Kyle leaned his head against the cool glass of the passenger-side window. Every time his mom made a sudden turn, he would be pulled away, then thrust back upon it. The teen winced with each soft blow, but did not sit up; the dull headache he'd get from the punishment didn't matter to him.
His mind was preoccupied with bigger things. Chiefly, the sight of people his age walking down the sidewalk, backpacks slung over one shoulder, some of them chattering excitedly with each other. He doubted they'd care for him much. Though their numbers were diverse-he saw several canines, felines, equines, reptiles, and avians of all species on their way to school-he knew he stood out from the rest.
These groups of anthropomorphic animals-they called themselves "anthros", and humans called them "furries"-made up most of the population of New Appleton, just like almost everywhere else in the world. Kyle would be the only human attending his school. His kind was rare outside of the special reservations set aside for them; no doubt he'd be a prime target for racial discrimination.
Normally, Kyle would have thought it funny, a white Christian boy being considered a minority. Unfortunately, neither the color of his skin nor his faith mattered in the present day; all humans were a minority. It was even more depressing to think that this was how things had been since before he was born. The adolescent sighed, his head thumping against the window again.
"You miss your friends, don't you?" his mother asked, not breaking her gaze from the road.
"You think?" Kyle murmured.
"Kyle, I don't want you going into school with that attitude," she warned, "This is our opportunity to be accepted. The government let us move here because they care about us. They're trying to prove we're not freaks."
"They sure have a funny way of showing it," said Kyle, straightening up as his anger began to boil over, "We were just fine back at the reservation. They took me away from our home, and our friends. Now I'm gonna be laughed at!"
"Now that's enough," Mom said, perhaps too sternly, "We might not be well off, but it could be much worse." She parked the car at the curb in front of the school. "Alright, try to have a good day. I'll see you this afternoon. Just keep your nose clean, and you'll be fine." She leaned over to kiss her son on the cheek, but the teen opened the door and hopped out before she got the chance.
"Okay, I'll do my best," Kyle curtly replied, "Thanks for the lift." He pulled his backpack out of the back seat and shouldered it. The car sped away almost before he had a chance to close the door. Sighing again, the lone human walked towards the high school.
Despite keeping his head down and looking at the pavement in front of him, Kyle could feel the eyes of the other students boring into his skull. Conversations ceased when he came into view. The silence that surrounded the human was deafening. The whispers started after Kyle had passed by. He knew that by the end of the day, he would be the most popular kid in school, but in a bad way.
Kyle stopped to look up at the large brick building towering over him. The school was of an unusual shape. The structure was dominated by a large cylindrical building three stories tall. The rest of the school was two stories, and branched out from the cylinder like rays of the sun. These sections, dependent on the connecting center like a horde of parasites feeding upon its host, had fresher masonry and brighter coats of paint. It looked as though the center building was many decades older than these new additions.
The human only sighed. Other than the haphazard shape, it looked like any high school in the human territories. He still didn't understand why he, out of thousands of other human teens, had been the "lucky" bastard shipped off to an unfamiliar setting by an unsympathetic politician. How was he supposed to make friends when he not only looked different, but belonged to a species that had abused and ridiculed the anthros for over sixty years. Now, the tables had turned, and the oppressors were now the oppressed. This was a fact that became all too clear to Kyle just minutes after he entered the main building.
From out of the usual clamor of the crowded hallway came a deep, adolescent male's voice, "What the fuck is this?!" Without even pulling his eyes from his sneakers, Kyle knew he was being addressed. The boy almost dropped his books in surprise when he felt a thick, padded hand grasp his messy chestnut hair. Vicious claws sank into his scalp as his head was jerked upwards, the pain making Kyle see stars.
The next thing he knew, he was staring into the blazing orange eyes of a very irate predator. The lion anthro holding Kyle's head in a death-grip towered over him. His frame was clad with an abundance of lean feline muscle. Row upon row of razor-sharp teeth bared themselves at the human. Kyle found himself unable to move. He didn't know whether it was fear or apathy that restrained him, though it was most likely the latter.
"What gives you the right to come in here, human?" the lion snarled, giving Kyle a violent shake by his hair, "C'mon, answer me! What's the matter? You retarded or something?"
Actually, Kyle was paying little attention to what his attacker was saying. The human figured he was going to be killed, and he welcomed the notion. He was better off dead than living where he didn't belong. Another violent shake motivated him to look back up at the bully. Despite his fearsome appearance, Kyle found himself unafraid of the lion. "What the hell is your problem?" he grumbled.
A swift blow from the feline's free paw connected with Kyle's abdomen, knocking the wind out of the human. Another blow came from behind as he was thrust against the row of lockers. The chatter of the other students ceased, and a crowd began to gather around predator and prey. "No one talks to me like that!" the lion roared, "You're gonna die for that!"
"Hell yeah! Beat his bald little ass, Casey!" someone in the crowd shouted.
"Whatever," Kyle said, "you go ahead and do that. You don't scare me." This prompted Casey to shove him into the lockers a second time. "You shut the fuck up!" he hissed.
Before further abuse could be inflicted on Kyle, the warning bell for first period rang. The crowd began to disband as students obediently filed towards their respective classes. Casey released Kyle from his claws. "This isn't over, Pinky," he growled before turning on his heels and running off.
Kyle leaned against the hollow steel of the locker for a moment, still dazed from the encounter. Some first impression I made, he thought. Sighing, the human knelt to pick up his textbooks, which had been scattered over the floor during the scuffle. To his surprise, an extra set of hands joined his in recovering his supplies.
The human looked up to see a small, somewhat scrawny field mouse stooped beside him. The rodent turned and nodded to him. "Hey," he said, "T-thought you c-could use a little h-h-h-" the mouse stopped and concentrated, "help with that."
"Yeah, that's great," Kyle replied, still a bit bewildered as to why the anthro was being so friendly to him. "Not that I'm ungrateful, but how come you're helping me?"
"W-well, that assh-h-hole Casey is always p-p-picking on me f-for my st-st-st-stut-t-t-st-stutt-t..."
"Your stuttering?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah," the rodent said. Once Kyle's books were in order, they both stood, and the anthro offered his hand. "The name's St-stan," he said.
"Kyle," the human replied, firmly clasping his own hand in the mouse's. "Hey, thanks a lot. I needed someone to talk to."
"Me t-t-too," Stan agreed, "Outc-c-casts-ts need to st-stick together. Where's your first c-c-class?" Kyle showed him the way, and they walked to the classroom without incident. The human turned as he put his hand on the doorknob. "Hey Stan, I'll see you around sometime, huh?"
The brown mouse turned and smiled. "Yeah! P-perhaps we can h-hang out at lunch?"
"I'd like that," Kyle said. As he opened the door to attend his first class at New Appleton High, he found he was in a much better mood. Perhaps living amongst the furries wouldn't be as bad as he had first thought.