Sasha Vasiliev, Vucari
The next morning, I woke up feeling Karee’s gentle breath on my neck, her powerful armored arms wrapped around my torso. It didn’t take long for my heart to start beating out of my chest.
“Karee?” I whispered.
She didn’t answer and I whispered her name again.
She stirred a little a moment later and I saw her eyes open. She yawned, giving me a close up view of Tzari denture. In addition to the tusks protruding from their mouth, they had twice the amount canines humans had and looked like she could tear flesh straight from a carcass. Having studied Tzaries I knew their ancestors and closest living relative species were a mix between a boar and an armadillo.
“Gar?” She mumbled and she shook her head. “English…” She then muttered to herself. “Yes?”
“You can let me go now.”
She removed her arms from around my body and I quickly got up.
“Thank you…” I answered, still feeling a little flustered.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, I’m just surprised you didn’t wake me.”
“You were very tired. I do not know earth culture, but for Tzari it is normal for friends to share bed.”
“You think of me as your friend?”
“Why would I not?” She said, with a frown.
“No reason, I guess I’m just a little surprised. You were the first alien I’ve ever met, I never really thought I’d be friend with one.”
“You are my first human friend.” She confessed. “I have met many humans. But many not be good, call me Cerdo espacio or Cara ósea.” She let out a low growl at the memory. “Even not bad ones, not good. Fear Tzari, see us different from humans; as interesting thing but not person. But you are different from them.”
“I guess I just try to judge people for who they are rather than what they are.” I said with a shrug. “And I know what it’s like to be different…” I bit my lip at the memories.
“You look sad.” She said, putting an armored finger on my chin and raising my head ever so slightly. “Is that my fault?”
“No, just bad memories.” I sighed. “Many people on earth don’t like Rashkru like me, think we are sick and wrong.”
She let out a snarl in answer, exposing her rather sharp teeth. “That is why I stay away from humans; I do not mean to hurt you, but they are primitive.”
“It’s alright, I kind of agree with you. We have a long way to go.”
She put her arms around me and hugged me. Evidently that was a gesture both our species shared. Once she let go of me we prepared ourselves for our second day of school, which thankfully went smoothly, even if I had to help Karee understand some of the more complicated ideas of ethics class. As soon as we all arrived back at the house, Abigail called a meeting in the living room.
“Alright, I thought we should organize tasks around here.” She proposed.
We all agreed and she got a white board and placed it so we could view it. She quickly outlined all the things that needed done in terms of cleaning and people started negotiation what they were okay to do and what they preferred not to. I took a few dishes chore, trading away vacuum and lawn mower duties. I couldn’t stand the noise.
“As much as I like cooking, I think we should do a rotation because cooking for so many people is way too much.” Abigail then said, people once more agreeing. “Since there’s fourteen of us and seven days a week, we should pair up and claim a day. How does that sound?”
“Uh… There’s sixteen of us.” Harley pointed out.
“Fredrika and Ruth don’t eat our food. It wouldn’t be fair to make them cook for us.”
I looked at the two of them. Ruth’s large lizard like form was apparently vegetarian, eating mostly raw greens, fruits and roots, while Fredrika with her more humanoid but very catlike body was the opposite; being an obligate carnivore that could only stand minimally cooked meat.
“What about Kylie?”
My eyes turned to her. Unlike Ruth and Fredrika who were mutant paramorphs, Kylie wasn’t human to begin with, being Avian. Avians had been the result of a less than ethical american experiment to create chimeric bodies and transplant the consciousness of humans.
“She’s Avian, they can eat just about anything.” I explained, drawing all eyes on me. “I studied them before…” I sheepishly added.
Explanations over, we all got into teams. Karee immediately found me.
“Do you want to be cooking mates?” She asked.
“Sure, although I’m not too great, I’m warning you.”
“And I am from other world.”
“Another world.” I corrected her, making her smile.
By the luck of the draw, it was our turn to cook the next day. After class we made a quick detour to the library, Karee wanting to get Tzari books to help me learn her language, having become dedicated for the task. As I looked around for a specific book, she browsed the next aisles for stuff. After a solid ten minutes and a half dozen search in the section, I didn’t find it. Someone had checked it out or misplaced it. So I went back to Karee’s side.
“The book isn’t here Karee, someone else must have gotten it out already. I’ll need to ask the librarian if there’s an electronic copy so—” I began speaking but as I turned the corner I found Karee with a black guy, looking at her a little weirdly. “Hi, are you new here too?”
“Yeah, my name’s Allen.”
“I’m Sasha.” I said with a smile and they looked me a little weirdly, I could imagine the gears in his head wondering if I was a lesbian or something. “First time meeting a Tzari?”
“Y-yeah.” He answered sheepishly.
“That’s the beauty of Ravenhold. Everyone’s welcome regardless of species, sex, gender and everything so long as they want to help people.” I checked my phone and saw the time. “We better go back if we don’t want Harley to be all melodramatic about dinner being late like last night.”
“I hope you settle well.” Karee declared as we left the library, bookless.
We went back to the house and into the kitchen where I checked the state of the pantry. Cooking wasn’t exactly my forte. My mum and dad were both restaurant owners and operated a Mongolian-Russian fusion kitchen but their passion hadn’t passed down to me. But I could handle myself if I had to.
“So I was wondering about something.” I began, drawing Karee’s attention as she looked through the fridge, seeming as if she was lost. “What do Tzaries eat? I mean, I’ve seen you eat our food, but what is your food like at home?”
“It is different, but not very so… Different part, but similar foods. Does that explain?”
“We have similar dishes but different ingredients?”
“Yes. But Tzari ingredients. But not eggs, eggs not common on Resh.” She said with a smile. “Breakfast is heavy meal, often stew cooked in evening and through the night for strength for the day. The middle of day meal is light and cold, Resh is very warm then; bread, fruits and…” She picked a piece of bread made a spreading motion.
“And spreads.” She confirmed. “Late day meal is also light, very quick before work continue. Evening meal is largest and longest, many dishes so family can spend time together. Resh has long days, thirty earth hours.”
I nodded and kept asking her about Tzari meals, thinking about how we could adapt them in the future. In the meantime, I opted to prepare Budaatai Khuurga, a mongolian rice dish my father would often make and taught Karee how to slice earth vegetables. Although she wasn’t familiar with the produce, she seemed to know the cooking technique well. About forty minutes later, we found ourself with a completed dish to serve.
So, are you hungry Karee? I feel like I could eat a buffalo.” I said once everyone else had taken their bowl. I filled two bowls for us and was about to join the others at the table when she spoke.
“No, wait.” She put down her bowl.
“Okay?” I blinked but put mine down too.
“Shekaree.” She said putting a hand on her chest. “You call me Shekaree now.”