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Animal-Free



By: Phoebe Shi


Aurora sat down on the steps in front of the Museum of Supernatural Sciences, basking in the setting sun’s light. Although being outside right before dusk would be unwise, due to the disappearances, she decided working right outside her workplace would be safe enough.

Ever since May, there had been at least three missing persons reports every morning. Not only had a good percentage of her coworkers gone missing, but as of that morning her sister had, too.

Right as she opened her laptop, one of her managers descended down the hundreds of stairs at a leisurely pace, her bright blonde hair set aflame.

“Hey,” she started, with a slight Southern drawl, “my condolences for your little sister. Briar, was it? We’ll miss you bringin’ her ‘round, with her cutesy cotton candy voice.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Aurora replied politely. “Uh—you’re on fire.”

“I know.” The manager smiled and continued going down the stairs, smoke trailing behind her. Aurora frowned slightly, then remembered she was most likely only testing out the fire-resistant spray they’d created only a day earlier.

She set down her laptop and opened a container of steak and kidney pie she’d bought from the new meat-free restaurant that opened around a month ago.

Aurora had tried going vegan after gaining the ability to hear the animals in the food she ate. Once that failed, she tried to get used to hearing a cacophony of animal sounds in her head every time she ate meat, or even drank milk. She had been hesitant to try the new vegetarian restaurant in town, due to the fact that the other vegetarian and vegan restaurants were truly disgusting.

It sounded ridiculous, yes, but she had a cousin who breathed bubbles and a great aunt who could only speak in dolphin. Her situation was nothing out of the ordinary.

Aurora stabbed into the pie with a plastic fork. It looked like normal meat, but there was only one way to find out. She placed it in her mouth. It tasted, again, like normal meat. After swallowing it, she waited.

One second, two seconds, three seconds. Silence.

She let out a breath of relief before she heard it.

It wasn’t the clucking of a hen, nor the cries of a lamb. It was one word.

“Hello?”

Spoken in that all too familiar, cotton candy voice.

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