All posts by Mitsu

Pro translator but I do boring stuff at work so I'm translating more interesting stuff as a hobby. Not actually obsessed with cats. Tell me about old novels no one has ever heard of for me to translate.

Cat’s Globe Prologue Part 2

Prologue (Part 2)

There was an Angel in the box.

He had finally found her. With his cat eyes, which worked fine even in the darkness, he could clearly make out her name written on her forehead. It was just as the legends said. The hair that had lost its color. Her fang that gleamed white even in the darkness. Her oversized jumpsuit, and her big, thick sneakers.

However, she wasn’t the only one surprised by their meeting.

Kasuka hadn’t expected her to be peeking out at him. When their eyes met and the box let out a scream and started to shake wildly, Kasuka was so surprised the hair all over his body shot straight up. He kicked off the box, did a back somersault in the air, made another leap off of a nearby mycelium stalk and hid himself awkwardly in a small forest of mold.

He was still just a kitten, after all.

Kasuka was a black kitten, so black he was just a pair of golden eyes in the midnight dark of Tolk. Holding himself steady with a mycelium stalk, he crouched down and stared steadily at the cardboard box. Something like a long, thick whisker was standing straight up on his head. This was actually a radio wave whisker, a unique appendage that all the cats of Tolk had. Thanks to this, the cats could speak to each other using digital signals over the radio waves, and could use the waves to echo-locate their way through the darkness and mists of Tolk’s corridors. The long, dextrous tail of the cats was also one of their specialties. With it, they could grab things, change direction in mid-air by wrapping it around pipes, and draw the attention of prey by waving it hypnotically in front of their eyes.

There was just one thing that set Kasuka apart from the other cats of Tolk. He didn’t have a robot partner.

Of course, a kitten his age not having a robot partner wasn’t that strange. It wasn’t as though the cats of Tolk were incapable of living on their own without a robot partner. But at that moment Kasuka was in the observation deck at the top of Tolk’s stele. Between the observation platform and the outer shell where the majority of the cats lived there were countless airlocks, forests of poisonous mold, and airless corridors where the air seals had been broken.

How could this black cat have walked this path alone? A path that even adult cats with robots of their own would tread only with the greatest of care.

“Did I scare you? Are you upset?”

Kasuka spoke to the cardboard box using digital signals.

“Are you gonna do something if I go over there again?”

The cardboard box did not respond.

There was a short metal pipe floating near Kasuka. Kasuka grabbed the pipe with his tail and pulled it back, waiting for a moment to fix his aim. Then he jumped, performed a flip in the air, and cracked his body like a whip, releasing his grip on the pipe to fling it toward the box. It smacked the box right around where ‘PLEASE TAKE ME’ was written and bounced off.

The instant it hit, a clumsy, rapid voice from the box said:

“Looks like rain looks like rain. Looks like rain coming in with the southern front. The interior is going to see some strong winds along with the rain, so everyone needs to take care out there. Tomorrow morning’s temperatures are looking to be the same as this morning, so folks in some areas may have trouble sleeping for the next few days.”

Kasuka’s eyes widened at the unexpected response.

Angelic was a long-lost language from the past. While there were ancient written records that could at least convey the meaning of words in the language, there was of course nothing that indicated actual vocal pronunciation of the words. Plus, cats did not have the concept of communication through spoken words in their culture. To understand spoken Angelic words was something even the greatest feline archeologist would struggle with.

Kasuka, however, felt that he could more or less understand what the cardboard box was trying to say.

How or why he understood, though, was a mystery.

He simply had a strange feeling that the words were not meaningless. He felt she was terribly pressured, terribly scared, and was trying her hardest to put on a strong front. Something like: ‘What are you doing, you stupid cat! Get out of here! I’m not scared of you!’

He spoke to the box again.

“Is it alright if I go over there?”

The box responded:

“Heavy rain. Flood warning.”

A strange feeling came over Kasuka, and he began to dance in a circle right there, with his long tail wrapped around the stem to make sure he didn’t float away. He was so charged with emotions the hairs on his back twitched. The cardboard box watched in grudging silence.

He had searched for so long. Not a single other robot could interest him. The nosy Doll Master had persistently offered to find a robot for Kasuka himself, and Kasuka had been bullied quite a lot for still being a robot-less runt. Despite all that, Kasuka had continued to search by himself. He had rummaged through ancient texts and wandered all over Tolk. He had even gotten himself into some very dangerous scrapes. He had been attacked by a monstrous wild robot and had his back right leg broken, and had almost died after stumbling into a cloud of poisonous mold.

Still, he had never once thought of giving up.

Without asking help from cat or robot, he had single-mindedly continued his search alone.

“…Did you know there’s a bounty on your head?”

The cardboard box did not reply.

“Oboro, the 36th, was put on trial before his death. He admitted that he had stashed some heretical texts inside of a jar and hidden them somewhere. When they heard this, the Ministry goons went crazy searching Tolk from top to bottom. But they never found the jar, or the robot who was supposed to know its location… Did you know?”

As expected, the cardboard box did not reply.

But Kasuka could tell. He could feel her eyes on him, peeking through the hand-holds of the box. For a long, long time her hopes had been dashed. She had lost faith, and the walls she had built inside to keep from getting hurt again were thick and solid.

“But I figure that must have been part of the 36th’s plan. You can’t be a Skywalker unless you’re real good at making plans. I think he would have said the same things, even if they hadn’t dragged it out of him during the trial. If he hadn’t said anything, no one would have known that the jar existed, and I never would have thought to look for it. You saw it for yourself, right? The research the 36th obsessed over like a madcat. The results of the 36th’s research are all stashed in that jar you’ve got, right?”

At that moment, blue light shone in through the observation deck windows.

The blue light moved from right to left across the view from the windows and banished night from the observation deck. All the flotsam drifting in the chamber gained color and shadow.

It was dawn in the observation deck, something that happened once every few hours.

“I will continue that research.”

He said it.

“I am Kasuka. The 37th Skywalker.”

Light dawned in the starry sky.

The observation deck was a large, spherical room at the top of Tolk’s stele. Surrounded by forests of mold and countless objects dancing lazily in the airflow, a black kitten was staring at a cardboard box with ‘PLEASE TAKE ME’ written on it.

The blue Earth that shone down as a background through the windows that made up the upper hemisphere of the chamber was covered with white rain clouds.

“I will take us there some day. I promise you.”

Kasuka spoke the words.

He would do it.

After so many had failed, he would succeed.

He would go to the place the cats all knew as the Earth Globe, the sacred Nirvana where the spirits of all dead cats were said to go. Sometimes the words of the Khans from the church rang true; Tolk was a castle, an island floating in space that the Angels had created in ancient times. It floated 6000 km above the Earth, rotating at a speed of 5600 meters per second. To defeat these two demonic numbers, one would need an extremely heat-resistant mechanism with a high-output jet engine. The high rotation speed and intense heat involved could be overcome if only the right amount of power and a proper heat shield were used.

 

-No matter where you hide, the 37th will definitely find you. Someone who cannot find you will never be able to find you. Listen, it’s always been like this, but there are two types of cats in this world.

Those who have no interest in the impossible, and those who have interest in nothing else.

With a sudden, surprising, delighted burst… the tabs of the cardboard box with ‘PLEASE TAKE ME’ written on it flew open.

The Cute Cook 03: Encounter

03 Encounter

I blankly watch clouds crawl across the canvas of the blue sky. This scenery isn’t too different from what I’d see back where I used to live. So peaceful.

On the other hand, the plant and animal life all around me is completely different from anything that would have existed back home. Also there are two suns in the sky, but I’m pretending not to see the second one.

If memory serves me, I died in an unspeakably stupid way and got myself caught up in one of those otherworld rebirth things. From the look of things, I think it’s safe to say I’m not just here to visit. I mean, getting teleported somewhere from slamming into an electric pole, and then getting my time reversed to end up in a younger body? Sounds like it would be a crazy SF novel, but I doubt that’s what happened here. If I was a comedian and my partner used that kind of story as the set up for a joke I wouldn’t give him a playful slap. I’d backhand him across the face.

Setting that aside, for now, the fact is I can’t think of anything more dangerous than a little girl walking around in such a wild place alone. I hope I’m just a normal lost kid.

However, there’s also the possibility that the child who owns this body experienced something so traumatizing their mind couldn’t take it, which then awakened the personality I think of as ‘me’. Or maybe I’m just wearing the body of some kid that just died?

That’s horrible. I mean, these are just things I’m thinking up, but either possibility is pretty dang serious.

Then again, there’s something that looks like a name carved into the bracelets on my arms, and it seems to read ‘Yuuri’, which is pretty close to my actual name. The letters are in some kind of cursive writing I’ve never seen before, but I can read it so it should be all right.

Honestly, the more I think about the situation I’m in now, the worse it’s looking. One mistake could cost me my life. After all, I don’t know the first thing about any of the flora or fauna around here.

First and foremost, I can’t tell what’s edible. I got lucky earlier and stumbled on some food, but I’m going to need more to eat soon. And I’d prefer that it not be poisonous.

Second, I’m fine running into an herbivore, but if I run into a carnivore without realizing it that’d be the end for me. I’d be dinner.

To top it all off, things are going to get bad once the sun goes down. It’s going to get more dangerous, obviously, but the big problem is I won’t even be able to tell how dangerous things are around me. I’m sure there are plenty of nocturnal animals, around here. Can a single person from modern Japan survive a night here without even a fire?

All that said, I’m not going to just curl up and die, and I’m definitely not going to give up and off myself either. Logically it looks like an impossible situation, but I can’t give up so easily.

After all, there’s still so many delicious things out there that I haven’t tasted. And I just became a professional chef, finally at the level where I could start creating my own original flavors. Plus, since this is an otherworld, and all the stuff living and growing here is new to me, I imagine this whole world is full of new flavors for me to experience.

Plus, I mean c’mon, in this body I’ve still got decades of youth left in me. No way am I going to give up on this life without a fight.

What’s that? I’m obsessed with food? Well thank you, I take that as a compliment!

As I let my thoughts run wild, the clouds drift by and the sun(s) move steadily toward the west(?).

I didn’t want to do anything rash, so I decided to conserve and recover my strength.

 

“… man I’m hungry.”

I sighed, hugging my knees to my stomach as it began to send some fairly terrific noises echoing off the trees again. I’ve been here for half a day by now, and I still haven’t seen a single person. Normally I wouldn’t care so much about being alone, but I think my unease at this whole situation is making it impossible to ignore. The sky is already turning orange with sunset, so night can’t be too far off.

Mmm, the orange of the sunset kind of reminds me of orange jell-o, with lots of fruit in it. Man I want to eat some. Crap, just thinking about it has me drooling. *slurp*

I think fate decided to punish me for my stupid thoughts.

“Wait, hold on. That’s just not fair.”

Something appeared, just as the sky shifted from orange to dark blue. My eyes are still adjusting to the darkness, but I can tell in a single glance that this something is dangerous.

It’s quite a bit smaller than the ones I’ve seen in movies, but it’s still a giant compared to me. It’s eyes are shining in the darkness, as they stare directly at me.

“Ahahaha…”

I laugh dryly. Really, all I can do is laugh. I mean come on…

It’s a dinosaur!~* Yay!

Also, the probability that it’s already sized me up as being delicious prey: 100%!

My athletic abilities are pretty bad.

I can’t really depend on my tiny little girl legs to outrun this guy.

I’m unarmed.

I’m seriously out of ideas. I never in a million years thought I’d get to experience dinner from the perspective of the main dish. Thinking about it is just making my head hurt.

How the heck am I supposed to clear this death flag?

Ah, crap. He’s getting closer, and it’s pretty obvious he’s all for gulping me down.

“Uuuuhaaaaaai!”

What the hell was that un-cute, moronic scream that just went past?… Oh, it was me.

Well whatever, I guess it’s alright to run, but it’s chasing me. I can hear its feet going *whump whump* and the sticks and stuff behind me going *snap crackle pop*. That’s probably the sound my bones will make when he’s chomping on them. Yep!

Is my new life, born from that idiotic memory, going to end already? It’s too soon!

*wheeze, crap I’m already running out of breath. My heart’s pounding, both metaphorically and literally. I could use a little help here!!

I try to shake him by adding a little zig-zagging to my dash, but…

“It’s not working!!”

Hunger pushes us all beyond our limits. I’m talking about the hungry dinosaur, of course.

It’s dark I’m scared I’m falling!!

Wait is that another one coming from in front of me now? Someone wake me up, this has to be a nightmare!

My tank’s on empty, I’m done for…

“~~~~!!”

Okay. Guess I’m dinner.

“—”

Right before I passed out from terror and starvation, I thought I saw something sparkle in the darkness.

The Cute Cook 02: First of All, I Need Food

02: First of All, I Need Food

I was overwhelmed with depression at the stupidity of my own memories. I collapsed into what folks online commonly call the orz pose. Whatever, let’s move on.

I’d say it was about twilight, and no matter where I went I couldn’t find another living person.

*Guuuuu~

… give me a break, stomach. Things are super serious right now!

I mean, if our luck is bad we could be walking right into one of those ‘otherworld adventures’ that are so popular among a certain group of people. We may never be able to return to the modern world. Actually, considering that I’m pretty sure I died during that stupid memory, this could end up being one of those ‘reborn in another world’ situations!!

*Gyurugyurukuuu~

“…”

Fine. Let’s go find something to eat. Sigh.

With my stomach sounds as BGM, I look around for some water to see if I can find edible things nearby. I find some nuts that look sort of like walnuts, and some berries that remind me of mock strawberries. Some birds (?) were eating them, so I assume they must be edible.

C’mon! Ladies gotta have guts!

I grabbed a leaf from a nearby bowl-shaped plant that looked sort of like something you’d see used in home decorating, and filled it up with as many of the fruits and nuts as it could hold.

I tell myself these things are ‘sort of’ like walnuts or mock strawberries, but they’re definitely nothing I’ve ever seen before. Plus, there are tons of bizarre-looking plants and bugs around here, so I think it’s safe to say I’m not in Japan anymore.

The weather isn’t too hot or cold, and I’m wearing three-quarter sleeves.

Actually, while I’m looking at my clothes, I realize I don’t remember ever buying these.

Plus I’ve got these expensive-looking gold bracelets on both of my wrists, and I’ve definitely never seen those before.

… actually, wait a second…

Why am I tiny!?

Up to now I just thought all the trees around me happened to be really huge. Like, they were all mega-size or something. The fruits and nuts I had collected had all been close to the ground, so I guess I just hadn’t thought about it until now.

I’ve been shrunk!!

My breasts, which weren’t amazing or anything let’s be honest, were gone!

Instead, it was my round stomach that was poking out. Just like a Kewpie doll, I am the very model of a little girl.

“… wait, don’t tell me…!”

<Please hold. Checking.>

“… thank God. It would suck if I got turned into a boy on top of everything else.”

But there was nothing Down There. Thankfully. That would have been awful.

Still, this was pretty bad. The reality that I was in an otherworld was becoming more and more apparent.

Between the growing stress of my situation and my empty stomach, I gave up on thinking. Can you blame me? Thinking would just make me hungrier. For now, I just need to find some water so I can eat. I let my animal instincts take over and walk around listlessly.

Honestly I just wanted to scarf it all down right there, but the part of me that was still thinking rationally wanted to at least wash the fruits and nuts off, since I didn’t even know if they were safe to eat in the first place. You can probably chalk that up to my training as someone who works in the food industry.

But, if it comes right down to it, I’m totally just going to eat them like this. Yep.

Quite some time passed while I wandered around lost.

I’m an atheist normally, but I seriously started praying to God. I think the last time I prayed this hard was when I came down with a nasty stomach bug and spent hours praying on the toilet. My Seirogan ran out and I couldn’t make it to the hospital. It was pretty horrible…

What? I should give God more respect??

Oh crap. I’m seeing a light and hearing voices calling out to me from afar. This is getting bad.

The moss on the ground is really moist, too, so it’s easy to slip if I’m not careful. Come to think of it, maybe I should eat some of that too…

Wait. ‘Moist’?

“Then there must be water nearby!”

I drew on the last of my power and pushed forward until I saw a small lake stretching out before my eyes.

If I hadn’t found a place to wash them, I was about to throw down all that food raw. Including the moss.

God, thank you! I promise I’ll start praying to you even when I’m not stuck on the toilet!!

I managed to resist rushing in immediately, and instead waited until I was absolutely sure there was no danger before stretching out my hand to touch the water.

The temperature feels good on my hand.

I wash my hands, then scoop some up (away from where I had washed my hands) and sniff it. No scent.

It doesn’t look dirty.

I hesitantly sip some, and nothing seems wrong with it. It was just plain water, but it tasted sweet to me. Apparently, I was more thirsty than I realized. I steeled myself, then gulped it down.

It was just water, but it tasted better than any top-shelf alcohol I had ever drank in my life. I gulp several hand-fulls.

After slaking my thirst, I took my leaf full of food, which I had set aside in my hurry to drink, and pulled it over next to me. Then, one-by-one, I washed each nut, fruit and piece of moss and popped it in my mouth.

Nothing amazing, flavor-wise, but there’s no spice like hunger. In just a few seconds I had gobbled the lot.

With my stomach full, and my nerves a little calmer, I suppose it’s finally time to think about my situation, which I’ve been pointedly ignoring.

Next Chapter >>>

 

Cat’s Globe Prologue Part 1

Prologue (Part 1)

 

It had been 700 years and a half, since then.

🌙 < This, and all future instances, indicate a crescent-moon mark separating scenes.

Oboro was a cat, of course. He was also a male, elderly, and the very last of the Skywalkers. He was a glutton, despite being thin as a rail, had gray fur that puffed out here and there in a way that made him look like an old, heavily used toothbrush head, and a great big bald patch on his back.

But, even with a great big bald patch on his back, Oboro was a Skywalker and, as befit a Skywalker, he was a deeply cautious old coot. As he was the very last of the Skywalkers, Oboro tread very carefully indeed.

He made preparations for his own death, so he would be prepared for it whenever, wherever, however it came.

So the research had been handed down from ages past would not end with him.

So he could preserve it for the as-yet unknown 37th Skywalker whom he knew, one day, would come.

That said, the partner robot Oboro had begun to use in his later years was severely lacking in mental capacity. In the beginning, Oboro thought to pass all the information regarding his research on to the robot verbally, leaving it recorded in her memory. The robot, however, cried that she couldn’t possibly remember all that. With no other choice, Oboro moved on to his next plan. Rather than expecting the robot to remember the information, he had her create a written record of it. For the recording medium she used a sketchbook, and for the inscription she used crayons. When Oboro complained, asking why she couldn’t write more cleanly, she returned with her own complaint that this much writing would use up her green crayon.

After a long, long time and many crayons, Oboro finally completed his dictation.

The pages, covered in writing, were clipped from the sketchbook and placed in a ceramic bottle.

The bottle was filled with mercury, and then corked. Then, finally, the work was done.

– Now hide that bottle.

Oboro gave this order to the robot.

When the robot asked if she could hide it anywhere, Oboro responded that it could be anywhere as long as she was absolutely certain it would never be found. Though the robot wasn’t a great listener, even she caught the inconsistency in Oboro’s words. There was something strange about what he said. Even as a robot, she could grasp the purpose of that bottle. It was to be hidden so it could be found by the 37th Someone. But, if it was hidden in such a way as to never be found, then it would never be found.

When the robot brought up this objection, Oboro told her not to worry about it and just do what he said.

The robot complained that she no longer understood what Oboro wanted to do with the bottle.

-Um, so, Oboro, you pick the hiding spot.

-That I cannot do. The bottle’s location must be known to no one, myself included.

-Why?

-So that the bottle will never be found by anyone.

The robot was completely confused. Watching with amusement as she frowned in deep thought, Oboro gently shook his tail and said:

-You don’t need to worry about the details. Just find a place where you feel no one will ever find, and hide the bottle there. No matter where you hide it, the 37th will find it. Those who are incapable of finding it, will never be capable of finding it. Listen well,

Well then, I’ll just throw it out the airlock into space, threatened the robot, without listening to the rest. Oboro, thinking she was mocking his wisdom, became upset with her. But then, without making a single move, Oboro replied that she could do whatever she liked. It made no difference. The dream of the Skywalkers was not something so cheap that a little robot throwing it could have any effect on it. His cold words, though, upset the robot. Half-serious now about throwing the bottle into space, the robot stuffed it into the backpack she always wore and ran out of Oboro’s nest.

At the door she paused just long enough to turn and stick her tongue out at him, then she was gone.

-Take care of yourself, Oboro said.

Having finished saying everything, something seemed to break away from his aged body, and his expression became clear.

That was the last the robot ever saw of the last Skywalker.

After that, it was too dangerous for her to return to Oboro’s nest.

Oboro was killed by a Soul Saver Ministry Unit sent by the Assembly.

🌙

Tolk was a world of night and fog.

According to the Khans of the Assembly, Tolk was a castle of stone built by the angels in ancient history, as well as an island floating in space.

This explanation was quite satisfactory.

As one might observe, Tolk was indeed a massive, cylindrical construct drifting in space. Those blunt, unchanging outer walls could be said to be ‘the castle walls that surround the city’, and the oxygen mold that burst through the walls, popping out here and there like heads of broccoli, could be said to be ‘a forest that shelters the birds’. With almost no doors or windows on its outer wall, and with the light of the stars shining on its innermost parts, Tolk was a giant night-colored cylinder, filling the sky, rolling along slowly like an empty can on a slope.

At first glance, it might have appeared that all of Tolk was rolling together as one united mass. Going by weight, that guess would be about 80% correct. The truth was, Tolk was divided into the massive outer shell that rotated tirelessly, and the stele, which was cut off from the rotation.

The observation platform was a large spherical room located at the very top of the stele.

It was one of the few places in the closed world of Tolk that had windows.

If one was to ask whether the view was nice, the response would be: it depends. The view from there changed quite dramatically every few hours. Half of the observation platform protruded out from the stele, and was made of a single massive window, crafted into a honeycomb frame. However, if one was to look from the observation platform at that moment, they would see only darkness without end. There was nothing interesting to be seen.

The stele of Tolk did not rotate. This meant the observation platform, as well, generally lacked any gravity. However, gravity was the only thing this space lacked. The air flow that blew through the stele due to the rotation of the outer shell stagnated in the observation platform, carrying with it all sorts of objects that were drifting, lost in the midst of the darkness and fog. Beyond this, there were mold mycelium flourishing on the walls and filling the air with countless balls of mold, with fine dust at their nucleus. Here and there were colonies of bioluminescent bacteria that filled the night of the observation platform with an unsteady green glow.

It was dark and silent. No child of cat-kind to be found.

Right in the middle of this observation platform, amidst the objects making a lazy, floating circuit at approximately one centimeter per hour, was a cardboard box with its lid tightly closed.

It was a tired-looking box of about 1 cubic meter, with a worn antibacterial coating.

On the box, the words ‘please take me’ were written.

The letters were large, ugly and had apparently been written in red crayon.

There was a girl inside the box.

She was wearing a stiff, baggy red work jumpsuit. On her feet she had thick, heavy-looking sneakers that were knock-offs of some major brand. She had her entire body wrapped around a backpack, and was perfectly still.

Her name was Christmas.

There could be no mistake. As proof, her name was written right on her forehead. It was also written that she was a robot made by the ‘Koga Factory’ in December of 2184 CE.

Setting these markings aside, no matter how one looked at Christmas she appeared to be nothing more than a little girl of an age when, depending on circumstances, she might still believe in Santa Claus. She had eyes that were quick to fill with anger and quicker still to fill with tears. And, whether angry or crying, her pointed canines stood out like those of Count Dracula. The Gods of RNG had bestowed a beauty mark at the tail of her right eye. The chemicals that had once made her hair reddish-brown had been oxidized, leaving her hair a pale color that still could be said to suit her rather well. A nitpicker could point out that her lack of even the smallest movement ruined the illusion of her humanity, but this was due to nearly all of her bodily systems being in hibernation. If she wanted to, she could engage in yawning, sneezing, blinking, nervously tapping her foot, and all sorts of other unconscious movement.

That said, it had been a long, long time since Christmas’s first December, even by a robot’s reckoning. Since long before she had hidden herself in that box, Christmas was basically unable to move any of the toes on her right foot, and some of the muscles in her left arm were slow to respond to her signals. Her memory system had become obstructed long ago, so she was very bad at remembering new things or recalling old things. Despite being a robot she was quick to forget, and she remembered next to nothing about the past. When she tried to look back into her memories to the time she was born, it was all lost in the darkness and fog of Tolk. However, there was a sort of blurry concept there that she had experienced all sorts of things. She felt that she had walked quite a lot, talked quite a lot, and smiled the whole time.

The one thing Christmas remembered clearly was the dead cat, Oboro.

Christmas remembered clearly the bottle given her by Oboro, the circumstances that had brought her to hide in that box, and the ways her feelings had slowly changed as time had passed in the box.

Oboro had told her to hide the bottle in a place where no one would ever find it.

But Oboro had never told her what to do if she couldn’t think of a place to hide it where no one would ever find it.

She always did her work properly, and hiding that bottle was the very last order Oboro had given her. So, she had to do this properly as well. Christmas thought as hard as she could about where she could hide it so no one would ever find it. But she just couldn’t think of a place like that. She felt that, no matter where or how she hid it, someone would find it eventually.

After puzzling over it for some time, Christmas decided the optimal method for hiding it would be for her to choose a random location and hide there herself along with the bottle.

In this way, as long as she herself was not found she could also be assured the bottle had not been found. If she was about to be discovered by someone, she could just run away. Also, she decided to place some kind of marking on her hiding place so the 37th Someone could recognize it right away, when they came. Writing words would be just fine, there were hardly any cats on Tolk that could read. But, Oboro could read. Because he was a Skywalker. Therefore, it stood to reason that the 37th Someone would also be able to read.

Christmas thought this was an incredible idea.

She decided her hiding place would be the observation platform connected to Tolk’s stele. There she found a box drifting among the floating debris, so she decided to hide away inside of it. She used her favorite crayon; a red one that still had a pointed tip, to write ‘please take me’ on the box. Even though most cats on Tolk couldn’t read, she figured it wouldn’t be good to write anything too specific.

Then Christmas hugged her backpack, with the bottle in it, to her chest and began to hide.

For the first ten years she was totally gung-ho. Any time she heard a noise, she would release her system from hibernation and peek expectantly through one of the hand-hold holes on the box. Her expectations were always dashed, but Christmas was never discouraged. From time to time she would pull out the bottle and gaze at it, and at other times she would play by spinning the box around her like a hamster turning its wheel. Every day she told herself this would be the day, this would be the day the 37th Someone would come.

The next ten years were ten years of repentance. Christmas felt the 37th Someone hadn’t come to look for her because she wasn’t dedicated enough. Expecting someone to come find her for nothing was a bit too selfish. She figured she should think up some sort of reward. So, Christmas decided that, if the 37th Someone came to find her, she would make sure to brush his coat every single day.

The next ten years were ten years of even deeper repentance. Christmas decided that, if the 37th Someone came to find her, she would make sure to brush his coat every day, she would clean out his nest every day, she would always be willing to give him hugs and stroke his neck, she would do all the rat and cockroach hunting for him and, if he were to ask, she would even give him her beloved crayons.

And then, in the final ten years, Christmas came to a realization.

She realized the next Skywalker would never come.

She pitied Oboro.

And so, half a decade later, Christmas was still inside the box.

But no longer was she there to hide the bottle. Rather, she was there to do something she should have done long, long ago.

To Christmas, there were only two kinds of cats in the world. To put it simply, they were the ‘Skywalkers’ and ‘everyone else’. And Oboro, the very last Skywalker, was dead. Therefore, the cat that came to open her box would be part of the ‘everyone else’.

To put it more clearly, they would be a subordinate of the Assembly.

She wanted them to come.

No matter who it was, she would kill them.

It would be her revenge.

She would settle the score in Oboro’s place.

Because, after all, Oboro hadn’t done a single thing wrong.

Oboro had taught her all about the fate of the Skywalkers. None of them ever lived long. Those without luck would die in an accident during an experiment. Those without courage would lose their minds to the overwhelming blackness of space. Those that remained would someday meet their end at the hands of the Soul Savers.

Oboro was a remnant.

Oboro was the last remnant.

Christmas had helped Oboro with all of his observations, all of his experiments. She didn’t understand any of the difficult stuff, but there was something she did understand. She understood it very well. Even though Oboro was the very last of his kind, he never gave up. He never became desperate or discouraged. He pursued his research endlessly, not even taking the time to poop, telling himself this would be the time, he would be the one.

And even then, it wasn’t enough.

The Khans of the Assembly didn’t understand. Christmas felt they and their Soul Savers, who knew nothing but killing, could never possibly understand his feelings when he tried so hard, not even taking the time to poop, persevering with all his might and still falling short of his goal. And even then, Oboro didn’t stop. Even after he was certain that he would never reach his goal, Oboro did not stop his research. Even though Oboro was elderly, a glutton, despite being thin as a rail, had gray fur that puffed out here and there in a way that made him look like an old, heavily used toothbrush head, and a great big bald patch on his back. Despite that, despite the great big bald patch on his back, Oboro understood his place as a descendant of the Skywalkers. After judging cooly that he would not be able to reach his goal within his own lifetime, he did not slow his efforts. He added his own work to the research that had been handed down to him, and bottled up his dream for the sake of the 37th Someone that would surely come.

To be fair, the 37th Someone Oboro had bottled his dream up for had never come.

That, she could agree on.

But what exactly had Oboro done that was worthy of death?

She would kill them.

She wouldn’t hold back, no matter who it was. It was too late to apologize. Crying would do them no good.

She would show them the depths of Oboro’s regret.

She would show them who exactly was foolish enough to warrant death.

From the moment she seized on this new goal, thoughts of how hard or lonely it was to hide there flew from her mind. Hiding there nursing a grudge was much simpler than hiding there holding a dream. She didn’t have to do anything. She could just stay there in the box, curled into a ball in the cold darkness. Wearing a red work jumpsuit, with thick, heavy-looking sneakers that were knock-offs of some major brand, floating in a suffocatingly small box with her small body wrapped around a backpack, Christmas was perfectly still.

She heard a sound.

Christmas ignored it. After all, even if she peeked through the hand-hold hole nothing would be different outside the box. She couldn’t count the number of times she had gotten her hopes up at sounds like that, only to be disappointed. She wouldn’t move at every single sound like that any more. She had stopped giving in to those childish expectations. There were plenty of things up in that observation platform that could make sounds. The stone walls would creak when the temperature changed, and the flotsam was always bumping into things.

She heard the sound again.

Even just floating there in the box, she understood quite a bit. The observation platform had changed a lot over time. It hadn’t been this cold, before. The flow of air had been slower, and there hadn’t been as much mold. Among the mold there was some that had colonies of bioluminescent cells that shone their green light in through the hand-hold holes of the box. With the changes in temperature and airflow over the years, the variety and amount of mold that could grow in that space had probably changed as well. The temperature of the area would influence which molds were able to grow there, and there may have been some varieties that were carried by the flowing air from far, far away. In forty and a half years, this level of change could happen. In another hundred years the changes could be even crazier. It would be fun if some really bizarre mold started to grow. Talking mold, walking mold, that sort of thing.

The third time, it wasn’t just a sound.

Weak microwaves were striking the box.

They were the kind of waves send out by cats unconsciously, to help their night vision when they were walking in pitch darkness.

Christmas released all her body systems from hibernation. In a single instant she halted her anaerobic respiration, magnetized her high speed nerves, expanded her blood vessels and activated all of her micro-machine groups. She lit up one end of her autonomous liquid transfer system, and quickly bypassed any electrical systems that wouldn’t carry a signal so she could launch a query to her cardiovascular system. Her three hearts, which had worked through the hibernation, responded that the next scheduled pulse was not for another two hours. She was dying for more oxygen in her blood, but Christmas decided not to increase the tempo of her pulse right then. She would be in trouble if she made any noise. Instead she burned through the oxygen she had stored up in an attempt to get some warmth into her corpse-like body. The action potentials in her nerves collided in confusion, and her instruction signals were unable to reach the periphery of her body. She didn’t have enough oxygen. After an instant of hesitation, Christmas used one of her voluntary circuits to send permission to her lungs to resume respiration. Her breathing might be heard, but it was better than delaying her hibernation recovery any further.

She quietly breathed in, then out.

Despite the surrounding temperature being well under freezing, the breath that escaped her slightly parted lips would never turn white. No matter how many times she used her chemical signals to boost the process, her body temperature continued to increase at an agonizingly slow rate.

She heard another sound.

It was close enough for her to easily tell that it was the sound of four feet kicking off from the ground more or less simultaneously.

5 meters. It couldn’t possibly be closer than that.

What could she do? What could she do?

The most important thing was being able to move. She dropped the priority on increasing her brain pressure or getting her Ph balance to safe levels. She magnetized her entire skeleton and threw the ON switch for the nerves in her bones. By concentrating all oxygen consumption into her muscular system, she pushed her body to move.

She opened her eyes.

She saw a boxed-off section of darkness, the mold-stained walls of the box which she hadn’t looked at in a while. In front of her eyes she could see the hand-hold hole, and beyond that the observation platform.

That was it. There were no further sounds.

But, she knew it was there.

Her fear sent shivers through her body. For Christmas, whose autonomous systems had begun to awaken, it was enough to make her want to cry in terror. She was so embarrassed by what a weakling she was that she wanted to die. Even though she was pretty confident in a fight, and despite all her boasting about how she would kill the first cat to come and open her box, now that someone had really come she couldn’t bear her own cowardice. But, of course, she couldn’t actually cry, just then. If she did that, the cat outside the box would notice her. Plus, in this cold her tears would definitely freeze.

Careful not to touch the box itself, she began to uncurl her body, fighting down her fear all the while. She slowly raised her head, and put her face close to the hand-hold hole so she could peek at the outside.

On the other side of the hole, there was darkness.

The darkness had two golden eyes, staring at her from right on the other side of the hole.

Christmas screamed.

🌙

Next Chapter >>>

The Cute Cook 01: The Beginning

01 The Beginning

… howahh? I could have sworn I threw down some chazuke this morning, so why am I this hungry??

Actually, wait a minute

“Where the heck is this? Why is there a jungle here…?”

I want to make that question a yell, but I’m too hungry to shout.

Setting that aside for now, is my memory messed up or something? The bag I should definitely be holding right now is gone.

Okay, let’s just calm down here. Take a deep breath. Don’t do the whole ‘breathe in, breathe out’ thing, though. That’s too cliche. Okay, looks like I’ve calmed down a bit (?). Now, let’s just remember one thing at a time.

First of all, I remember my name. Sato Yuri. I’ve met four other women in my life with the exact same name, and one even used the exact same kanji. I guess you could say it’s a pretty common name.

Age… around thirty. I remember the specific number just fine so I don’t really need to say it.

Job: cook. I work at an old Western-style restaurant about 20 minutes walking-distance from my house.

I’ve worked there for about 10 years, and have finally gotten to the point where everyone has started to respect my skill.

Boyfriend: none for the last 4 years.

In my mind men<food and alcohol, so my lack of a love life isn’t exactly surprising. Plus, I’m just not interested in men. Thinking back on how the men I used to know looked and acted, would anyone really expect me to get all lovestruck? On the other hand, my interest in fashion is on the low side, and I’m fairly middling as far as looks and body go, so most of the guys never had interest in me either.

… woah there. Got a little sidetracked.

Anyway, my hobby is eating while walking. My specialty is judging the quality of alcohol. I remember myself just fine.

My last memory is… probably leaving for work.

I woke up late this morning. I had about 10 minutes until I was supposed to be at work.

I set some water boiling while I got myself ready, then made chazuke with some cold rice and tossed it down. I left the dishes in the sink, threw on my down coat, put my cell in my bag, and took off out the door. Outside everything was covered in snow.

In fact, it wasn’t nice, soft snow. It was all half-frozen.

Wait, isn’t this starting to sound a little dangerous? Um. Right, what happened next…

Here and there I saw folks headed to work or school falling over on the ice, so I told myself to be careful and started walking as quickly and carefully as I could. Then, suddenly, I heard a scream from behind me. Looking back to see what was happening, I saw a person who had fallen over and was sliding along the street, taking everyone who got in their way with them as they slipped along.

I didn’t even have time to try to avoid them before I, too, was swept up by the sliding wave of people, and suddenly there was a telephone pole right in front of my eyes. And that’s the last thing I remember.

What the hell. What is this, some kind of comedy sketch?

Next Chapter >>>