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Not So Human - Chapter 5

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

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Chapter 5: Do faeries eat donuts?”

Sabrina was practically hopping around the hotel room while Deanda zipped up her suitcase with glares and grumbles. She seemed to believe the piece of luggage had intentionally got caught on itself not once but twice.

Deanda had never been a big morning person, so her bad mood didn’t do anything to harm Sabrina’s antsy excitement. In reality, she didn’t know why she felt the way she did; all she knew was that, after passing out from nerves and exhaustion the night before, she was now filled with a ridiculous energy equivalent to three mocha lattes.

“I can name two faeries who eat donuts, though that number might be reduced to one if you don’t stop being so perky,” Deanda returned in a decidedly cranky voice.

Shaking her head, Sabrina also puckered her lips in innocent admonition. “I think after what you pulled on me yesterday, I can be as perky as I want to be.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Her not-so-peppy friend glared some more. “I saved your life. How dare I.”

Sabrina gave an inch. “Since neither of us have a clue where we are or where we’re going, I’ll drive and that way you can guzzle down as much coffee as you’d like.”

Deanda didn’t thank her or accept the generous offer. “No, I’ll drive,” was all she said, her focus clearly on fitting her toothbrush into a cosmetics bag, then shoving that into the front pocket of her suitcase. It almost didn’t close.

Sabrina shrugged her acquiescence, then went back to hopping around the room in entirely useless fashion. In a surge of jumpy inspiration, she started to line dance in the small space between her bed and the TV hutch.

Right heel forward, right toe back. Right heel forward, right toe back. Right toe forward, right toe to the side, right toe back.

She was just about to sweep her foot out to the side again when she caught an exasperated glower from her friend, something she was already well acquainted with that morning. In response, Sabrina cast a cheeky grin back and swept her hands onto her hips.

“So are we gonna get all dolled up again?”

“No.” Deanda’s tone was as short as her response.

“Why not?”

“Because I think we’re in the clear for now. I didn’t catch anyone following us yesterday. And what has you so happy this morning anyway?” The way she asked the question, it sounded more like an accusation.

Sabrina had to pause and think about that one. “I think because I’m not at work.”

That response generated a snort of something that could have been amusement. “You’re kind of crazy. Do you know that?”

“Says the girl who believes in faeries,” she pointed out, grabbing her phone to call in her official resignation.

It wasn’t until she gave a bogus explanation to her boss and hung up that she realized the full implications of what she had done. Without a job, she no longer had a paycheck. Without a paycheck, she had no source of income. And without income, it was probably going to get a lot more difficult to survive, much less evade suit-wearing psychopaths.

Sabrina felt her good mood evaporate into thin air. She glanced over at her irritable roommate, wondering how to broach such a serious topic. But she found herself pausing under a whole new thought altogether when Deanda moved toward her to grab one last item to pack. Her friend looked both exhausted and sensual at the same time, making Sabrina wonder if the girl really was a faerie. No human being had a right to look so good so often.

“Come on,” Deanda commanded, picking her suitcase up with one hand and her purse with the other. “Let’s go.”

No human being had the right to be so ill-tempered either, Sabrina thought, though she wisely didn’t say any such thing. Instead, she dared to bring up finances as they walked out the door.

“Don’t worry about it.” Deanda gave a small grunt while she swung her bulging blue suitcase up into the trunk, then turned to grab the green one. “Your brother set aside a bank account for you in case something like this happened. We’ve got a mil.”

Sabrina stood in shock while Deanda closed the trunk and got in the car, acting as if the amount wasn’t a big deal. She followed suit a second later, still in a state of disbelief.

“A million?”

“Yup.” Still unfazed.

Sabrina mulled that number over in her head for the time it took to drive to the closest coffee shop. And she fixated on it some more while Deanda went through the drive-thru for her much-needed double shot mocha with caramel. It was her usual, and typically had the desired effect of making her less ill-tempered within two sips. Three at most.

Sabrina decided to err on the side of caution, letting her finish the whole thing before she started badgering her with questions. While she waited, she ate about a quarter of the breakfast foods they’d also picked up. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes down Route 95 South that she tested the waters.

“So.” Sabrina drew the word out several additional syllables.

Deanda’s phone vibrated from an incoming text. “One sec.”

Sabrina subsided, wondering if the message might be from her supposed brother. And if so, was he finally giving them directions on where they were supposed to go?

“Looks like it’s Florida for us,” Deanda confirmed, her fingers dancing along her screen a total of three times.

“Florida?” Sabrina repeated. “What are we going to do, hide in the Everglades?

“I doubt that, but who knows.” Her eyes were right back on the road. “Your brother just says to head to Orlando, and he’ll send further instructions when we’re closer.”

“Okay.” Sabrina really hoped that, whatever the plan ended up being, it didn’t involve alligators.

Deanda switched the subject like it didn’t matter much. “Anyway, you were going to ask something?”

“Oh. Yeah. Right.” There were so many things to ask and arguments to make, but she started out with the most simple of the lot. “If we’re both faeries, why don’t we have wings?”

“Because we take our vitamins.” That was it, delivered in the most matter-of-fact way possible.

Sabrina opened her mouth, paused, then tried again. “I think that answer might have been even weirder than my question. Care to elaborate?”

So Deanda did, explaining that back in the 1950s, faerie scientists discovered a certain supplement that suppressed their non-human attributes and tendencies. If given in large doses over the course of a few days, it destroyed specific faerie abilities, while also cutting off circulation to any non-human features. That meant their wings would become brittle and eventually fall off.

At first, it had been used on heinous felons; but over time, enough people made enough of a fuss that the practice was dropped. Though even then, tests with the formula continued, just on willing subjects. As a result, faerie scientists found that, when given in smaller amounts, the supplement only temporarily counteracted their unique genetic makeup.

Deanda didn’t know all the scientific details on that, just the basic facts, which she calmly shared.

“So as soon as I stop taking my vitamins, which I’ve been cleverly given my whole life,” Sabrina took her time on each word, “I’ll sprout wings and be able to wiggle my nose for whatever I want?”

Come to think of it, she realized, her vitamins hadn’t been in her suitcase. In all of the chaos, she hadn’t given them a single consideration before.

“Wiggling your nose won’t work,” Deanda asserted.

“But the wings?”

“You’ll have to learn how to use them, of course. But yeah, you’ll have them.”

Sabrina didn’t believe any of it, but it was still a fascinating concept. “So what color will they be? What will they look like? Are they like butterfly wings, or angel wings or bird wings? Or do they look different than anything I could imagine? Are they like giant octagons or something?”

“It’s like talking to a little child,” Deanda muttered. “I think I need more coffee.”

“As your princess, I command you to tell me.”

“As your friend, I’m telling you you’re annoying.”

“Maybe, but mine still trumps yours.”

Deanda deigned to turn her eyes from the road then, giving her a look that sufficiently conveyed her opinion of the response and the person giving it.

That didn’t stop Sabrina from continuing. And like a true friend, it also didn’t stop Deanda from answering.

The problem was, however, that Sabrina didn’t know what to ask. So by the end of their conversation, she could have filled maybe a single sheet of paper with her acquired information. And that was only if she wrote relatively large letters.

Sabrina played with her fingers as she reviewed the list in her head, tapping one for each fact she’d learned. She knew her resemblance to Tinker Bell was nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence, that her brother was in his mid-forties and married with a son, and that his court was in Scotland. Which made her Scottish.

Which meant that, eventually, she’d be going to Scotland. Which almost certainly meant flying.

That didn’t make her happy, since she was afraid of flying.

She tried pointing her phobia out as proof that she couldn’t be a faerie. But Deanda retorted how it didn’t prove anything one way or the other, and Sabrina ended up with little other choice but to agree.

Last but not least, Deanda went into greater detail about the evil Human Preservation and Advancement Committee. That part, Sabrina really hoped wasn’t true. It might be rather fun to have pretty wings and an actual, living family out there. But being hunted down by some obsessive secret society that had it out for non-human humanoids, was not on her to-do list. So while she maintained her skepticism, she decided to press for details just to be on the safe side.

Besides, the men in business suits had been very real and very interested in her, no matter what they actually were.

“So this HPAC?”

Deanda nodded distractedly while she switched lanes, not that the move made much of a difference. The traffic was thick enough to slow down both sides of the road. “What about them?”

“Why do they want to kill faeries anyway?”

Sighing in frustration, Deanda shook her head at the congestion all around them. “Because they’re ignorant psychopaths.”

“Well obviously, but why?”

“They believe all the old legends and myths that we steal human babies and damage property and do other stupid stuff we could care less about.”

“But we don’t, right?” Sabrina realized she’d just associated herself with a bunch of mythical creatures. She winced, yet she didn’t bother to backtrack.

“Of course not,” Deanda replied with nearly careless certainty. “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s just something a bunch of storytellers came up with hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, it stuck.”

“Well,” Sabrina said with as much care as she could muster. “I hate to make this point, especially considering the subject matter I’m making it about, but myths often have some true basis.”

“Are you telling me I’m a baby-thief?”

“Of course not. I’m just saying that maybe faeries used to kidnap babies.”

Oh, what the heck, she thought while she reached forward to turn the radio down a bit. If you can’t beat them, join them.

“They didn’t,” Deanda replied a little too sharply, her expression changing dramatically along with her tone.

Sabrina put her hands up like she was warding off an attack. “Sorry. I’ll drop it.”

“No,” she sighed, looking down and away from the road for a second. “I’m sorry. It’s just that ever since the HPAC first formed, we’ve lost too many faeries because of that mindset. They think the rising global population has us feeling more territorial and, as a result, more aggressive. That the more humans out there means the more careful we have to be. And technically, they’re right that it would be a lot easier for us if they weren’t around at all.”

The way she said it made Sabrina suspicious. “But faeries don’t kill humans, right?”

Deanda stared straight ahead. “I’m not saying it hasn’t happened before. Centuries ago, we used to clash often enough. But that was back when we traveled a lot more between the outside world and underground. We gave up on living out in the open back in the 1800s because it got to be too much. So these days, the average faerie doesn’t ever see a real human, much less murder one.”

They managed to gain several feet before the cars ahead of them came to another full stop.

“But your family lives aboveground,” Sabrina pointed out. “I’ve met them.”

Deanda shrugged, appearing slightly less tense now that Sabrina wasn’t throwing out any accusations. “As time went on, most people started dismissing us as myths, and so some of us started moving back outside. We figured it would be fine to integrate with humans since the vast majority of them can’t see our wings anyway.”

Clued in by her tone of voice, Sabrina prompted her friend when she didn’t go on right away, getting caught up in the story despite herself. “I’m guessing it didn’t work out quite so well?”

Deanda shook her head. “It worked well for a little while. I mean, there were some problems, but nothing widespread enough for us to panic. But then the HPAC got organized, and it’s been a struggle ever since. They can’t understand us or explain us, so they’ve chosen to rely on all the old stories on what to do with us.”

“So then, if we’re not like the myths, what do we do?”

Her friend shrugged. “We live. Just like everyone else.”

Sabrina grimaced at the answer, which didn’t answer anything at all. She knew Deanda wasn’t trying to be difficult, but it was still frustrating, especially with so much information to digest. Skeptical or not, she wanted to get to the bottom of whatever was really going on one way or the other.

They finally gave up navigating the roads at around ten thirty at night. Deanda, who had steadfastly refused to let Sabrina take a turn, seemed to have a single-minded determination to get to Florida. So it wasn’t surprising when she collapsed on the bed within minutes of stepping into their booked room.

Sabrina, however, pulled out her laptop to access the hotel network

A search for “faeries” brought up over a million hits, revealing a fascinating universe of often contradicting information. According to her anything-but-exhaustive research, faeries weren’t at all like the ones that pop-culture portrayed. Or at least they didn’t have to be. Instead, the group encompassed trolls and hobgoblins, leading Sabrina to the easy conclusion that she preferred the Disney version.

Then there was the origin of faeries, an intriguing topic all by itself involving numerous opinions. Some divided the race into two different social standings: the green-wearing aristocracy, which enjoyed taking long processional walks; and the nature faeries, who were far more wild and unpredictable to sometimes dangerous degrees. The first were widely thought to be vanquished gods, while the second set were considered more as spiritual extensions of water, wind and other elements.

That neat and organized explanation didn’t cut it with everyone though. Other sites speculated that they were fallen angels, demons, or creatures not good enough to get into heaven but not bad enough to warrant hell. As she delved deeper and deeper into the rich mythology, Sabrina discovered that the list wasn’t exactly lengthy. But it wasn’t simple either.

After months of going to bed no later than midnight during the work week, it was rather fun to ignore the clock, even if it did take its toll on her the next morning. Instead of bombarding Deanda with questions like she’d planned, Sabrina fell asleep in the car fairly quickly. And she didn’t wake up until her friend gave her a gentle tap on her shoulder.

“We’re here.”

“Where?” She asked in sleepy disorientation, though the sounds around her were quite unique.

“At the Orlando airport. Let’s go and buy our tickets.”

Sabrina’s eyes popped right open at that. The sunlight was strong enough to set her blinking repeatedly before she could focus. When she was finally able to take full note of her surroundings, her stomach sank at what she saw: an enormous parking lot filled with cars and a set of intimidating terminals off in the distance.

The muted rumblings of heavy machinery lifting off didn’t calm her down in the slightest.

“I am not flying,” Sabrina stated flatly, unable to look away from a plane climbing the sky ahead of them. There was nothing to hold it up as far as she could see; nothing to keep it from changing its mind and plummeting straight back down.

She clutched the door handle at the mere thought of stomach-dropping plunges and fiery endings.

“Would you rather get left behind for the HPAC to find?” Deanda pointed out calmly, her voice soothing and her own posture the picture of serenity.

“No, you don’t get it,” Sabrina argued. “I can’t get onto a plane.”

Regardless of the very real threat the crazies in black presented, the tiny possibility of crashing to the ground trumped all other fears in that moment. Her hands felt clammy, and her heart beat faster at just the thought of being so far up in the air with nothing but wind pressure to hold her up.

“You can and you will,” Deanda assured her.

“I can’t and I won’t!” Sabrina’s voice became a little more intense and her emotions a little more irrational with each word.

Her friend grabbed her shoulders and shook her once. “If we don’t get on this plane, I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to evade the HPAC. And believe me when I say that, if they get us, you’re going to wish to God and all his angels that you had gotten out when you could.”

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