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LJ Idol X - Week [3] - Expected Harm

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]

Comments

( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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low_delta
Dec. 11th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
So they have Laphroaig there, huh? ;-)
penpusher
Dec. 11th, 2016 09:30 pm (UTC)
Haha! I'm pretty sure Conroy could have gotten his mouth around the neck of a Laphroaig bottle to pour, if enough had already been poured!
i_17bingo
Dec. 12th, 2016 02:39 pm (UTC)
"Are you sure YOU aren’t trying to poison me?"

I remember having a similar reaction the first time I drank hard liquor.
penpusher
Dec. 12th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
It's certainly an acquired taste!
(no subject) - uselesstinrelic - Dec. 20th, 2016 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Dec. 20th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
rayaso
Dec. 12th, 2016 06:54 pm (UTC)
This was another worthy addition! You are building a great world, and it's interesting to have details about the state emerge at the same time Jailee experiences these new settings. If I were suddenly thrust into a near-drowning situation, I don't think I would have the presence of mind to try and relax. I think I would go straight to panic/thrashing.
penpusher
Dec. 12th, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much, and yes, Jailee is very Zen (for the most part)! Definitely a skill I typically envy!
my_name_is_jenn
Dec. 12th, 2016 10:01 pm (UTC)
I love this world you're building with Jailee and Conroy.
penpusher
Dec. 12th, 2016 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading along and following these escapades! It really does feel like some serious progress is ahead! Thanks for your compliment!
dmousey
Dec. 13th, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)
Jailee's is being a good sport about all these situations she keeps finding herself in! And she sure is going to have one hell of a hangover! Hope Conroy has a remedy for that!

Nice work, keeping us interested and wanting more! Hug and peace~~~D
penpusher
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:37 pm (UTC)
Jailee really is a "take life as it comes" sort of person, which is one of the qualities I admire about her! It definitely will be interesting to see just how alcohol or any other substances like that affect her!

Thanks for a lovely compliment and for reading along!
marlawentmad
Dec. 13th, 2016 04:10 pm (UTC)
This is a delightfully accurate description, "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."
penpusher
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
Ha! Jailee has a pretty good tolerance for pain, once she gets used to it. And thanks for singling out that passage; it was one of my favorites to write!
baxaphobia
Dec. 13th, 2016 05:53 pm (UTC)
Another great chapter in this world! I look forward to your entries each week! Smile.
penpusher
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, that's very high praise!
herwonderfulday
Dec. 13th, 2016 06:35 pm (UTC)
I just plopped into this, but that was a fun read.

Have you considered creating a second twitter account writing little micro stories? I follow this one guy who writes little sci fi blurbs - Ritter Coldriss. I think it's something you'd be good at too.
penpusher
Dec. 14th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
Cool.

I don't think I have the discipline to tell 140 character stories like that. It's tough enough to live tweet a show, let alone craft original material!

A friend of mine is a producer on NatGeo's "Mars" series, so I've been live tweeting that. It's been a tough go because there's practically no character interaction of any quality and that makes the show's narrative a lot more stagnant and a lot less dramatic. Next week is the last episode of that. They're saying season finale, but I'm guessing it's the series finale.
adoptedwriter
Dec. 15th, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)

This is very engaging with great dialogue.

penpusher
Dec. 15th, 2016 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and for your compliment!
halfshellvenus
Dec. 15th, 2016 09:46 pm (UTC)
"your rat friends" -- Haha! Though I'll bet they were surprised to hear themselves referred to that way.

“I can’t either! This was fun!”
I have to say, any sensation that feels like nearly drowning is not my idea of fun. :O

So, this is where the rebellion begins! But who can blame her?
penpusher
Dec. 17th, 2016 05:38 am (UTC)
Jailee seems to be a little headstrong and usually at exactly the wrong moments. But then again, it could potentially turn into a positive.

I think the fact that Conroy knew what to do had a lot to do with his enjoyment - much like the fiftieth time you ride a roller coaster, compared to the first!

The best rebellions start off with a drink amongst friends... Thanks for your comments!
eternal_ot
Dec. 16th, 2016 08:04 am (UTC)
Ha! I really enjoyed reading this.Great way to incorporate the prompt! I am eager to know more. This has me hooked now :) A nice read.
penpusher
Dec. 17th, 2016 06:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for coming along! It seems to be turning into the Jailee season... I guess we'll see if that holds true. Thanks for being so supportive!
magazhchi
Dec. 16th, 2016 05:36 pm (UTC)

The two rats stopped what they were doing and glanced at me.  This made me laugh. Great dialogues! Enjoyed reading yet another episode of Jailee and Conroy.

penpusher
Dec. 17th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm glad these segments are working!
mamas_minion
Dec. 16th, 2016 10:29 pm (UTC)
I am really liking getting to know Jailee and the world she comes from.
penpusher
Dec. 17th, 2016 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the encouragement and the compliment! It means a great deal.
sinnamongirl
Dec. 19th, 2016 12:02 am (UTC)
Cute entry! I'm going to come back later and check out her other LJ Idol appearances!
penpusher
Dec. 19th, 2016 08:49 pm (UTC)
I really try to make each entry a stand alone so it's only necessary in the sense of getting a larger view of Jailee's world and the forward momentum of the story as a whole. But thanks very much!!
encrefloue
Dec. 20th, 2016 02:54 pm (UTC)
I loved the setting in this one! All good adventures need some beautiful backdrops every now and then. Great job!
penpusher
Dec. 20th, 2016 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! Jailee needs to find as much beauty as she can, so she definitely does need something nice when she can find it.
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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )

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