The rest of my afternoon was a little hectic. I bought a bunch of cleaning supplies and a bed for my apartment. The bed would be delivered tomorrow at around midday. I told them that there would be stairs involved, but the sales rep just waved his burly hand in dismissal and said something like “Young lady, our boys have strong backs, they will do their job,” which I took to meant they were going to be grumpy and underpaid.
I got back to the apartment building with my cleaning supplies and dragged Kelly up to clean my apartment. She was happy and chirpy about getting to hang out, no matter what the activity, and it made cleaning my apartment seem to take no time at all. The girl was a wonder of happiness, at least externally. I had a feeling that there was more going on under the surface, though. Her vulnerability when she thought I was ditching her had let me in on that fact.
As we were getting ready for bed, her vulnerability showed itself again.
“Kalia, when you move into your apartment, will we still hang out?” she asked with her back to me, her dyed black hair cascading over her shoulders.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t we?” I asked quietly.
“Just cos you’re like, way older that me and people always say that teenagers like me are annoying to hang out with and stuff,” she said with a sad sigh.
I walked over and sat on the edge of her bed so I could see her face, “Hey, it’s fine alright? You’re so cheerful and happy that it always brightens my mood. Yeah, sure, you do things that are annoying and teenagerish, but that’s fine. It’s endearing even. We’ll definitely still hang out. You can come on up to my apartment any time you want to see me.”
She fell forward onto the bed and rolled over to look up at me with her adorable dark eyes, “Will you come down to visit me too?”
“Definitely,” I smiled down at her, “Your place will probably still be nicer than mine after all.”
She gave a grin, “Yeah, probably.”
We got into our beds and snuggled in for sleep. My default sleeping position seemed to be hugging my tail to my face since I changed. The warmth and comfort it provided was sorely needed during the cold autumn that was moving towards winter. I was happy I didn’t actually smell like an animal, to be honest. My biggest problem with cuddly fluffy animals was that they might smell kinda bad. My tail fur just smelled like human hair, which was nice.
We got up a lot earlier the next morning, and by that I mean Kelly woke up early again and then pestered me until I got up. We tapped into the media again to see the latest news on the problems that the storms had brought on the world. President Trump’s advisors had finally talked him into declaring a state of emergency for the whole of the USA, and the military was getting its shit together and would be moving into cities to restore order. It was looking pretty terrifying out there, and I was starting to doubt if my bed would get delivered.
The reason things were getting terrifying out there was because some pretty nasty people had gotten their hands on some awful powers. Like the guy who had killed Jocelyn, many other incidents had occurred and continued to occur around the world. People with agendas and opinions were seizing the perceived opportunity the chaos had presented and were causing havoc. The government was urging people to stay in their homes unless it was absolutely vital they went out.
After waiting for Kelly to put on her gothy makeup, we climbed the few floors to my own apartment and waited with the door open in case the bed delivery actually went through today.
I was proven wrong at almost eleven in the morning when two beefy dudes arrived with my bed and mattress. I got them to carry the king single bed into my recently scrubbed bedroom and lay it on the floor. I thanked them as they left and got to setting up my bed. It was mostly in one piece but I had to put the legs on it.
“I guess you need sheets and blankets for your little fox den now,” Kelly said with a giggle.
I batted her with my tail and shrugged, “I guess back to the mall?”
“Nah, I know a great store for that! And I want to pick up that new pokemon game that came out for the Switch,” she added with a little cheeky grin.
“Why not go to the gaming shop in the mall? I know I saw one,” I said with a tilt to my head. I felt my ears flop a bit to the side.
Kelly traced the flop with her eyes and giggled again, but she didn't comment, instead choosing to answer my question, “Cos they are expensive as fuck, and there's a way cheaper kind of indie place in town. The last time I was there was last month when I turned seventeen and I finally got Breath of the Wild.”
“I see... How do we get into town? Bus?” I asked.
“Yup! I got some change if you don’t have any, too,” she said excitedly.
“Alright then, Show me to the bus stop then my intrepid guide!” I said with a laugh.
Something that was almost immediately recognisable in town was how few people were around compared to normal. Despite the rotting outer reaches of the city, the central business district had continued mostly unscathed over the decades. When I had arrived in Penrith what felt like years ago, I had felt a certain vibrancy to the place. There had been this air on anticipation for the future that had lifted the mood and brightened the tall concrete buildings.
That air had changed in the last few days. The hopefulness was still there, but it was vastly overshadowed by the sense of fear and uncertainty. People eyed each other suspiciously and the few openly emerged people were hurrying around with a harried look about them. I had washed my clothing and was wearing some modified jeans, my tail sticking out for everyone to see, my ears reaching for the sky in their usual perky way.
It was time to test how things stood between people like me and the normal population I guess.
I turned to Kelly with a raised eyebrow, “So where first do you think?”
She shrugged, “The bedding store is closer, so I guess we go there?”
“Sounds good to me,” I smiled.
“Alright! This way!” she said happily, taking off at a fast walk in the direction she indicated.
We wandered through town at a reasonably fast pace, the uncharacteristically empty streets allowing us to make much better time than we normally would. I got a lot of looks walking around with my foxy features, but I ignored them. People could think what they wanted, I didn’t feel like hiding myself.
When we arrived at the store, we went in to find a store devoid of customers and we were very quickly pounced on by one of the staff. She watched me warily and spoke to Kelly instead.
“Welcome! How can I help you today?” she greeted us.
Kelly looked confused and looked over at me, so I stepped forward slightly and said in the sweetest voice I could muster, “Uh, I’m looking to buy everything I need to outfit a king size single bed, thanks.”
She looked down at me with fear for a moment but then smiled and gave a nod. I think my cute act, big doe eyes and innocent looking expression won her over.
“Alright then, should we get your sheets first?” she asked.
Nodding, we followed her around the quiet store with its soft upbeat music and new-things smell. It was pleasant, and as always, Kelly was a delight to be around. She would get distracted by all sorts of things and excitedly point them out. She was such a good kid.
I picked up a bunch of plain white fitted sheets for my bed, as well as some normal sheets. Pillows and pillow cases were next, and Kelly insisted I buy the ones with purple polka dots on them. I had to just sigh and buy them, because there would be no dissuading her. I picked up a few standard wool blankets after that, as well as a big fluffy duvet. The duvet cover was another concession to my adorable young friend. She somehow found a duvet cover that had little pictures of foxes all over it.
When she brought it over to the store clerk and I, she showed it to us and the clerk burst out laughing. I felt my face heat in embarrassment.
When the clerk calmed down she apologised, “Oh dear, I’m so sorry. That’s just… too funny.”
“So are you going to get it?” asked Kelly with guileless hope.
“No… It’s a bit on the nose Kelly,” I told her with a frown.
“Oh come on! You’re wearing a fox hoodie! You have to buy it!” she exclaimed.
“I don’t want to!” I said with a pout.
“Pleaaaase? It’s so cute! It really suits you!” she begged, twirling the end of her scarf around in a way that betrayed her playfulness.
“Oh my god fine. I’ll get the silly fox duvet cover,” I gave in with a sigh.
“Sweeeet! You’re gonna have the coolest room once I’m done with you!” she bubbled happily.
The store clerk watched the exchange with a wry smile and shook her head, “You both have a wonderful friendship.”
“Thanks,” I grumbled.
We made our way with all the stuff and bought it, costing me not as much of my nefariously gained money as I’d have thought. I’d still have to find some more somewhere though, before I ran out.
The load we had to carry was bulky, and two relatively small girls would have trouble carrying it all. Since the store was offering deliveries, I gave them my address and they said they would get my purchases over to my apartment. I was lucky no one had turned up, because their delivery driver was free to do it right then. I asked him to leave it down in the office where people wouldn’t steal my stuff. I just hoped Mr Souchy didn’t take it.
Either way, my stuff would probably be home before I was. When we exited the store, Kelly had a huge self satisfied grin on her face.
“I can’t wait till we can decorate your apartment some more! It’s going to be so fun!” she burbled.
I gave a wry grin at my interminably happy friend, “Yeah, I’m sure it will be. Now, where do we have to go to get to your game store?”
“This way!” she said, marching off down the street.
The walk to the gaming store turned out to be longer than I had thought it would be. Kelly had gone quiet a few blocks back, and so I assuaged my own boredom by looking around at the city.
Every now and then there were signs of strife, a recently bent lamp post here, a broken shop window with cardboard taped over it there. It was almost like the apocalypse had started, and then decided it didn’t actually feel like it that night and decided to call it quits until another time. The high buildings still stood, the deciduous trees still slowly shed their leaves and the cars still wooshed by. Life tried to go on as normal within the scared damaged city.
Kelly turned to me as I was getting philosophical about the last few days’ conflict, and opened her mouth to speak when we heard a crash up ahead. The crash was followed by a roar and a thump, and down the street flew a man. He landed in a heap on the asphalt of the street with a groan.
The man wore a tight outfit made out of what looked to be faux leather dyed a pleasing American blue colour. He looked a bit like a certain Captain from the Marvel universe in the outfit actually, but he had green and teal accents over the blue. His face was covered by an upper face mask with the same colours, leaving his long-for-a-guy strawberry blond hair free in the soft breeze. He lifted himself off the ground with more ease than I would expect from someone who had just sailed forty meters through the air onto a hard street.
Following him with a bellow of rage was another man, if that was still a word that could apply to the hulking beast that barrelled down the street. The huge man coming down the street in a rage was almost two and a half times the height of a normal human male, and sported a pair of brass bull horns that protruded from his thick brow. His eyes glowed with a dull red hue as he sighted his target standing defiantly in the center of the street and his metallic bronze skin rippled with hidden muscle as he charged.
The giant man wore nothing but a bedsheet around his loins, and it appeared to have taken a beating in whatever super powered battle these two had been engaged in.
Moments before the impact, the smaller man in the leather suit gave an excitement-laced cry and swung his right fist in a powerful arc. As the fist moved through the air, a blue shield of strange rippling energy formed around it like armour. The impact was almost profound in its intensity, the skin of the bronze man rippled with the impact and he was thrown sideways into a car that was parked on the road. Pieces of glass and debris zipped through the air and I rushed to cover Kelly with my body.
I felt the stinging impacts of the glass, but luckily I didn’t feel any pierce my skin. I brought Kelly’s face into view and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah I am, you protected me...” she said, her voice laden with fear.
Bellowing again, the bronze man picked up the wreckage of the car he had landed on, throwing it like it was made of so much styrofoam. The wrecked car sailed through the air towards the suited man, only to be stopped my another blue energy shield a few feet in front of him. The kinetic energy the car had gained did not go down without a fight however, and the wreck all but exploded into cartwheeling hunks of aluminum and steel. One chunk clipped Kelly’s leg just below the hip and she cried out in pain, collapsing in a heap on the ground.
I knelt next to her and quickly took stock of the wound. My friend was hurt, possibly badly. I needed to make sure she would be okay for the immediate future, then get her out of here. Her leg had a gash about an inch deep, and I had no idea if that would be life threatening or not. I grabbed her scarf and wrapped it around the wound before tying it off and looking into her pain filled eyes.
“Do you feel up to walking Kelly?” I asked her with concern.
She looked up at me in a daze, and she didn’t get a chance to speak when one of the cars behind us was thrown violently through a storefront in a shower of glass. We heard a scream of terror and pain from inside the building and a normal looking man rushed from the building, fleeing down the street away from the carnage.
With the battle raging around us, I glanced urgently about the street for a place to hide in safety. I knew that the cars were no safe haven, as evidenced by the many crushed and destroyed vehicles that littered the street. I coaxed my friend into standing and helped her towards the broken storefront. She made it just a few steps before she collapsed to the pavement with a whimper.
Moving around her prone form, I knelt before her, “Kelly, we really need to get out of here, do you think you can make it to that busted store?”
She looked up at me, still in a daze, “I’m scared, Kalia, please, I’m scared.”
Aw hell, she was really unresponsive. I reached forward to try and pull her up, but she was abruptly absent from the area in front of me. Instead, my hands met the gouged and broken pavement. When I lifted them again my hands came away bloody at the tips and I looked around in confusion, before my eyes settled on the wall next to me in horror.
Thrown with incredible force, the bullish man had collided into a car, sending both crashing back into the wall behind, right through where Kelly had been moments before. I could still see her, her head was free and her dark eyes were open wide in a silent scream of pain. Most of her was crushed beneath the hulking giant and the wreckage of the vehicle, and I could see blood everywhere. It pooled in the newly dug dents and scrapes on the pavement like some morbid lake and river system.
The huge bronze man lifted himself out of the wreckage and resumed the fight, but I paid him no attention, rushing instead to my beautiful friend who was bleeding her life away under a mangled hunk of scrap.
“Kelly!” I cried, my voice a strangled gasp.
I watched her face as she tried to speak, then crumple into a look of dazed confusion when she couldn’t. My eyes, already streaming tears, welled up further and I held my hand to her face with the utmost tenderness.
“Kelly, oh god Kelly… beautiful gorgeous Kelly. I’ll…” I paused, what would I do? Her body was crushed beyond repair, it was amazing she was still alive. I could comfort her and make her happy, that was all, “I’m here okay? I’m your friend. Your best friend, if you’ll have me.”
Her face rose into a little smile, made all the more tragic by the blood that escaped her mouth as she moved her green painted lips. I saw her try to nod, and distracted as I was with my fracturing heart, I missed a single drop of blood retrace its path backwards into her mouth, reabsorbing into her skin.
I was having trouble seeing anything through my eyes, the tears blocking all but the blurriest of images in my lower vision. I carefully leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on her clammy forehead. When I leaned back, her brown eyes stared lifelessly up at me, the small smile I had given her frozen to her lips. I felt my heart shatter. I expected a coldness to my emotions, but what I got was a hot anguish that tore a cry of misery from my lips. My friend...
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Bio: You may also know me as Rosilys Inknose. I no longer post on this website, if you wish to find the continuation of my stories, or just the ones I haven't posted here, you can find me under Quietvalerie on scribblehub and Rosilys Inknose on tgstorytime.