Honestly, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever written.
“Pardon me, your excellence, but you seem to have a speck of fish on your beak.”
Penguins were relatively simple creatures. For the most part all they did was waddle, squawk, eat, squawk, and waddle. Nothing much to it, except for the mating season, which shook things up, but then again, only a little. All that really changed was that there would be more of them. Squawkers, and all. This one here had done a little too much squawking, so much that he’d let all his feed go to waste.
More for me then.
It’d been long – too long – since Tanner had seen another human, not even a glimpse. He’d been lost in this frozen dimension for months now, living off of raw fish and the hospitality of the penguins. This place was strange, on all accounts. Here, these birds seemed a little… ‘Smarter’ than the average penguin, and nothing seemed to happen despite the sheer amount of raw fish he’d eaten. Sure, it was a hard habit at the start, but once you got past the bones, it was pretty alright.
On top of that, he hadn’t frozen to death yet, for some reason. What a feat! He might as well consider himself a penguin now.
That wouldn’t be too bad, wouldn’t it?
What are you talking about? You vacuous moron.
Ah yes. That’s right. He really wasn’t a penguin. He was human, so that’d be wrong (in a multitude of ways). Such a dream should never be considered, despite the circumstances. When did he ever get so lopsided?
Well, that’s what getting thrown across the fonts of reality will do to ya.
But enough of that! What mattered, first and foremost, was getting home. And obviously, he was right on top of that. Dimensional physics had once been one of his major fields; it shouldn’t have been too much of a hassle to fix up a Wormhole Strangler with the parts he had. The capsule he’d arrived in was coincidentally perfect f0r that.
But then again… emphasis on had.
Yup. Once, so very long ago, he had the chance to prevent his forced assimilation into penguin life. Yet, that chance had gone by in an instant, thanks to the awesome meddling power of gale-force winds and a rock.
He’d be lying if he said that all that was left when he woke up could take him home. That was the very first time this dimension bamboozled him. And of course it wasn’t the most drastic, and just couldn’t be the last.
That very same day, he’d found himself battered, cold and starving at the hands of an elite society of orca jackasses. At the first moment of hearing them speak (English too!) he’d jumped at the chance to converse with some ‘civilized’ locals, who could (somehow) lead him to civilization (if it even existed). Sadly, he learned that one, humans didn’t exist, and two, they hated humans anyway. So at the brink of his stamina, he was forced to flee across the ice in a panicked terror, losing what little supplies he had and any replacement garments.
But hey, it wasn’t my worst experience with foreigners.
Not long after, he’d run into a motley crew of penguins with an attitude. These too could speak perfect English – and, thankfully for him, were much friendlier than the orcas, despite their constant swearing (and lack of any tact whatsoever). They took him in, but not before they made it painfully clear that they had nothing to do with the other penguins. In fact, they were apparently staging a rebellion of some sort, only taking him aboard because a “human” sounded useful.
These penguins were good to him, for a while. They were the ones who’d taught him how to handle the fish; stink, bones and all. The thought of swallowing it whole irked him at first, but a few jaw-loosening techniques conditioned him to the point of being practically as good as the penguins themselves.
If penguins can talk, I can swallow bones. Such optimism was crucial.
Now, there was at least one problem with this group. More than one, actually. Enough that they were problems to be dealt with on a daily basis as a whole. See, one could easily compare them to humans – because, despite their penguin-ness, they were effectively the most hostile, thoughtless, un-empathetic people he’d ever known. Especially to other penguins, which took him by surprise the first time (what species fights their own species?). It wasn’t long before Tanner would realize he was being brought along for guerilla assaults.
When finally asked about it, all they would say to him was that “they picked the better side. The winning side.”
What ‘winning side?’ What the hell was up with this place?
Nothing really made sense. But then again, this was a different realm from ours. And considering that, he was prepared to face the weird truth as often as it came (it wasn’t the last).
So, he continued living with them, for now. It was a pretty good setup, if you actually thought about it. All he needed to do was kick some penguins around, and the ones that made him do it would give him food. Easy-peasy.
Sure, you could say that it was cruel, but who wouldn’t do the same in this state of mind? At least, when you were stuck in an entire world of penguins who wouldn’t stop yapping about last night’s supper, how great the krill was, or how snooty those Emperors were (all in such an irritatingly kick-able voice). He’d officially joined the group as their token human, which was more than enough for him in this situation.
Obviously, things would change. The setup was good for a while, but being on the wrong side of morals was bound to get him sacked sooner or later.
Shortly after taking over a penguin settlement, a few orcas had emerged through the ice, and swallowed the survivors – as well as his crew – whole. Just like that. Saying he was shocked would be an understatement.
Fortunately, he was just outside of the bite-zone. Through snot and tears, he demanded to know why they’d done this.
“We came to win.” they simply said. Altogether, as well. It was a strange thing to see.
“Win?” Tanner meekly said. “What do you mean?”
“Win at life.”
That single quote was a game-changer for him. Well, game-changing for the fact that he’d stopped doing much of anything. The orcas had ended up sparing him, and Tanner, being the not-penguin he was, drifted about the icy tundra for quite a while. During the time, he thought about a lot of things – his penguin ‘friends’, the orcas, food… But most importantly, how it’d all turned out like this.
To think, a single mishap would throw away any chance of him having a normal life. Working a proper career. Having children. Marrying.
Winning at life.
It’d hit him before, he just… Hadn’t thought about it as much. And what was with all these animals and ‘winning’ anyway? What a skewed logic.
But it’s the only logic that applies here.
That’s when he had a real epiphany. This epiphany would shatter his very understanding of the strange world he’d woken up in, where no logic applied, where penguins spoke English, and a human would not freeze to death.
The only rule that applied in this world was… To win. That’s all. Survive. Grasp for the top with a primal ferocity. Even against your own species. It was simple, yet fitted the retarded ways of this dimension. Win. Do whatever it takes, even if it doesn’t make any sense. That, my friend, was the ultimate, weird truth.
And so that’s what he would do, keeping it in his mind as he made off with a penguin’s supper.