After ending a play session with Calex early to get back to his normal life and job, Aurum has a series of bizarre experiences.
Two young felines stood atop the couch in the living room. One, a domestic cat with uniform orange fur, the other a tiger cub with white and gold stripes. Both of them were around six years old and there wasn’t a stitch of clothing to be found on either. The orange kitten leaped to the coffee table and turned to the tiger.
“Come on Aurum!” Calex shouted to the tiger. “We’ve almost made it to the heart of the temple! It’s just a small jump! Just try not to think about the lava.” Calex pointed at the edge of the living room where there was an end table with a small block sitting on it. The two were in a normal living room. There was no lava or temples or anything unique or out of the ordinary. They were just in a very complicated and immersive version of ‘The Floor is Lava.
“Easy for you to say.” Aurum huffed. He had the lost idol clutched to his chest. To anyone else it might have looked like a normal TV remote, but to the two cubs it was an ancient, cursed relic. “I can do the jump and-“ Aurum froze as a noise began to sound from across the room.
At the living room entrance, close to the front door there was a pile of clothing sitting on the floor. A pair of jeans, a shirt, a green bandanna. They were just laying there as if whoever had been in them had simply vanished. In reality, he had just gotten younger, squirmed out of them then went over to play with Calex. He had soon forgotten completely about his clothing. Up until now when they started making a beeping noise.
“That time already?” Aurum asked in a disappointed tone. He dropped the remote on the couch, jumped down to the floor and then ran over to his pile of clothing and dug through it. Eventually he found the source of the beeping. His cell phone. It was letting him know he had 60 minutes to get to work. “Looks like I gotta get going… Where’d you set that thing again? Ah.” Next to the pile of clothes was what looked like a toy gun. Aurum adjusted the dials on it, pointed it at himself, and fired. Suddenly, he grew in size, as he returned to his normal adult age. He was actually surprised. He had been promised it was fixed and could change him back and forth easily now, but he still expected it to explode and turn him into a baby or something when he tried to change back. But, he was back in his original body.
“Get going?” Calex remained perched on the coffee table and gave Aurum a curious look. “What are you doing? What about the cursed relic?”
“I’ve got work I’ll play with you later.” Aurum quickly began to dress himself as fast as he could. It was always a little disorienting after spending too much time with Calex and having to remember how pants worked again.
“But if we don’t return the relic you’ll be cursed!” Calex complained. “Who knows what could happen?”
“Put a to be continued sign up or something.” Aurum suggested. “We can finish the game another time, I really have to go.” He had managed to dress himself and started out the door then froze. “Odin isn’t back yet… But he should be soon.” He turned to the kitten. “You’re going to be alright for a few minutes on your own, right?”
“Of course.” Calex put his hand-paws on his hips. “It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.”
“Uh huh.” Aurum muttered. The way Calex said it made him nervous, but he had to get going if he didn’t want to be late. He double checked himself to make sure he was fully dressed and hadn’t forgotten anything, especially not his green bandanna. Once that was confirmed he quickly headed for the front door, got in his car and he was on his way.
And naturally, traffic was terrible. Even with an hour Aurum was going to be late. That was unfortunate. He could already hear his boss yelling at him as he came in. But there was no helping it. He slowly moved along the road until finally arriving at the office. He pulled this car into the first spot he could find and jumped out ready to make a run for the building. He was only ten minutes late, maybe no one would have noticed yet.
“Hey! You wait!” A voice called.
“Me?” Aurum turned around in confusion. Then he saw the source of the voice. A bear in a police uniform standing next to a patrol car that was in the parking lot. Aurum panicked slightly. Had he done something wrong?
“What are you trying to pull?” The police officer asked as he walked over to Aurum.
“N-n-nothing.” Aurum stuttered. “What seems to be the problem?”
“You’re three inches outside the parking line.” The officer growled. “I’m going to have to give you a ticket.”
“Seriously?” Aurum was in disbelief. He looked over to his car and saw that tires were touching the line. Had the guy just been waiting in the parking lot all day looking for a chance to write someone a ticket. Now he was going to have to pay that AND to top it all off was going to be a lot more than ten minutes late to work.
“Alright let’s see your license and registration.” The cop demanded.
“My registration is in the car.” Aurum sighed as he walked back to the car and opened it up. He dug around the glove department till he found his registration. He grabbed it, then let out a small sneeze. “Gah, dusty in here.” He shook his head and closed the car door. Then he turned around looking for the police officer, but the bear was gone. “What?”
“Arf! Arf arf!” A small yapping barking noise came from near the ground. It drew Aurum’s eyes downward to where there was a discarded police uniform laying on the parking lot asphalt, and a small Pomeranian standing on top of the uniform. It was a normal animal, not one that walked on two legs and talked like Aurum.
“Uhhhhhh.” Aurum looked at the dog trying to figure out what had happened. He figured there was a 50/50 chance this was the police officer, or this was a K9 unit the cop had with him. Both raised a questions. If the bear had turned into a small yappy dog, when had that happened and what caused it? If it was just a K9 unit where had the bear gone and why had he left his clothes behind? Aurum looked around seeing no sign of the cop anyway. The dog continued to yap at him. “I’m… Going to go inside.” Was all Aurum could think to say as he headed for the office front door.
The incident with the police officer had only taken five minutes. So he wasn’t that late. There was still the possibility no one would notice him coming in. He would just quietly slink to his desk and-
“AURUM!” The shrill voice of the tiger’s boss roared throughout the office. Aurum turned and found a large wolf dressed in a business suit. He had been standing right next to the door when Aurum came in.
“Oh, um, hi Mr. Big.” Aurum spoke nervously. Why was his boss just hanging out by the door? Didn’t he have his own work to do? There had to be some responsibilities he had aside from yelling at people and making life miserable.
“Don’t um hi me.” Mr. Big spoke angrily. “You’re late. I want to see you in my office.”
“Only by a few minutes.” Aurum pleaded. “Traffic was really backed up today. It’s not my fault.”
“It’s absolutely your fault! You should have aimed to be early instead of on time, then traffic wouldn’t make a difference.” The boss crossed his arms. “Now, my office now!”
“But-“ Aurum tried.
“NOW!” Mr. Big shouted.
“Alright.” Aurum lowered his head and let his shoulders slump. He should have just played hooky and stayed a cub and played with Calex. Was sudden age reduction a valid excuse for a sick day? It didn’t matter now. He didn’t know what punishment the boss had planned other than it would be miserable, time consuming, and likely completely meaningless other than to be a petty exercise of power on the behalf of Mr. Big.
And then Aurum sneezed. That was the second time in a few minutes. Great, on top of everything else he must have been getting sick.
“Squeeeak! Squeak squeak! Squeeeak!” Angry mouse noises sounded from the floor.
“Huh?” Aurum looked down. Mr. Boss’ business suit lay on the ground, discarded like Aurum had seen with so many transformation victims in the past. And now there was a small mouse with brown fur that was standing at Aurum’s paws squeaking at him. Was that Mr. Big? He was a mouse? Why was he a mouse? And added further evidence that the police officer likely had turned into a small dog. Aurum was used to spontaneous transformations, but usually to him and when hanging out with a certain crowd. These things didn’t just happen to people around him in his normal day to day life! Or at least, not before.
“Squeeeaaak!” Mr. Big continued to berate Aurum. But as Aurum did not speak mouse he didn’t know what he was saying.
And that meant that Mr. Boss couldn’t give him any orders.
“I’m going to head to my desk.” Aurum spoke smugly. He wasn’t going to question what had caused Mr. Boss to turn into a mouse, but he was going to enjoy it while it lasted. He walked right past the indignant rodent and ignored its furious squeakings as he headed for his desk and sat down getting ready to star the workday.
Half of the day passed without incident. At least up until lunch time. There was a birthday today, and that meant cake. Aurum greedily got in line to grab a slice for himself. However, not knowing all his coworkers personally he had been unaware of the birthday and so had dawdled on his way to lunch. He was at the back of the line. But it looked like the cake was big enough for everyone at the office to get a slice. Slowly Aurum reached the front of the line, the last slice of cake was his and-
“Excuse me.” A coworker, a rabbit suddenly pushed himself between Aurum and the cake. “I need to grab a second slice.”
“For who?” Aurum asked dazed.
“Oh, I’m just going to have one slice now and one later to help me get through the day.” The rabbit explained.
“But there’s only one slice left.” Aurum spoke meekly.
“Yes and?” The rabbit asked.
“You already have a slice, this one is supposed to be mine.” Aurum tried to explain.
“Wow. Just wow.” The rabbit became indignant. “Are you really doing this? You’re really that greedy?” He drew himself up to his full height, which was still shorter than Aurum if you didn’t count the ears. “Working here is hard, and I just need something to help me make it through the second half of the day! And you’re going to give me a hard time about it!?”
“But… I just wanted one slice for myself.” Aurum tried.
“You’re that insensitive that you’d make me suffer through the rest of the day?” The rabbit asked.
“No!” Aurum replied. “But I mean, it’s not fair that you get two slices, and I don’t get anything.”
“Oh, so now Mr. Cake King gets to decide what’s fair and what’s not. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you made the rules about all cakes. Would you like to tell me how I’m supposed to chew too?”
“What are you even…” Aurum was used to following nonsense logic. But this was a completely different kind of nonsense. The kind that wasn’t fun and that there were much less polite words to describe it. “Look I don’t want to fight, fine you can-“ Aurum didn’t finish before he sneezed.
“Gah!” He heard a gasp come from the rabbit as he shrunk down into his clothing and disappeared. A few seconds later a very tiny rabbit climbed out from the top of his clothing. He couldn’t be any bigger than Mr. Big now. “What… What just happened?” The rabbit was confused as he looked up at Aurum.
“I don’t know…” Aurum muttered but was starting to have some suspicions. “But… Your slice should last you all afternoon now… I think, I’ll just take this last slice back to my desk.” Aurum quickly grabbed the slice and backed out of the room. A lot of people were staring at the suddenly shrunken rabbit and he figured he would let someone else sort out that mess. He quickly retreated to his desk to have his cake there as he tried to piece together the strange things that were happening.
First the cop, then his boss, and now a coworker. All of them had been transformed. And right before each one Aurum had sneezed. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
“What is going on?” Aurum asked aloud.
“You’re cursed duh.” A familiar voice spoke. “I tried to warn you before you left.”
“GAH!?” Aurum nearly fell out of his chair when he saw the orange kitten sitting atop his desk. When did he get there? How did he get there? How had Aurum not noticed right up until he had spoke? He was bright orange for crying out loud! Didn’t exactly blend in with the environment. “What are you doing here?” Aurum asked. Then he followed it up with a better question. “And how did you even get here.”
“I followed you.” Calex shrugged.
“But I was in a car.” Aurum stated flatly. Traffic wasn’t that bad that someone could have just walked behind him the entire way.
“Yes and?” Calex asked.
“Look you can’t be here!” Aurum explained. “I’ll get in a ton of trouble! I mean Mr. Big is a mouse right now but he’s not the only higher up. And weird things are happening. Just, we can sort this out after I get off.”
“But the curse!” Calex exclaimed. “You have to return the idol or it won’t go away!”
“Not so loud!” Aurum hissed. “Someone is going to hear you!” It was only a matter of time before people started coming back from lunch. Someone was bound to overhear Calex. He wasn’t exactly using his indoor voice. “And that idol was just a TV remote.”
“A cursed TV remote!” Calex insisted.
“I told you not so loud!” Aurum pleaded. And then he sneezed.
“Mew?” Calex asked much more quietly. The werekitten was still himself. But he was no longer six and a half years old. The six years had dropped off and now he was just a six-month old kitten. The small baby kitten looked around slightly confused. “Mrooow.” His mewling was a lot more quiet than his shouting.
“Alright so that just happened.” Aurum picked up the baby Calex and looked at him. “But stop making noise! Someone will still hear you and we need to keep you hidden and-“ Aurum sneezed again. And suddenly the baby kitten was so tiny he fit in the palm of Aurum’s hand with plenty of room to spare. The kitten was no bigger than most ants.
“Mew?” Calex asked and looked around. Then shrugged. This wasn’t his first time being unexpectedly regressed or shrunk.
“Well no one is going to hear you now…” Aurum noticed Calex’s meowing was much quieter at his new size. And of course, the kitten was easy to keep hidden. However, as he studied the small orange figure in his palm he realized something.
Calex was probably the only one who had any idea what was happening or why. He had mentioned the curse and the relic from the game they were playing. But… That was a game. There was no real magic involved. Aurum couldn’t be cursed now. Could he? Well… The only person who could answer that wasn’t going to be talking for a couple years now.
“This is just too weird.” Aurum complained. “You have no idea how good you have it.” He wanted to thud his head against his desk, but was worried he might drop the tiny kitten if he did so. Whatever was going on wasn’t going to stop. He looked at the kitten and felt slightly envious. Calex didn’t have to worry about work or ruining his image there. He was just a little kid. He didn’t even seem to go to school. Aurum wished he was still young enough not to have to worry about work and-
And he sneezed again, and Aurum felt the very familiar sensation of his own clothing loosening on him. It took him a few moments to collect his senses. The chair he was sitting in was much bigger and the shirt he had been wearing was over his head blinding him.
“Meooow.” He didn’t need to speak baby to know Calex was lecturing him about the hazards of wearing clothing again. But, this wasn’t supposed to happen at work.
Aurum struggled to free himself from his oversized clothing, and eventually after tossing his shirt off the side of the chair managed to stand up atop the chair to escape his pants. He was now naked and looking down at himself even younger than he had been earlier. He had to be around four years of age. Not as young as the baby Calex, but not even old enough to be attending school.
Let alone work.
“Oh boy…” Aurum wondered if any of his coworkers would recognize him or not. It wasn’t like white tigers with gold stripes were exactly common. But, they wouldn’t assume he had just turned into a kid upon seeing him right? Except, considering the very public transformation of the rabbit and the current state of Mr. Big there was a very real chance that they would make the connection.
It was time to get out of here. The workday was only half over. Aurum would explain later when he was an adult, say he got sick after eating the cake or something and left in a hurry. For now, he needed to get out of here. He jumped down from the chair and looked around the corner. His coworkers were coming back already. There was no way to reach the exit without being seen.
And then he sneezed again. And suddenly, Aurum was holding Calex in his arms again instead of in one paw. At first he thought Calex had grown bigger. However, as he saw the now massive workplace around him he realized that he had shrunk down to Calex’s scale. If they had been the same age they would have been the same size, but for now Calex was small enough for Aurum to comfortable carry against his chest with two arms.
“Meow?” Calex asked him.
“Don’t look at me for answers!” Aurum exclaimed. But, he realized that no one was going to see him now. He would wait until everyone was back in their cubicle. Didn’t want to make a break for it while people were walking around and risk getting stepped on. That would end badly. Not for him, but for whoever accidentally nearly stepped on him. Why? Well, someone had nearly done that to Calex once while he was the size of a flea and they had gotten tossed all the way across the room for their trouble. The little guy was strong when he wanted to be, and Aurum doubted that his de-aged state would do much to stop whatever kitten magic made that possible.
Once the coast was clear Aurum made a break for it. Much like he expected, no one noticed him at all. Hopefully, everyone would buy the sick story easily later.
“Hey… Anyone seen Aurum?” A coworker asked. “His clothes are laying on the floor. Is he running around naked?”
“Oh, right, clothes.” Aurum slapped a paw to his face. It was going to be hard to explain why he had left those behind when he went home ‘sick.’
“Mrow mew.” Calex replied.
“Yes, yes, I wouldn’t have this problem if I stopped wearing them completely.” Aurum grumbled. “You have made your point, several times. It is not helping now.” He could still escape, but he wasn’t going to be able to explain this easily later. Right now, he just wanted to go hide somewhere no one would ever find him and avoid explaining this whole mess.
And then he sneezed again. And the entire world changed. Aurum blinked as he slowly processed what he was seeing. The office was gone. Instead, the world was now a vast infinite void full of strange glowing particles flying in every direction and hovering around each other. Aurum had seen these before on a previous time babysitting Calex. He was looking at atoms. He was smaller than an atom now.
“Okay… No one is definitely finding me down here.” Aurum muttered. He floated through subatomic space until eventually landing on an electron. It was roughly moon sized compared to him, giving him something solid to stand on. Though he could see the smaller particles the electron was made out of. Even reach down a paw and scoop them up. Small colorful lights. He tossed a few into the air, or what he supposed was the air.
“Mew!” Calex’s eyes went wide and the kitten began to bat wildly at the glowing particles.
“Huh, pretty easily entertained, aren’t you?” Aurum asked.
“Meow.” Calex responded, still too young to be capable of speech.
“Right… But what now?” Aurum realized they might be down here awhile. Who knew if they’d be found and unshrunk, or if the ‘curse’ would ever wear off? He was down here with only an infant for company. But, one that seemed to be very entertained by the entire ordeal and not have a care in the world.
He could no longer hold Calex, as now he too had been reduced to a mere six months old. He grinned cheekily at the other baby feline as they both sat on the surface of an atom. He realized Calex had the right idea. Whatever had happened, the situation was well outside Aurum’s control now. So, he was better off just trying to make the best of a situation until things changed. If they changed. And if he was going to be down here, he’d rather have a playmate than someone he had to look after.
“Mrow!” Aurum chuffed.
“Mew!” Calex purred. Both of them were content to be in each other’s company like this. It wasn’t like this was the first time this had happened. Heck, technically they had both been younger and smaller on previous occasions.
But Aurum couldn’t focus on that right now. The shiny particles were floating down from the sky. He gave in to his cub instincts and swatted at the particles. Him and Calex both crawled around trying to grab at them. Sometimes succeeding, most times failing. Occasionally they’d try to stand up to get at one before toppling over landing on their back, and then a new game would begin. Because once someone was laying on their back, they were in the perfect position to be pounced.
And so chasing particles gave way to baby subatomic kitten wrestling. The two clawed and bit at each other, neither one gaining much of an advantage. The wrestling would stop when they got distracted by the lights again, then resume whenever one of them fell over again.
But eventually, the game came to a stop. Why? They were both infants. And magic and cursed or not, it meant they tired out easily. The tiger and kitten curled up next to each other, each keeping the other warm with their own fluff. Then one at a time they both let out a big yawn before falling asleep. Play time was over, and now it was nap time. They could figure things out later, or just spend more time playing instead.
And it seemed like Aurum had stopped sneezing. So, they might put figuring things out off for a long time and just focus on fun. But right now, Aurum didn’t mind that.