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Flight to Nowhere
|Tales from the Blind Pig story universe|
How am I going to do this? How am I supposed to explain this? I mean, I don’t look a thing like my passport photo. The only time I’ve even been through customs at an airport was a scant six days ago when I was entering Japan. Oh, and I actually looked like myself; my old self anyway.
Everyone ahead of me seems to be getting through pretty easily; of course they’re all US citizens, like me. I’m far back in the line thanks to being in the back of the plane. They are definitely looking at the photos; this certainly doesn’t bode well for me. Maybe they’ll be so bored by they time I get up there they won’t care. They must have some kind of procedure for dealing with this sort of thing, this can’t be the first time it happened. Can it?
I’m so nervous, I can’t help myself. I feel like running away; that’s what the voice in the back of my head is telling me. I know I can’t though; it would only get me into more trouble. I can only figure this is part of being a SCAB though. My ears are flicking around like mad, the new tail on my back is lifting up a bit, and I'm trying to fight it. I keep trying to bite my nails, but you can’t really do that when you have hooves tipping your fingers. I try to breathe deeply to calm my nerves: in through your nose, out through your mouth. Damn it, this isn’t helping. All it’s doing is forcing more scents into my nose and my brain can’t handle it. The unconscious nose licks don’t help either, it just brings more out. I’m trying to identify all the scents, there are so many I don’t know or are familiar but I just can’t place.
I have no idea how long I’ve been waiting here, suddenly my ears flick forward to the sound of a loud buzzer. My head flicks over toward it. It’s just the baggage carrousel starting up, but the noise sends my heart racing and tail rising. God, how am I supposed to calm myself down? I guess I’ll learn, but not in the short time I have before I have to deal with immigration. Time is quickly slipping away for me as I'm next, taking my place on the red stripe of carpet showing where to stop. I look around nervously, still trying to bite my nails; I’m the last one in line. Even some of the immigration agents have left. My heart pounds in my chest, legs tense. I want to run, it would relieve the tension in my legs, I know it, but there’s an air of unfamiliarly too. I don’t know this place, where would I even go?
The immigration official looks up after letting the person ahead of me go. I gulp, trying to swallow my heart and return it to where it’s supposed to be, which is still pretty close to where it was just a few hours ago. He gives me a bit of a sneer and waves me up. “Next.”
I step up, handing my passport over, my strangely shaped hand shaking. He takes it from me swiftly, pulling it away and flipping the tiny book open and scanning it into the computer. I look at the floor, not knowing what to do. I want to get out of here, get this over with and get home. I can see the people grabbing their luggage to my left, waiting around for it to come down, my ears flick at the occasional announcement that comes over the PA. It feels like forever.
“Mr. Minter, if that is your name,” his tone of voice reveals the sneer on his face before I look up and see it for myself. I’m shaking hard. “This picture doesn’t match your appearance, care to explain that.”
I swallow hard, trying to get my heart back down as I try to figure out what to say. “Well, when I was in Japan I got sick. I changed on the plane.”
“Why is it that I don’t believe you? Care to explain to me exactly how you got this passport?”
“Well, I was carrying it with me when I went to Japan and I…well, I couldn’t really get a new one on the plane.” I feel different now, there’s some other hormones flooding my system. I rest my hands on the counter, this is a different feeling. I’m not afraid anymore, I’m mad.
He leans forward, looking right into my eyes. “You can certainly do a fine American accent, especially for a SCAB, but there is no way I’m letting you into this country. You’ve obviously stolen this passport or bought it from someone. If you try to explain your way out of this, go ahead, but I’m going to give you the chance to admit to it and go peacefully.”
I tense up, not wanting to run. I snort, pawing at the floor with a hoof. I have antlers and this guy seems to want a face full of them. “Listen man, I changed on the plane, why else would I be wearing clothes that don’t fit me and have a suit case full of more clothes that don’t fit me? Why would I go through a boarder crossing in an airport with a passport that doesn’t match my face unless I had no other choice? This day has been long and hard enough already, please, just let me get home and get things sorted out, okay?”
He stands up, getting in my face. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to calm down, or I will call security over.” He leans in closer, as if I can’t hear him, “All you SCABs are the same, scum, and you’re just trying to get into the US from whatever hell hole you crawled out of so they won’t kill you there. Trust me buddy, it’s only a matter of time before your kind gets locked up here too. Hell, I’d be proud to have that freaky head of yours hanging on my wall as a trophy.”
I can feel my neck throbbing. I know I can take him, he’s smaller than me and he has no antlers to speak of. At the same time, I’m doing my best to keep myself from lunging forward at him. This is crazy: I need to control myself, I’m not an animal, or am I?
“Is there a problem here?” An unfamiliar voice breaks the tension before I can do anything stupid. I have no idea how I didn’t manage to see someone coming. The guy who has been hassling me seems to sigh or shudder, he must know this person. We both look over and see another SCAB. He’s a very human looking feline of some description. Then it strikes me that he’s wearing the same uniform as my tormentor.
“What is it…sir?” He’s definitely not pleased by this turn of events.
“I’d suggest you let this young man through before you create more problems than you can fix.”
“Don’t worry, I have it under control.”
“It doesn’t look or sound like you do.”
“This fre--traveler here is trying to get into the US with a stolen passport.”
“How do you know it’s stolen?”
“Well, for starters, the picture is different than how he looks. He tried to give me some BS about getting sick and changing to that on the plane.”
I manage to nod as the irate immigration officer glares at me. My brain is slowly returning to my control as the flood of hormones subsides. I can’t help but think that this guy was only treating me badly because I’m a SCAB. I quickly realize just how obvious that was.
“How do you know he’s lying?”
“Why should I believe him?”
“Well, if you would ask someone else instead of assume that he was lying, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we? You also might want to think twice about making someone angry who’s been an animal, with antlers and -- at this time of year -- raging hormones, for all of four hours. I only stepped in because he looked like he was about ready to kill you.” The SCAB supervisor is obviously onto this guy. He must have been working one of the other lines.
My tormentor looks at me again after hearing this. I’m a bit taken aback by it too. I can only imagine what it looked liked, from the outside. I really was close to losing control. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had.
“So you’re saying you know something that I don’t know?”
“I probably know a lot of things you don’t know. And I already heard from some of the passengers and flight crew what happened to him. I guess it’s a good idea I was keeping an eye on him.”
The highly frustrated boarder agent mumbles something incomprehensible as he gives in, going through the standard lines of questioning, and finally handing my passport back over to me. His desire to hold himself above us must have given into his sense of self preservation, especially as far as his job was concerned. For some reason, I have a feeling this incident will be used to further fan the flames of hatred toward SCABs, after being distorted and corrupted for maximum effect. I awkwardly take the small booklet back and walk away.
My rescuer helps me with my carry-ons, putting them on a luggage cart for me as he leads me over to the carousels.
“See your bags?”
I watch the bags go around on the slanted conveyors. “Here it is.” I reach and clumsily grab the handle on my large bag. Once I get a grip on it, I easily lift it up and onto the cart. As I let go of the handle and look down at my hand, something strikes me, it hadn’t really sunken in yet. I’m overwhelmed again, but this time in my own thought and emotion, the animal subsided enough to finally let it back through. My knees weaken and I slump against the side of the carousel. Immediately my elbows go on my knees and my muzzle in my hands. I hadn’t had time to think before, just react. On the plane, at immigration, they all seemed like automatic responses, a blur of actions, now I’m forced to think, but I don’t want to.
I can’t help but cry in the nearly deserted baggage claim area. Everyone else has moved on through customs and on to other flights or their car. I’m here, left to ponder what has just happened, and what will happen. How am I supposed to deal with this?
My savior crouches next to me, patting my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be okay. Trust me, I know.”
I sniffle, loudly, and look up at him through my bleary eyes. “I hope so. I just…don’t know what to do or what to think. I don’t even know if I was thinking.”
“There are a lot of things you’re going to have to deal with, mostly internal, but you will be fine. And keep in mind, it could be worse.”
I wipe my eyes; their new locations are quickly becoming familiar to me. “You’re right; I just want to get out of here.” He nods and takes my hand, helping me back up to my feet or hooves or whatever they are now.
“I need to get back to work,” he tells me as he takes out a business card and writes something on it. “I’m Dave, by the way.” We shake hands as he hands me the card, which I immediately look over. It’s for a bar in the metro area, The Wolf Head Saloon. I’m not sure how I feel about wolf being in the name of the place.
“Nice to meet you, Adam. If you need anything, don’t be afraid to call. That place, it’s a good hang out for SCABs, feel free to stop by sometime. And don’t worry about the wolves, most of them don’t bite. Besides, you could probably use a drink or three after what’s happened to you.” He grins, showing off his rather long canines. I just kind of stare blankly back as he pats my shoulder and heads back to immigration office.
I just stand there a second, reflecting on what just happened. I really do want to go home, that means a trip through customs and back to my car. Customs isn’t nearly as eventful. They simply ask about declarations and what not, I’ve crossed borders enough to know how to get through, at least for things that don’t require ID.
As I walk out through the doors and into the international arrivals area, one more benefit of being the last one through becomes apparent to me, there’s hardly anyone in the waiting area. A quick look at my watch tells me it’s taken me nearly two and a half hours to get this far; thank god I don’t live that far away. I still need to ride back to the parking lot. It’s not as if the airport doesn’t have enough parking, my company would just rather we not spend a small fortune on keeping a car at the airport, which means off site lots.
But first, I really need to find a restroom. The finding part is easy because I definitely recognize those smells; it’s the using that proves to be the difficult aspect. It’s pretty obvious that certain parts of me are built more for an animal that’s got four legs, not two. I do manage, and feel a lot better for it. This is definitely something that’s going to take some getting used to.
The small bus back to the lot is already half full of TSA officers talking amongst themselves. They seem to barely notice me, too engaged in their own conversation or simply blind to anything different. It’s a relief to think about not being stared at, I can only imagine how much that’s going to be happening to me in the near future. I’m trying my best not to think about it.
The small bus bounces as it takes us back to the lot. It’s really hot, which seems odd to me, because there isn’t much noise from the heater. Then I remember my fur. That and the combination of the nervousness that just isn’t going away seem to be boiling me in my own skin. Familiar sights pass by outside the tinted windows; I turn to concentrating on them. Everything seems the same, but different all at the same time. The world is a different place when you don’t have to view it in pan and scan.
Eventually I’m let off by my car. The driver carries my bag out for me. This is nothing new; they do it all the time. I load up my car and take stock of my current situation. My pants are really starting to get uncomfortable; they simply don’t fit over my body properly, not to mention there’s not a spot for my tail. Heh, a tail, that’s an odd concept to me as I think about it. I wonder how I managed not to crush it when sitting on the bus. I’m not exactly sure how driving is going to work. I still know how to drive; I’m just not sure if I can fit into my car.
I reach around the handle on the driver’s door and give it a tug. Thankfully, the smart lock system is still doing its job, unaffected by my new body. Upon opening the door, I realize just how close the jerk parked next to me; I can barely open the door enough to get through. In earnest I snake my way in, but something holds me back as I’m almost through. Shit, antlers…I forgot about those. I try to turn my head, being careful not to scratch my car, but they’re too big to fit through the opening. It’s worse getting back out, with my lack of understanding of how my legs bend now.
After a quick inspection of the scene I decide the passenger side of the car will give me enough room, or so I hope. The door can swing open far more, but I gauge the opening with my antlers before I make another attempt at this. Good, plenty of room. Going in head first seems like a better a solution to this, less having to think about getting my rack in the door. Unfortunately, getting my butt in the seat isn’t exactly easy either, as I take up a good amount more space vertically now. Eventually, I do fit myself in, but that leads to the next important step, getting into the driver’s seat.
I can’t help but think this is like one of those cheap little puzzles. Somehow, they managed to get two pieces of bent wire together into some impossible form, yet they can be taken apart and put back together, you just need to know the trick. I was never very good at those. The simplest solution seems to be legs first. This is where having a rear wheel drive car with a generously sized center console hurts. I lay back across the passenger seat, my antlers now sticking out of the door opening as I slide across the arm rest storage bin. I wince as my tail catches against it, dragging along the textured rubber.
Eventually, I get my butt in the seat, being careful to close the passenger door as I go. Unfortunately, I can’t really sit up straight. Mostly, I just don’t want to damage the headliner. I recline the seat some so I don’t have to lean over the console. It’s not exactly comfortable, but it’ll do. I’m certainly glad I’m not a moose. The car roars to life from its week of dormancy with a press of the start button and I head on my way, paying for the parking with cash to avoid any further issues with ID and because I’m not sure I could sign my name.
Driving makes me feel normal, it helps me shut out what just happened. That and the blaring music, which isn’t really much above where I used to keep the volume. The side mirrors seem a bit strange to me, I can clearly see the reflections in them as well as the actual scene.
At least the drive has been a nonevent, familiar roads with familiar sights and familiar drivers. I’m relieved when I see my house and I pull into the driveway. I hope my cats are okay, a friend’s been watching them, but I can only imagine what they’ll think when they see me. I consider leaving my bags in the car, but that just means I’ll have to get them later, so they come along.
The upper part of the screen door wobbles as I open it up; I still need to replace the stupid thing. I reach into my pocket and fumble around with my keys. The small pieces of cut metal easily slip off my hoof-tipped digits as I sort through them in search of the correct one. I eventually find it and carefully grab it, managing to get the door unlocked and opened.
The waft of air that comes out the door carries familiar smells with it. I don’t know how, but something in my head knows it's home. Kirin and Sapporo are already waiting in their usual spots; they obviously heard me unlocking the door.
“Hey guys, miss me?” Oddly, they don’t seem too thrown off by my new look as I haul my luggage into the house and close the door. They act just like they always do when I get home from a trip, starved for attention. I crouch down, a bit unsteadily on the laminate floors, and give Sappy a good ear rubbing. He starts purring loudly, happy to have his human, or close enough to it, back. Kirin seems a bit more apprehensive, though. She’s always far more cautious, her feline brain doesn’t seem to quite be able to comprehend what’s going on. Eventually, she finds something fun to play with, the fuzzy tail hanging from my back side.
“Ack! Knock it off, Kiri!” She doesn’t seem to care too much; I just shrug and try swishing my tail a bit for her. Oddly, it seems to work pretty well, it’s good to know I have some control over it, and she definitely appreciates it. Looks like daddy brought home a new toy. Fortunately, Sappy is too distracted to join in the fun.
After a good session of giving the cats attention, I figure it’s time to get out of these clothes. Before heading to my bedroom, I grab a beer out of the refrigerator, which smells incredibly strange to me, the mix of all the smells is a bit over powering and it definitely needs to be cleaned out. I have to grab the bottle a bit tightly so it doesn’t slide out of my hand, hooves and fur don’t make for a lot of grip. Though the cap is twist off, I grab the magnetic bottle opener off the refrigerator door and pop the top off, resulting in a satisfying hiss as the carbon dioxide escapes. The smell is far more intense than I realized it would be, further enhanced by a lick of my nose. It’s a strange feeling as my brain works to unscramble the complex mix of scents. I guess I would make a really good wine tester now.
I take a sip, puckering my thick lips around the top of the bottle and head back to my bedroom. I glance back into the bathroom as I pass, catching my reflection in the mirror. At first, something yells out “rival” in my brain before the more human side squashes that idea down.
I pull off my pants and underwear first; ignoring the mirror attached to my dresser. Those have been bothering me the most and I don’t look forward to unbuttoning my shirt. My shoes and socks are long gone, torn to shreds as I changed on the plane. I get the first real look at my fur covered, ungulate legs. It’s a bit disconcerting, they’re attached to me, but they don’t really seem like they’re my legs. After all, my legs are supposed to be pale and hairy, not furry and brown. It feels nice to sit on something without a back as I rest on my bed, tail lying out behind me.
My attention then turns toward my shirt, six buttons, plus two on the cuffs. I’m really dreading this. Clumsily, I try for the bottom button. I have to cock my head so I can get a better look at it; my new muzzle blocks most of my forward vision. My hands already, sort of, know what to do, but it’s not working exactly like it used to, especially since they’re missing a digit. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be. Maybe buttoning up a shirt will go the same way, but I doubt it as I make quick work of getting the shirt off. I look down over the thick white fur covering my chest and belly. I can’t help but touch it, I can’t really feel the thick fur through my fingers. What I can feel is the oddly good sensation of having the fur on my body rubbed.
Suddenly, I hear something loud; my ears flick over, followed by my head and I find myself looking at my pants. It takes me a second to beat back the part of me that wants to run, it’s almost like I’m telling myself it’s nothing. Though, I already know what it is. My mom must be calling me, since I haven’t called her yet. There’s that wanting to run feeling coming back and actually seems like a good idea.
Clumsily, I reach for the phone vibrating away in my pants. The screen on the outside confirms my suspicions as I open it up.
“Hello.” My hand’s already shaking.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“I saw that.” I say that every time I answer the phone but that’s never sunken in.
“I was just wondering why you hadn’t called yet.”
“Umm…well, something kind of came up and I was a bit distracted.” I glance around the room, but my ears are fixed on the phone. There’s a sense of danger in me and it knows where it’s coming from. However, another lick of my nose reveals nothing more about the threat.
“How was the flight back?”
I pause for a second, trying to come up with a good way to formulate this. “Well, it was okay until the last couple of hours. I got sick while I was over there.”
“I was going to say, your voice sounds kind of off. Did you throw up on the plane or something?”
“Umm…no.” My heart’s racing and my hands shake as I know I can’t avoid saying something, but I have no clue how to say it. My tail is half raised as a sign of caution, moving beyond my control. I pause, chewing on my finger, more afraid of how my parents are going to take this than anything.
“Well, then what is it?” She’s a bit annoyed as I dodge her questions.
I just close my eyes and blurt it out: “I’m a deer.”
I spend the next half an hour or so describing the events of the last few hours and exactly what it is I am now. It’s not very pleasant for me and something tells me that I’m going to have to relive it many more times. She doesn’t seem to be taking the news too badly; I can only guess how my father will react. His view on SCABs has never been as obvious to me as my mom’s seemingly live and let live attitude. At least the cats come to join me and lend me a bit of support.
“Well, what about work?”
“What about it?”
“Aren’t you worried they’ll fire you or something?”
“Not really. It’s not like they can’t fire me for becoming a SCAB. I’m going to try and get Monday off so I can get a new driver’s license and stuff.”
“Well, alright. Do you want us to come up there tomorrow?”
“I don’t know; I kind of want to sort some things out first.” Rubbing Sappy’s belly is a nice distraction from having to think much about this.
“Alright, I think your father has to work tomorrow anyway.”
“Okay.” I hope this doesn’t go on much longer.
“Well, is there anything else?”
“Not really, I’m pretty tired though.”
“Fine, then I guess I’ll let you go.”
I snap the phone shut as she’s finishing and toss it to my side on the bed as I lay back, staring at the ceiling. My eyes drift shut from exhaustion, it’s night time in Japan now anyway, and I have no clue how long I’ve been awake. Soon enough I’m asleep.
I can feel something warm and heavy on my chest, another warm spot against my leg as I slowly return to consciousness. I hold my eyes closed for a bit, thinking to myself that it all was just a dream, but a numb sensation on my rear tells me otherwise. It can only be one thing, the tail I fell asleep on several hours ago.
As I lift my head, the cats begin their overdrawn process of waking up, stretching and pawing at me and my bed. I can see them well, despite the fact that the lights are off in the room and it seems to be nighttime. Once I’m allowed to sit up, I pull my limp tail from under me; it’s already starting to get the pins and needles sensation as it’s freed. My head is another issue; I must have sat up too quickly because I feel kind of dizzy.
I slide off the bed, hooves clicking against the flooring. The lack of friction causes me to slip a little, but I catch myself. It’s hard to think about compensating for that, especially since I’m still groggy from my nap.
I make my way to my study, picking up my discarded clothing as I go, pulling out my wallet and keys, along with a business card I had almost forgotten about. I boot up my computer and plop down in the chair, flicking my tail out of the way so I don’t crush it, again. The Wolf Head Saloon, the address is actually not far from my house. I sure could use a drink, or ten, but then again, I hate going out to bars and paying so much for alcohol.
I jump out of my chair and practically fall on my face as the start up sound blares over the computer’s speaks. Too often I forget to turn them down after I’m done listening to music. There goes my heart racing again. “Damn it, this is really starting to get annoying." I regain my composure and sit back in the chair, a bit embarrassed for myself.
I check my email and some other things. Fortunately, I’d been keeping up with things while I was in Japan, so there’s not much to look through. I hesitate, thinking about logging into any instant messaging services, but I don’t. This needs to settle in more before I want to talk to any of my friends about it. That and I’m not too confident in typing with hooves. The cats take their turns fighting over my lap and playing bat at the tail as I scan through web pages. I do keep finding myself turning my head to be able to see the whole screen, with my muzzle always in the way.
It’s nine o’clock; I don’t know where the time went. I look up the bar’s address, it’s right where I thought it was. It’s funny how you can go past some place and never realize just what it is. It always just looked like any other bar to me.
I get up and head back to my bedroom, if I’m going, I certainly can’t go nude. Well, I could, sort of, I just don’t want to. It just doesn’t seem right to. Instead, I head to the basement to grab the only pair of sharp scissors I have. My shorts are going to need a bit of modifying before I can wear them comfortably.
My hooves easily grip on the carpeted stairs, letting me feel very sure footed. Near the bottom, I hear a cracking sound and find my head won’t go any further forward and I’m soon greeted by a plume of white powder in my face. Right, antlers, forgot about those. I duck my head and move on, making sure to be extra careful, I hope the damage to the drywall isn’t too bad.
Back in my bedroom I assess the situation, trying to figure out just where that tail comes out and where the hole needs to go in the jean shorts. I think both back pockets are going to be sacrificed, not that I ever used them anyway. At least the shorts fit okay over my hips and rump and I don’t have to worry about the special needs of ungulate legs when it comes to pants. I slip my fingers into the scissors and cut the back open, being careful not to injure myself. It’s quite difficult to control them with my thicker fingers not quite fitting into the scissors right. After several times coming on and off I manage to get the fit right. They aren’t pretty, but they work.
A shirt is another matter. No t-shirts or polo shirts for me anymore, except maybe after I drop my antlers. Good thing I have a lot of camp and bowling shirts. I grab one of my favorites from the closet and proceed to unbutton it, all the way. Normally, I would have just pulled it on, over my head. Add this one to the list of little inconveniences. It fits over my body alright, even when I pull it closed. I make a mental note: “need new pants, shirts are okay.”
My gaze passes down the front of the shirt; I angle my head to get a better view of the daunting task ahead of me. Buttons, six of them mocking my new found lack of dexterity. Like before, I start at the bottom and work my way up. But unlike before, things aren’t going so well. It takes me a few minutes and a bit of cursing to get the first one done. This is certainly not going to be easy, but maybe I’ll get better at it. As I work my way up, I wonder how hard it would be to replace the buttons with Velcro. The top button is almost as hard as the first, mostly because I can’t get a good view of what I’m doing. A quick glance at the clock tells me it’s been almost an hour since I started working on my shorts. I really don’t want to think what percentage of that time was spent on buttoning my shirt.
I load up my pockets and head for the door. I stop a second by the bathroom. I should probably brush my teeth. It’s one of those things that’s just ingrained in you as one of conventions of society and the usual daily routine. That and a healthy dose of anal retentiveness lead me in.
The usual start up procedure goes on, basically, as it always has. I’m trying to ignore my own reflection, like I did in the bedroom. There’s part of me that just doesn’t want to confront what happened, but I think there’s also something in there that doesn’t want to confront the other buck. I pause, toothbrush at the ready, glass of water filled, standing by to perform their intended tasks. But instead, I stare right at my reflection.
That is me, isn’t it? I lean in closer, studying all the details: the wet black nose, the large horizontal stilted eyes which look pretty strange in blue, the large fuzzy ears, and the bumpy antler bases. It’s surreal and fascinating, all the things that seemed so familiar, that had been virtually the same for over a quarter of a century, now completely and permanently changed. But there’s also something even stranger, in a sense, I still look like me. I don’t know how, maybe it’s the expression, maybe it’s in my eyes, or the general shape of things, but I still see the old me in there. I swear I can even see signs of where I had scars, like the one above my right eye. I can only speculate if anyone else will see the same things as I do.
I take a moment to look inside my mouth; it seems like a good idea, because I don’t really have a good sense of it. The near total lack of upper incisors is a bit disturbing along with the total lack of canines. At least I still have something in my wide, flat pallet, as opposed to actual deer, who have nothing. My mouth definitely houses the teeth of a plant eater, and a large tongue. I can only speculate on what things that might be useful for, besides licking my nose.
With a better understanding of my oral equipment, I turn back to tools made to clean it. Well, made to clean a human mouth and fit in the hand of a human. The toothbrush’s handle is tragically thin, making it difficult for me to get a good grip on it. This further complicates things when trying to get all the way into the back of my mouth, which is significantly deeper than it once was. It’s not a horrible experience, until I rinse out my mouth and end up spilling half the glass on myself. Apparently, I don’t have a sense of how far back my mouth opens now either. I towel myself off and determine that I will be getting a blow drier sometime in the near future.
And thus, I am finally on my way. I tell the cats to behave themselves, even though I know they won’t. I grab my jacket and put it on, not really thinking about it. I guess I don’t need it, but I’m sure I still look cool in black leather, too bad I can’t wear my sunglasses to go along with it. I can’t help but think I forgot something. A hat, I always wear baseball hats, but antlers and a decided lack of a forehead rule that out as an option. My stomach rumbles, but I ignore it, figuring I can get something at the bar. I head out the door and back to my car, which is easier to get into, but still not particularly comfortable to drive. I back out, a bit apprehensive of what lies ahead, but I’d rather go out than sit around all night.
The outside of the bar is rather unassuming. It looks like just about any other bar and grill-type place you find in the suburbs of an industrial city. The only indication of anything different about the patrons is the name, but even then it’s no definite indicator of that fact that this is a SCAB bar. To my nose though, there is a clear indication that this isn’t any old bar. There’s a definite mix of animal smells permeating into the parking lot, along with the smell of alcohol. I can’t help myself as I lick my nose which just makes all the smells that much more intense.
I find myself approaching the door cautiously; taking deliberate steps, tail raised half way. The smell of food is definitely coming from this place too, and it makes my stomach rumble again. I press on, biting my lower lip nervously as I open the door, which seems a bit higher than a normal door, and head inside.
No one seems to really notice me as I go inside, they’re all busy in conversation, eating, or playing games. All the smells almost send me running back out, but I fight it. I try to bite at my nails, again, as I scan the room. No two people seem to be the same, there’s certainly a wide variety of species and levels of change. I had no idea it was like that with SCABs.
“Adam!” I nearly dash away as a somewhat familiar face greets me. “Glad to see you made it. Here, come have a seat.” He pats my shoulder leading me up to the bar. “I didn’t scare ya, did I?”
“A little bit.” I can feel my ears getting hot, blushing under the thick winter fur.
Dave sits me next to a wolf and takes the seat on the other side of me. Great, stuck between two predators. I lick my nose, heart pounding as the wolf turns to me. “You must be Adam, nice to meet you. You can call me Jim.” He holds out his paw, I only manage to stare back. Then the realization hits me that he’s not a wolf, but a husky.
“Oh, ah…nice to meet you too.” Shaking his paw, I could smell him as a preditor, but there was an even more powerful sense of friendliness and an excited dog meeting a new person; after all, huskies are known to be friendly.
I turn to see a wolfish bartender set a drink down in front of me. I can tell I’m getting use to this whole experience, because I’m not as scared as I expected myself to be.
“Go ahead; everyone does it there first time”
I stare at the small glass filled with red liquid, flicking it with a finger.
“Go on man, it’s not going to kill you.”
Reluctantly, I pick it up, trying not to smell it. Back goes my head and down goes the shot. I feel the thick liquid burn down my long mouth as I try to get it down in one gulp. The smell of alcohol fills my nose from the back forward as I take a breath.
Before I even have time to put the shot glass down I feel a hand slap my back: “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life Adam.”