I sat up in my bedroom, the sun pouring in from my skylight, casting short shadows on everything, letting me know it was almost noon. I had slept in late again, and as I got to my feet, I felt a sense of jamais vu, I had done this a thousand times before, but something felt weird. I started walking to the bathroom, phone in one hand, my feet slapping the cold stone floor, making me wish I had gotten those bear paw slippers. I passed Lupin, my pet dog, still sound asleep in his dog bed.
I started checking the daily news on my phone as I sat in the bathroom, finding out what I had missed while I slept. Advances in AI, more crisis on all levels of the government from the state to world, and which celebrity had said or done something that turned them into a social pariah. eventually, I put on a podcast, and finished up my business in the bathroom, washed my hands, and walked over to my kitchen, casting my phone to the main TV, and starting making breakfast, eggs, and toast, with a fruit smoothie to drink.
the blender woke up Lupin and he came trotting in, yawning his adorable rottweiler yawn. I plop a spoonful of eggs in his bowl and take my food to the table. listening to old podcasts with familiar voices. I eat my food quickly, and shove my hand into my smoothie, and wait, before I realize somethings wrong, and walk over to the sink and clean my hand off. Lupin gives me a quizzical look, then goes back to his food. I dry my hand off and, fully awake now, try to understand what happened, why did I shove my hand into the smoothie to drink it, what was my tired brain trying to tell me.
I finished my breakfast and started cleaning up, the rough stone floor still freezing cold under my feet. that's when I stop and realize what's wrong. I have linoleum floors in my kitchen, and wood in my bedroom. and I don't have a skylight, I live on the second floor of a five-story apartment. and I don't have a pet dog. I grab my head and everything started to spin.
I shut my eyes tightly, focusing on reality. I'm not in my apartment, I'm in a tree, I have a stone hand that absorbs any liquids I want, and I have some sort of monster as my pet, not a rottweiler. I sit up in my little tree platform and hug Lupe close to me. the dreams were still infrequent, but they left me worried. what was my mind doing, were they just normal dreams, or did they have a meaning to them. I used to not place any importance on those kinds of things, figuring it was all nonsense, but after coming to another world, and fighting monsters and such, I no longer felt like betting that it was all garbage.
I came out of my stupor of self-insight when I was rudely interrupted by a knife appearing at my throat, and the sound of grunts and talking below me shooting adrenaline through my body. I then noticed the knife at my throat, a finger in front of a very furry vulpine face, in the universal sign of “don't make a fucking sound” so, I did as my new furry friend asked, and stayed silent. Soon enough we heard the voices disappear, and the knife was slowly polled away I looked at Lupe, who was silently staring at the vulpine figure the whole time. We leaned back at the same time, putting distance between us, they were wearing a simple jerkin and pants, a long gray tail in the back, slowly swaying from side to side. “Hi?” I asked in a low voice, they seemed surprised, their hackles raised for a second, before slowly relaxing, I rested one hand on Lupe, slowly petting him, making sure he didn't do anything stupid for the both of us.
They took a second before saying something I couldn't understand in a quiet, growling voice. I shrugged my shoulders, in what was hopefully an expression of confusion. They rolled their eyes and spoke again, saying something different, I could make out that much, before hopping down the tree. I grabbed Lupe and followed, pulling out some drenched meats, before drying everything in my bag. The beast person looked surprised I had food and gave me a pleading look. I broke a piece off for them and passed it over before they immediately devoured it. They gave me puppy eyes and I handed the rest of the food to them, before pulling out another piece for Lupe, and then one for myself.
I chewed my meat quickly, before starting to walk towards the ledge down, hoping to see some way down that I hadn't noticed before, what with being terribly tired and hunted. I didn't see much in the way down, the lip of the cliff curved in on itself it seemed. I followed the edge with my eyes and noticed that eventually, it looped back around, making a really large hole in the forest floor. It wouldn't take me too long to jog around the ring, maybe half a day, if I'm being careful. I start stretching my arms and legs, Lupe seemed to get the same idea and started getting into a running position. Our fox-like companion seemed confused before I started to run. In no time I left them behind, and soon it was just me and Lupe jogging through the trees, dodging and diving, and generally having a good time with it.
I liked being able to stretch my legs after a couple of days in the boat, and after an hour or two of jogging, I started to slow down before finding a rock and taking a seat to relax just a bit. Lupe seemed to be getting worn out and collapsed onto the ground panting. He seemed to be having a good time, and after having a strip of jerky and a bowl of water, he perked right back up. Right as we were about to leave, the Fox person we had left behind caught up. Panting like a racehorse, they collapsed to the ground, before giving me the same look as before, begging for food. I gave in and threw them some more, before walking over and handing them a cup of water as well.
I was conflicted, on one hand, it was one more mouth to feed, on the other, IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I MET SOMEONE WHO WASN'T HUMAN! It had taken me that long to realize that I had met a sentient nonhuman. I was stunned and felt that I might be going with the flow a bit too much if this passed by me without causing too much surprise the first time. They even seemed able to keep up with my speed and abilities, which either bode ill for me, meaning I wasn't as impressive on this planet as I would be on earth, or the person in front of me was equally as strong as me. Which didn't make sense, seeing as they were hiding from guards or hunters or something, well I was too, but that's because I didn't like fighting people for no reason.
Regardless, I started walking again, glancing at the large hole as I circled it, I was only a quarter or so around it, and glancing at the river I saw figures looking around like they had spotted something, then one looked directly at me. “shit, LUPE!” I turned and started to run, Lupe keeping up. The fox person was able to keep up for a couple of minutes, before slowing down. I sighed, not knowing why I was doing it, but I stopped for a second, ungraciously hoisted them over my shoulder, and started running again. They seemed very surprised at first, but after a second, held on for dear life, as I picked up speed and started covering a lot of ground.
Lupe started slowing down next, so I scooped him up too, tucking him under my left arm, and kept going. He seemed to be enjoying it, his tongue lolling to the side, as the wind whipped past his face. I jogged for a long time before eventually taking another break, now three-fourths around the giant hole down. I couldn't see the figures in the distance, either they were hiding, or they weren't giving chase. Either way, we only had a little bit of a walk left to get to the other side of the river. I decided that i could set the two down finally, and take a well-deserved break.