You're listening to I Know You Are But What Am I? By Mogwai
If you dislike it, your escape button will turn it off.
Wandering the roads after dark was a bad decision, you decide grimly, looking down the grime-splattered avenue before you. For a moment you pause, eyeing the one spluttering streetlight expectantly. How you got into this part of town you aren't entirely sure, but now you're bent on getting out... quick. This street looks no better or worse than the others, however the light seemed to be holding out better than the others, and there were a few windows lit up farther along. Looking to either side, you cross the deserted street and start on your way, flinching as, with a shuddering thud, the power shuts off.
Standing stalk-still, you lower your breathing and try to listen. A few vulgarities stream from the previously bright windows, but nothing seems amiss. Perhaps you could ask the residents of that building for help... then again, given their language you aren't entirely sure they would be ammenable to a stranger on their doorstep. After waiting for your eyes to adjust to the pitch-darkness, you start to walk yet again.
Suddenly, you spot a small flash of light coming from an alleyway a few steps ahead. When you concentrate on it, there seems to be nothing there... but you can't shake the creeped-out feeling that it brought. Taking a few more steps you see another flash, this one slightly further along, behind some trashcans. Staring straight at it, you see a small, shadowy form, two shining glass eyes peering out at you. Some child's abandoned plushtoy. That's all. Walking over, you pass by it... and scream as it leaps out infront of you.
Age: 100 years
Birthplace: Dawson & Sons Fine Toys
Markings: patches of various shades of green and blue
Build: short, small and plushie
Defining features: Blue glass eyes, stitched over mouth
Creator: 'unknown' Dawson
Previous Masters: Dawson, Robert
Employment: High Hopes "Guard"
Current Accommodations: High Hopes
Hobbies: Cuddling plushies, watching movies, following Dilumas around, repairing herself
Likes and Dislikes
Physically, Ka is an unassuming little creature. Approximately the size of a football, she's pudgy and snuggly in build. Her primary fabric is slate blue, being a soft but smooth synthetic patched with various blue and green swatches of the same fabric. She is somewhat roughly made, with plenty of stray stitches and oddly attached patches, having stitched herself while in a form with no fine motor skills and no vision. Her face is round and friendly looking, with large rounded ears. Her right ear is a lighter grey than the rest of her face, and its inside is acid green, while the inside of the left is fluorescent blue. Both of these colors are repeated on their respective eyes; her right has something of an "eyelid" area of green, matched by a triangular patch above her nose. Her left eye has a larger, two-layered patch that spreads to the left. The second layer of the patch is only defined by a crescent seam, which follows the contour of the main patch after showing up around halfway down her eye. Ka's eyes are her only consistent feature through her bodies, as she takes special care to ensure that they stay the same. They are hand made blue glass eyes, which her master forged, especially for her. They contain four shades of blue, which was an unusual luxury at the time; the base shade, a "highlight" shade around the bottom, a dark blue pupil shade, and a fixed 'highlight' for authenticity. Her mouth is always stitched shut now, after her first Master stitched it in a fit of rage. Even though it's an uncomfortable process and she has to do it herself, every time she makes a new body she completes it and then stitches her mouth shut. Because of her steel-trap jaws it doesn't silence her, however the aesthetic stays, which is what she assumes her master wanted. There is a small patch on the right side of her neck, and an unusual line of stitching on the left, half way down. These are both repairs after an incident with a pair of sewing scissors thrown by a seamstress who was. . . surprised to see a plush toy walking through her sewing supply store in the middle of the night. One of Ka's major seams is at her neck, which was simply too large a space for her to stitch internal seams for. A turquoise patch spreads shoulder to shoulder, where her stitching caused the fabric of her back to fray. Her legs are articulated at the shoulder/hip and the elbow/heel, allowing her a fairly normal gait. The far right side of her right foot has a bright blue patch, and her right heel has a green patch where the pavement wore a spot of fabric away while she was being dragged by her tail by a dog who found her in the trash. Her left leg also sustained some damage on the thigh, which was later worn until it had to be patched as well. Her right thigh has two long scratches on it from her crawling under a chain link fence, and her hindquarters are made from a bolt of the same fabric from a different dye lot. Her tail is short, chronically kinked, and is tipped with bright blue.
Emotionally speaking, Kahia has some troubles. Because of her origins as a Golem, who exist only to serve, her master's orders override her personal thoughts and feelings. However, because she has a soul, she has her own opinions and can develop emotional bonds, which leads to morals that a normal golem would not have to deal with. Many of her priorities conflict because she has had more than one master, and no one can override the other in her mind even though some are long dead. So even though her creator died some hundred years ago, she still will patrol and guard the property she lives on, and even though Robert tried to destroy her, and she hated his child for receiving his attention, she still loves children and has a constant urge to make them happy. This does not prevent her from having a personality though; Kahia is talkative and a little off kilter. She enjoys unsettling people, but also loves to have company and is a very active and energetic friend. She is horribly protective over Dilumas, and quickly becomes envious of anyone who tries to get close to him, even those friends that pre-date her. Stirring up trouble and playing pranks are normally her responses to being upset, but she will occasionally lash out physically against someone who pushes her too far. This is very unusual, and normally so long as Dilumas is around she's very friendly and polite if a little immature. If one wanted to put a human emotional age on her, she would be a mature five year old, however her vocabulary, speech, and thought patterns far exceed her emotional limitations due to her longevity.
They say that no golem should be capable of speech; to speak is to have a soul, the blessed scholars once said, and no creation of man is perfect enough to be given such a gift.
My master, clearly, was of much greater knowledge and skill than these writers of old. They simply did not know how to bestow their own Golems with speech. They were too incompetent to give their Golems true life. So they claimed that giving a golem a soul was dangerous. Do I look dangerous to you? No, no of course I don't. Because I'm not. I am simply Kahia.
I can remember every moment my life has offered me, right from my beginning. . . one hundred years is a long time to remember, but my master wanted to keep the moment that he created he forever. . . and so I did.
It started with the feeling of a heavy weight within my belly. Something was settling into position just behind my arm joints, and I knew immediately that that something had given me life. I could only see the world in a warped form through my new glass eyes, but it was something wonderful nonetheless; the workbench below me was rough and mesmerizingly patterned, and I could see shining scissors and string nearby my body. While I was taking in the world before my eyes, I felt the tickle of more cotton being pushed in to me, and then a sharp, pulling pain. I couldn't speak, not quite yet, so I couldn't tell my master that it hurt. That was okay, though, as I'm sure he would have helped if he knew he was hurting me, and besides, he was very quick with his needle. Soon enough I was all but whole; one thing remained. My mouth had a ivory ribbon stitched through it, an incantation written on it in dove's blood which kept my from uttering my first words. . . from grasping my soul. Work calloused hands wrapped around my center, picking me up by the hard metal ball within me, turning my fishbowl vision to the shop around me, and to my master for the first time. He looked haggard and weary, his blue eyes red without sleep, his hair and beard long and messed. His thin lips were pulled into a grim line, and I was instantly curious to what he was doing, attentive to the upcoming command. He exhaled and hot air blew across my face.
.". . . Golem, I have given you life." His voice was thunderous in my unused ears, but I did not tilt them back; my master's voice filled my entire body with warmth. "In turn, you will serve me, loyally and truly. I have spent twenty years in your creation, assuring that you would be nothing but perfect, so that you may serve me to the fullest. You are the most powerful of your kind, little golem. Not only have I given you life, but I have given you a soul. Do you understand me?" He paused, his intense gaze planted right into my eyes, seeming to dig into me. I only hesitated for a moment before nodding, trying to stay looking at him even as my head bobbed; an impossible task with my static, glass eyes.
Your greatness shall be unsurpassed, then, little one. I give you your life force, your. . . Ka." And then, slowly, with the utmost care, his fingers grasped the ribbon, carefully withdrawing the last barrier between myself and my soul.
Within an instant the world had changed. As the last twist of silk fled my lips the world seemed to jump, colours and light shining, everything breathing, my domed vision snapping to a more accurate depiction. It was overwhelming, that feeling. Few will ever experience it, and it is unexplainable to creatures who have had a soul for their entirety. It was a wonderful sensation. I turned to my master, lips curled back against my powerful metal jaws, and spoke; the first words to ever leave the maw of a Golem.
I humbly thank you, Master, for this gift." I didn't know where the words were coming from, nor did I understand their formality, and yet they felt right. "I shall follow you to the ends of the earth, your bidding is my purpose." Slowly, I stood, my velveteen fur rippling, suede paw pads flexing as they touched the roughness of the wood. Standing on the table I towered over him, my then much-grander form hunching slightly so that I could see into his eyes. Shifting back uneasily, he let out a deep breath.
.". . . You're perfect. You really are. Well then, you'll need a name."
Silence, Ka!" Master's voice crackled harshly as he shouted, heaving a pair of scissors at me from his worktable. Aghast, I leapt back from the sharp instrument and clamped my maw shut, my ears flicking back. This was not the first such incident, and I surely was doing something consistently wrong. I ached to ask him how I could do right in his eyes again, but it seemed whenever I was near I was ordered into silence. Sitting sullenly by the doorway, I peered at my reflection in the glass of the store door. My face was wide and powerful looking, with small, round ears and thick clumps of fabric fur on my cheeks. Creamy white rimmed my painted glass eyes and my leather-lined maw, contrasting against the deep auburn of the top of my muzzle and forehead. Behind that was my powerful body, hunched a little at the moment, with the same cream as an accent to my belly and the same auburn everywhere else, marked by regal black stripes, accurate to every painful detail. I was an incredibly impressive creature. I was as long as a man was tall; six feet, and I had jaws and claws far more powerful than the creature I was created after. Behind my soft, cream coloured lips was a foot trap of the finest steel, with enough tension that I could remove a limb with little effort. Within my paws, short knife blades were tucked, prepared to swipe at the nearest intruders. I played two roles in my master's toyshop, advertiser and guard dog, lure and trap. But I enjoyed it, because it was what my master wished of me. I was an extravagant creation not only in my sentiency, which none were aware of, but even in terms of the workmanship my master put into my body. He needed security and I offered him that. Starting from my thoughts, I turned towards the workbench he hunched over, hearing his voice murmuring lowly. Quietly, so not to upset him, I padded over, sitting back on my haunches to peer at what he was working on. He held in one hand a tiny plush bear, his nimble fingers holding back the fabric of his chest, and between the thumb and forefinger of his other hand he held a sparkling stone. I pricked my ears immediately, alert upon seeing the cargo I was created to protect. With the utmost care, he rested the stone into the cotton of the body, pressing it until it nestled safely within the body of the bear. He then stitched up the seam, cut the string, and held out the bear to me.
How does it look, Ka?" He asked, brushing at his hair; he was groomed again, now that I was here, and he seemed healthier, but his eyes stayed bloodshot and desperate in his pale, clean-shaven face. I nodded emphatically as I peered at it, knowing that the little package contained one of the most valuable things he owned.
Some people will say that what he was doing was terrible; supporting the evils of the world, ducking the lawful tariffs, but I knew that it was just survival. The law wasn't made to help the people, he had told me once; it was made to help the fat, greedy, rich politicians who lived up in the nice buildings on the hill. Even though those politicians were the ones who bought the delightful things he made, even though he smiled and waved to their children, he seemed to hate them whenever he held one of the little rocks he found so precious. I thought about this, and a touch of bitterness welled up in my chest, though it was instantly replaced with shame. My master had created me and given me the greatest gift of all. Though he may have been angry with me sometimes, and though he changed his mind, I owed him my loyalty, every thought and every feeling. Thinking about whether I wanted to be on a low shelf or behind the counter the next day, I padded out to main storage room of the store, once again the guardian of his little precious rocks.
It had been a long time since I had hurt like this; the brisk, methodic stitching on thread through fabric was agonizingly painful to me, each time the needle broke the knit of my fabric it stung, every movement of the thread through my lips started to burn. But still I sat quietly, eyes forwards, not seeing the haggard face of my master. He had changed, yet again, in appearance, now seeming even wilder and more frightened than when I first saw him. He would pause in his stitching every few moments to glance at the window, muttering constant gibberish under his breath as he stared on to me without seeing. I hadn't meant to upset him as I had. I only wanted to talk about a particularly adventurous moment of the night, but it seemed to upset him greatly. He at first had dashed from the room, howling for me to stay away from him, but after a bit of waiting he returned, bearing the needle and thread. He had told me to sit, which I obeyed, and said to me Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ I still remember it - "Finally, silent. Damnable creature, must you always be so cheerful and loud? Never again, never again. . . " he laughed then, strangely, and had began his grim task.
My Master was clearly upset with me, and I felt intense guilt for whatever I had done to deserve this treatment, sure it was my own fault. His fingers were still as nimble as they had ever been, but their touch was coarser, his demeanor the same. As the night wound on he finally finished his work, several layers of rough stitches criss-crossing my maw. . . and then he left.
The politicians came down into the town a few days later, but this time they had no merry children in tow. Instead, they stood around the front of the shop and shook their heads, hands shoved in pockets, shoulders hunched against the cold as they muttered to one another from under groomed mustaches. I watched them from atop the counter, my body draped over the till in a seemingly careless manner. . . I did not want them to take my Masters things. After awhile, some brutish looking men came as well, bearing boards and nails, and hammered the planks across the windows, turning day to night once again.
Without Master, there were no shoppers, and there were no new shipments. The days crawled away as I sat alone in the eternal dusk of the shop, curiosity welling up like a flame in my chest. Why had my master not returned? When would he be back? Eventually, it all got the better of me. Using my claws, I lifted the door to the storm shelter, dropping into the musty, earthen room beneath the floorboards. They had, of course, forgotten to board up the outside entrance, and the chain that Master placed was little work for my claws. I was sure he wouldn't mind my going outside, given the circumstances.
I had chosen a good time to take my leave; it was night, and the moon shone, a dim sliver in the sky. Snow had fallen since I had seen the world outside, and it felt cool and crunchy beneath me. If you'll excuse the digression, I should mention that though I am I alive, I am not flesh and blood; I have no body heat to melt snow, and so it stayed crisp beneath me as I stalked through the shadows.
The city outside of the little store was equally quaint and charming. A faerie tale village, with thatched eves dusted with snow, and warmly glowing windows overcome with frost from the outside. Of course, even the cheeriest, snuggest little town has its late night wanderers. As I slipped from the alleyway, I spotted some men clustered just outside the tavern, drunkenly jabbering to one another, loud enough that I could here.
Didja heeeeee-ur about Dawson?" One slurred, leaning back on the wall with a thump.
Yeah. Right in the lake, crazy old bloke." Another commented, sounding somewhat more sober than the first.
Did his-self in, they's sayin'" Piped in the most ragged looking of the men. "Marched out to the lake, smashed out the ice, and jumped right in!"
My Master. Dawson was my master, and he had died. I reeled slightly, backing into the dark of the alleyway. Nothing bound me to this place anymore, and my outlandish appearance would cause trouble later. I needed no provisions, and after glancing to my surroundings, I set off into the depths of night.
I might point out now, that after living in my Master's warm shop, pampered as could be, the real world came as a painful shock to me. I always had someone chasing after me, shooting at me and hollering all sorts of strange things, and defending myself. . . Ã�Â¦ well. It was necessary, but I took no pleasure in it.
Without my Master I was feeling pitiful and empty. It didn't take much time for the fabric of my body to fray, my suede paw pads worn smooth, my rich fabric fur torn out in clumps, the stitches across my mouth to loosen, even though I made no attempt to damage any of my Master's work. The wilderness simply wasn't a good place for a plush creature, and soon I would meet my first demise.
It had been a few years since I had left the town, and though the going was slow, I had wandered quite far, to the land where the great tigers I resembled lived. Padding through the forest, I took in the sights and scents of my new home. I had no need for food or shelter, or for sleep for that matter, so exploring was all I could do. A deer further along the path spotted me and sprung away, and the little well of pride within me swelled once more for Master. I made chase for the joy of it, knowing full well that I would not harm the dainty creature that sprung away into the night. Its flesh was not needed to satisfy me, only the run.
Life went like this for a while, coming across true tigers and their prey, always careful to walk on the boarder of a territory so that I might escape the wrath of a cat mistaking me for kin. The wilderness was deep and untouched here, and they were my biggest threat until the day when the hunters came.
I had been lounging on a near-horizontal tree, my tail flicking side to side, just as the true tigers' tails did. My claws kneaded the bark as I listened to the surrounding wildlife, the birds' wings whispering through the air, the gentle thud of a deer dashing away from something that had startled it. Them, I heard something unusual. The heavy clump of footsteps, and the low muttering of a human voice. Before I knew what to do the shot rang out, rending through my haunch and sending me pell-mell off of my branch. This human was not satisfied with one hole in my fabric though. He pursued me, his steps blunt and loud on the ground, the forest around us in silent shock; none had seen a creature that could so terrorize a tiger. I dashed along as round after round tore through my rump and haunches, my threadbare paws slipping on the slick backs of roots. Living so deep in a forest had its downsides. A seventh and eighth shot caught my in my neck, and worse, in the back of my head, a whoop of joy escaping from the man who chased me. I gave him no reason to rejoice, though; I continued on running, and soon he was following yet again.
I soon realized I was running down a slight slope, but I did not have the time, nor the energy, to think of what could possibly be important about that fact. Of course, I regretted it later; My Master had always told me to use my mind in any situation, but before I could turn heel, I had broken free of the foliage, and splashed into the river. This might not seem like such a bad thing, and it wouldn't have been, if it weren't for the waterfall that I was almost instantly dragged over.
As my body fell, it hit a great many jagged stones and rocks, rending my fabric, tearing my limbs from me. I had been threadbare before, and now I was little more than a tattered head and torso, only my foreleg fully attached to my body, though my opposite hind leg still clung to me somewhat. My stuffing fell in elegant curls from the rips as I clambered ashore, the metal ball which kept me alive continuing to do its job, driving me onwards with reckless abandon.
In the end, it took more than a decade and eight trees worth of leaves to restuff what was left of my body. I had replaced my missing legs with stout sticks, and had lost almost all of my stealth and speed in finding them. My fabric was wrapped unusually in places, held together with burrs and thorns, because I had no needle or thread. I stayed by the riverside, and watched the deer as I always had, though I never chased them now. I only watched and licked my wounds, proverbially and physically; discontent but unwilling to go on. I had no master, and very little of a body. There was little I could do until one day I received a gift. A large, old buck dropped dead of old age before me.
I will, of course, spare you the details, but after having seen Master hand-tan leather for custom work, I was at least somewhat prepared for the task ahead. My jaws and claws allowed me to work quickly and efficiently in gaining my fabric, the sinews I saved as my thread. . . I had no need for the rest, and I left as soon as my needs were met.
Farther away, I tried to match the build Master had given me as my large paws clumsily manipulated the thick, course 'thread.' I could not be as big as I once had been, and I could not be a tiger as I was before, but otherwise, I did a decent job, creating myself a new body to inhabit. It only got hard when it came to adding my 'self' to the other plush. I used only my own cotton within the new body, a strange sensation to say the least. . . and after I had filled it, the little iron ball within me rolled onto the forest floor. It is, in reality, me. The entire control of my body is in that little ball, and so naturally it couldn't be defenseless. What I did not realize was that in had a number of tiny, folded legs, and some sense of sight. I can't really describe it, but I was able to extract my eyes from the remains of my first body, and stitch them (much more accurately than anything else) into the face of my new body. Then, I crawled into my central seam, and took control of the smaller leather-made feline.
I took three days to sew the rest of the seams, unable to cope with the pain for long without my master to request my cooperation. When it was done I was whole again, though a much smaller, rougher whole than my last. Over the next few months I would travel back towards the place I was made, sneaking into towns to lift small spools of thread and packs of needles from fabric shops, repairing myself and improving my original stitching over time.
The days wound on, until I finally stumbled across the town where my beginnings were. It had changed, flourished, turned from the quaint poverty of the old days to a small, neat little city, packed with tourists even after the dark of night had fallen.
I hid for months, wandering between garbage cans, slipping out only in the early morning when it seemed that the baker was the only person in the whole world; he would mistake me for an abnormally large alley cat every time he saw me, and paid me little heed. I didn't know why I stayed in the city, with no bonds to it to speak of, but I did, wandering undisturbed for a handful more years. Unsleeping, I had more than enough time on my paws to partake in everything the nightlife had to offer. It was one such evening when I ran into my new master, a gawky, bright eyed teenaged boy who went by the name of Robert. Well, I guess I didn't really run into him, he caught me in a garbage can; a clever boy, I never really had a chance I suppose.
I fought all I could, and did a fair bit of damage to the metal bin; I took a chomp out of one edge and left six penetrating gouges in its side before he hissed at me to be silent. I obeyed.
Robert caught on instantly to the fact that I understood him, and proceeded to quiz me on my origins and where my master was. When I explained that I was from this city (several decades previous), and what had happened to my master, he nodded and firmly stated "Golem, you are now mine."
Robert was a clever boy, which left me to mostly menial tasks. Watching his belongings, stirring up trouble for his enemies, sitting around under his bed all day waiting for his mother to stop cleaning his room and go elsewhere. I preferred the forest to this life, though he was fairly good with his hands and mended me often, even going so far as to paint the markings of a Puma on me when I requested it of him. He had a certain ability to pick out things no one else could see, bad or good, but he spent most of his time alone. I was naturally more than a little surprised when, one day, a girl came home with him. They had a project to do together in school, I discovered stuck beneath the bed. It was about natural history and I couldn't help but be intrigued. Creeping closer, I watched as the two of them flicked through thick library books, talking and flirting with one another between facts. I felt a little betrayed, after being Robert's one true friend, that he was talking with this girl. It was unfair of me, as Master is always right, whether it was Master then or Robert now. After watching for an hour, the girl spun around on the spot, sprawling out on her belly.
I am so bored!" She drawled, peering up at Robert before lowering her head to her arms. I couldn't do much of anything with her down there, so I froze, hoping she wouldn't spot me. Naturally, she did. "Ro-Beeeeert! It's so cute!" She squealed at a painfully high pitch reaching out and grabbing me. "You have a little plushie! That's adorable, what's his name?"
Had I eyelids, I would be wincing I decided, not daring to squirm in her hands.
Her." He said, startled. "Her name is Ka. I found her a few years ago, put her back." He didn't want to get into the complexity of being a young man with a plush toy, I could tell. Ka isn't a very pretty name." The girl whined, holding me closer to her face. "You're a Puma, you pretty little thing. You're far too pretty to have a Kaka name like Ka." She seemed pleased with herself, but all I could do was stay as still as possible. Master had named me, and only Robert could change that. "I'm from where Pumas are from, and in the native language, Kahia means beauty. I think it suits you perfectly. Kahia."
Though I loathe to admit it, I loved the name the first time I heard it. Robert let out a distressed groan, though, and gestured at her.
Stephanie, put her away now please.
With Stephanie in his life, I became less and less important. I would sit for months on end, neglected and ignored, reduced to cleaning his room or finding his belongings. . . when he remembered I was there. Eventually, He forgot about me entirely. I was locked away in the storage room of his mother's house, amongst other castoffs of clothing and toys. While it wasn't in my nature to let it happen, my loyalty began to fray. His life had pulled us so far apart that it came as a shock when he came back to me.
Kahia! Kahia guess what?" His voice rung loud through the normally silent room. For a moment, I wasn't sure that I had really heard him. "Ka? Are you ignoring me?" Were I anything but what I am, I likely would, but I could not hold back my nature.
.". . . No, not ignoring you." I called in return, standing, my legs soft with age as I stumbled along towards his voice. I wound my way through the boxes, and sat just within the shadows that I was now used to.
.". . . Come out here Kahia, you look creepy lurking back there." He stepped backwards, opening the door wider. I only then realized he was calling me Kahia, but I wandered forwards anyways. My first Master was dead. Negligent or no, Robert was my Master now. ". . . It's been awhile, girl." He said, kneeling and reaching out to me like I was some elderly dog. "C'mere. My life has changed a lot, Kahia. We're moving North, maybe to Canada"
I hurried closer then, my ears strained forwards. We. He and I. Moving meant we could get away from Stephanie; it meant that he would pay attention to me once again. I could be helpful, and we could talk. . . I was so lonely back then, not having anyone to talk to.
To Canada? Canada sounds nice, I'd like that!" I chirped, my voice sounding unfamiliar and syrupy sweet. I didn't mind it that much. "Are we going soon?"
As soon as Steph has the baby." The metal weight in my center seemed to become one hundred times heavier, and I sat down.
.". . . Baby?" He didn't seem to notice my disappointment, though, nodding and showing me the back of his hand where a metal band showed.
."You've been down here for a long time, haven't you?" I neglected to respond. "Steph and I are married. Have been for some ten years now. Sorry I've left you down here for so long, but, as I said, my life has changed." Closer now, I inspected him. He was bigger than when I last saw him, and more solidly built. Glasses sat on his face, his nose now crooked where he had presumably broken it. "Anyways. I've got some. . . stuff for you to handle. I've got a few problems at work. I'm a lawyer now." Pausing, he looked around "This place could use a bit of a clean-up before we sell it, too." He mumbled rocking back on his heels and reaching out to me. "C'mon, I'll explain on the way to my house."
Robert had left me in that basement for twenty years while he purple rabbits finished his education and began his career and family. I tried my best to not be bitter about it, but it was hard. As my master it was his right. . . but then, everything was his right. I had once thought that only Stephanie could steal his attention from me. Now he had a daughter, and another on the way. On the bright side of the situation, the girl child he had delighted in my company, and I in hers, despite my jealousy of the attention her father gave her. Honestly, it was a relief to be spoken for, to be fed imaginary tea, even to be dragged by my tail in the name of making a child happy. The life of a toy was so far superior to the life of a sentry that I occasionally questioned my need to obey Robert.
I grew to dislike my patrols of Robert's land, though his paranoia was well founded and so long as the warmth stayed I was quite occupied with the various criminals who came to do him harm. Spring, summer and even autumn were well enough, but winter was as bitter as I was; no man dared leave tracks in the thick snow that blanketed the ground, and so I was left in the sleet and snow to guard against nothing.
It didn't take long for Stephanie to realize that I was not a normal plush toy. She my presence disturbing, and often tried to remove me from the house. The previous adoration she felt was replaced with a vigilant suspicion, which often had her catching me as I moved. There was little I could do about it, though, as she grew fretful and paranoid about not only me, but everything else in the house.
Robert frequently came to me to tell me to be more careful as he tried to soothe his wife's fears, but even I couldn't help that she would sit staring at me for hours on end until I had no choice but to twitch, sending her scurrying for him to prove that I was possessed. She became miserable and craven, clinging to Robert and begging him constantly to be rid of me. But he kept me, knowing I was all that kept his family safe; that with me around no harm could reach to him. . . well. Most harm.
The second child was of little interest to me. A small, blue-clad grub, Stephanie refused to allow him near to me. Her gurgled and drooled and spat up constantly, which meant it was a happy enough arrangement, though he often cried in envy of his sister. Many people blamed Stephanie's behavior on the baby, the stress of him with Robert working increasing work hours was too much, they said. No one suspected that she could ever be correct in her accusations of a silly little plush toy.
The girl child was bigger now, old enough to go school, to learn more of the world. I spent most of my time with Stephanie then, seeing as we were alone in the house. More and more often houseguests would murmur politely behind their hands that her sanity was slipping, more and more often I would see her trembling as if cold even in the heat of day.
I was there in the girl's arms at the big building, listening to the tragic music, watching the tears flow. Few friends seemed surprised when she went away, though they all murmured how terrible it was, how she should have gotten help; Robert, however, seemed shocked. It was as if he had thought the world would wait for him to return, and be the exact same as he had left it. . . as if he had been in a dark storage room as his family changed above him.
The children were around even less now; Robert left the boy in the care of a daycare, and the girl was busy with school. She had abandoned me for friends, makeup and clothes, but I understood. He stopped going to his office, preferring to pace the study that had once been his wife's workspace, muttering to himself. The loneliness was hard on him, but I was sure to always be there with him. I talked about everything I could think of, from the weather to his work, to the children. I asked questions, insisted he tell me about what had happened in the time I had been in the basement, anything to keep him busy. He slept and ate less, am eerily familiar glaze of fanaticism showing in his eyes as the days passed. . . I tried my best to ignore it. It took a long time for the veil of normalcy to fall, but once it did the entire world seemed to come tumbling down.
It had been a year since Stephanie had left when the children stopped coming home altogether, the small pile of newspapers in the foyer punctuated with summons to court over neglect charges. Robert no longer left the study except to retrieve the food that was delivered to the house or to use the washroom. I didn't leave it at all, my guard posts long forgotten in favor of being there for my Master. Thieves and criminals no longer seemed interested in the home anyways.
He did his work in sporadic spurts, only making enough money for him to subside on. . . the rest of the time he spent mumbling to himself franticly, much like my creator had long ago. I continued to deny that it was happening again, continued to talk quietly to him through the night. Robert had never been violent with me; he had never yelled at me for silence. He was not turning into my master, I assured myself. Of course I was wrong.
It was late at night and Robert had been working all day long. It was strange to see him work for more than an hour at a time, but I thought nothing of it. At my gentle insistence he grumbled that he had some important business to deal with, and so I simply watched him, bringing up small tidbits of my own past that he had already heard a million times. Eventually, he turned off his screen and swung around to face me, peering down at my leather-clad body.
." . . . Ka, could you do a quick patrol of the house, please?" He asked, somehow sounding more familiar than normal. I tilted my head, peering up at him. Somehow, familiar was wrong. He stared down at me blankly for a moment, then shook his head. "Well? Get moving!"
Even my light steps sent tiny mushroom clouds of dust to the air in the neglected reaches of the house, the lonely rooms seeming to sigh as I pushed through their doors. The entire home seemed frozen in time; dishes sat in the sink, unscrubbed; clothes lay part-folded in the laundry room; toys were left haphazard sprawling across the floor. Not a thing lay out of place, though, and so I returned to the study. Suddenly, my senses were flooded with panic; a thick, pungent scent was rapidly filling the air around me, seeping from under the door. Leaping to the door I sat back on my haunches, clumsily trying to grip the slippery doorknob with my forepaws. Desperation screamed in my belly as I heard a heavy thud. I couldn't panic. Not now. Leaning pack, I stared at the door, then carefully opened my maw. Tenderly, I pressed the knob against my stitches, whining at the resistance I found. My master needed me.
Ka?" His voice was quiet, and startled me. He was awake. "Ka, please come. Please help me!" Lunging forwards, I ignored the burning pain as I tore my stitches, biting the very handle from the door. It wheezed open, and I pounced forwards.
My master sat on the floor, staring at me, unmoving. A red plastic jug's contents were poured over him and around the room, leaving it to reek of what I would later know was gasoline. Padding forwards, I nudged him, and he turned to me.
Ka." He mumbled weakly. "Ka, Ka, Ka. I see why she did it, now." I tilted my head, confused. What was he talking about? "Why, Ka? Why did you ruin me? Why did you take it all away?" Reaching over to me, he pulled me into his arms, and stood. Nuzzling my head against his shoulder, I sighed.
It's okay, master. I'm still here. I still love you. . .
And then he lit the match.
I rested, buried deep beneath the ash, undisturbed by the scuffling search of the firemen. After my body had burnt away Robert's clutch on me loosened. My metal core had rescued my eyes and protected them while the house fell in around us. The wreckage kept them busy enough that no one dug for me, and once the flow of people ended I crawled from the hole and scuttled away, my tiny mechanical legs dancing down the concrete street. I was free again.
I did not roam pointlessly like I had in my previous masterless days. Before anything else, I knew I needed a body, and quickly found my way across the town and into a sewing store; it's funny that I managed the distance in little more than two days, when the same distance would have taken me weeks or even a month in my larger plush form. Carrying my scorched eyes along with me, I found a bin of scrap fabric and set to work constructing myself a body. The job was a slow and tedious one, the small, spindled metal of my legs working needle and thread with a limited sense of sight. The old woman who owned the store only worked on one garment at a time, limiting the speed that I could work at as I patched myself together with whatever I could find. This also meant that I did not turn out a total mish-mash of colours and patterns, though, so I suppose I should be thankful.
When all was said and done I was an eighth my original size, my body just large enough that the metal ball could tuck into my chest cavity. The size of a proper plushie, I stitched the final seams around my neck and set out into the world outside. Winter had returned, and the ground was swathed with heavy, wet snow. I struggled through the drifts as I wandered the streets, watching from a distance, careful to not get caught this time. I was free, and this time, I would take advantage of it.
I had the misfortune of choosing the beginning of winter to leave the warm, dry confines of the biped's world, and what I had thought to be a heavy blanket of snow turned out to be a light dusting for the region I was in. It seemed that every time I rested I ended up under a new heap of snow. Several times I ended up plowed into snow banks, soaked through with slush and bitterly cold, miserable despite my freedom.
The city streets were not built for a small plush toy, but they were cleared often and I was able to wander great distances in the dead of night, weaving between buildings and discovering the filth that seeped behind their flashy facades. This duality struck a chord within me, and I became anxious to leave. I was repulsed by the synthetic hum of the metropolis, drawn away as if by some magnetic force. Within a month I had strayed to the very boarder of the city, where squat, grey warehouses lay like cement slugs amongst the brush lands. It was atop one of these that I found what I was looking for. Far off, on the sickly yellow horizon, a haphazard cluster of buildings sprouted, like a cluster of disheveled mushrooms. There was no appeal to it, far away as it was down a shoddy, narrow road, and yet I felt drawn to it. So, with nothing better to do, I set off in the snow, towards the second city.
The going was rough in the deep, unplowed snow, my paws freezing through with slush and becoming heavy and ungainly, but I didn't turn back. The bitterness of winter struck a high point one night, in a howling, freezing culmination of snow and hail. I hunkered down, fearful I would lose my path in the blizzard, and let the wet snow overcome me.
Eventually the storm went quiet, the snow atop me a comforting blanket of coolness. With a careful sense of determination, I squirmed through the three feet of snow above me, and discovered a whole new world. The brush lands were gilt with silver, icicles shimmering on trees, the snow seeming to glow in the sun's bright rays. Hoarfrost licked along the branches of the scrubby trees, changing their bleak, barren trunks to diamond-studded scepters. Carefully, I wandered away from the hole I had made. My paws pressed into the snow, but it seemed firm enough, and so I was on my way again, feeling out of place in this beautified world. Within a few days the banal grey of pollution had returned to my surroundings, and I felt sadly comforted by its familiar bleakness. I was not a beautiful creature, not any longer, and my mismatched patches and rough stitching made me feel like I belonged in the miserly little city.
By the time I reached the city, the grey winter had turned to an equally grey spring. I felt trapped between the cement, the slush and the sky. . . like I was where I belonged, but still out of place.
Eventually, I stopped caring. I sat indifferently between garbage cans, watching the world go by, not needing sleep or food to sustain myself. With no master, I had no meaning. No needs or desires to drive me. I still felt the sickly pulling in my chest, but I had no will to follow it, and so I sat, miserable and alone.
Now, I just might be crazy, but you just moved, didn't you?" At first I didn't realize he was talking to me. A tall lizard crouched in front of me, hunkered low to the grimy ground in front of me. I realized that I, too, was on the ground, and lifted one paw anxiously. ". . . Yep. You definitely move."
.". . . You look funny!" I was almost immediately embarrassed for the uncalled for outburst. It must have been comical to him, though, as he burst in to laughter.
Indeed I do. What with the glowing spots and the big ears." He reached out to me carefully, his glowing green hands warm. "But you aren't exactly a charmer yourself." I stared up at him, his dark grey skin flecked with green, his eyes peering intensely down at me.
I could use a bath. . . " I admitted slowly, placing my paws on his chest and wriggling to get comfortable. The strange yearning seemed to have dissipated, and after a moment I was snugly cradled against his elbow.
I don't suppose you're machine wash friendly? . . . I was kidding!" He laughed at my stare, patting the top of my head. "So, what's your name, anyways?"
Off from Neopian Central, away from the bright windows of the stores and the cheery garden paths of "Executive Town Homes" Neopia sprawls into urban anonymity. It's quite simply impossible to stumble across the industrial section of Neopia, well hidden from even long-time residents' curiosity. Several miles down a crumpled, lonely service road, the second city sprouts up in grey uneven clumps reminiscing of a dreary fungus, a haze of pollutants spewed from surrounding refineries smothering the city.
Within, a confused maze of ramshackle fast-food restaurants, rattrap apartments, and questionable corner stores sustain the residents in their mindless drone of slave-like work. There is little that doesn't take on a grey tint in the city, little that can flourish in the hostile cement desert. Like the carcasses of great beasts, burnt out cars sprawl on cement blocks. Buildings leer onto the streets, their shattered windows turned to ragged grins. Children, what children there are, play safely indoors. . . or not at all.
A gut-twisting tension seems to be strung down the empty streets, and though at any given hour the residents of the city are either buried in their labors or soundly unconscious, it still feels like trouble roves the streets without a master.
Down one such street, particularly notorious for the crumbling buildings that hedge it, there is a flash of color amongst the grey. Amongst the gaping maws of various abandoned buildings (for even the desperate know better than to risk death in such places), a pair of newly installed metal doors stand stoutly locked. Amongst facades which have crumpled, dissolved and, in some cases entirely fallen away, a fresh coat of paint changes the regularity of grey for a brilliant mural. Where the other buildings lay hollow and dead but for the rats and insects, High Hopes hums with a certain new energy.
Within the metal doors, new paint and carpet have been laid down; cheap and cheerful, but free of the rot and stench of neglect. The elevator buttons have been wiped free of grime, though the mirrors and banisters of the box are dim with tarnish. Labels mark the floors that are in some order of use, each level somewhere in the middle of renovations. New fixtures and lights shine upon cleanliness, doors and windows open to let the breeze through in an echo of cheerfulness. Despite the hardships, the residents of this building have found a niche where their lives may have the chance to flourish.
Family and FriendsIt's sometimes overwhelming to be with all the people in High Hopes after having been alone for so long, but many of them are nice and like to talk with me. Some of them are really too self-absorbed though, and don't pay enough attention to the others around them. Sometimes when I'm bored, I'll scare them or join them when they watch movies. They treat me like one of the family. It's nice.
Dilumas is my new master, and my best friend. I spend most of my time with him, which is fun. He's never boring and pays lots of attention to me, though every once in awhile he'll get mad at me for a trick. . . I don't understand why, though. He plays tricks too. He's very intelligent, and he hasn't gotten scared of me like my old masters. . . he actually listens to me when I talk.
Bohrium is a lot like me. He's synthetic, different from everyone else. And that makes it hard for him to have a normal life, he says. His Master is Meikaze, though he doesn't call her that. But he follows her around and obeys her, so I think he's just in denial. We spend lots of time talking to one another, especially when the others are asleep. Every once in awhile, I'll let him take over my body so he can do stuff, since he hasn't got a physical body. Dilumas sometimes gets really mad at me after that, but I don't see how helping a friend is a bad thing.
I spend a lot of time with Jeul. She likes to pay attention to me, and it's nice to cuddle up with her on the couch and read books. Sometimes she asks me to go away, but I guess I understand. . . I make people uncomfortable. Outside of Dilumas, Jeulious is my favorite friend to spend time with; she's so relaxed and friendly. She's also very funny when she's mad at Kyern, but don't tell her I said that!
Klieru ignores me. I ignore him. Sometimes he steps on my tail, and I think it's on purpose. Dilumas says that it isn't, and he can tell because of his ears, but I still don't like Eru. He tends to get all snooty about the apartment and he spends hours upon hours marking his fur. I think he's strange. He likes everyone in the aparment except for me, and calls me creepster all the time.
I'm nice to her because Di tells me to be, but I really don't like Loshai. She uses the fact that she's stuck here as an excuse to simper and cling to Dilumas, and I'm afraid he doesn't see it. Not only that, but she has Esyen to pay attention to her! It's not fair that she has someone that wants her but wants my master too. Shai spends lots of time in the Bathroom, because she lives in the bathtub, but I think she should go to school or get a job like everyone else. She's sucking out all of my Master's hard-earned money.
Mei says that I can talk to her as long as I don't bother her while she's sleeping. I think it's more because I scare her than because she doesn't want to be woken up. I don't understand how I'm scary. She spends lots of time with Jeul, so I in turn end up spending a fair amount of time with her. Mei is one of the only girls to have never made any sort of advances towards Dilumas, so I don't mind when she's around him. She keep Kyern the wuss under control.
My horror movie buddy! Revenn is really nice, and he always smells really good, because he cooks. I don't spend a lot of time with him, mostly because he spends so much time at work, but I do watch a few movies with him every week. Rev seems to be the only one who isn't afraid of me in the least, other than Dilumas. You can't really understand what it's like for people to be afraid of you unless they really are, so it's a nice break.
Sometimes, drawings just show up in the apartment. Not just of me, no no, of everyone. We're never entirely sure where they've come from... Klieru is an artist but I don't think that he'd bother doing all of these drawings. This little pile here is mostly those drawings. It's a little creepy how they show up.
Art By OthersSome people have actually made art of me! Isn't that cool? I love being drawn. I know it isn't the best thing when you're trying to be a guard, but it's so nice to see what people do. Sometimes I look a little bit scary, but I'm not. You know that, right? Right? Di has collected all of these from visitors who have come around High Hopes.
Shia / Diane / Kirema Owl / Karikinet / Zypher
Nochi / Deriance / Dire Sloth / Kiwi__Bird / Dehoot
May / Speckled / Scarecrow Techie / Silver / Uzag
Owl / Paper.fish
This is my brand-new adoptable set! Isn't it cute? Do you like it? I think it's cute. I have every colour Kougras come in! Isn't that wonderful?
You want one 'specially for you? Yay!
If you want one, contact Vicats with the following information. (You can remove the stuff in the brackets!)
Pet's Name: (Can be a pet you are looking to adopt or an OC)
Pet's Refrence: (Should be a full-body, (Flat) colour picture.)
Your Set: (You do not have to give a custom of Ka; I have Kougras, a Wocky, a Lupe, Draiks and a Grarrl, all of whom are acceptable adoptable subjects.)
Kaproval Petpages/Application Award
Shhhh, working on it!
Onwards and outwards
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