It had been such a wonderful stay at the Galactic conference, to suddenly go so horribly wrong. The Others had been so full of romp that the expensive hotel pillows simply could not leave the air. I had just shoved my head among a particularly noisome spray of feather foam when suddenly a strange looking biped covered in what looked like white fluff bursts in the doors.
"Run!" he says in panicked, but recognizeable tradespeak, "It's spreading and--oh no." If not for the utter impossibility of the man thing standing before me, his look of horror among those rolls of puffy white flesh told me something was very wrong. Then I realized what it was, and started screaming.
I had never felt such paralyzing anguish before in my life! The fear, the horror came alive around me in a crackling nimbus that filled the air, and I can't stop those sorrowful cries. It didn't matter that I was in the same room in the same building with the same pillows in the same bed. Because a few moments ago for no reason at all I lost contact with everyone; my family, my friends, I knew that somehow they had all died in an instant.
Would you have screamed too?
Desperately I cast out my distress, nothing! Nothing! Nothing! The envelope of a huge planet bends its influence around me, somehow both Terra and not Terra at the same time, but the planet is a far cry from the hollow asteroid the Galactic conference was supposed to be held on. Where was I? How--how did this happen? What was going on??
Mercifully, the firm fiber of the side of a thrown chair ends my distress as swiftly and mysteriously as my kin had died, and my last thoughts before passing out are the softness of the torn pillow my head lands on with a thump.
I come back to consciousness more hesitantly than I had left. The smells flow into me first, something full of sugar and root, and with a lightly toasted aroma. I take a bite and then open my eyes, and from that day forth I vowed never ever to repeat those actions in that order again. Apparantly the biped who had burst in on me, and is now seated next to my body, is made largely out of marshmallow puff.
"Hey!" he shouts, shoving off the bed with a noticeable chunk bitten from his belly. No organs spill out though, and he doesn't even seem to be in pain, and well, we all handle grief in our own special way. Mine is to chew and swallow.
He stares at me then himself speaking in a broken form of tradespeak, "Crap yu jest bit me Dan yu jest ate me! Donet do it agin oh cod..." he is rambling in an unfamiliar, but not unrecognizable dialect to my ears, pausing now and again as if he hoped I would respond. What do I look like, a linguist? And that brought again to my mind that there were no linguists anymore, all linguists were dead, the death of all. I chitter and lower my antenna. He quiets at that, and hopefully realized as my ears are drooping that the death of all is not a good time to babble on.
"An that's hau it happend man. Evirybudy just staruted(started) changing and I trahd tew(to) get to yu(you) but it waas tyu(too) lait(late...),"
The marshmallow man is starting to sound confusing, even as I try to adjust to understanding his spoken words as best as my poor quality linguist skills will allow. I hold up a paw and make the sign for him to repeat himself slowly, but he doesn't even seem to recognize universal signing. His surface feelings are starting to bubble with suspicion, like he should recognize me but is worried that he didn't.
"You are Dan, rait?" he asks, "Thear(there) was no single(one) else in our rewm(room), and definootly(definitely) nobody in a skiltaire(that one was dead on) costewm."
Though I doubt this is as simple as a case of mistaken identity, I try one more thing the recoms always recognize. I shake my head back and forth in careful exaggerated motions.
The tasty biped puts his face in his large hand, "Look, don't mess wit(h) me man. I been thru enuf today. I know you changed into ur costume, so you don't haftoo(have to) pretend anymoar. There's nobodee else it cood be."
Not sure what he means by that, since it was a conference not a costume ball, and I am not wearing anything like a costume. He keeps thinking I am going to answer him though, and I have had enough of dealing with the strange yet tantalizingly scrumptious creature. There is nothing to be done about it. I am going to have to resort to ugh, speaking.
Clearing my throat, I try to twist my vocal apparatus in that uncomfortable wide and low fashion that recoms use. I manage to say the words if a bit gratingly, "Who are you?"
His name is Rufus, and it seems like he still doesn't believe me, but finally he agrees to keep looking. Clearing my scratchy throat again, I wish him well, and make sure he leaves feeling pleasant, if disappointed. Then I myself leave to go find some place to mourn.
Whatever killed everyone also seemed to drop me right into a madman's nightmare. Strange creatures are in a state of half panic running around in some labrynthian building. I quickly realize it only superficially resembles the hotel I'd been in, but is instead constructed from some strange, crumbling materials I can't quite identify. The carpeting under my feet is odd too, and reeks with the smell of harmful chemicals, at hopefully low levels.
As I wander in search of sanctuary, battered on all sides by other creatures' excitement fear and despair, I realize glumly that the room I started in was as quiet as it was going to get. All their emotions washing over me is like an unctuous tide, a few flashes of indulgence and delight, a torrent of anger from an argument somewhere out of sight. I keep my emotions carefully neutral and unimposing, so thankfully most people don't even see me as a threat, if they see me at all. Some of the creatures crawling around, I definitely didn't want to draw their attention. It is more diverse than any zoo I had ever seen. But unlike a space zoo, these creatures all felt like people!
There are rooms not full of people, with baths of shining ceramic, but I don't linger long since to be poetic, they stink. Of one single kind of urine I had never smelled before, but not something I wanted to dwell on. It must be a whole troupe of creatures, whom I do not want to cross right now and can't identify. Damn I wish I had been a biologist.
Hope is such a cruel mistress. Once she has you she always comes back for more. I finally find a place to be alone, relatively shielded, but in such a small room filled with brooms that I can barely stretch out, much less mourn. But there in the darkness I have a chance to relax and think. As ridiculous as the notion is, hope swells in me. Maybe that frightened mob of creatures had been dampening my senses, and I reach out again trying to find someone. Anyone. This time it works.
There in the darkness, my senses pick up someone faintly. Someone! Their presence is faint among the emotional din, but to me it is a shining star. I am not alone! Nearly an hour after the incident that brought me here I can feel the undercurrent of panic already beginning to ebb, and in that ebb I find Someone, not 200 meters away. It is a female... all alone surrounded by a gloom of dread and sadness. Something is bothering her terribly and she feels so uncertain... but now is not the time for subtlety or tact. I have to contact her right away.
"Hello!" I say, a bit over-eagerly. "Where are you? How did you survive?"
"Gah!" is her answer, "What the heck was that?"
"Me!" I respond joyfully, "I'm in the dark room with brooms. I thought everyone was dead!"
"Oh no..." the someone answers and somehow she feels an even deeper dread. I can practically feel the sinking feeling in her stomach. "You're a skiltaire too, aren't you."
"Of course we are" I say with a mental nod, once more projecting an impression of my current location, and trying to reassure her somehow, despite such peculiar emotions she is generating. "We should come together. It's not clear here."
"Maybe things would be clearer if we came together," my friend suggests.
"That's just what I said," I retort both confused and frustrated now myself.
"Oh I thought--" a pause, "I'm not...used to this. I thought I thought that, but I didn't you did."
"Oh alright," I say with forgiveness, understanding perfectly. But wait... "Not used to it?"
"Just... let's talk about it when we meet. I'm heading for the lobby, okay?"
"Where's that?" I query. My friend has in mind an image of it, and I quickly figure out a pathway from there. "Okay, got it."
"Got...? Oh never mind," she seems to curl up her mental image, though if she was trying to shut me out it wasn't even close to what she needed to do. Her thoughts are going a mile a minute as she carefully walks like a yearling kit towards the lobby. Before questioning further I remember I have to make my way down there too.
A more beautiful sight has never graced my eyes upon our meeting. She stands poised on the causeway as I prance into the main pallisade, my claws skittering for purchase on what she knows as linoleum. Her presence is something that had been torn away from me just an hour ago, and seeing her makes me feel whole again. She's easy on the eyes too, a bright combination of orange and green fur, the markings of a rare arboreal, and also strong in flank, with delicate curled antenna.
She clumsily stumbles and falls, a lighting bolt dancing on the brass railing in her sudden fear as she scrambled for purchase on the carpet stairs. She skids to a stop, heels over head just as I am running up to the base. After a moment to right herself (she seems unusually clumsy!) she asks me, "Okay, so what happened to you?" So I tell her.
"Well uh, great," she says now, with a bit of worry in her tail, "But did you have to include the part about being easy on the eyes?"
I periscope up and tilt my head uncertainly, "I was just sharing, why not?"
She sits flat back on her haunches, looking everything like a clumsy kit even though she's more of an age to make them herself. "It's embarassing..." she sends to me, and I share her feeling even if unable to understand it. I half curl around her protectively, nuzzling close trying to think of what to say. Her next question however leaves me speechless.
"Who are you, anyone I know?"
Once again it is something I have never seen before, something no one has ever seen before. I am starting to think that such things will be more common after whatever happened today. Lost then found, then lost again, what a concept! One thing is for sure, she has never met me before. A skiltaire who until today I had never connected to. I couldn't resist checking closer, but it was like before this meeting our minds had been as separate as two halves of a zipper. Completely inscrutable.
"Amazing..." I feel at last, "No connections at all..."
"That feels...kinda...could you stop?" she says uncomfortably. Not sure at all what she needs from me, I stop. She stares at me awkwardly for a moment, adding "I'm new to this, sorry. It feels like you're in my head."
"You don't like that?" I say trying to unravel her complex emotions so strangely different from any skiltaire I had been with before.
"N-not really," she answers, feeling surprised at her own lack of certainty at that answer. "I'm Sarah. What's your name?"
"I'm a navigator," I respond easily, then continue at her prompting, "My uh... recom name is what they call to say 'Churp'"
We sit there for a while watching the recoms and other strange creatures passing by on their way up and down the ramps and stairs. She seems to have settled into a quiet state of shock, puffing at her tailtip curled up there. I am thinking hard, analyzing the space and subspace around me.
"I got it!" I say jumping up. She raises her head startled. "Sorry?"
"I must have been teleported somehow," I continue excitedly, the pieces falling together, "Somewhere so far away I simply cannot reach anyone else. This planet is almost exactly like Terra, but with none of the post cataclysm magnetic anomalies. It must be far away from explored space!"
She stares at me uncomprehendingly, repeating once again, "...sorry?"
"The others," I answer, "They're not dead. It just feels like it because the teleport cut me off somehow. We can signal them!"
"The other skiltaire! Now come on let's find a relay so that we can do just that."
It was Churp's ingenuity that led them to the hotel's laundry processing facility. "We can get out here," he felt to her, and "Recom hotels always have a way to let their clothing out."
Sarah tried to follow clumsy as she felt crawling around all--walking around on all fours. "This is so nuts!" she thought as Churp's lanky form curled around the corner of one of the wheeled hampers filled with towels. Churp's mind was racing: he knew what he wanted to do, but didn't dare risk thinking about it until they were safe from whatever passed for this planet's police force.
"Earth," Sarah sent to him with an irritated chirp, "There is only one planet, and it is called Earth."
"Don't be so pessimistic," Churp laughed, wiggling his tush and jumping up to atop a pile of sheets to better scope out the large work room. Sarah struggled herself to avoid thinking of the thoughts that rose in her at the sight of that.
"Help me find the exit" Churp added, "You know what these buildings look like." Heather bobbed her head in understanding, periscoping up on her hind legs to brace on the laundry hamper. "There, that's it," she responded, focusing on the corrugated metal roll up doors.
Sarah hissed to the male skiltaire as they crept up the alley behind the TV studio, "Why are we doing this at all?"
Churp jumped onto a trash can looking upside the long brick building, "This is where you thought we could send a signal."
"You still think you're going to find some fictional space creature just by beaming a signal into space?"
"It doesn't work that way. I'm still thinking about it."
Sarah jumped up after him as he squeezed in through a small window a few feet above the ground, poking her nose into the darkness. "They have huge dishes for this and they haven't found a single thing."
"I don't need plates," he retorted, turning slightly as if to get his bearings, "What I need is in here."
Sarah followed with an inner sigh, figuring at least she could explain what the situation was if anyone caught them. Churp was so out of it from Xanadu he wouldn't even bother to talk to people, even if he could make himself understood. Sarah still knew how to talk... slightly at least, but she doubted it would be of much help with what they were trying to do. Becoming a skiltaire may have been something Sarah dreamed about but she never expected to be breaking into a television studio just to appease another half of her--another skiltaire.
Truly though, what really scared her was being left alone, for what might happen to Churp, and what might happen to her sanity if not letting him distract her along this madcap quest. You don't just turn into a creature so far distant from mankind to have a totally alien biology and not notice any effects, unless you're Churp of course. She scrambled up alongside him and the two went silently up the stairway.
Churp went out into the hallway first. Sarah was uncomfortably reluctant to trust his claim that everything would be fine. There was a recom pushing some sort of cart along the hallway who immediately stopped upon seeing what looked like a 5 foot long weasel. "What...the fuck are you?" he said incredulously. Churp was nonplussed though, walking up to him with an air of confidence and trust. The flickerings of fear in the recom's mind fell away as he knelt down and reached a furless hand out for Churp to sniff.
"Cute little thing," the anchor boy said bemusedly, "Maybe you're one of the animals for a special show?" Churp agreed heartily, not really worrying what the creature was saying, but raising the comfort of it to satisfying levels. "I guess I better get on with my job," he said with a prompting of urge from Churp to get off and not be a bother, standing up taking his cart and pushing it down along the hall.
"Coast is clear scaredy pants," Churp sent to Sarah, who had been out of sight down the stairs, but couldn't help but see something of what's going on. "What did you do?" she asked, "You just fried his mind!"
"No I didn't," Churp insisted, "It's just common courtesy to help people be more comfortable around us."
"We're not supposed to be here," she insisted, tail low. "If you didn't do...that to them, they would be getting totally upset."
"So we're agreed then," Churp replied raising one of those antennum on their head--his head. He sent a pulse of sympathy along her persistent channel of unease. "It'll only be weird until I get the signal out. Then we can stop bothering people, okay?"
"How exactly are you going to get a signal out?" she asked with a prompt from Churp--"Stop that!" "Sorry," Churp said confusedly, shaking his head and answering his question, "Next we need to find some of those coils of magnetic strips the recoms had in their machines."
"They're called film," she said, "It's magnetic film."
"Sure, whatever," Churp waved a paw, "You said they keep them behind these doors?"
One thing led to another and soon Churp was pawing through a box of discarded film reels (hopefully discarded at least!) and Sarah was watching on fitfully as he started unspooling them and laying out sections of them on the floor one after another making a kind of magnetic square.
"Don't you need a transmitter or something?" Sarah asked the enigmatic long furry critter, who was all too good at wiggling his rear. "That's what I'm making," he answered, "Good long range communication was my specialty."
"But it's just a bunch of magnetic tape!"
"The strips are only a base; I will build the transmitter on them."
"I still don't see..." Sarah went on hesitantly.
"Ok look, I'll show you" Churp said. Then he filled Sarah's head with a blurring barrage of sights and sounds and smells until she closed her eyes and covered her head with her paws. "Good enough?" he asked. "I...have no idea what you just did." Sarah answered. "Forget about it," Churp sighed, "Just wait a few minutes and I'll demonstrate."
What Sarah didn't expect was that one of the fleeting images that had filled her mind would be floating there right in front of her. Churp did something, and his body started to hum, not from his throat but more like a transformer. In front of him a sphere of glowing blue motes of light started to coelesce above the magnetic square. Churp rotated and poked at it effortlessly without moving so much as a single muscle. As it began to take on the appearance of a porcupine, he said to her, "Sorry this might be a bit of an overload. I made it about 2000 times stronger than necessary, just in case."
"Wait what--" Sarah started, but then the sphere imploded in blinding light, and she found herself spinning through a blank nothingness. A high pitched siren squeal filling her ears, and then thankfully she passed out. Just a few feet away from their fallen bodies though the sound was faint and barely audible, and then it died out entirely as blackness consumed her perceptions.
It wasn't long before Sarah came to, clawing out of the darkness and shaking her head sluggishly. "What on earth...?" Rising nearby, Churp felt odd to her, looking similarly dizzied by whatever it was that replaced the square of magnetic film with a smoking black ring now etched in the floor. His excitement went up as he looked her way, seeing her there in the flickering fluorescent light. "HOLY CRAP a skiltaire!" he mentally shouted, jumping back a pace before taking stock of his own situation, "What? I'm a skiltaire!"
"Of course you're a skiltaire, Churp!" Sarah shouted back at him, "What was that noise? Do you think it worked?"
She could almost feel his mind racing from here, completely at a loss to understand her at all. But when he asked her the question, "...where did the hotel go?" she realized what was going on, and so to a degree did he. "Oh no." they both exclaimed, facepalming.
"You had to get your memory back now, didn't you?" Sarah growled at him as they huddled in the dark room together.
"What are you talking about? The last thing I remember is at the hotel, when I..."
"I told you already, you changed into your costume," Sarah retorted. Daniel was irritating her more than Churp but at least now he felt the familiar confusion that she struggled with. Misery loves company as they say. "And from then on you thought you were a skiltaire. You told me you were a skiltaire. That's why we're stuck here in a film closet in a TV studio, because you even had me fooled! I thought you were seriously going to find all those other skiltaire you kept talking about."
"I don't remember any of this..." Daniel said shaking his head at the images she was sending to him, of himself doing strange things from a strange third person perspective. He flexed his whiskers nervously not rejecting, but not making any connections to her. "It feels like you're in my head," he murmured, "so weird..."
"We haven't got time for this," Sarah moaned, "You gotta do your Jedi thing and keep people from noticing us. Someone's going to come check in here any minute now, someone had to have noticed that thing you made."
"I didn't make anything! It was that other... it was Churp that did it."
"Oh you know his name now? What else do you know?"
"Churp is a character I made... I designed my costume after him. What was your character?"
"Huh, which character?" Sarah asked distracted by the odd nature of the question. She could feel Daniel figuring something out, but he wasn't quite sure yet.
"The character you dressed up as," he pressed on insistently.
"I didn't--" Sarah paused, the implication of what he said hitting her, "I have made a bunch of skiltaire characters before. The costume was just a...skiltaire, wasn't anybody in particular."
"That must be you didn't become your character" "That must be why I didn't lose my mind" they both thought as one.
"Hey stop thinking--" "Hey stop thinking--" "What are you--" "What are you--"
Head shaking, Sarah was the first to snap out of it, "Time out!" she mentally yelled at him, pushing his thoughts away from hers, "Skiltaire are like, permanently mind melded, you know? So let's try not to go there too much. Next thing you know we'll swap bodies or something."
"This is straight out of science fiction," Daniel sent, whurbling confusedly. "What are we gonna do?"
Their question was answered when the doorknob turned and light poured in as the silouette of a man stood in the archway staring in and fumbling for the light switch. Sarah decided.
"Run!" She bolted towards the man sure she could slip past him in his confusion. "W-wait!" Daniel called behind her with a panicked whistle. She had to stop from the feelings of confusion behind her and turned in shock to see Daniel still standing there with one paw raised up utterly unsure of himself, "I...I don't know how to run like this!"
Then the lights turned on in the room.
- Bill Locklear was just getting done with his shift on security detail, thinking of the game he wanted to catch on the television, thinking fondly of his girl even if she was always exasperated at him for embarassing her with his game show loving ways. He heard some strange noises going on in one of the storage rooms for old film and walked up to it. "I wonder if someone's working late today," he thought nervously, pulling open the door quickly and fumbling for the light switch.
- He found himself confronting two strange long bodied creatures covered head to toe in vivid striped fur. One was a tawny orange color with a green stripe down the back like a skunk, the other a light grey color striped in bright blue. He was greeted by a staccato chitter coming from the orange one who seemed to be positioning itself between him and the grey one. It was a rare sound indeed to hear a skiltaire in distress, not that Bill knew this. No expert in animals or aliens, he had no way of understanding the sound, but the palpable waves of dread that were washing over the room were enough to drain all the blood from his face and cover the back of his neck in a cold sweat. The projected fear probably saved his life when he turned on his company issue boots, slammed the door, and ran down the hallway.
"He's running away?" Sarah thought uncomprehendingly, her mind not feeling very logical at the moment. She felt like she was full of a shivering peak of something terrible and exciting, her whole body energized like standing on a razor's edge. It all released in a crawling wave of electricity and a heart stopping squeak when Daniel's front paw came down on her hind section.
The other skiltaire got blown onto his side, twitching from the force of the jolt that went through him into the floor. "Are you okay??" Sarah said mortified. "I f-figured how to walk," he said weakly, smiling up at her. What was that? Was that the electric discharge she'd just felt? She didn't feel any pain coming from Daniel and didn't want to think about the potential seriousness of what she just did. Huffing she turned away from him, tail curled up chidingly, "Well, start walking then. We gotta get out of here!"
Daniel stood up, taking a few hesitant steps. He was just crawling along really. Sarah started to leave, full of worry that they only had seconds before that man would bring reinforcements or call someone or something. "It's hard, sorry--" Daniel said swaying in place as his tail counterbalanced unexpectedly. "I know," Sarah sighed, "It took me 10 minutes before I could even get out of the dining room in the hotel. What a mess!" As confident as she must have sounded to Daniel, Sarah was only just sure of herself in walking, and had no idea how to help someone else having a hard time of it. She kind of butted up against his side with hers, trying to nudge him when he looked ready to fall over. In slow stumbling steps the two of them made it to the door. Using the door to help climb up on her hind legs Sarah twisted opened the doorknob once again relatively easily, and they creeped down the hallway.
- "Yeah, uh, animal control? I got two uh, animal uh, things. Yeah dogs or ... or lions or something. Listen you gotta come over, I managed to close them in a room but... no I'm not drinking!"
- Bill was not having a good day.
The stairs down to the storage room that they snuck in were sitting there invitingly, but even Sarah stopped short. "Uh..." Daniel said putting his paws down on the first step but not going further, "I don't think this is going to work. I can't walk...down to the next step."
"We can't stop now!" Sarah said in excited anguish, "Just jump down or something, we gotta get out of here!" Neither of them jumped, but she eased down a step next to him adding "I see what you mean... it was so easy going up these things. Hold on, I'll just..." hopping with her hind feet, Sarah tried to move further down, but only managed to end up curled up ridiculously perched on the first step with all four feet "Oh shi--" she said with a squeak totally off balance and falling down the stairs. "Sara!" Daniel called out after her, lifting a paw again. She twisted in the air bouncing painfully and catching on one step with a forepaw, now halfway down the short flight staring up upside down at Daniel with one of her legs sticking up in the air.
"Are you okay?" said Daniel giving a sense of worry and forgetfulness. "We'll be in hot water!" Sarah said, "Just get down here and I'll show you where we can get out." Daniel eased one forepaw than another exceedingly carefully down each step. Sarah kind of slid down on her belly backwards. Once Daniel couldn't reach anymore steps he hopped with his hind legs as Sarah had done, this time not overbalancing, going down a few more steps. "Hurry up..." Sarah hissed. "Hehe, all the blood is going to my head," he giggled hopping a little more confidently. Of course he missed the next step and came tumbling down right on top of her.
"Ohh, get off me you big--" Sarah shoved his side, and soon they were separate in body at least, standing side by side as Daniel's antenna drooped apologetically. "We're almost there," said Sarah. "Just follow me, this window is where we came in."
Sarah went out first. The window was half her body length high, this room sunk slightly below the ground level. It was child's play compared to those stairs though. She just put her forepaws up and jumped, scrabbling a bit as she pushed her body through the swinging window. Daniel followed along, imitating her movements almost exactly. Sarah was staring up at the sky, surprised it was night already.
"How long were we knocked out when Churp made that signal machine?" she wondered and concluded quickly, "I'm gonna kill Churp." Daniel cowered quietly, hoping that the sentiment didn't extend to him. He was so confused...
Together the two skiltaire made themselves scarce, sneaking away from the studio building and vanishing into the night.
"I would kill for a burger,"
"Hot grilled dead cows..."
"We need to get something to eat."
"We had to hide behind a hamburger joint didn't we."
Sarah and now Daniel huddled together in the relatively warm summer night behind a nameless brick building from which the smells of delicious yet sinful meat patties was wafting. Having crept around all night, they finally found a place that Sarah was satisfied would hide them through the day. Trouble is it was right next to the unattractively smelling waste container for a rather attractive smelling restauraunt, but the alleyway was small and the container slightly akimbo, so they could stay well out of sight of anyone coming from the door to shove more bags into the metal receptacle. At least she hoped so. At least this had given Daniel a good enough chance to learn how to walk, but with Churp gone even Sarah was falling over her own four feet.
"I don't know what to do, Sarah," Daniel said miserably, shivering near the pile of trash bags.
"People... people throw away good burgers all the time," Sarah reasoned, "Maybe we could just," she sniffed hungrily, scratching at the side of the dumpster.
"Pull yourself together," Daniel snorted, hobbling up beside her. "We can't eat that do you want to get sick?"
"Skiltaire are aliens," she retorted shakily, "We can't get Earth germs!"
"OK would you rather have alien bacteria growing in your stomach"
They sat there uncertainly for a moment more in the shadow of the dumpster.
"Could we go back to the convention?" Daniel offered helpfully.
"For now let's just sleep," Sarah said with a note of finality as the dawn started to spread across the sky. "I don't want to end up in some zoo or lab or something," or kill anyone she added silently, trying not to think of what she almost did back in the television studio. As she went to sleep fitfully, Daniel curled up too, trying not to worry too much about how he could hear even what she didn't want to be said.
Sarah didn't want to wake up. She moaned and squeezed her eyes shut. There was a strange smell in the air though and the hotel bed was gone, like she slept on the floor or something. When she tried to move her elbows immediately protested being braced against a concrete surface all day. "Where..." she thought sleepily. Even her tail was--wait.
Sarah snapped up straight, wide awake as a caffeinated squirrel. Her whiskers twitched once. Then she slumped down again. "Oh yeah, the convention."
She turned her head to the other skiltaire with her, her long neck aching from the strain of sleeping propped up behind a garbage bin in an alley all day. The air was humid but starting to cool off, and the sky had that fading glow of twilight, the sun not even peeking over the horizon. The city traffic was starting to die down as workers returned to their homes.
"We need to get moving soon," she thought, stumbling over to David. She froze as the door opened and a paper hatted youth waddled out carrying two large bags of garbage. He barely paused long enough to heave the bags into the trash receptacle though and didn't think to check around the side for any large animals trying to make themselves look small. Just walked back into the restaurant grumbling something about grease fires.
"That was close," Sarah said nosing at Daniel's side gently. He stirred awake; she could feel him stir awake in her head too. It was a disconcerting feeling, but somehow relieving. Considering what had happened to them, Sarah supposed she would have to deal with this for a long time now. Just as she was going to say something to Daniel, he lifted his head, focused on her and spoke.
"Are you alright? Where is the television production studio?"
"What?" the femme says puzzledly, "We're miles away from there by now!"
"Amazing," I wonder, "The signal relay must have transported us!"
"What are you talking about?" she asks incredulously, antenna curling as she tries to comprehend.
"The blast knocked me out," I explain, "How long was I unconscious?"
"How long...?" she splutters out a squeak, exclaiming, "Churp??"
"Who else would I be?" I state offhandedly, wrinkling my nose at the scent of rotting meat and... corn? I look to the other again, trying to understand what she's so concerned about. "You feel we need to... go somewhere?"
"That's right!" she exclaims, "We have to get moving. I don't think I could stand being in this alleyway for another second!"
"Let's go find some food," I suggest, looking down at my long, sleek but very empty belly.