I gently touched the fat girl’s cheek, and her eyes opened in silence, rather than the scream a normal girl would have on seeing a strange, nude man atop them. “Tell me of your dreams.” I prompted as I opened my mind’s eye to loosen her quiet tongue.
“I’m visiting Drep. He’s the river king, and has a bunch of bandits at his beck and call. I’m down visiting him with Chris and a few other friends. Drep decides it’s time for a game that I don’t want to play right after I finish having a shower. I can’t get my shirt on fast enough, so I don’t bother and just walk out past everyone, half-dressed. I hear Drep taunt me about my gut, saying my t-shirts look horrible with it. A store nearby draws my attention. It’s closed, but the door is open. As I step in, I hear one of my brother’s friends comment about how he’s being a bit mean. Drep concedes with a bullshit excuse about ‘there is a disease she was diagnosed with but never appeared.’ He sends two snipers to protect me. I steal some stuff and lose my backpack, coat, and pendant. The snipers catch up, and I let them come with me. I search until the shopkeepers show up, then I pay them, and find my bag, and eventually my coat. We finally head out, and we miss the busses back. A janitor shows us a way out that’s not dangerous, and I get home.
“A strange storm is predicted, and Drep discovers mom has a pendant that, when hit, makes tiny, blood-red shells. He calls her the Saver, and shows her that his necklace, is similar, and gives him a title and power as the River King. He asks me suddenly where my necklace was, and I told him I lost it. He is very disappointed, so in desperation for approval, I show him my other necklaces; he’s fascinated that I hold so many necklaces of power, but told me I need to find my missing necklace.
“Some guy shows up and demands I be handed over. Chris, the guy, my friend, mom, and I all climb into the van and she drives us to Drep’s place, since the very building is alive, and the guy claims to have precognition.
“He looks at the map and can’t figure out where he’ll find me. My friend turns me into a spider and sends me away on a breeze, toward the house. On my way, I discover how freeing it feels to be a flying spider, drifting on fluff through the winds. I don’t even notice the bat watching me hungrily until I land on its tree, and it turns to look at me. Finally, I notice it, and he says he should eat me, since it is the way of the wild, and only a king can save me. I tell him I’m the sister to the River King, and he tells me I lie, because the River King is a human, and I am a spider. I manage to escape, and he follows me with curiosity despite the odd hours.
“I begin to search the house frantically when I arrive, and turn into a human again. In the downstairs bathroom, I turn on all the lights, and they are still too dim. I do find another of my necklaces, and put it together with the others. I glare– now, they all look like Jesus from those Catholic churches, halo and all, when put together. The storm is coming, so I didn’t know if I should even have the lights on. It’s supposed to knock out all power and destroy electrical systems. I hear the guy’s approach. I close the door just in time, and he can’t find me. I peer through the crack, my vision distorted by a scarf I dare not move, for he is looking into the dim room through the same crack. Something on my shoulder told me that only being lured into the fire of projectiles, like the bat I met, will stop him. The bat is nowhere in sight.
“A bunch of giant dung globs fall onto the guy, and he swears and tries to get away. I sneak out the door during his distraction and head to the guest room I was living in during my last visit, mere hours ago. He spots me and pulls out a chart with different labels for many people and how good the brews they produced were. He estimated me to be rather high, but not the highest. I panic and freeze.”
The overweight girl scowled. “I woke up.” she explained. “There is no more.” She looked ashamed of waking up so soon, before the end of her story.
I smiled at her. “No need to worry about it. The story ends well. You find your necklace, after all.” I drew the egg-shaped clay pendant from my pocket and handed it to her. Her scowl faded, and she smiled, then became confused.
“I never said what it looked like.”
“You didn’t need to, sister of the River King. I was there the day you lost it, and picked it up after you left. Had you not awakened, you would die.” I looked around. We were in the back of a wagon. She stared at me, then looked around quietly as she realized just where she was. She rose to a sitting position, and I helped her out. “I go in your place, to eat his liver. Go home, quiet one.” I turned my mind’s eye from her, and her lips resumed their natural closed state. Such was the disease her brother regretted to admit not only showed signs, but ruled her life.
She slid out the back and landed on wobbly feet. She would be safe now, I mused as I spotted Drep’s snipers emerging from the brush to lead her home. I resumed my own natural form, happy to feel my rigid black feathers once more surrounding me, rather than the chilly flesh that disguised me so well from others.