The Kitsune Prince
A story I started writing during 2011-2012 (I think). Honestly, I don’t remember the timeframe. Notable influence for this work’s style: Ellen Haye’s Tuck. I recommend this work hugely. Also, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is definitely an inspiration too.
In The Kitsune Prince, lines that are written in italics are phrases that go through the narrator’s mind. Some of them are spoken, some of them are not; part of the fun is it’s usually purposefully left ambiguous. As are a lot of other, less obvious things.
Base plot: Flower, the protagonist, becomes the babysitter of a two-tailed fox girl and a boy that never sleeps. And a lot of stuff happens, some of it dealing with straight magic. Takes place in the Paris area in modern era.
Friday, September 17th, 2010
“Well, what did you expect?”
I’ll have to admit, I hadn’t expected that.
The little girl was sitting on my belly, grinning in a disturbingly cute way. In normal circumstances, I’d have pushed her off, but something weird was happening to me. My arms simply weren’t responding.
“You should have known something was up. €40 an hour is way too much for standard baby-sitting.”
She flicked a red bang away from her forehead, placing it behind one of her fox ears.
“So, babysitter, do you want to become my little pony?”
Lou, her little brother, was still reading his book on the sofa. He didn’t look troubled by his sister’s attitude.
“My children can be a little disturbing at times, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to take care of them. Are you free this evening?”
“Lou, make sure it doesn’t get away!”
The boy nodded, stood up, came to me and softly sat down sideways on my chest, never glancing away from his book - which I realized was a copy of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine. Wasn’t he a little too young to read such a dystopia?
Satisfied with the hold he had on me, the girl freed my belly and ran to her room. Her fox tail had been flailing the whole time; I heard a few innocent giggles. Whatever she was up to, I knew I wasn’t going to like it. This situation was getting out of control.
Lou, could you lend me a hand?
“You are not supposed to talk, Fluffy Flower.”
Little brat. Did you have to use the silly name your sister just came up with?
You haven’t read enough fantasy books yet, anyway. Talking ponies do exist.
“That is not the matter. You may be a talking pony, but you are not allowed to talk, Fluffy Flower.”
I sighed audibly.
“Oh, incidentally… You might want to know Amelia’s got a physical malformation. Nothing major, she just happens to have two supplementary ears and a tail.”
The woman carefully examined my face, looking for a reaction. She didn’t get one; I was a little too stunned by her way of stating such oddities to say anything.
“Come on, Fluffy Flower, be enthusiastic! I’ll let you have a carrot afterwards!”
I didn’t want a carrot. Actually, I wasn’t even hungry to begin with.
She squeezed my sides with her thighs. Apparently, she expected me to start trotting.
Amelia, I’m not eight anymore. I don’t want to be your little pony.
“Yes you do. And you will be my little pony, Fluffy Flower.”
There wasn’t any trace of hesitation in her voice. She definitely knew she had the upper hand. Had she not been a ten years old girl, she would have been plain scary.
She squeezed my sides a little harder, signaling me I was to move. It was far from painful, but I still couldn’t seem to bring my body to actively protest. Lacking options, I eventually gave up, lifting my left leg and my right arm to perform a first step.
“This is my phone number. Feel free to call if you have questions. If you need something to eat, there’s food in the fridge.”
“There, Fluffy Flower. See? It wasn’t that hard.”
She was actually feeding me - she’d forbidden me the use of my hands. I was starting to understand something about her orders - no matter what, my only option to keep her from having her way was passiveness. Any action that I took would be in accordance to her commands.
How did I get in such a mess again? Oh, right. Babysitting.
Once I was done with the carrot (she insisted that I lick her fingers clean before approvingly petting me), Amelia finally decided that it was bedtime for her and let me stand back up. From then on, my interactions with her took on a more normal feel - she didn’t even protest when I told her to go brush her teeth.
“I’ll be back by 1AM. You can sleep in the guest room once I’m back if that’s too late for you to get back home.”
I’d nodded at that. Couldn’t exactly complain about special clauses - I’d be making €160 just this evening, and she’d made it clear that I could expect to babysit her children quite often if I was up to the task.
Lou, aren’t you going to go to bed too?
He just shrugged, never stopping reading.
“I do not sleep.”
Oh, great. Are you weird like your sister?
“I am different from my sister. She is part kitsune.“
Was he reading my mind, or had I just thought aloud?
Kitsune? What’s that supposed to mean?
“They are mythological creatures from the Japanese folklore…”
I know, I know. Mystical foxes with multiple tails, et all. What I don’t get is where Amelia supposedly got her kitsune blood.
“Oh, so you have not noticed yet.”
I didn’t get an answer. Lou the little boy had gone back to being a silent reader.
Boredom was killing me. I ended up asking Lou to lend me a book. He apparently hesitated a little before nodding, marking his page with an expensive looking bookmark and standing up from the couch he’d been sitting on.
“The library is in the basement,” he explained while guiding me toward a wooden, heavy-looking door near the kitchen. “Mother collects books all the time; you will have many choices.”
The stairs going down were made out of cobblestone; this section probably was a little older than the rest of the house.
I was impressed. I’d expected a few bookcases under a three meters-high ceiling - nothing extravagant. What I discovered instead was a huge cave that could probably have contained a small castle if it hadn’t been filled with wooden bookshelves covered in literal thousands of tomes.
“What do you feel like reading?” asked the little boy, visibly unfazed by the sight.
I was at a loss for words.
Saturday, September 18th, 2010
When Mrs. Simon eventually did come back from wherever she had been, she found us reading on the couch in the living room.
“Oh, I see Lou likes you,” she said smiling. “What are you reading?”
Peter Pan. I let him pick a book for me, I was a little too stunned by your… library? to make a decision on my own.
She shrugged. “Do you want to stay here tonight?”
Breakfast at Mrs. Simon’s house turned out to be a nice experience. They had quite a selection of cereals; I got to pick one of my favorite brands.
Amelia was behaving as normally as a fox-tailed girl could behave. I assumed she didn’t want her mother to catch on about what she’d been up to with me.
“Well, thanks again. Thinking of coming back?”
I squeezed the banknotes in my hand, still feeling like this all had to be a dream.
Eventually, I nodded enthusiastically. I’d just made €160, after all.
Amelia smiled softly, and kissed me on the cheeks.
“See you, Fluffy Flower,” she said under her breath.
See you around, Amelia!
Day of the Hachibi, 3824th (Sunday, September 19th, 2010)
I was awakened by the sunlight filtering through my eyelids. Upon opening my eyes, I realized I wasn’t in my bed at all. Instead, I was lying on a straw bed, in what looked like a stable.
Where am I?
“Oh, Fluffy Flower, you’re finally awake!”
“I know, I know. You aren’t used to this whole ‘being a pony’ thing, right? Don’t worry about it, it’ll come. Try standing?”
In this bizarre dream (for it was quite obviously a dream), I was an actual pony. A pink one, to boot. For some reason, it felt less disturbing than it should have.
“There, Fluffy Flower. All cute!”
Also, Amelia - or rather, a grown up, adult version of Amelia - was apparently my mistress. She now had numerous fox tails, all of which seemed to have a will of their own. Part kitsune indeed.
Amelia had been playing with my purple mane for the last fifteen minutes or so. I wasn’t sure what she had been doing, but her way of approvingly patting my sides from time to time made me think she was happy with it, which I guess was the most important part right now.
At some point, she appeared in my line of sight, looking unusually serious and, yes, adult.
“I’m impressed by your attitude, Fluffy Flower. Most people would have been freaking out by now.”
Guess I’m just one of these calm characters who only exist in novels?
“You might want to know that’s not exactly an ordinary dream, though. Rather, this is my world.”
Your world? As in Inception?
“Tutututu. No talking - you’re a pony, remember? Just accept the fact that you’re in my world.”
She went to get a chair outside of my stable, and sat down in front of me.
“Today, I just want to play with you. Want some hay?”
Sunday, September 19th, 2010
My alarm went off, bringing me back to reality.
What a weird dream...
Monday, September 20th, 2010
“In other words,” Bob summed up while we waited for our Informatics teacher, “you got paid more than my monthly allowance for a little over one hour of child play and two hours of reading?”
I’d have denied, but that sounded just about right. He sighed.
At first, I shook my head, blushing ever so slightly. No way I was telling him and his girlfriend this - the way I knew them, I’d regret it sooner than later.
Bob just smiled. “Your deal, bud. That being said… you know, these photos from two years ago are just a few clicks away from Alice’s computer, and-”
Okay, okay, I surrender. Just shut up.
He smiled his you-cannot-win-against-me smile, reminding me I never should have agreed to go to his Halloween party as a nurse on that fateful night. How was I supposed to get rid of him now?
“Well,” Alice said, “I think Flower suits you better.”
I guess I shouldn’t have talked about Friday evening at all.
Bob, being a jerk, immediately liked his girlfriend’s idea.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
“Hey, Flower, want to eat with us?”
I did try to feign ignorance, but Alice was waving at me from their table. I ended up sighing and coming to their table.
Could you at least use my real name?
“I prefer Flower,” Alice stated in a very definitive voice. “Anyway, what’s up?”
I’m babysitting tonight.
Bob gave me an amused look. “You gonna be a pony again?” He looked pensive. “I’m curious, can you neigh?” he eventually asked in a provocative tone.
Stop teasing me with this!
“Yeah, Flower the intimate pony needs some privacy with its mistress,” Alice added. “You gotta respect their intimacy.”
Thank you, Alice.
“Oh, hi Fluffy Flower!”
It actually felt surprisingly odd to be face to face with young and immature ten years-old Amelia again. Well, at least, she wouldn’t be feeding me with horse food today.
“You okay with spending the night here again?” asked Mrs. Simon. “Same pay as last time.”
Yeah, fine with me. No way I’m gonna refuse €160.
“Okay… well then, I guess that’s all there is to say. Amelia, come say goodbye to mommy!”
I momentarily wondered why she wasn’t calling Lou too, but eventually figured he would be seeing her again tonight. After all, the little boy didn’t sleep.
Say, Amelia, why can’t I resist your orders?
She smiled, and shrugged. I guess she wasn’t going to be the one answering my questions.
This is wrong. I gotta stop her.
“There… Lou, what do you think?”
“The front lacks curves,” he answered without even looking at me.
“Curves, eh? I agree…”
Why, thanks both of you!
She looked at me with a puzzled expression, visibly trying to figure something out.
“Well, for this time, we’ll do without the curves.”
Thanks, I guess…
When do I take it off?
“You don’t. Actually,” she added with a remarkably menacing grin for such a cute face, “I order you to keep it on until someone else helps you out of it.”
I somehow had a lot of difficulties imagining Mrs. Simon would believe me when I told her her little ten years-old girl had forced me into her French maid outfit. Then it crossed my mind. Why was she keeping one in the first place?
She actually had me kiss her good night.
“Good night, Fluffy Flower!”
I slowly closed the door to her room, and returned to the living room where Lou was reading, as quiet as ever. How was I supposed to get out of the dress Amelia had put me in?
Oh, right. I’m the babysitter.
Lou, come over here. I need you to help me get out of this mess.
“Okay,” came the immediate answer.
Once we were done cleaning up Amelia’s prank, we both sat down on the couch.
“Want me to go get you a book?”
I was starting to like this guy.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
“Well, anyway, thanks for babysitting them tonight.”
Honestly, it’s not that hard.
Amelia’s quite a difficult child, but I can bear with her.
She gave me an hesitant, should-I-tell-the-truth-now look, but eventually decided on just nodding. “Well, the guest room is ready for you. Have a good night!”
“Can I ask you something?”
Lou was staring at me, holding the book I’d just finished reading in his right hand.
Sure, go ahead.
“Did you like it?”
Day of the Nibi, 3827th (Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010)
“Ah, Fluffy Flower, you’re here. I was searching for you.”
Oh. Amelia again.
I was resting on what felt like grass, on my back. And, not as a pony - I felt human this time.
I slowly opened my eyes, hiding the blinding sun up above behind my arm. This let me realize I was in the maid outfit again.
I nervously smoothed my skirt again. Somehow, my subconscious had made me a curvy girl this time; I actually had the body needed to properly wear my clothes.
It was also trying to make it look like this was all Amelia’s fault, by having her explain to me she’d wanted me to show up as a proper maid this time. To be fair to it, I was playing along - after all, I was having an interesting discussion that I was sure any psychiatrist would have wanted to witness.
So… Why am I here, anyway? Isn’t this whole world supposed to be in your head?
“We aren’t in my head,” Amelia repeated for the third time, her two fox tails wavering in her back as she said it. “Nor in yours. That being said, the reason you’re here is quite simple - I need people to populate my worlds.”
In other words, I’m supposed to be an extra in my own dream. How flattering.
“I can create things able to act on their own,” continued Amelia, “but they’re basically robots. Which is boring.” She’d put an emphasis on the ‘o’. “I wanna play with real people!”
Hey, subconscious. Where do you find such weird ideas?
At the very least, I can understand why you’d want to bring people in these worlds of yours. They’re… kinda lonely.
“Aren’t they? Plus, you get to experience much more that way. You should be thankful!”
Admittedly, I didn’t immediately understand what she meant by that. She probably noticed my intrigued face.
“I think you’d better ask mom,” she admitted blushing. “I’m bad at explaining it.”
Mrs. Simon? Sorry to bother you, but I’m having these strange dreams in which I’m alone with your girl.
Could you please tell me what she might have meant when she told me I got to ‘experience more’?
“Anyway, get back to work, Fluffy Flower. I want this home clean!”
I reluctantly resumed moping the floor of the small house we had found while traveling across this dream.
I was pretty sure massages weren’t part of any maid’s attributions, but it wasn’t like she was listening. I sighed, and told her to lie on her belly.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
She’d apparently been waiting for me. That didn’t happen very often; I had a feeling I knew what she was about to say.
“I’m gathering the White Rabbit Quartet this afternoon,” Alice stated.
Just as I thought.
“Same time and place as usual. Make sure you’re here,” she added before entering the building.
Alice glanced at her watch again. She looked annoyed. Dave being late wasn’t exceptional in any regard, but Bob was usually on time.
Perhaps they’re stuck on a surprise exam?
“Nah, Roseheart isn’t that much of an asshole.”
You and your selective politeness.
She sighed. “I guess I’ll give them ten more minutes before the reunion starts…”
Dave had just arrived. He didn’t have any news on Bob, though.
“So,” he asked, “what’s on today’s agenda?”
Alice cleared her throat, standing up. The reunion had officially begun.
“First, I’d like to check the current state of our investigation work on Mirage. Which one of you wants to go first?”
Implying she’d be going last. I looked at Dave, who looked back at me.
Okay, I’ll do it.
Alice smiled at me before sitting down; I slowly rose from my chair, debating where to start.
This concludes the results of my summer investigations on Mirage.
I sat down, glad that I’d been able to remember most of my findings.
Dave looked impressed that I’d been able to dig so much in just three months. “And I thought I was good…”
“Would you like to go next?” came a rhetorical question from Alice.
“And… that’s pretty much it. Like I said, schoolwork…”
I had a feeling Alice wasn’t impressed at all by Dave’s performance, but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she just stood up, glanced at the numerous charts she’d spread on her side of the table, and started talking.
Two things were clear. Firstly, Mirage sure was rich. It had been obvious since the very beginning of our investigations, but even then we hadn’t expected to discover a monthly seven-digit figure turnover.
Secondly, Alice was getting impressively good at this. She’d been able to extrapolate pretty much all of Mirage’s transactions with a rather small amount of initial data, and had finished verifying her calculations a few days ago - cue this reunion. Her conclusion? Mirage’s accounts were dirty. Very dirty.
Combining this with all the data I’d been able to accumulate myself, we had a lot on Mirage. Enough to go to the next step of our flowchart - producing physical proofs.
“Are we doing this on All Saints?”
Alice looked pensive for a while. “I guess so,” she eventually said. “We could use Halloween as a cover-up, like with the Romanian dogs traffic last year [CHECK: change the reference. The referenced event happened on October 31st, 2009]… Flower, do you think we could perform a physical infiltration on November 1st?”
Should be possible. Most of Mirage’s members are adamant when it comes to holidays, which is good news for us.
Dave glared at me. “Flower?”
A smirk appeared on Alice’s face. I had a bad feeling about this.
“New nickname. Don’t you like it, Flower?”
She gently nudged me with her elbow, prompting my agreement. This girl would eventually kill me.
“Well, I got stuff to do,” Dave said. “I guess we’re having a briefing session on October 24th?” he asked after glancing at the calendar we’d hooked on the wall.
“Yup. Make sure you’re free on that day!”
“He’s gone,” Alice uselessly stated.
Yeah. Too bad Bob wasn’t able to make it today...
I started packing my own stuff. She was looking at me, a sad, serious expression on her face.
“You know… Bob and I aren’t going to last forever.”
I stopped packing.
What do you mean?
Aren’t you two supposed to be lovebirds?
I wasn’t sure what to say or do, so I just hugged her back. Alice’s tears were a rare sight; I didn’t think I’d ever seen her in that state. At some point, she looked up.
The door closed behind her. Not knowing how to feel after what had just happened, I sat down. I needed some time to think things through, and I knew I wouldn’t be disrupted here. Secret base and all.
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
I felt a gentle poke in my left shoulder. “Mind eating with me today? I need a talk with you.”
She sounded remarkably calm considering what had happened yesterday. I nodded before paying for my lunch. Bob was nowhere to be seen, anyway.
Even though the White Rabbit Quartet was composed of people who’d met each other through Bob, Alice had been the one to create and lead the group. And even though she’d been in a relationship with Bob since before we’d even got acquainted, I’d fancied about her being my girlfriend from the very beginning.
Today, though, things were different. She clearly knew I had feelings for her; she’d decided that she wanted me.
Wouldn’t that be a betrayal to Bob?
I can’t help but feel uneasy about this.
She looked straight into my eyes, silently chewing her salad.
Nothing was sinking in this afternoon. I couldn’t get my mind off Alice’s words.
Would it really be alright to date her?
But she did invite me.
Still, I feel bad about Bob. Shouldn’t I contact him first?
I put my head in my hands.
Relationships are complicated.
He wasn’t home.
Nothing I can do…
She nodded. I sighed.
“There, now you don’t look awkward anymore.”
But I felt awkward as hell. She’d actually forced me to put rolled up socks in the maid outfit’s bra cups to give me the curves I’d lacked last time.
“Hey, Lou?” she asked out of the blue. “Could you keep Fluffy Flower in maid mode until mom gets back? I want them to meet.”
Hey, don’t you dare agree with her!
He looked hesitant.
Seriously, Lou, I’m the babysitter.
I get to decide.
Don’t go with her plan.
After what felt like an hour, he finally shook his head.
“Fluffy Flower is the babysitter,” he said, resuming reading A Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Amelia actually started sulking at this point.
Thanks, Lou. I owe you one.
On the plus side, Amelia wasn’t sulking anymore.
“You look kinda weird,” she said after a while.
Well, of course.
I don’t usually wear lipstick.
“Hey, don’t complain!” she said. “It’s the first time I get to try it, and I’m doing my best!”
I thought she’d be done, but she flipped the tube and produced a small pencil covered in some red stuff from its base.
What is this?
“Oh, that’s the gloss. It’ll make your lips shine!”
Which means you do know what you’re doing, right?
“I never used it on you, dummy! So it is the first time I’m trying it!”
You remind me of Obiwan Kenobi.
Can’t we spare the gloss? Please?
“Not this time, Fluffy Flower.”
I am babysitting the devil.
I was starting to worry. Lou’d helped me get out of the maid dress, but my lips were still as fresh-looking as when she’d gone to sleep.
Why won’t it go?
“Perhaps she used a waterproof one?”
I looked at Lou. My jaw must have dropped for a second.
Once again, Google saves the day!
Lou looked puzzled. “Who is Google? And… how did you figure out oil could do that?”
I blinked. Sometimes I forgot Lou was only eight years old. He did have an impressive literary culture, but he was still a kid who’d probably never touched a computer before.
Google’s a search engine. You use it to search for things on the Internet.
“Oh… I think I see.”
I thought for a while, before showing him my iPhone.
I can connect to the Internet with this. Wanna try?
Do you mind if I go retrieve a book in the basement on my own?
“Not at all,” came the distant answer.
I had a feeling he was enjoying the new experience.
I’d never been alone in the library before. It was so huge weak drafts were actually traveling between the bookshelves, producing wind sounds. I assumed my presence had set the air in motion by creating temperature variations around me - the ambient air was pretty cold, after all.
Either way, I was thankful the place was well lit by electric lights - candles would have made it plain scary.
Lou, you have my sincere respect for being brave enough to enter this place daily.
Of course, the kid didn’t sleep, which probably meant he didn’t have nightmares, but still.
I wasn’t sure how, but I’d ended up losing my way. That was highly unusual of me, especially indoors.
Trying to peak over the bookshelves to find the way back to the entrance simply wasn’t feasible - they were way too tall. I’d have to navigate the labyrinth the hard way.
You just need to use the right hand method. No problem at all.
Friday, September 24th, 2010
I’d always considered myself to be a pretty calm person.
Well, most of the time anyway. That being said, I was starting to worry a little - I didn’t exactly want Mrs. Simon to learn that I’d let her son alone to go fool around in her books collection.
Lou, can you hear me?
Of course he can’t.
Considering the size of the cavity, I’d been surprised if he did.
My voice was trembling. I wasn’t used to being lost in the metaphorical dark.
I frowned. I was pretty sure I’d seen this book before. A gentle breeze travelled through my spine, freezing me and making me notice I was covered in sweat. I shivered.
Rose Madder again.
I wasn’t sure why I’d taken note of this particular book among the thousands there were around me, but that didn’t really matter. What did matter was that I now knew for a fact that someone actually was messing with me.
Considering the size of the bookshelves, they had to be using cardboard structures or something - I couldn’t imagine human beings moving furniture this size without making a single noise, particularly considering the amount of heavy-looking books that were staked on every single shelf.
Lost Woods prank, eh?
Whoever you are, you got me.
This isn’t funny anymore, though.
Stop this now.
No answer. I was starting to feel uneasy about this whole exploration session - I had a feeling whatever was toying with me wasn’t completely benign.
Okay, find the cardboard wall, find the cardboard wall...
This time, I’d been able to see it. One of the bookshelves had just moved in front of me, closing the path I’d been about to take without a single noise. I rushed to it, heartbeat going up, and tried to push it back - to no avail. It wasn’t cardboard at all. Actually, it looked like ebony.
Now I was scared. Whoever or whatever was playing with me, they had the strength needed to push ebony bookshelves filled with hundreds of books around without a single noise. The sheer act of trying to understand where they got such strength was mind-freezing.
It suddenly dawned on me that the air drafts were actually caused by these pieces of furniture moving around, rather than the heat I was radiating like I’d initially presumed.
The entity that had trapped me inside this closed loop had been moving bookshelves around since I’d entered the library. I’d lost the game before I even realized there was one, and now I was stuck. How was I ever going to get out of here?
Keep moving. A solution will emerge.
I was starting to notice a pattern. Even though random paths kept on being closed around me, restricting my general freedom, there was a particular direction in which paths actually opened instead. The thing that had trapped me wasn’t just trying to induce fear, it actually wanted me to go somewhere. It was manipulating me.
Somehow, the realization only made me feel worse about this whole situation.
At some point, a bookshelf moving out of the way revealed a long, unlit corridor made out of cobblestone. I’d apparently reached one of the walls of the library, and a secret passage at the same time.
There were a few back-freezing air drafts, and the shelves silently created a closed, square space around me and the corridor, diminishing the luminosity by obscuring any direct irradiation by the neons. At this point, my defense mechanism weren’t any good anymore, and I had to sit down for a while.
Help isn’t coming, after all…
I glanced at the black corridor for the twentieth time. I’d managed to calm down a little, but the primal fear of the unknown and the dark still wouldn’t let me step on the stone.
What if the bookshelf that had revealed this corridor went back in place as soon as I was in?
I’d have to find my way without my eyes, deprived of light. The perspective wasn’t enchanting at all.
Now that I’d emptied all the shelves I could reach on the wooden floor in front of the cobblestone corridor, creating long, solid-looking lines of books between the two nearest bookshelves, I felt a little more secure about actually going in. If things worked the way I thought and hoped they would, the books would ruin any attempt to close the secret passage by virtue of simply being in the way.
I looked at the tunnel.
Guess that’s it, then…
I heard creaking noise behind me, and couldn’t resist hysterically laughing despite the situation. They actually had wanted to trap me in this place.
Sorry, but I want this path to stay open.
At the end of the corridor, there was what felt like a heavy wooden door. I knocked.
“Enter,” a very high pitched young female voice said.
It looked a lot like a little girl’s bedroom. A queen-sized, pink canopy bed stood at its center, taking up about half of the room’s width. On the right, a large desk covered in books and notebooks; on the left, a vanity and two huge closets. Dozens of plushes were spread on the ground, and as for the walls, they were covered in small, wooden crucifixes.
I heard the door close behind me (I’d taken a few steps in), and reflexively turned around.
She was young alright. Dressed in a red, bell-shaped dress covered in small silver crosses, she made me think of a gothic lolita.
She’d have passed as an ordinary human, had it not been for the two dragon-like wings that were gently waving in her back. A quick glance behind her confirmed my suspicions. And made me wonder about her jewelry choices.
She was smiling brightly at me.
I assume you’re the one who summoned me here?
“That’s right!” she said. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you!”
What scared me the most about this whole situation was that I wasn’t scared at all.
Am I completely mad already?
“So… did she call you Fanny?”
She was gently poking my shins with her tail, pushing me toward the pink canopy behind me.
Flower, not Fanny.
Close enough, I guess.
“Oh… that means your first night was a pony night, right?”
“Well then, Flower, I wanna know your full pony name.”
Looked like she knew quite a lot about Amelia.
What’s your name, anyway?
She crossed her arms and looked away, blushing. I couldn’t help snickering.
It does sound kinda silly, considering your status.
“What do you mean?”
I smiled at her; she winced.
You’ve got a demon tail.
I may not know much about Amelia’s powers, but you’re obviously a su-
“Okay, I get it,” she suddenly blurted out, interrupting me.
“Will you lie down?”
She was actually pushing me toward the bed with both of her hands at this point.
I’m not sure.
Are you going to-
“Of course not! I’m not like that!”
There was a brief silence.
She looked embarrassed.
Well, I guess that means I’m safe…
I decided to change the subject.
Are you going to let me go?
I mean, you’re the one who moved the bookshelves around, right?
Her face lightened.
“You’re stuck with me until at least 10AM,” she declared brightly. “I have a deal with Sakura, so don’t worry about the children.”
“Sakura Simon? Your employer?”
But… 10AM? What about my cla-
“Oh, and I want you to sleep with me in my bed.”
Are you trying to get my brain to freeze?
She just grinned.
I finally gave in, realizing I actually was pretty tired. It wasn’t like I could just run away, anyway.
Nothing’s gonna happen, right?
I mean, you’re a-
“Of course not! I’m not like that!”
She was in a deep slumber. And, she had her arms wrapped around my neck. I tried freeing myself by toying with her hands, but she had quite the grip.
I guess I’ll have to wake her up…
I finally managed to get her to open her eyes, through extensive nudging. She sighed softly. “Oh, hello there.”
Could you let go?
I want to stand up.
“Oh, sorry. Didn’t even realize I was hugging you.”
“Well, I guess this is goodbye…”
I glanced at her, slightly surprised.
Aren’t you accompanying me to the library’s exit?
How am I supposed to explain what happened to Mrs. Simon?
“I can’t come with you. Just tell her you met me, she’ll understand.”
She looked away. Didn’t look like she wanted to talk about it.
Well then, have a good day, Louisette.
“Same to you, Fluffy Flower!”
Yesterday’s bookshelves maze was gone - a straight path to the exit had appeared in front of the corridor’s entrance. I decided to return the books to their bookshelves before going upstairs.
Wait a minute. Where are my socks?
I could nearly hear her demoniac, yet girlish laugh behind the ebony bookshelf. Obviously enough, that was all in my head. I thought.
I guess I’ll take them back next time.
I stopped walking, dumbfounded.
When did I agree to come back?
Guess I should have expected this…
I started looking for my phone and the note I hoped Mrs. Simon had left for me somewhere in the house.
Both items were on the small glass table in front of the couch. Along with €120 in small banknotes.
“I’m fine with you spending the night in Louisette’s room,” the note read, “but that doesn’t mean you can leave Lou alone before midnight and get your full pay. Thanks for lending him your phone, though!
Have a good day, Mrs. Simon.”
Well, at least she isn’t mad.
My phone’s battery were dead.
Should have asked him to save some energy…
I was slightly annoyed, but there wasn’t much I could do about it right now - I didn’t usually carry my cables around.
Guess I’ll just go charge it at home…
It was way too late to get in class this morning, anyway.
She looked very happy to see me. I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought she’d put some makeup on, too.
“Where were you this morning?”
Oh, it’s a long story.
She smiled. “I’d love to hear it.”
“You’ve been leading an unusually interesting life, lately, Flower.” She was carefully looking at my reflexion in her spoon’s back. “How do you feel about it?”
I could have done without yesterday’s library episode.
That was rather scary.
That being said…
I don’t really mind, I guess.
Plus, I do get to make a lot of money.
She stared at me, an amused expression on her face.
“You met both a real-life demon and a yôkai in a week’s time, and the only thing you’re actually complaining about is this moving bookshelves incident.” She licked her lips, a sparkle in her eye. “I like that.”
She was sitting next to Lou, browsing through what looked like a business calendar. Amelia was nowhere to be seen - probably in her room.
Good evening, Mrs. Simon.
“Oh, hello there. How was your night at Louisette’s?”
“Well, anyway, she basically got thrown out of the Bois de Boulogne a few days before I met her. I offered her a house, and she welcomed the offer. End of the story,” she concluded while standing up to leave.
Wait a minute...
What about the crosses?
Why can’t she leave her room?
And why is her room hidden in your library in the first place?
Are you sequestrating her?
She smiled. “You should ask her these questions, not me. I have to leave, anyway. You can go meet her once I’m back. Amelia? Come say goodbye to mommy! ”
I think I groaned. Softly.
You didn’t even let me ask about her age.
The door closed, sealing my fate as Amelia’s plaything for the next ninety minutes or so. She grinned, looking at me with obvious amusement.
Where did you find such a small maid suit?
“Are you going to cooperate this time?”
There she was, dodging my questions again. The bright red lipstick tube she had in her left hand didn’t escape my notice.
“So… How about we make a deal?” she said out of the blue, while smoothing her own skirt. We could have looked like colleagues, had it not been for our obvious age difference.
I blinked. Had she just given me a choice?
“I want mom to see you in this dress, at least once.”
Well, I don’t.
No way I’m facing her like that.
Plus, it’s her dress.
She smiled an innocent smile, toying with the lipstick tube. “But what if you didn’t need to face her?”
What do you mean?
“So really, it’s up to you, Fluffy Flower. You can let me take a few photographs tonight, or try and keep mom from discovering our games for as long as you can. Either way, she’ll know.“
She uncapped the lipstick, and slowly approached me. I still couldn’t stand up, because of a ‘stay sit’ order she’d given before negotiating with me. “If you refuse the camera, I get to put this on you. What will it be?”
Well, at least, makeup won’t ever be a problem as long as I have these.
I discarded the small cleansing wipe I’d produced from my bag, and double-checked for residues in the mirror.
Buying these on the way here was a smart move.
Ah, thanks… Good Omens?
I hadn’t ever heard of the authors - apparently, it had been co-authored.
A small smile appeared on Lou face. Definitely the first time I saw him actually displaying an expression. His smile was of the kind, discreet sort, and for some reason it made me feel very calm. Very different from Amelia’s threatening, almost scary grin.
“It is one of my favorite books,” he said. “I would like you to read it. You can even take it home if you need to.”
I looked at him, slightly surprised.
Okay… Let’s see, then.
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
She politely coughed. I finished my page and marked it before putting the book away in my bag.
“Did you two have a good evening?”
We nodded in unison. She looked pensive for a while.
“Was that Good Omens?”
“Well, anyway, I’m pretty tired. Have a good night, both of you.”
Have a good night, Mrs. Simon.
“Do you want me to come with you?”
I looked at him, trying to determine his motivations. Was he doing this for my sake, or did he just want to see Louisette?
You’d make an excellent poker player…
As long as she doesn’t mind, I’m okay with you coming.
It was of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind, but I still managed to catch it. His satisfied smile. “Alright,” he said.
“Oh, hello! What a surprise!”
I wasn’t fooled - after all, she’d been the one to open up a relatively quick path to her room when I’d pronounced her name at the entrance of the library. Yet, I smiled. No reason to be unpleasant when I’d chosen to come here in the first place.
“Could you let me spend the night here, Louisette?”
She nodded. “Sure, no problem. You’re staying too, right, Flower?”
My turn to nod.
I examined the cookie she’d offered to me.
Something’s tickling me… You’re a succubus, right?
“Yup,” came the immediate answer.
Why aren’t you trying to-
“Because I decided I didn’t want to,” she answered.
Lou took a bite of his own cookie. He’d decided to sit on the ground, for some reason.
I don’t understand… Aren’t you supposed to feed on-
“I was, at first. But then I met Sakura.”
She took a deep breath.
Thursday, November 9th, 1989
I was standing in front of a partying bar, pondering what to do with my life now. I knew the Bois de Boulogne’s crew wouldn’t let me come back, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep my current lifestyle in the first place.
“You know,” a female voice said, “even though this is a human party, you’re free to join. Besides, doesn’t the rain bother you?”
I shrugged, and looked at her. Her dark purple cape was gently flowing behind her.
I’m used to it.
What kind of business does Mirage Girl have with me?
She smiled at me. “Please, call me MG.”
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
I frowned. Was this a coincidence?
“Never heard of the legendary Mirage Girl?!” Louisette looked surprised. “She was a Japanese superhero who protected Paris in the eighties. Used to be pretty popular, until she retired. Anyway, back to my story.”
Thursday, November 9th, 1989
“The winds of change are blowing, aren’t they?”
I just nodded, not knowing what to say.
“Are you the one people call Désirée?”
Yeah, I guess I am…
“A friend of mine told me about your situation. Would you mind walking for a bit?”
I don’t know, MG… I think I’d like to stop living like that for a while.
“But, how would you get your sustenance, then? Aren’t you supposed to live on sexual energies?”
Well… As a succubus, my instinct leads me to doing just that, and it does keep me alive.
She looked pensive.
Thing is, having lived close to humans for such a long time, I’ve had time to think about things a lot.
I can’t help but feel we succubi look like lowly animals next to them.
“Because they are able to act against their instincts, right?”
Wait a minute… Aren’t you a human?
She shrugged, ignoring my question. “As far as I know, your species originally was just the same as mine - a creation of the global subconscious.”
I guess this answers my question...
“The accumulation of every single human’s belief. And, mankind’s way of slowly shaping the world.”
Does such a thing exist? I never heard of it.
“Oh, there’s no denying its existence. We’re the proof.”
But then, how can we even be having this conversation?
Aren’t we supposed to be stereotypical parodies of the beliefs that made us in the first place?
“Have you ever heard of evolution?”
I stared blankly at her.
Isn’t this the staple of ordinary, natural lifeforms?
“Not really,” she countered without an hint of hesitation. “We’re subject to change too. We do come to existence as typical specimen, but nothing prevents us from distancing ourselves from our original design - and we usually do, although accidentally.”
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
I kept on exchanging intrigued glances with Lou. Apparently, he was as curious and uninformed about Louisette as I was.
She just carried on.
“We kept on discussing for hours, and ended up watching the sunrise from the top of Montmartre. Eventually, she told me about an idea she’d had for decades.”
Friday, November 10th, 1989
A new species?
“That’s right. I want to know whether my powers are strong enough to rival the global subconscious’s.”
I kept silent for a minute or two.
That’d make you a god, wouldn’t it?
Anyway, what do you have in mind, exactly?
The room was rather small, but it had a mysteriously pleasant feel to it. I immediately felt at home.
Well, I guess we could give it a try.
She looked very excited. “You just need to sleep in this bed, then. I’ll work my magic while you’re asleep.”
I tentatively patted the bed.
You’ve been preparing this for a while, haven’t you?
“Well, kinda. I didn’t specifically prepare for a Succubus, but I did prepare this bed for a species alteration process. The idea’s been on my mind for some time now.”
Let’s do this, then.
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
“When I woke up, three days later, I looked like this. According to her, it was an unforeseen side effect of forced evolution, but I’m pretty sure she actually did it on purpose.”
She didn’t look particularly angry about that fact, though - rather, she seemed amused at her young appearance.
So, Mrs. Simon’s a retired superhero, and an extremely powerful creature… Was she the kitsune Amelia had gotten her blood from?
What about the crosses? And… what about your name?
She blushed a little. “She insisted on renaming me, saying I couldn’t be Désirée anymore. I wasn’t particularly attached to my past, so…”
Her voice trailed off. I was starting to reckon her current name wasn’t something she was particularly proud of.
Do you prefer Désirée?
“Nah!” came the immediate answer. “I just feel Louisette makes me sound a little too… weak? I think I’d have preferred a more neutral name.”
Most people don’t get to choose their name.
Plus, you do look kinda weak, in this body.
“And as for the crosses… Sakura lets me read her books. I’ve taken a liking to christianity.”
I stared at her.
“I don’t actually believe in Jesus or anything, mind you. But as a work of fiction… You know, the Bible’s a bestseller, first and foremost!”
I chuckled, she giggled; Lou actually laughed.
Awakening in the middle of Louisette’s bed and arms was going to take some time getting used to.
“Good morning,” came Lou’s voice. He was reading a book at the bed’s foot. “Did you sleep well?”
The wooden floor felt rough under my naked feet. Silly me.
I glanced at Lou’s feet. He was fine.
“What is the matter?”
She took my socks again.
I wasn’t used to hearing Lou ask for something. Apparently, neither were Mrs. Simon or Amelia.
“What’s a personal computer?” finally asked Amelia.
“You do seem to know a lot about computers,” Mrs. Simon eventually stated. “Would you mind accompanying us?”
I don’t have much to do today, so sure, why not?
I couldn’t help but apprehensively stare at the price column. Nothing prohibitive, but definitely much higher than my usual standards.
“Don’t worry about the prices,” Mrs. Simon said with a sincere smile. “I’m inviting you.”
The waitress kept her own smile on, patiently waiting for my choice. Amelia, for her part, was repetitively whispering the name of a plate in my hear, probably hoping I’d take it.
“So,” Mrs. Simon started once we’d chosen our respective meals, “I assume you had a talk with Louisette?”
How was it? Being a superhero, I mean.
She grinned. “Above all, I loved the kick I got when I had an occasion to fly around. Didn’t get to do it that often, though - especially once La Bossue retired.”
“Basically, as a superhero, my power was to trace, to copy. I could use any of my opponents and allies’ powers. And, thanks to my training, I was usually able to beat them with their own powers.”
I frowned, slightly.
Aren’t kitsune supposed to be extremely powerful?
That sounds kinda restrictive.
She laughed. “Like I said, as a superhero. People aren’t supposed to know I’m a kitsune, and at this time, nobody did.”
Oh, I see.
I poured Amelia a glass a water, earning a quick ‘thanks, Fluffy Flower’ from her.
Why would you restrain yourself, though? Would coming out as a kitsune have been a problem?
Slight blush. How unusual, coming from such an assured woman.
“You know, humans tend not to trust supernatural creatures. You’ve heard of what happened to Louisette when she was Désirée, haven’t you?”
She took a sip of her red wine.
“Mirage Girl’s secret identity couldn’t be that of a supernatural creature. So, I hid my tails and took on an ordinary human appearance. As a baby, Amelia can’t hide her tails yet, which is why you know about her - and, consequently, about me.”
“I’m not a baby anymore, mom!” protested the fox-tailed girl.
“I’ve lived over one hundred times longer than you have, Amelia. To me, you are a baby.”
She briefly stuck her tongue at her daughter, before taking another sip. It was Amelia’s turn to blush.
I quickly did the maths, and stared at her.
Does that mean you have nine tails already?
“I’d hate to have you as an opponent in court,” she simply stated.
“I think I want this one,” Lou eventually declared, interrupting the salesman’s babble about how important it was to take a guarantee extension.
I couldn’t help but grin.
This salesman was starting to annoy me. I was starting to suspect he wasn’t that knowledgeable about computers in the first place - at the very least, I’d heard at least two absurdities among his recommendations.
“Or,” he suddenly said out of the blue, “you can fall for this exceptional promotion and get the Office suite for free.”
Don’t you know hacking’s free?
“Okay, I think we’ve got enough data,” Mrs. Simon said. “Thanks a lot for your wonderful advice, sir.”
“Don’t forget, though, Macintoshes are a little more expensive than-”
I didn’t want to listen to him anymore.
Can’t you take a hint?
You’re supposed to be neutral, you know.
I stared intently at him; he calmly walked away after thinking about it for a few seconds.
“So, what do you think about Lou’s choice?”
He’ll enjoy using it, that’s for sure.
The question is whether you’re okay with its price.
“Then it’s settled.”
I booted up Lou’s new computer, and was greeted by a familiar bitten apple logo.
Okay, it works.
“Well then, if you don’t mind, I’ll leave Lou’s basic computer training to you. How does €120 sound?”
I nodded; Lou smiled.
I tried entering the WEP key Mrs.Simon had provided me with, and managed to ping Google without any difficulty.
Weird… Isn’t this supposedly the first time anyone in this house uses the Internet?
Where is this network coming from?
“I do not really care about it,” he stated with a shrug.
Well, you need to protect your identity anyway, so…
I validated the gmail account creation process for firstname.lastname@example.org.
I quickly tested the Mail account configuration.
There… I entered my own mail in your address book. You can mail me anytime you like.
Well, I guess I’ll let you toy around on your own for a now.
Try to keep track of the things you want me to teach you.
He put a hand on the mouse, silently nodding.
“Well, thanks again,” Mrs. Simon said while handing me the promised €120. “See you on Tuesday.”
I started for the door, but was interrupted by Amelia.
“I wanna kiss you goodbye,” she declared.
Eating alone at home felt weird after spending the last twenty four hours or so with the Simon family.
Oh well. Time to get to work.
I opened the Mirage HQ plans I’d been able to dig up, and started searching for potential infiltration routes.
I guess I’ll leave it at that for now…
Day of the Gobi, 3830th (Saturday, September 25th, 2010)
“Oh, Fluffy Flower? You’re here early today!”
Oh, these weird dreams again.
I was just starting to think that maybe they weren’t coming back.
She looked a little older than last time - she had the appearance of a late teenager. She also had a few more tails.
We were in an underground place, lit by old-fashioned lanterns on the earth walls. This all made me think of an old mine. Surprisingly considering the context, I’d apparently been sleeping in an actual bed.
“Well, since you’re here,” Amelia said, “why don’t you carry this box for me?”
She took a side step, revealing an heavy-looking chest that had been hidden behind her.
I blinked, realizing I once again was in the maid outfit. And then I sighed.
She led the way in an assured walk. I followed her, trying not to get distanced. And, not to stumble - the chest was pretty heavy.
What’s in it, by the way?
“You’ll know soon enough.”
We eventually found an exit, and trailed to a water pool.
“Put it down now,” she asked.
She approached, smiling. “Do you enjoy being my maid, Fluffy Flower?”
She looked amused by my answer.
“Well then, I think I’ll let you determine this box’s content. After all, I only created it because I wanted to keep you busy while you followed me around.”
I stared at her.
What do you mean?
She smiled enigmatically. “Come over here, Fluffy Flower.”
Is this really my subconscious?
She wiped her lips, grinning.
Am I really dreaming this?
She took a few steps back, her tails flailing against the strong wind that had suddenly started to blow.
How am I supposed to interpret such a scene?
She stuck her tongue at me. “Now you’re the one blushing.”
I was starting to notice we were standing in the eye of what looked like a forming storm. Black dust clouds were being lifted everywhere around us, severely diminishing my ability to see anything beyond Amelia, the box or the water pool.
“You might want to focus on the clothes you’d like to find in the box,” she suggested.
I was way too busy being embarrassed by the recent events to listen.
Day of the Rokubi, 3831st (Sunday, September 26th, 2010)
Suddenly, the dust clouds disappeared.
“There,” Amelia simply stated.
I wasn’t sure what to answer. She looked way too calm.
“Fluffy Flower? Are you okay?”
I absentmindedly nodded.
Sorry… I guess you kinda surprised me.
She just smiled. I noticed she looked slightly different. A little older, perhaps?
“Are you finally starting to wonder about these worlds being mere dreams?”
I put my hand on my mouth, but the word had escaped my lips already. She’d managed to actually destabilize me, and she knew it.
She lifted the box’s lid, her tails wavering in my general direction.
Did she just grow one more tail?
I wasn’t sure.
“A little black dress?” She giggled. “What were you thinking when the storm stopped?”
“Well, I’m afraid your maid uniform simply won’t do now that you’ve got this wonderfully short dress,” she stated with a predatory grin. “Plus, you were the one to imagine it. Fluffy Flower, put it on.”
I felt the now familiar reaction Amelia’s direct orders triggered in my body, and reluctantly snatched the garment from her hands.
No point in wasting time.
I wasn’t used to feeling this naked. I didn’t even have shoes anymore.
The worst part was I couldn’t put the blame on Amelia this time - I had been thinking about such a dress at the moment the storm had stopped. On Amelia, though.
She closed the box, and produced a combination padlock to secure it. Its sinister click made the current situation sink in.
I was completely stuck.
“Now,” Amelia answered out of the blue, “you’re going to be my play date, because that’s what your dress is for. Any objections?”
Yes, I’m supposed to be your babysitter.
Also, you’re supposed to be barely more than half my age.
“I thought not.”
“This is my world, Fluffy Flower,” she said in an astonishingly serious tone. “And, we aren’t actually going out together. We’re just playing around with what we have.”
“It’s consequences free, so just relax!”
She groaned, obviously annoyed with my reluctance. “Please, Fluffy Flower?”
She nodded. “You have my word. And when I give my word, I never break it.”
Five-seconds long reasoning.
Okay, let’s to this, ‘love’.
Wait a minute… Isn’t this the house I cleaned up last time?
She smiled. “Don’t worry, ‘love’, I am not having you be my maid again. Well, not today, at the very least.”
She stared at me, a wicked grin on her lips. I sighed, and slipped back into the role I’d agreed to take on.
Obviously enough, she stopped dancing after a few seconds.
That’s what I said… no music.
She looked at me in the eyes for a moment, apparently concentrating.
Did you… did you just read my mind?
“Don’t worry about it, ‘love’.”
But… such an obscure song?
I’m pretty sure you don’t even know where it comes from!
She silently tugged on my hand, and we resumed our waltz at an accelerated rhythm. No way I was skipping a chance to dance, even badly, on Evangelion’s Thanatos - If I Can’t Be Yours.
I plopped down next to her, covered in sweat.
“So, ‘love’? Isn’t this fun?”
I didn’t bother answering - I was still busy catching my breath.
“That’s not going to work,” she declared with an amused smile. “You can’t sleep here if you’re sleeping in the other world.”
Other world… Oh, right.
But… why is that so?
“I don’t really know how explain it… Let’s just say it’s the way things work. Ask mom if you want to know more.”
I was starting to consider doing just that as soon as possible.
“So, how do I look?”
You look nice, ‘love’.
More importantly, I feel less naked and more comfortable now.
She’d decided she wanted to swap our outfits for the remainder of our time together. I was pretty happy with the long, heavy dress I’d obtained.
Say, Amelia… Are you really sure playing like this is alright?
She looked at me, silently prompting me to speak my mind.
I mean, I’ll admit we aren’t in the real-
“Once again,” she interrupted me, “this is a real world, Fluffy Flower.”
I guess that’s true… but how real is it?
She shrugged. “I’m not sure how to tell.”
Not making things any easier, but that probably is the point.
I stayed silent, trying to find a way to properly convey my ideas.
I think our vocabulary’s too vague…
Would you mind calling this world ‘Amelia’s World’?
She grinned. “I like this name.”
That’s because it’s your name.
And as for the other world…
“How about ‘Home World’?”
Home world… I guess it works.
A-World and H-World, for short?
She nodded again.
So… What I meant to say was, I’m not sure we should indulge in date play just because we’re in A-World.
I mean, sure, there are no consequences, but…
Is that really a reason to just fool around?
She just stared at me, remaining silent. I wasn’t sure exactly how well she understood my words. Was I talking to a young adult, or to a child who looked like a young adult?
“You know, I don’t think we are ‘fooling around’,” she suddenly told me. “I don’t know about you, but even though this is ‘just a game’ with no actual ‘consequences’, I’m quite serious about playing it correctly.”
What do you mean?
“And,” she continued without answering my question, “we aren’t date playing ‘just because we’re in A-World’. Rather, we’re date playing because we have an occasion to do so, and I decided to take this opportunity. Had we been in a similar situation in H-World, I’d have played the exact same way.”
I stared at her, speechless. She actually had a pretty good handle of the situation. Possibly way better than mine.
“What about you, Fluffy Flower? What’s your mind on the matter?”
I don’t know...
I feel uneasy, but I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure it’s justified.
She shrugged. “Want some time to think things through? I can’t exactly play with you if you’re too busy freaking out over the implications.”
“Well then, I guess this’ll be goodbye for now. Good luck, Fluffy Flower!”
And with that, she was gone. I looked at the broom I’d used a few days ago to clean this place, and started cogitating.
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
My alarm clock finally managed to jerk me out of Amelia’s World and into my own bed. I lay motionless for a while, before eventually deciding it was time for breakfast.
He was dodging my gaze, fixing the half-empty glass in his hands instead.
What did you want to talk about?
“Alice left me for you,” Bob eventually answered in an shockingly calm voice.
When I remained silent, he went on.
“She said she no longer had any romantic feelings for me. That, I can cope with. However… What I’m having an hard time understanding is why she’d hook up with you instead.”
Rivalry it is, then.
Friendship isn’t enough to completely avoid it, is it?
“I mean, honestly… What do you have that I don’t? What’s so special about you?”
I shrugged. I didn’t feel like arguing with him in his current state.
He wasn’t even noticing he was busier ranting about my supposedly undeserved luck than actually trying to understand Alice’s reasons. And, most importantly, he wasn’t listening to my inputs at all. I doubted he even heard them.
I finished my glass and stood up, stopping him mid-sentence.
Look, we may be friends, Bob, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with this kind of ‘conversation’.
He blinked. I guess he hadn’t expected me to dare interrupt him. Too bad for him.
You can call me the day you actually want to talk, but I’m not interested in a monologue.
Did Alice tell you about All Saints?
He stared at me, visibly very annoyed that I wasn’t going to just passively sit in front of him. “Yeah,” he eventually admitted. “Don’t worry, I’ll finish what I started with you guys. However… Once Mirage is done for, I’m leaving the Quartet.”
I looked at him, straight in the eye. He looked determined.
Okay. As you wish, Bob.
I paid for my drink and quickly left, trying not to tremble. Once I was sure I was out of his sight, I stopped walking to calm down.
Can’t be a Quartet if we’re only three, idiot.
“I am getting used to browsing,” Lou messaged back. “It is not that complicated, especially thanks to the tips you gave me yesterday.”
Good. Anything you need help with?
I didn’t expect a positive answer, and I didn’t get one. He had found Gtalk on his own, after all.
“Amelia says she would like to talk to you. Would you mind?”
No, not at all.
Though I’d rather talk to her in person at this point.
“hello fluffy flower”
I laughed. At least, they’d be easy to tell apart on the Internet for a while.
She was a dangerously quick learner. We hadn’t been talking for more than ten minutes, and yet she’d already corrected her inability to properly use a keyboard.
“I think I’ll ask mom for a computer too.”
Well… I guess it’s up to her, isn’t it?
“She just said it’s okay.”
At some point, Lou messaged me again.
“Do you have a webcam?” he asked.
Should I assume you just discovered Skype?
Monday, September 27th, 2010
“Well, I guess he’s busy sulking. Did you have a good week-end?”
Where do I start.
“Miss Redfield,” our informatics teacher suddenly asked from his desk, “would you like to answer the question?”
Alice shrugged, dramatically stood up and turned his way.
There she goes again.
She sat down; he sighed, and nodded. I think she exasperated him.
How do you do that?
She was grinning. We soon resumed talking about our weekend, forgetting about our teacher’s interruption.
“Well, I gotta go to my gardening class. See you around, Flower!”
Gardening? Am I allowed to call you Alice la Jardinière, then?
She didn’t answer that.
Our gadget engineering teacher, Miss Bergman, was an incredibly gentle but bizarre person who always told us to try to understand machines and biological life forms as different instances of a single, underlying movement principle. She regarded people who threw broken devices without trying to repair them with as much disgust as murderers, and sometimes compared herself to a mechanics medic.
A lot of my fellow classmates thought she was crazy, which probably was one of the reasons only four of us were present this afternoon.
That all being said, she also happened to have invented a few hundred currently patented devices which had made her a literal billionaire. She wasn’t spending time teaching here for the money, which seemed to mean she had a sincere wish to share her knowledge.
She calmly examined the talkie-walkie prototype I was working on, humming Rocky’s Gonna Fly Now theme. Once her inspection was complete, she put it back on my desk, nodding approvingly.
“You’re getting pretty good,” she said with a smile. “Would you mind talking a little after class? I might have an interesting project to share with you.”
Sure, why not?
She’d lost me when she’d started talking about universal fabric. I carefully raised my hand, prompting her to pause her explanation. Thankfully, her professor instincts could still be used to jerk her out of her technobabble, even though we weren’t in class.
I’m not sure I understand… What are you actually trying to create, exactly?
And… why do you need me?
She apologetically grinned.
“Sorry, I tend to get very excited about this project. I’m talking about building a teleporter.”
She remained silent for a while, letting the idea sink in.
Perhaps my classmates are right and you actually are crazy.
I considered leaving before she accidentally transformed me into a fly or threw me in some distant past.
You didn’t answer my other question...
Basically… You’re asking me specifically because you feel I may have the potential to help?
I’m flattered, but…
I’m just an ordinary student. There are thousands of scientists and engineers out there who are-
“You’re a student here at the Great Hall,” she simply stated, cutting me mid-sentence.
I tilted my head.
What do you mean?
Okay, I think I got it.
Perhaps the potential does lie in me.
She smiled. “So, will you give it a try?”
Hypothetically speaking, when would I be working?
“Every Wednesday, from ten to twenty.”
“I talked about it with your navigation teacher. He’s okay with taking you in another time slot.”
Which means you planned this all in advance, doesn’t it?
She just smiled.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Oh, here comes Alice la Jardinière.
“Don’t start something you’re unwilling to finish,” she gently told me.
You’re the one who insist on calling me Flower!
She didn’t answer that.
“I don’t mind at all,” she decreed with a smile, interrupting me. “Amelia can have you when you’re asleep.”
But… Isn’t that a little…
“But only when you’re asleep,” she suddenly added. “If she wants to play date with you while you’re awake, she’ll have to ask me first.”
Does that mean you expect me to introduce you to her?
I stared at the little black dress Amelia was holding in front of me. It was an exact copy of the one I’d worn in a dreamed (or not - I wasn’t sure anymore) play date with an older Amelia three nights ago, down to the grey rose that was drawn across the left breast.
What does that mean?
“What are your blabbering about? That’s obvious. Play date.”
Wait a minute.
This… this is H-World, right?
Where did you find this dress?
And what about our deal?
“I am keeping my word, ‘love’. Never said I’d stop dressing you up, I only agreed to stop trying to show you to mom in your maid dress.”
There you are, dodging half my questions again.
Plus this isn’t ‘my’ maid dress.
She gently pressed the little black dress in my hands and left the room, putting a stop to my protestations. “You’ve got ten minutes,” her voice solemnly declared through the door.
You’ll get me in trouble...
This time, I was in my normal body; the dress didn’t fit nearly as well as it had in my dream. I gently sighed, sitting on the sofa. There still was some time left before Amelia’s return.
I hope Alice won’t get too mad at me…
“You look troubled,” Lou’s voice suddenly said, making me jump. He’d just come back from the library, and was silently staring at me from the room’s entrance.
Do you know anything about the worlds Amelia creates in her dreams?
He looked at me, visibly puzzled.
I was glad she wasn’t nearly as daring as she’d been in A-World. Kissing her now would have been wrong on way too many levels, and I somehow had a feeling Sakura wouldn’t have been okay with that either.
“Good night, ‘love’.”
Come on, Amelia, the play date’s over.
“Says the one who’s in a date dress.”
I blushed slightly at the insinuation, and silently let her kiss me goodbye before closing her room’s door.
“Would you mind telling me about these ‘worlds Amelia creates in her dreams’?” he asked while helping me out of my dress.
I looked at him above my shoulder, and nodded.
“You might want to start taking notes,” he eventually said, sounding like a scientist four times his age. “Assuming you stand a chance against her powers, you are going to need to learn as much as you possibly can about them.”
Yeah… but then again, this might all turn out to be futile a futile effort in the end.
Maybe her powers simply can’t be resisted.
“I do not think her powers work on me.”
But, doesn’t she order you around at times?
“I never felt forced to obey her. I cannot rule the hypothesis that she actually is controlling me out, but if she does have an emprise on me, it is sufficiently advanced that I do not notice it.”
Which pretty much means you’re either completely immune or fully controlled.
He shrugged at that. “Or, she simply does not want to use her powers on me.”