Howdy there. Name's Donovan. I am a fish outta water, gasping for air while some bastard kicks sand in my gills. My concerns at the moment? 1.) Being eaten by my roommate. 2.) Is the water here safe for human consumption? 3.) How long can I survive here in this fantastic setting? 4.) Why do the inhabitants of this world affect human disguises in public? And number 5.) For the love of God, how do I get out of this nightmarish place?!
Allow me to back up, just in case you decide to stick around and enjoy the show. Think of it as a recap, though a being like you (if you are really there and I am not completely insane) could probably just read my memories instead... All right! Here goes.
I was leaving the gas station I worked at that evening and headed to my favorite bar, Bright's Tavern. The green neon sign flickered predictably, and I noticed the lack of patrons as I stepped in. Just a lonely guy in a tweed jacket nursing a beer with a depressed look on his face, a couple of college kids slamming down drinks like freshmen, and her, the woman who started all of this.
Leaning over the counter, already soused up, she orders another round for the bar. She swivels around to make eye contact with the newcomer. She eyes me up and down, probably feeling nervous about the guy with the tacky button-up shirt and clashing trench coat.
Refocusing her attention on me she stumbles over and pulls me in close to whisper in my ear "Nobody wants..."
"to drink with me." The scotch on her breath confirms my suspicion. She's drunk. "C'mon, I have one more night left before my pass expires and I have to go home. What's a single drink gonna hurt?" She pulls away and bobs a bit before slumping into the stool behind her.
I take a good look at her. Not overly beautiful, but her eyes have a strange piercing quality to them. Almost as if they are twin spears tipped with age dusted emeralds. Her skin is a light tan, but I can't place an ethnicity. Her hair is a dingy brown matted to her head with sweat, and her face is a little wider than one would expect.
"You just gonna keep staring? Or are we gonna have a drink?" Apparently, ogling the interested party is rude.
I finally speak up, ashamed of the shaky, nervous quality of my voice. "You want me to join you? O-Okay, I'm game." Smooth.
Settling into the seat next to her I can hear a soft chuckle escape her lips as she turns to face the bartender. "Hey, Bright! Gimmie another scotch, and somethin' strong for the soft-spoken schmuck to my right!"
"Schmuck? What exactly have I done to earn that little moniker?" I ask defensively.
The bartender gets to work on the order as she leans in close. "You look in a mirror lately? Unshaven, wild hair, seriously, it looks like a dead bush sittin' on your head. Don't get me started on the clothes. Leather jacket and jeans? Maybe, but the dress shirt trashes the effect."
"Well, that's a bitch-slap of honesty if ever I heard one..." She asked me over here to hurl insults? Nah, I'll drink in solitude before I let that happen any more. I get up to leave when her arm snaps out and catches my own, jerking me back onto my stool.
"To good for my company slick? Stick around. You won't regret it." She gives a wink, complete with a mischievous smile. "What's your name?"
The barkeep, a rather stout man named Albert Bright, slides our drinks into place. I look at mine and give it a sniff." Whoa, what is this?" I recoil in disgust from the smell.
Albert starts up with that irritating wheezy laugh of his. "Bourbon. It's about time you moved on to a manly drink. Hell, this woman's tryin' ta do you some good." With that he leaves.
Grumpy, I mutter to myself "What's wrong with a Bloody Mary or a Long-Island Iced Tea?"
The woman interjects "Everything! Drink like a man! Don't be a little bitch-boy! By the way, you still haven't givin' me a name slick."
What the hell, I'll let her have her fun. I slam the shot back and shudder while my body rocks with revulsion as the foul tasting liquid burned it's way down my throat. Sputtering and coughing I state my name. "Donovan, and yours?"
She is laughing her ass off while Albert brings several more shots in, roughly fourteen of them. Slamming one back she grins "Cally! You got a last name Donnie?"
Challenge accepted. I slam another shot back, shudder, and reply "Yeah, do you?"
Shaking her head Cally responds in kind. "That's not the game Donnie-boy." "Enough with the boy shit. You wanna play, let's play." I knock back another three shots, much to her surprise, and that of Albert. "Whaddya got?"
"Finally, it begins!" She knocks her shots back and I know the night is going to end with me in front of a porcelain bowl.
The next few hours blend together. She's all over me, I'm all over her, or we just fell into a drunken, tangled heap of writhing flesh. Prying ourselves apart I try to clear my thoughts. "So, wherryu fruhm? Canada?"
Swaying back and forth she reaches up for another set of shots and hands me one. Tilting it back she states "No. Not Canada." I can feel the idiot grin spreading on my face as I drink the provided shot.
"Good enough for me. Wish I could go with you." Still on the floor she shoves me back down and crawls over and braces herself above my face. "You'd leave this existence and come home with me?!" She squeals in delight, and then collapses on my chest laughing at the uncharacteristically high pitched noise that left her.
"I would love that." I notice that we are the only patrons left here. Even Albert has left. "Where did everybody go?"
Cally laughs again, and matter-of-factly states "My older sister came to this bar during her visit twenty years ago. He's a family friend."
My brain is too fogged over to properly process this massive amount of words and sounds. "I knew there waas shumthin hodaa knerpl guh!" I get cut off when I feel the nights beverages surging out of my body under a nearby table. She is laughing so hard that I hear her coughing for a full minute.
"That's the third time tonight! I win! Say it! Say it!" She is wobbling and swaying the whole time.
"Aright... Fair ish fair. I, Donovan 'Slick' Greene, am the personal Bish-boy of one Madame Cally, the laughing one!" We both crack up and pull each other close together while she places her head in the crook of my neck. Her breath is cooling on my sweaty shoulder. It seems that I lost my jacket, and I don't care right now.
After we calm down she checks her watch. "Twenty minutes for you to leave if you don't wanna come with me." Her voice is even, and the slur barely noticeable.
I stop and think. And then just stop, complex thought hurts my brain. I turn her face and lock eyes with her. She begins to pale. "Are you Okay? You don't seem so good-" She lurches forward and spews all over my chest. I can't stop laughing. "God I love you..."
Wiping her mouth off she curses to herself. "That's a first. Never threw up on a date before. Never drank this much at one sitting." Again glancing at her watch. " You may say that now, but do you really mean it? I've never had this much human interaction... You have mere minutes to change your mind about coming home with me."
I give her a puzzled look, not comprehending the noises her mouth is making. Some of it clicks and I respond. "Oh, so it's a date now is it? Of course I wouldn't mind. Anywhere's gotta be better than this dump... Always did wanna see another country."
She smiles and pulls me into a loving embrace. "Alright. I give you my guarantee of safety. Are you ready to see your new home?"
"Sure. Funny thing, I don't believe in love at first sight... Should I relax, or is this the alcohol talking?"
She laughs. "I doubt that. In Vino Veritas. It's an ancient phrase, Latin or French I believe, 'The truth is in the wine.' Something like that. Don't worry too much slick. We have fun together. That ,at least, is worth something." The whole conversation becomes too complex to follow very well, and I slide into unconsciousness as her watch starts to beep. And the world around me disappears.
"Cally!" A rough, yet feminine, voice echoes throughout my mind. "Calypso! You back yet?! I want to hear all about it! What did you... What the HELL is this?!?!"
Something grabs my hand and rips me from the warmth of a blanket. I slam to the floor and stumble to my feet, glancing around the room as I try to figure out where the hell I am.
Wooden door. Standard queen-sized bed. Naked woman who I assume is Cally... What did I do last night? Daylight drifting through the window nearby. And a rushing, sandpapery sound as a mass of scaled indigo flesh wraps around me and squeezes. I cry out as I feel a rib crack, and the coiled muscle just tightens.
I open my blurred eyes and see the hatred upon the face of the most terrifying nightmare I have ever witnessed. Long flowing black hair draped over a rawhide tunic, glowing amber eyes, and protruding fangs dripping with evil (and possibly venom.)
The shit has just hit the proverbial fan. She squeezes tighter, and I try to squirm free, my eyes drift down to her waistline. Yup. She's part of the snake.
Cally warns the newcomer. "He is under my protection, and is here by invitation."
The grip tightens, and another rib cracks. I can't breathe. As I stop struggling the terror gets the best of me. The warmth spreads from my groin and works it's way down my left leg. I just pissed myself. Great.
"Your new pet just pissed on me. I'll just kill him now. You can eat him later if you want." I groan weakly as a loud popping signals the dislocation of my arm. The vision in my left eye takes on a red tint.
"Stop it. Now. I didn't bring him home for food, I just wanted a traveling companion with a few fresh stories to tell." Cally again.
"So you jump his bones eh? He reeks of alcohol, probably can't even say his own name. Alright. Fine, you take him." The pressure disappears fluidly and I collapse to the ground gasping for air.
"What... what is happening! Help! Somebody help me! I'm dreaming I have to be dreaming I'm athome rightnowandeverythi-" Pain shoots through my face as Cally gives me a well deserved backhand. She follows through with the return strike, making sure to get my attention.
"Are you alright? Anything broken?" "Y-y-yes... my-my-my" I cough, and draw in a much needed breath. "Dislocated my right shoulder, and I believe I have a few cracked ribs. left eye's vision is clouded with a red haze. Was I hit by a car? None of this makes any sense... Tell me I am just concussed and talking to myself..." Another slap to the face.
"This is reality. You wanted to come, remember?" My assailant speaks up. " So, you vacation among the humans. You bring one of the nasty little primates back with you not as food, but entertainment? Cally. What's gotten into you? What do you think will happen if our neighbors find out that you are shacking up with a human?"
"As I said, I'm going to take a trip to the Northern Mountains. I wanted to bring someone different along, but to tell you the truth... I didn't actually think this particular human would make the cut. Lucky me he's got more guts than brains. Accepted a random stranger's challenge. I need someone like that on the long trip."
I finally manage to stop trembling. "Do I have any say in this? And why are you friends with that monster?! That ophidian bitch nearly killed me!"
"Silence monkey!" The serpent-woman slides in closely and I can feel my bladder weakening again. "You will speak when spoken to, or I will crush you."
I crawl into a corner and curl up in a ball of wounded fear. I look towards Cally, my safety net so far, and watch in horror as her legs melt together and thicken while lengthening throughout the room. A fifteen foot long, heavily muscled, and black-scaled serpentine tail flicks about behind her. She smiles, displaying a twin set of inch long fangs."I told you I wasn't from Canada..." The world darkens, and I can feel a hand stroke my face softly. "Sleep. I'll take you to a healer when you awaken. Oh, and welcome to Arcadia!"