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Beast Monster Thing; 'It was fun while it lasted but it didn’t last..'
Topic Started: Jan 10 2018, 10:53 PM (86 Views)
CrossbowPig
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[ *  *  *  * ]
When Carol Schmidt realized her daughter was into the occult, it gave her pause. Still, she accepted it nonetheless. Maybe it was a fad at school, or something she had picked up and would put down a week later. Once Violet started using her weekly allowance clearing out the tiny paranormal section at the back of the closest bookstore, Carol grew to realize that Violet was starting to get invested in a new hobby. Still fine, maybe not the best use of money, but she wasn't going to lecture her daughter on it. Soon enough, loose tarot cards and gemstones started turning up around the house when she cleaned. A conversation about keeping all of her supplies in her room soon followed, but, still, Carol was fine with it. Surprisingly, Bob supported the hobby, too. Likely because he didn't have to clean up the ever-growing horde of occult volumes that had been piling up in the months since Violet set sail on her journey. That, and because it got her to read in her free time. Dana had stopped hanging around the house as much, but the short conversations she had with Violet about it had seemed healthy enough. Once, Dana brought her friends around and had their fortunes told. It was the happiest Carol had seen Violet in a long, long time. There didn't seem to be very far she could escalate the hobby any further, at least.

Then, she brought home a stray cat.

That was where Carol drew the line.

Peering over her newspaper, Carol barely noticed when her daughter walked into the house, kicked off her shoes, and gave the brown, fuzzy bump in her arms a quick tummy rub. When she did eventually recognize what Violet was carrying, all she did was lay the paper in her lap and stand up from her chair, walking over in front of the stairs to Violet's room and blocking her path.

"Honey," Carol said, "I think you might have gone a bit too far, here."

"Mom," Violet said, pouting, holding the scruffy stray kitten in her arms, "I need a familiar, Mom, every witch needs a familiar!" Carol crossed her arms and shook her head. Which book had she read that in, Carol had no idea. The bookcase in the second floor hallway had recently been overrun by such widely loved powerhouses of literature as "The Idiot's Guide to Herbomancy" and "Practical Sigil Magic." Carol was absolutely sure that at least one of those books must have been a New York Times bestseller, but she was doubtful that any of them had anything to say about the virtue of animals in magical work beyond " The Three Books of Occult Philosophy," and that book didn't say anything about keeping them alive.

Trying to stare down her willow tree of a daughter was tough work. Carol was a tall woman, around five foot eleven, but her daughter had already crossed the six foot tall mark and showed no sign of stopping. Looking upon this spindly mess of limbs cradling a cat, she couldn't help but feel like she'd seen this scene before, like it was familiar to her, somehow. Like some kind of young adult novel where a child befriends a big fuzzy beast monster thing, and the monster keeps taking home animals, and there's a big sad moment where they let the beast go off into the woods where it belongs because its mother comes looking for it, or something.

For the time being, Violet would have to play with the cat on the couch until Carol figured out what to do. She called Bob on the landline, holding the receiver to her ear between her cheek and her shoulder.

"Hello?" he asked, with a strained voice that led Carol to believe that he was holding his phone the same way.

"A cat, Bob."

"Hmm?"

"She brought home a cat today, Bob."

"...Dana?"

"No, it's Violet. She says it's her witch's familiar, or something. She called it Balthazar. It's a stray, but it-"

"Is she holding it right now?" he asked, worry in his voice, "Don't let her cuddle too much with it, it might hav-"

"Bob, I was saying that it looks harmless. It's a kitten, for pity's sake."

"...Pity?"

"Oh, I looked up the whole 'for Pete's sake' thing the other day, you know, that thing people say sometimes, when they-"

"Uh-huh."

"-and apparently it comes from this old saying, 'for pity's sake,' but it also invokes Saint Peter, in a way, so I thought, 'Well, I'm an atheist, I shouldn't really be talking about Catholic saints, since I say that phrase a lot, and I don't want to look like a hypocrite or anything,' right?"

On the other end, Bob sighed. He was used to Carol's ramblings, often over discoveries of small factoids and pieces of information, so this was nothing new to him. In all honesty, he found it endearing. "We were talking about a cat?" he reminded her, trying to gently nudge her in the right direction, and she replied with a resounding "Oooooh, riiiiight, the caaaaat!" and continued speaking.

Bob didn't mind talking to Carol while driving, not in the slightest. Talking to someone on the phone while driving helped him ease his nerves, especially if that driving was away from a local thrift store that cancelled on their interview for an article he was writing about the state of local small businesses in the past few years. The thrift store being the focus of his piece didn't help matters much, seeing as the date they offered for rescheduling was one of Dana's volleyball games, and he wouldn't miss those for the world.

"You want me to take her to the shelter, to drop off the cat?" he asked.

"Yeah, I can't go over there because - well, you know."

"I know, I know. Why you picked that hill to die on, I still have no idea."

"They weren't treating me right, Bob. I decided to volunteer, out of the goodness of my heart, and they treated me li-"

"I know, honey. I was there."



They dropped the cat off at the shelter and went home. Violet spent the ride back home in the family minivan dreaming about ways that Balthazar could find his way back to her some way, but she knew it probably wouldn't happen. Balthazar could strut on up the drain pipe to her window, take a peek through the window, and she could let him in and put a nice little wizard hat on his head and they could do some cool rituals together, or something. That'd be nice. Violet smiled in her sleep. Bob wasn't sure what it was that tired her out so quickly

Perhaps it was her insistence on making at least one good memory with the cat before they dropped him off. Before Bob could ask what she meant, she had already dashed upstairs and pulled out one of her robes she used for her magical activities, a toothy grin stretching across her face. The pair went on a journey to an arts and crafts store and brought home some construction paper, a befuddled Balthazar greeting them at the door. Violet carried the paper up to her room and came down again to take the cat with her, which made Bob ask her to keep the cat downstairs (even if it was a nice stray, it was still a stray). He had front row seats to watch as Violet clumsily slapped together a paper witch hat for the cat that wouldn't be hers. Surprisingly, it fit his head well, despite Violet not bothering to measure it. She tried to take a few pictures of him wearing it, but he got fed up with it after no more than a few minutes, so she called it quits. The diversion, in total, took the two longer than the visit to the shelter did.

Bob glanced over at his daughter, in the backseat. Even though she gave up on the hat for the cat, she kept her robe on. Were it not for the hood and the fact that Violet had asked Dana to sew sigil patches onto the sleeves, it would pass for a discount, off-brand snuggie. The gloaming light shined through the treetops, all of them in the process of losing their leaves. This upcoming winter was going to be a doozy, from what the weather reporters were saying. He turned the dial on the radio to the local public radio station, WUTC. Coincidentally, they happened to be talking about the same thing. It must be magic, he thought, and smiled. He appreciated his daughter's interests, and encouraged whatever hobby she explored, but deep down he worried about where the whole magic thing would end up leading her. Best case scenario? Nothing happened, and she wasted a good portion of her life on nothing that mattered. Worst case scenario? She falls in with the wrong crowd, some Satanists or something, and gets into hard drugs and alcohol and-

Well, there was one part of it he probably didn't have to worry too much about.

To clear the thought from his mind, Bob blinked a few times. Usually, this helped clear his mind whenever he got distracted while driving. This time around, though, his mind just wouldn't stop going back to the dark future he had imagined for his daughter. He wished he knew how to curse himself for his stupidity, and made a mental note to ask Violet how to do that when he woke up.

Eventually, they made it to their street. Bob eyed a spot to park right in front of their house, and pulled up. Once he had the car successfully parked, he looked back over at Violet. He almost wished he could nudge her leg with his hand, but knew better, even if he knew it'd probably get her awake. He turned off the engine and let Violet sleep for a few more minutes. WUTC was playing its jazz programming block, now. Bob was no musician, but the piece was nice and warm sounding, like a carefree summer day. Once the song ended, he turned off the radio.

"Hey," he whispered. Violet stirred for a moment, but quickly slumped back over.

"Violet, you gotta get up. We're home."

No response.

Sighing, Bob unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car. He walked over to the door nearest to Violet and slid it open.

"Violet, it's time to wake up."

Violet shifted, and her eyes fluttered open. "Mhm?" she muttered, rubbing her eyes.

"We're home, Violet. You gotta get up, okay?"

"Mhm," she responded, unbuckling her seatbelt and sliding out of her seat limply, "sure."

She stepped out of the car, and onto the street. Bob closed the door behind her; he knew that scolding her about leaving the car door open while she was tired wouldn't go down very well. He pressed a button on his keys, and the car locked itself. Violet was already indoors by the time he turned towards the house. She shut the door behind her, leaving Bob outside. He smiled and shook his head. It was hard to tell if Violet was tired, or if she was upset that she had to let the cat go. He walked inside, and saw Violet standing outside her room at the top of the stairs. She sighed, and entered her room, closing the door behind her so that it didn't make a sound.

Bob stared at the door for a few seconds, unsure what he was supposed to think.

Then, he took off his shoes, flopped down on the couch, and turned on the television.

There was a show about cats on Animal Planet.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~

NOW: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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