The Human Outlands
Part VIII: Worry, worry, worry.
Although the next morning was normal — Well, Sage had hurt themselves but Allison told me they’d take him to a doctor so it was okay— it all changed when lunch arrived and Mr. Rook came to see us while we were eating to do what he had done in our previous class with him to our new friends. When it was finished, Jaeger even had blood coming out of his mouth!
So me and a few friends brought him to see a doctor, Caroline and Charlie included. As he saw the doctor, we waited in the other room. I found myself shaking, what if Jaeger was seriously hurt? You don’t bleed for nothing…
“Are you okay, Ahti?” Caroline asked, putting her hand on my shoulder, surprising me.
“Yes, but what about Jaeger, is he going to be okay? What if his arm is broken, is it going to heal, what if he doesn’t? I Jaeger going to leave us? I don’t want him to leave, I just met him and he seems nice. I don’t want to lose a friend…” I said, letting out a few whines at the idea of losing a brand new friend.
“Hey relax, little one.” She said, rubbing my head with her finger. I came closer to her and pressed against her as she gave me a hug. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious, beside I’m sure the doctor knows how to treat anything.”
“Really? You’re not just saying that for me, right?”
“I know Jaeger’s going to be fine. He’ll just need a day or two and he’ll be back to top shape.”
A day or two? That was way too fast for someone to heal! But Caroline looked confident, maybe humans were different? Jaeger came out not long after and he didn’t look too distressed…
After classes ended, we all went back home to relax. Since I was feeling well, I didn’t take a nap right away I had some time to have fun before that. I went to my room and looked around my thing until I found what I wanted; a still unopened box. With it in hand, I went downstairs. Finding Annabelle with Tyler, at their computer.
“Annabelle, do you want to play with me?”
“I’m sorry, I already promised Tyler I’d do this thing. Maybe later?”
“Okay.” I dragged my feet a little. I’d really wanted to show my favorite game to my best friend. But she wasn’t the only human friend I had!
After looking some, I found Rowan outside in the backyard, speaking with Yikaru in a corner, sitting on a bench hidden behind the bushes. I hadn’t talked to Yikaru a lot in the past few days, so I didn’t know her well but she seemed very shy, she was often alone and away from the others.
“Rowan!” I said coming up to them “Oh hello Yikaru!” I made sure to show her my teeth.
“Ahti?” Rowan said, looking at me strangely.
“I’ll talk to you later.” Yikaru mumbled before leaving us. My eyes followed her as she went back inside. Why did humans always leave so strangely when I was there?
“Is she your friend?” I asked.
“It’s complicated.” They said, exhaling a lot of air in one go. “So, what can I do for you?”
“I wanted to know if you wanted to play Sankinu with me?” I answered, showing them the box.
“It’s my favorite board game. I play it all the time with Kulaat and my zuzuk. Before I came here, I got a copy in English specially so I could play with my new human friends.”
“Sure, why not?” They said raising their shoulders. “But how do you play?”
“I’ll show you it’s very simple.”
We went inside where I quickly opened the box and set down the game field on the floor between Rowan and I along with the cards.
“We’re explorers who have to work together to reach the magical city of Sankinu. You chose a character which has its own deck of special cards to help the journey, but there’s a villain who tries to stop us, but we don’t know who until the game begin we also don’t know the terrain until then.”
“Who plays the villain?”
“It plays itself, all the cards tell you what to do on the villain’s turn.”
I kept explaining the rule and the different characters, and how the game always changed each time depending on what we had. Rowan seemed to struggle a bit at first but they understood the rules quickly enough. As we played, Charlie came out of her room holding the Nibbles in her arms. People went to see it but she told them to keep away.
“It’s the Nibbles!” I said waving at it as they passed by to sit on the couch. “But I don’t think it likes me, it keeps getting away.” I then whispered to Rowan.
“It’s probably just shy. It’s a prey animal, it’s afraid of things it doesn’t know.” Rowan said, putting a card into play. “Your turn.”
I played my turn but focused on the Nibbles, seeing it eat an apple along with Charlie.
“Do you think if I give the Nibbles an apple it would like me?”
“You probably shouldn’t feed it without Charlie’s approval. It might be bad.”
“You’re right.” I said, feeling sad.
I focused back on the game for a time until I saw that Charlie had come close —having left the Nibbles with Sanjay— and looked at our game. She had a cup filled with a light brown paste, which she dipped a spoon into before bringing it to her mouth.
“Want to join us next game?” I asked.
“Eh, sure.” She said.
“What are you eating?”
“I don’t know what that is. Is it good?”
“I like it.” She said with a shrug. “Do you want to try?”
I nodded and she sat down next to me, dipping the spoon into the cup and bringing the thing out. She turned the spoon toward me and I ate the pudding. It was amazing; sweet but also a little salty, with a rich taste and a creamy texture but it was also a little sticky.
“Oooh that’s good. Is there more?”
“Sure, want a cup?”
She got up and went to her room before coming back out, giving me a full cup with the paper lid still attached. She opened it and gave it to me along with a spoon. I couldn’t stop myself from wunning, it was that delicious!
After a fun evening of games and food without a nap, I lied down for a long night of sleep, my whole body exhausted from staying up for so long. Earth days are far too long for me.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a loud screeching sound woke me up, sending my hearts beating and my brain into alert mode. In the moonlight, I couldn’t see anything, Jaime was sleeping peacefully on her bed so that hadn’t been her. I looked around and outside to find the source of the noise but couldn’t. So I left my room, making sure to walk on my tippie-toes and looking around for danger.
In the upstair living room, I found Rowan curled up into a ball and lying on the floor in front of the television, which played some strange movie.
“Rowan?” I called out but they didn’t answer. “Are you okay?” Again they didn’t answer, making my hearts beat deeper. What if the noise had been them getting hurt?
I quietly approached touched them. Rowan jumped on all four, looking around until their eyes fell on me.
“Are you okay?”
They looked around for a moment.
“I must have fallen asleep.” They yawned. “What are you doing up?”
“There was a scary noise and it woke me up.”
“I’m sure it was nothing.
“I can’t sleep, I’m too scared. Can I sleep with you instead?”
They nodded toward the stairs and we went down and into the room they shared with Allison. They climbed into bed, taking most of it and I joined them. They quickly put their arms around me, their whole body curling to embrace me.
“Are you comfortable?”
“I feel safer with you.”
“I see. Goodnight.”