The half dozen other manimals – she kept thinking of them as that with the stripes they wore – converged on the one holding her. Their nickel eyes were wide as they jabbered excitedly. They were various hues of browns, golds, whites, blacks, and even greens. All striped. All with ears that sat on either side of their heads but higher than where a human’s ears protruded from the skull. The ears were mostly pointed, reminding Jeannie of foxes, but they changed shape slightly too, sometimes scooping like cups, as if to catch every sound coming from whatever direction they pointed.
The creature holding her squeezed her a little. She looked at him, and he smiled down at her. He said something, his voice soothing. His body was strong but not hard like it had been when he’d first grabbed her. Human-like, with pliable skin. When she’d banged her fists against his chest, he’d been like a wall of concrete. How was that possible?
The one who had helped catch her patted her head and also spoke in gentle tones. The others began petting her too, speaking quietly, as if to soothe. It was as if they thought her some little stray puppy they’d found.
Could that be it? Did they think her some sort of animal, something exotic? They acted more inclined to be nice than not, even if she was bound up in some sort of strange, flexible strap that wound from her chest to her knees.
Great. With my luck they’ll put me in a zoo and charge admission.
Still, it was better than being food. Or a lab experiment. Maybe these funny looking fellows would even help her if they realized she was an intelligent being. Maybe they would help her get back home.
She knew nothing of these – whatever they were. Maybe if she let them know she was a thinking as they were, they would go crazy with superstitious terror and kill her on the spot. But she was caught and not in North Carolina anymore. Jeannie wasn’t even on Earth. She’d have to take a chance.
She’d been brave these last few weeks, braver than she’d ever known a person could be. Yet it still took every last mote of courage left to her to open her mouth and speak to her captors who continued to pet and chatter to her in voices pitched for a child.
The one who held her caught his breath and winced. His ears folded in on themselves, much as they had before when she’d screamed. They sprang open when she spoke instead.
Enunciating carefully even though she knew it couldn’t possibly help them understand her, she said, “Hello. My name is Jeannie.
Release date not set.