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Animalandia | By Destiny Pimentel | First Place Winner Philippines Young Author Awards 2020


A thin layer of sweat covered the nape of my neck, wind whipped my long, dark brown hair back from my face as I rushed towards the school. I’m late, again! For the third time of the week! As I ran, something caught my eye, which made me pause for a while. It’s a pitiful dog, whimpering as a middle-aged man kicked him. Should I just ignore him? Or should I save the dog? I was about to choose the latter when something stopped me. No Vala, you’re not supposed to intervene because it’s his business. As a teenager, I shouldn’t be meddling with adult business. I chose to turn a blind eye and continue rushing to the school.

I felt the racing beat of my heart pulsating under my fingertips as I wipe the sweat from my face. I looked at my watch – 7:30, 30 minutes since the class started. I cleared my throat before slowly entering the classroom. As expected, everyone’s looking at me.

“I’m sorry I’m late.” I bowed down my head and lowered my eyes. “Take your seat.” The teacher disappointingly said. I went to the only vacant chair near the window.

The teacher continued the discussion that I interrupted a while ago. However, it’s not the discussion that piqued my interest. A dirty white cat limping as it crosses the soccer field. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the student players running towards the direction of the cat and it seems like they haven’t noticed it! I closed my eyes as I debate with myself. I must save the cat! But… I’m in the middle of a class. I can just warn the players though. But… I’ll just ruin the discussion again.

“Miss Vala, are you sleeping in my class?” I quickly opened my eyes as I heard my name. “N-no Ma’am! My eyes… they just got tired so I rested them for a while.” I reasoned out. “Oh. Okay let’s go back to the discussion.” The teacher stared at me suspiciously for a few seconds before she resumed. I gently sighed as I looked at the piteous cat for the last time. I’m sorry I’m too shy to help you, kitty.

The sun started to go on its way down the horizon, revealing the mellow and beauteous clouds in the sky. The classes have ended, students are walking along the street together with their friends. I sighed as I quietly walk to another alley next to the school.

“Vala~” I quickly turned around to see where the voice came from but there’s no one here in the alley. Creeped out by the situation, I walked fast in order to get out. “Vala~” The voice stopped me from walking. Why can’t I move?! I panicked as my body stood in the middle of the alley like a statue. Suddenly, a familiar cat leaped in front of me, which made me startled. It’s the one from the soccer field! “Vala~” w-what? The voice came from… “Y-you… what… A TALKING CAT?!” I must be dreaming. How could a cat talk?! “Can’t you hear me? I’m calling you.” The cat licked its paws calmly.

“W-why are you talking?” I shakily said in a high-pitched, shrill voice. “Can’t you chill for a while? I’ve been travelling for days just to find you and that’s how you’ll greet me?” The cat stopped licking its paws and intensely stared at me. Meow-nyway, I need to…” Its voice became vague as my vision started to dim and my head got heavier. “…Animalandia” Animalandia? What’s that? That was the last thing I remembered before the darkness consumed me completely.

I squinted my eyes as the rays of the sunlight touched my face. I must have slept accidentally last night. My eyes remained closed as I stretched my arms and legs. I felt lightheaded as I lazily entered the bathroom. I washed my face, which feels quite weird. Wait… Something feels wrong. “Meow~ Aaaahhhh!” I covered my mouth with my hands… or paws. Why… Why am I a white cat?! And I talked like a cat! I slowly glanced at the weirdly moving thing behind me. Eek! I have a tail!

“Hello!” I turned around when I heard a familiar voice. “Y-you! Why am I like this?!” I said, freaking out as I point to myself. “First of all, I have a name. Figaro is the handsome name of this stunning cat in front of you.” Figaro, a white cat wearing a white shirt and blue joggers, confidently said with a smirk. I didn’t know cats can also be arrogant.

“Second, I don’t even know you. You just magically appeared here in my room.” What he said made my forehead pucker. “Where am I?” I walked toward the window located in the room I woke up in. It’s the same surroundings – roads with busy cars, trees, animals walking… ANIMALS WALKING?! “You’re in Animalandia.”

“Animalandia?! What kind of Earth is that?!” I freaked out once again while still looking at the unfamiliar view. Elephants on the streets, walking while wearing clothes?! Piglets wearing uniforms?! Dogs driving cars?!

“What’s Earth…? Wait, are you another crazy cat?!” He suspiciously glared at me so I glared back. “It’s your fault why I’m here!” I yelled and then I told him what I remember before waking up here.

“Eh? So, you mean you’re not from Animalandia? You’re an alien coming from Earth?!” This time, it’s not me freaking out, it’s him. I guess I’m an alien? Putting aside my thoughts, I sat down on the bed as well as Figaro.

“How am I going to go back?” I looked at him with sad eyes. “The Figaro from your world probably knows but the stunning Figaro here doesn’t.” I frowned during the time he said he’s stunning. “Do you want to go outside?” He offered which I agreed on. I changed into a yellow silk dress while he wore a jacket on top of what he’s wearing a while ago and then, we went outside his place.

Instead of being shocked when we reached outdoors, I can’t help but chuckle. I can’t believe animals rule the world here while the humans are treated like how the animals are in our world.

“Do you want to go somewhere?” He asked as we walk towards his car. “Do you have any suggestions?” I asked. “Hmm… We can just drive around the neighborhood?” Due to my curiosity on what this world looks like, I nodded my head fast.

While Figaro was driving, I browsed his social media account. But what caught my attention are the reports: A rare man from the forest was shot dead by trophy hunters, a young child left tied in chains in an abandoned house without food and water, a pregnant woman ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. What… Isn’t this the reports about animal abuse in our world?

The car stopped suddenly, which made me drop the phone. “What happened?!” I shakily asked. “There must be an accident. I’ll just check.” Figaro went out of the car while I remained seated.

I looked outside and noticed a familiar scenario. There’s a pitiful man, whimpering as an aggressive dog kicked him. My heart raced as the man looked at my direction and stared at me with its sad eyes. Should I…? I inhaled deeply as I closed my eyes. But then the reports flashed in my mind. I… I can’t let any human or animal get abused again!

My body started to move on its own. I rushed out of the car and ran towards them. “Stop!” I went between them in order to block the dog. “This isn’t your business, you cat.” The dog glared at me so I glared back. “It is! I can’t bear to see another life form be abused! Nobody deserves to be mistreated!” I angrily declared with tears flowing down my cheeks.

The area suddenly became quiet. I was shocked when I looked at the dog who’s now smiling. “We’re happy that you finally found courage to defend the weak.” I looked from behind and saw Figaro smiling, which made me confused with what’s happening. All of them were smiling while looking at me. “You’re our only hope.” He added. Suddenly, everything started to vanish.

A thin layer of sweat covered the nape of my neck, wind whipped my long, dark brown hair back from my face as I rushed towards the school. I’m late, again! For the fourth time of the week! As I ran, something caught my eye, which made me pause for a while. It’s a pitiful dog, whimpering as a middle-aged man kicked him. Without any doubt, I ran towards them and stopped the man.

Since then, I volunteered in animal rescue and adopting centers. I realized that turning a blind eye would just worsen the situation. Everyone has the ability to make a difference, but without courage, it is impossible.


-The End-

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