Part 19 - Awakened, Inspired, Answers, Rules, and Choices
Before that moment, I felt dulled to myself sitting there but her words awakened everything, like coming out of a trance. My smell was different. The way I breathed felt different. My skin slid past itself in a way I’d never known before. And then there were the sounds of the room. I could hear a slight shifting of the air vent above me, and Gloria’s muffled voice a few walls over. More than that, I felt deep, echoing sounds coming from the top of my head. I had to reach around the long, dense shoulder-caressing hair surrounding me.
In my head, I still had all the images the girls had done to help me, but that was nothing next to the waves of sensation every motion gave me. I was someone else entirely. Completely transformed. Strange but still familiar. I had to lean against the couch to brace myself. Sorting through it all was like a cacophony of conversations around me and inside my head. It took me a little while to notice my tail. It was slightly smushed by the couch but in a raised, drifting S-shape. If I thought about it swaying…nothing happened. I could relate to Mira’s issues with figuring out what controlled things. And I hadn’t even gotten to what I could see of my clothes.
Long sleeves, a little warm, and the ruffles at my wrists were rather annoying. Light stockings were more than I could ever imagine clenching my legs like that. A shiver surged through me and I could easily confirm my breasts indeed appeared ‘cute’. Not too much but more than I ever expected, especially with all the feelings waiting in my mental queue to be properly processed. And in the shadows loomed the feeling above my thighs. I felt a blush rise hot and everywhere.
Touching my head, Gloria’s friend encouraged me, “There’s a mirror down the hall, if you want to take a proper look.”
I nodded quickly and she helped me to my feet. Even standing felt new to me. I took the steps slowly as I made my way to the mirror. We passed a hallway where Gloria stood with a brick-sized phone pressed against her ear. I could hear her conversation. In fact, she felt right next to me.
“…I’ve been through the pet restrictions for the apartment complex. There is nothing in here forbidding me from having a sentient black hole…...yes. His name is Chompers….that’s not important. But he’s an adorable little gravitational singularity. And he’s housebroken…...you’re being unreasonable!”
Though I wasn’t sure how to keep her voice from looming in my head, I turned and focused ahead of me, at the mirror. Alexis was an amazing artist but even her work didn’t do the presence before me justice. There was a quality of shades of fur and little streaks. The tips of my hair near my shoulders looked frosted. And the dress was striking and adorable. My eyes were a sharp shade of greenish-blue and my cheeks were dusty pale aside from the blush.
Only after I’d taken a moment to look, to smell, and to take it all in, did I feel like I could bring all the obvious questions to the surface.
What happened to the girls? Were they safe? How had this happened? What was going on? Why was I here?....Basically, everything.
Gloria’s friend gave a smile and nodded. “You deserve answers to each question. Even the ones you haven’t thought of yet.”
She led me back to the couch. I could hear Gloria hanging up the phone. It wasn’t long before she joined us with a grin, saying, “Sorry. The usual. Do I need to get my eighth-dimensional props out to help with anything?”
Giving Gloria a faint chuckle, her friend told her, “We’ll see how it goes. First of all…Josh…”
I winced slightly. That name. I realized it had really been Gloria who’d given it to me, and I’d passively accepted that. That was weeks and weeks ago but…it felt like it was just a few minutes.
Her friend leaned back and continued, “The girls are just fine. Perfectly safe. But they’re really worried about you. Even Nathan, once she understood what was going on, came with them to apologize. You locked them out.”
I winced and clutched my hands. “I screwed up…”
She gently brushed my neck. “Nothing that bad. Your friends are just concerned about you. And they want to know you’re okay.”
My eyes felt moist as I nodded and softly asked, “Can I see them?”
The mystery girl smiled back at me and said, “Of course. You just need to go back to them.”
I cocked my head and glanced between her and Gloria as I asked, “Go back? I’m not back?”
She rested a hand on her chin and offered, “I’ll do my best to explain…without impossible shapes…” Gloria gave a disappointed ‘aww’ but nodded.
Clearing her throat, the girl began, “Each person creates entire worlds with every choice they make. You made a choice here. You wanted to create catgirls. I inspired a world where you could.” She reached over to the table next to the couch and retrieved her notepad.
Sketched out with thin but beautiful lines were all the girls around the tea club table in Allison’s house. Each girl was drawn softly but clearly to reflect their mood. The only difference was Nathan sitting next to me with her hands in her lap. And the me at the table was the me I saw in the mirror and felt with my every breath.
I took a breath and asked her, “Inspired?”
She nodded and exhaled gently with her hand reaching out to illustrate. “Inspired. Think of all the worlds that could ever be just waiting to be imagined and brought to life. Like bubbles waiting for someone to blow into them.”
I scrunched up my face. That probably looked really cute to anyone around me. I tried, “So, I was in another world?” I hoped that was a helpful question.
She looked to Gloria again, who wiggled her eyebrows. The mystery girl answered, “Yes. A pocket world. A more manageable bubble. I watched over you. I tried not to interfere too much. I hoped you might have fun and create in so many beautiful ways. I’m so sorry for the sad and confusing moments.”
I wrapped my hands around my smaller, unusual stomach. “You could’ve told me what was going on…I was afraid to touch anyone…”
She set her hand on my leg. “You’re right. I could’ve told you everything. But would it have gone the same way? Your choices, whether steps forward or stumbles, made that world.”
I took a deep breath and shook my head. “What if I’d just blasted everyone in sight?”
She giggled and noted, “That would’ve been a lot of cute catgirls. But you didn’t. You made a choice. Many choices. And all that made it harder in some ways, but it also set the rules for you. You see….everyone there was actually a volunteer. Like filling out a story with people who wanted to be there. Who wanted to be in a world where they might become a catgirl.”
My mouth hung open. That alone surprised me, but I put together what else she’d said as well, “Wait…you mean….I could’ve maybe even controlled my ability, if I made that choice? I didn’t have to live in fear of it?”
She leaned closer and told me, “Potentially. It was yours. A nekomancer and a bounty of catgirl volunteers. But the choice to not live in fear has always been yours. You set the rules of your world even before you stepped inside Gloria’s apartment.”
I had to slowly nod there. The reclusive man who had an obsession with catgirls. I looked at her and said, “I don’t want it to be that way…I want the girls to be happy. I…want to be happy too. I want to be with them. I want to have tea parties and hugs and everything…” My words fought through the depths of my tears.
She pulled me close and held me as the tears came with full force.
She spoke and brushed my full, warm hair with a gentle hand. “Then just embrace the ones you love. Let go of your fear. Remember that every single moment of your life is precious. Share that with everyone. It’s so beautiful to be human and so sad as well…”
I looked at her strikingly large, deep eyes and asked her, “What do you mean?”
With her free hand, she held her pen in the air. It gave off a brilliant, glossy shine. “Moments of laughter, excitement, and fun with friends and family. Moments of argument, anger, and pain. Each one exists forever. Not like a drawing you can sketch out, refine, revisit, and alter. The lines of life always seem forever and bitterly incomplete and you can hold on to one line in the drawing of your life until things begin to tear or you can choose to move the pen in another direction.” She gave a wistful smile as she spoke.
I had no idea what I could say to that. What she said seeped into my thoughts like the radiance she gave off. I felt embarrassed after such words to say, “Actually, I was just wondering, since you can do all this, if you’re human or not or some creation by Gloria or me from the future…” My blush deepened with each soprano-soaked syllable.
Still holding me, she gave off a hearty laugh with her pen near her cheek. Gloria raised an eyebrow and smirked but said nothing. With a deep breath, the mystery girl answered, “Sorry to laugh. That was just adorable. But you could say I’m a remembered spirit of inspiration and love. There are others like me.” At that last bit, I noticed she gave me a calm but lingering look in the eye.
It was easier to ask her, “Others?”
She kept her eyes on me until I started to frown. “Yes. Some very different than me. Some not so much. Some born human. Some born of dreams. Some who’d suck the inspiration dry of one world to selfishly fill another. Some who’d give up their lives to save one single, innocent life. As for me, human once and a dreamer forever.”
I still had so many questions. I felt like a child beside a vast ocean. She let me ask whatever I wished.
I inquired about her body. Though she called herself a spirit, her body seemed tangible as I touched her on the shoulder. Gloria leaned forward on her feet and offered to break out the props to explain it.
The spirit girl fanned her hand and said, “No need. And you know…I think I might’ve heard Arjuma waking up from her nap. And you should check on Chompers too.” I hadn’t heard anything with my extra ears but I held my tongue as Gloria left the room.
The girl’s explanation was simply, “Just a shell to contain my spirit so I can talk to you like this.”
Satisfied with that even though I knew I didn’t really understand it, I moved on to what had happened in what she called the “pocket world”.
She explained, “Despite having a very specific cast for your wishes, it is a real world. Same as any you’ve ever known. Time just passes a little differently for you and the others because of how it was made.”
I swallowed thickly and asked, “It’s all there right? Is it okay?...Oh my gosh…if so little time passed here in the last few weeks then the minutes passing now…” I didn’t want to follow that thought to its inevitable conclusion.
Shaking her head, the spirit girl reassured me, “It’s alright. Gloria made sure that no time would pass while you’re here. Her laundry machine takes care of that.”
That was a relief even though I didn’t understand how. My next question might’ve been the most critical one for someone else as I asked, “Why am I a catgirl too?”
She looked me over with a smile and her pen pressed to her chin. “Call it an adorable side effect. Your ability to make catgirls…out of anyone. Now I said you were excluded from turning into a catgirl…with your own touch. But I didn’t mention that the ability within you itself would slowly make you into one as well. Heh…sorry.”
I gave a quick smile and let all the new sensations wash over me again as I shifted on the couch. “It’s okay. I mean…if I’m honest with myself, I desperately wanted it so much. But you’re sure the others wanted it as well? What about the double touch with the landlord and what happened with Nathan?” These questions about them were more fervent than my questions about myself.
Leaning away from me, the spirit girl picked up her notepad and set her pen to it. I looked down as she cleared her throat and told me, “You wouldn’t have been able to change them if they didn’t want it. To do something like that would’ve taken far more effort with absolute pain and confusion. What happened with Nathan was a misunderstanding. You two just need to talk it out. What happened with the landlord was you getting used to your first effort.”
I couldn’t figure out what she was drawing yet, but she worked while keeping her attention on me. As for the oddity of me not fully showing up as a catgirl, I had the answer already (but she confirmed as much when I asked). I wanted to be one so much and yet I didn’t accept it. I didn’t embrace it. I didn’t think it was possible it could happen to me. Another ‘rule’ I set against myself.
The questions I could think of dwindled and I was left with the most important one, “What happens now?” She kept drawing. I could tell there was a tall rectangle in her sketch but everything else was obscured by her quick movements.
I didn’t need to clarify for her. “That’s your decision. You can stay here…well, not literally here, Gloria’s a challenging roommate…” A blast of air rattled the hallway and popped all four of my ears as Gloria yelled, “Bad Chompers! Stay on the papers!”
After a smile and a pause, the spirit girl continued, “You can go back to before you met us.”
I was already shaking my head. I pointed out, “But the girls…”
She noted, “I could visit and explain to them your decision….it would…”
I stopped her swiftly. “No. I couldn’t do that to my friends. I’ve already shut them out. I won’t leave them. That is my choice. There is no other.” Despite the seriousness in my voice and the tension in my face, there was a smile rippling through my still-strange body.
Calmly, the spirit girl stopped drawing and turned the picture to show me as she said simply, “I know…” The work was beautiful, just as clear and lovely as the other one. In it, I stepped through a doorway to all the…other girls. I was smiling and so were they.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.