“I SEE A RED DOOR AND I WANT TO PAINT IT BLACK…”
Pain. Pain in the head. And the groin, but mostly the head. Made worse by the clock-radio’s shrieking declaration of its love for the darker portions of the color palette. I grope around to my left until I finally chance upon the alarm clock’s off button. Only then does it occur to me that I’ve got such morning wood that a lumberjack might well try to clear cut me. Kind of uncomfortable really. Just gotta picture that monster from the end of The Thing…
How about a huge roach?
An unreasonably large power bill?
Just going to hang around down there all day aren’t you boner?
I’m not sure exactly what ‘roided-up aphrodisiacs mothgirls produce when they’re in the mood, but it seems they have a rather long half-life. Speaking of mothgirls, the one who was keeping me warm is nowhere to be found.
“Right here.” Sings a voice from just outside the bedroom door. Kaitlyn traipses into the room a moment later, wet-haired and wearing my robe.
She has steaming mugs in two of her hands. She leans over and offers me one of them. I accept it and take a drink, little realizing the gastronomic horror I’m about to unleash on myself.
“Good God, what is this?” I choke out.
“Double espresso with peanut butter and orange slices.”
“I dusted you out pretty bad last night. You’re going to need to need fats, protein, and vitamins after all that.”
“Why not just let me eat them then?”
“You’ll also need caffeine. Badly. That doesn’t even have anything to do with mothdust, I’ve just seen you in the morning. You need it.”
“But. I. You. This is.”
“See what I mean? You can hardly even speak.” She chastises me as she sips from a mug of her own that appears to contain the same witch’s brew she’s trying to foist on me.
“I was actually thinking it would be nice to get breakfast out. Maybe get some, eh…”
She likes sweet food, numbnuts. Start there.
“Ooooohhhhh,” she coos, clapping her free pair of hands together in delight, “I’d LOVE some pancakes. Let’s go to that place across the way from the home goods store. They have free wifi there.”
“Sounds great. Just let me make myself presentable.”
“Go ahead and finish your coffee and stuff first, I’ll wait for you in the living room.”
Yeah. Finish my ‘coffee’. I take a sniff of the bilious liquid as she leaves, and conclude that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of another drop of it passing my lips. Once I’m satisfied she’s out of earshot I toss the whole mess out the window.
We must have gotten a bit of unseasonable rain last night; the ground is wet and the rising sun is just starting to cook off a thin fog as we pull into a space at Welch’s Pancake House. Like so much of the town, Welch’s looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades. The neon sign that proudly proclaims its name in thick, blobby letters pokes right up through the enameled canopy that covers the strip of parking spaces in front of the restaurant proper, a tiny little A-frame with more windows than walls, all of which are adorned with faded signs touting their combos and specialties.
“My wings are killing me…” Kaitlyn whines as she at last frees herself from her seatbelt and stands up.
“Sorry, but not all of us can fly.”
“I could have carried you…”
“I can’t think of anything more terrifying.”
“Sissy.” She chastises me as we sidestep a puddle by the door and enter the restaurant.
It’s still pretty early, so the place isn’t quite as slammed as it will be when the rest of the world starts waking up and the holstaurus waiting just inside encourages us to sit anywhere we like. We opt for the counter, so Kaitlyn’s wings will have room. She waves off our server’s offer of a menu, declaring that she already knows what she wants.
“Short stack of blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar and lots of maple butter. Tea with honey, and some sliced orange.”
The holstaurus nods and scribbles down her order almost as fast as she rattles it off, then looks my way expectantly.
She smiles gratefully at the simplicity of my order and shuffles off to give it to the cook, leaving the both of us to stare idly at the TV set over the counter. It’s showing a local channel, currently running some dreadful kid’s show featuring, big shocker, a talking dog. The organized chaos of the short order cooks behind the counter is far more interesting. Knives and ladles flying every which way, curt orders being given in that odd shorthand language only food service people know, clouds of flour puffing up into the air.
“You know that reminds me, you’re going to have to clean up that mess you made.”
“I think we BOTH had a hand in that, as well as a few other body parts.” Kaitlyn fixes me with a dirty smirk as she speaks.
“I meant the dust. No way I’m getting near that stuff. I only caught a few breaths of it last night and I’m STILL, eh, feeling the effects, as it were.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Believe it or not, having to walk around all day with a tent pole tucked into my waistband isn’t much fun.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll run a vacuum around when we get home.”
The waitress reappears with our food. That was quick.
For once I manage to beat Kaitlyn to the punch on digging in; I’m on my third forkful before she even starts eating. Gotta get the taste of that liquid abomination I woke up to out of my mouth. The conversation can’t very well continue with the both of us stuffing our faces, so we turn back to the TV in silence. The kid’s program has ended to make way for the local news.
“The ‘Little Sisters of the Forest’ continue to defy all attempts to compel them to leave the state park, and are in fact expanding their complex. We now go live to the site of their latest project.”
I nearly drop my water glass as it cuts away to, of all the people in the world, that whacked-out little nekomata who forced those cookies on me!
“We’re very happy to say that we’ve added two new ovens to the Mother Tree.” She announces proudly as the camera pans up to show an enormous tree with a door built into its trunk. A sign hanging from one of the branches declares it to be a bakery.
“Tell me young lady-“
“Uhhh, tell me ma’am, what is it you hope to gain from living out here in the woods?”
“To set a strong example for how monsters ought to live; naturally and free from the distractions of the modern world. Also, we’re hoping to attract some sweet-toothed onii-chans to snuggle up to.”
“With huge rods.”
“Like, big enough to make our tummies bulge when they stick it in us.”
“That’s not a requirement though. We’re working on a potion that should make anyone who drinks it big enough to double as a battering ram.”
“Should you real-“
“And we’ve already got something that will make them produce enough spunk to fill a paint bucket.”
“LET’S JUST CUT TO A COMMERCIAL JERRY!”
“But I’m not done-“
The screen quickly flicks over to an energetic middle-aged man telling his audience about a new spray that’s guaranteed to keep ant girls out of your garden.
“Boy, that was weird.” Muses Kaitlyn as she slices through her stack of pancakes.
“Wouldn’t a bakery inside a tree be a huge fire hazard?”
“Now THAT was a satisfying breakfast.”
I have to agree with her. I’d realized after echoing her order that I was probably signing on for a horrid toothache, but the cook took some artistic liberties with our food and delivered something that wasn’t nearly as diabetes-inducing as Kaitlyn would probably have liked.
“Well, what should we do now?”
Both of us jump at the sound of a familiarly hoarse voice. Charlotte stands at the crosswalk on the opposite side of the street, in plain clothes this time, arms full of shopping bags.
“Uh, er, JUST WAIT THERE FOR A SECOND!” she shouts at us from across the way. There aren’t any cars coming from either end of the street, but she seems determined not to cross until the traffic signal says she can.
“Should we leave?” I whisper to her.
“We can’t. Her light just turned green.”
“You’re in my jurisdiction this time Kaitlyn!” Charlotte declares as she closes in on us, “You HAVE to come with me this time! I’m gonna get in trouble if they find out I let this slide!”
“Okay Charlotte, you caught me.” Kaitlyn fights back a smirk as she puts one set of hands in the air. She puts the other behind her back, and from my vantage point I can see that she has her fingers crossed. She gives me a conspiratorial wink.
“You are under arrest! You have the right to remain silent! You have the right to, eh…” Charlotte shifts uncomfortably, looking for somewhere to set her shopping bags. The ground all around us is covered in puddles.
“C-could you hold these for me? I just need to get my cuffs.” Charlotte blushes with embarrassment at her own incompetence and holds out two paper bags stuffed to the brim with discounted produce and wool grooming supplies.
“Sure.” I tell her, accepting her parcels.
“Okay, um…I do have them…Somewhere. I’m pretty sure…” Charlotte mutters as she pats herself down, starting with the pockets on her blouse and ending with the back pockets of her one-size-too-small blue jeans.
“…I think they’re back in my car…” she admits, shoulders and ears alike sagging.
“Sorry to hear that.” Kaitlyn says with a sadly sympathetic smile.
“I-I’ll be right back. Stay here! You have to stay here if I tell you to!” Charlotte seizes her bags from me and clops hurriedly back across the street, racing to catch the last few seconds of the crossing signal.
“I’ll be right back!” she insists.
We wait patiently until we’ve lost sight of her in the home goods store’s parking lot before turning to face each other.
“We’re not actually going to stay here are we?”
“Let’s find someplace to hide until the heat dies down then.”
Somehow I feel myself grinning childishly at the thought of playing hide and seek with the fuzz.
“How about the bookstore? They let you hang around even if you don’t buy anything.”
“I never would have guessed such a small town would host such a large bookstore…” I comment as I marvel at the enormous monument to mankind’s hunger for the same stories they’ve heard dozens of times already before me.
“You’d never guess that there was anything around here but the grocer’s, the gas station, and the liquor store.” Kaitlyn retorts, poking me in the ribs with her elbow.
“That’s not true. There’s also a Chinese takeout joint and a pizza parlor here.”
“Let’s see if they’ve got a dictionary here. I’m almost certain that if I look up ‘recluse’ it’ll just be a picture of you.”
“Oh shut up.”
“Whatever you say, Jennifer. Just pick out a magazine and meet me in the reading area in the back.”
Kaitlyn tosses a wave over her shoulder and heads for the corner of the store farthest from us, leaving me to browse through 6 aisles of every magazine known to the civilized world before I finally have to settle on a copy of Reader’s Digest. The vast majority of the selection here is either niche magazines for subjects I have no interest in or monstergirl interest magazines far too shameful to be seen reading in public.
Kaitlyn’s already lost in her paperback when I find her, sprawled sideways in a worn-out leather recliner to keep her wings from being crushed. I take a seat across from her and start flicking through my magazine. There’s really nothing much of interest in it. Recipes, health advice, news that I saw on the internet two days ago. I can’t keep focused on any of it, and it’s a bit awkward sitting next to Kaitlyn when she’s the only one engrossed in her book.
“So what are you reading?”
Kaitlyn shifts her book upright in front of her face. Hmmm, there’s something familiar about that cover, even with her hands covering most of it.
“…Hours of slamming like this would leave any girl’s vertical garden looking like a darts team’s goalkeeper, and I was no different!”
“…With his tallywacker slamming deep into my meat purse, the sensation of his bald avenger smashing my cervix made me quake like Micheal J. Fox licking a car battery …”
“…The unrelenting orgasms from his love lollipop fucking my shamevelope made me cum so hard…”
I leap out of my chair and clamp my hand over Kaitlyn’s mouth before she can read any more of the abomination I turned in to my publisher so many years ago aloud.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
Kaitlyn’s lips curl into a cruel smile under my palm.
“What’s the matter?” she says as she pushes my hand away, “Don’t you take pride in your work?”
“Well then maybe you should stop drawing so much attention to us.” She suggests, gesturing to the many heads peeking out from the surrounding aisles to investigate the commotion we’ve made.
“OKAY WE’VE GOT AN APPOINTMENT WE’D BETTER GET GOING!”
I grab Kaitlyn by the wrist and haul her off toward the other end of the store, where no one will have heard the indecent pap that kept me off food stamps all those years ago.
“If you ever do that again I’m calling Terminix on you.”
Kaitlyn brushes off my threats and pinches my cheek.
“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed.”
Kaitlyn releases my cheek and sneaks a kiss onto it before leaning back against a shelf of legal texts and chuckling to herself, rolling her eyes.
“I can’t believe we used to beg our friend’s older sister to buy those for us.”
“Neither can I. The target audience was supposed to be lonely monstergirls who are getting too old to just chase people down when they’re horny.”
“Well,” she sighs as she stands back up, “Let’s get back to reading before they kick us out.”
“That sounds great.”
“What on earth do you actually need that book for?”
“You never know,” she says, turning her new copy of ‘Identifying Wood’ over in her hands, “It could prove to be a useful skill.”
“Well, I suppose the fact that someone wrote a book on it -does- mean that there’s market for it.”
“And I’m getting in on the ground floor of the industry.” She declares proudly.
“Mind if I hang around a bit when we get home? It’s supposed to rain again later and I don’t want to get caught in it.”
“Sure, but you’re not allowed to get wasted again. Once or twice a week is plenty.”
“Don’t make me leave you out here.”
“I don’t think you would. You like me too much.”
She leans over and pecks me on the cheek as she speaks. I can’t argue with that, so I crank up the radio and focus on getting us home through the glare of the setting sun and a light misting that grows into a steady downpour by the time we’re pulling past the house and into the tin-roofed prefab I use as a garage out back.
A bolt of lightning stabs down in the distance and the din of raindrops on the roof of the car grows louder.
“The walk up to the house is going to suck.”
“No it won’t. I’ve got an idea.”
Kaitlyn tosses her door open and steps out onto the concrete floor of the garage with a slatey click. She takes a moment to groan and stretch, forcing blood back into her wings, then opens the door and steps out into the rain. She holds one wing off to the side and does her best to hold it parallel to the ground, shielding a small area from the downpour.
“Come on, let’s go.”
I feel a bit guilty about accepting such a generous offer, but I can hardly refuse her. I duck down low under her wing and we take off toward the back porch at a jog.
“Thanks.” I tell her once we’re safely under the awning.
“Least I could do for letting me stay here.” She says nonchalantly before hiking her sweater up over her head.
“What are you doing?”
She responds by way of flicking the garment at me. I duck just in time to miss it. It makes a wet squelch as it hits the wall, sticking briefly before drooping down onto the ground.
“These things are soaked. The use of your dryer is mine by right of I-kept-those-nice-slacks-of-yours-from-getting wet.”
I can’t help but gawk a bit as she ditches her shorts and undergarments as well. Her nipples are poking out prominently, stiffened by the cool air. Her skin and chitin is glistening with moisture. Her face is a bit flushed from the run up. In spite of my earlier protestations, I can’t deny that she’s exuding pure sex at the moment.
I shake my head. How long was I staring at her?
“They’re not going anywhere,” she says, pushing her bust together with all four hands, “Could I get a towel and a hot drink before you ogle me?”
“Ah. Right. Sorry.”
I dart inside and retrieve a laundry bag and a towel as quickly as I can. Kaitlyn’s started shivering by the time I get back, and she eagerly begins dabbing the water from her hair while I bag up her wet clothes. I stand aside to let her in. She heads for the living room, I head for the laundry room. When I return, she’s stooped in front of the fireplace, matches in hand.
“I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, but we do have central heating here.”
“This is cozier. If you were a widower who left the suffocating clamor of the city to settle on the frontier and live as a prospector with a bearskin suit it would be perfect.”
“I’m pretty sure I wrote something like that for a short story collection a few years back…”
“Stop reminding me of the shameful career path I’ve chosen.”
“Stop buying archaic firestarters. You know Macon was still Speaker of the House when they invented these right?” she queries over the snap of another match breaking against the box.
“Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina. Speaker of the House in 1805.”
“Why do you know that?
“Well that doesn’t change the fact that you need to buy a lighter.”
“The lighter is built-in.”
“Into the fire place?”
“It’s a gas fire place. Those logs are made of concrete. Even if you could get a match lit it would do you no good.”
“…Oh. I knew that. I just wanted to make sure you knew.”
“If you say so.”
I reach over her head to retrieve the fireplace key and get a blaze going. Kaitlyn hugs me from behind once I stand up. This seems awfully familiar.
I’m not sure if my body can handle fucking like we did last night again. At least not so soon.
“I just want to cuddle.” She mumbles into my back, rocking me gently back and forth, “We don’t have to do anything.”
“Skin-on-skin cuddling is the best kind.”
I turn around to face her, her grip loosening to allow me free movment. It’s rather hard to read someone with such inhuman eyes, but the soft smile on her lips is real. She just wants to be kept warm.
I follow her over to the couch, where she lies down on her side and shimmies up against the back to make room for me. She waits until I’ve joined her and gotten settled to gently roll me onto my back and position herself on top of me. She rests her forehead on mine, eyes closed.
“Thanks.” She whispers, “For everything. Really. You’re the first friend I’ve made in a long time.”
“Funny. I was going to say the same thing.”
Kaitlyn hums happily and nestles in closer to me.
“So…” she says softly into my shoulder, “Since we’re friends, could I maybe, you know, stay here?”
Hmmm. Wasn’t expecting that.
“You want to live here full time?”
Her face is still nestled against me, but I can hear the uncertainty in her voice.
“What’s wrong with where you live now?”
“Nothing other than the fact that it doesn’t exist.”
“Homeless? A vagrant? Yes. I sleep under the bridge or in warehouses usually. Shower at the service station, wash at the coin-op place.”
“I’m…sorry? I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s not your fault. So, how about it? Want a roommate-with-benefits?”
I feel around at her sides until I manage to find a hand to entwine my fingers with.
Kaitlyn doesn’t say anything, merely brings her lips up to my forehead and then settles back down in the crook of my neck. I pull the blanket down from the back of the sofa over the both of us.
My cat appears on the arm of the couch and starts slinking along the back. It looks as though our little hallmark moment is about to be curtailed by another pet attack, but he surprises us both by stopping and gingerly sniffing at Kaitlyn’s hair. Nothing more. No screeching, no claws. He seems satisfied that everything is in order and curls up in the armchair across from us. Kaitlyn beams at me.
“Told you he was getting used to me.”
We lay still, listening to the sound of the rain and each other’s breathing, until sleep finally overtakes us
I’m the first one to wake up, roused by a cool, wet spot on my chest that has no business being there. Kaitlyn drooled on me in her sleep. I look around for something to clean myself off with. No such luck. My stirring does however, manage to rouse Kaitlyn. She squirms and stretches on top of me before she opens her eyes and assesses the water damage she’s inflicted on my shirt.
“Oops. My bad.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just let me get a new shirt.”
Kaitlyn groans with unwanted exertion and rolls off of me. Shaking the cobwebs out of my head, I feel my way down the dim hallway back to the laundry room and retrieve a clean, if rather wrinkled, cotton tee from that basket of clean clothes I’ve been meaning to fold for over a week. Almost as an afterthought, I grab Kaitlyn’s clothes out of the dryer too. Don’t want to seem -too- eager to let my new roommate gad about in the nude after all. Kaitlyn has migrated to the kitchen by the time I return. She’s hunched over the Mr. Coffee on the counter, trying to get it working. Her wings flex and wiggle with frustration, the autumn-colored curtain occasionally parting just enough to give me a glimpse of her immaculately sculpted behind.
“You have to jiggle the switch.”
“Which one? There’s like nine of ‘em.”
“Just let me do it.” I suggest as I step up beside her.
“What’s the matter?” she asks wryly, glancing at the bundle of clothing in my arms from the corner of her eye, “Tired of looking at my girls already?”
She turns to present her naked body to me squarely, pouting, and cups her breasts with one set of arms while the other folds behind her head in an amalgam of two classic pinup-girl poses.
“You’re free to prance around here like it’s the summer of love all you want, so long as I’m free to sell tickets.”
“You wish. Perv.” She smirks and sticks her azure tongue out at me before swiping her clothes from my hands.
Kaitlyn steps to the side and starts getting dressed, leaving me to go through the arcane rituals that ultimately get the fickle coffee machine to work. She finally manages to get her wings through the slits cut in the back of her sweater just as it starts burbling out a stream of 100% medium-roast Arabica.
“I really need to get myself a top that was designed with winged girls in mind…”
“Is that a hint?”
“Could be, if you’re willing to trade a shopping trip for sex.”
“I don’t know, what’s the exchange rate for sex to shopping?”
“Very favorable.” Kaitlyn purrs before sidling up and pulling me into a tight hug and a gentle kiss.
The coffee machine dings before we can get any further. Just as well. If we went at it the way we did the other day this early in the morning the whole rest of the day would be shot. Kaitlyn fetches a pair of mugs from the drying rack and pours each of us a cup. She hands mine directly to me and then sweetens hers to dangerously high levels of sugar saturation. We’re both just taking our first sips when there’s a knock at the door.
“What is it with us? Why can’t we have breakfast without being interrupted?”
“It IS weird isn’t it? Man, if it was Charlotte out there it would be pretty crazy.”
“…Well I suppose we should go get it.”
Kaitlyn leads the way into the living room, stopping along the way to fuss her hair into something approaching presentability in the hall mirror. The door creaks open, revealing a dire wolf that fills the doorframe to bursting, dressed in a uniform not unlike Charlotte’s.
“That’s me.” Chirps Kaitlyn, undaunted by the officer’s massive stature.
“Great. I’m Deputy Reynolds, Big Rock County Sheriff’s Department. You’re under arrest for vagrancy, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.”
I’m too shocked to say anything else. No one knew she was out here. No one except…
Kaitlyn stands silently for a few moments. Then starts giggling uncontrollably.
“DO YOU THINK THIS IS A FUCKING JOKE?”
That escalated quickly.
“Pffff-haha. YES! I’m getting arrested by a LITERAL law-dog!”
“NO. No we don’t think this is a joke. Not at all.”
Do you have any sense of self-preservation AT ALL woman?
“Oh come on! This is hilarious! Puns like that don’t come along every day!”
For heaven’s sake please be quiet.
“Pun this!” The deputy barks and slaps a pair of cuffs around Kaitlyn’s wrists, but this only serves to amuse her further.
“Good try McGruff, but…”
Kaitlyn holds up her second set of hands in front of the dire wolf’s face, then stands up on her tiptoes and starts scratching at her ears. The deputy looks like she might be on the brink of an aneurysm.
“THAT DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN.”
“You should come feel her ears. They’re really soft.”
“SHE DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT.”
Reynolds swats Kaitlyn’s hands away and digs through her pockets, eventually retrieving a set of disposable plastic cuffs. Kaitlyn holds her free set of hands up and allows them to be zipped into the off-white bands without a fuss, but fails to reign in her giggling.
“Not very green.” She muses, “Al Gore would not approve.”
Her shouting seems totally spent, but I notice Reynold’s left eyebrow twitching with psychotic rage just before she drags Kaitlyn across the porch and down the steps.
“Hold it! You can’t just-“
“I’ve got a warrant that says I can.”
Reynolds stops for a moment to retrieve a crumpled arrest warrant from her pocket and hit me right between the eyes with it, which prompts more snickering on Kaitlyn’s part.
“Cut that out!” she shouts as they cross the lawn to the squad car parked on the far side
“Don’t worry about a thing, JENNIFER! I’m sure this will all work out!” Kaitlyn calls out to me before she’s shoved unceremoniously into the back seat and the car door slams in her face.
I uncrumple the warrant and look over it as the car hums to life and pulls out into the street. It checks out.