Sanaek !gwSNAAKE5k 2010/08/06 (Fri) 04:41 No. 121496 ▼
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“Yes,” I say, “Absolutely!”
“Hey, you heard the lady,” Minamitsu seems amused by my rather forceful answer and maybe my sudden change of heart as she turns back to Ichirin, “I’d get it myself but, well… You know.”
“I’ll have it ready in a moment,” the request is understood and the hooded girl immediately sets out to fulfill it. Such a diligent girl; I wish I could have had one just like her in my earlier years.
But despite their eagerness to have me fed, I am left wondering if this is such a good idea. I get sick in this state I’m as good as dead, but my hunger cannot wait a moment longer. Ah, there’s the rub! Humans are going to be scarce in the middle of a forest, and the food on this ship seems to be my only remaining option unless I’d rather go out and gnaw on some tree bark… Which I wouldn’t. At all!
It takes a good long moment for the food to finally arrive; it looks like the girl saw fit to heat it up for me. How nice of her, but I’d have happily eaten it cold or even lukewarm at this point. I still manage to appreciate the gesture despite my annoyance at her having taken so long to come back.
I stare for a moment into the bowl of brownish-grey muck these ship-going youkai call food… And consume it before I begin to second guess myself. I don’t even taste it going down, and in my haste I nearly mistake the bowl for an edible tidbit as well. That mistake really would kill me, I’m sure.
My stomach is at long last full, but I don’t feel much better otherwise. My hands still itch as the burns slowly heal, and my strength doesn’t return. This food is edible, it seems; I haven’t gotten sick yet. But it isn’t as invigorating as hunting, catching and consuming a live human.
“Did you even taste that?” Minamitsu asks, giving me an odd look.
“No,” I say, “but I’m sure it’s delicious.”
The process repeats in basically the same pattern. Ichirin warms another bowl, and I consume it just as frantically as I did the last. I now begin to feel sluggish, having eaten more than what is probably necessary to sustain me. I want to sleep for a while, but decide to stay awake at least until nightfall. Granted, nightfall is usually when I would awaken, but this is a special case and these are special times.
I wait around the mess hall as the others come and go. Minamitsu, with her injured leg, stays with me the entire time and while making idle conversation with me gives the others directives as they come in for an occasional rest. Shou never once shows her face, and I begin to wonder what she might be up to. Perhaps she’s avoiding me? Something seemed odd about her when I landed, but I still can’t quite figure out what. I decide to ask Minamitsu.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much about her,” she explains, “Shou’s always been a little distrustful of others.”
“That doesn’t answer my question,” I repeat myself, “I haven’t seen her since I first walked in here. What is she doing?”
“Oh,” Minamitsu’s eyes light up with comprehension, “Oh! Sorry, I thought you were asking me why she was treating you like… Nevermind. I bet she’s probably down below tryin to keep herself occupied. She doesn’t handle stress as well as the others. I know the ship’s gonna need a hell of a refit after this just to get off the ground, and that there’s a hell of a lot of work ahead of us… but she probably just thinks it’s hopeless.”
“On another note,” she adds, “you said human food makes you sick… And you’re not coughing up your guts yet.”
“I noticed,” I smile, “but let’s not jinx it, okay?”
There is still a chance that this body only takes longer to reject the meal, and I’m unwilling to write it off as safe to eat human food until what I’ve consumed is completely digested. Only time will tell, and I seem to have plenty of time. I rush nothing and try to stay relaxed.
“But you know,” she says, with a shrewd glance passing over me, “it’s entirely possible that you ate something spoiled. How many times have you tried eating human food?”
“Once that I can clearly remember.” Her insight is surprising. I hadn’t thought of a possibility like that. I’ve heard from various sources that human food spoils rather quickly when speaking comparatively, and the chance that I had eaten something rotten does seem feasible. Perhaps my reluctance this entire time was presumptuous of me, and that I was merely misinformed of my body’s own aptitudes.
Well, too late to beat myself over the head for it. If my stomach doesn’t fly through my teeth within the next day or so I’ve learned a valuable lesson.
“You may have a point,” I say, “but whether it was or wasn’t can’t exactly be proven one way or the other with me in this body, now can it?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she grins, “so I was gonna have you try some beer too, but it looks like what I brought with me all fell overboard during the escape. A damn shame, really. It was good stuff. Gets you drunk like no other.”
“Now you’re getting a little—“
The door slams open, and Shou suddenly rushes in. Her eyes are red as if she’d been crying. Minamitsu was right, I must say. She does not handle stress well at all. She’s hysterical, and blubbering like an idiot! Hah! I cannot afford to let this one go!
“What’s wrong?” I ask, “Catch a tiger by the tail?” Ah, but I’m ignored. Rightfully so, I should think, but it’s a little distressing knowing how easily I’d been blown off without making so much as a peep about it. I have to force myself to remember that now is neither the time nor place for me to be teasing the girl.
“Captain!!” she cries, running into the room and collapsing to her knees in her anguish, “It’s gone!”
“What’s gone?” Minamitsu seems worried all of a sudden, “Shou? Er… What’s gone?”
“It’s gone! It’s gone!” Shou just keeps on repeating herself; I can’t tell if her reaction is warranted or simply melodrama, “What do I do?! It’s gone!”
“Shou, calm down,” Minamitsu winces, trying to get to her feet. She turns to me in her desperation, “Nue, gimme a hand here.”
She doesn’t’ need to ask me twice. I help her up and over, staying quiet. Minamitsu is genuinely worried, and she doesn’t seem the type to be shaken up so easily. She leans down over Shou, and would surely fall and knock the girl over were I not here to hold her up.
“Shou,” she says, grabbing her by the cheeks, “look at me. What’s gone?”
“The bowl, it’s… it’s… GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!” she bursts into tears, breaking down in the middle of the floor, sobbing and wailing. Minamitsu simply falls silent, disheartened—or rather, the look in her eye is almost that of despair.
But she snaps out of it, pulling herself together in my arms. Her anguish turns to anger turns to fear, and finally back to anger.
“Shit!” she yells, tensing her leg to kick the table but thinking better of it at the last second, “Shit, shit, shit shit shit!”
“Er… I take it, that’s bad?” I’m at an utter loss. She tried explaining the meaning and function of the bowl, and I didn’t understand a word of it beyond the part about it making the ship fly…
“Oh, you bet it’s bad,” her voice is shaking, terrified of what losing the silly little bowl entails, “we gotta go get it back!”
“Aaah, *sniff* It-It could be anywhere!” Shou manages to at least speak as she tries to put herself back together. “Wha- *Hngh* What do we do?!”
“Go find Nazrin, tell her what happened,” Minamitsu acts quickly, “And for god’s sake, stop crying!”
“No buts! You don’t see me bawling like a baby! Take Nazrin and go find it, you fucking--!” Minamitsu nearly boils over, raising her arm as if to strike Shou, but she catches herself and holds her tongue, “…I’d go myself if I could!”
“Ungh, Okay,” Shou stands, leaving with her tail between her legs.
Minamitsu slumps backwards when the door closes, all her energy and vigor drained. I sit her down back at the table.
“Nue,” she says, looking to the floor, “help me?”
…Why is it that, when everything else is beginning to look up something even worse always happens? I’ve half a mind to jump ship at this point… but I can’t just leave her like this! …Can I?