z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


12+

Not My Circus: Chapter 4

by GengarIsBestBoy


Chapter 4: Permanent Jet Lag

Keith awoke the next day. His eyelids were heavy and his muscles still ached as he got out of bed. What day is it today? He thought. He glanced over at his calendar. Oh, that’s right, it’s Friday.

He had had a weird dream that night. He could only remember the basic details: a strange lab, talking gray blobs, and most of all: becoming a clown.

He walked into the bathroom and jumped back in surprise at his reflection. He sighed and pressed his unnaturally-colored hand against the glass. It was all real?

He groaned. Of course it had all been real.

So was this going to be his life from now on? Was he just going to stay this way forever?

It was too early in the morning for all this thinking.

He went to the kitchen and put some frozen waffles in the toaster. Lucy was already in the kitchen, waiting eagerly to be fed. Keith got some cat food out of the pantry and poured it into her bowl.

As he turned around, though, he jumped back in surprise again. Molly stood on the table when she hadn’t been there before. “Good morning, Keith!”

Keith looked into her big eyes. His transformation had been real, so of course she had been real too. He didn’t understand how she could have this much energy in the morning. 

“Morning,” he mumbled.

He stood by the kitchen counter, waiting for the waffles to be done. Molly didn’t say much—she just sat there, staring at him intently with the smile of a murderer.

“Can I… help you?” He asked, uneasy.

Molly didn’t respond. Keith looked away, but then he had a realization. “Do you… want food? Do shapeshifters need food?”

Molly pretended to think. “Hmm… I’m not sure, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten anything. Maybe you should make me some food just to be sure.”

Keith groaned. He already had a cat, and now he had another mouth to feed. “What do you want to eat?” He asked. “We’ve got toast, cereal, waffles…”

But Molly did not see the appeal in any of these options. Instead, she hopped down from the table and went over to Lucy’s food bowl. “I want this stuff!”

Lucy immediately began to hiss and arch her back. She made it apparent that she did not like Molly in the slightest. She unveiled her claws, ready to strike.

Keith swooped in and scooped Lucy up. She squirmed in his arms, intent on turning the kitchen into a crime scene. He quickly brought her over to his bedroom and shut her in; it wouldn’t be for long.

Molly did not seem phased by Lucy’s attempted murder. “So… can I eat it?”

Keith rubbed the bridge of his nose—at least, he tried to, but he got frustrated when he only felt a round clown nose. “So, let me get this straight: you want to eat cat food?”

Molly nodded.

“Like, actually? You genuinely want to eat this? I can assure you, it's not very tasty.” Keith realized how weird that must have sounded. “I, uh, tried it once. Out of curiosity.”

Molly nodded again. Keith sighed. “Alright, fine, but just don’t eat out of Lucy’s bowl; I’ll get you your own.” He got a bowl out of a cabinet and poured some of the cat food in.

Even though the proof was right in front of him, he still could not believe that there was actually a shapeshifter in his house, and that he had actually undergone a horrible mutation.

Perhaps it was too early in the morning to care.

He set the bowl on the table. To his surprise, Molly’s body began to twist and turn like modeling clay. Within seconds, she looked completely different. Everything about her had changed: her eye shape, her body shape, and even her color. She had transformed into a cat-like creature—but the details weren’t quite right. She had three eyes, four ears, two tails, and her fur was purple with green zig-zags. She hopped onto the table, eating the food sloppily. Pieces of fish-shaped kibble fell onto the table.

Keith was honestly kind of impressed; he hadn’t totally believed that she was a shapeshifter.

When she was done, she ate all of the kibbles that fell out of the bowl, then sat upright. Her body twisted and turned again until she was back to her original state.

She seemed like she genuinely enjoyed the cat food. “That was delicious!”

“Yeah, I’m sure it was,” Keith said. By then his toaster waffles had popped up, so he put them on a plate and covered them up with syrup.

When he was done eating, he noticed a scratching sound coming from his bedroom. “I’m gonna go check on Lucy.” Molly waved goodbye as he walked to his bedroom.

He opened the door slowly. Lucy was not usually so aggressive towards guests, but then again, all of those guests had been human.

She was still hissing at him. Even when he inched closer, she persisted.

He slowly realized what was going on. He had been so concerned about Molly upsetting Lucy, that he had completely forgotten about his own predicament. Perhaps Lucy did not recognize him anymore. His heart broke in two just thinking about it.

But what would make her remember? She was just a cat, after all. Did cats remember stuff in the way humans did? Probably not, but he had an idea regardless.

“Hey Lucy,” he said in a drawn-out and gentle way, hoping she would recognize the sound of his voice. “It’s me, Keith.”

She stopped hissing.

“You know… your owner? The one who feeds you?”

Lucy seemed a little skeptical, but eventually, she straightened out her back. She slowly approached him.

“Aww, you do recognize my voice!” Keith said, reaching down to pet her.

Not even a second later, he pulled his hand away in pain as Lucy’s little teeth sunk into his fingers. “Oww, Lucy!”

Lucy meowed at him. Okay, so they weren’t completely on good terms now, but it was a start.

He sat on his bed, and it was just that time of day when rational and deep thinking started to kick in.

What was he going to do with his life now?

He obviously couldn’t go anywhere but his apartment; he was not leaving the house looking like this. Was he just going to be trapped in his house forever? Was he never going to see his family and friends again? He flopped back onto the bed and shoved his face into a pillow. Lucy walked off.

Just then, his bedroom door burst open. He jumped up in surprise, to see Molly standing in the doorway. “So… what are we gonna do today?”

“What?”

“Y’know, because friends do stuff together and—oh, wait, I just remembered that we’re not friends. But, I mean, frenemies are still partially friends, right? So I guess that means we can do friend stuff sometimes—”

“Molly,” Keith interrupted. “We are not doing anything together.”

“Oh…okay,” she said as she left the room.

Keith grabbed his phone off his nightstand and began to scroll through social media. He didn’t really use it all that often, but what else was he going to do?

He scrolled through a couple of funny videos. Soon, though, he sensed a presence in the room. He looked up from his phone, and sure enough, Molly was back.

“So, I was thinking… you’re a human, right?”

It was an innocent question on Molly’s part, but it genuinely made Keith think. Was he still human, or was he something else entirely now?

It took him a minute to respond, but he simply answered “Yes” to make things a lot less complicated for Molly.

“Okay, so, I wanna know… what kind of stuff do humans do?”

Keith laughed before returning to his phone. “That’s a good question.”

But Molly stood there, waiting for an answer.

“Why do you ask?”

“I mean, if I’m going to be frenemies with a human, then I should at least know some things about them, right?” She spun around and made wide gestures as she talked.

Keith sat up. She had a good point. “Well, we eat and sleep, for starters. Young humans spend most of the time in school, and older humans spend it at work.”

“Is that… all you do?” Molly asked, her head tilted to the side.

This was another innocent question that quickly became existential. “Well, um… I guess so? I mean, that’s mainly what we do.”

Molly dropped out of the conversation. She hopped around Keith’s room, marveling at and rambling about shiny objects she saw.

“Ooh, what’s this?” She asked, after climbing up a shelf and pointing to a boxed alicorn figurine. According to the box, the character was from a show called The Magical Adventures of Sparkle Hooves.

Keith jumped out of bed, scooping Molly up and setting her on the ground. “Hey, don’t touch that!” He warned. “It’s my limited edition Princess Wisteria action figure!” He had won it at a cosplay convention, and only ten of them had ever been produced. Molly was not getting her sticky hands on it.

She persisted. “Well, if I can’t touch that, can I touch this?” She reached for a fake plant, her arms growing longer. Googly eyes had been glued to the pot.

“No,” he said. It was a gift from his grandma. He picked it up and brought it out of Molly’s reach.

“What about this?” She walked over to a box full of plastic beads. 

Keith heard her trying to open it, so he scooped her up and set her on the bed. “No,” he repeated. Plastic beads took forever to pick up when they were spilled.

Molly crossed her arms, her thick round eyebrows furrowed. “No fair! I just want to have fun!

Keith crossed his arms too. He needed to get Molly out of his sight, as soon as possible. “Fine then. I’ll show you something fun. Wanna see?”

Her eyes lit up, and any trace of anger on her face was gone. “Yeah!”

“Okay, then, follow me.” He lead her out of his bedroom and into the living room. He picked her up and put her on the couch.

He pointed to the television. “You see this black box here?” He asked, in the voice one would use to talk to a child. “This is called a TV. It's a magic box that can show you moving pictures.”

He grabbed a remote off the side table and turned it on. He then handed her the remote. “You use these arrow buttons to move around, and you use the big circle to pick something.”

Molly looked up in wonder. Keith chuckled dryly. “Have fun,” he said, before walking back to his bedroom.

He planted his face onto his bed.

~~~

He lifted his head, which was aching from being in one position for too long, and looked at the clock. How long had it been? 25 minutes? His stomach growled, and he got up to get some thin mints out of the pantry.

He walked back after he got them, already munching on one, but stopped to see what Molly was watching. On-screen, a lady walked through a dark, abandoned house, holding a flashlight. Suddenly, a masked man came out of an open door and stabbed her in the eye! It was…surprisingly realistic.

Molly didn’t seem disturbed or scared by it at all. In fact, she seemed absolutely captivated. The blood from the TV screen was reflected in her large eyes.

“Umm… what are you watching, Molly?” Keith asked, concerned.

She didn’t seem to notice him until now. “Oh, it’s this cool movie called Only One Leaves! It’s about these people stuck in a house full of traps, and only one of them gets to make it out alive!” Her casual tone scared Keith.

He wasn’t really sure what to say. “Molly, how old are you?”

She paused the movie and thought about it. She stretched her arms out in front of her. “This much!”

That settled it. He grabbed the remote from the stand. “Okay now, l think this is too violent for you. Let’s watch something else, okay?”

While Molly tried to jump up and grab the remote, he quickly went to his watchlist. He clicked on The Magical Adventures of Sparkle Hooves. The cover art had colorful ponies with sparkly eyes. All of the episodes had already been watched.

“How about you give this show a try?” He said, using the same “parent voice” he used earlier.

Molly crossed her stubby arms. “No! I don’t wanna!”

Keith was a little offended. “Well, why not?” He asked, his hands on his hips. “It’s got funny writing, engaging lore, and valuable life lessons! Plus, look at these adorable ponies! It’s a perfect show for you!”

He put the first episode on and took the remote with him. He maintained eye contact with Molly as he backed away towards his bedroom. Because he wasn’t looking where he was going, though, he bumped right into the shelf on the hallway wall. He fell backward onto the ground, rubbing his forehead and dropping the remote.

With a creak, one end of the shelf fell down, and he had no time to react. All of the mythology books and cartoon action figures on it fell right onto his head, one by one.

Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as much as he anticipated—it mostly just caused a dull ache. He rubbed the top of his head, but something was wrong.

He ran his fingers along the surface of his head, which was now flat.

He jumped up, shaking his head in disbelief. But just as he thought this situation couldn’t get any stranger, he felt his head changing shape as he shook it.

He stopped. He put his hand back on top of his head, and sure enough, it was back to its original shape. He rushed over to the bathroom just to check, and, yep, everything was back to normal.

He stared at himself in the mirror. It was just like something from a slapstick cartoon.

What just happened?

Too many things were happening to him in a short period of time. He didn’t know what to believe anymore.

~~~

Previous: Chapter 3

Next: Chapter 5


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
124 Reviews

Points: 1350
Reviews: 124

Donate
Stickied -- Tue Aug 15, 2023 2:25 am
View Likes
GengarIsBestBoy says...



Fun fact:

The (fake) movie Molly is watching is inspired by an anti-smoking ad I saw once. It was trying to show that only 1 in 4 teens who smoke can quit cold turkey, so it had the main characters tortured in an abandoned hospital

You know maybe this is why Gen Z isn’t okay, because we saw all those anti-smoke ads that were on-level with horror movies




User avatar
211 Reviews

Points: 22958
Reviews: 211

Donate
Thu Aug 17, 2023 5:01 pm
View Likes
OrabellaAvenue wrote a review...



Hello! This is Orabella, here with a review.

Almost all pet owners have tried their pet's food at least one. (Says the girl who's never had a pet) Although, my sister has tried it because she's not the one with an allergy to both cats and dogs and she's actually around them a fair amount of the time.

Anyway, like the previous chapters, this is amazing, and I continue to be hooked. I wonder what he's going to do after this. I mean, he can't leave the apartment. He can't see his friends. He can't work from home. He can only play with his phone for so long. And what happens when he can't pay rent and gets kicked out? I think something more important is about to happy, so I don't think he'll necessarily have to deal with all that, though I might be wrong.

I think shapeshifting is such a cool power. I wonder how it might help later on - and how it might not. I can't imagine Molly trying to trick Keith that she's someone else for anything, but then again she could be faking the whole naive sweet act (though unlikely).

The fact that they kind of turned into a parent and child with the TV is very silly (in a good way), and Molly liking a horror show kind of reminds me of another character from elsewhere. Her personality deeply contrasts the things she likes to watch, which is also silly.

This is getting better by the chapter, and I'm excited for when I finally get around to reading the next one. Keep writing!




User avatar
229 Reviews

Points: 9163
Reviews: 229

Donate
Mon Aug 14, 2023 10:34 pm
View Likes
foxmaster wrote a review...



FOXMASTER HERE! For a review! Sorry it took me so long to review this, I have been rather lazy lately.
I loved this, and especially about Molly in this chapter...... I was not expecting the horror-movie side of her!
Anyway, let's get to the review!

Was he never going to see his family and friends again? He flopped back onto the bed and shoved his face into a pillow. Lucy walked off.

I feel like the last part about Lucy seems kind of unnecessary, and it seems to kind of break up the flow here.
She reached for a fake plant, her arms growing longer. Googly eyes had been glued to the pot.

I would add the part about googly eyes a bit earlier here, because it's kind of at the end and seems like an unnecessary description.
She paused the movie and thought about it. She stretched her arms out in front of her.

You should get rid of the period in the first sentence here, and replace it with a comma and 'Then'
But, that's all I noticed! Nice ending,and things are really getting interesting....
-Foxmaster




User avatar
542 Reviews

Points: 41664
Reviews: 542

Donate
Mon Aug 14, 2023 12:05 am
View Likes
Liminality says...



Hi again Gengar! Ooh this chapter leaves off with a fascinating development. I feel kind of excited for Keith now that he knows he can at least *sometimes* have a regular human body again.

Molly's character is also super intriguing in this chapter. I like how you've shown some hints as to her nature, like how she shapeshifts to enjoy cat food and how she likes violent TV shows despite seeming very young and child-like.

I hadn't expected that Keith would just carry on with his normal life for a bit after the ending of the last chapter. It was nice to see more of his personality fleshed out though. I wonder if he's going to start asking more questions now that the effects of the goop seem to be more complex than he previously knew.

Cheers!
-Lim




User avatar
1019 Reviews

Points: 67
Reviews: 1019

Donate
Mon Aug 07, 2023 2:41 pm
View Likes
vampricone6783 wrote a review...



Aww, poor Keith. :( He might not ever be able to leave his house. Although, there is an aesthetic called “clowncore”, which is a clown/circus themed aesthetic. People who live by this aesthetic usually dress like clowns and have circus themed stuff. Maybe Keith could pretend to be a clowncore human? I mean, it’s an idea.

It’s funny how Molly would rather watch a horror movie than a kid’s show. She’s got evil cute energy. :)

I wish you a beautiful day/night.




User avatar
246 Reviews

Points: 22463
Reviews: 246

Donate
Mon Aug 07, 2023 4:45 am
View Likes
Spearmint says...



Haha, Molly is so much like a small child XD Albeit a rather terrifying one...





they got that magical iridescence that you don't expect to be on a sky rat y'know
— Ari11