After many years of deliberation, here comes the first (fairly raw…) edition of The Kitsune and the Members of Change! I hope my writing does my imagination justice, and I hope you all enjoy it!
Constructive criticism is always appreciated!
Length: 3,551 words
“In recent news: there have been more reported cases of the odd biological phenomenon which has been occurring all over the globe.” The voice of the reporter crackled through our kitchen TV, immediately drawing my attention. “Whether by science or magic, these creatures known as the Kitsune…”
“Turn that shit off, April!” growled my father.
My mother quickly flipped off the television as I began to protest.
“Hey, I was watching that!” I frowned at my mother as she quietly sank back into her spot at the dinner table.
“I’m not having news of that satanic magic shit broadcast through my house!” my father spat.
Randy Thomas, my neurotic father, never allowed the topic of the Kitsune to be spoken of. He always referred to it as “satanic” or “malevolent”, which I found painfully ironic.
“Honestly, dad,” I mumbled. “There hasn’t been any proof that the Kitsune are evil beings. I think they’re kind of neat and, actually, fairly revolutionary. Maybe they’re the next stage of human development and evolution.”
I’ve seen prunes with a similar colour that my father turned after my outburst. I cringed inwardly, knowing I’d be feeling that one later.
“Those horrid beasts are hell-sent!” he roared. “All they do is creep through the night and kill anyone who gets in their way! Enough people have died already! Why do you think everyone is trying to avoid coming in contact with them, you stupid brat?”
I bit back my retort and shrugged. I couldn’t help but glance at my mother, whose eyes were fixed on her meal. Of course.
The remainder of the meal passed in silence, until we all rose and went our separate ways throughout the house. My mother hastily began washing the dishes while my father slinked off into his man-cave. I stared at my mother’s back for a moment before sighing and retreating to my bedroom. My family had been corrupt for as long as I could remember. I didn’t know what went wrong or when, but it was something I had just come to deal with. As a kid, I had always wished that my mother would do something to help me. It wasn’t until I grew up that I began to realize that she probably had it much worse than I ever did.
I flopped onto my bed and pulled out my phone. There were a couple of text messages from Liam asking where I was. He was the only friend I really had and was likely the only reason I made it as long as I did. I punched the call button and listened to it ring. Before long, he answered.
“Bout time,” he said. “I was beginning to worry.” His voice was rather gruff.
“Sorry – supper started earlier than normal. Hey – were you sleeping?” Amusing, he never napped.
“Shaddap. I had a long day and my bed is just so comfortable… Sue me.”
I laughed quietly. “Easy, sleeping beauty. I didn’t intend to wake the dragon. Anyways, did you see the news earlier?”
“The story about the Kitsune? Yeah. Randy turned it off, huh?”
“Of course, he did. What was the story about?” I rolled onto my belly, flicking my feet into the air.
“There wasn’t really much to tell. They still haven’t figured out what caused the transformations to start in the first place, but now they’re saying that the Kitsune seem to be much older than they though. There have been sightings of a pretty big one outside of town. It’s making people nervous, but the authorities have said to just leave it alone.”
I scoffed. “Good thing Randy turned off the TV, then. If he heard that news, he’d flip his shit. He already tore off my ear for stating my opinion on the matter.”
Liam was quiet for a breath. “Naomi…” He paused. “Not that I blame you for anything he’s done, but you could at least try to not egg him on.”
“You sound like my mother,” I grumbled. “But yes, I get it. I’m just so sick of not having an opinion or any freedom. I’m 17 already, for God’s sake.”
“I know, Naomi. But—“
“NAOMI, GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE, NOW!” My father’s shouting shook the walls and stopped Liam cold.
“Time to go,” I whispered. “Bye, Liam.”
“Bye, Naomi.” His voice was tight.
I flipped my phone closed, tossed it onto my bed and went down to face my father.
When I walked into the kitchen, my mother was turned away from me, leaning with her hands against the sink and her head slouched. I could see her shaking.
“He’s in the other room,” she murmured.
My feet felt like lead as I walked into the man-cave. It was technically our living room, but my father was the only one who ever used it. He had the room rigged with the perfect electronics for watching sports, complete with a shelf and fridge filled with every type of alcohol I could ever imagine. My father stood as I entered the room, wavering slightly. He was in deep this time. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he looked like he was ready to pass out.
“Come on, dad,” I said, trying desperately to keep my cool. “This is the fourth time this week, and it’s only Tuesday! Can’t we just—“
“It’s time to apologize, bitch,” he slurred. “You have challenged my authority in this house, and now it’s time to apologize.”
He began to tread towards me, causing me to slowly back away.
“I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I’m sorry.”
He had me backed into a corner and was so close it was stifling.
“Please…” I whispered.
“Nice of you to ask.” Grinning, he grabbed my hair and pulled my head back into the wall. “It’s time to teach you some respect!”
I closed my eyes and braced myself.
Behind my father, the doorbell rang. We stood there, frozen, until the bell rang again. He grunted, released my hair, and shoved me towards the kitchen.
“Steve’s here early,” he grumbled. “Get out of here.”
He turned towards the door and I was gone in an instant. I flew up the stairs and into my room, slamming my door behind me. My body shook, but I could barely feel a thing. I vaguely noted pressure in the back of my head and wondered if I had a concussion. Slowly, I sank onto my bed and looked around. I had stayed in the same bedroom for my entire life. It was strange to think of how much had changed. To think that maybe, at some point, my family had been happy. I sighed heavily and lay back, staring up at the ceiling, unseeing. I laid there for hours, until the sounds of the house faded to the occasional creaks and cracks of the walls. Feeling around my bed, I found my phone, flipped it open and called Liam.
He answered immediately.
“Are you okay?” he asked, frantic.
“Yeah,” I said, quietly breaking the still silence. “Randy’s friend came and cut it short.”
We were quiet for a long time, engrossed in our own thoughts. Moonlight drifted through my window, casting dancing shadows onto everything in the room.
“I’m ending this tonight.”
My voice broke the silence once again, though it was a dull whisper, barely audible to my own ears.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” came his response, after a few more moments of silence.
“Yes,” I said, just as quiet as before. “I’m tired of this. I can’t live this way anymore.”
I heard a deep sigh. “I know I can’t stop you, but please, don’t do anything stupid, okay?”
“You expect anything less from me?” My voice cracked, ruining my mocking, fake confidence.
“Yes, actually, I d—“
I flipped my phone shut, cutting him off. It was a rude gesture, but a necessary one. It was almost time for me to leave, so I didn’t have to argue with Liam. I had a bag all ready for that day; the day I left my cursed home. The bag contained few items: some spare clothes, a bit of food, and some money which I gradually took from my father’s wallet. My alarm clock read 3:30am, and I was ready to go. I deleted all the messages off my phone, leaving no evidence of where I’d gone. I had no intention of taking it with me. Besides, Liam knew better than to call me back. As quietly as I could, I separated my phone into parts and broke each one into pieces.
I slipped out of my room, silent as death, not daring to wake my parents. I crept through the house, avoiding the weak floorboards in the hallways and the creaking stair. Noiselessly, I moved towards the back door. My house was suddenly so large; it felt as if grass could grow faster than I was moving. I finally made it to the rec room. I could see the door, but it looked miles away. I took a few steps into the room, and then I smelled it. It was stale, bitter, and sour. Alcohol. My heart began to race, and when the light flicked on, it fell out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe. Against the wall, beside the light switch, stood my father. I closed my eyes and let out a long sigh, forcing myself to breathe again, willing myself to wake up from the nightmare. I opened my eyes again and there he stood, watching me, waiting for me to make a move. I waited.
My eyes darted to the door as I mentally calculated my chanced of making it before he got to me, but I knew from experience that I wouldn’t make it. He was a fast drunk. I looked back at him and didn’t move, which caused him to frown. It was always more fun for him if I tried to run. He grumbled something I couldn’t hear and stood up straight.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he growled, surprisingly clear. Sometimes I wondered if he was ever drunk at all.
I stayed silent for a moment, thinking of a response. I figured I might as well tell him the truth.
“I’m leaving,” I snapped. “I’m done with you!”
“Is that so?” he chuckled. “That’s too bad, because I’m not done with you.”
I wondered what kind of father says that to his daughter, but then he came at me. In two strides, he closed the distance between us and smacked me across the face so hard it knocked me to the floor. I scrambled to my hands and knees to try to create some distance between us, but he grabbed my backpack and kicked me in the stomach.
“Did you think I wouldn’t notice the money missing from my wallet, you little bitch?!” he screamed at me.
I coughed until I found my voice, and then shot a wincing glare over my shoulder at him.
“I figured you’d be too drunk to notice,” I choked.
His eyes flashed and he grabbed my hair, pulling me to my feet. His eyes were wide and bloodshot as he stared at me. I trembled slightly, and he hit me again. I knew I had lost. I wasn’t fast enough to get away from him, especially since every time I moved he hit me or kicked me. I couldn’t do anything but wait and take the pain of his abuse. I tried to curl up to protect myself, but he just beat every part of me he could get. He beat me until I bled, screaming things that became less and less understandable. I slipped into my mental safe haven, one I frequented many times in my life, and never uttered another sound as he beat me until my world faded to black.
There was a pale figure off in the distance, surrounded by darkness. It was fuzzy, though, so I couldn’t make out what it was. I blinked repeatedly, yet the figure did not clear. Somehow it seemed familiar, as if I had seen it before. Suddenly, the figure began to clear, and before I knew it, I was five years old again, kneeling before my mother. Tears began to stream down my cheeks and I screamed for her, begging her to help me. Nonchalantly, she turned and she walked away. Darkness crept in and all was quiet again until the pain began to inch its way back into my body. I was, once again, denied the privilege to die. I opened my eyes to slits and peered around. My father sat in a chair across the room, a knife glinting in his hand. I needed to get out of there, fast. I didn’t really want to die by his hand. My backpack was sitting beside his feet, so I had no choice but to leave it. I drew a deep breath, pushed my pain away and jumped up, moving as quickly to the door as I could. The dead-bolt was locked, but I easily flipped it, flung open the door and ran into the night before my father could get to me. I ran hard and fast, feeling my body burn and finally noticing the unfamiliar wetness on my cheeks.
I ran until my legs could no longer support me and then collapsed into the snow. The cold November air licked my skin and soon I realized where it was I ran to. The place I sat was the very same as when I had first met Liam those long years ago. I gasped a laugh at the irony. It still looked the same, the small community playground that was hardly ever used. The rusty swing-set still sat too close to the slide. I remembered we could never swing very high, worrying that we would hit the slide. Besides, the chains were so old they looked as if they were going to give out at any moment. The merry-go-round was nearly impossible to turn, so we would just sit on it and talk after we became too tired from trying to spin each other. We used to come here often, Liam and I. It was a refuge – somewhere I could go to forget everything for a while. Then, as my body faded into numbness, I wondered if I should just let myself freeze. I was free, but had nowhere to go. I couldn’t bear to burden Liam anymore.
I was beginning to drift into unconsciousness again when a rustle in the bushes snapped me awake. I focused on the direction the noise came from; though I wasn’t sure I could move. Out from the bushes came a large fox, not five feet from me. To say he was large would be a grotesque understatement. He was as grand as a wolf and white as the soft snow around us. He had ten long, slender tails, making his presence even more commanding. What topped it off was his eyes; a bright blue so piercing they surprised me. I didn’t think foxes could grow so big, let alone have such sharp blue eyes. He tilted his head slightly and I swore I saw his tails twitch. I was wondering why he hadn’t killed me yet when I realized what he was: a Kitsune; a Keeper of Change.
In that moment, I was not ready to die. I always wished for death at home, but I was free from that; it was a past life. The thought of the Change made me start to shake. It was the chance I’d been waiting for. I looked into the Keeper’s eyes and prayed. The image of my mother walking away from me flashed through my mind, so I shook my head and ground my teeth. I had to focus. The Keeper tilted his head again and then it was like my body was hit by a tidal wave. I was drowning, gasping for air and getting nothing. Gradually, it became easier to breathe, only to have pain shoot through my body. I was on fire; my blood boiled. My skin prickled. Gravity began to crush me intensely. The wind blew through my body and suddenly the heat vanished and was replaced by deep, burning cold. The feelings came, one after the other, only to be replaced by more crippling pain. My skull was being split and my lower spine crushed. I squeezed my eyes shut and cried out. I hadn’t made any noise from pain in years. How long was I crumpled there? Hours? Days? I couldn’t tell, because every second was an eternity before the pain began to subside. After a moment, I opened my eyes and stood up shakily. I felt oddly fantastic.
My senses were so sharp it was as if I was a part of everything. Most of all, though, I could feel the water. The seemingly dry air was filled with it. I was aware of every bit of moisture on the planet. I ran my fingers through my hair, surprised by its sudden length. It had grown down to my knees and turned a deep, midnight blue. My hands moved to my face, but I couldn’t feel my ears! I traced my fingers up to the top of my head and rubbed my new soft, fox ears. I regretted that immediately. It sounded like dragging my fingers over an amplified microphone. I looked at my hands, which had a faint blue glow. I quivered excitedly and looked back up at the Keeper. His expression made me do a double-take. His eyes were widened, and as I watched, they narrowed and looked me over. I felt naked under his gaze.
“Impossible…” came his voice. “How can this be?”
“W-what?” I stammered.
His eyes shot to mine, then he radiated a pale white light and proceeded to transform before me.
I’ll admit, he was handsome. So much so, he seemed other-worldly, like a god. He was tall, probably 6’5”, and thin, though not lanky. His hair was long, straight, and show-white like his fox fur. His piercing eyes were narrowed in a calculating gaze. I blushed, despite myself. It was like he was looking inside me, making me embarrassed.
“Why are you looking at me like that?!” I cried.
He flinched, as if I’d woken him from a deep slumber, then composed himself. “Your tail… or shall I say, tails.”
I blinked, then looked behind me. Coming out of the back of my pants were three fox tails, much like his, only the colour of my hair. I looked back at him, my eyebrows furrowed.
“Members of Change are only supposed to have one single tail. Only the Kitsune have more than one tail,” he explained. “It shouldn’t be possible. Keepers cannot create Kitsune.”
“So does that mean I’m a Keeper, too?” I blurted, slightly stirred by the idea.
“No. You must not try to create Members, for it is far too dangerous. Your powers have not developed yet. Though I suspect we can expect great things from a mortal Kitsune.”
“A mortal Kitsune?”
“The Kitsune are, essentially, entities. We are spirits created by the gods and given magical and shape-shifting abilities. That is how the Change came to be. A Kitsune passed a portion of their power into a mortal. The number of tails marks the amount of power a Kitsune contains. Thus, the reason Members only have a single tail. But, you have three. Therefore you are a Kitsune, not a Member of Change.”
I was speechless. Why did this happen? How could I become a Kitsune? I had always been curious about the Change. Every time I brought it up, my father hit me for mentioning a “curse”. When people first found out about the Change, they often sought out the Kitsune, desiring power. Most of those people ended up dying during the process of Changing, so it was deemed a curse. People began to fear the Change. The Kitsune were also very mysterious, which didn’t exactly help the situation. I never thought it was a curse, though, but a new way of life. I always figured it could be a way out of my life. Yet here I was, Changed into a Kitsune. I had a feeling my life was about to become extremely complicated. Suddenly, the Keeper shook his head.
“My apologies, I’ve been very rude. My name is Jeremy,” he said, “but my fox name is Shimo. As you could probably guess, my elemental power is mainly ice.”
He smiled at me, making my heart flutter a little.
“My name is Naomi,” I replied, pushing the feeling from my mind. “Pleased to meet you.”
“I’m well aware of who you are, Naomi,” he grinned, flashing a set of straight, white teeth. “We’ve been waiting for you to leave that… interesting home of yours for a while now.”
“Ah, yes. The Order of the Kitsune. I suppose I’ll have to escort you there. There is much we have to explain and discuss. You are obviously special; we just have yet to find out how much.”
Something about the way he said that made my heart beat faster, yet concerned me at the same time.