May 21, 2022 2:02 PM
an ex-illithid in lyingverse
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Here is a perfectly ordinary nightclub. It isn't open yet; there's a custodian straightening things up, and the DJ assembling his equipment, and a bartender putting her apron on, but no one is looking at this particular corner of the room.

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A person appears in the corner, off-balance enough that she immediately topples over and lands heavily on the floor. "Owww," she complains, rubbing the back of her head.

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"Hey!" says the bartender. "Who are you? We're not open. You have to leave."

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"I hit my head! That's bad! My brain is in there!"

She sits up, still prodding gingerly at the incipient bruise.

"My name is Bird. I didn't come here on purpose. How do I leave? ...and how am I speaking this language all of a sudden?"

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"Oh, you're lost? You can go out the side door there, the front door will be locked till the bouncer gets here." Bartender points. "Most people learn English from their parents."

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"Thank you!" she says, climbing unsteadily to her feet. Her clothes are very weird, sort of a Vaguely Medieval Rags situation, and very brightly coloured. "I didn't learn English from my parents because I didn't have any. Maybe whatever made me suddenly be here instead of in a cave also made me suddenly speak English."

She heads toward the side door, picking her way carefully across the floor in hopes of avoiding another tumble.

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The bartender isn't really paying attention. The floor is level and will not try to trip her. The side door leads to an alley with trash bins in it which further leads to a street with cars and pedestrians.

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Whoa! Cars are really startling!! They go so fast!!!

She turns to the nearest pedestrian and points at the nearest fast-moving vehicle and says urgently, "What's that??"

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"That's a Toyota Camry," he replies, squinting at it, and then he continues on his way.

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But what's a Toyota Camry??? Do the fast things come in kinds?

"I'M REALLY CONFUSED," she yells at the universe in general.

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"Well you don't have to shout about it!" shouts a guy who is piling fruit up in a display in front of a little grocery store.

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"I know! I shouted because I thought it would make me feel better! I'm not sure if it worked or not!"

She picks a random direction and starts walking along the sidewalk. Soon she comes to a corner, where there is clearly some sort of system for determining when it is safe to brave the street where the fast things go but she has no idea how it works and there isn't anyone waiting on her same corner to ask. She turns to continue along contiguous sidewalk instead, and at the next street corner there's a person waiting.

"How does crossing the street work?" she asks them.

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"You go when that light turns from a red hand to a white silhouette and then you cross in the crosswalk," says the lady with the stroller. "You can also just go wherever and whenever it doesn't look like there are any cars but if my husband found out I did that with the baby along he'd be really freaked out and yell at me, so I'm waiting."

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"...and that light is the relevant one because it's the one that's in the direction I want to go?" she guesses. "Okay, thank you."

Then she fully processes the rest of what the lady said and its implications regarding the contents of the stroller, and starts bouncing excitedly. "—oh! Is that a human baby? I've never seen a human baby before! Can I touch it?"

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"No, if she wakes up again I might shake her and then she'd die," says the woman.

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"Oh no!" she says, much more quietly. "Okay, I won't bother her then. Good luck not murdering your child!"

The light changes and she squints at it to verify that the situation matches the instructions she was given and then starts walking across the street.

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Now she is across the street! So is stroller lady.

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Hmm, people around these parts seem to share the apparently-nigh-universal human property of not wanting to continue interacting with her for very long, but stroller lady hasn't outright told her to go away yet so maybe she can venture one more important question. "Have you ever heard of someone suddenly learning English when they didn't speak it a minute ago? It happened to me earlier and it was very strange."

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"No, I've never heard of that. I don't know how that happened to you."

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"Do you know who I should ask if I want to figure it out?"

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"I guess you could try a neurologist?"

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"What's a neurologist? Where would I find one?"

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"Neurologists are a kind of doctor that specialize in brains. I don't know where to find one, I've never needed a neurologist."

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"Well, if you did need one, where's the first place you would look?"

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"I'd ask my regular doctor for a referral. Or I'd try the phone book."

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"I don't have a regular doctor because I haven't been a human for very long. What's the phone book, where is it?"

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