Hachisame and I both look towards Time Warp who shows no signs of having heard whats going on, which is normal for her, but it goes on for longer than usual.
“There's goes my dramatic moment,” Hachisame sighs.
“Why are we locking the door anyway?” I ask.
“Oh, you wanted me to lock the door!” Time Warp exclaims finally getting what we were talking about in her usual late manner. “Sorry about that.” Having said that, she goes over that flips my door locked before taking a seat on the corner of my bed.
“So, why are we locking the door?” I ask again.
“This is going to be hard for you to believe but … I'm different from you people,” she starts slowly.
“Okay,” I say. It's fairly obvious she's different. Nobody in this school is just 'regular people'.
“I mean really different. You see, I'm … not actually human. I come from a long forgotten race under the sea.” There's something strange in her tone. It's unbelievable, but she says it with an unnervingly serious tone and expression. “My people chose me to come to the surface world and retrieve a variety of both male and female humans to help repopulate our race. I was hoping you could be one of them.”
I look at her strangely, opening my mouth to start to speak, but I don't know what to say. “Are you serious?” I finally manage to ask.
“No. I'm just messing with you. I thought that would lighten the mood,” she says with a big grin. “I can't believe I managed to say all that with a straight face,” she laughs. Now I really feel dumb. It's not that I believed her, at all, even the tiniest bit, but I suppose stranger things have happened.
“I was wondering where you were going with that,” Time Warp said. “I half expected you to start talking about Innsmouth any second.”
“I have no clue what that is,” Hachisame says as though she'd proud of the fact. “It sounds like a geek thing.”
“Okay. Just for the record, I knew you were messing with me,” I say.
“You need to read more,” Time Warp says to Hachisame before redirecting herself towards me. “Don't try to cop out, you fell for it.”
“Whatever,” I say, trying to blow the whole thing off.
“Okay, so let's cut to the chase then,” Hachisame says before hesitating. There's a look of confusion on her face and partial embarrassment as she seems like she doesn't know what to do next. “Okay, let's put it this way. You know how some people around here are missing pieces of them?” After she says that she takes a look at me and slaps her forehead. “Yeah, of course you know that. Duh.”
“I wasn't going to say anything.” I add.
“I appreciate that. Anyway, people are missing parts, but you can wrap your head around that. I mean you in general, not 'you, you, of course especially you can,” she rambles on. “This is not working,” she finally says as thought she's trying to organize her own thoughts. “Let's try this. Why did I say I needed the wheelchair? Do you remember?”
“You said your legs were weak,” I reply. It's not the first time I've wondered exactly how true that statement was.
“That's half true. Literally. That is literally half true, but I don't actually need the wheelchair. It's just easier.”
I try to glance over to Time Warp hoping maybe I can read her expression and see where this is going. Sadly, she's on my blindside, so I have to turn almost completely to do so, ruining any subtly the act may have had. Once I do, she seems a bit sad and maybe a bit bored. Something like that anyway. It turns out I'm not as good as reading expressions as I thought I was.
“What was that for?” Hachisame asks.
“Don't worry about me. Pay attention,” Time Warp says. Hachisame doesn't pursue her question anymore.
“Now I'm going to start taking off my clothes. I know I'm good looking, but don't try to make-out with me,” she says. The joke seems halfhearted and falls flat in the room. Hachisame undoes her long skirt and it falls to the floor.
My first thought it that I'm not seeing things right. I have to be seeing double. I blink a few times and rub my eye before I'm reminded that seeing double isn't possible for me anymore. Once I remember that, I feel sick.
Hachisame stands there before me wearing a pair of blue and white striped panties... and a pair of darker blue panties on her other set of hips. Somewhere around her belly button, her bodies seems to split into two in a y-shape. There's definitely two separate sets of lower bodies, even if they are pressed tight against each other. That much is apparent from how her underwear seems to fit her normally, although I do notice a bit of redness and chaffing where the two separate parts of her rub against each other. What I thought was her two legs where only two of the four she has. Her outer legs are longer more developed with two smaller legs dangling in between them. Her two middle legs look less developed, not appearing withered or useless, but shorter and seem like they'd go to a person a few years younger and slightly smaller than she is.
“I'm not taking of the underwear, but rest assured, everything's there and it all works,” she says. As she finishes saying this, she moves her middle two legs around in what resembles a strange dance to illustrate that she does in fact have control over them.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I jerk away suddenly. “It's okay. I was weirded out at –gahh!” Tana goes from trying to reassure me to suddenly jumping at surprise from my sudden panic. It's surreal. Nothing going on her feels like something that should be happening.
Hachisame sits back down in her chair without bothering to put her skirt back on or pull the blanket over her legs. She crosses her middle two legs as she sits. “It's okay,” she says. There's a deep sadness in her voice. It hurts me even more knowing that I'm the one that causes it, and that this must be the kind of reaction she gets from everyone. “It's okay,” she says again. “I know this is a bit of a shock.” Then there's silence in the room. After a minute she seems uncomfortable and stands back up, walking around in the room. “That's why I use the chair. It makes me less noticeable. You know how your arms just kinda start to swing when you're walking around? Your legs do the same thing if they're not touching the ground, and well, missing an arm or leg or whatever? People get that. They're a bit repelled by it, but they get it. Try walking around with extra body parts. People freak.”
“I'm sorry. I didn’t know,” I say. I didn't know. I don't know.
I don't know what to say, what to think, how to feel, this... this is just so far out of my element of .. knowing how to handle things... god. I can't even think straight right now.
It's bizarre, not exactly disgusting, but it's like that feeling when you see something surprising that you're not sure you saw; you do a double take and look again. No matter how often I look or how hard I stare, the extra legs remain. My brain keeps thinking 'You aren't seeing this. This isn't what's happening,' while my eye keeps going 'Nope. That's what's really there.'
“What's to know? Like I tell people, not everybody gets a normal life. I'm perfectly fine with that. Anybody that tells you that you can do anything or fit in or whatever as long as you try, they're just full of shit. Me? I get by pretending to be crippled instead of a twisted freak.” She says it without bitterness, anger, or sadness in her voice. It's just something she's accepted.
There are so many questions I have about how she has to do things, when and why she started to pretend to be crippled, how she uses the bathroom, why couldn't she just get surgery to fix her up? Would that even be possible?
“Let's give her some time,” Tana says.
“Thanks,” I say softly.
“Hey, it's cool. I don't take it personal, but I'll understand if this too much for you to handle and you don't want to hang out anymore,” Hachisame says.
I do the only thing I can thing of. I reach out and hug her as tightly as I can.
“It's okay. You're my friend, Hachisame,” I say to her. “Just because you're kinda strange doesn't mean you're not my friend.” I want to cry but no tears come.
She doesn't hug me back, but after a few seconds she speaks. “New rule. No hugging me when I'm in my underwear,” she says. “It's weird.”
I break off the hug almost immediately as she says that. Sadly, Tana seemed to think we were doing some group hug and tries to get in on it. I end up getting hit in the face by her outstretched arm. It surprises me more than it hurts, but Time Warp seems to get the worst of it. There's a strange expression on her face as she tries to put her arms back down and realizes they aren't in the position they're supposed to be in.
“No group hug?” Tana asks, as she rotates her should a few times. I think she's trying to reassure herself that her arm is still working right, but I could be mistake. I don't understand how she perceives things yet either.
“Maybe later,” I say. “Right now, I'd just appreciate some time to think about things, if you don't mind,” I say. I hope I'm not coming across as rude or trying to kick them out.
“Yeah, we can do that,” Hachisame says as she picks her skirt off the floor and puts it back on. Watching her bend down with all her legs fully visible makes her look like some psychedelic horror monster. “Just do me a favor and don't let this get out. There's not a lot of people that know about my situation and I prefer to keep it like that.”
“I won't. I'll keep it between us,” I say.
“Don't tell Suzu. She doesn't know,” Time Warp adds.
“How does she not know?” I ask. “I thought you were close.”
“You know how some people walk in their sleep and some talk in their sleep? She goes further than that. She's sometimes awake when she's asleep,” Hachisame says. “She'll walk around and --”
“She's more my friend that Hachisame's,” Time Warp says, talking over whatever Hachisame was about to say next.
“That too. Not that she's a bad person or anything, we just don't have much in common,” Hachisame says. “Rin's cool though. She knows. Anyway, I'll take off now and let you have your alone time.” Now that she's back in her wheelchair with the blanket over he lap, I look to see if I can spot the signs of her extra parts now that I know about them. I can't. The wheelchair looks a bit wider than average and maybe her hips look wide, but she does a really good job at concealing herself. She closes the door behind her as she leaves.
“Do you need somebody to talk to?” Time Warp says. I hadn't even realized she was still here.
“Yeah, I guess,” I say quietly. Awkward silences are even more awkward when it comes to Tana. It's not her fault, but I'm not sure she's really helping either. Finally she speaks.
“Do you have anything you need to know or want to ask?” Tana prods after a minute of silence. I want to ask if Hachisame is upset with me, but I'm afraid to know what the answer is. Still, there is something else Hachisame said that stuck with me that I want to know about, and I think it'll be much safer to ask. “Or I could leave if you prefer.”
“No. Don't go. Just give me a minute,” I say to her. I don't know why. It's not like a few minutes of silence is going to be enough time for me to figure out how I'm supposed to handle something like this. What do you do when you learn one of your friends doesn't look entirely human? I stare at the picture Rin drew of us all. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be symbolic, just an exaggerated caricature or what. I feel somehow being able to understand this might help me figure out how I'm supposed to handle these thing.
Maybe it's none of the above. Maybe the fact that Rin can draw something like this just means she's able to accept how things are. Maybe the fact that I take offense to it means … something bad.
Maybe Rin is just weird.
After some time of sitting there in silence, Time Warp eventually speaks. “It's a nice picture isn't it?” It's fairly obvious that she isn't that interested in the picture. She just wants me to say something.
“Hachisame said she doesn't have much in common with Suzu, but you two don't seem like you have much in common either. Why are you two friends?” I ask.
It takes Tana a moment to reply, as usual. Once she does, she sighs before she begins. “Before we met, me and her shared a kinda-sorta common background. Hachisame was home-schooled her entire life and rarely got out. I was home schooled most of my life as well. My parents tried a time or two to get me into regular school and I spent a year at a private school once, but nothing really worked. The teachers didn't know what to do with me and most of the other kids my age weren't sure how to handle me either. Most of them were nice, but they kept their distance. Basically though, neither of us ever had a real friend before coming here,” Tana shrugs an cracks her knuckles as though she's making a show of it being no big deal. “You've had friends before, right? How'd you make them?”
I hesitate trying to think of exactly how I've made my previous friends. There's no real story to tell. “I don't know. I guess I just talked to people, hung out, and we found out we had stuff in common.”
“I can't really talk to people. You might have noticed this. Most people don't have patience for me,” she says. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out one of her introduction cards, casually flipping it around in her fingers as she talks. I understand what she's saying. In fact, I don't think I would have hug around her if she and Hachisame hadn't pried their way into my life. Thinking about it makes me feel guilty. The story doesn't quite make sense yet though.
“Hachisame doesn't strike me as somebody that has patience either,” I say.
“You know how we came and checked on you when you got here? That's school tradition. The older students show around the newbies. The girl that used to have your room was the one that checked up on me and Hachisame and welcomed us to this place,” Tana explains. As she does, she gets up and grabs one of my bottled waters from the corner of the room and sits back down in the swivel chair by my desk, spinning it around a few times as she sits down.
“Was she nice?” I ask.
“Not really. Motoko was a bit of a hard ass, a real stickler for the rules type. She also had, like, prosthetic everything. I seriously think there might have been more plastic and metal in her than there was original flesh and blood parts,” she says. I've noticed she starting to take carefully timed sips from the bottle to try to match the flow of conversation. I'm not sure if this is something she's doing to make me more comfortable or just so her own delayed responses won't stand out as much. Before I can think of which explanation fits better, the door to my room flies open again.
“Sorry. Sorry. I'm trying to give you time to yourself, but – did I leave my socks in here?” Hachisame says as she wheels herself into the room again.
“You didn't take off your socks while you were in here,” I say.
“Bummer. I have no clue where those things are now,” she says. “I liked those socks.” She looks at me and for a brief moment I can tell she isn't quite sure how she's supposed to act around me anymore, but it only lasts for a brief moment. She then gives me an overly exaggerated apologetic shrug and just like that the awkwardness is gone. She's just as straight forward and casual as ever. I don't get how she bounced back to normal so quickly after such a reveal.
“I was just telling her about, Motoko,” Time Warp chimes in.
“Ah, The Machine,” Hachisame says, “God she was boring! If I didn't have Time Warp here to talk to while she was dragging us all over the place, I would have gone nuts.”
“She sounds interesting,” I say for lack of anything better to add to the conversation.
“That's how Hachisame and I became friends,” Time Warp says somewhat cheerily.
“True story,” Hachisame quickly adds, despite the fact that she wasn't even in here for most of it. “Oh, and you said I didn't take my socks off in here. That means I didn't show you my toes either, did I? I have nineteen. Two of them are fused together into one extra big toe,” she says.
“I'll take your word for it,” I say. I've really had enough... what's the word I need? Body horror? … for one day.
“Maybe later,” she says with a shrug. “Anyway, I'm leaving your to mope and for Time Warp to sit around telling stories. I'll catch you later. I've got socks to find,” Hachisame says leaving the room again.
“She's really not good at giving people their space,” Time Warp says as she leaves. “She never has been the whole time I've known her.”
“So, when did you find out about her extra body parts?” I ask.
“The same day she found out there was a pool and she wasn't allowed to swim alone,” Time warp smiles. “Of course she kept the fact that I didn't know how to swim a secret from the medical staff when she got permission, but that's okay. She ended up teaching me and I doubt you could drown her if you tied weights to her legs.”
I smile at that. Somehow that just seems to fit perfectly.
Last edited by Oddball
on Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Not Dead Yet