Dec. 11th, 2016

penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
When Conroy and I surfaced, we were in some sort of enormous cove. I had never seen anything like it and yet it felt so very familiar. There were sparkling rocks all over the walls and smooth surfaces for us to walk across, almost like it was constructed, but it couldn’t have been.

“Where are we,” I asked.

“Oh, this little place,” Conroy shrugged. “It’s Oorsfeld. It’s a kind of an underwater sanctuary.”

“Won’t The State come dismantle it or at least use it for some specified purpose?” I asked.

“Jailee, if The State could have dismantled this, it would have happened long before I found it.”

We walked a little further around the area and I looked at the towering cliffs that reached up.

“Surely, The State can get to this area send some nanocams or other robotic devices to observe or destroy it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” Conroy stated as we walked through a spacious hallway. “The State is only interested in what you humans are doing. There’s no interest in an area where only we go.”

“We?” I asked, with surprise, “what other creatures are aro - aaaaaaaah!”

Before I even realized it, I fell into a hole in the floor and began quickly sliding down a steep tunnel! Water was starting to fill the further down I slid! I took a last gasp and held it as long as I could but the tunnel was deep and the water rushed into my eyes and nose. I pinched my nostrils and tried to stay relaxed so I wouldn’t use any extra energy. I tried to think of something happy. It wasn’t working.

Just as I thought I was going to die, I flipped, then landed, belly first. It was like the shallows so I jumped up gasping and got sloshed again when Conroy made a splash all over me when he came down.

“Aah! What did you just do to me?!”

“Oh, sorry,” Conroy shrugged. “I meant to tell you to watch your step.”

“You know, humans can’t breathe underwater!”

“I can’t either! This was fun!”

“Yeah? Well, you were prepared for what just happened.” I yelled.

Conroy chuckled as he shook off the excess water, spraying me again, as I quickly turned my back and looked around. We were standing in a room, nearly as expansive as the pavilion area at Belleview and Kipling but much less arranged and not at all maintained. Starting to regain my equilibrium, I noted there was something lovely about the lack of order.

“I always imagined that the world looked like this” I said, staring at the light shimmering through water, the growth of vines along the walls of the area, the warmness of the wet sand on my feet and even some plots of green that weren’t seaweed. Stepping on the soft green patches made me feel something. I felt like I was home.

Conroy jaunted off toward some long, flat surfaced hut and disappeared inside. Of course, I had to follow him.

The passage led to another tunnel, no water this time, that took us to an interior area where a small group of creatures were gathered. Three of them quickly disappeared into another area as we approached. Then, there was a couple who seemed to be engaged in throwing things towards each other on a table. I can’t even! One of them resembled a large round rat with a flattened and expanded tail. The other was also like a rat only thinner and without any tail.

“Constantinople!” shouted the thinner rat. “We wondered where you dashed away to this morning.”

“Who is that?” said the other rat.

I tried to act like talking animals was normal.

“My name is Jailee,” I told them.

“You look almost human. Are you a human?” the thinner one asked.

“He can’t be human. Humans can’t get here. Tell me, how would he have gotten here?” the other one responded, as though I wasn't standing right beside him.

“First of all, I’m a she, and second, I am a human.”

“Constantinople spending time with women,” the larger rat laughed, “I guess anything is possible.”

“Leave Jailee alone!” Conroy called back at them. “She’s a friend of mine, and I brought her,” and he walked behind the counter by the far wall.

“What are you drinking?” he yelled at me.

“I just had a faceful of seawater. I think that’s enough!”

“Jailee, have you never had alcohol?” Conroy brought his front flippers up and rested his head between them.

I knew what alcohol was. And I knew what it was supposed to do. I also knew that The State strictly regulated any substances that changed your perception or could impair your ability to work.

“You must try this,” Conroy said before grabbing the neck of the bottle in his mouth and tipping it towards a glass. He slid it over to me.

“This water looks brown.”

“Oh, it’s not water,” he said. “You have to drink it down as fast as you can, like this.” He mouthed the rim of his glass, balanced the bottom on the edge of his flipper and turned it up.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. It reminded me of when the light watercraft department had a fire and a lot of rubber rafts got burned. But the bigger shock was swallowing it. That’s when it felt like a fire at the back of my throat, running down to my stomach. I thought I was going to regurgitate it but then it would have hurt coming back up.

“Are you sure YOU aren’t trying to poison me?” I sputtered through a gasp for air.

“If I wanted you dead, I would have just left you with your friends. And what did you do to deserve death?”

“I don’t know if you noticed but I don’t look like a lot of people.” I replied, stroking the blue skin on my arm.

“Yes. I understand all too well,” Conroy said, finishing a second glass. “That’s why it’s great to have a place to escape from all of that.”

There was silence for a moment. Even those rats were quiet just then.

“Anyone or anything that is different, is...” I started to say, then just grabbed the bottle and poured a full glass, and drank it right down practically in one gulp. Then I looked upward and stared hard at Conroy.

“I think I just decided something.”

Conroy just looked at me, mouth open as though *he* was the one watching a talking animal for the first time.

“It’s time to challenge the system. It’s time to take on the world.”

“You know, Jailee...”

“This is it. I am not a second-class citizen. And neither are you! And neither are your rat friends!”

The two rats stopped what they were doing and glanced at me.

“She’s had a couple,” said Conroy.

“It’s time to take on authority. But first, I’m taking on the rest of this bottle.”

Conroy slapped my hand with a flipper and waddled away with the drink.

It didn’t matter. I suddenly knew what I had to do, and I was ready to start.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Brushback Pitch.

Also, note: This is Jailee's eighth LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

and two others during Season X:

Week [1] and
Week [2]

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