Opening By @brisby
Shiro paid the street vendor for his lemonade, unfazed by her curious glances to the glove on his hand. Any other day, he would have answered the unspoken questions of the smiling woman with a light quip. A bit of banter went miles in getting people to overlook his many...eccentricities.
Today though, he couldn't muster anything witty. Throngs of people were milling about the square, mindless to those who were in a hurry. His quick errand run had become a snail-paced slog behind wandering looky-loos. The brown jacket he wore was sodden thanks to the blistering bake of the summer sun. He'd give anything to shed his sweaty layers but the memories of what had happened the last time...
Compounding his exhaustion were his ever-present traveling companions. Their desperation for his attention had begun fraying his nerves since he left home. Ignoring their antics and way they clung to him had worn his energy to a hair's breadth. Sheer obstinance was all that kept him from screaming at them in the middle of the crowd.
Shuffling aside to savor the crisp drink in the shade of the over-sized umbrella, Shiro felt something crunch beneath his heel. Dammit! Whatever he had broken, it sounded expensive.
Behind him a voice shrilled, "You're paying for that!"
Shoulders slumping as he fingered his wallet, he turned. "Sorry! I didn't know...", his voice choked to a halt. Not because the person was intimidating. The blonde slip of a girl glaring daggers at him wouldn't have been able to frighten a hamster. Nor was it due to her beauty, as she had been graced with an unfortunate nose.
It was the reaction of his companions that stole his breath.
Gone were the shadowy undulations and static flickerings who had doggedly followed Shiro since he was a child. What remained were swirling vortices of crimson and pitch. Amorphous, they writhed. They wailed. The air thickened with the depth of their need.
Without warning, unctuous tendrils sprang. Shiro cried out but it was too late. Oozing with hunger, his companions snaked to envelop the girl. Her wide hazel orbs rolled to the heavens before she collapsed to the ground.
In a single motion, his companions instilled Shiro with the curdling voo-doo prickle of horror he had not felt since… Shiro paused… he had been doing such a good job of repressing the memory of the last time, it still simmered below the surface though, like sauce trying to lift the lid of a pot.
Shiro tried not to think about it, focusing on his breathing.
Moments before, Pankeki had dropped his full length shadowy trench coat to the ground. Flopping after it, he exposed his swirling crimson tie dye t-shirt - far too small, hardly washed since the festival he bought it at three hot months ago - to the baking sun. As if that wasn’t enough, the fully grown Panda had proceeded to writhe around on the floor, tendrils of matted fur groveling across the hot pavement, hungry to be petted. For a moment, the shop assistant had contemplated it. Pankeki could see it her deep eyes of melting Nutella, the raised hand moment where she thought about touching his round furry tummy. His flat pancake face radiated with irresistible need, with imploring adorability - surely enough to make any shattered commodity a distant memory.
Then, it hit her: the sour stench of an unwashed Panda, who insisted on wearing only the most fashionable, static filled, fake leather jacket in the height of summer. As it hit her, her knees gave way, and it was perhaps a fairly good job they did, because the stench was so strong it hit her with the full force of a charging Grizzly Bear, and rather luckily, just before the full force of a charging Grizzly Bear.
Still wailing dramatically, Grizz wasn’t one to be left out.
Grizz hurled himself at the shop assistant, colliding with the girl midair. He caught her, Shiro could grant him that much. She flopped about unconscious between the gloved claws like a limp Nakatsu salmon, before she collapsed to the ground. If Shiro had found her at all attractive, that would have been when it worn off. Grizz tenderly nosed her blonde hair as she lay sprawled on the pavement.
Quite a crowd was gathering; an array of phones watched the scene, a cooing audience giggled beyond them, completely unaware of the breakage that set it all off.
It wasn’t helping Shiro though.
Fear niggled up his neck, anxiety itched between the fur flattened under his tight collar as people pushed between Shiro and his companions.
The Polar Bear, stuffed into a suffocating jacket for the sake of decency, roared. Black lips revealed pink gums and glacier teeth, sweet lemonade breath washing over the crowd, fear freeing his constricting voice.
Panic, abandonment, sounded in every note, and a shame faced Panda and Grizzly Bear rushed back to Shiro’s side.
The small voice that came from the bristling muzzle hardly seemed like it could follow the deafening roar that had half cleared the street.
They might cause a scene, but crowds were always less scary when Shiro had his companions a paws clutch away.
Finish the story is somewhat like a half finished dot to dot, there are a few markers there, giving you a vague shape of what the rest of the image could be, and plenty of space to go wild. As soon as I read this Shiro just had to be a Polar Bear, and then all those dots just seemed to line up for the rest of it to come together! Hopefully they did. To be honest my mind isn't working at all, not idea how I managed this, or when, I didn't even think I had finished it. (and apologies to he who know who he is and i should have been doing things for instead) Maybe I have a few of my own spectral companions (we'll blame them for any mistakes lol) Hopefully they are bears. Bears are the best. And i mean, what better way to deal with social anxiety than bears. Especially grizzly bears. Grizzly bears eat people, and no one is bothered by what their food thinks of them, right? Right. And need someone to panda you out of a situation, well who better than an actual panda!! Awesome, glad we all agree there. Thank you for stopping by, you people that read this nonsense rock, i mean, you all rock, but you kinda have to be reading this bit to get that message ;)
This is an entry to @bananafish's #finishthestory contest which is out every week! @brisby steering the ship and bringing the bait out with this incredible opening, she really knows how to tempt us. So much possibility, so many points to potentially pick up, so many different ways to take them! Check out the latest round for all the rules, plenty of time left to give this one a go, with an opening like this, how could you not!