Disclaimer: I do not own Animal Crossing.
Author's Note: Alright, let's do this. Let's do an Animal Crossing story. Why not? This story will be a total of two chapters long. I'll post the second chapter whenever I feel like it.
It seemed that everybody loved the fortune teller except for Butch the dog. It wasn't so much that he didn't believe in that sort of stuff; he was open minded. It was just that there was so much ridiculous hype. Whenever she came to town and set up a booth, and whenever any of his neighbors went to the city, everyone would obsess for days afterward about good luck charms and astrological signs. If anyone tripped or fell into a pothole, it was because they hadn't caught the right kind of fish in January. Regular, everyday things became the stuff of fate. Whether it really was fate or not (again, he wasn't discounting it), it irritated him that people felt the need to constantly acknowledge it once Katrina the fortune teller had come to town. This was why he didn't go do this kind of thing himself.
His next door neighbor Peanut was always going on about the things Katrina said.
"You know, she told me about eels today," she said.
"Oh, yeah? What'd she say about the eels?" Butch had come out to nap in the sun, in peace, but he had come to learn that when Peanut wanted to talk, she just talked and that was that. If he didn't answer her, she usually talked for longer, so he answered her.
Peanut was watering a little tulip garden outside her house. Tulips were good luck this year, or so he'd heard. "She said that if you catch an eel in July, you'll have more friends by November, but if you catch three eels in July, something terrible could happen! Did you know that? Isn't that bizarre?"
"Yeah, that's really bizarre," he mumbled. "It's like someone made it up, or something." (He really was open minded, though. He was.)
"I know! It's so crazy how it's true, though!"
He rolled over on his lawn chair as she babbled on about something that had happened to some person online after catching three or four eels in July. Yes, his income had gone up, but oh God, his poor mother... Butch let his eyes drift closed to the rhythmic ups and downs of her concerned voice and soon found himself dreaming.
"You should really go there sometime!"
"To get your fortune told!"
He rolled over again. "Nahh..."
"I'm serious! It's so much fun! Her methods are different from any other fortune teller I ever went to! Nobody knows where she learned them from, but it's just really cool and unique and you should go!"
He shrugged, which irritated her, but she said nothing and continued tending her garden.
It was about a week and a half later that he actually saw the little tent and decided to go inside. He had seen it before in various parts of town, sitting humbly but ornately in the shade of a tree or near a waterfall. This time, it was at the bank of the river, covered in little bits of dappled sunshine. It was draped in deep violet fabric and lined with gold trinkets. He went in on a whim.
Inside, the tent was even more ornate, but it was harder to see the decorations because of how dimly lit the place was. He fumbled his way in through the low door and was greeted by a striking black panther who was, to his chagrin and slight amusement, dressed very much like her tent. She had on a lot of dark purple, and everything had gold coins on it somewhere. She looked good and all, but it was a little much.
She smiled and motioned for him to sit down. Seeing nothing but a small cushion, he obliged, maneuvering his way awkwardly around the cloth hanging from the ceiling.
"My name is Katrina," she said. "Would you like me to read your fortune today?"
"Um...," he said slowly, looking around. "I dunno, really."
"Ahh," she said, peering at him from beneath her red veil. She nodded. "You do not know why you are here."
He frowned. "Was that supposed to sound psychic?"
"What?" She seemed slightly taken aback.
"When you said 'You do not know why you are here.' and nodded like that, even though I just now implied to you that I didn't know why I was here."
She narrowed her eyes.
"No," he said. "I mean, don't be offended, but you can't just point out the obvious and then try to make it sound like you used your powers to figure it out. It actually makes you seem less psychic. I'm just saying."
She was squinting at him now, decidedly peeved. "You are a skeptic?"
"Well- I mean, I'm open minded, but-"
"Would you like me to read your fortune, or not?"
"Ahh," he said, "I really don't know. Everyone's talking about fortunes, and, you know, they're talking about your fortunes, and I hear you're great. Don't get me wrong. But every time I hear about a fortune, it's usually something ambiguous like 'Good will come your way.' Good comes everybody's way, you know?"
She nodded again, calmly. "I know. And you are wise for being skeptical, but perhaps I can help you to believe." She folded her paws and looked at him with her strange, gold eyes. "Would you like me to tell you something about yourself?"
He paused. "What do you mean?"
She smiled down at the dark purple velvet on her little desk. "Most of the people who walk into my tent already believe in what I do, so I offer them their fortune, and that is that. For the people who come in just to tell me I am wrong, I have a special offer." She gazed back up at him. "Would you like me to tell you something about yourself? It is free of charge, just this one time."
Something in her expression made the back of his neck prickle, and he almost left. Instead he said, "Sure, alright."
He was expecting her to smile and nod again, but she instead became perfectly still. Her eyes remained in perfect, unbroken, unblinking contact with his own. He tried to look away, tried to blink, but found himself compelled to stare back. The prickling on the back of his neck got worse as her eyes became slowly, unnaturally wider. They were beautiful eyes, and he couldn't stand to keep looking at them, but he did. He stared directly into them because he couldn't look away, and the whole world around those eyes became gradually obscured by the throbbing, foggy colors of hypnagogia. Somewhere in the middle of it all, he heard her begin to chant in a language he couldn't understand. The colors around her began to swirl and mix and turn black, until it was nothing but dark haze around those two big, golden eyes.
Slowly, slowly, he began to experience something that he was never able to explain for the rest of his life. He began to feel that her eyes were no longer outside of him, but inside of him. Whenever he would try to recount those few minutes to his close friends and family later on, the best way he could describe it was to say that it felt as though she was going around in his mind opening little doors and peeking inside them. Even the ones that were locked, she got open with ease, and she went deeper and deeper into his head until she had seen even the things that he had carefully hidden away from himself. By the end of those few minutes, she knew him better than anyone did, and he had felt her all deep inside the tender parts of his head, and it was just a cruel thing for her to do because he knew absolutely nothing about her. When she was done, she sucked herself back out of his mind like a gust of cold air, and all the little doors slammed shut at once, and he gasped and was no longer paralyzed.
She told him in a prompt, matter-of-fact way that when he was a small child, he had walked along the banks of the river in his hometown collecting various smooth, striped stones in a shiny, red plastic bucket with a green handle that he had decorated with blue permanent marker. While wading in the water, he tripped, and the bucket and all his stones were lost in the rapids, so he caught a newt instead and brought it home to show his mother. This was true.
Butch sat on the cushion, dumbfounded. Katrina smiled and said, "Thank you for coming."
At first he wasn't sure what to do. "Uh...," he said.
"Thank you for coming," she said again. Her gold eyes flitted to the door behind him, and he realized that he was supposed to leave.
"I... Wait," he said. "What... where are you from...?"
She nodded towards the door.
"Wait... But... That isn't fair!" he stammered. "Tell me something about you now!"
"You may go," she said.
"What's your last name?"
She stood up and took his arm and gently escorted him out of the room.
"But I... Please?" he said desperately. "How old are you...?"
She closed the little door on her little purple tent.
He stood outside for a few moments, incredulous and shaken. As he walked home, he became angry, and then frightened. He lay in bed that night feeling unpleasantly naked.
After that, he became fascinated by any conversation involving the fortune teller. He listened to whatever his neighbors had to say, and asked anybody and everybody if they happened to know anything about the strange character in the tent. Nobody knew anything, of course, which frustrated him. Even Peanut, who visited her almost every time she came to the village, had little to say about Katrina herself.
"I'm really glad you tried visiting Katrina for once," said Peanut one day as he lay awake on his lawn chair. "Isn't it so cool how she does that chant, and stuff? I just think it adds so much to the experience."
"Yeah... right... the chant..." His stomach turned as he remembered the way her voice had sounded when the colors had begun to swirl. The memory haunted him in the day and the night like a recurring fever dream.
"What did she tell you that day, anyway?" she asked.
"I don't... really feel like talking about that right now, okay?"
"Oh...," she said. "Bad fortune, huh?"
"It was fine, alright? It just wasn't that memorable."
She glanced up from her tulip garden. "You don't look so good," she said. "Are you okay?"
"Huh? Yeah...," he said, staring up at the sky.
"Are you sure? You look like you just saw a ghost, or something."
"I'm fine," he said.
She hesitated. "How bad was the fortune?"
"It wasn't bad. It was just normal."
"Seriously, was it really bad?" her voice grew timid and hushed. "Is- is somebody gonna die?"
"It's fine. Everyone's fine."
"I think I'm gonna go inside, alright? I'll see you later." He folded his chair, went inside, shut the windows, and lay awake on his bed in the dark.
Butch was a resilient dog, and he had expected himself to forget about it after a few weeks or so. He couldn't understand why he was still unable to think straight after a month had gone by. He hid the symptoms well when he was around others, but he still lay awake most nights, and he still kept watch for the small tent, or maybe a red and purple booth. He was frightening himself. How much longer was this supposed to last? It wasn't as though it was a traumatic experience. Right? This didn't count as a traumatic experience, right? She had said she'd done it to other skeptics, and those people weren't traumatized. Or were they? He supposed after all that he'd never found out what had happened to them. But why should he be traumatized if she hadn't hurt him, or insulted him, or even touched him at all? She was just doing her job, right? Maybe he was just being squeamish about something that normal people did all the time. As it became harder and harder for him to make it through the nights, he began to wonder if he had become weak.
Sometime in mid August, the subject of Butch's questions finally came up in a conversation with Rover the cat, who traveled out of jovial compulsion and visited their little town quite frequently. Butch had originally met Rover on the train, as most of the villagers had, and though he had originally found him annoying, they had become relatively good friends over the years. And so one late afternoon, the two of them were walking along the beach, and the subject of conversation drifted from fishing to eels to good luck charms, and, of course, to Katrina, of whom Rover happened to be a somewhat regular customer.
"You visit Katrina?" Butch said, suddenly alert at the mention of her name.
"Oh, yeah, sometimes," said Rover. "I like to know what's lucky every now and then, that's all."
"You go there a lot? What kind of, uh, what kind of stuff do you do?"
Rover gave him a funny look. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I, uh, I don't know."
"I guess I get my fortune read sometimes. Usually I just go there to find out about lucky charms. You know, the usual stuff."
Butch frowned. "Yeah, I went there once, and-"
"You went there?" said Rover. "Man, that really didn't strike me as your kind of place."
"Yeah, I dunno," said Butch. "But, yeah, I went there once, and... well... When you went there, did she ever do that sort of... mind-meld thing?"
Rover raised an eyebrow. "You know, you can't really mind-meld, buddy."
"No, I'm not asking if she can, I'm saying she did it to me."
"What? Come on. What? No."
"When I was there, yeah," Butch said. "Stop looking at me weird! I-I went there, and I guess I said something that ticked her off, and she kind of looked... She mind-melded me."
"No she didn't. You can't even do that."
"I'm not really explaining it right!" he said. He suddenly found himself becoming worked up. His speech became fast. "I... I mean... Peanut says she has a completely unique method! Maybe that's just something you can do in some obscure part of the world! It happened to me, okay?"
"Shut up!" he said, more loudly than he'd meant to.
"Whoah." Rover held up his paws. "You alright? You're breathing kinda hard there."
"She...," Butch swallowed. "She did this thing, and I don't know what it was, but she took... She took her eyes and..."
"I told her I didn't really believe in her fortune telling stuff, and she asked me if she should tell me something about myself, and I said, 'Sure,' or something, and then she just stared at me for a really long time and I-I felt like she was all... in my head, or something. I... I mean, I could feel her. In my head."
Rover paused. "What do you... What?"
"C'mon, man! You're not listening!"
"Okay. Alright," Rover said slowly. "You just need to calm down a little. I'm confused, that's all. Why are you freaking out? Are you alright?"
"You're breathing really hard. You need to sit down?"
"Maybe you should sit down."
"I'm okay," Butch said. "I'm fine! Why are you touching me?"
"You're having a panic attack, or something! I don't know! You want to sit down?"
"I'll sit down, then! Fine! Jeez!"
"Take a deep breath," Rover said.
"I'm not gonna do that!"
"Okay," said Rover. "Fine. Just calm down."
"I'm calm! There! Look! What do you want?"
Rover sat down on the sand next to him. "Alright," he said. "So, what happened with the mind-meld thing?"
"I... She... She just... I could feel her all in my mind, you know? She did this weird chant thing, and she looked at me, and... I don't know, okay? I could... feel her all inside my brain, and it was all... It felt all weird, but, I mean, that's normal, right? Did you ever feel like you could feel her brain, like, touching your brain?"
"I... I don't think that ever happened to me, no," Rover said, looking slightly concerned.
"Not when you were doing the fortune thing?"
"No. Well, she did a chant, but I didn't feel weird, or anything. It just added to the atmosphere a little. It was just kind of cool and campy and stuff."
"It wasn't all dark-magicky, or anything?"
"No," Rover said. "You're sure you weren't just kinda weirded out by the vibe, or something?"
"No, I'm serious! She did something to me!" He furrowed his eyebrows and stared down at his knees. "I mean I could seriously feel her crawling around in my head, and it was creepy... and... I think she looked at all my memories and secrets and stuff. I'm being serious. She-she told me one of my childhood memories, detail for detail."
"Really?" Rover looked surprised and rather impressed. "Well... wow. Okay, then."
"Yeah, but it was weird!"
"I don't know," Rover said. "Are you sure she wasn't just doing her job? I mean, yeah, it freaked you out, but she did ask you first."
"It's not the same if you don't warn someone. I just feel like she was crossing some sort of line, you know? She knew I was creeped out afterwards, but she just made me leave the tent without saying anything! There wasn't any 'Warning! This might freak you out,' and there wasn't a 'Oh, hey, sorry I freaked you out.' It was just, 'There, I proved you wrong. Now get out of my tent.' You get what I'm saying?"
"No you don't!" Butch said. "Stop siding with her! Why are you taking her side?"
"I'm not siding with her," Rover said. "It's just that she's a professional, and, well, you know that going into a fortune teller's tent is kind of a crapshoot anyway. Sometimes you get something normal, and maybe sometimes you get something totally creepy. That's how stuff like that goes."
"Yeah, I know, but it's different with Katrina because everybody in the whole town and outside of town and in the city trusts Katrina, and people take their little, tiny five-year-olds in there to get their palms read. She knows she's trustworthy, and she knows she's expected to be trustworthy and supposed to be trustworthy, and right there with me, she was being untrustworthy and seedy, and I know I can't prove it, but she deliberately stepped way into my personal boundaries just to make a point, and she knew it."
"Look," Butch said. "If she knows anything about this special method that she's mastered, I know she knows that it messes with people, especially first-timers inside the tent. And she told me that she made a point of doing it to first-timers."
"Really? You sure?"
"Oh, yeah. Yeah, she was all, 'I usually just read fortunes, but I have this special thing that I do to people who don't believe me,' or something. I'm paraphrasing, but that really is what she said. I'm serious! Don't give me the look! You're giving me the look again. I'm serious. She had me sit down and she told me that she had this thing that she did to skeptics, and without explaining it to me, she asked me if I wanted to do it. And then she did it, and she knew she was messing with me the whole entire time, and that's what was creepy about it."
"Huh...," Rover said. They both watched the waves crash along the shore. Butch glared at the water.
"You're not getting it," he said, his voice becoming more quiet. "I'm-I'm telling you that somebody did something to me, and you're not even believing me. I mean, I don't even tell people stuff, and I'm actually telling you this, and you're just telling me to shut up, or something."
Rover saw the look on his face. "Hey... You know... I'm sorry. You're right."
"I mean, is this what you do when people wanna come to you about stuff? I don't even come to people about stuff. What's wrong with you?"
"You're right. You're totally right."
"If... If... If some person came up to you and said, 'Oh, I just got hit by some boxer, would you tell them to calm down because it's the boxer's job to hit people? Maybe it's a fortune teller's job to mess with people's minds, or something. Wow, sorry I feel like I got messed with, then. Jeez."
"Okay. I get it! You're right! I said I was sorry!" Rover said. "I didn't... I mean... Okay. I wasn't thinking about it that way."
"I can't even sleep, you know?" Butch said, beginning to look panicked again. "I haven't slept in... in... in a month, or a month and a half, or whatever, and I'm really tired!"
"Was it that bad?"
"I just wanna go to sleep! Why can't I sleep?"
"You're breathing sorta hard again..."
"I-I couldn't even move! It was like I was paralyzed and she was hypnotizing me so I couldn't leave that spot until she was done! I couldn't even see her whole face—I could just see her eyes, and she had them all wide, and stuff—and she just... she-she looked at all my memories! You can't just do that to someone! What kind of person just... hypnotizes someone and takes all their secrets? That's messed up! She's sick in the head, and she got all her sickness all over me when she went in there, I think! I...! I-I..." His voice got caught in an involuntary gulp.
"Breath slower," Rover said. "Slow. Breath really slow."
Butch breathed really, really slowly, with his head down between his knees.
"I... I'm sorry," Rover said again. "I didn't realize."
It was the next day that Butch decided to go visit Katrina in the city. Rover asked him if he was sure about that, but Butch had been making up his mind all night as he had lain awake.
Author's Note: So, that was that, then. This is the first story posted on my Experimental Let's-Just-Post-Whatever-The-Heck-I-Want Account (as opposed to my Let's-Buckle-Down-And-Think-This-Through Account, which exists as well.). So... yeah. Here we go. Criticism welcome (flinches slightly).