Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of That Place
Meanwhile on a tropical paradise.
Dr. Callyco laid back in a grass field, holding a hand mirror between his paws. He was staring into it intently as if in deep thought.
“Uh what are you doing?” Dr. Cutie Pup flopped down next to the orange feline.
“Oh, just shameless self-promotion.” Dr. Callyco grinned and sat the mirror down. “You know, mirrors are often used as gateways to other worlds. I can think of more stories than I can count that use them as a portal.”
“Maybe…” Dr. Cutie Pup rubbed his head. “But a whole lot of those mirror universes turn out to be full of evil doppelgangers and winds up ending with someone holding a gun and having to pick which of two identical looking people, one good, one evil, to shoot.”
“Huh I guess that is a thing.” Dr. Callyco did his best to shrug while laying down. “But not all of them lead to evil backwards worlds. Some of them go to completely original fantastical and whimsical worlds. Tonight, our guest is Holly. She’s about to go through the looking glance in a manner of speaking. And in by ‘a manner of speaking,’ I mean literally. I introduce our Twelfth Tale. The Tale of the That Place.”
“That place?” Dr. Cutie Pup asked quizzically.
“Well, it was originally the tale of that place’s name, but knowing the location makes things too obvious. So, it’s That Place.” Dr. Callyco purred smugly.
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of That Place
It’s always awkward when you get someone else’s mail. Especially when it’s a package instead of a letter. A package that showed up in a giant crate. A crate that the deliverymen pried open with a crowbar before leaving it outside Holly’s door before she could even say anything to them.
The blue raccoon with black stripes sighed. She knew things got delivered to the wrong address sometimes, but this seemed like it was something important. Important enough to send in a crate and have people paid to open the crate upon delivery.
From what she could make out from the window it appeared to be a full-length antique mirror. So, it was not only valuable but something that could easily be broken. She would have to bring it inside to keep it out of the elements until she could get someone to come pick it up and take it to the right address. With a sigh, she walked out the door to bring in the mirror.
The thing had a solid oak frame and was taller than Holly. It looked like it had to weigh a ton. There was no way she could carry it. If she tried to drag or push it the cement would no doubt damage the wood. Why was the universe so intent on making it hard to do the right thing? She thought for a moment and figured she might be able to get it inside with a dolly as she walked in a circle around the mirror examining it.
And then all thoughts fled her head the moment she saw the reflective service. Her reflection was wrong. It was clearly her. But the ‘Holly’ inside the mirror was no more than two years old. And the sweater and skirt Holly was currently wearing looked like a pile of blankets wrapped up around her reflection.
“I get it I see my inner child then I become it.” Holly spoke up knowing how this kind of thing usually went. She looked down at herself. Her clothes still fit. The world didn’t look any bigger. She was still an adult. Well, that was kind of weird. ”Maybe it’s broken?” She reached out a hand and touched the mirror’s surface. The surface presented no resistance whatsoever. It rippled as if it was made of liquid and Holly’s hand went right through it.
“Oh…” Holly didn’t have time to say much more. The lack of any resistance through her off, she tripped forward and fell straight into the mirror. In an instant both her and her reflection were gone from her front yard.
Holly found herself rolling across the ground and getting in a tangled-up mess of clothes. She let out a squeak, tried to stand up and tripped over her now giant skirt and landed on her face. Oddly enough, the fall didn’t hut at all. Not even a little. Having an idea of at least partially what had happened, Holly forced herself to sit up rather than stand so she could get a look at herself.
Now, she was the two-year-old raccoon tangled up in adult clothing that didn’t fit her. Well, it wasn’t broken after all. In hindsight, she should have expected something like this. But if she had fallen through the mirror, where was she now? This wasn’t the front of her home. The weather was nicer, pleasantly warm without being overbearing. There were fields of grass and flowers as far as the eye could see, and while she sat in that grass, she could not help but notice it was a lot softer than normal grass. She could easily lay down and take a comfortable nap right here.
There was only one object of interest in the grassy field. And it was in the direction that Holly had rolled from. An enormous oak tree, the largest that Holly had ever seen, with a hollow in the trunk that looked like a giant open door.
“Where am I?” Holly asked noticing her voice was higher pitched. She had definitely turned into a toddler by going through the mirror. It wouldn’t be the first time something like that had happened. But, she had never fallen into a new world before. Everything felt different. It was strange, there was almost a serene feeling of security and peace, as if the world radiated some kind of protective aura telling her she was safe.
Holly wasn’t sure what to make of this. She slowly crawled towards the tree trunk, slipping out of her oversized clothing as she did. When she reached the tree, she very carefully reached a hand through it and felt around. It was colder on the other side. And there was concrete. So, did that mean her home was right there? Was it that easy to leave whatever this place was? Taking a deep breath, not sure what would happen Holly crawled into the tree hollow.
And abruptly found herself crawling back onto the pavement in front of her home. She was not only back home, she was back to her normal adult self! Except… She wasn’t wearing any clothes. Those had slipped off her smaller body on the other side. Suddenly very conscious that a neighbor might walk by at any moment Holly retreated back into the mirror.
Once more she was a young toddler in a warm grassy field. She slowly stood up. At this age she should be able to walk, with some difficulty. She took a few steps, it was easier than she expected. She had no trouble moving around at all. Holly glanced around a little bit, found where she had lost her clothing and walked over to them. The initial shock was starting to wear off and she was understanding starting to understand the rules of this place.
The mirror and tree were obviously a portal that let her come and go between the world at will. But on this side of the mirror was a tranquil land where she was only two years old. The other side, normal home and normal adult Holly. She picked up her clothes and moved towards the tree getting prepared to try to get dressed and leave. But then she paused. She curled her tail around herself and thought for a moment.
“I can leave anytime I want… So… Why am I in a hurry?” Holly turned back and looked away from the tree. Did the fields of grass go on forever or was there more to this world? The temptation of adventure had presented itself. On one hand, she was two years old. She was vulnerable and shouldn’t be wondering around strange worlds on her own. On the other hand, so far everything about this world seemed to be harmless. Nothing was forcing her to stay. She returned to normal as soon as she left. And… If the mirror turned her into a toddler when she came in there was a non-zero chance anyone else here had also been aged down.
Holly started to wonder away from the tree. As she did, she noticed signs of other people having been here previously. Specifically, discarded clothing, long abandoned in the grass. That added credit to the theory everyone who came in got younger. And apparently, the people before her weren’t very modest if they just left their clothing behind.
Though as she thought about it, she was just a little kid now. Kids her age typically didn’t have modesty. And it was awkward trying to carry her clothing around. Even if she could move around easier than a normal two-year-old could, that won’t stop her from tripping over her own sweater as it dragged along the ground.
Holly quickly folded up her clothes and placed them directly next to the tree so she could easily find them later. She’d need them when she decided to go home. For now, she wanted to know more about this place. And who knew, maybe she’d come across a tailor, a shop or someplace where she could get clothes that fit. Until then, she would just try not to think about it and remind herself how young she was.
The field of flowers did not extend on forever. Though where it ended was certainly bizarre. The field of flowers abruptly ended, and then from where Holly was she could see two new areas that were completely different from each other. Like patches in a quilt, one just ended where the next began. There was the grassy fields Holly was currently in, then there was a jungle where everything was made out of cardboard, and finally a junkyard. It was somehow even different times of days in the three different areas. In the field it appeared to be somewhere around midday. In the jungle, it was dusk, while the junkyard was the middle of the night with a bright full moon floating above it.
Were there other patches like this where the world just changed? If Holly circled the outside perimeter of the fields would she find a bunch of other areas? This place just got curiouser and curiouser. Holly had to stop and think a moment about where she wanted to explore. After a few seconds, she decided to visit the jungle. It was more interesting than a junkyard and she could always check what else there was later. She might as well check this place out while she was here.
She stepped into the jungle, lit up by the setting sun. There were trees, vines, bushes, everything you’d expect a jungle to have. But all of it was made from cardboard. Some of it was cardboard cut into the shapes of trees and bushes. Other parts were just cardboard boxes stacked up on top of each other to be as tall as trees. Had someone somehow created this place this way, or did it somehow just take this strange shape on its own?
The jungle was certainly interesting, but it was lacking a bit in color. Holly felt tempted to go find some crayons and start coloring the various boxes green to make everything look more jungly. Perhaps, staying in this young form was starting to affect her mentally, but she just really wanted to scribble all over the cardboard and make it a little more colorful. If only she had a box of crayons. She really wished she had some and-
Holly was suddenly holding a box of crayons just like that. Magic. She stared at the crayons in awe. Had she done that? Or was the world reacting to her? Well, there was one way to find out. See if she could do something else. Inside the box the crayons were of every color. But she really only needed various shades of green for what she had planned. She looked at the box and thought very hard about the crayons changing color.
Sparks flew from her hands, and like that the crayons all changed to various shades of green! She had done that! She could use magic! All she had to do was imagine it and she could make it real! That opened up all kinds of possibilities. She had thought she understood this world but it was still full of surprises. A fake jungle. The ability to just magically make things… It was as if the world was imagined up by a child. Considering how the crayons had appeared, it was possible that it was a world literally created from and run by the imagination of children.
Holly giggled. She felt clever having figured things out. There were so many things she wanted to try. But first, it was time to add a little color to this place. She began to scribble in jagged lines along the various cardboard surfaces. She cared less about trying to completely cover each surface and more about trying to reach as many surfaces as possible. She was soon lost in thought, overcome with a manic glee as she scribbled on everything she could reach.
Then there was a rustling sound. Holly’s ears twitched and she woke from her mania. Was there someone else here? If there was, it wasn’t like she had any reason to be scared. Whoever it was, they’d be a little kid too! And… If it was some kind of monster or something mean! She had magic! She’d just have to think of something scarier than the monster.
There was another rustle, Holly snapped her head to look in the direction of it and was able to make out the brief movement of something that quickly got out of sight. She could feel eyes watching her. Actually, it kind of felt like several pairs of eyes were watching her. Come to think of it… Even if it was made of cardboard, this was still a jungle. Did that mean there were dangerous jungle animals or other vicious creatures about? Holly swallowed nervously and stood up. She tried to think of the best way to defend herself, and a small magic wand topped with a star that screamed ‘Faerie Princess’ appeared in her paws. If something tried to sneak up on her, she’d blast it with glitter! Yeah! That would work! Enough glitter to make up a storm and completely blind the monster or whatever it was, and Holly could quickly run away.
And then, one of the creatures struck. Leaping out from a pile of boxes behind Holly she didn’t see it until it had landed on her head.
“GAAAAH!” Holly shouted as she pointed the wand in random directions and blasts of pink glitter fired off, covering large segments of the jungle. This continued for a few seconds before she noticed the vicious beast that attacked her wasn’t doing a very good job of clawing her face off. It was pawing at her head, but it just kind of tickled.
And it was small enough to easily fit on top of her head.
“Aha… Ha…” Holly dropped the wand, slowly reached up and grabbed the critter on her head. It was a tiny calico kitten. About the size of an adult fist. “Awwwwww.” Holly sat down and placed the kitten in her lap and began to pet it. As she did, more tiny kittens began to reveal themselves. All of them wanted attention from Holly and she soon found herself trying to pet several cats at once as they just kept appearing by the dozen.
Of course it was just kittens. What else would she expect to live in a jungle made out of cardboard? It was the perfect home for them. No cat could resist a cardboard box after all. She felt silly for ever having been afraid. It seemed safe to conclude that this world wasn’t dangerous at all. But, so many kitties who wanted love and attention. She might have to go back home and find a couple friends to pet all the kitties.
Holly let out a laugh as the kittens rubbed against her. She was surrounded by purring as the kittens pushed against each other fighting for her affection. All of them were so warm and soft. And the purring. There was a rhythm to it. As Holly listened, she felt herself overcome with fatigue. Come to think of it… She was physically only two years old right now. And she was certainly acting like a kid, though how much of that was this world and how much was just her going along with it she couldn’t say. But, either way, she had walked a great distance and them scribbled on things for who knew how long. She was well overdue for a nap. And surrounded with so much warm and softness…
Holly laid down right there on the ground, holding a couple kittens in her arms as she curled up to sleep. As she did, the other kittens all moved to form a circle around her, all curling up as close as possible. She was barely awake at this point. The last thoughts she had before drifting off to sleep completely was that she could’t think of anywhere that would make for a more pleasant nap. A horde of friendly, fluffy kittens could beat out a bed any day. Holly’s eyes closed completely, and she would swear she let out her own purr of contentment. And then, just like that. She was asleep.
More kittens continued to pour in as she slept. Though Holly didn’t know the true name of their species. She was in a place called Springtide, and Springtide was home to some very special kittens called Mewls. They were as curious as they were friendly, and all of them adored attention. As for what was so special. Well, Holly would learn that when she awoke.
It took Holly a moment to remember where she was when she finally woke from her nap. The adventure through the mirror had been such a pleasant experience it felt like a dream. But as her eyes flickered open and she saw the pieces of cardboard that made up the jungle it was clear everything had really happened. Well, it wasn’t that far outside the realm of what Holly should expect. New forms were pretty common, but this might have been the first time she explored a new world.
Holly tried to stand up, but had trouble. The kittens had piled up all around her, all of them trying to get as close as possible to cuddle with her in her sleep. She tried to push her way up and managed to slide out from beneath a kitten and get atop the pile and… Come to think of it these kittens were all a lot bigger now… As big as her. How was she on top of them?
Holly looked down, seeing forepaws where her hands should be. Tiny little paws with retractable claws in them.
“MEOW!” Holly gave a shout and tumbled down from the pile of kittens. The other kittens began to wake and meow curiously at what new development there was. Holly meanwhile, after landing on the ground rolled back onto her paws and tried to walk in a circle getting a good look at herself. There could be no mistaking it now. She was a tiny kitten just like all the others. Although, her tail was still striped blue and black. So apparently, she had kept her color scheme.
Holly sat up on her haunches and raised her forepaws up feeling her pyramid shaped ears and then felt her muzzle. Things like this were more in line with what she had experience, but when had the transformation happened. She looked to the crowd of kittens that were waking up. All of them raised their tails playfully, clearly full of energy after the nap.
Had she been transformed simply by napping with them? Kittens that created more kittens from the people they cuddled. If any of them made it through the tree back to Holly’s world it’d only be a matter of time before the world was completely overtaken by kittens. I mean, who could resist those cute little eyes, their chubby bodies and short tails… And hey, she had all of those features now. She supposed that made her a force to be reckoned with as well.
“Meow!” Holly well backwards as one of the other kittens, an orange one had just bopped her on the nose with a paw. She had just established she was a force to be reckoned with and now already a challenger had appeared. “MROOOOOOOOWL!” Holly gave a battle cry, and pounced for the orange kitten. The other kitten quickly bolted, but Holly moved fast, keeping on his tail as they ran through the jungle.
The orange kitten jumped up onto a box, then up atop a pile of them. Holly followed, enjoying how easily her body soared through the sky. It was kind of amazing just how well cats could jump and just keep going without stumbling. And it came so naturally to her now that she was in this form. She didn’t need to think, she could make each jump by instinct, never losing pace once.
The orange kitten leaped onto one of the tallest piles of boxes in the jungle. The pile wobbled beneath his paws and he froze up for a moment, his footing uncertain. That moment was all Holly needed to catch up. She pounced for him again. Leaping from her box, she landed both forepaws against the other kitten as she pushed him off the box and both of them fell down to the floor. They landed in a rolling pile and were immediately wrestling with each other. The orange kitten bit Holly’s ear! He played dirty! Well he wasn’t the only one! She nipped his tail.
Both of them made their best attempt at vicious growls. Though they would be more accurately described as high-pitched squeaking. They continued to roll around and then the orange kitten was on his back. Holly raised up a paw and booped his nose.
VENGEANCE WAS HERS!
The orange kitten slipped out from beneath Holly and trotted a couple feet away and quickly began to groom himself as if he wasn’t concerned about what was happening at all. He could act cool all he wanted, but Holly knew the score. And-
And she had completely forgotten about going back home. The moment one of the other kittens wanted to play with her she just lost herself in the game. She had to admit, it was some of the most fun she had experienced in a while. But now she had to wonder. Would going through the tree change her back to her rightful species as well as age? Or was she stuck as a kitten now. Then again… Given how she had figured out how to magic things up she supposed if she was stuck the wrong species there were probably plenty of other ways to change species in this world. After all this cardboard jungle was only one party of it. Eventually, something was bound to turn her back into a raccoon again.
“Mew!” The orange kitten trotted back towards where the larger group was and tossed a playful look back at Holly.
“Meow!” Holly didn’t need to be asked twice. This jungle was huge with lots of room to play. What was the rush to get back to being a raccoon? She should just enjoy the moment while it lasted. She followed the orange kitten back to the group. Then very soon, she was making new friends with all of them and coming up with all kinds of games that involved chasing each other around the forest. This place really was something special. She might stick around for a long time before heading back.