Our tales continue as Kickaha the trickster deals with another trickster.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco
“You know, it’s not easy being a magical trickster whose antics constantly transform both themselves and their friends into a variety of forms.” The kitten in a lab coat paused as he stood atop one of the refrigerator sized cardboard boxes that made up the towers of his castle. “Of course I know nothing about that, being a completely science based creature and am definitely not magical at all. Nope.”
“Squeak.” The little gray mouse known as Dr. Cutie Pup sat atop the kitten’s head. He didn’t roll his eyes this time. Considering the best he could communicate with were squeaks and sarcastic facial glances he was afraid if he rolled his eyes any more time during this series they might fall right out of his head.
“Shush you.” Dr. Callyco still understood his meeting. “The thing is, there’s a lot that goes into the set up. Rules to follow to do it properly, and of course making sure it’ll be fun. But you know what? The tables don’t get turned nearly enough. I mean, you’d be amazed how many of my- I mean of some trickster’s friends almost never bother to hit them back with a transformation at all. I mean, come on, we, they, want to have fun too. Kickaha is such a trickster. He puts a lot of work into his job. And really, if there’s anyone that deserves a good trick for his efforts it’s him. And he just might get one. I present to you our ninth tale. The Tale of Tricks and Traditions.”
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of Tricks and Traditions
As far as Kickaha was concerned whoever invented the current Halloween traditions had to have been a genius. Why? Because if three simple words. Trick or treat. It was such a small innocent phrase that invited so much possible mischief. Because they were giving you a choice. A trick or a treat. And a good trick was its own treat. Kickaha was aware that technically the implication behind the ‘trick or treat’ question was that kids were asking adults for candy in exchange for not pulling tricks. It was a good hustle, one that had become ingrained in society and Kickaha respected that.
However, it wasn’t his fault that the phrase had been simplified down to three words. And so, regardless of the intended meaning of the phrase it was easy enough to interpret it as someone giving you the option to choose rather to give the trick-or-treater a treat. Taking people’s exact words and using them to get your own desired outcome was basically Trickstering 101.
That didn’t mean Kickaha was going to pull some kind of mean trick on every child that visited him. After all, that would make him a jerk. Rather it wound up being some form of punishment or reward the trick had to fit the person and their actions. That was something so few people seemed to understand. There was no one size fits all karmic transformation, and tonight if anything his antics would be more playful in nature rather than trying to teach some sort of lesson. Something to give people an unforgettable experience for making there way out here.
And that last part was why he was confident anyone he chose to play a trick on would take it in good humor. Kickaha didn’t exactly live in the middle of the city, or even the suburbs. He lived in a burrow in the middle of the woods. It was a very nice burrow, well-furnished and with multiple rooms, but still a burrow, nonetheless. Anyone who chose to go to the forest was essentially giving up a full bag of candy to make the hike out. They could easily hit two neighborhoods in the time it would take them to trek to and through the forest. That meant that any trick-or-treaters who showed up at Kickaha’s place didn’t care about the candy. Well, that might not be entirely true. But it did mean they were looking more for an experience than a full bag of treats.
And who was Kickaha to disappoint them?
Of course, as of this moment he had no idea what ‘trick’ he would actually do. It was hard to plan these things out in advance. The thing about planning was that it always resulted in the plan going awry. Then at that points things got more and more chaotic as you get further away from the plan until suddenly you find yourself as a two foot tall squirrel looking for spare change to use a payphone outside a diner in the middle of the desert in hopes of getting a ride home. If there was no plan, then technically nothing could go wrong, and while it may also get chaotic since there is no plan to stick to it won’t throw you for as big a loop. It was all about learning to work with the chaos rather than against it.
Kickaha was sitting in his living room. The foxyote was wearing his usual green cloak. His rusty orange colored paws that matched most of his body fur were propped up onto a stool while he sat back reclined with a bowl of snacks resting on his white furred stomach. The sun had set a couple of hours ago and he was surprised and a little annoyed that he hadn’t had a single trick-or-treater yet. On one hand, you might think it obvious that of course he wouldn’t receive visitors, living out in the woods. This is the kind of conclusion you reach from lack of experience. Because he lived in a place where no one would ever visit he was guaranteed visitors. That was just how the world worked. The thing about reality was that it was a big fan of surrealism.
The clock on the wall continued to tick away as Kickaha finished up the bowl of chips he had been munching while waiting. He would have preferred a more rodent based snack, but they tended to get into the candy bowl and make a mess so sacrifices had to be made. He sat up sliding the bowl off his stomach and onto his legs as he looked at the clock. 8:00 PM. Not exceptionally late, but considering the time it would take someone to get out here if no one arrived soon they might not make it. Surely, the night wouldn’t end without the foxyote getting at least one visitor. Really, he should get three. That was how it always worked they came in threes. But the clock continued to tick away and there was no knock on his front door.
“Hmmmm.” Kickaha rubbed his chin thoughtfully. The unlikely scenario of visitors was guaranteed because it was unlikely, but Kickaha had prepared himself for this unlikely situation acknowledging it as likely. He hoped he hadn’t accidentally tied the universe’s karmic fate into some kind of knot as it now no longer knew what was supposed to happen. Those were always a pain to get fixed, and the worst part was that nothing interesting happened until they were fixed. Kickaha groaned. Perhaps he had made the wrong choice. Maybe he should have posed as a trick-or-treater and gone to visit the humans instead.
8:30, still no one.
Kickaha was an extremely resilient specimen all things considered. By all accounts the number of things he had been through should have killed him. Falling off cliffs, engaging hostile mall cops and the most dangerous of all, babysitting. Some might think he was indestructible. Regardless of if that was true or not, he did have one major weakness.
“Ugggggggggggh.” Kickaha groaned. “Why has no one showed up yet.” He placed the empty bowl on his coffee table before sliding out of the recliner and onto the floor. How was most of the night gone and still nothing had happened! Nothing never happened! Even when Kickaha wasn’t expecting it weirdness just followed him around like a magnet. But perhaps the weirdest possible thing was him having a normal boring night. He began to lose hope of having any entertainment for the night. He was ready to hang up his cloak and head to bed and try not to think about how much of a waste of time this had been.
And it was at that exact moment, when he had given up on anything interesting happened, that a knock sounded on his front door.
“HA!” Kickaha pointed skyward towards his ceiling. “I knew the second I ‘gave up’ something would happen! Kickaha 1, universe 6,421.” Wagging his yellow-orange and brown tipped tail Kickaha eagerly ran for the front door, threw it open and found absolutely nothing. No trick-or-treaters, no strangely well-dressed people for the middle of the woods, not even a door-to-door salesman. “Okay universe, fine. 6,422.” Kickaha paused here as his ears twitched hearing the rustling of leaves and bushes. Not an uncommon noise in the woods. But, considering the timing… Well, Kickaha was very much in doubt that it was merely the wind that had knocked at his door. He suddenly flashed a large smile and spoke very loudly. “WHELP! Guess I was just hearing things. No one here.” Then he shut the door and waited on the other side of it.
Thirty seconds passed, and there was a knock again. Kickaha waited what he considered an appropriate amount of time for someone to hide after knocking before opening the door again, and once more seeing no one out there.
“Oh wow. No one. I’m really just hearing things now huh?” Kickaha tried to hide his grin as he spoke. One of the bushes closer to his house began rustling. But it wasn’t the quiet movement of leaves as someone tried to move through it. It was more like someone purposely swaying the thing as hard as to make as much noise as possible. Obviously, someone wanted Kickaha to come out of his burrow to investigate. “Strong winds tonight.” Kickaha muttered before closing the door again and snickering on the other side of it.
Not even ten seconds passed before there was another knock. Once again, Kickaha was polite and gave them enough time to hide. Then he opened the door again. Before he said anything once more one of the bushes started wrestling. It also was now glowing with a bright white light. Whoever was trying to get him to come out had given up on all subtlety.
“Huh, look at that.” Kickaha grinned cheekily. “Probably just swamp gas, nothing to be concerned about.” As Kickaha spoke he heard a loud groan come from somewhere in the same direction as the bush. Someone was clearly getting irritated by the foxyote going off script.
As much fun as it would have been to continue on this game and see how far his mysterious visitor would go, (Kickaha was wondering if he could push him enough to get a giant neon sign pointing at the bush) this was the third time he had answered the door. And by the rule of three he now felt obligated to interact with his visitor.
“I guess I’ll check just to be sure.” Kickaha conjured a ball of light in his hand so he could see easier and stepped out of the threshold of his burrow. He made a show of purposely checking every bush and shrub for something hiding inside of it before the moving on closer to the obvious suspicious bush. Was Kickaha being purposely annoying? Well yes. But, whoever was here was clearly up to their own trick had way too obvious a set up. Really it was Kickaha’s solemn duty to annoy his visitor for the sake of whatever happening being less bland.
After running out of non-glowing plants to check, Kickaha looked around then started to walk towards his burrow. He heard another loud groan and decided that he had made his visitor wait long enough. It would be rude to keep him waiting any longer to spring whatever trap was prepared for the foxyote.
“Oh hey, what is this?” Kickaha gestured at the brightly glowing shrub. “I don’t remember this in my front yard.” Technically half-true. He did remember a shrub being there, just not a glowing one. “I wonder how it took me so long to notice it.” Kickaha didn’t bother to hide his grin at this point. Whoever was out there knew he was messing with them by this point. Finally, Kickaha approached the glowing shrub and pushed leaves aside to get a look inside of it. And there was nothing there. “Well I’ve got to admit after all of this that was a bit of a letdown.”
And then at that moment Kickaha felt a blast of magical energy strike him in the back. And then the foxyote began to change. He was suddenly getting smaller, which was saying something since he was normally only three feet tall. He looked down at himself and could tell what was happening immediately. After all, he had been through this enough times before. It was a natural hazard of hanging out in his social group. He was getting younger.
His age was not the sole thing to change though. His tail was becoming noticeably more flexible as the fur lost most of its fluffiness taking on a smoother appearancec. It was also soon much longer. He went crosseyed staring at this snout, noticing it take on a rounder shape that was more pointed at the end. His ears also became more round, and smaller in comparison to his body. His fur pattern mostly stayed the same, but the yellow ring right before the brow on the tip of his tail now started much higher up than they had in his original form. Then again given how much longer his new tail was, it was possible they were in the exact same spot and the thing had just grown longer from there. Kickaha looked down at his hands, noticing the fur thinner around his fingers and that he had small claws. Sure, he also had claws as a foxyote. But these were clearly more intended for climbing and gripping to trees than his old claws. As the changes stopped he took a moment to look over his body and put together exactly what he was.
Kickaha had a pretty extensive knowledge of animal species. It was kind of a requirement when your day job mostly involved turning people into animals. It took him a few moments, as what he had turned into was not something found in the part of the world, but he put it together. He was a marsupial. A ringtail possum to be exact. Honestly, all things considered it was not a bad look for him. As for his age, he now looked to be somewhere around five. He was also closer to two feet tall now.
Kickaha didn’t spend too much time looking over his body. Just enough to know what he was and what his physical capabilities were. There was currently the person responsible for this. And sure, he approved. Transforming the trickster known for transforming other people, that was a respectable trick for Halloween. But, it would be unkind of him not to offer a treat in return. Kickaha grinned. Being a kid always brought out an even more mischievous streak in him. Whoever had tagged him, they were definitely familiar with the Art. Spellcasters had certain senses others didn’t, and while Kickaha hadn’t seen what had actually blasted him he could tell it was a spell. And it didn’t feel like a stock spell stored in a magic wand or something like that. It was hard to explain, but those always had a sort of artificial feeling to them. No, whoever had zapped him had access to their own magical power and had weaved the spell themselves. And they had been more cleve than he gave them credit for. The glowing bush seemed too obvious, but he had sworn he heard groans coming from it. Either his visitor could teleport or they had used a basic spell to create noise near the bush.
Someone like that could make for a really fun playmate.
Kickaha broke into a sprint in the direction the magical blast had come from. He dropped his ball of light, allowing the area to become dark except for the glowing bush. He heard the rustling of leaves again, but this time it wasn’t someone trying to get his attention. Whoever had zapped him was making a break for it.
After a few minutes Kickaha ran straight through a bit of underbrush hand came out on the other side and realized he had lost the culprit. He created a ball of light again and glanced around the area for clues. He found some pawprints in the dirt. Longer than most animals, but smaller than most adults. So, it hadn’t been a human. Didn’t rule out a former human. But was clearly someone with animalistic qualities who preferred to be bare-pawed. Sadly, that was about all thee information Kickaha had. There were many tracks in the dirt before the culprit had been running across grass again. Kickaha had no way of telling which direction they had gone then.
“Well that’s no fun.” Kickaha kicked at the dirt. “Start up a game like that then leave before we even get a chance really go a round? Did you have somewhere important to be or something?” It was a shame. He might have made a new friend by the end of the day. He enjoyed friendships that involved turning each other into things. It was a good playful way to tease and bond with someone.
But with his mysterious visitor gone now what? Kickaha looked back in the direction of his burrow. There was the possibility of two more visitors but… Considering how long it had taken this one to arrive, and what had transpired it seemed doubtful that the rule of three still applied. Especially since it had already come up during the interaction.
So… What to do now?
Well, as he thought about it. He was five years old now. And while it was late, it was still Halloween so there were still plenty of people to get free candy from. Before this happened he had just been thinking about how it might have been better to disguise himself as a trick-or-treater. Well, someone had just provided the disguise for him.
The ringtail possum grinned. He pulled his cloak up and tightened it so he wouldn’t trip over the edges then pulled the hood up over his head. He was pretty sure this should count as enough for a costume to go door to door with. And as an added bonus, if he kept the hood up all night most people would have difficulty remembering their interactions with him or what he looked like. That could be useful for hitting a place twice if they gave out something really good. He just needed to head back into the burrow for a minute to get a bag, then it was time to go get some free candy.
And oh yes, also have a little more fun. Because, once again, there was that wonderful little phrase. ‘Trick or treat.’ Kickaha was sure of the various residences he visited that someone would say something that he could easily intentionally misinterpret to them picking trick. It was late, but there was still so much fun to be had.
Ah, but not much time for it. Kickaha was going to need to get out of the woods and to an actual neighborhood. By now some houses would already be shutting their porch lights off. There was no time to waste. He ran back to the burrow, grabbed the first bag he could find that wasn’t cursed and then took off running through the woods at full speed. It was going to be a bit of a jog, but even if his younger bodier was slower it was more full of energy. He’d have no trouble keeping up the pace for the entire run. He was sure he’d make it on time.
And the night of tricks had just begun.