15: Vivid Encounters

on June 19, 2007 in 01: Welcome Weekend

 In Which Suzi Works On Her Language Skills

Amaranth and I parted ways shortly after we got to Harlowe.

A male half-ogre and a guy with furry goat legs–I don’t know if he was a satyr, or a faun… I can never remember what the difference is–propositioned her as we entered the first floor of the building from the nexus hallway.

Even after meeting Puddy, and after spending all day in the company of an incidentally naked woman, it still shocked me how bold they were about it.

They just walked up to her, looking past me as if I wasn’t even there. The half-ogre said, “Hey.” Just that. They were both very visibly aroused, the ogrish one’s already pretty tight jeans stretching to the breaking point, and… well… goats don’t even wear pants.

I stared a bit. I got about the same feeling from the sight as I had from picturing Puddy’s fist and Mariel’s, uh… body.

I suddenly felt very, very small.

Tiny, even… and fragile.

Very, very fragile.

Delicate, like a spun glass figurine.

The slightest touch could have shattered me.

Hey, I’d seen a guy’s thing before, okay?

Just… never in person, fully deployed like that.

Somehow, looking at images in a crystal ball didn’t give quite the same impact. It took me a few moments to process all of what I was seeing… and a moment later to go, “So, that’s what they mean when they say a guy’s ‘uncut’.” That, and there was a little slightly iridescent drop of sticky something on the tip of his… tip. Wasn’t that supposed to come later? No pun intended.

I was eighteen years old. I’d taken sex ed. I’d known how to get around the wall of flame on my school’s ethernet connection. How could I possibly know so little about all of this?

“Do you mind, Mack?” Amaranth said apologetically. “I’ve kind of got to take this.” And then, she actually put her hand around him… it… in public, even!, and gave it a squeeze. The little glistening droplet oozed a bit.

“Huh? Oh, okay,” I said, looking up at her… which meant I was also now looking at the goat boy’s face. He smirked and winked. I felt like everything down below was trying to squeeze itself shut. Human guys couldn’t possibly be built like that… could they? If so, I’d be dating only half-elves.

“You could… you could come, too?” Amaranth said. “There are two of them.”

Glancing over at the half-ogre was a mistake. I felt faint.

“Oh, well, maybe next time,” Amaranth said. I’ll give her this… she did seem to know how to interpret things when she’d rendered me incapable of speech. “I’m really sorry for leaving you like this, it’s just… it’s been all day, you know? I kind of need… well… um, I’ll see you around dinner time, okay?”

I nodded. Who was I to complain if she ran off? It was my fault if she was feeling unfulfilled. I watched her head across the first floor hallway towards the boys’–or men’s, as those were definitely men–stairwell. The bigger one had his arm around her neck, and she still had her hand on… well, on the other one.

They had both seemed so sleazy in their approach, but there was nothing dirty or tawdry in the way Amaranth responded. It was so natural, somehow. “I’ve got to take this,” she’d said… like she had a call on her hand mirror. I don’t mean to give the impression that she seemed bored with or resigned to it, either… because she didn’t. She just acted like it was the most natural thing in the world for her to go off with some guys. It amazed me.

Okay, so maybe for her, it was the most natural thing in the world.

But, still…

I made my way up to the fifth floor with images of the faun-satyr-whatever’s rock hard erection interweaving with the sight of Amaranth walking away from me. I had got the key into my door and opened it, when suddenly the door to room 416 opened behind me with so much noise and force that the images unseared themselves from my brain and I spun around to see what was happening.

Kai the nekoyokai cat girl stumbled backwards through the door, landing on her ass with her tail beneath her legs. She had her hands, which were swaddled in loose bandages, raised in front of her. She was trying to fend off Sooni, who was raining vicious blows down upon the cat girl. Even dressed in a floor-length silk dressing gown, Sooni still had her ivory-sheathed dirk on her sash.

Kai was sobbing hysterically, and stammering in that oddly musical language of theirs, while Sooni was yelling a stream of something that could only be insults. The door to the next room over opened, and the other cat girls Maliko and Suzi strolled out, looking down at Kai with a sort of bored amusement on their furry faces.

Just as I was wishing that somebody would do something, Kiersta came charging up the hall.

“What’s going on?” she yelled.

Sooni wheeled around to face her. As her head turned, I saw that she had cotton balls stuffed into her small, pointed nose… did she have a nosebleed? Had she been fighting? The look on her face was pure murder, but when she saw who it was that was approaching her eyes were suddenly very wide and bright, filled with a really convincing look of pity that hadn’t been there a moment before.

The R.A. was looking at Kai, though.

“Oh, Miss Kiersta… Kai has hurt herself, and I was trying to bandage her!” Sooni said. “But the bandages caused irritation, and she cried out.”

“If she’s hurt, she has to go to the temple or the student healing center,” Kiersta said. She sounded like she was almost hyperventilating. “It’s in the rules.”

“My nek… my friend will be just fine,” Sooni said. “It is a minor reaction to an alchemical preparation. She has had much worse before.”

Now protected from the wrath of her “friend”, Kai had curled up on the floor and was whimpering.

“If she’s in that much pain, I think she needs healing,” Kiersta insisted. I wondered how she could miss the welts and scratches on Kai’s arms, but I guess the whole spectacle was a lot to take in at once, especially for an R.A. dealing with a medical emergency the first full day back on duty. “I’ll take her.”

“There is more to tell,” Sooni said. “But it is personal, and I would not wish to cause embarrassment.” She raised one hand to her mouth and gave a little giggle. “If you will come into my room, please?”

Kiersta looked conflicted. I could imagine she wouldn’t want to show up at the healing center with an injured student so early in the year. I was pretty sure that, had I actually somehow found myself in her position, I would have jumped at a chance to pass on the responsibility for dealing with the problem.

So, even while I was silently railing at Kiersta not to be such a soft touch, I wasn’t surprised when she nodded.

“But, let’s talk in my room,” Kiersta said. Ah, the last refuge of the powerless: one trivial demand, easily fulfilled. I knew that tune very well.

“Yes. One moment, please,” Sooni said. She ducked back into her room, stepping out of the line of sight of the door. I wanted to look inside and see what she was doing, but the other two nekos glared at me and I shrank back. She came back out. The cotton balls were gone. It looked like she might have had her hand clutched around something small, but I couldn’t be sure.

I watched them head down the hall to the stairs, shaking my head. I had no idea what Sooni had been doing that had injured Kai’s hands (though I had little doubt it had been her fault), and even less idea what Sooni was going to say to Kiersta to change her mind, though I had little doubt that she would accomplish just that.

Girls like Sooni always got their way.

Meanwhile, Suzi and Maliko had picked up the cowering Kai and were carrying her into their room. Suzi looked up and saw me standing there, watching the events unfold.

“Fuck… you… pinkskin!” she said, and they both giggled obnoxiously. It sounded very much as though she’d memorized the insult phonetically. They got Kai inside and closed the door.

Sooni came back moments later, storming down the hall with a resolutely furious expression. She took the time to close and lock her own door before joining the cats in theirs. The door slammed and was locked behind her.

I had just turned to finally go into my own room when I heard a sound like a heavy branch cracking, overlaid with a wild, cat-like scream of pain. I jumped, and had barely recovered my nerves when it happened again.

It sounded like Kai was being beaten or whipped… hard enough for the blows to be audible through the door and across the hall. I winced with every one. It was a sick sound, and it gave me a sick feeling. I knew there had to be people in at least some of the other rooms. I knew they had to be able to hear it. Why didn’t somebody come out and do something? Why didn’t somebody go get Kiersta to intervene? As I was thinking these things, though, I was also moving. Almost unconsciously, almost against my own will, I was moving. One step at a time… one step for every thud and yelp… I was moving towards the door to room 414.

I reached the closed door… and didn’t have to find out exactly what I would have done when the next blow sounded, because it never came. The abrupt stop caught me so much by surprise that I actually lurched forward at the moment when the next beat should have occurred. While I wondered if they had really finished, the door in front of me opened just a crack, and into that crack stepped Sooni.

“Yes, how can I help you?” she asked in a falsely high sing-song voice, smiling down at me… why, oh why, did I have to be so short that nearly everybody could do this to me?

“I… uh…” I stammered. I don’t know what I would have done if she’d just kept wailing on Kai, or whatever she’d been doing, but it definitely would have been something. Standing face to face with her, with her beaming confidently down at me, I felt absolutely paralyzed.

“You are the fat, loud girl’s girlfriend,” she said.

“Puddy’s not fat!” I said angrily. Then, my brain caught up with the rest of her sentence, and I added, “And I’m not her girlfriend.”

“You are running for the senate position,” she said smoothly. She didn’t ask a question, so I didn’t say anything. She added, “Do you think you will win? Do you think this floor would vote for you?”

“I don’t know,” I said. It was the truth.

I wanted to yell at her to get out of the way. I wanted to turn and get Kiersta, drag her back here and make her see what was going on.

I just stood there, letting Sooni’s shiny black eyes bore into me. Her dark bronze skin gleamed in a way that reminded me uncomfortably of the moist sheen of the goat guy’s parts. I didn’t look away. Well, I didn’t quite meet her eyes, but I didn’t look at the floor, either.

“I think you should drop out, pinkskin,” Sooni said, finally.

“Out of the race?”

“Out of this school,” she said. “They told me there are no single rooms to be had at any price, because there are too many girls here. I see now that they were right: there is exactly one too many. One who doesn’t belong. You leave, and clumsy Kai can take your spot. If you stay where you are, then she stays where she is, and that… might not be the best thing for her. I fear she might not last the semester, if she keeps having these… reactions.”

“You’re actually telling me that if I don’t drop out and free up a space, you’re going to, what… hurt Kai some more?” I asked, though I knew that was exactly what she was saying… I just couldn’t quite believe that she was saying it. “Beat her to death?”

She smiled her canine smile and gave a little shrug.

“I might… but I might not,” she said. She giggled. “You will just have to wait and see.”

She stepped backwards and closed the door before I could really think of a response. I stood there in front of the closed door, waiting for the sounds of brutal punishment to resume. Instead, loud music came on. It wasn’t so loud that they could have been hurting somebody inside and not have it audible where I was standing. It was just loud enough to let me know that they knew I was standing there and didn’t care. I wasn’t worth noticing.

I felt like somebody had sucked out all my insides. If I’d stomped up to challenge Sooni with all the determination of an automaton, I stumbled back to my own room like a marionette whose strings were being cut one after another. The door was already ajar, so I just fell through it. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take my key out of the lock, much less close it behind me.

I just made it to my bed, where I collapsed… crying again… sobbing out all my impotent anger into my pillow.

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8 Responses to “15: Vivid Encounters”

  1. Moody Mudiaga says:

    People don’t change. At least that’s what I believe. And because of Mack I can say QED! Great story, by the way.

    Current score: 0
    • Krey says:

      Of course they do! It just doesn’t happen over night, or just because you change something external like where you live. It takes time, effort, and experience.

      Don’t worry though, I had to move to Asia for 3 years to figure that one out!

      Current score: 0
  2. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    Wow, I’d forgotten just how nasty Sooni was.

    Current score: 0
  3. earfluffy says:

    And to think I thought I hated Puddy.

    Current score: 0
  4. nope says:

    This was probably intended to make me hate the mean girl, but it’s making me hate the main character.

    Current score: 3
  5. T says:

    She didn’t do anything. I’m disgusted… with both characters.

    Current score: 1
  6. AliceTheGorgon says:

    Ditto the previous two comments. Mackenzie is the most spineless, cowardly, self-loathing demon I’ve ever seen.

    The RA is a ridiculous piece of work too, but at least she has the excuse of not having a demonic side.

    Current score: 0
  7. JWHealer says:

    I don’t know if you have ever encountered an abuser in person before, and i don’t know what kind of person you are but the amount of person power required to stand up and say something is massive, I would go so far as to say her inability to say something makes her wonderfully human and far more interesting than if she didnt dislike herself and have low confidence.

    Current score: 3