I woke up in unusual comfort. Before I even opened my eyes I noted that I was laying on something soft, with my head (devoid of helmet) pillowed at just the right angle. I definitely approved, though I did have a bit of concern for the whereabouts of my helmet.
Wherever I was, it was bright, as light shone through my still-closed eyelids. Around me I heard motion — four people, I thought, trying to be quiet and not entirely succeeding. Oh, well, might as well get the waking up and introductions thing done.
I opened my eyes.
And found myself all but nose-to-nose with one of the prettiest Japanese schoolgirls I've ever encountered. Shoulder-length mahogany hair held back with a yellow ribbon; huge, expressive golden-brown eyes; perfect complexion. With her face filling my field of view, I could see little else, but I did manage to make out what looked like it might be a classic seifuku-type collar somewhere below her chin.
"He's awake!" she shrieked, fifteen centimeters from my face. I did my best not to flinch, helped no doubt by the fact that even in a shriek she seemed to have a pleasant, melodious voice.
"Um. Yes," I responded. "I am." I propped myself up on my elbows, and from there levered myself up into a sitting position.
"Suzumiya!" a male voice — world-weary and somewhat shellshocked in tone — snapped, and then the girl was yanked out of my face. When my eyes refocused, I saw that a young Japanese fellow, clearly high school age, had one hand clamped in a death grip on her collar, and was pulling her back away from me even as she struggled to get loose. He had the stunned and helpless air of a cynic who'd just had his certainly that the world was a nasty place yanked out from under him.
A quick glance around the room revealed the others. Five, not four — a bespectacled girl with short hair was sitting in a corner and reading so quietly she might as well have been a statue. The other two I'd heard were, like the rest, apparently Japanese high school students. One was another young man, with longer hair than the first, and a smile that verged on a smirk. That left yet another pretty girl who somehow mixed voluptuous and cute in equal parts, with long, long light brown hair; when she caught me looking at her, her lower lip began to quiver and she looked like she was about to burst into tears.
I quickly tore my gaze from her and brought it back to the first girl, who was already demanding that "Kyon" release her. He sighed and unclenched his hand, and "Suzumiya" almost fell forward onto her face, just barely catching herself in time to drop to her knees next to me.
"Hiiiii!" she announced in a voice that was just a bit louder than it really needed to be. "We're the SOS-dan! We saw you come out of a hole in the air and fall over! So we parked your motorcycle in the bike rack and brought you back to our club room! Are you an alien, a time traveller, or an esper?"
She said all that with one breath and a huge, manic grin.
I reached up and rubbed the bridge of my nose. "Um. In order: one, unless you've heard of Warriors Alpha I suppose I am, sort of; two, that depends on what year it is, and three, no, I'm a mage. And a mutant."
Her grin grew wider over a three-count, and then she shot to her feet and pumped a fist into the air.
"JACKPOT!" she shouted.
I switched to rubbing my temples. I just knew I was going to regret coming to this world.
Drunkard's Walk, Steplet:
The Melancholy Of Douglas Sangnoir
by Robert M. Schroeck
This work of fiction is copyright © 2007, by Robert M. Schroeck.
The characters and situations of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (released as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in North America), originally created by Nagaru Tanigawa, are copyright © 2006-2007 by Nagaru Tanigawa and Noizi Ito, and are used without permission.