The La-Iin Series
“Fried Pumpkins in the Summer”
San-Kyung breathed. He tipped his head back and tried to relax. The heat of the sun kept him feeling dried out. He was slightly scared to drink any of his water.
Sitting nearby him was La-Iin and Dosa-Mina. Dosa-Mina fanned him lightly. All three felt lethargic due to the hot Summer sun.
“I think this is the hottest day this year, hands-down,” Dosa-Mina said. “I mean, there’ve been a lot of other hot days, but this one takes the cake.”
“And yet you still haven’t passed out,” La-Iin said.
“It may be hotter than the day I got heatstroke, but I took more precautionary measures today than I did then.”
“I don’t care if you took precautionary measures, just looking at you makes me feel hotter than I already am…” San-Kyung groaned.
“In what way?” Dosa-Mina asked, his usual smile showing.
“Don’t you think now is terrible timing for jokes, rival-boy?” La-Iin said.
“Nuh-uh. Might make things feel a little cooler.”
“Stop talking about the temperature…”
“How come we aren’t inside though, San-Kyung? I never got the chance to ask.”
“Because the stupid air conditioner’s broken. It’s suffering out here, but it’s even worse inside. I almost feel bad for Mom and Dad…”
“Still, we must look pretty silly sitting out here–an Animated Pumpkin who’s getting all dry, a half-Vampire and me wearing my long sleeves…”
“I doubt anyone else’s outside in this heat…”
“Are you gonna be okay, San-Kyung?” La-Iin asked.
“I’m sure I’ve had worse…besides, I bet my body heat and it being August makes my fire power really strong…”
Curiosity was evident on San-Kyung’s face as he struck his hand. A tall pillar of fire rose up. Sweat beaded on all of their foreheads.
“Terrible idea…” San-Kyung sighed, putting out the fire. “Damn it…”
La-Iin stared at San-Kyung in concern.
“San-Kyung should be fine,” Dosa-Mina said. “His skin doesn’t look bad right now, like he’s scorched. And he’s still talking fine.”
“How do you know he’ll be fine?”
“You should know by now that I study species on my spare time. Of course I’ve studied Animated Pumpkins! That’s really obvious. And when they get overheated or over-watered, you can usually tell by their skin. Heat and an excess of water can actually be pretty lethal towards Animated Pumpkins, you know. Everyone goes on about the sunlight allergies most Vampires have, but if Animated Pumpkins get overheated to the point of heatstroke….well, let’s say it would be a lot more concerning if San-Kyung passed out than with me.”
“Please stop talking about the heat!” San-Kyung yelled.
“I think she’s curious about all this,” Dosa-Mina said. “Sorry, San-Kyung. Can you hold out for a little bit?”
“Ughhh….could you refill my water then?”
“Will do! Be right back, La-Iin.” Dosa-Mina grabbed San-Kyung’s glass and walked off.
“I don’t want to hear all these things from him….you’re an actual Animated Pumpkin, San-Kyung. I want to hear it from you.”
“You should be asking your Mom for these things,” he said. “I’m getting too overheated to want to talk about anything that relates to the sun, or to heat, or….any of that stuff. Besides, Dosa-Mina’s pretty knowledgeable about these sorts of things…he studies a lot of it like he said. He’s reliable.”
“But he’s my rival.”
“Oh, come on, La-Iin! You’re….friends with me now, and he’s my friend too. Can’t you drop the stupid rival bullshit?”
“No! Not until the day there is no point for our rivalry anymore!”
San-Kyung sighed. “Look, La-Iin, if there’s one thing you should know, it’s that this….friendship isn’t going to end up in a relationship like you seem to think. Even if you were my type, you’re going to be a little girl for basically my whole life. And I am in no way attracted to little girls. And by the way, before you say anything about Dosa-Mina, he’s my friend. Emphasis on that. Even if he liked me that way, it wouldn’t be mutual. And if there’s one thing he at least knows, it’s that I don’t want to get into a relationship. At all.”
“Ooh, what’s this interesting discussion about?” Dosa-Mina asked as he set the water down next to San-Kyung.
“Not a problem!”
“And it’s not really about anything….she’s just being stupid.”
“Don’t worry, he calls me stupid all the time. It doesn’t really mean much, he’s just doing it because.”
“He gets called stupid a lot more than you, stupid.” San-Kyung gave a light chuckle.
“I guess that’s good…”
“You just won’t stop hating me, won’t you. Eh, I don’t care. But any chance to divulge what I’ve learned is a chance I’ll take–mind if I continue on our earlier conversation?”
La-Iin glared at Dosa-Mina. “Fine.”
“Thank you. Well, one of the reasons the heat is so bad for Animated Pumpkins is because the heat can do various things to their bodies. Most of the time they just wilt if the heat gets too intense, which kills them. But the more horrifying option is that they end up cooking in their own skin. Some people think cooked Animated Pumpkin is a delicacy, but you can basically get the same flavor from a normal pumpkin, minus the blood and organs and such.”
La-Iin noticed a shiver go up San-Kyung’s spine. She doubted it was because he was cold.
“It can be hard for Animated Pumpkins when the heat’s really bad like this. They can dry up pretty quickly and water they drink might not work if they’re already in bad enough condition. I’m keeping an eye on San-Kyung in case he starts displaying some of the symptoms I’ve heard about. It’s good to have a second set of eyes though.”
“What symptoms?” Both La-Iin and San-Kyung asked. When they noticed they had said the same thing, La-Iin smiled while San-Kyung grimaced.
“Well, he’ll start seeming like he’s just woken up. His skin will look weird, like I said, and his eyes will be all glassy like he’s dead. Not to mention there’d be a distinctive smell coming off of him…all I smell in the air right now is sweat and cooked pumpkin.”
“Tell me I’m not cooking in my skin,” he sighed.
“I’m pretty sure you’d know if you were. Wouldn’t that hurt like crazy? You keep complaining about how hot it is, not any pain. Are you in pain, San-Kyung?”
“Only a little,” he grunted. La-Iin blinked at him, while Dosa-Mina stared at him with concern.
“….let me wrap this up quick. Anyway, heatstroke for Animated Pumpkins is pretty serious. I’m not saying it’s not serious for everyone else, but…”
Dosa-Mina’s expression became more concerned. “San-Kyung?”
“I don’t think you should stay out in this heat anymore. You’re starting to get a certain look about you.”
San-Kyung blinked at him.
“I know it’s a bit of a distance away, but can I please take you to my house? Our air conditioner works. You’ll be able to cool down efficiently. I’ll tell your parents and bring you back once your air conditioner is fixed.”
“I’ll take anything if it means getting out of this heat,” he said. Dosa-Mina smiled at him. “Thanks. I’ll go tell your parents now!”
He dashed into the Molshei house.
“I think he’s worrying himself a little too much….but what do I care. Geez, why didn’t I just ask him to take me there in the first place…”
La-Iin sat there as the two waited for Dosa-Mina with her mind blank.
San-Kyung’s words snapped her back quickly. “Yeeees?”
“If you’re half-Vampire, shouldn’t you at least be a little adverse to the sun? I mean, I know not every single one has allergies, but still….”
“My Normal side is unfortunately very strong. Although I guess I can count this as one case where it’s beneficial.”
“Huh….wonder what Dosa-Mina would think of that.”
“Rival-boy isn’t here! Don’t try to force him into the conversation.”
“I wasn’t! Sheesh…”
Dosa-Mina returned outside a moment later. “Just relax, San-Kyung.”
“You’re covered in sweat!” He screeched. “And you’re wearing long sleeves! I–”
“Just put up with it for a couple of minutes. You’ll have sweet air conditioning once we get to my house.”
San-Kyung sighed and relaxed as Dosa-Mina picked him up and shifted him into a position that made him easier to carry. La-Iin huffed as San-Kyung relaxed further, closing his eyes.
“Don’t relax too much.”
“Do you want to come with us, La-Iin? I’m sure I could manage carrying you too, and I don’t know if you know the way back from here.”
“I can figure it out.”
Dosa-Mina flashed his sly grin. “I’m surprised you trust me alone with San-Kyung.”
“I don’t. I just don’t want to go with you.”
“That’s fine!” Dosa-Mina walked away from La-Iin and to a clear patch of grass.
“You know, La-Iin, you might like researching Animated Pumpkins. You’d get to know a lot about San-Kyung in any event. Especially if you research Aesthetically Normals!”
“I already do research on APs,” she said.
“Well…actually, I have nothing.” Dosa-Mina stared down at San-Kyung. “He’s getting exhausted…we should be off, then. See you, La-Iin!”
La-Iin’s glare stayed plastered to her face as she spoke for the last time before they left: “Whatever happened to little Vampire girl?”
“Eh, I got bored of saying it. La-Iin’s easier. Alright, we’re off!”
Dosa-Mina leapt into the air, holding tight to San-Kyung. It only took a few seconds for him to disappear out of sight.
La-Iin found herself heeding Dosa-Mina’s advice once she got home, sitting down in her bedroom with several of Mit-Sun’s general species study books and reading through the sections on Animated Pumpkins.
‘I wonder if I could impress him with this knowledge…no, stooping to impressing him with knowledge is not my forte. I should wait for a better opportunity….still, this is interesting….’
At that moment she considered herself lucky that she liked someone with a unique species, then quickly chided herself for admitting her crush. She had conflicted feelings as she continued onwards in the book.