Thriteen Tales continues, as tonight Holly tries to get some work done but keeps getting distracted by a book.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco
“Awwww, come on it’ll be fun.” The kitten with a lab coat whined. Meanwhile the mouse that was known as Dr. Cutie Pup sat in his paw and shook his head. “You never let me play with fire.”
“Squeak.” Dr. Cutie pup agreed, since he did not trust the kitten to be responsible.
“Ugh… I just wanted to try out an experiment I read in a book.” The kitten whined. “It can be fun recreating something from a book, going step by step along with it. I mean that’s basicially how a cookbook works.” It was clear that Dr. Cutie Pup was still not going to give the kitten the okay for whatever he wanted to do. “Fine. Then I’ll just bring in the new tale. Our guest tonight is Holly, a tech savvy raccoon. After encountering a strange book she’ll find herself following along with it, even when it does impossible things. Rather she wants to or not. I bring you, our eleventh tale. The Tale of Yokai Chronicles.”
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of Yokai Chronicles
Holly was familiar with the idea of throwing the book at them. Being a good girl, it was not an experience she ever anticipated having. She also had not ever anticipated having the book literally thrown at her. There she was, the blue and black raccoon minding her own business, wearing her usual hoodie and skirt plus her glasses, sitting at a computer in the library minding her own business. Then suddenly without warning…
Out of nowhere the book just landed on her head! The absolute gall! Who just randomly threw backs at people in the middle of the library? To make it worse, Holly didn’t even get a chance to give the responsible party a piece of her mind. As she looked around the other computer stations were empty and there was no one in sight. If someone had thrown the book and then run away to avoid being seen she doubted that would have gone unheard. It was a library, it was quiet. Running away full speed across a wooden floor and maneuvering around furniture tended to result in at least a small level of noise. No sign of anyone. It was as if the book had just fallen out of the sky, or at least from the ceiling and landed atop her noggin.
At least mercifully the book had not been that heavy. Holly could easily be laying unconscious on the ground with a concussion right now. Not exactly a silver lining but it was something.
After rubbing the back of her head for a few moments Holly turned her attention to the book that had actually hit her. Having bounced off her head it now lay on the ground next to her chair. She slowly bent down and picked it up. It appeared to be a manga. The cover of it showed a nine-tailed fox in battle with something that looked like a brightly colored ferret or weasel. Flames surrounded the battlefield as the two animals both lunged at each other in a circle of fire. The title of the manga gave away the species of the mustelid. ‘Yokai Chronicles: Kitsune and Japanse Marten’s Burning Feud.’
It was not a series Holly had ever heard of. Had throwing this at her been some insane person’s way of recommending it? She opened the manga to take a look. The first page was a drawing of the manga itself sitting on the floor. The second page was completely blank, as was every page after that. Holly didn’t get it. What purpose did a book like this serve? The only thing she could think of was maybe it was meant to be a diary disguised as a manga to deter people from reading it. But if that was the case, it probably should have promised something less cool than battle between two magical beasts. If anything, the cover made people more likely to pick it up. But beyond a diary or maybe a sketchbook, Holly could think of no other purpose for the existence of this book. Either way, she wasn’t about to check out a blank book from the library. But she didn’t want to leave it on the floor either.
Holly wasn’t sure where the book belonged, so instead of trying to find it is place on the shelf, she put it with the returned library books that were waiting to be shelved. That matter settled she decided that it was time to go home. The library had technically closed five minutes ago anyway and the librarians had been very politely waiting for her to leave so they could go home. She could finish the rest of her work at home. It was just some pretty basic coding for someone like her. Leagues beyond what a normal person could do. But easy for Holly. The only reason she was at the library was that there was construction going on outside her own apartment. The loud noises made it difficult to focus so she had gone out to look for a quiet place to work. And what location was better known for being quiet than your local library?
The walk home was uneventful. And when Holly arrived at her apartment, she was pleased to see construction work had ended for the day. She could work on her little pet project in peace now. It was a fun little program that would be great for pranking a friend. She couldn’t wait to test it. She flipped the light switch on in her living room, and then lost all current thoughts as catastrophe spoke. The ceiling lamp suddenly burst into flames!
Holly wasn’t sure what had happened, if it was an electric fire or something else, but either way having her ceiling on fire was the type of thing that tended to make her panic. After a few seconds of fumbling with her cell phone trying to call emergency services she remembered she owned a fire extinguisher. Well, technically her landlord owned a fire extinguisher. Regardless, it was located under the kitchen sink easy to access. The fire was small now, but it could easily spread before the fire department arrived. Holly ran to the kitchen, dove for the cabinets beneath the sink and wrestled the fire extinguisher out from its mount. She then ran back to the living room, pointed the nozzle and unleashed a spray of white foam onto her ceiling lamp. The fire went out an instant, and Holly realized she had been holding her breath this entire time and could finally breathe again.
“Okay, that is a conversation for the landlord tomorrow.” Holly groaned. Whatever happened, the landlord was in charge of maintaining this place and if there was faulty wiring or something else that caused the fire it was their job to fix it. At least that meant that Holly wouldn’t have to spend any of her own money. Unfortunately, it did mean that her living room was stuck in the dark until repairs were finished.
Well, nothing more she could do now. The best thing she could do was get back to working on her project. Having something to focus on would help her nerves calm down. Her personal laptop sat on the coffee table. She grabbed it and went back to the kitchen intending to work there. As she reached for the light switch she froze. A part of her was afraid that if she turned the kitchen lights on they might burst into flames too. But she slowly calmed herself. This had to be the freak accident. What were the odds of two such accidents happening back to back?
It would turn out, more likely than you think, as five minutes later a very exhausted Holly was pointing the extinguisher at the ceiling of the kitchen which was now covered in white foam after her having put out a second fire. After some consideration, she decided she could just work in the dark for tonight. She moved a book on the kitchen table out of the way sat her laptop down and—
Wait, she hadn’t left a book on the table. Holly paused and looked down at it. It was the same manga she had been bonked on the head by back at the library. How was it here? She knew she had left it behind. And she knew she didn’t own a copy herself. Her confusion over the magna was just adding to the frustration from the fires. She picked up the thing not sure what to do with it when a few pages fell open and she noticed this one had artwork on it. That meant it couldn’t be the same exact book as she had found in the library. That still didn’t explain what it was doing here. But, now Holly was a little curious.
She opened the manga and began to read. The first few pages showed a raccoon girl dressed identically to her traveling home to their apartment. Then there was a scene of her living room ceiling fan catching on fire. Holly felt her fur stand on end. What was happening? The manga was showing the events that had just happened to her. The next page was the kitchen fire, then her finding the manga, and then her reading the manga with her fur visibly stiff in the drawing. Here the manga ended and was just a series of several blank pages after that.
Holly wasn’t a coward, perhaps a bit nervous at times, but anyone who wasn’t at least a little freaked out by this would have to have nerves of steel. Then, right before her eyes, images began to appear on the next blank page. The entire page was one large panel, and the panel showed Holly herself now being engulfed in flames.
Holly threw the book across the room, but a moment later fire just erupted out of nowhere all around her. It was just like the picture that appeared in the manga. Holly let out a scream of- surprise? She then paused as she realized that she was not in any pain. If anything, the fire felt pleasantly warm. It didn’t burn a single hair on her entire body. Her clothing and the kitchen floor on the other hand… Those were now both being burned away. The fire was very much real, just for some reason Holly was unharmed by it.
Thinking quickly she grabbed the fire extinguisher again and sprayed the white foam in a circle around her on the floor. That would at least stop the flames from spreading and burning down the apartment. However, with her body completely engulfed in fire there was nothing she could do to stop her clothes from burning up until she was left naked except for her glasses which were for some reason unharmed by the fire.
Holly was not pleased to suddenly be in the nude. But as a result of it she witnessed something she might not have noticed otherwise. The fur on her chest and stomach had changed colors. The fur was a bright golden color, and the change seemed to be spreading out to her entire body. The fur was slightly darker around her paws, and the fur at on face was white, but other than that the rest of her body was completely golden in color. Then there was the fact that her muzzle suddenly became thinner. She was barely able to catch and adjust her glasses in time before they fell off. At the same time, her tail grew much longer and a little thinner. And of course, the rings were gone as the tail was covered completely in the golden fur. Then suddenly she lost her balance, falling down onto all fours. She had a very strange sense of vertigo as her body seemed to both shrink and stretch out at the same time. She was much smaller, but her body was longer in comparison. Like a ferret.
Holly ran to where she had thrown the book and turned it over so she could see the cover. There was the fox, and of course the other animal. She looked almost identical to it, other then the fact that she was wearing glasses. There was no question way to question it. She had transformed into a Japanese marten. She knew such things were possible, had maybe even been responsible for it happening to others, but this had caught her completely off guard. Mostly because in her experience people transforming don’t usually set the house on fire.
Holly remembered how the book had shown the image of her on fire before it had actually happened. She quickly tried to turn the pages back to that scene. It was a little difficult. She was a full animal and now lacked hands but eventually she managed. Turning through the next few pages showed her transformation and then ended in her retrieving and looking at the manga again before blank pages took over. Holly stared at the blank pages, nervous that more images might appear. It seemed she was properly paranoid. As the next page showed several panels of Holly, now as a Japanese marten attempting to put out various fires around her apartment. There was her couch, then a pillow in her bedroom and then worst of all her laptop.
She had to act fast! Maybe she could stop the fires before they got going. But she couldn’t use the fire extinguisher anymore. Aside from the lack of hands there was also the fact that it was as big as she was. For similar reasons getting a bucket of water was also out of the question. In the manga she had been frantically trying to stomp out the fires, and she realized that might be her only hope. Apparently, she was immune to fire now which meant the flames couldn’t hurt her. She jumped onto the couch ready for the first flames to appear. She didn’t have to wait long, flames erupted around her paws setting the center of the couch on fire. She did her best to stomp down on the flames trying to put them out but they grew bigger until the entire couch was engulfed in flames, and then went out the second the couch was reduced to ash and rubble.
She hadn’t been fast enough to save this one… But the next was the pillow in her bedroom. Her small body was surprisingly adept at both jumping and climbing so getting up onto the bed was no problem at all. But once more, she was just seconds too late. The moment she got to her pillow was the same moment it burst into flames and then her entire bed went up before the fire died out on its own. That meant…. The next thing to go was…
HER PRECIOUS LAPTOP!
Holly bolted back for the kitchen where her laptop was still up on the table. She climbed a chair and from there reached the top of the table but froze in place when she saw the laptop. The last two times the fires had started exactly as she arrived. Then she had tried to put them out in the same manner as the manga. Recognizing the pattern, Holly sat down on the table across from her laptop and watched it. She hoped she was right.
A full ten minutes passed of Holly staring at her laptop and nothing happening before she realized it was not going up in flames. For that she was thankful. She jumped down from the kitchen table land went back to the manga. The panels had changed in it. The panels about the couch and her pillow were still there, but the one where her laptop went up in flames was replaced with a picture of her just staring at her unburnt laptop before the next frames showed her returning to the manga.
The manga predicted things, but whatever it predicted wasn’t set in stone. It could be changed. Then something else occurred to her. The couch and pillow, they had gone up in flames right as her forepaws made contact with them and she was intensely focused on the fact she was expecting them to light up. She closed the manga to look at the cover again, looking at the circle of fire going around both the fox and the marten. It hit her at once. The manga was called Yokai Chronicles. Which included several mystical beasts in Japan. Including apparently, pine martens. She had caused those fires. That was apparently a thing she could do. It was time to test this theory.
Holly sat up on her haunches and held her forepaws close together. She tried picturing just a small flame, no bigger than a lit candle appearing between her paws. Almost as soon as she had the thought the small fire was there.
“I can control it…” Holy spoke in disbelief as she clapped her paws together to put out the small flame. “And I can talk?” She had not expected that. Once she had been turned into a normal animal, well apparently not normal… But the point was she had assumed the transformation had also robbed her of her voice. It seemed it had not.
Once more Holly conjured a flame between her paw and then clapped it out a second time. She was putting together how the powers worked. Her paws needed to be touching or near the spot she wanted to create a fire, and then it was just a matter of being intensely focused on the idea of fire. The two times she had tried to put fires out, while her objective was to save her items she had still been thinking very intently about the fire she knew was coming as her paws touched the couch and bed. Then, on the laptop she had been thinking about the fire, but she was nowhere close to it and so the fire had not broken out. Which meant…
Holly climbed back up to the kitchen table and walked over to her laptop. She forced herself just to think about the program she had been working on and not things going up in flames and batted a few keys with her paws. The laptop didn’t explode. She understood now. She could completely control it and avoid any further accidents. Though, learning to type and code with normal paws was going to be a real trick.
Holly jumped down and curled up as she looked herself over. All things considered, she was actually pretty cute. And since she could still talk and learn to use the computer with paws there wasn’t too much stopping her from continuing her current job. She did wonder if this transformation was permanent or would wear off. Then she had another thought. There was both a Japanese marten and a fox on the cover. So… Who was the fox that she was supposed to have a burning rivalry with?
At that exact moment there was a loud knock at the door that made Holly jump.
“Just a minute!” Holly shouted as she ran to the door and tried to figure out how the heck she was going to open it. Climbing up and sliding the deadbolt out was easy enough, but the doorknob was another matter. She wound up hanging from the knob by her forepaws trying to twist it. The loud knocking continued, and with the doorknob twisted the door was pushed open by the knocks. Holly dropped to the ground then stepped around the door to see who it was.
It was a massive fox! Or… Not it was a normal sized fox, she was just small. It had nine tails and a very angry look in its eyes.
“I’ve found you at last!” The fox spoke. “Finally! We shall combat our magic and determine once and for all which of us is truly more powerful! I challenge both your strength and you honor! Now engage in combat with me and let us end this rivalry once and for all.”
“How about, NO!.” Holly replied before running around the door and pushing it shut. She would have preferred to slam it shut for extra emphasis rather than just push on it, but she had to work with what she had. As for the fox the door shut on his face, he looked very confused unsure of what to do now. He waited for a few minutes and when it became clear Holly was not going to come out to fight him slinked off looking very depressed.
Meanwhile, Holly was planning to get back to her project, it was at least one form of normalcy that was in her life. As she hopped up onto the kitchen table, she saw the manga was there now instead of on the floor where she had left it.
“Bet you have new pages to show me huh?” Holly asked. She walked towards the manga, put both forepaws on top of it, and the manga lit up in flames. “I think I’d rather be surprised.” The manga slowly burnt up until nothing was left, and never again would reappear. Holly was free of whatever force drove it manipulating her life.
But of course, that meant she also had no leads on how to get back to normal.
For now, she pushed those thoughts out of her head as she got to work learning how to type with small little marten paws. One thing at a time. She could figure out how she was going to handle the rest of her life like this later. Typing was difficult like this, and she might make a mistake in the code or send it to the wrong person when it was finished. Making sure everything was right took all of her focus, and so for the rest of the night forgot about the strange manga and her transformation, other the fact she was typing with paws.