Melted By The Bear(3)

By: Amira Rain


Perplexing me even further, Alice gave Jane some sort of warning look that Jane just ignored, if she caught it at all. I’d definitely caught it; it had been a look that had clearly said, “Now, don’t you go doing....” something. Don’t you go doing something, Jane, but what that something was, I couldn’t imagine. It seemed like it almost had to be that I wasn’t to be visited with, which begged the question why not. I began to wonder if the people of whatever place I’d been thawed in were just unfriendly, inhospitable people, a troubling thought.

After her warning look had been ignored by Jane, Alice said she should be going, charts to file or something like that, and she breezed out of the room without so much as a bye in my direction, let alone a have a nice nap or something.

Jane pulled a folding chair over to my bedside, sat down, and then just fidgeted for a second or two, so I spoke first.

“Jane... can I ask you something?”

“Oh, sure. Sure.”

“Okay, well it’s this. Do I... have body odor or something?”

She laughed, actually laughed. Laughed with the edges of her pale blue eyes crinkling. It was the first expression of warmth I’d seen all morning. It so heartened me that I gave her a big grin in return before speaking again.

“You can answer me honestly. I promise I won’t take offense. Maybe a few hundred years in a cryogenic tank dulled my sense of smell, and I just can’t smell a really offensive odor on myself or something. And maybe I didn’t wash it all off in the shower.”

I thought it was at least a possibility.

Jane smiled, more warmth, though mixed with something like pity now. “You don’t have any kind of an offensive odor, and you didn’t even before your shower.”

I smiled, relieved, but at the same time further perplexed. “Well, good.”

We both fell silent briefly, and Jane’s expression turned to a serious frown before she spoke again.

“We’re not rude people, you know.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

“Okay.”

Studying my face, she didn’t respond right away. “At least most of us here aren’t. You just happened to... well, catch us at a bad time, you could say.”

“What do you mean exactly? Because I kind of got this vibe from you and-”

“Would you like to know where you are?”

Now it was my turn to not answer right away. “Sure.”

“You’re in a place that, during your time, was the state of Michigan.”

My time. It was so strange to hear, because my time, to me, at least my time post-nuclear disaster, felt as if it had only been a nap ago. I didn’t have a sense at all that my time had been hundreds of years earlier. That reality just hadn’t sunk in yet. I was going to have to get used to the fact that to the people of my new community, the nuclear disaster was ancient history, having been centuries and many generations earlier.

Crossing one thin leg over the other and leaning back in her chair, Jane continued. “After a few wars and other troubles, Michigan eventually became part of the United Free States, ruled by dragon shifters. But recently, the whole area, along with a sliver of Indiana, where you said earlier you’re from, was given to our leader, Commander Blackthorn, to establish a new nation he named Michiana. So, that’s where you are now... in southern Michiana. In the capitol of Blackthorn City, specifically.”

I was from a small town in Indiana called Angola, which had been right on the border with Michigan, and many people during my time had called the area Michiana, so it wasn’t really a new concept for me.

Jane went on to explain that Michiana was sparsely populated, with several thousand citizens, most of them fully-human, spread throughout the new nation, and a thousand or so people, mostly human women, shifter men, and their children, residing in Blackthorn City. “See, our ‘city’ is really more of a village at this point, though we’ve really spiffed it up and modernized it over the past few years; and someday in the future, it really will be a proper city, with thousands and thousands of people. Same with the whole nation; it will be filled with people in the future. That’s Commander Blackthorn’s plan, and always has been since he was elected commander-in-chief of this nation.”

“So, the government of this place is a democracy?”

“Well... it’s similar in some ways. But our commanders have a bit more power, and they rule for life, with the title being passed down to their oldest sons, or the first son of their first daughter if they have no sons. That’s because the commander-in-chief must always be a shifter, because the commander-in-chief’s most important job is that of chief protector. It’s the same system as in the United Free States with the dragons, and with the lions in the new nation of Louisiana.”

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