Hello there, my name’s Alene, and I’m the token black female comic relief sidekick who joins Roy the big famous wrestler on his quest for love. That’s how it starts at least. I get to take up more space in the story as it goes on. I wouldn’t say I’m the main character or anything, but I do have my own story, and yeah, actually, I’m the main character.
This whole thing really is about me.
There, I ruined it now, didn’t I? Spoilers, you know. Sorry, not sorry. It’s my story and I’ll spoil it if I want to.
No, seriously though. The story wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for Roy. I shouldn’t be putting him down. He’s a great guy you know. Well, he tries to – sometimes. You’d put up with him too if you knew him like I do. Well, like I do after the story. It’s not so easy all the time.
But, let’s not talk about him. Let’s talk about me, Alene, the not so token female black main character of the story. Also, it’s brown, not black, but whatever, black sounds better.
Me, Alene, I’m a pretty normal young woman. I’m somewhere in my mid-twenties, and I’m a traveling freelance journalist. Well, I try to be a journalist. I write articles about the places I go to – usually for the International Rail on board magazine, but sometimes for travel magazines and journals back home. I guess the Rail is the biggest publication though. It’s got the most reach you know. Like, everyone goes by train and the Rail is everywhere. You’re on a train, you can’t miss it.
I write for that. Sometimes.
Mostly though, I’m a train host. Yep. One of those.
You get on the train. You see me there: checking your tickets, pulling the coffee trolley, cleaning the toilets, telling you how much further until the next station. That kind of thing. That’s me.
I’m on a “freelance” contract though, as they call it, so you don’t see me i the same place twice. It means I don’t have any set route or schedule or anything. Instead, I check in at a station to see what’s available and get to take my pick. Sometimes the pay is good, and sometimes I have to work for free just to get to a new place.
It can be pretty tough, but I like it. I speak a lot of different languages, so it’s a great way to see the world, and I get to meet a lot of interesting people. Well, obviously, that’s how I ended up with Roy, you know.
Except it wasn’t quite like that, but close enough. It doesn’t matter. It’s my entry ticket to the story, and it gets the job done.
I like working for International Rail. They’re really openminded when it comes to people in my situation. Like, as long as I stick by their regulation and don’t work to close to the full moon they don’t have any problem with my condition at all. For really long distance routes it’s even considered a benefit with my extra endurance.
That’s more than you could say for the tourist board back home. I spent years studying languages and social dynamics and intercultural relations and all that stuff. And then I got afflicted by therianthropy and they wouldn’t even let me do trail maintenance during off-season. Bastards.
I’m not dangerous.
Sure, I will be, but that’s decades away and the signs will be very clear. No one will miss them. I’m not a danger to anyone, but no, they couldn’t take the risk. Bad publicity. Concerned customers. Crap like that.
So, I left…
Much better working with International Rail. I get to see the world, and the benefits are nice, and no one bothers me about my condition. That’s probably the best part. Most people never even know.
It’s enough that I know. There’s a bit of a stigma about therianthropes in some places, unfortunately. Some people would probably be a little bit freaked out if they knew what I’m dealing with.
It freaks me out too…
I mean… I know what I’m dealing with, and I know I can handle it, but it’s not always easy knowing it’s going to get worse and there’s no way to stop it. Others…
Let’s just say it’s easier keeping it to myself. I don’t talk much about it.
It’s not like it’s changing anything. I can still do my job.
I do it better than most regular humans even.
I’m not dangerous.