Understanding Humans

Disclaimer 1: These are my friend's characters not mine.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.

Understanding Humans

"Well, what do we have here?" The human-cub grinned down at the three newcomers with glee.

"Looks like a monster," the smaller human-cub to his right answered. Piglet estimated that this one had to be about ten. Then again the little monsters had very little experience with humans and even less with their cubs.

"The tiniest, ugliest, most ridiculous monster ever," said the third human-cub. "With a kitten and a pig."

"Three monsters," Lion corrected with a threatening growl.

Well, a good attempt at a threatening growl at least. His kittenish voice wasn't quite made for it. At almost eleven he was the oldest of the three, though and therefore in charge of protecting the others. Besides if you ignored the too high pitch, Piglet thought that Lion did sound almost like his father. His growl would be truly fearsome once his voice broke.

"Oh really?" the human-cub taunted. "Well, I suppose you're monstrously fat for a kitten."

"We've got claws," Sphix pointed out. "What do you have?"

"Claws, eh?" the tallest human-cub laughed. "All I see on him are little hoofie-woofies. Fierce monster he is."

Piglet hung his head in shame. It was true. Though Mother always assured him that he was an unusually big and strong piglet he wasn't much use in a fight. What could he do? Suffocate an opponent in his soft pink skin, or tickle him to death with his cute, wet snout?

"Well, two of us got claws anyway," Sphix amended. "It's enough to deal with three naked human-cubs."

"Oh yeah?" the human-cub started, but at that moment Lion launched himself at him clawing and biting.

Whatever else he might say of his two relatives, he had to admit that they were fiercely loyal and protected him with all the strength in their little paws. It was a good thing that they'd been sent here together at least. The only good thing about this ill conceived plan of the adults. Three little monsters raised far from home at a human school? Right, it'd be no problem at all. As this little encounter was already proving despite the fact that they ... well, Sphix and Lion ... were obviously winning.

They had the biggest two boys down on the ground squealing for help like little stung piglets in the human market and the third one on the run back to what Piglet suspected was the boys' dormitory, but from what little he knew of humans that meant more were going to come running any moment now.

Indeed less than a minute later two adult humans appeared from the direction the smallest cub had disappeared in, pulled Lion and Sphix off the bullies none too gently and marched them off towards the head teacher's study.

Not knowing what else to do Piglet trailed after them wishing with all his heart that they could just turn around and go home. Was it too much to hope for that all three of them would be expelled for this?

The meeting with the head teacher could have gone both better or worse, Piglet decided afterwards. None of them had been expelled, but at least the human had expressed doubts about the whole experiment. Piglet didn't see why it should be a problem that they were considered a threat to the human-cubs, but he'd be quite happy to be sent home in order to protect them.

To be honest, though, Piglet thought that it looked a lot more like the monsters to their shame needed protection from the human-cubs. He was almost beginning to admire their deviousness.

Humans, they'd learned as soon as they'd been shown to their dorms separate as humans insisted on males and females not sleeping in the same room, but at least Piglet and Lion were allowed to stay together tended to band together in large numbers and strike when their target was on his own and no other humans watching. If the target actually won the fight, one of the smaller human cubs would run to report it to the adult humans and then the target would be complemented for his aggressiveness and punished.

The later was confusing Lion and Sphix to no end, but Piglet suspected that this was part of why they'd been sent here. Their parents had said that they were meant to learn how humans think as well as act and from what little Piglet had seen so far human thinking was mayorly screwed up. The way the human cubs avoided ever being seen attacking the monsters indicated that humans did not prise aggression very highly at all and, if that was true, the compliments weren't compliments at all. It was beginning to look like they might even be considered insults.

It really didn't matter all that much whether they were compliments or insults, though, because they were always accompanied by the promise of being sent home, if the aggressive behaviour continued. Thus every punishment took them a step closer to being sent home and with five punishments each to their names already Lion and Sphix were almost triumphant on the way to their first lessons the morning after their arrival.

Piglet himself, though was getting worried. He'd only managed to earn one punishment so far and it was for breaking a bowl when a human cub had shoved him into the table at dinner. Instead of compliments he'd gotten a lecture on inattentiveness and clumsiness and expulsion hadn't even been mentioned. It was clear from the way the humans spoke that punishments, compliments and expulsion pertained to individuals, not a group and if things continued this way Piglet might soon find himself alone among the humans while Sphix and Lion would be going home happily expelled.

He didn't think he could handle living alone among humans. He didn't like being hurt and ridiculed and the human furniture was simply impossible. He missed sitting on the floor and sleeping in a nest of straw and bones so very much already, but he found himself unable to inflict enough pain on a human cub to earn himself a punishment. His self esteem had dropped considerably over the last day and he was now desperate to prove himself.

There had to be something he could do to earn himself some proper punishments!

"Oh no," Sphix exclaimed in dismay as she entered the classroom. "More tables and benches!"

"Well, you can just turn human for it," Lion growled at her. "We don't have that luxury."

He was good at sitting up, though, even if he found it uncomfortable. Piglet wasn't, but maybe it could earn him a punishment, if he insisted on sitting on the floor? He could try to pick the most impractical place. With a little luck somebody might trip over him and get hurt.

"The teacher gets a comfortable chair," Lion observed sniffing around the front of the room.

"And the biggest table," Piglet agreed. "Can you see what's up there?"

They stretched up on their hind legs to see, Piglet's hooves slipping dangerously on the smooth wood. Lion and Sphix had it a little easier with their agile paws and practical claws.

"Parchment and ... What's that smell?" With a little help from her wings Sphix easily climbed onto the tabletop.

"Which smell?" Piglet asked. There were several unfamiliar smells around here and he'd only just managed to poke his snout up over the rim of he table-top.

"It's coming from the bottle," Sphix explained following it across the table to a black flask and peering inside. "Some kind of black water? ... Aaah, stop that! The stinky stuff'll fall over and splash me!"

Lion however kept scrambling about until he'd finally managed to wriggle onto the desk top as well. The table wobbled dangerously causing Piglet to once again slip off and hit his snout on the table leg.

"Ouch! I hope you both get splashed for that."

"Well, tough luck," Sphix cheered. "Because we didn't."

"Luck indeed," the Archelaos-human-cub confirmed. "I'd leave the ink alone, if I were you. It's really expensive. We could all get in trouble, if you spill it."

"Ink?" Sphix asked.

"Oh, now I know what it is," Piglet squealed with delight. "It's for writing on parchment."

"Do we have to learn how to write, then?" Lion asked sounding a little worried.

"With stinky ink stuff?" Sphix hissed in dismay.

Alkmene-human-cub laughed. "Tartaros, no. Ink's way too good for us. We only get to use styli on wax tablets."

"Though I really don't see how any of you three are ever going to write with those useless paws of yours," Archelaos-human-cub added. "You can't even hold a stylus, ha!"

"Course we can," Sphix said with a grin and quick as a snake snatched his finger in her paw curling her claws around it.

Archelaos-human-cub yelped and paled even though Piglet doubted that Sphix had even nicked his skin the way she was holding him. It wasn't all that easy to make precise movements with something gripped in a lion-paw like that, but Sphix could always change into human shape and have hands just like the human cubs and surely claws could scratch wax just as well as a stylus.

Hooves however were useless for holding things or making scratches. Much as the thought of being able to read and write fascinated Piglet, he knew he wasn't made for it. All in all he felt pretty unfit to be a student. He needed to get out of here before everybody else noticed it as well.

"Hm ... It's stinky, messy and expensive, right?" he asked Alkmene-human-cub. "So if we were to spill it and spread it about we'd be sure to get a punishment?"

"Yes, you might even get expelled," Alkmene-human-cub confirmed.

Piglet beamed at her. "Great. Sphix, Lion, push the bottle off the desk!"

Pollution wasn't entirely sure why he'd decided to pose as a teacher. Then again he wasn't sure about a lot of things he did. He was a personification, that much he knew. He'd met others like himself, though they were all somehow stronger and more defined, more powerful. Most of them had only frowned at him, but one called Pestilence seemed to have taken a liking to him and occasionally let him tag along as he worked explaining some things.

Still, Pollution wasn't quite sure what this thing he personified was exactly. He knew that he liked all sorts of dirty and messy things, the deadlier the better, though and it was usually humans that spread deadly messes. So he'd decided to become a teacher and influence human children to be as messy as possible. It had sounded good in theory, but as it turned out teachers very rarely got a chance to teach such fun things as pouring dye into the river just upstream from where the villagers drew their drinking water. No, most of it was reading, writing and philosophy. Oh, how he wished that something interesting and dirty would happen to brighten his day!

Resigned to another boring reading lesson Pollution opened the door to his classroom and stopped short in wonder and delight.

There was a big puddle of ink on the floor with hoof-prints and paw prints running away from it and all over the room and up the walls. A few small lion-footprints had even made it onto the ceiling!

Some large black stains decorated the walls near the lower prints and a line of ink droplets decorated his desk and the torn up parchments on it as well as the face of the young sphinx sitting amid the scraps. A lion cub was trying to wipe his paws clean on the blackboard, but the most wonderful thing of all had to be the little pig sitting in the ink puddle!

"You rolled in it!" Pollution exclaimed in delight scooping up the piglet and planting a big kiss on his snout. "Oh, how beautiful! What creativity! You are simply marvellous!"

And to the bafflement of the entire class Teacher White took the opportunity to teach them a new celebratory dance in an ink puddle with a pig in your arms. (There were some muttered complaints about him keeping the only available pig to himself, though everybody had to admit he'd been very generous in creating enough ink puddles for everybody.)

"Aw, don't look so glum," Archelaos-human-cub told Piglet on the way to lunch. "There are lots of pigs with black patches on their skin. Nobody will be able to tell it's an ink stain. Besides it'll wash out in time."

"It's not that," Piglet admitted. "It's ... He was happy about it. I didn't do it to make him happy."

Archelaos-human-cub nodded. "You wanted to show how brave ... er ... monstrous you are."

Piglet nodded even though it hadn't been a question. "I don't have claws to fight with, but I'm just as much a monster as Lion and Sphix. I am!"

"Of course you are," Archelaos-human-cub assured him and kindly pretended not to have noticed that Piglet had slipped off twice before he'd managed to climb onto the bench. "It's not your fault it didn't work. White's just weird. Any other teacher would have been mad as Tartaros. We'll just have to find a better target for the next prank. Don't you want carrots?"

"Can't reach," Piglet admitted gesturing with one short front leg. "It doesn't matter, though. I like pretty much everything. But I'm not going to just surrender to White. You wait and see. I'll get him yet."

Archelaos-human-cub grinned and dumped an extra large helping of carrots into Piglet's bowl. "Well, you'll certainly be considered the greatest ... er most monstrous prankster in the school, if you can pull that off."

It might not be the fastest way to get expelled to concentrate on the most unpredictable human, Piglet knew, but he'd always liked a challenge and even if the others got expelled without him, it might not be entirely impossible to survive among only human-cubs for a while. At least not if you had one of them willing to fill your bowl for you and discreetly hold a hand against it so it couldn't slip away from you while you ate.

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