The Rest of the world
Jasmine all but burst out of the front entrance and into the parking lot. As expected, all of the cars were stretched widthwise to accommodate their much girthier occupants. On the way to hers Jasmine spotted one of her neighbors getting out of his truck. Back in the human reality he had driven a green Toyota Tundra pickup. That was the case here, only it was much, much, much bigger. The wheels looked like they belonged on a tractor and the body was hitched up more than a foot above them. The neighbor came out and flicked his keys around into his giant paw before tucking them into his pocket.
He noticed Jasmine staring as he passed her. “Hey there,” he said, somewhat concerned.
Jasmine blinked and realized what she was doing. “Hey! Uh, nice truck.”
Her neighbor smiled. “Oh, thanks.” He walked the rest of the way to the apartment with his head held high and his chest upthrusted. That clearly made his day.
Now that she was walking through the parking lot amidst all the cars and trucks she noticed that they were not merely widened but dazzled in ways that they hadn’t been in the other realities. There were cars with souped up engines rising out of their hoods, their trio of red exhaust ports blinking in the sunlight as she passed them. There were fat, black wall tires and hotrod flames. Vanity plates were stamped with outright vulgar acronyms while flanked by even ruder bumper stickers. Jasmine felt like she was in the center of a car show, not an apartment parking lot. Is every man in this universe compensating for something?
Apparently the women were too, because Jasmine’s car was the exact same way. She stood in front of it, awestruck by her Camry’s explosive presentation. The hood had a section cut out to leave room for the engine block. The wheels were a deep black with chrome hubcaps. The once plain beige color was replaced by a volcanic black and a fiery red stripe that ran down its center. The license plate said LOADED, whatever that meant.
In no way would Jasmine have recognized it as her car if not for the plush Luigi keychain she kept dangled from the rearview mirror. Out of everything that had changed, that was the only thing that remained. She slid her keys out of her pocket and clicked the unlock button on her fob. The headlights blinked and the doors clunked. Yes, it was hers. It would’ve been embarrassing if not for everyone else’s being the same.
She climbed into the front seat and found a thick steering wheel. The way everything like the knobs on the radio were so big and damage-proof reminded her of a playskool van she saw toddlers ride in all the time. There was still a gap in the backrest for her tail which was convenient. There was some hesitation before she put the key into the ignition. There was a mighty roar and a rumble when she twisted it. The radio blared her favorite station loudly enough to make her ears fold back on her head. Jesus Christ. Is everything going to be this loud and obnoxious?
Apparently so. The drive to the park felt like a survival mission. The roads rumbled and shook with a caravan of engines powerful enough to propel a fighter plane. Hitched up trucks and souped up cars would sputter past Jasmine, black fumes vomiting from their exhausts and fogging up her vision. Every so often there would be the blare of a car horn or the screech of tires. The road didn’t feel like a road so much as a herd of bison trying to stampede away from a predator. Jasmine spent the entire ride huddled in her seat, paws gripping the steering wheel, praying she wouldn’t get in an accident and have to deal with any of these psychos.
She made it to the park without incident, though her heart was still racing as she got out of the car. Her wolverine instincts brought up fantasies of finding every one of those aggressive drivers and beating the shit out of them. She realized that her teeth were clenched and that her paw was balled into a fist. A few deep breaths calmed her down. Is everyone this aggressive? It’s a miracle civilization even came to be with all this malice.
For now she could spend some time in the park and in the sun where there would at least be some folk enjoying a peaceful stroll. Jasmine spent her time people-watching, mostly. There were people walking their dogs which were still quadrupedal like they were in the human world. If I go to the dog world then what will they be walking? She imagined naked humans on their hands and knees being walked around on leashes. It made her shudder.
The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the sun and eating some ice cream she got from a kiosk. The waffle cone it came in was as big as a water glass with scoops like grapefruits. The moment she made her first lick she found herself in a lapping frenzy. Flicks of liquid chocolate were splashed across her lips and face. The thing was huge and yet the entire cone was in her stomach in a matter of seconds. She stood in the middle of the pathway, face covered in chocolate, a severe chill grating at her teeth and mouth. God, I’m a monster. The people around her didn’t seem to care, really. They passed by her messy face without a second glance. Hopefully that meant everyone was a slob when they ate. She made a quick trip back to the kiosk for some napkins which the server was happy to provide.
Her walk around the park was relaxing, but nonetheless hampered by the constant thrum of traffic that wrung in the park like being in the center of a colosseum. Jasmine steeled herself for the journey home, promising to keep herself calm and collected so that if anything happened she wouldn’t lose her head. After what felt like half an hour of white-knuckle driving she made it home safe.
The next day she was scheduled for work. If there was any activity she had the most trepidation towards it was acting as hostess for some ravenous, aggressive, hard headed mustelids with claws for days. She showed up on time and went through the usual motions of greeting people and showing them to their seats. Almost every meal served was either a giant steak or a triple-stacked burger, all of which were ordered rare. Steaks Jasmine would’ve thought were only for food challenges were served regularly. Just like that they would be gone with startling speed, usually without the help of forks or knives. It relieved Jasmine to see patrons devouring their food with the same recklessness that she had done to her ice cream the day before. By the end of her shift she had worked up quite an appetite and ordered a large steak of her own. She devoured it with typical ferocity, leaving her chin and shirt soaked in red meat juice. When she was done she started giggling herself silly. She had just demolished a steak that would’ve stopped Adam Richman cold halfway through. To her that was freakin’ hilarious.
The next few days were spent either at work or in front of a TV watching movies and shows. Wolverine media, she found out, was remarkably violent. Scenes depicting action and fights had a certain impact to them that their human and skunk counterparts lacked. Men fighting used their claws. Punches did not sound like smacks but had a brutal knuckle-on-bone crunch like they did in reality. There was no shortage of blood and swearing. With how the protagonists in movies reaped their vengeance on the villains, it was difficult to determine who was really the good guy.
Worst of all, Jasmine fucking loved it. Particularly brutal moments would have her standing out of her seat, pumping her fists, shouting with glee every time a bad guy got their teeth knocked out by someone’s fist. It would leave her with a thumping heart and coursing adrenaline. She had to sit down and pause whatever she was watching just so she could collect herself. Maybe this world isn’t too healthy to live in for very long, she thought.
Her saving grace came in the form of a package in the mail that arrived a week after her transformation. Once again it was a medium sized cardboard box that lacked any return address. A note was taped to it with the name JASMINE written on it in familiar handwriting.
I hope that’s the right name to call you by now. You’ve spent some time using it both as a skunk and a wolverine. If not, my apologies.
How’s being a wolverine? Exhilarating, I hope. I thought it would be the perfect animal to spice up your life. They are a rather rowdy bunch, aren’t they? A tad too violent for my tastes. Always picking fights and trying to one up each other with their gaudy cars and dress, something I’m certain you’ve noticed first hand.
If it hasn’t been to your liking, you’re more than welcome to try on this new suit I’ve brought. This one’s not quite as related to either skunks or wolverines. Perhaps it’ll offer the most unique experience yet.
Written by TheGreatJaceyGee on 09 July 2023