Another late one, but life has been busy. As always, critique is 100% welcome! Now, onto the content.
This prompt was provided by Leah, aka @thewisevixen
“Prompt #7: An individual is faced with the choice of a lifetime- but something is preventing them from making it. Detail their struggle both internal and external- as well as their conclusion. (No time period restriction. EG: Medieval, sci fi, modern, prehistoric.) ”
For some people, their life could be defined by a single choice.
A knight who choose to brave the dragon, and rescued the princess.
A hero who accepted the call to challenge the demon king.
Asking that girl out to prom.
Yes, the world (or rather, it’s fiction) was full of examples of people taking life by the horns and changing everything in one nice, easily packaged sweep.
“So why is this so hard?!” screamed Peter, burying his face in his hands. The fifteen year old boy sat hunched over his desk, his dark bangs hanging over his eyes ―though his eyes were already covered by his fingers. His room was a mess, his sheets scattered all over the floor from when he rolled out of bed this morning in surprise. He still hadn’t picked up his lamp after it toppled to the floor, the cord having caught on his foot that morning. His alarm clock flashed 12:00 repeatedly in digital red, it too having been unplugged due to his morning tumble and not yet reset.
He had no posters up, but his walls had the telltale stains of tape to mark where they had once been. Instead he had a bookcase that was half books, half DVDs, next to his bed, and a small CRT TV against the opposite wall. It rested upon a stand, which also held a Playstation 4 that doubled as his DVD player, and his rather small game library.
Outside the morning had yet to really begin, only the tip of the sun poking out over the tops of the neighboring houses. Not that this itself was noticeable, for Peter had already tugged his blinds shut and closed the windows tightly. Relatedly, the heavier top blanket had been hastily shoved into the gap between the floor and his bedroom door to help muffle the noise as he talked. To whom?
“It’s actually pretty easy,” came the sweet, high pitched voice of the talking plushie.
Well, that was probably the best way to describe it at least. It was vaguely in the shape of a cat ―two sharp ears pointing up at a precise 45 degree angle and flicking about like a feline’s, four legs ending in paws, and a long thin tail that was held straight up. But the similarities ended there, for it’s eyes were more or less black marbled inset into its soft cherubic face, with what looked like a visible line of stitches bisecting it length-wise ― right up between its eyes.
Peter groaned, “No, not that part of it…” he corrected for the fourth time this morning, his face slipping between his hands and slamming into his desk in exasperation. It’d been like this for the last hour, when the weird thing had startled him awake by jumping up onto his chest.
Forty nine minutes ago…
“Wake up! You must accept your destiny!”
Peter’s eyes fluttered open, and he found himself nose to nose with soulless black eyes staring at him at point blank range. He did what any normal person would have done in this situation “AAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” and screamed in terror.
His mood wasn’t helped when the thing on his chest suddenly slammed both its paws down on his mouth to muffle him, “S-shh! Don’t wake everyone up, I can’t do the ritual if someone interrupts!”
The boy reacted as a normal person would to those words, and flailed in panic. Sheets flew into the air, and the creature thudded softly against the wall next to his desk, and soon the room was filled with his terrified screams. The plushie popped back up as if nothing had happened though, not even needing to shake off the impact. It simply padded across the room and then sat itself down on the center of the carpet.
“I’d really appreciate it if you stopped, please,” it called out, which seemingly snapped the boy out of irrational panic, and swapped it to more rational forms of panic.
Back in the present…
“Would you like me to explain it again?” the plushie asked patiently. Peter just groaned in response, hoping that perhaps his nonverbal statement would make it shut up for him to think.
Unfortunately, it took that as a sign to recap. “Very well then!―” a louder groan issued from the boy but it continued anyways, “I am Cait, one of the servants of the goddess Brigantia. I have been tasked with sending back those who escaped the Otherworld. To this end, I have been granted the ability to give those with magical potential both power and knowledge to fight and seal spirits.” It paused, then tilted its head. “Are there any questions so far?”
Peter lifted his head slightly from his desk and mumbled, “Yeah who names a cat, Cat anywa―“ suddenly his face slammed back into his desk, as the plushie leapt onto his head and shoved him back down.
Without it’s expression shifting in the least it corrected, “It’s pronounced, Cait.” A second passed. “You dolt.”
The teen groaned again, gingerly rubbing his nose after lifting his head again, and casting a glare at the creature. “Listen, it’s not the… fantastic powers that’s the problem,” he groused.
“I should hope not, that’s the best part of the job! Next to the honor I mean.”
“It’s the uniform I have a problem with!” he shouted loudly, banging his hand on the desk and turning red with embarrassment.
Cait tilted its head in confusion at him. “It is perfectly functional”
Peter reached for the clothes on the ground, “This!” he lifted them up, “Is not a ‘functional’ uniform!”
The plushie regarded it with its beady black eyes, before asking, “What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s a dress!”
“Kilt, actually. Very practical, freedom of movement. Traditional even.”
“The shirt is literally skin tight!”
“It’s a tunic, don’t want it flapping all over the place. Also traditional.”
“And these tights!”
Cait stared at him. It didn’t actually have a good excuse for that one, so it fell back to its more convenient argument. “It is destiny.”
Peter groaned again, and leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling. It was all a little bit freaky, and he wasn’t sure if he was simply having the most vivid dream he had ever experienced, or if this was real. Logically thinking about it being given mystical powers to fight evil was almost literally his dream. At the very least Cait had made it clear he’d have some rad elemental themed super powers, and the freedom to use them however he wanted so long as he fought a ghost like, once a week. A bad evil ghost, to be clear, definitely deserving of going back to hell or uh, the “Otherworld.” Plus it was some grand destiny thing.
On the other hand, he had to put of a silly dress, and his powers would only work if he did a little dance with a wand before hand. Peter was fifteen, that would be social suicide. Not to mention meant his unlimited magical power usage would be severely curtailed if he wanted to like, actually use it. Or show anyone, including Anwuli. God she’d probably think he was a pervert or something.
“There’s nothing perverted about wearing a dress, much less a kilt,” interjected Cait.
“Gah!” Peter nearly fell over backwards, barely catching himself with his foot underneath his desk. “Did you just read my mind?!” The cat thing first made a nuzzling motion against its paw that the boy belatedly realized was supposed to be a mime of a feline grooming itself. Then it responded.
“No. But you’re not the first human teenager I’ve had to deal with.” The cat sighed, and swished its tail. “By the goddess, when did humans start thinking skirts weren’t for men anyways?”
The teenage stared at it in askance. “Dude, it’s so girly,” he said as if it was the most plain thing possible.
“There’s nothing more manly than a kilt,” Cait countered, it unblinking eyes boreing into his gaze uncompromisingly. “It lets you fight without reducing your agility, and it masks your leg motions slightly which can be important in close range combat.”
Silence filled the room, as Peter’s chair creaked. Seconds passed and then, “Dude that’s kind of sexist. I mean are you really saying fighting is only a thing men do and thus it is manly?”
“You’re the one complaining about manliness kid,” the plushie pointed out, a hint of annoyance creeping into its tone. “If you’re just going to fish for excuses to avoid destiny then —“ the creature leapt up onto his desk and began padding over towards the closed window, “—I’ll just go. Ignore it then, fine, let the Otherworld flood all over the streets and let people die.”
Peter paled. Not only was his chance for rad superpowers walking out the door, he felt the guilt well up in the pit of his stomach. God, letting people die just because he had to wear a dress was…
“I’ll do it!” he shouted suddenly, slamming his hands on his desk. Cait turned, paw midway to undoing the latch, and regarded him with its blank eyes.
“Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to break into another house today.”
The teen blinked. “What?”
“Nothing!” Cait did another one of those nuzzling motions while speaking. “So, if you agree that means it’s time to do the ritual and contract.”
Peter’s breathing grew slower, his heart thudding in his chest. W-was this really happening? He couldn’t go back after this could he? Solemnly he lifted a hand to his chest, wide-eyed, and asked, “What do I need to do?”
Cait meanwhile, was chasing its tail. “Just sit still,” it said flatly. “Finally I’ll get a break.” The boy held still nervously, his doubts already beginning to well up as nothing happened and —
“Done,” Cait announced. Going back to nuzzling its paw again.
“Yes. Wait, hmmm,” the plushie lifted a paw to its face, and tapped under its chin in a weirdly human motion.
Peter collapsed on the floor, Cait having thrown a tiny wand at his face. “You’ll need that. I’ll be back later this evening for your training,” it said, before opening the latch and leaping outside.