I am about to leave school, but stop short at the door when I notice it’s raining. A familiar, tiny figure is already present, peering forlornly at the downpour.
Ava: You wouldn’t happen to have a spare umbrella, would you? Mine seems to have been stolen by some sinister collective.
[a][Offer to walk home together]
[b][Abandon her to her fate]
Me: No, I don’t. But there’s probably enough space for both of us under mine.
Ava looks like she’s about to start jumping up and down in glee.
Ava: Thank you so much!
We step through the front doors She carefully maintains a small distance between us even though the rain has driven everyone else off the school grounds.
Immediately we are buffeted by a strong wind, and I struggle to adjust the umbrella so it continues to shield both of us.
Me: You know, I don’t mind the rainy season so much. I just wish it would stick to “up and down” rather than “side to side”.
Ava: It was almost always dry where I grew up. You really saved my skin to be honest. I can’t stand getting wet, and I don’t think I’ll ever be used to this.
Me: Oh, and where was that?
Ava tilts her head, giving me a quizzical look.
Me: Where did you grow up, I mean? Right now, I’m pretty tempted to move there.
Ava: Oh! I grew up miles from here, and it was a super small town. You wouldn’t have heard of it.
The wind makes listening difficult, and we struggle on for a few more blocks, but a particularly strong gust pulls the umbrella right out of my hand!
Ava is suddenly clinging tightly against me, trying to use me as a shield against the driving rain. Even with the cold droplets pelting my back, I’m still able to enjoy the cozy imprint of her body on mine.
Several seconds pass.
Then I hear a crackling sound between us, like a toaster being dropped in a bathtub, and Ava leaps backwards in surprise, landing a good three feet away from me.
Around her neck is some sort of silvery ornament, still crackling and smoking, that I don’t remember her having before. And on her head are fuzzy cat ears that I definitely don’t remember her having before. And I ESPECIALLY DEFINITELY DON’T REMEMBER AVA HAVING A FURRY PINK TAIL.
Narrator: What in the!
I stand stock still, staring in befuddlement. It is suddenly calm, the weather seems to be similarly shocked.
Ava: I… I can explain. I’m an alien! I always have been. But the water shorted out my holo-disguise.
Despite everything that’s happened to me recently, my first reaction is to reject this ridiculous explanation outright. But as I stare, mesmerized by her ears, I can’t bring myself to do it.
They’re twitching slightly, as the occasional gentle droplets continue to hit them. And not like those mechanical cat ears you can buy on the internet. Everything about them seems so real.
At least she’s not a reptilian, I suppose.
Wait, does this mean the principal actually is a freemason? Visions of pyramids with eyes dance through my head. I feel dizzy.
Ava: Are… you going to be okay?
[b][Try to stay calm]
+3 hearts. Unlocked; “Spraag Day” (-hearts increase-, -you know Ava’s secret-). Unlocked; “Probing Session” (-you know Ava’s secret-).
Me: Yeah. Yeah I think I’m going to be fine.
Me: So if you’re an alien, what are you doing on Earth?
Ava: Well, I’m not supposed to be. It’s a long story.
Ava: My people, the Mewta Empire, are… not always reasonable.
Ava: For example, during school, if we even wanted to go to the bathroom we had to win an argument with the teacher to prove it was “a necessary excursion”.
Ava: When we turn 18, we debate in front of the Grand Council to get assigned the job we want, by demonstrating that it helps the empire and we would be good at it.
Ava: And there hasn’t been any new scientists chosen for years, because they say the council is all knowing, and there’s nothing important left for them to learn.
Ava: And that’s where Earth comes in.
Ava: The council claims this right here is the most boring planet in the universe. But if I could prove them wrong? If I show that there’s something here they don’t understand? Then they’d have to let people be scientists and explorers and ghosthunters!
Me: Wait, the Earth is what??
I can’t help but agree with Ava about the Earth. Ever since I first heard the Narrator, this world has been anything but boring.
Ava: I know, right? We’re supposed to believe that there’s nothing to all these human stories, but until a few minutes ago, you thought that aliens on earth were just another “human story.”
[a][I always believed you about aliens]
[b][Sorry for doubting you]
Me: I’m sorry for ever doubting you about aliens.
Ava: It’s fine. I got used to people not believing in me a long time ago.
An awkward silence stretches. The rain has stopped entirely.
Ava: Well, guess this walk was a wash. I should get home and start working on this crummy thing.
She gestures to the device around her neck.
Me: Wait, so you think you can fix it?
Ava: Yeah, they’re real fragile. Brought a ton of spare parts with me, in case something like this happened. Why, you worried about something?
Me: Uh, it’s just that your real ears are pretty cute.
Ava tries to keep her composure but a blush reaches her face.
Ava: I doubt my classmates would agree. And the Men in Black definitely wouldn’t.
She disappears into the bushes beside the path, clearly keen not to be seen by any spy cameras or covert agents in her current state.
I pick up my umbrella and wonder how much has just changed.