.


“Nothing, just running. Whew, sup with you? Ya decide to come with us?” Phelix was a little short of breath, but didn't let that stop him.


“Yeah, I did! Urving said I should call you and give you a heads up.” Responding with a big voice he let out a cheering sound without warning.


“Hell yeah, told ya so butt breath! He is coming along!” Phelix teased Barkley, who I could hear in disbelief.


“No way! I owe you ten bucks...” Barkley called back.

 

“Tight, awesome! We’ll be by in like... forty micron? Maybe a little more. Thanks Iza! It’ll be a blast, promise!” Phelix’s voice was dynamite, which I could also hear from Barkley in the background.


“I know thanks, it’ll be great! Thanks Phelix, see you soon.” Replying with added laughter, they hung up and I went to Urving’s room.


“What’d Phelix say?” Urving was rummaging through his closet, but somehow knew I was there.


“They’ll be by in forty minutes.” Conveying the information got a bigger response than I’d of expected.

 

“Oh awesome! I don't gotta drive!” Urving exclaimed doing a little dance.

 

“I’m gonna go get ready.” I responded, but saw the opportunity to ask something. “Hey, uhh, Urving. How do you do laundry? Er, how do I do laundry here?” I didn't want him to think me incapable of such as simple task.

“Oh real simple! You got a hamper in your closet, if you leave clothes in it they’ll be clean in an hour or so.” Urving leaned out to explain and reference his own hamper.

“Wow, no way! How does that work?” I asked fascinated by such an inconspicuous item.

 

“It’s got these special microbes living in the fabric. They eat all the bacteria and other crud in our clothes. Keeps em clean as can be!” Urving explained, the idea making my skin crawl just a tad.

“Cool, a little gross, but cool!” I replied with a cresting interest. “Good to know, thanks, I’mma get ready.” I added to announce my departure.

 

“Wear bright colors kid!” Urving announced and my idea of this concert began rapidly changing.

 

“Uhh, ok!” I turned back in confusion, but didn't get his attention.

 

My conception of this “concert” was shifting like sand during a windstorm. Where I had originally thought a local arena or stadium had sold tickets, I now was picturing a basement gig or a large house. Maybe this wont be as hectic as I would’ve thought! Slipping into the lightest slacks I had, I threw on a blue shirt, and laced my sneakers. Walking by the mirror in my room, I stopped and posed in my fresh duds. There’s no way in hell I’m going in a backpack! Urving’s shoulder would probably be safer anyway, he’d feel me fall or get taken instantly! Going into the bathroom, I fixed my hair to the best of my abilities and had a short moment to focus myself. Nothing bad will happen, I will be fine... this’ll be fun!

 

“Heya Iza, c’mere! Wear this too!” Urving caught me as I left the hall, offering a bright teal sweatshirt my way. “Check this out!” Urving held up a little wand shaped object.


Waving it over his head, I saw several lenses shrink and expand with sudden aperture. As this happened, a pale mist was released from the tip of the device. After a few seconds Urving’s spiky, stylized hair was now a fluorescent green color. My amazenment was turned to amusement, as he colored his goatee and mustache fur as well. Putting a streak under each eye and a few random lines around his neck gave him a funny war paint. Tossing it to me, he let out a small growl and tried to look tough, but I just chortled. Putting a few stripes along my head, I felt this chemical solvent wasn’t marring my hair like similar earth products. It was just as soft, and gnarled as before, without any unnatrual solidity! This led me to be zealous and I began coating my head with abandon. Urving helped me touch it up and in no time, I had glowstick green hair.


“Are we going to a rave?” I asked trying to color my eyebrows, but it wasn't reacting right away.


“A what?” Urving replied, not looking from his phone.

“Uhh... Like a... A colorful dance party?” A prompt and deserving explanation, though I was unsure he understood.


“Yeah, I guess you could say that!” Urving smirked in that impressed way he does, peeking up at me a second.


Waiting around for the twenty or so minutes, I was becoming anxious, which led to anxiety. It would take a heart of stone not to feel any fear. I wasn't as afraid as before, but the panic was still there. That crippling feeling of wishing for the best, but knowing that is an empty desire, with nothing to protect it. I’ve given into hope before and experienced great suffering... Not the time Issac, Christ alive, what’s wrong with me? Rapid honking pushed my mind back into the now, like a record needle skipping back into place.


“Let’s go bud! Ya ready?” Urving held up the opened backpack with an inviting smile.


“Heh, uhh, yeah. Let’s go...” I pushed it aside, smirking at him with a hint of condescending.


“You sure? It was so you’d feel safe. I’m just tryin to... Alright...” Urving seemed confused, but a simple shrug was all that came of it.


Opening the door, we stepped out onto the patio, receiving friendly calls of encouragement. Barkley let out a little howl of happiness, as Phelix hooted and hollered randomly. It was incomprehensible, joyful, gibberish, but Urving repeated it with just as much vigor! I added in my own “woohoo” toward the end of his roaring, riotous, rant of growls. Barkley was sitting on the drivers window, looking up over the vehicle, while Phelix hung out the passenger side, drumming on the door. The scene was encouraging, morale boosting, and just a tad rediculous. I bet they were just excited to get to do this period! Phelix does live on another continent after all! Even though a lot of the rousing was directed toward me, I didn't want to be the center of attention. This was Phelix’s last night in his home town, this is just my first alien rave. Holy crap what a head trip this is gonna be!

 

“Yo Issac! Good to see ya! Nice fur buddy!” Phelix shouted to me, throwing himself further from the car.

“Thanks, you too!” I refered to his silvery white head and neck fur, though he should have said hair in my case.


“Glad you decided to come out tonight Spaz! This oughta be great!” Barkley swung into his car as we approached.


“Yeah, this should be fun!” I wanted to say more, but my voice carried enough emotion.


“Sup guys? How’d ya find out about this shindig?” Urving asked as he reached the car, me hurrying to stay ahead of him.


“Hung out with an old buddy of mine. He said some of his cousins were getting back into music and invited us to a show!” Phelix responded, standing in the vehicle and moving to open the large sliding doors.


A pneumatic whining sounded, followed by a cybernetic motors grinding effort, as the door slid open. Looking into this huge beast of a vehicle, I was astonished Urving didn't have something similar! It was spacious, had an abundancy of leg space, and even had a third row of seats! Thick treads ran along this cars ovaline wheel base, and the doors were thick enough steel to stop a bullet! Where Urving’s car would tilt and wobble, this monstrous vehicle hardly budged. Why would he waste his money on me, instead of buying a nice car like this? Barkley’s car had a deep auburn interior, with large captains armchairs in the front and lounger style seats for passengers. The walls were plush and had a type of environmental controls on the door panel. Overhead was a pair of vents, that flanked a window in the ceiling. This monolithic sunroof allowed the dying light of near night to reach into the car, but it was little more than the open door lights at this point.


“Like my ride Spaz?” Barkley spun his chair slightly, leaning smugly over the armrest.


“It’s huge, for someone so small...” They all laughed, but I was lost in real thoughts.


“Burn! Good one! He got you!” Phelix clapped a few times, pointing at Barkley, who spun back around.


“Oh shut it or your walkin’!” Barkley let out a sharp retort, not actually angry, but faking it.

 

“So what’s this concert gonna be like anyhow? What kind of music will it be?” I asked, trying to surpress the fact that I was just trying to feel safe through knowing such things.


“The kind you listen to...” Barkely said plainly starting up his beastly vehicle, which rumbled every bone in my body.


“A*s...” Urving snipped under his breath. “All sorts Issac! These things never have a laid out format. It’s like a big party for anyone who pays!” He added turning to me.

“Yeah kid, nothing to worry about! You’ll be fine!” Phelix added, turning back once he saw I understood.

“Let’s get this show on the road!” Barkley cried, yet his vehicle sluggishly chugged into motion.

 

Knowing that this is going to be a less populated event made me both relieved and nervous. The fact that Phelix knew some of this gatherings hosts was somewhat of a rememdy, yet I couldn't shake the feeling of worry. It’s something that lives with me now, even when I have no reason to accommodate it. Driving down similar routes at first, but in Barkley’s tank like vehicle felt like a vip experience. Going from a cramped little car, to a luxuriously spacious wagon was awesome! Not to mention having four people in the car made for lively banter. Urving was insistant on being inviting, trying to add me as much as he could to the conversation.

“Oh man, theres gonna be so many babes here tonight!” Urving looked ahead, but nudged me a few times.


“Not like I’mma sniff any of em out...” Barkley held up his paw, oddly enough a ring adorned his thumb... “But someone should definitely be on the prowl!” Barkley looked at Phelix, as we pulled to a stop.


“Wh-what? Nah man! Stop that s**t ok?” Phelix waved at Barkley, who wasn't yielding to such simple commands. “I’m going to this party to drop some D and dance my a*s off. Gene’s gonna be there when I get back and that’s all the, excuse my language, p***y I need!” Phelix shot back and I couldn't help but cracking with laughter.


“Well once she gives you your balls back, I think you might reconsider ever f*****g meeting her, excuse my language.” Barkley was somewhat vicious, but I could see in the mirror, Phelix somewhat agreed.


“Alright ladies, stop the bitching! This is supposed to be fun alright? Right now who cares if Gene’s the devil?” Urving was nonchalant about absolutely defining her perfectly.


“Can it fat boy!” Phelix looked back, his eyes a little fierier than normal until he looked my way.

 

“Don't look at me, I’ve only been here a week!” I exclaimed with unmatchable bluntness, as his stare began to shift toward expecting.


They all laughed, Urving the largest, but Barkley did find this pretty funny too. Watching Phelix flip back around and join in the fun, I could see he was still upset. Why would Barkley bring that up now? Is it that obvious with them staying in his house? Did Urving talk to Barkley or Phelix or...? In my own way, I sort of want to talk to Phelix... Not now, that’d be rediculous, but it’d be nice to let him know my side of the story.

We drove along several freeways, Barkley putting the car in auto-pilot so he could join the conversation better. It was so frightening at first, seeing the road whoosh by while the driver casually had a cigarette with his back to the speeding traffic around us. Not a problem though, the car did it’s job without so much as a glance from Barkley, who teased me about not wanting to come out tonight.


“You had me worried you were like Riot, ya know? Going to the zoo, but not wanting to go to a show with us...” Barkley began, pausing to take a drag on his smoke. “Then I thought, you just didn't like me.” The look I gave him fostered a scoff and small laughs. “But, nah, I get it Spaz, you’re still adapting and all.” Having Barkley show understanding made me feel included, like the cool kid was my friend, if that doesn't sound too stupid...

 

“Yeah, it’s been a rough week. This’ll be awesome though! I’m excited!” Shying off the subject, I showed energy to cover my anxiety.


“You better believe it! My friend always found the best parties back at institute!” Phelix responded, looking away a moment when Barkley checked the road.


“Oh ya saw Sully today? How’s he been?” Urving instantly knew the friend Phelix spoke of.

“Good, he says “hi” and that you oughta come visit sometime.” Phelix seemed more than eager to share this news with Urving.


“Well damn, what’s he expect? That’s a long trip!” Urving exclaimed jokingly.


“Ya know... I came from a different continent to meet a new friend of yours.” Phelix joked and I sheepishly laughed.

 

“Good point.” Barkley added.

 

“You were lookin for a job too!” Urving exclaimed blatanly, waving a paw at him.


“Thanks about that!” I added, a tiny sliver of guilt arising.


“Of course! Don't mention it kid!” Phelix’s shut eyed smile looked my way, though he surely couldn't see me.

 

“I’ll try to make the time to at least call him, maybe head up there on my vacation, we’ll see.” Urving responded, like he genuinely felt shame on the topic.


“We’re almost there! Away team, prepare for departure!” Barkley announced in a captains voice, his chair swiveling him around and alerting him to the remaing time.

Pulling up to a row of low buildings, the looming tower that was a skyscraper, put us in near absolute darkness. Cars were being departed by all mannerism of beasts, some humans, and a few groups of both. It was enlightening to see a pair of similarly aged humans attending this party, without an anthronian. They were brave enough to go alone and I had considered not going at all, wow... Parking in an open zone, the size of which would fit four small earth cars, Barkley shut down the unruly machine. It’s shaking to a stop caused the doors to pop open, then whine with mechanical effort as they slid aside on there own.

 

I’m unsure where we were, but this part of the city was less hospitable. The freeways distant din was far more previlant and though the surrounding buildings looked abandoned, large gathering crowds added new life. Waiting for a line of three or four cars to pass, we crossed the street and headed for a mingling crowd, who was slowly flowing into one large building, which restrained music escaped from. The amount of voices and faces made me nervous, as any of them could be a potential threat. As if reading my thoughts however, Urving knelt down and put out an arm for me to climb. Seeing the loosely clustered crowd from atop Urving’s shoulder made an enormous difference! I thanked him quietly, so Barkley wouldn't tease me.

 

To my surprise and ire, we weren’t going to a club or venue, this was a party in an abandoned facility of somekind. A tall square building, with imposing foggy gray windows loomed overhead projecting further darkness onto the sidewalk. Waiting in line, painted creatures of all caliber surrounding me, I got several second glances, but nothing to put me on edge. My fear was illegitimate, this is supposed to be fun! Why would anyone of them want to hurt me at a dance party? Nearing the door, I still gulped harshly, as each opening of the door revealed just how many people were here...


“Alright three, oh, four?” The doorman scanned each of their wrists quickly. “Lemme get your arm lil’ man.” He asked holding out a plastic pistol, with a green lit barrel.


“It’s all good Issac.” Urving was explaining, but I already accepted, receiving a small barcode tattoo from the spacey labeler.

 

Upon stepping in my ears, eyes, and body were assaulted to near overload. Lights flashed and flared all colors, while people formed a scattered rainbows of movement below them. Swinging arms, stomping feet, moving bodies... This was like a movie! A massive crowd of at least a hundred people all bounced, swayed, and jived with the music! No two people seemed to move the same and it was borderline impossible to watch a single figure for long. Everyone looked happy though and that was the best part of this! I could and was feeling comfortable.

 

What I imagine to have once been heavy machinery, now made platforms for dancers brave enough to climb atop them. Some of these huge metal forms held a single person, some upwards of three! Each animal varied dramatically in color than the other! Natural accents were detailed, like cats whiskers or a raccoons stripe pattern. Humans I saw wore bright body paint and skimpy outfits, often adorned with glowing strands of beads. I felt out of place with my simple green hair. Phelix, Barkley, and Urving have cool patterns!

 

The rhythm was heavy, simple, yet intermixed with elaborate electronic piano sounds. People swayed, bucked, jumped, flailed, and juked about in an unpredictable fashion. I was already bobbing my head due to the energy of it all. Urving was tapping a paw, while Barkley and Phelix began to get into the groove. Scanning the crowd, I notice my eyes actively pointing out human beings. A large portion of the crowd was humans, you just had to look past all the animals to see them! Most important of all was the enjoyment! Everyone was enjoying the music, whether they gleefully danced or got lost in a trance was unpredicatable. Often times anthronians and humans would bumb one another, only to celebratorily dance about it! When I looked hard enough, I could even see two jokers slow dancing in the center, barely managing any steps as the crowd rampantly raged around them.

 

The Dj, or whatever they’re called here, was in a glass box, which was suspened slightly over the audience, via an arching platform. Several guards stood in a line around this mobile stage. Peoples dress became more and more elaborate the closer to the booth you looked, some even bordering on costumes! Tall headdresses and elaborate flowing cloaks, some people really get into this! I felt a little out of place, under the blacklights I glowed a bit, my hair especially, but nothing compared to some of these people! Urivng began wandering forward, but a group of passing gals stopped him, giggling and throwing minor apologies. Two were human... We made eye contact and I couldn't help, but stare a moment. Havent seen many girls lately... Waving slightly, I smiled down at them, but only got smirks and snickers in return.


“Hey, I’mma see if  Sully’s here or maybe his cousin, we’ll meet you at the bar in a lil bit.” Phelix was shouting, paws at his face, Urving listened intently, then nodded.


“All good!” He called back, as the two of them began navigating the crowd.


The music broke for a rapid series of paired notes over a rapid precussion of speeding drums and melodic electric chiming. Everoyne changed motions at once, like something out of a music video. Lights began shimmering in new patterns, coinsciding with the changing rhythm, which was working it’s way toward spiking yet again. Every segment of new song brought new, more bizarre dancing. Lots of couples bodies were locked, grinding against one another in passionate displays or lewd antics. No one paid anymind to those surrounding them and that was alleviating to me. If no one noticed me, then I had a chance to enjoy this party. Contrary to what I just said, a large portion of the people we passed looked at me before Urving. Though it made me uneasy, no one’s stares put pressure on me and it was easy to ignore. A few people, both anthronian and human greeted me, as our eyes met, but it was nothing more than a friendly wave or invitation to dance. This is sort of cool!

 

Lot’s of people weren’t even here to dance it seemed. Many of the party goers simply lounged around the sidelines, smoking, drinking, fraternizing. Some had hookah’s or something similar set up, while others had personal dancers entertaining them. Booths had been arranged in semi-circles arount the corners and walls of this derelict factory. A part of me saw that as pointless, but it seemed appropriate to have somewhere to rest. Simple standing lights had been lined near the exits, bathrooms, and bars, which consisted of a guarded ice chests.

 

It was becoming infectious, the beat of the song, pounding relentlessly into my skull. My body squirmed without consent, a little fire burning beneath my feet. Tapping a foot, nodding my head, bouncing my shoulders... I must’ve looked like a moron! Not that any one here minded or would even notice! Between the flashing, unpredictable lights, and the constant moving, no one would be able to judge me, save those on the sidelines. Being on Urving’s shoulder, I was above everyone else and thus could be easily spotted from any vantage point. My whole body jarred around, as Urving began swaying to the music, his feet shuffling as he walked delicately through the crowd. His huge paws made some intricate motions to both avoid stepping on others and yet continue moving rhythmically.


Comparing human and anthronian dancing, I could immediately point out a few differences. Humans tended to use only our lower bodies, hands usually in the air or on another person. Anthronians were more wild, moving indescribably random and using everything from the tips of their ears to the end of their tail in the dance. A lot of people resorted to simply jumping to the rhythm, swinging a fist toward the ceiling as they went along. Personally, I was never a good dancer and am usually to self conscious, but the environment was to inviting to refuse. My motions were incredibly limited however, for fear of falling off Urving’s ever shifting shoulder.


“Heya ladies! Having fun?” Urving passed an assorted group of women, who were startled by him.

“Yeah, sure, sorta, I guess.” They all responded, but he didn't slow down.


“Good to hear. Stay beautiful.” He shot them a pair of pistol fingers, but you could tell they found it lame.


A few scoffs and a multitude of bizarre stares would’ve hindered anyone, but not Urving! Whether that was just to show me I can open up, or if he was really trying to woo these ladies is beyond me. Urving was working his way around the room toward an empty booth, but it wasn't easy. Anyone would have trouble navigating this ocean of moving bodies! Someone Urving’s size would have an advantage, but he was to polite to use it effectively. Seeing all the different people was my favorite part so far. The different tastes and levels of dedication to this event made for some tacky, yet grand outfits. Some lone humans represented the pinnacle of bravery, while others matched their anthronian patrons in dress or colors.

 

“I’mma wait for Barkley and Phelix, cool? Wanna sit down?” Urving asked after confirming I heard him.

 

Once his arm formed a ramp, I slid from his shoulder to the seat cushion below. “Thanks! This has been pretty cool!” I replied once I faced him, unable to stop my grooving.


“That's awesome to hear buddy! Is this what you expected?” Urving asked, sliding into the seat next to me, tapping a paw on the table to the beat.


“Not at first, when you said concert, I thought you meant like a band or something.” We both laughed a second, but that wasn't even the joke. “Once you busted out the green hair dye, I knew it was going to be more like this.” Urving laughed harder, but I just smiled.


“Yeah, these always have a theme so usually you’ll know if you’d like it. A lot of em’ are cool, but you wont catch me here on tapdancing night.” Urving responded, his voice more normal at the loud voulmes he had to use.


“Me either!” He chuckled at this, but then stood up suddenly.


“Yo! Hey guys, over here!” Urving let out an attention stealing roar, attempting to compete with the music.

 

Barkley and Phelix took notice, but it still took them a few moments to find him. They began heading our way, an eager dialogue between the two of them, though Barkley tried to keep a cool face the whole time. They both had seats, after greeting us in differing ways. Immediately, I was addressed, which was to be expected.


“How ya liking it kid?” Phelix asked eagerly.


“Yeah, it as scary as you’d of thought?” Barkley wasn't trying to be, but that came off as mocking.


“Yes and no. Not really sure what to have expected.” I chuckled uneasily, unheard beneath the booming music. “I’m having fun though! Don't get me wrong!” I bounced a little, letting myself fall in line with the music.


“Knew you would!” Barkely replied, shoving me slightly. “Just gotta chill Spaz.” Always has to add something...

“Wanna try something Issac?” Phelix pulled whatever it was from his pocket, getting my attention. “It’s a lot stronger than weed, that's for-.” He was cut off.


“Phelix, what the f**k man? Hell no!” Urving shouted out suddenly. “That’s way to dangerous, I told you!”


“Oh come on, he’s fully grown, right?” Phelix had a packet of pills, oh wow... “Let him make his own decisions.” He added, looking my way.


“You don't gotta worry Urv-.” I began, but was cut off.

 

“Hush Issac!” He silenced me firmly. “I told you man, even half of one of those could kill him! Just drop it, ok?” Urving was serious, the tone he took with Phelix made things uncomfortable, given I was in the middle.


“Alright I get it, sorry man!” Phelix waved his paws at Urving defensively.


“Told ya not to ask dude...” Barkley shook his head, holding his palm open waiting for his share.


“Whatever, it doesn't ruin the party!” He chuckled, popping two of the beady red capsules.


There was a moment of awkward silence, Barkley pulling out his pager to keep himself from being a part of it. Changing from the semi-embarrassed look I was giving Phelix, to a unsure stare toward Urving, the mood didn't really slow. Urving scoffed a second, looking off in thought, but then brought his eyes to mine and grinned. Rising, he put an arm down and nodded for me to climb on, which I did.

 

“Just cuz you can’t drop some D, doesn't mean you can’t drink, eh? Wanna beer or something?” I was asked once seated on his shoulder.


“Ok, sure!” I replied, with fake enthusiasm to hide my confused curiousity.

 

Urving asked the others if they wanted drinks too and they gratiously accepted. Though Barkley offered, Urving was more than happy to pay for all of us. Phelix and Urving were cool again within seconds, no sign of animosity or discomfort. Still, my mind was burning with curiousity and I had to ask, once we were far enough out of ear shot. Urving’s dancing steps showed me he probably stopped thinking about it already, but that was kind of weird and I at least want some answers.


“What did he offer me just now?” I asked out of nowhere, once we were in a medium sized line to get alcohol.

“Oh jeez... Alright, but ya gotta promise me you’ll never do it ok? Ever Issac, please?” Urving picked me up and set me in his open palms, so we were face to face.

“Of course, I’m all for not dying.” I couldn't avoid making a joke, but he didn't laugh.


“It’s called a depth pill or just D for short. It makes you feel... really happy.” Urving explained absent eyed, but then shot his stare back, attentively watching my reaction.


“Like ecstacy? We had something just like that on earth ya know?” I chuckled, but his face refused to change.


“No, it isn’t the same at all. Imagine if... god why am I telling you this? It’s like if acid and ecstacy had the perfect love child.” He was visually worried, scanning my face intently even after that joke.


“Whoa!” I couldn't contain my reaction, which flared his fear.

 

“You promised! God why did Phelix have to be so-.” I cut him off this time.


“Calm down! Like I said, I really don't want to die. Plus I promised you!” We both laughed, but he smiled when I added that.


“Thanks buddy, I really appreciate it. That scares the hell out of me...” Urving shook himself out, his face alight with relief. “Guess it’s safe to tell you the best parts then! It’s non-addictive and it’s impossible to have a bad trip on! Also makes you a little smarter for a time!” Urving chuckled, but my jaw dropped open.


“What’d ya need fellahs?” A tiger stood in front of the coolers, crossarmed and awaiting.


“Lemme get a some dizzy dawgs, four.” Urving said firmly, to reach over the music.


“Alright, fortyseven creds.” The tiger puled tall, ice chilled cans from the metal cooler.


“Gods damn...” Urving was appaled, swiping up a pawful of metallic tabs and giving them to the tiger, who grinned.

Urving set me back on his shoulder and handed up the heavy, freezing cold cylinders. It was unpleasant and hard to hold them, while maintaining balance. Urving carried the other two, as we made our way back to the table, through the masses of colorful choreography. Constant bumping, shoving, and pushing forces threatened to topple me from his shoulder, but I had ample room to remain seated. To my astonishment, two other people had joined Phelix and Barkley was nowhere to be found!


“Hey you guys, this is Ava and Linette, they needed a place to rest and Barkley’s off calling Delia. Y’all don't mind right?” Phelix scooted over, obviously making space so I could have a seat.


Instead, my body became stone, as solid and unmoving as a mountain. All the air inside me was doubled, as I gasped under my breath. The sturdy grip I had on the frigid can was weakening by the second, forcing me to squeeze the freezing metal harder. It felt imperative to say something, but I couldn’t find my voice! Sitting and staring back at me with a confused smirk, was a human woman... She was only a few years older than me, but didn't seem to be concerned with that. All she did was stare back, a growing smirk at how astonished I was by her. Though she found it comical, I was dumbfounded and couldn't move my eyes away, even as I sat down next to her. Still being a little alarmed by strangers, I kept some distance, but I think she appreciated it.


“Hello, thanks for sharing your booth.” The anthronian accompanying this young woman said to Urving.


“No problem. You guys enjoying the party?” Urving asked, getting both pairs of eyes once he sat down.


“Oh yeah, I love these things!” She responded with an awkward giggle, but a bright voice.


“Totally, just needed a moment. I can barely keep up with her!” My eyes finally moved to find a sheep speaking and peeking down at my glancing face.

 

“Take all the time you need. Ya want a drink? A beer or something?” Phelix offered, but they both simply shook their heads.

 

“I’m Urving and this is Issac. Nice to meet you.” Urving was using a different voice, trying to sound cool.


“Hey.” I added, trying to follow his example.


“I’m Linette.” The sheep waved slightly.


“Ava.” The brunette cutie said simply.

 

“How about y’all? Enjoying boys night out?” Linette asked, fixing the wool around her horns and ears.


“Oh yeah! Just got here though.” Phelix chimed in, as I was originally addressed, but failed to speak.


“And you’re already sitting down? Typical guys!’ Ava chuckled, nudging Linette who smirked down at her. “Wanna dance Issac?” She asked and my heart stopped.

 

My eyes must’ve responded dramatically, because she scoff-laughed at me. Trembling slightly, I looked up to Urving, who elbowed me a little. He restrained his excitement at the sight of my blushing, but I felt my cheeks burning. Without realizing, I had shifted my gaze to Linette, who looked startled by my hesitation. Her eyes moved to Ava a second, then they both laughed and Linette spoke.


“You don't gotta ask permission if that's what you’re after.” She said leaning closer, which caused my withdrawl.

 

“He’s just shy. It’s actually his first week here!” Urving responded for me, Linette obviously averted by my behavior.


“No freaking way!” Ava exclaimed, causing me to look straight into her eyes.

 

“Yeah.” I said as cool as my thin mask would allow.


“Like, your first week out of captivity or... like on the planet all together?” Linette asked, wearing a surprised smirk.


“I was a runner just a week or so ago.” Trying to sound tough, I got Ava to gasp faintly.


“Oh my god that’s so crazy! I didn't think anyone was still there! How’s earth anyhow?” Ava leaned over the table toward me, lifting off her seat with excitement.


“Green as ever. I didn't really have a lot of time to enjoy the scenery, ya know?.” Urving, Phelix, and Linette gave restrained laughter at this, but Ava was awestruck. “Not to mention we probably lived in different states or even countries!” Adding this got Ava to join in with a smirk.


“That’s true, duh!” She palmed herself in the face. “So you wanna dance or...?” Ava had apparently become more comfortable during this short conversation.


“Uhh, sure, I just...” I began trying to think of some excuse, any reason to stay at the table.


“Dance with her Spaz!” Barkley yelled our way, jumping over the crowd to be seen and heard better.

 

“Go on Issac! Nothing to worry about!” Phelix’s encouragement was appreciated, but just a tad over the top.

“Not to worry kid, I’ll go with ya!” Urving responded, but his enthusiasm gave him awkward pause. “If that’s alright with you both.” He switched between the two of them, and neither responded negatively.


“Of course!” Ava hopped up, her friendly face inviting us to follow.


“Alright, alright... I’ll come...” Linette groaned herself into standing. “Nice meeting you both, uh, Barkley was it? Thanks again.” She added, before following Ava into the throngs of movement.


“Nice meeting you too, have fun Spaz!” Barkley waved to Linette, as he fell into the seat.


“Break a leg kid!” Phelix waved to me, tossing a few kind words to Linette as well.

 

“Let’s go, theres a group of hotties over by the door.” Barkley forced Phelix to stand, pushing at him until he relented.

 

Following this beautiful young woman, I began growing worried. Did I mention I’m a terrible dancer yet? I really don't want to make an a*s of myself in front of the first girl I met on this planet. What a blow that’d be to my already miniscule ego! Watching the way she moved her semi-plump, curved body, uncouth ideas arose in my head. It’s perfectly natural, I cant help it! I’m not a pervert or anything, she’s just very attractive! This physically charged excitement led me to steal glances at Linette, fearing she somehow knew I was thinking dirty thoughts. She seemed to like Urving, but then again he was really laying on the charm. Ava got my attention with a simple grip of my hand, causing my skin to sizzle with elation and specks of worry. Turning to face her, I decided to just be honest, that’s what mom always said to do...


“Wh-what if I told you I can’t dance?” I asked softly, once my heart started beating again.

“What if I didn’t care?” She chuckled, tugging me harder, until we were standing very close.

 

I tried to match her movements, which only made her laugh at me, and I was instantly uncomfortable. “So, how long have you lived with Linette?” I asked her, resorting to basic torso rocking.


“What do you mean?” She was shifting, shimmying, and swaying to the music. “Oh! No, no, no! Linette’s just a friend! She didn't take me in.” Ava responded, stopping for a moment.


“Oh, does she know your owner?” I asked innocently, but she scoffed at me.


“Whoa! What the hell makes you call them our owners?” Ava was shocked, her eyes darting over my face constantly.


“Well, I... What do you call them then?” I asked trying to sound innocently curious.

 

“At first I liked the word “guide”, but Sarria is my friend, nothing more and never less!” She giggled, seeing my face twitch with shamed understanding. “You really have only been here a week, huh?” She was so curious she stopped moving, staring me dead in the face.


“Well... yeah...” I said as firmly as I could. “Why is that so shocking?” Play it cool Issac, she doesn't know you’re a wimp.


“Because I cried for, like, three weeks straight when I first got here! How are you out here so easily?” Her body halted giving her time to reference the mass of people.


“I was there... It only lasted a few days though, but I cried the whole time.” She made a sympathetic noise, but I didn't care for how it made me feel, semi-patronized. “Don't get me wrong either, this is... All this is really freaky for me...” I stopped and panned my head around the huge crowd, panicking until I found Urving a few feet away.


“If you got over the whole “alien abduction” thing this quick, you’ll have no problem fitting in here. Just give it a little while.” She laughed at my indifferent face.


“Thanks, I appreciate that.” I responded, getting a sharp nod. “Probably be fine in a few weeks.” That’s a fair estimate to give myself, though I struggled to agree.


Seeing Ava dance was both enjoyable and enviable. It was awkward for me, mainly because I didn't want to humiliate myself or Ava for that matter. My dance moves, or lack thereof, were nothing but timed flailing or bouncing. I had no idea what to do and that only made Ava laugh at me more and more. She eventually had enough taunting and grabbed my hands, to guide me. It caused my entire being to leap up, even though I practically collapsed under her touch. Yes, I’ve held a girls hand before, but that was literally years ago! It was startling, the fine feeling of her creamy skin caused the fleeting electricity, that only personal contact brings. She pulled me closer, using her body to lead my motions, pressing herself against me at times to encourage furthered movement. Unsure of what to do, I put my hands on her hips and she snickered, swaying them like a clock arm. The supple feeling of her hips, moist with sweat, as they shimmied in my hands stirred emotions and caused... reactions... My shame was, uhh, “rising” and I feared her becoming aware of such, so I let my hands slide free of her exposed waistline. It felt awkward, now what do I do with my hands?

 

Music blasted all other sounds into muffled obscurity. I did my best to move with it, but that displayed nothing in the ways of coordination. Even with Ava guiding my steps, arms, and occasionally my hips, I faltered constantly. It was just far to weird for me, surrounded by strangers, human and anthronina alike. Don't get me wrong, Ava’s beautiful and I am offering all my attention, but I cannot get over the feeling of vulnerability. If we were attacked or threatened, I’d expect myself to defend her, but that would spell death for me. Peeking over, I kept an eye on Urving, then tried to angle my dancing so I was closer to him. This got me caught pretty much instantly.


“Wow, you weren’t kidding! You really don't know how to dance!” She dropped my hands and shoved me coyly.

 

“Told ya so...” It was defeating, watching others dance so easily. “Sorry...”


“Don't be like that Ava!” Linette nudged her from behind, as she circled Urving in an odd way. “Just relax kid! Try to have fun!” She added, winking my way.

“It’s all good Issac, really! I’m right here, nothing to worry about!” Urving added, swaying and spinning around to match Linette.


“Alright, loosen up. You’re way to stiff! Relax!” Ava pushed my shoulders down, shook me a little, then turned around and backed up into me. “Just move with me. That’s it, see...” She was sliding herself against me like a snake moving over sand.


My face heated up, a Molotov of shame was smashed open across it. Ava did her best to force my body to move, using her own motions and my surely obvious shyness. I wasn't upset with this by any means, it just didn't feel right, grinding on a girl I just met. My eyes must’ve been wider than this room, because I could feel my heart beating directly behind them, inside my skull. Sweat formed at my hairline, on my palms, and under my collar. She was either oblivious to the effect she was having or I was being teased in a very enjoyable way. Though I’m not proud, I was getting really turned on by this erotic act. Her tight, round rear end pushing against my groin, the feeling of her contours beneath my fingers... Fear of scaring her off was flooding my thoughts, so I took action to prevent that humiliation. Gently, I spun her around and began a slower, less engauged kind of dance. Even though we were still close to one another, this type of moving, gentle rocking, didn't produce as much stimulation, if that word isn’t to creepy to use.


“Look at you Spaz! Who’d of thought?” Barkley passed by us glossy eyed, Phelix deliriously stumbling behind him.

“Glad to see you have fun buddy, thanks for coming out with us tonight!” Phelix added, beginning to dance with an absolute stranger.


“Yeah of course!” I responded, but didn't get to see his reaction, Barkley shoved him away into a circle of babes.


“Here, ya forgot this, share with your girlfriend now, ya here?” Barkley teased handing me my beer.


“Don't embarrass em’ Barkley! Leave em’ be!” Urving pushed him away as he danced by us.

 

“It takes a lot more than that to get at Ava.” Linette added, but I was startled and sheepish after what Barkley said.


“Sorry...” I said softly, but she was laughing before I finished.


“You’re way to serious.” She shook her head, taking the can from me. “I don't know, sort of like it though...”


“R-really? I mean, thanks.” My voice was shocked into normality, but I recovered quick.


Sharing a beer made it easier to maintain myself, even though I was tipsy pretty quick. Ava, who I found out was three years older than myself, showed no mercy and guzzled a large portion of the alcoholic potion. It felt odd for a split second, placing my lips where hers had been, but that was only because I tasted her lip gloss. It was sort of like getting to kiss her... Wait, that means I kissed everyone who shared canteens with me back on earth! Blegh, gross! By the time the can was empty, I was feeling a bit drunk, but not enough to hinder motion. On the contrary, it was helping me cut loose and dance freely, no concern for who judged me. I had reached that level in between drunk and wasted, where my worries seemed distant. It’s hard to keep up my aegis of acuity when a gorgeous girl has her hands all over me! This place just doesn't threaten me as much, what with all the laughter and excitement surrounding me! Seeing strange faces was alarming at times, it did bother me, but never long enough to take away from dancing with Ava.


“Holy s**t storm! It’s almost one! I gotta get you home and get some sleep!” Linette exclaimed suddenly, swiping Ava away.


“A’ww that sucks!” Ava exclaimed in a childish way. “Just a little while longer? Can we share another beer before we go?” She asked in a bright voice, bouncing with her fists balled up.


“Sure! I mean... if that’s alright Lin?” Urving’s outburst was the closest to his normal self he’s acted around Linette.


“Alright, fine. Monday’s usually aren’t that bad anyhow...” Linette faded off, opening her handbag.


“I got it, no worries.” Urving waved a paw over Linette’s. “You alright to go get it alone bud?” Urving asked, looking around for Barkley and Phelix who had disappeared in the ocean of moving people. “If you need me to, I’ll-.”


“Uhh, of course!” I made it out like this was dumb notion, just to seem brave. “Either of you want one?” I asked as he dropped a handful of metal tabs into my palm.


“Yeah, thanks kid.” Urving flashed his eyes my way and I tried to convey my underlying worry in that brief time.

 

“I’m fine. Thank you for offering though.” Linette responded with a grin to my awaiting stare.


“Be right back! Then we’ll go soon, promise!” Ava exclaimed, hopping with excitement and grabbing my wrist to pull me along.

 

 “What do you do? Your job, I mean.” Urving asked Linette, as we began to walk off.


Gulping hard, I began gathering the shoddy confidence that still resided within me. No one paid a whole lot of attention to us, yet at least a dozen anthronians looked directly at me as I passed. Being shorter than practically everyone in the crowd didn't help my inescapable panic, yet I wanted to look tough for Ava. Whether it’s the alcohol, being around a woman, or simply emotional growth, I wasn't really that afraid! Seeing all the human couples, it felt necessary to remain levelheaded. If I embarrassed Ava that would bother me for weeks! Instead, I just played it cool and kept my eyes half peeled for danger.


Ava and I danced our way across the warehouse, which had emptied dramatically over the course of the night. Standing in line, she and I continued enjoying the music. The electronic thumping of false drums and electric twanging of mechanical pianos filled the room with a overwhelming amassment of sound. Sometimes it would spike, to reach unfathomable decibals, while other times it would slip down to near silent, where the crowds heavy breathing could be heard. Having a little alcohol in my system made it easier to try and dance, which got to Ava. We resumed our abrasive, body to body dancing, occasionally she went so far as to touch our foreheads together! What a cool chick! She’s so alive and vibrant, the complete opposite of what I’ve become! Who would’ve I of been if earth was never invaded? Where would my life have taken me? I doubt I’d ever met a babe this dynamite if I was just another average joe on earth! Im the new kid on the block, so to speak.

 

Once the line began to shorten, we decided it would be weird to continue dancing as we awaited a simple transaction. During the wait time, I was given my first chance to examine anthronian currency in detail. Unlike earthern money, it didn't display the face of someone famous or depict a historically important location. It wasn't even paper or cloth! These strips of near weightless metal, some were gold, others silver in color, are roughly six or seven inches in length and maybe one inch across. Whether or not they were actually made of precious materials is beyond me... Adorning the face of each tablet was some kind of computer chip, which rested in the center of a decorative seal. This “chip” was triangular, glossy black, and gave off a hint of rainbow color when put in direct light. The gold tabs were striped vertically and the computer chip sat in the center of what looked to be an ornately carved sun. Each silver tab hosted a crescent moon shape, with the computer chip surrounded by diagonal lines, which ran the length of the currency. I remember seeing them change color right before my eyes, so these lines maybe somekind of code or system imprint maybe? What exactly does this all mean, how much money do I actually have right now?


“I gotta hit the ladies room. I’ll meet you back with Linette, k?” Ava didn't step forward when the line moved, then spoke to get my attention.


“Cool.” Trying to be indifferent, I couldn't avoid the twinge of fear that rode through me.

 

This feeling subsided rather swiftly, as I watched Ava strut away. Though I hated having her go, it was quite pleasant watching her leave. Those tight swaying hips, jiggling her ample butt with each step. I don't feel shameful anymore, it’s a natural thing to want. Part of me is hoping to possibly sleep with Ava, though I really doubt that’d be possible, so I may have to settle for her phone number. No, I am not a virgin, so yes, I know what I’m doing. Asking would be the only challenge for me. I’m already tongue tied around her as it is! Not to mention where, when, and whether or not she’s willing... I wouldn't do that to Urving and I doubt Linette would be comfortable letting me come over for such a lewd act.

 

Once she was gone, I got the beers with little difficulty. Even though Ava said she’d share, I wanted to be nice, so I bought one just for her. It cost thirtyfour creds (credits?), but that somehow translates to one whole silver tab. That’s something I’ll definitely need to learn quick, how to measure and use this worlds currency! Pocketing the rest of the money, I did my best to carry all three beers, but that was a bigger challenge than I’d of thought. Using my shirt to carry all three cans, I felt both ingenuitive and stupid. This is perhaps the only way I could have carried all of these, but walking around with my stomach exposed wasn't something I wanted.

Urving and Linette weren’t at the same spot when I returned and in a fraction of a second my relaxation turned to panic. Scanning every face I could clearly see, desperation began taking root and I was soon pushing through the crowd, frantic to find Urving. Being staggered, stumbled, and pushed around by careless dancers, my mind began seeking out any friendly face it could find. Phelix, Barkley, hell even Ava or Linette would be a relief! After a few minutes, which felt like hours of scrambled searching, I ended up at an empty booth near the back of the warehouse and I set the beers down. Fishing out my pager, I began trying to call Urving, but someones voice stopped me...

 

“Well, well, f*****g, well... Look who it is!” I recognize that voice...


Oh my god... God in heaven, no! Spinning around, I felt my body go cold with inrefutable and unbridled terror. My eyes seared with the strained tension of not blinking and my head jarred to take a triple take. The... It was... he’s here... That wolf from the agency! The wolf that wanted to eat me is right here! The volcanic stare illuminated slightly, as he shot to my side and knocked me to a seated position with one paw. A sputtering gasp was all I could employ my lungs for, as this fiendish figure stood over me, slowly bringing his claws forward. Without hesitation, he lashed out and hit me in the stomach, cutting my split second scream to nothing but a guttural cough. Agonizing aches rose through my stomach and I clutched it with one hand, while trying to ward his attacks with my other. My blood was flowing a mile a minute, as flash images of my nightmares replayed before my eyes. He’s... he’ll kill me! This monster is going to try and... Oh my god, no, please... I don't... I don't want to die... Please! Please god NO!

 

“HELP! URVING HELP! SOMEONE HELP ME! URVI-AGH!” His paw locked around my throat, he pinned my head against the backrest, and began choking me. “No... please... St-stop... Gaghk!” My hands locked onto his wrist, clawing deeply into his hide, but never enough to gain purchase.

 

“I still owe you for that nutshot at the agency!” He growled, clutching my very lifeforce in his paw. “Don't worry, I know how you can pay me back!” Bearing his teeth, the wolf lapped at his yellow hued fangs.


Struggling doesn't even begin to describe how hard I was fighting, yet it didn't amount to anything... Scraping my fingernails across any part of him I could grasp, they chipped and broke apart under my own strength. My whole body thrashed, I threw myself in any direction I thought may free me, but could hardly move. None of this mattered however, as he just applied more pressure and swatted my hands away whenever I struck him. Several times I swatted him across the muzzle, slugged him on the nose, and clawed into his hide, yet he just released more laughter and squeezed my throat harder. Fear was quickly overpowering my already thwarted efforts and I tried to cry out once more, only to release a wet gagging sound. This cant be real! Why did I come here? How could I have been so stupid? I knew this would happen! I need to get away, my god, this cant be how it ends! I need to live on, please, I’m so sorry for what I did, don't let this twisted justice go on! Help me, someone... something... please...


Those scarlett spheres of hatred drew ever so slightly closer, expanded, then began eagerly absorbing my torment. His destructive fangs appeared in a wide, curling smile, the scent of alcohol flooding with each rasping breath he took. Fluxuations in his breathing began to take on the sound of laughter, as he grinned and slowly coaxed the life out of me. I’m just not strong enough... His grip is like a steadily tightening vice, drawing every ounce of air out, until I was left gagging on my lack of air and dried throat. Tears formed and fell like a rainstorm, as I watched my agony bring joy to this dreaded reapers face. My legs kicked at his stomach, but even when I made full contact, it only garnered a grunt. Dropping one knee onto the bench, he pinned my dominant leg and put more force on my throat with a thrust of his body. Drool ran down this demons muzzle, dripping steadily to the darkness below. Those unblinking, killer crimson eyes twitched over my form and his laughter grew to full force, as I began fading. Unfathomable consternation accompanied my every action and attempted breath, which caused my dismay to spike with each passing second.



The room was growing darker than I thought possible, the lights became disembodied and distant. It felt like I was sinking, it felt sort of like I was falling asleep, but I understood that was the lack of oxygen. I manged to pry one of his claws free, but I knew that it wasn't enough. Even when I moved one of his fingers, it snapped back and his hand crushed closed tighter, bringing more elated laughter, my struggles to live amused him. Meek flailing was all I acheieved in these last few moments of panicked ferocity. All I can clearly see are his hellish eyes, glowing with immense hatred in the surrounding darkness. The pain of not breathing was shredding my insides, furiously screaming for even an ounce of air, which my fully opened mouth couldn't obtain. Gagging, choking, and gurgling were all my words amounted to, but I was still told to “shut up”. Straining with ever fiber of my being only resulted in a miniscule, half breath, which couldn't sustain me, even when repeated rapidly.


“Just... give... up...” His panting words showed me my efforts had atleast drained his energy. “Just... die already!” Not enough... I’m just not enough...

 

My eyes fluttered closed and I felt them roll backward, as my efforts to breath waned down to practically nothing. They fell shut quickly, immense pressure building behind them from the constriction on my throat. Light specks began appearing where I was certain only darkness existed... I knew it was close, I could feel the end approaching like chill rising through my soul, as if my body had been plunged into the coldest water imagineable. My head was throbbing and my vision degrading to practically nothing. Why must it take so long? God this torment is unreal, my body is reacting as if his grip crushed my entire form, not just my throat. Though he only had me by the neck, my ribs ached, my arms were sore, and my legs lifeless. All I could do was plead with my eyes and attempt to choke in a little bit of air. Seeing me manage a half breath, he growled and applied even more pressure, lifting his body only to fall full weight on me. This added impact produced a wet squelch internally, though I think he heard it for his laughter peeked yet again. So weak... I have no strength left and even if I did, it wouldn't be enough to defeat him...

 

At least... at least it’s fair... I deserve to die. Will I go to hell for what I did, or heaven for being murdered? Soon the fear will all be gone at least, this pain will end... I wont have to live in this freakish world and I wont have to be anyones pet. I just wish I could of thanked Urving one more time, for making sure I was welcomed and for seeing past my grave mistakes. Please don't let it be this way, I’m so sorry for what I did! I wish... I wish I could stay. I wish I had more time... Part of me doesn't want to go... Some part of my heart still clings to life, desperate and despaired, but I know there is nothing I can do. Maybe... I’ll get to see mom and dad again, hopefully...

 

“WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU DOING?” A voice split the distant music, relinquishing my throat from the wolfs paw with it’s wrathful force. “GET AWAY FROM HIM!”

 

Air has never tasted so sweet. It felt like pure gold had evaporated into a steady ribbon of oxygen, which guided me back from the abyss. Relief, respite, reassurance, restoration... all too weak of words... That first breath was like coming out of a coma or breaking through a frozen lake! Everything in my body seemed to click back on at once and an instinctual frenzy of unwavering violence exploded from me. I gasped, wretched, punched, kicked, bit, scratched, and when I could, spat at the wolfs eyes. This got me choked again, less so, for someone was trying to save me! Whoever it was had distracted him enough to where he couldn't apply lethal pressure and just left me struggling. Within seconds of feeling his grip loosen, I acted. My leg compressed against my body and I kicked the wolf square in the chest with all my might, a roar of my voice empowering this vengeful strike. The next thing I knew, I was dodging aggressive swipes of his paw, cowering in the furthest corner of the booth, behind the table, which he attempted to throw aside.

 

Scrambling away, I felt tears rushing quicker than a hurricane and I began weeping at the other end of the booth. Without poise or realization, I flopped to the floor and kicked myself away, hiding behind the corner of the seats. Clutching my face and curling into the fetal position, I unleashed the most agonizing crying I have ever felt. It was so painful... The expellation of this dread in the form of tears, felt like acid boiling through my face and bursting forth from my eye sockets. Each heavy breath slammed into me like a wrecking ball. The rate of my heartbeat felt like a jackhammer trying to bore its way out of my chest. Safety felt impossible, I would never escape the dangers of this world as long as monsters like him lurk in it...

 

 

Clutching my throat and trembling, I found he had punctured tiny holes with his claws, allowing blood to spill forth and cover my hands quickly. Seeing my own blood coating my palm, I snapped and began wailing, shrieking, and screaming incoherently. The full gravity of near death set in, the anguish became exponentially more paramount, and my vision drowned beneath even greater tears. The sheer dreaded horror of it all led me to cry out for my mother and father, though a part of me was aware they were dead. I wanted safety, I wanted sanctuary, I wanted my home... This place, where I am forced to live, it’s a waking nightmare! I’ll never be able to find the sanity of common safety, not as long as beasts like him are out there!

 

“I said get out of here! What the f**k is wrong with you?” My saviors voice shouted and I heard a minor scuffle, which led me to look if it was clear to run yet.

 

“Piss off mutt, I have unfinished business with this little s**t.” The wolf casually retorted, scoffing and moving toward me once he was finished with the shoving tussle.

 

A scream belted forth and I clawed myself further into the corner, as his shadow cast over me, advancing the darkness. “Back the f**k off!” A figure swung at him, the fur covered fist swiping the air in front of his nose. “You better get the f**k out of here! Right now!” It was Barkley! Barkley’s saved me!

 

“Do you want to die too? I’ll rip your f*****g throat out!” The wolf lifted his claws and showed his fangs in a sinister growl.


Without warning Barkley swiped his arm down, shattering the bottle he had been carrying. “You don't know who you’re f*****g with! Back off you sick son of a b***h! Right now!” Lancing the jagged piece of glass forward, he forced the wolfs retreat. “C’mon Spaz, let’s go. You alright kid? Come on, stand up.” Barkley didn't look at me, but the wolf stared, paralyzing me with fear. “Issac! Get up!” Hearing him use my real name snapped me out of my terrified trance.

 

Unwilling to move forward, I awaited Barkley to be infront of me, then scooted behind him. My eyes refused to leave the wolf’s face, which scowled viciously at the two of us. As we began backing away, the wolf pursued Barkley, bearing his fangs once again. Threatening to throw the makeshift glass dagger was enough to cause flinching, then surrender. Growling lowly, the wolf withdrew using slow deliberate steps, but maintained his bloody stare. The malice he had shown me was multiplied tenfold at Barkley, no joy for the kill, only the purest hatred imaginable. His eyes sliced to me mid blink and I froze, gasping and cowering with uncontrollable fright. Every inch and every pound of me shook like a tuning fork in full motion. Barkley waved me to go, but had to gently push me to actually facilitate my movements. Stumbling backward, I nearly fell because I refused to take my eyes off this murderous monster. He refused to look away either, he didn't even blink, the stress on his eyes apparent in the rampant twitching and bulging veins.


“One day, no one will be there to protect you!” The wolf called over the music and crowd, whom had barely taken notice of this mortifying ordeal. “You cant hide forever Issac!” He deliberately emphasized my name, the extra fear it caused me was unreal.

 

“You’ll have to get through me you f*****g psycho!” It was Urving, oh thank god!


“Urving! Whe-where were you? I tried to find you... He attacked me! H-he tried to kill me... I couldn’t fight back...” Urving pushed me behind him, standing shoulder to shoulder with Barkley.

 

“Stay back Issac! He cant hurt you anymore. I wont let him hurt you again.” Though limitless scorn could be heard, granules of self loathing crept through as well.

 

“Yeah you better run! He’d snap you in half like a f*****g twig! COWARD!” Barkley’s voice was louder than the music and my stampeding heartbeat, which was half of what I could hear.


“I’ll break every f*****g bone you have! You hear me? If I ever see you again, YOU’RE DEAD!” Urving’s roar split through the surrounding sounds, even stopping some nearby dancers with it’s chaotic content.

 

Watching the wolf jog away, I couldn't find valid comfort in what Urving had just threatened. He appeared out of nowhere and nearly killed me, who knows how long I truly have... For all I know he could live right down the street and has been waiting to catch me alone! All the shouted threats and reassuring words thrown about in anger felt voided and pointless. If Urving isn’t with me, how in the hell can he ensure my safety? I’ll just... I’ll go everywhere with him then... Never be alone, I wont, cant be alone, it’s to dangerous!

“Shh, calm down, just breath Iza...” Urving consoled, the brimming rage in his voice dissolving to sorrow in an instance. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I’ve heard of this s**t, but I never thought... I’m so s-s-sorry!” Urving collapsed by my side, tears flowing from his eyes, seething torment affixed to his face.

“Holy s**t! Are you alright kid? What happened?” Phelix appeared out of nowhere, which fightened me from the suddenness of his approach.

“Some sick b*****d was trying to hurt Iza! He had him by the throat and-.” Barkley exclaimed, waving a paw outward before I silenced him.


“Thank you!” I practically dove into his arms. “Thank you so much...” Tears didn't have enough air to be pushed forward, so they simply drained down my face.


“Relax Spaz, you don't gotta thank me...” Was all he said, his voice cracking and spiking with emotion. “You’re alright kid, everything’s fine.” Was all he added aside from a light pat on my back.

“Please don't hate me Issac, please... I promise, I’ll never let you out of my sight again! Dear gods, I’m so sorry...” Urving pawed for me, but his tear laden face blinded him.


No words came to mind, so I just used what tiny fraction of energy remained to fall toward Urving, narrowly missing his paws. My palms hit the floor hard and I quivered, before collapsing into a writhing pool of unyielding misery and worldly loathing. Urving quickly helped me up, but I was absolutely limp, which scared him deeply. All I could use my energy for was tears, shouts, and breathing. They weren’t fearful shrieks like before, I released long, somber, woeful, cries of pure despair, duress, and permuting disarray. Convulsions of fear took hold of me, for I didn't understand at first, as Urving rose with me in his arms. Instinct led me to fight him, my hands meekly pushing away, but when this caused his crying to intensify, I understood. My final shove didn't fully extend my arms and instead I just gripped his fur as tight as I could, pulling myself to his shoulder. Never safe... Will never be safe... Never safe on my own...


“I’m s-so s-s-sorry... I didn't know, I wish I would’ve gone with you...” Urving wept over me, as I released pounds and pounds of agony in the form of tears. “Please stop crying Issac, oh god, I’m so sorry...” Urving rubbed my back gently, slowly hugging me tighter, yet delicately.

 

“I want to leave... C-can we go h-home? Pl-please Urving?” My begging, pitiful voice barely carried, so I repeated myself until my tears were strong enough to create additional volume.

“Yes, of course, come on. Please forgive me Issac, I promise, I-I... all I can do is promise you you’re safe!” A coddled hug granted warmth to my soul, if only a tiny ember. “He’ll die before he touches you! I swear to you, nothing like that will happen with me around...” It didn't matter what he said, caustic, calamitous emotions were ruling my thoughts. “Please don't be afraid, you’re safe... Oh god, why did I ask you to come out tonight?” His crying comapared to mine was like comparing party poppers to hand grenades.


“Holy s**t, Iza, I’m so sorry...” Phelix began, but couldn't finish.

 

“Just chill kid, you’re alright. That fuckers gone. You’re fine, just... oh man... You’re bleeding pretty bad kid, come on. I got a shirt you can use in my car.” Barkley’s attempted consolation was appreciated, yet I couldn't stop weeping.


“Oh my gods... Holy s**t, it’s your neck! Oh f**k, I... What do I do? Guys help me, please! What do... how do I help? I need to do something!” Urving’s sobbing amplified and I felt his knees lose strength, as he nearly fell.


“Be strong man. He needs you to be here for him right now!” Phelix sounded desperate, but was absolutely right...

 

“He’s alive, that’s what’s important, they’re just cuts. Come on man, let’s just get out of here.” Barkley was firm voiced, though sympathy was lining every word.

 

“Thank you all. Please, I just want to go home...” This request meant nothing, I cant ever go “home”...


“Alright, just... oh gods... I love you Issac, I’m so sorry.” Urving’s tightening grip made me pause in panic, the pressure cutting off my air supply, causing panic.

 

“Thank you Urving... I don't blame you...” I said and he began releasing tears at a higher caliber, like my words were permission to do so. “Th-that was the wolf... He was the one from the agency, who wa-wanted t-t-to...” Urving hushed me and put a paw on my head, as he hurried to the car.


“Here, wrap this around his neck, not to tight.” Barkley handed a spare shirt to Urving, who quickly threw it over my neck.

“Relax bud, everything’s alright. You’re fine! S-s-see? No more bl-blood!” Urving was trying his damndest to soothe me, but I just couldn't stop crying, even if I was silent. “Oh gods, why did I bring you! I should’ve gone alone like you asked!” Urving set me on the backseat of Barkley’s van and climbed in carefully.


“Bro, calm down. Don't blame yourself, neither of you could’ve known!” Phelix got in swiftly to continue the conversation.

 

“Calm down buddy. Issac, please... P-please stop crying...” Urving begged, his paw gently pushing me, as I held myself in the fetal position

 

“I-I-I cant... P-please don't j-judge me...” My whispy voice got me a hug from Urving, but it only hurt my weakened muscles.


“NO, oh gods, no...” Urving’s voice was hoarse. “You’re so brave. You’re the bravest human, remember?” His words didn't feel valid, considering what happened.


“Just keep it together Issac, you’ll be home in no time!” Barkley’s voice called back, as the vehicle started.


“Th-thank you...” Being pulled against Urving, a living teddy bear, I began sniffling to a stop.


“Just be calm Iza, we can fix your neck up easy, you’re fine!” Phelix responded, trying to keep a level head.


“You’re safe... I’m so sorry! I’ll protect you, from now on, I swear you wont be hurt!” Urving offered as a type of consolation. “Gods if I knew... I’m so sorry, please...”


Words were not being generated, so I just leaned against him and whimpered out what tears remained in me. We sped off, tires squealing momentarily. Urving’s paw never left my shoulder and his words of comfort refused to cease. My tears eventually relented, but we were stuck in traffic, so I had plenty of time to calm myself. Checking my wounds I found them to be superficial, nothing compared to the long term mental damage this will cause. All of this... This whole fucked up thing I now call my life... I just cant see a positive future, everything is shrouded in blood and confusion. This isnt living anyways... I’m not a person anymore... Urving kept trying to be soothing, but it was just freaking me out. I didn't have the heart to tell him that though... My mind was still frenzied and my heart was black with strife. His efforts at consolation felt invasive and I became mentally combative, but had no energy to express it. There is no safety anymore...


“You sure you don't want us to stay?” Phelix asked as Urving slid the door open.


“Nah, I don't think that’d be good right now...” Urving responded softly, trying to pick me up, but instead ushering me from the vehicle.

“I-if you wanted to guys...” My voice was quieter than a ghost, but they heard me. “I’d rather not be alone...”


Each trembling step toward the door was both relieving and painful, for I wanted to be inside and safe, yet my body was wracked by the struggle. I mustve looked horrible... My hair was soaked down with sweat, I had blood from my neck to my belly and both eyes were swollen from tears. Every inch of me was shaking, my bloody hands, tenderly clasped at my own wavering body. My eyes mustve been open to an extreme, for they hurt and I felt wind constantly passing over them. My throat quivered, dry, scratchy, and hoarse from being choked. It was still hard to breath, even after it was all over.

 

Why? Why should I try to rebuild my life here? I want to go home... Stepping into my room, fragmented memories of what my old room looked like stifled me to silent tears. This place will never be home, Urving has to understand that... Everything is so different, I just can’t adapt... I’m not welcomed here either, some want me dead without reason! Why cant I have stayed and died on earth? Why did this have to happen? Why am I here?

 

Urving insisted on treating my wounds himself, or atleast supervising my use of the medical mending device. After he adjusted the settings and finely tuned his vision to read the tiny screen, he handed it my way and a faint growl of sorrow accompanied his sight of me. It wasn't as strong as when I used it before, but the sensitivity of my neck made it hurt enough to foster tears. After closing my wounds, I hid in my room, the others understood and left me alone. The empty darkness, nothing recognizable, a distant sea of pitch black grass, barely illuminated by the moonlight... It was petrifying at first, laying alone in the dark, but hearing three voices in the other room, a part of me could feel safety. Sleep was sort of scary, but it was overwhelming me within minutes of laying in bed.

 
“H-hey... uh, bud... You alright? C-can I come in?” Urving was at my door next thing I knew.

 

“Y-yeah, sure...” I rolled over to face the door.


“H-how ya feeling Issac? Does your neck s-still hurt?” Urving found a more solid voice as he spoke to me.


“Yeah, thank you. I’m just... Really shaken...” It was disorienting, waking after all that has happened, but to such a friendly face.

 

“I k-know, I know...” Urving broke a moment, shuddering breaths hitting the air. “I’m so sorry Issac. Oh my gods, I am so sorry...”

 

“Urving, stop. I don't... I couldn't blame you...” My response made him gasp.


“I didn't protect you though! I should’ve been there!” He exclaimed hushedly.


“That doesn't mean I blame you. Just... Please, I want to put it out of my mind...” The words were hollow, I wouldn't be able to escape the images branded on my minds eye.

 

“Alright, yeah, of course...”  Urving sighed, bowing his muzzle. “Yo-you wanna stoke or... maybe something to calm your nerves? My Ma taught me a really good tonic recipe, i-it might help!” His desperate offer was forced through false calm.

 

“Sure, why not.” I looked up at him, a lifeless smile the best I could give.

 

“A-alright then!” Urving was... really trying... “C’mon lil’ buddy!”


It’s sort of safe here, I cant at least pretend this is home... Urving isn’t like either of my parents, who were more serious and only jovial at proper moments, yet... I feel more alright with that. I’m glad he tries so hard, even if it’s just his natural personality, it feels like he’s doing it just for me. I cant be sure... Though I could see unflinching gloom in his face, a bright grin was still given, his offer to help me feel better... The struggle in his eyes was unreal, like my anguish was shared and he had also nearly died tonight. Yet, whenever our faces met, or he spoke to me, unyielding comfort and inspirited attitudes were forced to the surface.


“Hey buddy, feeling any better?” Phelix sat up a little, peeking over one of Urving’s potted plants.

“Ya alright kid? You can breath ok, right?” Barkley followed suit, standing due to shorter stature.

 

“Y-yeah, thanks you guys. Didn't know you were still here.” It was a nice sentiment, since I fell asleep quickly, but they stayed to see if I was ok.


“Course.” Barkley said simply.

 

“Wanted to make sure you were alright.” Phelix added.


“You fell asleep so quickly, we were... worried, I really was...” Urving leaned out of the kitchen to speak as well.


“Thanks you guys, so-sorry about how tonight went. I didn't mean to...” I felt bad, genuinely guilty about the way things ended up.


“Oh jeez, stop it kid.” Barkley was simple.


“Yeah, Issac, who’d of known that psycho was lurking at the party?” Phelix’s sound reason made me take pause.


“Yeah Iza, you were so brave to come with us in the first place. I’m really sorry it went the way it did.” Urving replied, a somber growl following it.


I didn't have words, so I just tried to smile again and had a seat at the table. Phelix and Barkley joined me, while Urving was in the kitchen blending up varying liquids, powders, and some honey. I was still trembling, not the thrashing I felt during the struggle, but my every motion was twitching and uncontrolled. The guys did there best to calm me down and it felt good to have a smoke, but I knew it would take me a while to overcome what happened, if I ever can. The best I could hope for was to want to go outside again! Maybe I wont have to... What kind of a life would that be? What kind of a life do I have now? What life can I hope for...?


“Alright, here ya go! This oughta take some edge off.” Urving slid a tall glass in front of me, the contents closer to a sundae than a tonic...


“Th-thank you...” I couldn't avoid the painful tears of gratitude as I looked up at him.

The three of them did their best to be uplifting and inspiring, Urving left the kitchen a mess to make sure and be with me. It didn't feel right... I feel a little patronized... After nearly dying tonight, they think some kind words and a milkshake will make me feel better? No, this... this is all they can do in the moment. No one has a quick response plan for a near death experience, but with me around, perhaps we should work on one... Urving’s probably just desperate to do something, anything... For Phelix and Barkley, god I cant imagine... Whatever they feel, at least I know they are on my side. Barkley saved my life tonight, I’ll never forget that!

 

“You alright kid? Feeling any better?” Urving’s eyes scanned me intently with worry.


“A little, thank you. I just... need time...” I said as strongly as my whispy voice would allow.


“That’s fine, of course, don't sweat it!” My words facilitated them each to respond.

 

“It’s just good to know you’re alright kid!” Urving’s eyes suddenly clouded with tears. “I... I hope you really don't blame me, ya know? I couldn't have kno-.” Urving began to tear up, but I just pat his wrist.

 

“Thank you... Thank you all...” Was all I could say, stray tears falling into my icecream.


“Don't thank me, I didn't really do anything!” Phelix exclaimed trying to get some laughs.


“You ever need help, I’m there kid. Especially if your in trouble!” Barkley added with a strong, reaffirming nod.

 

It was hard to find words strong enough to convey how desperately I wanted to show my gratitude. Nothing I tried to say had any conviction to it though, all my energy had been spent. All I managed was to stare at each face and mentally convey as much appreciation as possible. Even when my gaze drifted to Urving all I managed was an empty smile, which he saw right through and sighed at. It was just no use, I... I don't know how to move forward. Everytime I try to grow, adapt to this world, something unwanted is forced upon me or thrown in my path. Where am I supposed to put my trust if not in the citizens surrounding me? It cant all fall on Urving, I cant cling to the safety he provides for the rest of my life... But it seems that's the only safety this world offers. The worst part of it all is the idea lurking in my head, the thought that I deserved to die... It is only fair considering I killed Dalton... If I’d of died tonight, the debt would’ve been repaid, I’d at least have faced justice, however macabe.

 

“In a fair fight you coulda kicked his a*s anyhow!” Phelix exclaimed as if it was the punchline to a joke.

 

“Oh yeah! That guy was scrawny as hell! Spaz could’ve taken him!” Barkley joined in the fun, nudging me from across the table.

 

“Aint that the truth! Damn coward couldn't have taken my lil guy fair and square!” Urving nudged me, the sparks in his eyes begging for some kind of response.

 

“Y-yeah... next time for sure...” Oh god, please don't let there be a next time!


“C’mon, I know you can be louder than that!” Phelix jabbed, his eyes only hinting at the vulnerability of it all.


“Yeah, sound off spaz!” Barkley added, but I just faked a chuckle.


“Guys, just, leave him alone for right now. Alright?” Urving put a paw over my shoulder, the unexpected contact made me jump with fright.


“S-sorry... I’m sorry I ruined your night guys.” Tears formed, blinked into submission by my wary eyes.

 

“Don't think that way! I’m just glad you’re alright!” Urving practically pounded the table with his slumping arms.


“Yeah kid, I mean, you aren’t hurt! That's sort of the most important wouldn't ya say?” Barkley must be unphased by violence to be acting in such a way.


“If Urv would’ve lost you tonight, that of been way worse!” Phelix’s face scrunched up and his eyes became glassy. “You don't gotta apologize...” He sniffled, sliding the remaining icecream closer to him.


“Just forget that tonight happened alright bud? L-lets... lets just pretend it all went great! Yeah?” Urving sounded desperate, but I just nodded.

 

“Yeah...” His awaiting stare wasn't demanding, but I felt a response was deserved.

“Ya get Ava’s number Spaz?” Barkley asked with a coy grin.


“N-no...” I half sighed, half chuckled. I had totally forgot about her...

 

“Then that’s the real crime here! That b*****d!” Phelix punched a paw into his palm.

 

“Yeah, she was totally into you kid!” Barkley was lying, Ava teased me enough for me to know that.

 

“Oh yeah, uh, sure...” Replying felt wrong, I just don't have the confidence.

 

“Well, I got Linette’s number. Maybe she can help you two get in touch.” Urving offered, but I didn't get a chance to respond


“No way, seriously? Way to go fat boy!” Phelix drummed on the table.


“Props Urv, that's great! You’ll have to help Iza see Ava again.” Barkley was more supportive than usual, which I greatly appreciated.

 

“Yeah, of course! No problem!” Though he responded to Barkley, Urving looked at me.

 

“Thanks. That’d be great...” I wont have the confidence to go outside for a long while.

 

It was hard to pretend that things were going to ever get better... Whether it was my murderous memories or the vicious, unknown future I am going to endure, this life is not one I want. This isnt living, this is surviving, which is what I was doing back on earth. I’d rather struggle to live a harsh life, then be given this meaningless existence, like it’s a present... Small parts of me felt this train of thought was unfair, but the positive half of my thoughts had been qualmed into silence by tonights ordeal. My mentality refused to enlighten, regardless of the joy I felt to still be alive. Pain radiated from my neck, not literally, as the wounds were gone, but mentally. The sight of that maniacal monster leaning over me, the desperation of being unable to breath, my hands frantic for escape... Even thinking about it had tears beading to life, stinging at my sockets odiously.

 

“You made me so proud bud, seeing you open up like that...” Urving spoke without direction, as if he just wanted to voice these opinions. “I promise, you’ll get the chance to be happy... This wont ever happen again!”

 

“Thank you Urving. I... I know...” This was a lie, my faith in him has dwindled.

 

“Please, you gotta promise me... D-don't think we’re all like that...” Urving broke into tears, his face falling into his cradling arms.

 

“Whoa, man, relax...” Phelix pat his shoulder.

 

“Calm down Urving, he’s not afraid of you!” Barkley spoke before I had the chance to.


“He’s right...” Was all I could manage at first, but when Urving looked up at me I had to continue. “I could never think of you guys like that... You... you care...” It wasn't much, but enough for Urving to smile.

 

The saddest thing was, yes, I do still fear Urving in some small way. Barkley is more agreeable to my twisted mentality, but then again he did just save my life a few hours ago. I’ve never really thought of Phelix as threatening, but I am certain he could be if he needed to. They arent the monsters I have painted them to be in the past... Honestly, in a small way, I am getting used to the sight of their kind, but willingness to live amongst them just doesn't exist. Just then, Urving gently put his arm over mine and pulled it closer to him. He only glanced at me, as if to ask permission. His warm sandpaper paw pad scratched over my skin gently, as he clasped my miniscule hand between his huge paws. I trembled a moment, felt myself begin to cry, but then slumped against Urving to hide my shame. He did his best to console, soothe, and offer his commiseration. Even if I cant bring myself to not fear him, I do trust Urving. I really do...

 

“Ya wanna head to bed Issac? You probably need some rest...” Urving asked softly, awaking me from my half slumber.

 

“Y-yeah...” I didn't realize I had falled asleep again. “Did Barkley and Phelix leave?”


“Yeah, a little while after you fell asleep. They gotta get up early to go to the airfield. They felt bad, said they were sorry about leaving.” Urving’s face was weary, shattered, and traumatized, but still he fought to act normal.


“That’s okay... I’ll call them tomorrow.” Funny, you'd think they were my friends...


From the anxiety still radiating around him and the terror lining his pitted eyes, you’d think he was attacked tonight. He shares my pain so deeply, even when I wasn't awake to realize it... I imagine he was awake the whole time I wasn't, protecting me from phantom foes and mental monsters. Ushering me from my seat gently, a half glance filled my heart with hopeful sorrow. He was crying again... Silent, soft, almost inaudible tears. They weren’t bleak, such as before, I think... I think he was happy I’m alright. No one could say for certain (except Urving), but I believed these to be tears of joy. I stopped in the hall and he did too, asking what was wrong. Instead of answering, I simply turned and lightly hugged him, my arms unable to apply proper pressure. Urving was silent a moment, then began crying stronger and louder. He fell to one knee, leaning on me partially and clutching his arms around my bony frame.

 

“Im so sorry Issac... I failed you...” He was bawling, fighting to force words out.

“No you didn't.” If I had any tears left, I’d of started crying again. “I know you want to protect me. That's all that matters, you’re trying.”

 

“I-I-I...” His quivering, tear damped muzzle suddenly tightened with confidence. “I promise. I really do. I’ll take care of you buddy. No one will hurt you as long as I can help it. You will always be safe with me.” Urving was shaking, the strain of maintaining a firm attitude was getting to him.

 

“I know Urving. I believe you.” My soft voice dented his false-steel heart.

 

“Just... You... You gotta give me another chance. Please? I swear, I will make this up to you.” Urving bawled again, his face vanishing agsint my shoulder. “Somehow... I swear...”


“Of course. I... I believe you man.” All I can do is hope...


“Thank you Issac. You cant believe how much it means to me... Knowing you’re ok, it’s the... greatest feeling in the world.” Urving’s face had risen from murky sorrow, but only a few inches.


“Thank you Urving, you... you don't know how much I need you...” Tears fell free, no exertion pushing them.


“I’m right here bud. I promise, you’ll... you will never have to worry.” He pulled me back, to stare into my eyes. “I will always protect you, I swear!”


“Th-thank you... Urving... I-I’m sorry...” The power simply didn't exist, I had nothing left to offer the emotional bonfire raging inside me. “I’m sorry for what I did...”

 

Urving gasped inexorably, the filling of his lungs tightened his hug. He put a paw on the back of my head, his face ground into my shoulder as he sobbed. Urving kept trying to get words free, but it was all woeful gibberish. The sentiment was there, he was weeping harder than myself over such a grim topic. Every tear Urving sheds for my blackened soul, fortifies the fact, he forgave me. Where others would never have given me a chance, seen only what I did and not who I was, Urving cares... The fact he not only forgives me, but maintains a vigilant determination surrounding my safety speaks more than words ever will. Urving picked me up and the house shook slightly as he fell against the wall, cuddling me close. He repeated many loving and endearing phrases, but one stuck with more than the others... Several dozen times Urving said, “You aren’t dangerous”. Hearing something so positive, laden with such sorrow, convinced my mind to agree with his sincerity.

 

“Try to sleep Issac, do-don't think about what’s happened...” Urving tucked me in, my limp arms barely able to pull free of the blankets. “I’ll be right out in the kitchen. If you need anything, or wake up frightened, we wont be far apart.” Urving put a paw out, as if to handshake.

 

“Thank you... Thank you Urving...” I put my hand out to grab his paw, but he pressed our palms together and gripped my tiny palm whole.

 

“You’re safe kid. I swear...” Urving was fighting to not cry, he did a decent job. “I’ll be checking on you every minute, promise.”

 

“Thanks man... Get some sleep yourself, alright?” It felt appropriate to try and liven things, a futile effort.

 

“Th-thanks... I hope you can sleep Issac. Y-yo-you get some rest.” He grabbed his muzzle and turned away, whinning under his breath.

 

One more stare met my face, his golden eyes grayed with torment. A strained huff escaped him, before he wished me sweet dreams. With that, he was gone and darkness pressed in on me from all sides. Only the faint echo of Urving’s tears were available, echoing from the other room. I rolled over, subconsciously wanting to be closer to the safety his presence provided. Facing the wall, I could practically feel the reverberations of his lament, pounding against them, like  an emotional waterfall. I began crying just then, no effort or strain, tears simply started falling. This potent misery, Urving’s hushed sorrow, and my own whispy voice eventually led me to sleep. I was unfathomably exhausted after all of this. It was such a soothing feeling, finally silencing my voice and falling quiet, entering rests embrace. Safety, if I can ever call it that again...


© 2017 Thatonedawg


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Added on December 1, 2017
Last Updated on December 1, 2017
Tags: Bear, Burdens, Anthro, Novel, A, Story, Thank, You, For, Reading, Help, Me, Get, Better, Hope, Change, Friendship, bare burdens of life, love, loss, betrayal, heartbreak, aliens, tragedy


Author

Thatonedawg
Thatonedawg

Sacramento, CA



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I have been writing for a long time. My father was a writer and he always encouraged me to do so as well. Sadly he never read any of my work or even cared for that matter. I just need to know that som.. more..

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