A Different Species

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Chapter 3

June let out a groan seconds as she slowly regained consciousness. She felt herself being in an uncomfortable position. Cramps followed. She moved around, straightening her back followed by her limbs. The pricking and burning of her muscles lessened slightly. She remained there. A deep breath filled her lungs. The air smelled . . . different. Each state had its own smell. Sometimes the cities had their own smell.

Northern Arizona smelled like pines, the valleys, and dust. As weird as that sounded. When it rained, the air smelled sweet. Something about the oils of plants perfuming the air, Destiny had told June once. Phoenix smelled like any other big city. Pollution, no doubt. This air was different from Arizona. Different from any state or city June had visited.

Realization soon hit her and her lids snapped open.

Clear maya blue sky filled her line of vision.

"What the hell?" June sat up and stared at the terrain that surrounded her. Her office was gone and was replaced by nature. Prussian blue rocky hills, all varying in size, each covered and surrounded by patches of pink grass and sand. What in the—

June slowly rose to her full height of five foot eight. Stumbling in the process. She removed her black heels after almost recreating the fall that left her stranded in the current foreign location. "Merde." She furrowed her brows when she saw the rips on her black dress pants.

Her frown deepened when her eyes landed on the red areas and cuts on her exposed skin. Her upper body had a similar appearance. Slits on her forest green t-shirt. Skin covered in cuts and scratches. The only other thing she noticed on her forearms were the indents of the ground she had laid in. Sadly, she wouldn't praise her marks and call it a peaceful sleep remembering she didn't do so willingly.

She brought her wrist closer and stared at her smartwatch. The small screen had chipped at the upper left corner but the rest remained intact and working. Hallelujah, she thought. June unlocked the screen and immediately dialed for help.

"We're sorry," spoke her watch. "Your call was unable to go through. Please make sure you have cellular connection." June's gaze shifted to the bars on the upper right corner and noticed she had no reception. Just my luck.

June looked around desperately for her colleague.

"Destiny?" She called out, but there was no response.

June continued to call out for her friend, pausing in between in hopes of hearing her. Destiny didn't yell back. All June could hear were the gusts of wind that ran by.

She made her way up the nearest hill.

"Nom de Dieu!" June yelped when her foot slipped, scraping against several rocks as it found something to step on. She clung tightly against the edge, breathing heavily at the fact that her life had flashed before her eyes. After adjusting her footing, she continued her journey uphill.

Miles of the same terrain she stood on greeted her. Where am I?

Earth was nothing like this, nor at least she'd never seen such a part of it. It was too clean, too beautiful. There were no signs of pollution, no sounds or sight of civilization. If she was still on Earth, she hoped humanity would never find this place. Humans would only ruin it.

She began to rack all possible solutions as to how she was still alive, where she was, and how she got there. Well the explosion got me here, no doubt.

June swallowed harshly. But how? I should’ve died.

She shook the thoughts away and turned around. Just before reaching the horizon, she saw trees as they pilled onward hidden beneath a blanket of clouds. June beamed. With her heels in hand and determination to reunite with human society, she safely hurried down the hill and into the unknown.

~ ~ ~

It took her the decision to put a few feet of distance between herself and the ground to regret entering the forest. More like what made her climb the tree she currently sat on. It amazed her how even though she wasn't the athletic type, when it came to life and death, one would think she had trained for the Olympics her whole life.

June clung to a branch, frantically shifting her gaze at the ground.

Like a swimmer, she held her breath when she caught sight of the creature that made her realize that she was no longer on Earth. The tyrian-purple four-legged creature held its head high and three tails low. Its claws and fangs were on display, making June fear the possibility of her skin meeting them. Her heart dropped when the creature froze and lowered its head. It turned to its side and sprinted in that direction.

It must’ve heard something, June thought. She waited a few more moments before determining that it was safe for her to get down. She wanted to put as much distance between herself and the creature as possible before it realized where she'd went.

June yelped when her grip slipped. She fell and slammed her hip against one of the tree's thick roots. A groan escaped her lips as she stood up. That's going to leave a bruise. She rubbed the area, hoping it would soothe it, and continued her mission.

After a few miles, she came across a body of water. Immediately, she dropped to her knees and scooped water into her hands before bringing it up to her lips. Her body felt a sense of relief, especially her digestive system. However, she still needed food.

As if hearing her prayers, bright orange dots greeted her right peripheral vision.

Food.

She made her way towards the round palm-sized whatever it was. Small bumps covered it's surface, leading up to the green branch it hung from. She had never seen anything like it. This wasn't Earth, June reminded herself.

Was it edible? June asked herself. If it was, what was it? A fruit? A vegetable?

There had to be some similarities between where she was and Earth, so she assumed it was a fruit until she could figure out what it really was — if she ever did.

Suddenly she hated being a test subject for her hunger. What if it was poisonous? Her brows furrowed as she looked around. There was nothing else she saw that could replace the daring object in front of her.

Her stomach rumbled once more causing her to groan. There was nothing else she could do. Starving to death wasn't an option. And while she was in a forest, full of vegetation, she didn't know what else was out there. There was more out there waiting to make her its meal. June was a foreigner — an alien in a planet with death waiting for her at any moment.

Maybe. Maybe it wasn't poisonous.

Without any further thoughts, she tugged her meal away from the branch. As she expected, the bumps around it created a tough barrier to what was inside. She waited a few seconds for her hand to turn red, swell, and itch like hell. None of those occurred. She beamed with hope.

June quickly scanned the ground around her until she spotted a rock half buried into the ground, a somewhat sharp end pointing to the trees above her.

She repeatedly slammed the fruit against the rock until she heard a cracking sound. She dug her two index fingers inside the hole and pulled in opposite directions. A snapping sound emitted the air when the fruit split in half.

June brought half of her meal to her lips and dug in. It was tasteless, but seemed to lessen the pain in her stomach.

She noticed her thighs and bottom of her feet began to tingle. At first she thought it was her body telling her to sit down after having spent the day walking and climbing trees. That explanation was soon rejected when her legs gave out.

She blinked once, twice, and then a third time. Thinking she had slammed her head against a rock or something. Her eyes could no longer recognize her surroundings.

June tried to push herself into a sitting position but remained immobile. The fruit.

The fucking fruit.

Her thoughts were becoming disoriented. For a second she thought she heard leaves and branches rustled somewhere near her. She was in the perfect state to become any predator's meal. Out of all the ways to die.

Her eyes fluttered shut just as a branched snapped beside her.



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