Chapter 2:

Chapter 2

Waking Up as a Gyaru in a New World

I tripped several times before I managed to really get the hang of things. Then I only tripped about once every ten minutes or so. If I ever did make it back home, I had a whole new respect for trendy girls. It clearly took commitment. When I wasn’t falling on my face, I admired the surrounding forest. It seemed like it must have been old, with densely packed trees and undergrowth. The temperature was perfect, too, warm without being hot. I was never really the outdoorsy type but I had to admit this scenery was impressive. After a while, I even stopped worrying about getting attacked by a monster. I was crashing through so noisily that any predator nearby would have come to investigate by now. Bookmark here

I happened upon a small creek just as I was beginning to get thirsty and wondered if the goddess really was looking out for me. I peered at it for a while, wondering if it was safe to drink. If this was a medieval type world, it should have been. So long as it wasn’t downstream of a city or something. And it wasn’t like I had any equipment to filter it. I didn’t even have anything to boil it in. Not that I knew how to make a fire. There didn’t seem to be any other options, so I laid down on my belly and dipped my face into the water. It was cool and delicious. Bookmark here

“Who are you?” Bookmark here

I jumped, sucking water down the wrong pipe. I pushed myself to my hands and knees coughing uncontrollably. My eyes were watering so it took me a long moment to focus on the figure across the creek. He was short. No, a child. Maybe twelve or thirteen. He was wearing dirty tan trousers and a short vest, no shoes. He seemed scrawny but tough in a way only young boys seemed to be. He had a strong jaw, a straight, thin nose and a mass of thick blue-grey hair that fell all the way to his waist. But the most eye-catching thing about him, by far, were two ears that poked from the top of his head. They were triangular and fuzzy. I looked into his eyes and saw that they were amber, not human eyes at all. His lips were drawn in a half-snarl, revealing long canines. He was a wolfboy. Without a doubt. Final confirmation that this was indeed a fantasy world. I wondered if Mina was into wolfboys. Though this one seemed a little young.Bookmark here

When my coughing was under control enough, I scrambled backward onto my backside and lifted up my hands. “I don’t mean you any harm,” I said. “I’m lost.” Bookmark here

The wolfboy stepped closer. He had a wood axe in his right hand. It wasn’t raised so I didn’t feel threatened exactly but it did make me uncomfortable. “Where did you come from?” His voice was still high-pitched enough that I doubted he’d hit puberty yet. He was studying me quite openly. Not as a man looks at a woman but as someone who doesn’t quite understand what he’s seeing. My skin was only a shade darker than his so I didn’t think that was it. Most likely it was the clothes. Or maybe this land was populated by all beastmen and humans weren’t known. Or maybe humans ruled the land and they had cast out the wolfboy for being a freak and now he lived alone.Bookmark here

All pointless speculation until I knew more. “I’m from…” I couldn’t exactly say another world. “Very far away. Across the ocean.” That seemed safe enough. Hopefully. Bookmark here

The wolfboy stared at me for a long moment and then blinked, his ears perking up as if he’d just remembered something. “Althea? Are you from Althea? Bookmark here

I nodded. “Yes, Althea.” The kid seemed kind of ignorant so it should be a safe enough masquerade for now. I slowly got to my feet, thinking fast. “I fell overboard...from my ship and washed up on the shore. I have been lost for a while in the forest.” It wasn’t a very good story but the wolfboy’s eyes were round and interested. I’d have to work out better details for whenever I met an adult. Not wanting any follow up questions, I said, “My name is…” Wait. Did I want to give out Mina’s real name? I was in her body but did I want to use her identity? It seemed wrong somehow. So I spit out the first fantasy-ish name I could think of, “Selene. What’s yours?” I added quickly, hoping he didn’t notice the hesitation. Bookmark here

Instead of answering, he stalked toward me, splashing through the creek without taking his piercing amber eyes off me. I almost ran but considering he was a wolfboy and I was in heels, I just had to hope he wasn't planning to hurt me. He circled around me, sniffing audibly. He got so close to my butt that it was honestly comfortable. When he got back in front of me, he said, “My name is Kriv.” When he said it, he glared with defiance and aggression. I had no idea why and was just happy he’d stopped his sniffing routine. I guess it was something wild wolfboys did? Bookmark here

“Glad to meet you, Kriv,” I said. For a moment, I considered sticking my hand out but thought better of it. “Do you live out here?” He seemed confused by my lack of reaction. He chopped his head forward in a somewhat sullen manner. ‘With your parents?” I asked, probingly. He wasn’t not giving me much.Bookmark here

“My parents are dead,” he said flatly.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He didn't seem too broken up about it. “So you live by yourself then?” Bookmark here

“Who else would I live with?” he asked bitterly. Maybe he was an outcast. Bookmark here

Since he didn’t seem to want to talk, I moved on to the most pressing question. “Is there a town around here? A village?” Bookmark here

He looked at me like I was stupid. “Nobody lives around here. The closest village is a week away.” I gaped at him. A week away! Probably more like two weeks for me in my heels. I’d die. I didn’t know how to hunt or forage or make a fire or any of that shit. Bookmark here

I gave him what I hoped was a cute smile. “Would you be willing to take me there?” Bookmark here

“Why should I?” he snapped right back. He waved his hand in a vague direction. “Just go north. You’ll get there.” Bookmark here

He didn’t seem like he was going to change his mind. I guess my first encounter would be my first chance to use a skill. I thought ‘Activate Doki-doki!’ My body began to move outside of my control. I bent forward, bracing myself on my knees. I knew I was so far forward that he could see all the way down my blouse. I winked and my mouth moved, “Please, Kriv?” The ‘please’ was stretched out to about four syllables. Bookmark here

The little wolfboy blushed and his sullen expression evaporated. He seemed more embarrassed than enticed but mumbled, “Well, I suppose I could…” Bookmark here

I straightened up quickly, back under my own power again and clapped my hands. “Great. Thank you, Kriv.” I won’t be using that again if I can help it! Bookmark here

Without another word, the wolf child turned and walked back the direction he came from. I hurried to follow him, barely managing to stay on my feet as I splashed through the creek. We take a winding path, turning here and there for no reason I can tell. We aren’t following any kind of path that I can discern. This kid really did live in the middle of a forest all by himself. And for some reason that idiot goddess put Mina here. What the hell? Bookmark here

Kriv’s house was a tiny log cabin in a small clearing. I could have passed within a few steps without noticing it. There was a little firepit out front. That was it. I nervously washed my hands, looking around. Kriv glanced at me expectantly. I guess he didn’t talk much. Living alone a week away from the nearest person would do that to you I suppose. “Do you have, um, an outhouse?” Bookmark here

“” Kriv repeated the word as if he’d never heard it.Bookmark here

“You know...a place to do your business?” I got a blank look in return. I had to admit that one was my fault. “A place to pee,” I snapped, embarrassed. I hadn’t gone yet in Mina’s body and I didn’t want to. I was reaching critical mass, however. Bookmark here

“A place to pee?” Kriv repeated, clearly bewildered. “Why would I have a house just to pee in?”Bookmark here

“Alright, I get it.” Savage. I knew the thought was unkind and unfair. But I was nervous. I headed back into the forest but didn't go too far for fear of getting lost. After a deep breath, I took care of things as quickly as I could. It felt a bit different but I tried not to dwell on it. I used a leaf to clean up and prayed to every god I could think of that it wasn’t going to give me a rash. Bookmark here

When I returned, Kriv had a small fire going and was working on skinning a rabbit. Had I really been gone that long? I was glad to see the rabbit, though. I could eat a rabbit. If it was some kind of rodent or reptile, I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to stomach it. An insect would have been right out. I settled down into a squat next to a fire, making sure to keep my thighs together. Forlornly, I thought of the pizza I had been planning to order when I got back home. I wondered if they had pizza here. Maybe I could invent it? Wouldn’t that be something? Of course, I knew nothing about cooking. What had I been doing with my life? Bookmark here

Kriv spitted the rabbit, put it over the fire and added some tubers that I didn’t recognize. He didn’t seem interested in talking and I wasn’t sure what to say so we waited in silence as the food cooked. “I would have caught something bigger if I knew I was feeding someone tonight,” Kriv finally said. He seemed defensive. I hoped I wasn’t giving off a vibe like I was unsatisfied. It didn’t have anything to do with Kriv, just the knowledge that my food was about to get a whole lot less flavorful. Bookmark here

“I’m grateful you're sharing anything with me, Kriv. I wish I had something to offer you in return.” Bookmark here

He peered at me searchingly. “My father taught me the proper rules of hospitality,” he said, a bit challengingly. I did have a vague idea that hospitality was very important in premodern cultures. Bookmark here

“He sounds like a good man,” I responded, not really sure what to say. Bookmark here

Kriv merely grunted and went back to poking at the food. He pulled the rabbit from the fire sooner than I would have and proceeded to rip it in half as easily as I might tear a piece of paper. So beast people were really strong. Noted. He handed me my half of the rabbit and stared at me. I took a delicate bite. It was hot and juicy, which was nice, but as I feared it wasn’t very tasty. I hoped they had salt in the bigger towns. Once I had taken my first bit, Kriv began to devour his rabbit. I guess he’d been waiting for me. He was finished before I’d even eaten a quarter of my half. Bookmark here

Once I began eating, I realized how hungry I was. I had been walking quite a bit and who knew what Mina had eaten prior to her suicide attempt. She was pretty thin. I suddenly realized I would have to be careful. I didn’t want to give her body back in a worse condition than I had gotten it. It probably wouldn’t be too big of a problem for me in this world. I doubted they had invented high fructose corn syrup. I accepted the tubers after. They were kind of bitter but I managed to get them all down. The sun had dipped down below the treeline by time I was finished. Bookmark here

Kriv stomped out the fire and went inside. I followed, assuming I was invited. The inside was depressingly bare. A dirt floor with a single fur blanket stretched across one side. There was a chest along the other wall. Kriv padded over to it and cracked it open. He looked at me with hostility, so I stopped where I was. The wolfboy threw his knife and axe inside and closed it quickly. I guess it was a secret what was inside? Kriv turned and stripped off his vest and trousers. Bookmark here

I turned my head so fast I hurt my neck. He was a boy and I was a man anyway, not to mention it was too dark to see much. But where I was from, people just didn’t get casually naked. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him stretch out on the fur blanket. He was watching me. It was beginning to get so dark that I could see his amber eyes glowing. I slid down until I was sitting against the wall. I guess he wasn’t going to offer me something to sleep on. Probably didn’t have anything. Bookmark here

I had no intention of undressing, of course, but I did take off my sandals. Once I figured out the straps. My feet didn’t feel all that bad, considering, but I could only imagine what it would be like after walking all day tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. Wasn’t getting reborn in a new world supposed to be fun? Bookmark here

Now that it was dark and I was alone with the silent wolfboy with nothing to do, I couldn’t ignore and suppress the feelings that had been lingering in the back of my mind. Loneliness washed over me. There weren’t too many people I would miss but the thought of never seeing my mother and sister again hurt. Worse than I would have expected. Had somebody gotten ahold of them yet, to tell them what had happened? Thinking about how they would take it made my stomach turn. My only friend, too. We were each other’s only friend. What would he do now? Who would he talk to? Who would he game with? He didn’t even have a sibling like I did. Bookmark here

Maybe if I found my original body, the goddess would send me back home. I got a sick feeling that it wouldn’t be that easy, though. After all, she didn’t seem to want me here. If she could have snapped her fingers and sent me home, why didn’t she?Bookmark here

I drew my knees up to my chest. I was glad Kriv was here because if I was alone, I think I would have cried. I didn’t want to cry in front of the wolf. I had my pride as a man, even if I was in the body of a cute girl. Maybe I should’ve just taken advantage of that to cry but something in me wouldn’t let me. Eventually I managed to fall into a fitful sleep, waking up several times throughout the night. Bookmark here

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