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Fantasy Funny Science Fiction

That's the thing about this city; it was built in a spot where the veil between dimensions was thin. It was commonplace for people or things to pass through a temporary hole in the veil and land into our city. You would think that living in a town like this that I would have already seen it all.

It's my job to find, catalog, and determine what to do with our city's new residents. The newly minted Rican City occupants, or veilers, as most people call them, are usually relatively easy to find homes and jobs for. For the most part, they are mostly just like people from our own dimension, although sometimes their outer figures can vary drastically. They tended to be as smart or smarter than those who are from this dimension. The veilers live out their new lives in our little city as happy as they were in their original dimension. But sometimes, things didn't end so well. Some of the veilers just did not fit into our little metropolis. It was also my job to deal with that didn't fit in as well. But I try not to focus on those times.

"Tazzi? Have you found anything yet?" The voice of Reis, the dispatcher on duty, came over my com. His voice was accompanied by the ever-present clank of his abacuses. Reis is one of the older veilers to have come through. His home dimension wasn't as advanced as ours; he couldn't quite get the hang of the technology here. He still preferred to use a lot of the older tech.

"I just got here, Reis." I rolled my eyes. "I need some time to find our new guest."

"Well, hurry up. It is rapidly turning into a bad night. We've already gotten word of another four breaches. I am running out of recovery agents to send out."

"You know recoveries happen at their own pace," I replied, hanging up my mic, ignoring the faint sound of Reis's response.

I climbed out of my beat-up old Toyota and observed the old building that the breach alarm had signaled that someone had crossed over in. Its two large towers reminded me of an old-timey castle looming over me.

I pulled a flashlight from my purse and headed for the front door of the towering building. The door was thankfully unlocked. I was grateful I did not need to use my rusty lock picking skills. My partner, Elyas, usually handled that part of the job.

A recovery gone wrong had sidelined Elyas with a bum leg. Elyas had still tried to be in the field, cane and all until Reis had shot down that plan. Recoveries didn't often get violent, but the risk was too great for someone whose mobility was compromised.  

Opening the heavy oak front door, I found myself in a dusty, empty living room. I scanned the spacious room, looking for signs of where the newest veiler was hiding. There were no gaps in the heavy dust on the floor; whoever was in here hadn't moved around much.  

"Hello, anyone here?" I called out; I had long since learned my lesson about scaring new veilers. "I know you must be scared. I am not here to harm you."

The creak of a door across the room made me jump. I was glad that Elyas was not here to see me get scared. He would never let me live down, jumping at the bumps in the night. After everything we had seen, you would think I couldn't be scared by the unknown anymore.

*Hello?* The voice in my head was hesitant. *Where am I? One moment I was walking my cat down the road, and the next, I am here in this…place.*

Great, another telepathic race. It was always so weird having someone else's voice in my head. Not to mention, they were always a headache to rehome. They had so many different requirements for their living space. Reis would be just thrilled with the extra work.

"You are in Rican City. Can you come out where I can see you?"

The cracked closet door across the room pushed open further, and a tall figure entered my flashlight beam. The being could best be described as a humanoid fish. The tall being also held a smaller furry creature on a leash. He had said that it was a cat, but this was the first time I had seen a cat with eight legs.

*I have never heard of a Rican City.* He drew closer to me, his yellow eyes shining in my flashlight beam. He was about my height but was covered in shiny green scales. *Who are you?*

"It's a long story." I held out my hand, "Care to come back with me to the office? My name is Tazzi."

*Do I have a choice?* his tone was amused, and he made no motion to shake my hand. *My name is Calu, and this is my cat, Kuki.*

Right, a telepathic fish and his eight-legged cat, this is a new one.

"Well, you can always stay here. But coming with me will get you your answers, and we will be able to help you." I dropped my hand back to my side. "But I can't force you to come with me." Reis wouldn't be happy with me leaving an undocumented veiler in the city, but it wouldn't be the first time I had made a field decision that one was no danger.

Calu took a moment and then nodded, *I will come with you to this 'office'*

"Great! Follow me." I led the way out to my old Toyota. Calu followed me out of the house; I could tell that he was scanning the whole area. I wonder how different his own dimension was then mine. I always loved to hear about the other veilers' homes.

"Climb on in." I opened the passenger door and gestured for him to get in.

I may not be able to read his fish face, but his body language told me he had no clue what this thing that I was telling him to get into was. Calu slowly got into my car, clutching his cat. I got a random flash of his fear that the car door would slam shut. That he would be trapped and eaten by the strange beast I had told him to climb into.

 I gave him what I hoped he would view as a reassuring smile as I closed his door and hurried to my side and got in. Once I was in the car, I felt relief flowing from him. The strange beast would probably not be going to eat him if I was getting in it as well.

"Ok, when I turn the car on, it is going to be loud but don't be scared." I told him, "It's just the engine starting."

He nodded slowly, clutching Kuki on his lap, its eight legs all bent up under itself.

Even with my warning, he still jumped a bit when the roar of the engine started. He tightened his hold on the cat his in lap, and it let out a low growl in protest. He loosened his grip and patted the cat on its head in the way of apology.

"Tazzi, you better have that veiler all ready to go." Reis's voice came over my com again, sounding harried; he even didn't stop for me to respond. "We have breeches all over the city. There isn't time for you to come back to the office. Head over to Kozak's diner. He has something locked up in his freezer."

"Ok, we are headed over there now." I had to hide a laugh at Calu's look of fright at the sound of Reis's disembodied voice over the com. "I have a telepath with me that will need a proper home that accepts pets."

"Of course, you would. Any other impossible tasks you want to throw at me tonight?" With that, Reis disconnected the line.

"All right, Calu, let's go find who else is new to this city of ours, shall we?" Calu gave me a look that I could not read, but I could feel his acceptance.

Calu didn't talk during our drive, but I could feel his wonder at all the different things that he was seeing through the window as we made the short trip to the diner. I wonder how he would react to knowing he was in a different dimension. I wish I had the time to tell him everything now.

*Your surface thoughts are very telling,* Calu said suddenly. *I understand now that I am in a different dimension than my own.* he looked down at his cat *And also that there is no known way for us to get back.*

"I'm sorry." There was not really anything else I could say. Our scientists had been searching for years to find out how to return the various veilers to their own dimensions and recover any lost from ours. But try as they might; they still had no idea how the tears in the veil worked. It didn't stop them from doing different experiments to find out. Many people were worried that their attempts might make the veil even more unstable. 

The rest of the drive was in silence; soon enough, we were pulling in outside of Kozak's dinner. Kozak was another veiler, but he was human enough. Most people didn't even know he was a Veiler, and he liked it that way. He never really talked about his dimension, but I had gotten the impression that he was glad to have left it behind. 

The bells in the entrance jingled when I opened the door to the diner. Inside it looked as though a tornado had torn through the room. The display case that usually sat on the counter was smashed on the ground. All the baked goods that it usually held were scattered on the floor. The rest of the diner was in similar disarray.

Kozak was seated at one of the only remaining tables that was still in one piece. The rest of the diner was in similar disarray. Kozak's pet, Skeeter, was joyfully eating all the broken glass and other trash off the floor. Skeeter was one of the veilers that came through that wasn't humanoid. But we had found a job for him here are at the diner eating, well, anything. He was basically a bigger, hungrier dog.

Kozak looked up, and at the sight of me, threw up his hands. "Freaking finally! The thing in my freezer chased away all my customers! No one will come back in until you remove that...that behemoth!"

"Well, I am here now." I shrugged. "It has been a busy night."

He sparred a looked at Calu, who had insisted on coming in with me, obviously decided that Calu was not worth his time and looked back at me, "Where is Elyas? It's not like you to be out alone. Is this…person…your new partner?"

"Elyas is laid up. Recovery went bad."

"This recovery is going to go bad, mark my words!" Kozak threw his hands up, "Just get that thing out of my freezer!" With that, he stomped out of the diner. Skeeter was prancing out behind him, a broken chair still clenched in his jaws, his thick tail waving happily.

"Let's go see this 'behemoth' shall we?" I grinned at Calu.

*He is scared.* Calu tilted his head, *And hungry.*

"Can you read everyone…and everything?" I asked him as we headed towards the locked freezer.

*Most people I can…read as you say. I can get their surface emotions at the very least.*

Calu might make a valuable recovery agent. I should bring that up to Reis when I bring all of my charges into the office. Stopping at the freezer door, I glanced back to Calu to make sure that he was far enough away to be safe if this did go as wrong as Kozak had predicted. The creature might just be scared enough to do something dangerous.

Elyas would have told me that I should have brought some sort of weapon, but I've found weapons to just make the situation worse. Scared veilers and the threat of violence rarely ended well. Elyas' busted leg as case in point.

A blast of cold air when I opened the freezer door sent shivers down my spine. That shiver got stronger when I caught sight of the veiler that was locked within. The being was seven, maybe eight feet tall; even in the freezer's six-foot ceiling, he was being forced to hunch over. He was almost shaped more like an overly large bear mixed with a crocodile. He was clutching the remains of what looked like a donut in his front claws. The donut crumbs on his scaly face made me laugh.

At the sudden noise from me, he retreated further into the freezer, whimpering and pulling his long tail tight along his body.

 "Shh.. it is ok. We aren't going to hurt you." I held up my hands, trying to soothe him; when my hands came up, he squealed and pushed himself further into the freezer. I quickly dropped my hand.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

This was as good as time as any to see if Calu would make a good agent; maybe his telepathy could get through to the obviously scared giant. I looked over to the fish in question, "Can you tell him we won't hurt him?"

Calu nodded and looked at the giant figure. After a few moments, the being's green eyes opened back up and looked at us. Calu started to slowly approach him. When he got within arm's reach, he reached out his hand towards the frightened veiler.

*His name is Hachie.* Calu said *He says he is five cycles old. He would like some more of these sugared pastries and also out of this cold box.*

"We can do that. I saw some unsmushed donuts on the counter." I said, "And I would like to get out of the freezer too."

Calu slowly reached up and took Hachie's finger. Hachie's hand was easily three times the size of Calu's.

Together we all carefully exited the freezer and came back into the central area of the diner. Kozak was back in the building, sweeping up what little debris that Skeeter had not eaten. When he saw us come out of the back, his eyes got wide.

"That…thing is even bigger than I remember."

"That 'things' name is Hachie. He is just a kid." I had forgotten how much I didn't like Kozak. For a veiler, he was remarkably intolerant to any beings that looked different to him. If they couldn't pass as humans, they were just things to him. Less than things, if I was being honest.

So that I wouldn't be tempted to smash Kozak's face in, I turned to the donut box and retrieved it from the counter, took one out, and handed it to Hachie. Hachie made happy purring noise as he took a surprisingly small bite of the pastry.

"Are you going to pay for those?" Kozak was glaring at me down his nose.

"Consider it payment for removing Hachie from your freezer." I didn't give him time to respond as I headed for the exit.

Getting Hachie out of the diner required him to do some creative stretching that I was glad I didn't need to attempt. But we got him out without further damaging the building. I rewarded him with another donut. Outside, I realized we had a bigger problem. There was no way he would ever fit in my small, beat-up Toyota.

"Hey, Reis," I said, opening a com line.

"You better have that veiler out of the freezer." Reis's voice was as impatient as ever.

"I do, but there is a problem."

 "That is the name of the game, hit me."

"He is an eight-foot-tall five-year-old veiler."

There was a long beat. "Right. I will have Wally there with a truck as soon as I can."

*Hachie will require more pastries.* Calu showed me the rapidly emptying donut box.

"Have Wally pick up some donuts, will ya? The kid loves them."

"Don't we all." Reis laughed, and then the click of the com told me that he had disconnected.

I sat on the hood of my car, watching the telepathic fish creature take his eight-legged cat out of my car to show the eight-foot toddler who was still munching on some donuts. I had to laugh; I guess that was really the thing about this city. It could still surprise me even after all of these years.

March 19, 2021 22:01

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5 comments

Kyler Mattoon
16:04 Apr 23, 2021

OH my god. I loved this so much!! What a fun world you've taken us to!!

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Kaysie Davis
18:28 Apr 23, 2021

Thank you!

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Scott Chadwick
03:55 Apr 02, 2021

The clever use of asterixis highlighted Calu's telepathic speech. Fun story, fun characters

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Kaysie Davis
18:20 Apr 03, 2021

Thanks!

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Izzie P.
17:17 Apr 23, 2021

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