Influx: Episode 17

Haley was having a good day. No one at school had noticed her disappearance for the day five days ago, and even her parents barely noticed that she had been gone inside Alenkas for an entire night without any problems. So naturally, despite her idea that going inside Alenkas was a bad idea to the various issues; nudity, sex, etc, she couldn’t wait to do it again.

She grinned widely as she saw her mom passed out on the couch, with a note from her dad saying that he was ‘going out for the night’. A night without either of them meant a night in Alenkas. The headset was on a small table near the kitchen, and she grabbed it without a second thought.

She rushed to her room, and threw down her bag, jamming the headset on her head. She did take a moment to plug it in first, using the plugs in her room because she didn’t trust any of the other ones that were used mostly by her parents.

She wasn’t stupid, unlike what her parents thought. They thought they tried to hide their activities, but all it took was a quick search of symptoms and other things they hid around the house to determine her mom was a drug addict and a meth cooker. Her dad wasn’t much better, a ‘pussy chaser’ as she had read on the internet.

And she dealt with those two all the time. A more adult-oriented game sounded right up her alley, and this time she at least knew what was going to happen before it actually did, and she logged into the same room that she had logged out in last time.

She didn’t remember a whole lot of the last time, truthfully. She had fallen asleep on Cal’s shoulder, and found herself waking up in a nice bed in what looked like a back room of a library, with Simon out cooking breakfast. “Oh, you’re awake,” he noticed simply. He then introduced himself, and what he, Sam, and Cal were all doing in the library.

He then told her that Alenkas wasn’t a game, it was an entirely other world, and they were still working out the kinks, but needless to say it was much more adult-oriented than any of the games she’d -hopefully- be playing.

She told him she’d prove him wrong, that she was far more of an adult than her age appeared. The squirrel lookd at her oddly, asking her how she’d do it. She didn’t know, but she’d come up with something.

Well, she finally did. She was only twelve, but was reading at nearly a college level. Her fundamental understanding of physics and science had propelled her to the top of the class, assuming she actually bothered to learn and do the work.

That’s how she’d prove it, that she was an adult. She sucked up the fact that her parents did absolutely not care for her learning, and actually sat down to try. She got her results back of that first day, and she hoped that it’d simply continue.

“Told you three I could do it again without a problem!” she shouted as the black cat fully materialized. She shook out her fur and tail, taking a deep pride in it as she walked out into the library. She had slowly become less conscious of her nudity, although Sam had promised that next time she came in the white cat would take her shopping.

“We’re in here!” she heard Sam’s voice call back. Haley grinned, and shot off into the main computer room, where they almost always hung out whenever they were doing any real work. She stopped short, just at the entrance, when she saw the new girl, a german shepherd standing in the corner. Sam and Cal were at the IDM, doing…something. Haley wasn’t sure.

“Who’re you?” Haley asked suddenly, taking a moment to cover herself. She didn’t need to -the shepherd had already gotten a full eyesight from her, but it was the point of the matter- but she simply felt more comfortable for doing it. Especially when the shepherd did it right back to her, and looking away suddenly.

“My name is Kara. Could I ask for yours?” the woman said kindly, keeping her eyes averted. Sam blinked at the unusualness, before she quickly stripped out of her own tank top and shorts and quickly tossed them over to Haley.

“I’m Haley. Thanks Sam!” the cat grinned as she tossed on the garments. It felt weird to go around without any underwear -as apparently Sam did- but she at least felt better that she was wearing something. Even better that Sam did it without provocation, or even thinking about it!

“No problem. We need to go shopping for you someday if you’re going to keep making return trips. So what is that you told us you’d do?” she asked, her eyebrow’s raising as she gave a soft smirk.

“Oh…um…stealing the headset from my parents as mom’s passed out drunk or stoned in the living room. Oh, but I totally aced that test that I told you I could! And I read at a college level, doesn’t that prove I’m an adult!?”

“That’s certainly impressive. Good job, Haley, for passing the test. Not so much for stealing the headset,” Cal said from his place next to the IDM’s second set of monitors.

Kara’s eyes widened. “And how old are you?” she asked with a hint of incredulousness. She could tell that Haley was underage, that much was obvious by her short stature and overall lack of development -it was rather amazing that Alenkas could even have that built in, but apparently it did- but had no idea how impressive Haley’s feats actually were.

“I’m twelve! Years old, but I’m a lot more mature than that!” Haley said, scrunching up her face. Kara blinked.

“Wish my kids would study that hard,” she muttered under her breath. Her two kids were both in school too, one in high school -doing fairly well although she hoped that she wasn’t putting too much pressure on him- and one in seventh grade -she was turning into a bit of a history buff. It was always strange to get corrected by your own child…- but twelve years old…’that’s about normal, isn’t it? Most kids are capable of understanding by then, and rationalization…’ she thought.

“We know you are, Haley, but it’s not so much about mental development as it is physical. Your brain is still developing, and your energy should go into learning and being the best person you can be,” Cal said, kneeling next to the black cat.

“Wait, so you want me to…go back out there? To stay?” Haley asked, confused as to what exactly Cal and Sam were asking of him. “And where’s Simon, is he here?” she asked suddenly, feeling a lot more courageous now that she had some actual clothes on -and thought that she had a good reason for being here-.

“Simon’s out, we’ve run into a few situations recently. That’s all. We’re handling it, Haley, don’t worry about it,” Sam answered quietly.

“But what if he needs our help!?” Haley shouted, running down the corridor to the main library. Sam sighed, and gave a quick look to Cal for help. He shrugged, and motioned towards the IDM. The albino facepalmed, before motioning for him to take the spot. He grinned, and hopped on up. This was all done without a single word.

“Well, time to go find her. You want to help, Kara?” Sam asked after a moment. Kara looked her up and down before eventually nodding. She was surprised actually by how little Sam had revealed herself before this. Most of the other girls here were naked almost all the time, but Kara’d barely noticed Sam before this. “Then let’s go,” she said, pretending not to notice Kara checking her out.

The sun warmed up their bodies amazingly as they ran out of the library. They looked around wildly, but of course the smaller cat had already managed to go out of their line of sight. “Could you track her?” Sam asked after a moment. Kara looked at her oddly, before looking around to see if she was talking to anyone else. Sam sighed. “Alenkas bodies aren’t just for show, you know. You actually do have the nose of a dog right now. Your brain is automatically blocking the conflicting senses out because you’re so used to being human, but right now you aren’t human. You’re a dog.”

“Um…I have no idea how to do that,” she said, taking a careful sniff of the air anyways. It smelled just like it always had, musty with a hint of concrete, sweat, warm bodies, and sex.

“Dammit, the one time I ignored that cats mark others as their own…” she said with a quick smile. “It’s like this. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and silence your ears. Focus solely on your nose,” she instructed. Kara did as she was told, and after a minute of focusing was able to actually get a few of the smaller scents.

Pines, freshness, grass…the smells of the wild. Her eyes opened as a new world opened to her, full of possibilities that she had never even thought possible originally. “Holy shit…” she said quietly.

“Yeah, it took us ages to learn that trick. We were here for months and most of us are still human. Try and find something similar to my scent but different, if that makes sense,” Sam explained. Kara closed her eyes to try and focus on the hundreds of different things that she could smell now.

There were more scents than were even possible for her mind to comprehend. No wonder her brain had automatically blocked most of them out. She caught the scent of ‘cat’ in general, placed Sam’s in it, and then tried to find something similar yet different. She categorized everything, and it took a good two minutes to find it.

“I…think I have something. Maybe,” Kara said.

“Maybe’s better than no idea. Just lead the way,” Sam said. Kara nodded, and the two shot off, following an invisible scent that only one had any chance of getting. “You know, don’t cats have good senses of smell too? Shouldn’t you be able to do it too?” she asked.

“Cats do have better noses than at least humans, but it’s mostly a wide-range thing rather than a single point. It’s why most cats get close to something to smell it, to narrow the scent down,” Sam explained.

The conversation dwindled to nothing as the two continued on in silence.