Friendship High School Fantasy


A spitball narrowly missed Emile, who was sitting peacefully at his desk. Target practice again for the kid two desks down who hated him for no discernable reason. The teacher - of course - never seemed to notice the exchange. 

Today, she seemed a bit nervous. A new student was just outside the door where she’d been told to wait. Introductions had to be made. A day ago, Emile’s teacher didn’t even know such people existed. Clearing her throat, the teacher called for silence.   

“Class, we have a new student joining us today,” she motioned to the door. “Come introduce yourself.”

The crowd collectively gasped at the sight of her: a deer on two legs, brown fur with cream blotches, long snout, floppy ears. She tiptoed in on hooves, waving at everyone, dressed in denim overalls.

“Hello... my name’s Autumn, pleased to meet you,” she bowed. When she stood back up, however, the class was staring back. She chuckled nervously, freezing in place - much like a deer in the headlights. Instead of saying the next part of the speech she worked on, Autumn simply stood silently in place.

The teacher spoke up. “Autumn’s from Reach City: a small island off the coast. We’ll all make her feel welcomed.”    

Silence. Then:

 “Why does she look like that?” 

There was a hiss from the teacher. “She just does, ok!” 

Emile watched silently, he’d never seen anything like her, he wouldn’t have thought her real. Even simply standing still, Emile was fascinated by how graceful she was. He caught her eye, and realized how uncomfortable she felt. He imagined himself in her position and - with a sting of guilt - he realized he wasn’t courageous enough to help her. He looked away in shame. 

“Uh, hi? My name is Autumn. I’m what’s called a ‘bestial’”

“Everyone?” The teacher said. “Say hello to Autumn.”

The class awkwardly parroted back the teacher’s words.

“Alright, take your seat sweetie. It’s time for English.”

“Right, thank you Ma’am. Any seat, right?” She asked.

She’d find an empty seat not far from Emile. She could still feel eyes on her and there were whispers her sharp ears could pick out. Autumn muttered under her breath. Sighing, she tried to ignore it.

Class went much like any other class, subjects went from topic to topic and soon it was time for lunch. Emile sighed as he sat at the far off minitable away from the talking groups of kids. His only companion was Chuck, a fellow outcast at the loser table. He was often picked on for being large. 

“How can you stand the cafeteria food?” Emile asked him.

Chuck shrugged. “No taste.”

“Exactly,” Emile sighed. 

Emile observed the cafeteria. Cliques had already formed before the school bell even ended. 


He shook his head when he saw her again, in the middle of the lunch line. She was eyes straight forward, trying to ignore all the stares and that there was a few inches gap in the line in front of and behind her.

He couldn’t help but think that she looked a bit like a soldier trying to keep her bearing. This girl was more interesting every time he saw her. His heart raced as he saw her heading his way. Quickly, he looked away again. 

“That’s her I take it?” Chuck said.

“Yeah,” Emile replied.  

“Hey guys, mind if I take a seat here?” Autumn asked nervously.

“Uhh, sure.” Emile said. “This is the outcast table, though.”   

“Pfft, like I care,” she smirked, taking a seat. “Besides, kinda feel that way,” she said, going for the vegetables on her tray.

Emile shrugged. “Where are you from again?” 

“Reach City, it’s an artificial island out in the Pacific.”

“Artificial? Huh, I never heard of Reach before.” Emile muttered.

“Me either,” Chuck said. 

“It’s pretty new,” she sidestepped.

“Oh, ok,” Emile sighed. 

“So, are people like you common there?” Chuck blurted.

“Chuck!” Emile whispered harshly. “Rude...”   

“It’s fine, and...kinda. There’s a race called beastials. It’s complicated but it’s a race of half animal-half human hybrids... long story.”

They all nodded, Emile going back to his sandwich.  

“I’m Emile by the way,” he said, mouth half-full. “And you’re Autumn, right?” 

“Yes,” she nodded her head as she went back to eating.

Emile felt things were pretty much wrapped up at that. So much for talking. Autumn kept to her meal herself, blushing. She couldn’t believe she shut them both down like that. She glanced around nervously as she looked on.

“So uh, food’s not so good. Know any decent places?” She asked.

Emile spoke up. “They don’t let us go off campus: that’s why I pack a lunch. Might want to do that yourself.”

“Right. Uh, maybe later we could-” she started to say before pausing.

Feeling maximum awkwardness, Emile stood up. “Nice to have met you.” 

He walked away feeling like an idiot. Was it because she was so different or because she was a girl that he felt so awkward? Or was it both? He was thinking about it as he went to find a spot to the side.

“Hey! Emilly!” 

He turned and groaned. Three boys were tailing him, three that he knew all too well: Jace, Fred, and Mike.

“Hey, he responds to it!” Mike said.

“Go away! My name’s not Emilly!” 

“Hey, the nerd’s growing a backbone Jace,” Fred said.

“Can’t have that,” Jace replied as they surrounded him and took turns pushing him beween each other like a demented game of catch. 

“Leave me alone!” Emile shouted.

“Shut up,” Jace said punching him in the mouth and sending him to the floor, Emile nursing a busted lip.  

“Come on, you got more coming.” Mike said kicking at his prone body. 

“Hey!” a voice called out on the boys.

They all turned, Jace scowled. It was Autumn. She’d seen them assault Emile.

Jace walked over to her. “What?”

“Leave him alone, he doesn’t deserve any of that. So back off,” she threatened.

Jace smirked. “Get out of here, Bambiiiiaaaaaugggggh!” Cut off, as Autumn struck the boy downstairs full force with her shin.

The tough guy crumpled to the floor moaning, as the deer raised her fists. 

“You boys wanna see what Bambi’s got in store for you?”

Mike ran forward with a wild haymaker, only to get easily dodged as she countered with a proper uppercut to his jaw. Mike was down, his eyes dazed as he nursed his jaw. Fred had run behind her and attempted to restrain her with a grab from behind.

“You got three seconds to let go,” she grunted, Fred felt her struggle.

“Or wha-” the bully said before he felt his foot crushed.

“Ahhhh!” Fred screamed as he hobbled away. “Ow, ooh, owwww!” 

The others were limping away, looking at her in terror. Emile was looking at her too but in wonder. She beat his tormentors like some avenging angel, he saw her differently now; attractive even? 

“And if you try to tell on me, I’ll sic my daddy on you!” Autumn taunted, shaking her fist. “See if you call him Bambi!”

“Wow,” Emile said from where he sat. “That was amazing.”

Turning, Autumn blushed under the fur.

“You’re not gonna tell anyone right?” she asked, worried about being expelled on day one.

Emile shook his head, “Why would I?”  

“...I dunno,” she blushed. “Just, maybe... I scared you I guess.”

Emile nursed his lip, “Well I wouldn’t want to piss you off. But those guys have been making my life hell.”

He took her hand as she helped him up.

“That’s awful. Sorry to be a bit of a cowboy though... heh, ‘cowboy,’” she blushed more.

Emile chuckled. “Heh, thanks again. Where’d you learn to fight like that? You were like the Karate Kid there.”  

“Well, I learned from the pros. My dad’s stationed nearby.”  

He frowned. “So, you’re like a military brat or something?”

“I mean...no?” she blushed. ‘Military brat?’

Emile was a little confused. “Oh, it’s a figure of speech. Not that you’re an actual brat.”

“Oh. Yeah, yeah, I’m that,” she blushed. 

Emile blushed, himself. “So, uh, guess we should get going - class will be back in soon. Thanks again for what you did.” 

“Hey, no problem,” Autumn said. “I hate bullies, if any of my friends were here, they’d have done worse. They’re carnivores,” she joked, having a chuckle.

Emile thought to ask if having carnivores as friends was a problem, but thought better of it. He just smiled instead. 

“Sorry if it’s been a rough first day.” 

“Coulda gone worse,” she said, shrugging it off. Emile could tell she was still nervous, but she was hiding it. With that they started to head back, Autumn sticking close. 

“You being my bodyguard or something?” He tried to joke.     

“If that’s okay? You’re sorta the only person I’ve met that’s not a teacher,” she admitted.

Emile frowned. “I guess that’s alright then. I’m sure once everyone gets used to you, you’ll meet more people. This town’s pretty friendly.” 

“Except for the bullies?”

Emile sighed. “Well maybe not that friendly, but yeah - let’s not count them.”

Autumn giggled and smiled. “You’re funny.”

Emile gulped. “I am?” 

“Yeah, you are. Anyway, here’s the class. Ready for learning?” She huffed, trying to prepare herself mentally.

“Knowledge is power, right?” Emile replied.

“That’s what they say,” Autumn huffed again.

The rest of the day went smoothly, dry academics aside. Autumn was smart when asked questions, she knew how to work her elders if nothing else. Emile chalked it up to her island having a good curriculum but eventually the bell rang for school to end and the class made a dash for the door. 

Autumn took her time exiting, thanking the teacher as she looked around to make sure the others were gone. Emile was hanging back a bit before he himself headed out the doors. They seemed to head through at the same time,

“Oh, uh, sorry,” Autumn blushed.

“No, no, my mistake.” 

“Alright, thank you...so where ya going?” she asked. 

“Oh, just home I guess.”  

“Alright. I just asked ‘cus my mom kinda expected me to explore town a bit. If I go right back she might think things went badly,” she admitted.

“Oh!” Emile said, “You shouldn’t go alone. Town’s bigger than you think.”    

“Well...would you mind? I can ask your mom if that’s how things work.”

Emile fidgeted. “Sure, I can be your guide. I know the good places.” 

Autumn bowed.“If you would, kindly.”

Emile smiled, “Well I know a good arcade. I spend too much time there.”

“I love arcades! Ooohh any good driving games?”

“They’ve got Outrun and Spyhunter.” he replied. 

“I love Spyhunter!” Autumn said excitedly.

A bit later and the two stepped through the doors, the electronic sounds of videoarcade games and pinball filled the air, accompanied by Duran Duran. There were some shocked responses but many seemed too absorbed in the games to spare a glance. 

“Here we are: Lynn’s arcade.” 

“It looks amazing...here, we gotta try something,” she said, emptying a coin purse into her hand. Emile’s eyes widened they could play a lot with that, he added his own fifty cents to it.

“I’m an ace at Galaga,” he bragged.   

“Show me: I know a fox who is an ace himself.”

Emile had to remind himself that there were more people like her of different species before smiling back at her. He then gladly showed off, firing away at the little bugs.

“Yeah, take it you buggies!” He shouted before his ship got captured by the tractor beam. “I did that on purpose, so I can have two.”

He seemed to have lightened up since their initial meetings.

“Right right, you just gotta watch out ‘cuz yer wider,” Autumn concurred, her friend really was good but she was impressed at his high score nonetheless. Emile chuckled, but he soon lost both ships, got frustrated and lost the rest of his lives.

“I swear I’ve done better than that before.” 

“I believe you, and look! You still made the highscore list. Just at the bottom,” she noted.

“Ah, someone beat my last ones, but I’ll leave my mark.” He entered his initials before smiling. 

“Pretty good. Now then, I get to show you my stuff,” she said, reaching Spyhunter.

“Show me,” He smirked.

She hopped in and set off, avoiding obstacles. She was engrossed as she swerved the car just right each time, her highscore count rising as she shot oncoming cars and gotevery boat level that came her way. 

It was a few minutes but she managed to get the highscore. But she quickly snapped out of it, realizing it’d been almost ten minutes. “...This probably isn’t an interesting game to watch,” she blushed.

Emile chuckled. He’d been fascinated with how her ears twitched with the sounds. “Nah, it’s cool. I’ve never seen anyone get this far. - Oh, watch it!”

She immediately smashed into another car, losing her last life.

“Ah dang.”

He consoled her. “Set a record at least.”

Emile counted the quarters before pointing to one of his favorite games: Star Wars.

“Oh my god, they have this here?!” Autumn shouted loud enough to get the whole building’s attention.

“You like Star Wars?” Emile asked, surprised.

“Don’t consider me a savage. Course I love Star Wars.”

“I didn’t mean, uh, let’s just take turns playing.”

They did so, each going for the highest scores they could get. Autumn won out, grinning wide as she fist pumped.

“Heh, beginners luck I guess,” she blushed.

“There’s no such thing as luck,” Emile replied in his best Obi-Wan impersonation. 

“Shoulda set you up to say ‘use the force,’” she shook her head. 

Emile smiled sheepishly. “Any quarters left?” He asked.

“Yeah, got four. Hmm...this place got ticket games?”

“Sure does.” 

A few quarters later and they were walking out with some slinkies. 

“You’re pretty good,” Emile said admiringly.

“Thanks, you too,” she smiled, messing around with slinky. “Skeeball’s super easy if you know how to do it.”

“I have to say you’re like the coolest girl I’ve ever met.” He blushed, wishing he hadn’t said that. “I mean… You beat up bullies, you like arcades and you like Star Wars.” 

“Heh, guess that’s a pretty rare combo,” she blushed.

They walked on. Emile spoke up. “So I should probably walk you home.” 

“I’d really appreciate that,” Autumn bowed.

“Lead the way, then.”

“Sure, I’m actually kinda close to here. That’s awesome!”

“Guess that’s something,” he smiled. “If you want I’ll show you more of the town tomorrow. Uh, if you want.” 

“I would love that,” Autumn said happily. “Uh, if you don’t mind.”

Emile shook his head. It didn’t take long to reach the house.

“Wow, you really don’t live too far.”

“That’s super cool...hey, where do you live, if I may ask?”

“Like, the next street over,” Emile replied.

Autumn was silent, as she was trying to think. “If that’s the case, wanna come in for a soda or something?”

September 23, 2022 15:08

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Anna Frayer
19:05 Sep 29, 2022

Hi Derek! I'm writing this as part of this week's critique circle. I thought Military Brat was such a sweet story of innocence and friendship. Emile and Autumn are clearly kindred souls who I’m sure can look forward to many adventures together. I love that she comes to his rescue in the cafeteria – and kicks butt! The story did seem to change perspective at times, which was a bit disorienting for me. Though, in its entirety, it is written in the third person, at times it seems we are looking through Emile’s eyes, and other times through Aut...


21:56 Sep 29, 2022

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback Anna. I'm glad you enjoyed it. This was an excerpt from an unpublished novel length story, that I turned into a short story, these two do indeed have all manner of adventures before them. That might also explain why the perspectives seemed to drift, and why it seems there is some material missing. The title I was really struggling to find something that fit and just went with the first thing that came to mind. The title of the novel would have been even more confusing. Fair enough on the dialogue, I do...


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Cajek Veilwinter
16:35 Sep 30, 2022

You've done it again Merc - good job!


23:52 Sep 30, 2022

Thanks for everything.


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