City Tails (Chapter 2)

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Molly's house was incredible, at least for the city. A wooden-floored foyer, off which a powderroom stemmed, lead to a spacious living room, furnished with two leather couches and a big screen. Past that was a staircase to the second floor and a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a granite-top island. Attached on the left was a dining room, though it looked as if it hadn't been touched in years, a layer of dust settled over the wooden tabletop and chandelier. Jay was fascinated, never having seen a place to nice, much less lived in one, and was silent, in awe of it all. She only spoke up to ask one question.

"What's that door over there?" Jay pointed to a door stemming off from the kitchen, closed.

"Oh, that's Aldan's room, down in the basement. He's away though, so you won't get to meet him for a few days."

That's right, Jay remembered, there were others living here too. Along with Molly and Jay herself, there were two individuals also calling this space home. One in the basement, and one in the attic.

Next, Molly led Jay upstairs, into a hallway with four doors, two on the right, one on the left, and one straight at the end. The furry girl led Jay into the first door, which was the upstairs bathroom, attached to the master bedroom. There were two sinks, both cluttered with hygeine products, as well as a stand-alone shower and large bathtub.

"Us girls will be sharing this one. Aldan has his own little room downstairs. Renna and I never seem to have to fight over the bathroom much, so it shouldn't be a problem. Just try to shower in the mornings. Renna tends to hog the bathroom at night."

Jay nodded and wondered what the other inhabitants of the house might be.

Molly quickly showed her the master bedroom, which was attached to the bathroom and at the back of the house. It was a spacious, comfortable bedroom with a king-sized bed piled high with comforters. Along with a TV stowed away in a dresser, there was a large, antique vanity holding baring tons of cosmetics of every kind, which was quite apparently a hobby of Molly's. There were also several black and white prints of photographs on the wall, which she claimed to have taken herself. Another hobby, it seemed.

Across the hall they went to Jay's room, which was large but empty, for now. The mover's would be arriving later that day, but Jay could already tell she would have a lot of open space, having only taken a few pieces of furniture and her full-size bed. Her room had a window out onto the street, where she could see people passing by. After a moment, they left the room.

"The door at the end of the hall leads up to Renna's room. I think she's still asleep, but we can go say hi to her."

"Oh no, that's fine. I don't want to wake-"

"Don't be silly! She needs to get her lazy butt up anyway."

Jay didn't protest any further, and followed Molly, whose tail was wagging happily. Jay almost wanted to reach out and touch it, to feel how soft her fur was, but she knew that would probably be a little weird.

Up a creeky set of stairs and through another door was Renna's room, which looked utterly bizarre in comparison to everything else she had already seen.

Within the small space was a clutter of things; bookshelves crammed with ancient-looking tomes, a desk covered in exotic potted plants, chimes and mobiles of charms and coins hung from the ceiling, and intricately patterned rugs covering the floor. To one end was a small, low cot, smothered in afghans, which heaved gently.

"Renna," Molly called in a singsong voice.

The pile shifted and groaned.

"Renna, get up, Jay's here."

"Who?" Renna croaked in a muffled tone.

"Our new housemate. Now get up and make a good first impression."

The pile shifted more, letting the blankets spill to the floor, as a short, squat figured emerged from the cot. It quickly grabbed a black hat that was sitting next to the cot and plopped it on its head, obscuring much of its face. The rest of it was covered in a long black frockwhich went down to the floor, with sleeves far too long for its wearer.

"This is Renna. She's a bit grumpy, but she's good. I've known her since grade school."

Jay could only make out a bit of a face under the hat, whose pointed end drooped behind her. Renna's skin was a sickly pale blue, and her features were rounded and soft. Jay couldn't tell if she had any hair under that hat, but could see two frills extending from her flesh, one from each side of ehr face, just before her ears. The protuberances were made of webbed spines and moved slightly with her every breath.

"Human, eh?" Renna said, stretching. "Didn't tell me that."

"Well, I didn't know until now," Molly replied, "but that makes no difference. We're accepting of everyone here, right?"

"Just as long as she doesn't try 'n chase us out like all the rest of her kind."

"Be nice." Molly frowned.

"Fine." Renna shuffled forward and extended her hand to shake.

Jay paused for a moment, seeing the hand before her. It was like a human's, but speckled with fish-like scales, and clawed with clear, needle-like nails. Swallowing, Jay shook her hand, which was cold and a bit slimy.

"There, can I go back to bed now?" Renna asked.

"Sure. But you have to be up for work soon." Molly said finally, turning to leave. Renna grumbled to herself and plopped back down on her cot, wrapping herself tightly in blankets.

Once back down in the living room, the furry girl sighed.

"I'm sorry about her. She's a nice person, I promise. She's just a bit..frustrating at times. But she doesn't represent us as a whole. Most of us are fine with your kind."

"It's okay, I'm not offended," Jay tried to calm her. "I mean, she really didn't expect it. Neither did I."

"I figured you knew what we would be, considering where the house is."

"What do you mean?" Jay cocked her head.

"This is the Beast Quarter. You know, where all the nonhumans live."

"I didn't. I just saw your ad online and the rent looked great."

"Well, it has to be cheaper here. Nonhumans make a lot less most places outside the quarter."

Jay didn't respond.

"So...can I get you something to drink?" Molly asked.

"That'd be great, actually. I'm really thirsty."

Molly smiled and nodded, then headed to the kitchen, Jay following behind.

Over a glass of lemonade, the furry told the human a bit about Kingston and its history.

Before, Kingston has been two seperate cities of equal size. There was a city of humans, who were beginning to build railroads and experiment with steam technology, and there was a city of beasts. The city of beasts was but a cluster of small clans, towns brought together around a central market, which still existed to that day. Beasts and humans lived totally seperate from each other in their own capital cities until a gang of human boys attacked a caravan coming to the beast city to trade. Riots broke out and it seemed there would be war, until peacemakers stepped in from both sides and settled with an agreement of restitution. The beasts would be granted land in the human territory as an apology for the violence, and so the two cities began to meld.

Over time, humans had grown in population far faster than the beasts. Humans built skyscrapers and brought greater technology to the area, but began to push the beasts into smaller and smaller areas. Beasts couldn't regain their territory, since they never saw the city as a place to permanently live. Since they were constantly moving in to make a living and out to start a family, no group could rally long enough to take a stand. So, even though the philosophy of moving into the country to raise kin eventually dissolved, the beasts were trapped in their area, named the Beast's Quarter.

Jay found it all rather fascinating, and barely sipped her lemonade, listening intently. She also found it a bit funny that she had done just what was beast tradition in coming to the city to start her adult life. She made this remark, to which Molly agreed.

Before they knew it, over an hour had passed, and a knock came at the door from the movers. Within another hour, all of Jay's things had been set in her room, boxes scattered about and with only her bed, desk, and bedside tables to denote it was a bedroom.

Molly then said she had to leave and go to work, taking the bus with Renna. She said she would be back later and that Jay was welcome to do whatever she wanted, but assured her that she would be bringing something special home to eat after her shift to celebrate Jay moving in.

Sitting at her desk and relaxing, Jay smiled. Even though the day had turned out to be nothing like she expected, she certainly could get used to this place.