Flapjax quickly jumped to his feet and ran behind the crate. The furry object in front of him got to its feet, shaking itself off, then glared at him. Flapjax shrank back further behind the crate.
“Why are you trying to hide from me? YOU pulled ME out of the backpack! I was napping, thank you very much,” it said, coming closer. There was nothing more Flapjax could do, so he came sheepishly out from behind the crate.
“Well, aren’t you going to apologize? Who are you anyway?” the creature peered at Flapjax from behind black eyes and orange fur. Little tufts of white covered the lower half of its face and the tip of its long, bushy tail, which grazed Flapjax as the creature circled slowly around him. Flapjax tried to push the tail away, but the creature just whipped it back in his face.
“I asked you who you were. It’s rude not to respond,” it said, stopping momentarily to wait for Flapjax to reply.
Flapjax didn’t know what to do. He shrugged his shoulders in frustration.
“Speak!” the creature growled.
“I can’t!” Flapjax screeched and quickly covered his mouth with his paws in amazement.
The orange furry thing looked at Flapjax in surprise.
“Have you never spoken before?” it asked, all anger gone, replaced instead with curiosity.
Flapjax shook his head, mystified. His new companion just waited.
“No,” Flapjax finally found more words. “I did not know that I could.”
“What’s your name?” the orange fluff sat back on its haunches, head tilted to the side.
“Flapjax. Who are you? What are you??” Flapjax’s surprise was quickly being replaced with curiosity of his own.
“I’m Cuppie, short for Buttercup. I’m a fox, obviously,” she rolled her eyes, and Flapjax blushed in embarrassment. He’d never seen a fox before, let alone talked to one!
“I don’t understand,” she continued, pacing again on all fours. “How did you not know you could talk? Don’t you talk to your friends?”
Flapjax just looked at her, confused.
“No,” he said. “Libby is my friend, but I’ve never been able to talk to her. I’ve tried, but nothing comes out.”
“Is Libby your human?”
“Humans can’t understand us. My grandpa says that once upon a time, we could all talk to each other, but that over the years, humans simply forgot how. It’s been hundreds of years since,” Cuppie said with authority.
Flapjax grew sad. “I don’t have any family, other than Libby and Mom and Dad,” he said, tears filling his eyes.
“Your human doesn’t have any brothers or sisters?” Cuppie asked. Flapjax shook his head. “Well that’s why you didn’t know you could talk then! You haven’t been around any of us. Wow, it’s like you’ve been on another planet!”
“Have not!” Flapjax pouted. He was quickly growing annoyed with this “fox” creature.
“It’s okay,” Cuppie laughed and grabbed Flapjaxs paw, pulling him towards the next backpack. “We just have a lot of teaching to do!” And with that, she jumped up and yanked on the zipper…