Boredom Breakage: A Vacuum in Feline Form
By: Curtis Wildcat
Garfield (plus Garfield and Friends by extension) and the Touhou Project are the properties of their respective owners and copyright holders.
Surrealism is bumped up a notch. The nightmare of the kitchen waits in broad daylight.
Reimu's eyes opened as she realized that something was out of place. The air was whistling past her as she flew down towards the village. Except for a few clouds off in the direction of Youkai Mountain, the sky was clear. She frowned as she wondered what this meant.
Marisa's words echoed in the back of her mind: a conversation that she couldn't recall having was lingering in her memory. I don't remember speaking to anyone... but I can still think of it perfectly. Something feels off about this...
"...I'm telling you, Reimu, the situation's gotten serious," Marisa insisted impatiently as the two of them stood outside the shrine. "Most of Gensokyo's locales are running low on food, ze. You know as well as I do what that means."
A slow nod. "Yes. The implications are something that I just as soon not think about, but... you're right. Do you have any leads on the problem's source, by some chance?"
"Nah." Marisa hopped onto her broom, hovering a few feet over the ground. "I was just going to head straight for the village and work from there."
"Leave that to me," Reimu decided. "I've got a hunch that someone or something is eating it all... maybe Yuyuko, maybe not, but either way I'll check it out. Marisa, you go and see what reinforcements you can find. This feels like a long day to me." She took to flight, already considering which of her Spell Cards she'd use against the enemy.
"Can do, ze! See you there!" Marisa's voice called after her, quickly dwindling in volume as Reimu flew farther away.
Did I really say those things to her? Reimu wondered as she continued on. The conversation was as clear as day, but I still don't recall talking to Marisa at all. And really, thinking Yuyuko's at the cause of this? She eats a lot, sure, but from what Youmu's told me she isn't a glutton.
Those thoughts continued to bug her as she descended towards the village, but she had to discard them when she arrived. Almost immediately, she could tell that something was up; the roads were desserted, the buildings were deserted, and Keine's schoolhouse was caked with pastries. Keine herself was in full werehakutaku form despite the lack of a full moon, angrily assailing a huge orange blob with danmaku and beams of raw history (which looked to Reimu's eyes to be giant scrolls in appearance). Whatever the blob was, though, it didn't mind; it instead grabbed one of the pastries off the schoolhouse and swallowed it whole, then snatched Keine to use one of her horns as a toothpick.
Hearing Keine's furious protests as she struggled to free herself, Reimu felt she had seen enough; throwing caution to the wind, she charged on in. "Divine Arts: Wind God Kick!" she yelled, triggering one of her Cards in mid-flight and allowing it to lead her through a series of energy-packed somersaulting kicks. The blob took five blows to the stomach, losing its grip on Keine reflexively and being driven back about six meters; it stumbled, but didn't fall.
Surprised and relieved, Keine looked up as Reimu landed next to her. "Hakurei-san!"
A nod. "Keine. What is it I'm dealing with here?"
Keine picked herself off the ground. "It's a giant orange housecat."
"...What kind of housecat does this?" Reimu asked, gesturing at the road-covered in confections that Sakuya could only dream of baking-and at the cat in question, who was patting its stomach as if the shrine maiden's kicks hadn't had any substance to them.
"One that has allowed its appetite to rule it. The more it eats, the bigger it gets."
Reimu took a few moments to put two and two together, realizing that the cat had been responsible for the food shortage in Gensokyo. Her eyes narrowed. "We'll have to fix that, then. Let's put the big kitty on a diet," she decided, another Spell Card between her fingers.
This got the big cat's attention. Sure, and why don't we swan dive into the Sanzu River? he asked, swatting at Reimu and frowning when she neatly evaded his attempt. It's not going to happen either way.
"Don't give me any ideas." Reimu took to the air, Keine doing the same, and let loose with a barrage of homing amulets. Between the two of them, she hoped, perhaps they could lure the cat outside the village. "I'd be more than happy to see you on your way if you intend to play for keeps!"
The cat took the bait, rising to his feet and marching towards them; his steps were slow at first, shaking the ground, but he was beginning to pick up speed. He snatched several desserts off the road as he ran, and a magical sigil-shaped like a half-eaten pie-materialized beneath him. Snacks now, seafood later. Food Sign: Let the Feast Begin.
No sooner did the cat utter his Spell Card's name did he messily eat the food he'd grabbed. Both Reimu and Keine stared in disgust as particles flew every which way, and they both prepared to unleash the fury of the Cards they'd drawn... only to go evasive as the particles transformed into medium-sized orange danmaku. The bullets zeroed in on their location, having no real pattern to exploit and requiring them to keep their eyes open; the shots had a limited homing ability, but once the heroines flew past them they didn't bother to change their flight path.
Keine took the lead in attacking, a fierce barrage of danmaku smacking into the blob cat's forehead and stalling his Card temporarily. Reimu kept up the pressure, directing her amulets to fly at the cat's legs. It took about half a minute before enough damage had been done to cause the beast to fall, pitching him facefirst onto the ground and kicking up a cloud of dust. The majority of the available food and ammo dissolved and vanished, although the pie sigil remained.
If they had been hoping for a respite, though, they didn't get one; the cat stood up again almost immediately, perturbed. Not funny. You want to play mean? That can be arranged. The cat turned and whistled loudly. Hey, Odie!
Reimu and Keine stared first at the cat, then at each other. "...Odie?"
The both of them brought their eyes down next to the cat's feet; a small yellow dog had hopped up next to him. "Odie", if that was the dog's name, regarded them with a gormlessly good-natured expression... But that wasn't what had gotten Reimu laughing. What was funny was that the drooling dog had somehow gotten tangled up in a flexible green pipe, forcing it to travel by jumping around on its hind legs...
Reimu's laughter was cut short. ...Wait a moment. The cat's using only its hind legs to walk, isn't it? If so, why couldn't the dog do the same? Why is this supposed to be funny? This is making less and less sense.
Upon seeing what happened to Odie the cat was visually put off at first, but only at first. Not what I would've liked, but... I can work with this. He reached down, taking the green pipe between two of his fingers. Dunce Sign...
"...Something crazy is about to happen, isn't it?" Reimu deadpanned.
"Obviously," Keine muttered in the same tone.
Sure enough, the cat yanked his arm back and took the pipe with it, launching the dog into a rapid spin. ...Watering The Lawn!
It was there that the cat introduced what would probably be the most disgusting projectile used in danmaku duels to date: gigantic drops of doggy drool. Each one as big as a person's fist, glowing slightly as proof that they were magically converted into bullets. They were being scattered around rather haphazardly, but there were a lot of projectiles to dodge as they flew off the spinning dog's large tongue.
Keine was caught off guard by the ridiculousness of using drool in a danmaku duel, and out of a sense of dignity she almost panicked. She ducked down once as a drop shot past her head, swerved to the right to edge through a gap in the card pattern... and was met with several more bullets flying quicker than the rest. It only took one to finish her, though; as it struck she violently recoiled, crashing into the back of an unoccupied ramen stand and collapsing there. Neither of the combatants needed to see her swirling eyes or hear her dazed comment of "Class dismissed, children" to know that she was out of the fight.
Reimu's expression darkened as she ducked and weaved through the drops. Silly as the animal's choice of attack was, there was no doubt that she was faced with a formidable force; he must've known that his opponent would be distracted by the novelty (or lack thereof, in this case) of an unorthodox Spell Card. But she was the Hakurei shrine maiden, specifically geared to deal with situations like this, and she knew how to deal with formidable forces: by replying in kind.
"Divine Spirit: Fantasy Seal!"
For the first time since they'd met, the cat's eyes widened as a flood of tremendous, shining and colorful bullets swarmed him and detonated against him. The Spell Card he'd been using broke, and Odie slowed to a stop; Reimu almost felt sorry for the dog as it half-stumbled dizzily off of the street, whining all the way and seeming a bit ill. Another cloud of dirt and dust was thrown into the air as the cat crashed onto his back.
Reimu had been silently hoping that this would've been enough to finish the job; alas, it was not to be. She folded her arms, pondering the orange blob's resiliency as he once more worked himself upright. At the back of her mind, she wondered just what was taking Marisa so long to get to the fight. "Probably had trouble convincing Alice or whoever it was she was looking for... far as that goes, it wouldn't surprise me," she murmured to herself.
If the cat was upset before, he was furious now. Anyone ever tell you not to get between a cat and his appetite?
"No," Reimu replied. "And after this, I don't think I'll be wanting one of your ilk anyway. Having one moon around this planet is enough for me."
That hurt. ... Well, nothing more to do but move on to the main course.
A warning siren went off in Reimu's mind as the cat said this-
Food Sign: Feed the Kitty!
It felt like gravity and wind were working against her; the cat's mouth had opened wide, and Reimu could feel herself being drawn slowly towards it. All around her, what food there still was in the village-as well as the bullets from the Let The Feast Begin card, strangely-were being vacuumed on in. Not wanting to risk a close-up encounter with the beast, Reimu put all her effort into evasion and flying. Fighting against the pull, she readied herself for her final Spell Card. Hopefully it would be enough to finish this blasted fight...
One of the orange bullets crashed into her from behind, breaking her concentration. Another one in the same spot, and she lost control completely; without any means of escaping the cat's maw, she tumbled head over heels down into it. Her furious scream as she was swallowed whole almost drowned out Marisa's distant cry of "REIMUUU!", the magician having arrived just a little too late...
"...Huh. That was surprisingly painless... if anti-climatic. Would've been a silly way to end things, anyhow..."
Reimu slowly stood up, almost stumbling on the unfamiliar, yielding surface beneath her feet. It was extremely dark in here; the only sort of light was a glowing yellow pellet hovering in the center of the chamber. It took only a moment's examination to tell her that it wasn't a magic bullet itself. "Wonder what that is..."
"That's my fault, I fear."
Reimu whirled around as Yuyuko's voice got through to her. The pink-haired ghost princess was reclining against one of the chamber walls, looking a bit embarrassed. "What do you mean?" Reimu asked, frowning.
"Well, Youmu had found this little cat, and I thought I'd hassle it for a bit," Yuyuko confessed. "Then it ate a family treasure by accident, I turned blue for a few seconds, and the cat decided I looked delicious..."
"...? Wait, what?!" Reimu shrieked, disbelief at full strength.
Yuyuko held one of her hands against her left ear, wincing. "Not so loud. You'll wake the dead."
She couldn't help it; between the indignity of being eaten alive and intact and the discovery that Yuyuko had been behind it all (if by accident), Reimu felt that she needed to vent. "You mean to tell me that I had to fight and get devoured by someone's pet on a reverse hunger strike just because you felt like teasing a cat?! You have any idea what I had to put up with out there?!"
"Come on, Reimu..." Marisa's voice echoed faintly.
"Flying chunks of food larger than I was tall..."
"Dangerous drool delivered by a dunce of a dog..."
"Reimu, get a hold of yourself!"
Her surroundings were becoming hazy, and Yuyuko was starting to become blurred. As upset as she was, Reimu didn't care. "And at the head of it all, a vacuum in feline form?! If it hadn't been for you, I could've been relaxing right now! I could've been taking a nap, or doing laundry, or something worthwhile! Why, I have half a mind to-"
"Calm down, you crazy kid!"
Reimu gave a start, eyes wide in recognition. That wasn't Marisa's voice she was hearing-
"Reimu! Hey, Reimu, wake up! Snap out of it!"
"...? ...! Wha-?!"
Reimu sat up in her futon, panting a little. She looked one way and then the other, unnerved and watchful. Finally, reality sunk in: she had been asleep the whole time, not trapped in a gigantic housecat's stomach with Yuyuko. The whole experience had been nothing more than a bad dream.
In the darkness of the room, she could make out Suika's shape. The little oni was reclining nearby, concerned and curious. "You awake yet, Reimu?"
"Yeah... yeah, I am... the blazes was that, though?..." Reimu wondered, one hand on her forehead. Slowly she brought her breathing under control. "And how many synonyms are there for 'bizarre'? I'm sure all of them apply."
Suika took a swig from her gourd. "You were kicking something in your sleep and yelling something about a hunger strike. I take it you were fighting someone? I don't see what the problem is; I get dreams like that all the time."
"Well, you have a good excuse. Partying and fighting are all you ever think about." Reimu frowned. "At least I actually have peaceful dreams most of the time. This time... it was too warped to even be called a fight."
"So, what happened?"
Deciding that she wouldn't be falling back asleep yet, Reimu talked about the dream to Suika with as much detail as she could recall. Towards the end she came to the realization that something was missing, some minor thing or another that she'd gotten used to before, but she couldn't quite place what it was...
Whatever it was, she didn't feel like discussing it with the oni at present. It could wait.
Another day, another scream.
Jon stormed into the living room, where Garfield was resting quietly in his bed. Fury like that of a hundred angry bulldogs was painted on the man's face. "Why did you have to eat almost every scrap of food in the house?! Just what am I supposed to have for dinner tonight?!"
Well, that month-old pot roast in the fridge is ready to call a truce...
Jon sunk down a bit, perhaps remembering that Garfield didn't care one whit most of the time whether he was angry or not. He turned and walked away, facepalming. "Never mind. I don't need to know about it. Just... I'm going to pick up a few things at the store. I'll clean up the mess in the kitchen when I get back."
Bring back ravioli.
Garfield listened and observed as Jon went about his business, finding his wallet and car keys and walking out the door. Once he heard the car start and pull out of the driveway, the cat turned and spat something out onto the floor: the mangled and chewed-up remains of a red ribbon.
It's weird. I had the first few paragraphs typed down back in late July, early August or so, and then I felt no urge to write any of this at all. Then suddenly within the past week (March 8, 2013 as of this writing), I decided to work on this chapter again. Don't know what prompted it, but I won't argue.
I'd like to thank my associates at the Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku for being there to bounce ideas off of, in particular for Garfield's Spell Cards. You know who you are. If you're reading this, I apologize that it took so long to do this after the initial discussions.
Deciding to include Keine was a split-second thing. Having a mega-sized Garfield was another. I realize that it doesn't make any sense for Keine to have been transformed during daylight, or for Garfield to have been as big as he was, but hey: it's a dream. With them, logic and sense are optional.
Well, guess I'd better refocus on MiP. Until the next chapter, everyone, ciao mein.