Oneka wakes in a strange land. Strange objects talk to her and people are different.
Elliot pulled his grey beanie down over his ears and tightened his jacket around his neck to protect from biting wind and the gloom of the Sunday afternoon, as he headed out. His hikes were more a wandering pace through Mueller Park Trail. He liked to use this time to listen to music and to think. Today’s topic was what he was going to do with his life. It was depressing enough he was facing another Monday at school, even worse was this was his last year of high school. Then what?
Elliot had cut across the field behind his backyard to get onto the trail. He checked his earbuds were firmly in place and turned his music up enough to drown out any possible noise from other travelers on the trail, however on Sundays there were never any people out here.
He thought about the ultimatum from his dad. If he wanted help with school, he had to do science based training. That did not sit well with him. Ever since he could hold a pencil he loved to draw.
Elliot never stopped drawing. He took classes in school and as many as he could outside of school. He learned many forms of art and liked a lot of them. His favorite was using acrylics. He loved the almost metallic like shine his work produced, though his true love lied with cartooning. He had a few projects he was working on. One was a comic strip. He almost had a year of strips and was looking for an editor to submit to. He also loved graphic novels and was working on a graphic novel about a young man who was being tormented by two small goblins.
He had found what he thought should be his way in life. Could he make a lot of money at it? Not as much as he would with a technology based degree. That was the rub with his father. He wanted Elliot to have a sound financial future. After all, his family lived a very comfortable life, thanks to his dad’s work with the solar panel farm, near the Salt Lake City Airport. Did his father love his job? He thought so.
Someone who really loved their job was his mother. As a hair stylist, he thought his mom would be more understanding of his desires. What she did was more like art and she loved her job. Elliot did not know if his mom was really on his side. She enjoyed his artwork, but she showed a united front with his dad.
Elliot continued to wander up the trail. Large poplar trees intermixed with fir trees created natural walls on either side of the trail. The tops swayed in the brisk wind. He came around a bend along the foothill trail to the strangest sight. It was a grey furred monkey. The thing was shivering in the steam that wafted off its body and its fur was matted by icicles. It took a moment, but Elliot recognized the monkey as a Snow Monkey. His mind stated the obvious; Snow Monkeys are not native to Northern Utah. Monkeys are not even native to the United States. Where did this guy come from? Maybe he escaped from the zoo, but he was a long way from the zoo.
Elliot knelt down to look less frightening. Slowly he pulled a granola bar from his coat pocket and pulled the wrapper off. Moving forward, he tried to coax the Snow Monkey towards him. Instead the monkey turned away to move back up the trail.
Wanting to help the monkey, Elliot followed. They continued about a hundred yards up the trail. The snow on the dirt path quickly melted off to steaming mud and water. In the middle of the steaming mud was a large dark lump. The monkey was standing next to the lump, with one hand on it.
Elliot moved towards the monkey and the lump. He startled and took a couple of steps back, when the lump groaned. The lump was a person. They rolled over on their side, flopping a hand into the mud. The Snow Monkey did not move. It was apparent the creature was concerned for the person.
With more of a careful examination, Elliot turned the person over on their back, to find an Asian woman a little older than him. Her skin was pale and her lips were a pale blue, but steam plumed from her mouth at a slow rhythmic pace. At her side, cocked in an unnatural angle on her side were two swords. Elliot recognized these as Samurai swords. Next to her was a long spear, with a hook splitting off from the main long blade.
Elliot knelt down in the mud, taking the ear buds out and placing them in his pants pocket. He could see she was still alive, but completely unconscious. His attention drifted back to the monkey. Again he tried to give the Snow Monkey his granola bar and this time the little grey furry beast cautiously accepted the food. Only it wasn’t a beast. There was something intelligent about the creature. Elliot had seen many a primate at the zoos. They looked intelligent, but there was something more to this monkey.
He considered his options, calling for help would be the smart thing. However, the black Samurai armor, with large yellow stitching spoke to him. He could see slashes in the leather of her armor. Most of it was fresh. There were marks on her face that also told the tale of battle. Something had happened to this woman. It was not some normal crime or fight. He decided she was still in danger and needed his help. He carefully gathered the swords off of her side, so not to wake her. He slid them into his belt, making sure they would not fall out.
Elliot thought the best way to carry her was how he was taught in Scouts, the fireman carry. Starting to gather up the unconscious woman, his eye was drawn to the spear again. He knew as heavy as she would be with the armor, he would not be able to also carry the spear. He decided to give the spear to the primate. Why not give a pointy stick to a monkey so he could jab him? This was all weird enough as it was. A little more weirdness would not hurt.
With two hands he handed the spear over to the creature, who took the weapon. The Snow Monkey held the spear hand over hand up on its end and bared his teeth from either side of his red snout in a big smile at Elliot. Yes, he thought, it just got weirder.
Elliot grabbed the female warrior by the wrists and planted his feet against hers. Hoisting the woman up, he leaned against her and pulled her arms around so she laid across his shoulders. The weight was great. Elliot stumbled, but got his feet under him, to stand hunched over, with his cargo.
Elliot looked down at the Snow Monkey. “So, what’s your name?” half expecting a reply. When none was given, he nodded sideways to the primate, “Let’s go. Follow me.” Slowly walking back down the path, so as not to lose his balance, Elliot could hear the wooden end of the spear dragging in the dirt behind him.
At his backyard fence, Elliot tried to open the gate, but found it impossible. With a couple of tries he almost dropped the woman warrior or fell himself. He took a deep breath, resigning himself to the fact he would have to hike around the side to the front. He slowly turned back and forth looking for the Snow Monkey. The creature was still following at his side.
Elliot made his way around the side of his house. The air he sucked in had already burned cold in his chest now was painful, making it difficult to gulp in a breath. Coming up to his front porch he leaned the woman’s rump against the wall and he kicked the front door with his boot.
After a few aching seconds his mother flew open the front door. Seeing Elliot she exclaimed, “Why are you kicking the door?!” She then saw the massive black lump on her son’s shoulders, “What is that?!”
Elliot with his remaining strength slid the female Samurai down the wall, where her butt had been resting. Once on the ground, he collapsed next to her still gasping for air and holding his chest for the burning pain. With great exhausted effort he pulled the swords from his belt and laid them next to the warrior.
That is when his mother saw the grey furry creature, holding a spear up with both hands. Startled she crouched out of instinct, crying out.
Elliot through his gasps, yelled out “Mom…It’s ok…The Snow…Monkey is…Friendly…”
Again, the monkey bared his teeth in a strange wide gapped smile. Elliot thought the creature was trying to show he was not going to harm them.
Waving a hand at the woman next to him, “She…needs…help…”
Slowly, his mom got down on both knees to gently place a hand on the mysterious girl’s neck. “She’s freezing. What happened to her?”
“I don’t know…Found her in puddle…on trail…The Snow Monkey…was with her…”
“What’s with all the yelling and screaming?” Came Elliot’s sister’s voice from the front door frame. Taking in the scene, she asked “What in the hell is going on?”
“Not now, Hailey.” The mom turned on her. She pulled her phone out, “We need to call 911.”
“No!” came Elliot’s ragged voice. “This isn’t normal…There’s something weird going on…The Police won’t…know what to do.”
Elliot’s mom was about to rebuke his protest, when the Asian woman slowly lifted her head. Speaking in Japanese, “Koko wa doko?” Came the strange language slowly and slightly slurred.
The mom pressed her thumb on the base of her phone, “Translate conversation, Japanese.” She held the phone between her and the warrior. “You’re safe.”
The phone repeated in Japanese, “Anata wa anzen desu.”
Oneka opened her eyes wide at the site of the two women looking down at her, the boy next to her, and a Snow Monkey leaning on her spear. The people all had brown hair and blue eyes, except the woman holding the flat thing in front of her. “Anata hadare?”
“Who are you?” the phone parroted in English.
Elliot’s mom saw she was shivering now. “Are you hurt?”
“Anata wa kizutsuite imasu ka?”
Oneka pushed her head against the wall, scrambling further up into a sitting position, attempting to pull away from the talking thing she was holding. It must be a Yokai, she thought. The people looked friendly. She replied slowly shaking her head at the woman.
“We need to warm you up.” The phone repeated the sentence in Japanese. “Will you come inside with me?” Again the phone translated. “We want to help you.” With one last statement in Japanese, Elliot’s mom put the phone in her pocket and gave her hand to the warrior.
Oneka slowly put her hand in the mother’s. The mom stood up and helped the woman to her feet. Wrapping her arm around the Japanese woman, she guided her into the house.
Oneka took in the large front room with all its strange décor and what she thought might be places to sit. In a corner was a large flat black box with moving pictures on the front of it. The pictures were talking, but could not make any sense of it.
Elliot still rested against the wall outside, contemplating if he needed medical attention for the cold burning pain in his chest. He was weak to the point he was willing to put up with the cold concrete, instead of trying to move.
“What’s your problem?” Asked Hailey.
Elliot cocked his head sideways to look up at his sister. “I just carried that woman on my back…for a mile in the cold…My chest hurts.”
“Drama Queen. Come inside and warm up.” Hailey disappeared into the house, looking to help her mom and find out about the strange woman, now in their house.
Elliot rolled over onto his knees, pushing himself up to a standing position. He walked into the house and shut the door.
The Snow Monkey stared at the door as it closed. He grunted and dropped the spear on the grass. He climbed up on the wooden bench under the porch over hang and sat quietly as the icicles in his fur danced from his shivering. He hoped they would remember him and bring him in soon.