In the dead of night, the crunching of snow was all that could be heard as Morgan trudged through the blizzard. Slowly moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, his only companion were the strobes of light that marked his destination and ensured that he did not stray from the path and into the deep woods around him
Eventually, his route led him to a clearing dotted with trees and a lone pylon. On most days, someone else would be called over to resolve whatever issues the electric grid had. But during the holidays, Morgan would end up picking the slack instead as had less commitments compared to his colleagues.
When he finally got the call to look over an issue with the grid, he expected the usual power outage common with such weather and already had most of his gear on standby; a testament to his professionalism was what his company would call it. Honestly, it was just so that he could get it done quick and do something more enjoyable instead. Luckily for him, the pylon with issues just so happened to be adjacent with the transformer it was connected to.
In most cases, Morgan expected the see the already stiff power lines caused by the cold weather to be severed from the rest of the grid through a combination of strong winds and any clutter that came with it.
He had already taken out a notepad from his duffle bag to catalogue the necessary arrangements needed to fix the issue with the rest of the team come the morrow.
As Morgan came closer to the scene of the incident however, he began to regret not taking the day off.
Rather than be greeted with the sight of a single pylon with its base partially buried in snow, what greeted him instead was an extremely surreal sight.
There, amidst the endless sea of black and white, the pylon stood out like a beacon, almost like a dome. The ground around it was normal as it showcased dry, grey concrete. The air around the pylon however was something else entirely. Like fireflies, blue motes of light danced around the singular pylon as snow sizzled out of existence whenever it got near one of them.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, his work ethics kicked in and closer inspection revealed that even the power lines around it were intact – the complete opposite of what he had expected. This meant that something else had caused the power outage. An internal issue rather than an external one as he had previously thought.
Carefully navigating his way through the anomaly, Morgan made his way towards the circuit box. As he got closer, he could not help but smell something burning in the air; something that had fried.
Finally reaching his destination, Morgan opened the box only to be assailed by wisps of smoke before the smell of something truly hit him. Taking a moment to recover as he had recoiled from the sudden assault on his senses, Morgan looked over at the circuit and his eyed widened when seeing that parts of it had blackened. The power outage was caused as a result of excess power breaking it rather than being caused from a disruption.
“How?” he muttered subconsciously; the voice muffled by the thick scarf he wore.
That was when he saw it. A movement – something ruffling within the edge of his peripherals. The innate fear of the unknown took hold and he dropped his bag while simultaneously jumping back; knees slightly bent, ready to make a break for it.
There, at the base of the pylon in-between the four pillars that supported it, a figure was lying down on its back, draped in a black cloth.
No. It wasn’t black cloth. It was burnt clothing.
His first instinct was to rush over but he held himself back, unwilling to share the same fate as whoever that was. Was it a drunkard who stumbled upon the transformer and caused this? There had been similar cases after all. But the sheer isolation of the location ruled that out. Who was that person?
Almost as if answering his question, the figure rose up to a sitting position with both legs stretched to their side and using their right hand to fully support and lift their upper body from the floor as the left hand rested on their thigh.
For someone who had most likely been electrocuted, they sure seemed fine if the fluid movement was anything to go by.
Now that he had a good view, Morgan could see the features. Long hair, smooth skin and the chest… A girl if those features were anything to go by. She was the first one to break the silence.
“W-Who are you?” she stuttered, groggily lifting her head up to meet his eye.
Alright, for someone wearing burnt clothing and was presumably electrocuted, why the hell did she sound completely fine? Maybe she wasn’t the one who got electrocuted?
“Your clothes, what happened to them?” he answered, ignoring her question. What was presumably once a smooth fitting robe of sort had been reduced to a tattered fabric covered in black.
She only furrowed her brows in response. “It’s rude to ignore a person when they asked first.”
She had a point. And she did look like the stubborn type. Might as well play ball then.
“Name’s Morgan,” he nodded, “I’m here to run diagnostics on this pylon.” He pre-emptively answered her next question hoping his professionalism would help break the ice.
Smiling at his introduction, she replied, “Well then Morgan, I’m Suzu. what is this dye-erg-nostic and pie-long?”
“Suzu?” He thought. Now that’s a weird name. He couldn’t think of any culture on the continent with such a name. He’ll figure it out later. For now, however, business. “Someone tampered with this,” he jerked a thumb towards the transformer, “and messed up the whole grid. A couple of houses are spending the holidays without any power because of it and I need to find out what caused it.”
“Ah…” she looked away as if in guilt. “Mother always said I shouldn’t toy around when it comes to this.”
“What are you on about?” Morgan asked, eyes narrowed in confusion. By now, he had relaxed his stance.
Tensing a bit as she had unknowingly gave herself away, she answered. “I may have touched your little… contraption; out of curiosity of course.” All while giving him a disarming smile, playing with her tattered clothes for added effect.
“What exactly did you tou-” either he wasn’t getting enough sleep or he needed his vision checked because it was only now that he noticed it; those blue motes of light that he saw hovering around the pylon. At first, he thought that they were floating around her as well. But as he began talking to her, he could see that they were actually emanating from her instead.
That wasn’t normal.
That was inhumane.
And that scared him.
Judging from how her eyes had narrowed, she must have picked up on his sudden change in demeanor and quickly acted to disarm the situation. Averting her gaze longingly to her side, she opened her mouth and spoke. “Monsters,” she began, “that’s the word you use for people like us, isnt’ it?”
She scoffed. “How ironic it must be to be able to create such wonderful machinery yet still retain such primitive thinking.” She shifted her gaze and locked her eyes on Morgan. “Tell me, what is a monster? How would you describe it?”
Trapped by her judging gaze, all he could do was answer back. “S-something inhumane I guess. Something without emotion.” the reply came with a pause between the two points as he had flinched a bit when it hit him.
“And what would you describe something that is inhumane?”
“I… I don’t know? Doesn’t look human, I guess? Someone with no remorse and feels nothing?”
“So something inhumane is the same as something without emotion? Do I look inhumane then?” she challenged.
No, she didn’t. She looked perfectly human. That was what he wanted to say. But the way she staring at him, the way the particles of blue were beginning to aggressively float about as if in agitation. It made him nervous. His hands were slightly trembling. Steeling himself he answered in earnest. That she looked human
The satisfied smile that came next was a stark contrast to the cold weather around them. “Good. Now that we have reached a consensus, allow me to reintroduce myself. I am Suzu; a Raiju, if it helps put you at ease.
“Raiju?” Morgan asked in confusion.
“Human?” She replied without skipping a beat, mirroring his expression.
“ Right, Suzu, was it? What are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere then?”
“Same as you actually. Making sure others could celebrate in peace. As for how I remain unscathed? That’s a secret.” she cheekily replied, leaning forward and placing her index finger over her lips in a shushing manner to further emphasize the point.
“Yeah, and why’s that? Is it magic or something?” he jokingly remarked only to be met with a knowing smile from the oddity known as Suzu.
Regardless, as much fun as he was having talking with someone new, Morgan still had a job to do and the sooner he could finish it, the sooner he would be gone from the weather. Excusing himself, Morgan went about further assessing the damage that had been done. Luckily enough, she had only tampered with a resistor and the sudden change in outgoing voltage towards the capacitor had triggered a fail-safe hence the current blackout.
Ensuring that the entire system was turned off, Morgan went about replacing the broken parts before restarting the whole thing and sure enough, he heard a gentle humming coming from the machinery as if reassuring him that it was fine now.
So absorbed was he in his work that he failed to notice that Suzu was peaking over his shoulder watching him work the entire time, personal space be damned.
“You know, curiosity killed the cat.” He argued, turning around to face her after schooling his expression. She didn’t scare him with that stunt. Honest.
“But satisfaction brought it back.” She shot back to which Morgan gave her an exasperated look. After a short staring contest, Suzu merely tilted her head and brought a hand up as if it were a paw and let out a meow which provoked Morgan despite the endearing scene. It didn’t help how her ear-like hairs were also twitching in sync.
“Right, well as much fun as I had with you, I really need to go now. You should too. Weather is picking up pretty badly for some reason.” He reasoned before turning around to collect his stuff.
“Of course, of course. But will you be alright going back?” A hint of smugness in her voice.
“As long as I stick to the path.”
“The one over ther-” Morgan turned to point out only to see how the heavy winds had caused the snow to not only cover his tracks but also buried the guiding strobes under heaps of snow. In fact, the only area not affected seemed to be those touched by the motes of light which Suzu herself generated.
“If I may be so bold, I… could offer you shelter until the weather dies down and trust me, something is telling me it won’t until the sun rises.” Despite the seriousness of the situation that Morgan found himself to be in, Suzu’s tone still held that playful mirth, as if there as he was being subjected to an unseen joke.
Deep down, Morgan had no wish to follow a relatively complete stranger much less to her home in which she held all the advantage. Part of him wanted to refuse out of fear and suspicion but at the same time, what choice did he have?
“I’ll be on my way once it’s safe enough.” He grudgingly told her.
“My my, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying your best not to reject an offer from a lady such as me.” She giggled.
With a shake of his head, Morgan followed his questionable savior hoping he wouldn’t live to regret it but not before leaving a text for his boss just in case – leaving out all the mystical details, of course.
As he began following Suzu deeper into the forest, Morgan felt that either the Raiju was extremely dexterous or that she knew this forest more than she let on. Whereas Suzu smoothly cut through the mass of foliage with ease, Morgan stumbled with every step like a drunkard. Thankfully, his companion was kind enough to steady her pace with his after realizing how big of a gap there was between them after only a minute of traversing through the area.
There was a comfortable silence between the two as they walked, the pair either taking in the scenery or too focused attempting to catch up. Ironically, despite the violent blizzard surrounding him, he never lost sight of Suzu, as if there was a barrier shielding them from the snow. Soon, the silence was broken as the Raiju chose to open her mouth.
“A question, if I may.” Her head turning sideways as she did so, never breaking her pace. Morgan hummed in response, meeting her eyes as he did so.
“How’s your boss? Is she enjoying the weather as much as the rest of you?” she innocently asked, as if knowing the behaviour of a stranger’s boss wasn’t so suspicious.
Thinking on it, she did raise a fair point, his boss for all her aloof and cold nature seemed to be happy whenever it snowed. If anything, she was more comfortable working in such weather and the amount of clothing she wore during such condition was minimum at best, just a jacket with mittens and scarf as if to blend in rather than to insulate herself.
His musing was cut short when he nearly found himself bumping into Suzu were it not for her tail holding him back.
Upon catching sight of her house. Morgan felt like he had traveled back to the medieval era with how antique her house seemed. He wouldn’t be surprised if it had been passed down from generation to generation.
“We’re here!” she cheerfully announced before rushing to the porch and urging Morgan over. For some reason, he felt that he would become more acquainted with this house in the future.1463 Views