User:Feathertail/A Seasonal Tale

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Legal Info: This story is copyrighted by Jared Spurbeck, aka Tachyon Feathertail, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license. You may write your own stories based on it or post it on your own website, so long as you credit me as the orignal author (preferably with a link to my LiveJournal) and license your own story under the same license. Have you hugged a penguin today?

Alexandre's fursona is an unregistered trademark belonging to him, and may not be used without his permission.

A Seasonal Tale

Author: Jared Spurbeck










APRIL 6TH, 1853


APRIL 6TH, 1893"

That was what was carved into the sign, high on the stone building above the doorstep where Alexandre Britos sat. He had the shape and build of a tall, skinny human, but his face was shaped like that of a fox. A pink fox, with white fur around and beneath his muzzle and short, bright blue tufts on top.

Lamps above the walkways lit up the white, snowy night. And in between the buildings of Salt Lake City's Temple Square were strung numerous, soft Christmas lights, in a reverent display of festivity. Couples held hands; playful children ran past them. Two women, one tall and caucasian and one short and hispanic, wore nametags and greeted visitors in front of a building across the square. And Alexandre could still hear the outdoor speakers narrating the live Nativity scene, on the other side of the temple.

Puffs of snow slowly drifted down past him. He clutched the tip of his tail, trying to warm it, long past having given up on his ears. And he wondered if it was safe to go out yet, and if the police were still looking for him.

Alexandre jumped when the tall, wooden door opened behind him. He scrambled to his feet, backing off quickly, squinting up at the indoor light. And then he stared. The person who'd just come out was not human at all, but had the face of a cat; some kind of wildcat, with small and thin facial features and long, tufted black ears. His hands were clawed and had thick pads on them, which stuck to the door handle for a moment as he shut the door behind him. And his tail swished, as he shivered underneath his coat.

Only then did he seem to take note of Alexandre. And if he noticed that neither of them looked human, or that Alexandre was staring at him in a confused panic, he did not mention it. "Hello," he said. His voice sounded young, and somewhat high-pitched.

"Hel-lo," Alexandre said, not sure if he should run or not.

"What's your name?" the cat asked.

Don't tell him! said Alexandre's instincts. They were still in fight-or-flight mode, and had just been rehearsing a lecture he'd seen, about how you should always plead the 5th Amendment when you were questioned by the police.

"Uh ... " he said, overwhelmed with these strange new fox feelings, that were making him skittish and hard to calm down. "Uh ... no comment," he finished, and swallowed.

"I see." The cat took a few steps down the stairs, as if to take a closer look at him. "Are you alright?"

Alexandre's fox instincts, as well as his human sensibilities -- that had never seen a real-life anthropomorphic animal before that day -- were still scared and on edge. But he could sense that this ... person, meant him no harm. And so he tried to calm down.

"I ... um." Alexandre realized that he had been hunched over as though getting ready to bolt, and made himself stand up straight. Then he put one hand behind his head, embarrassed. "It's a long story ... "

The cat reached down and brushed off one of the lower steps, then sat down and gestured towards the space next to him. "Would you like to talk about it?"

He sat down next to the cat, eyes locked onto his face and ears, trying to tell if what he was seeing was real or not. Even after what'd happened to him, he still wasn't sure. Especially after what'd happened to him. How could he be sure anything he saw was real?

The cat noticed and returned the look, curious and concerned. Alexandre's eyes fell. He clasped his hands in his lap, and the cat imitated the gesture. "So, where are you from?" the cat asked.

"Logan," Alexandre said, still looking away.

"Do you work anywhere?"

"I'm still a student." Alexandre looked up. "How 'bout you?"

The cat looked away, and wrung his hands. "The corporate world doesn't want me," he said.

Is it maybe because you're, you know, NOT a human being? Alexandre wondered. But the cat had just come out of the temple, where he would've had to go past the workers, and he was acting like there was nothing out of the ordinary about his or Alexandre's appearance. Between that and what he'd gone through that morning, it was starting to make him question his sanity. Not only that, but the cat seemed so distressed about what he had just said that Alex didn't think it'd be polite to ask. So he didn't say anything.

He looked down at the cat, who was almost a foot shorter than him now that they were on the same step, and began to feel sorry for him. "What do you do?" he asked.

"I volunteer a lot," the cat said, and seemed to compose himself as he looked back up at Alexandre.

"Church work?"


A big, fluffy snowflake blew into Alex's face, and he wiped it away with his claws. "Is it fun?"

"It's hard, but it's very rewarding. I get to brighten a lot of people's days." The cat smiled, and looked up at Alex. "Did you want to tell me what's bothering you?"

"Well, I, um ... " Alexandre swallowed again. "My friends and I sort of got ourselves in trouble."

"With your parents?"

"With the police."

"I see." The tip of the cat's tail swished, and Alex couldn't help but notice it brush snow off the step, in the way that a hallucination could not.

"Yeah ... " He looked back up at the cat's face. "We decided to conduct a kind of a social experiment. You know, like Candid Camera."

"What kind of a social experiment?" the cat asked, hands politely clasped in his lap.

"Well, uh ... " He didn't want to tell the cat that it'd been to find out what random people saw him as.

His own friends hadn't realized that he had become a fox, at first. They'd just thought there was something strange about him, until he had pointed it out to them. Then they'd looked closely at his face, and pressed their fingers to his wet nose and fox ears, and felt his bushy tail. Even though said tail had knocked something off of the coffee table in front of the last holdout, he still hadn't gotten it 'till Alex had taken him by the hands, looked directly into his face, and asked him what he saw.

After that, they'd thought it was the funniest thing ever, and had tried all kinds of experiments on the way that their mind played tricks on them when they looked at him. And he'd gone along with it, and laughed, because it was so much easier to laugh with them than panic and wonder What's happened to me? He'd wanted to feel that things were alright, that this was nothing serious, and that he wouldn't be stuck like this for the rest of his life. So he'd let things get carried away, and let himself get carried along with them.

The cat was still looking up at him expectantly. "I, uh ... " He looked away for a second. "Y'know that picture, where it's like two people's faces -- but if you look at it the right way, it's really a lamp?"

"Yes. So you wanted to know which one people saw?"

"Yeah, kind of-" Alex jumped to his feet in a panic, as two people came walking around the corner and down the sidewalk just past them. But the cat didn't move, and the people turned to look but didn't seem particularly worried.

He sat back down, feeling embarrassed. "Anyway, uh, most people saw the 'lamp,' but a handful of people could see the 'face.' Especially children."

The cat smiled, and swished his tail happily. "I love kids."

"You have any?"


Alexandre gave the cat a confused, searching look. He hadn't thought he looked or sounded that old.

"You were saying?" the cat asked.

"The kids were fun. I really hammed it up for them." He grinned nervously, at the memory. "But my friends ... they weren't being so 'family-friendly,' if you catch what I mean."


"Yeah, they had a little too much ... " He almost said to drink, but the cat's innocent look stopped him. "And they- y'know the guys in Santa Claus suits, ringing the bells and suchlike?"

"Yes." The cat nodded.

"Well, they were kinda harassing one of them, calling him names and such. Then one of them decided to reach into the pot where you put the money-"

The cat's eyes widened, and his tufted ears perked. "Really!"

"-right as two cops walked by."

The cat winced.

"So we ran, and we kinda split up along the way, and well ... " He spread his hands out, helplessly. "Here I am."

The live nativity was still going on, and the unseen narrator continued. "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy ... " The cat turned to look in that direction for a second, and cocked his ears towards it, before looking back up at Alex. "I'm sorry you went through that."

"Yeah, you know how friends are sometimes ... "

As soon as he said it, Alex realized No, this guy probably doesn't. But the cat looked away again, suddenly downcast. "Yes, I do."

"Your friends make you do weird things like that?"

"Did yours make you do that?" The cat looked up at Alex, and his eyes fell to the snowy steps.

"I had some good friends, once." The cat gave a short laugh. "They didn't really understand me, or 'get' why I acted the way that I did. But it was like they hung on my every word and act."

"You were an actor?"

"More of a public speaker." The cat's tail swished.

"Sort of like John Bytheway?"

"Sort of. I didn't just talk to teenagers. And I did lots of volunteer work back then, too. It was kind of a Church Service mission."

"Oh, cool."

The cat looked out at the Christmas lights, caught up in his own recollections. "It was hard, sometimes. But it was a lot of fun, too." He smiled. "What we were doing wasn't exactly popular with everyone ... there were protesters, and I had to deal with irate people sometimes."

Alexandre remembered the people holding signs outside the last General Conference, and the doors that had been slammed in his face while he'd been tracting out on his mission. "Angry preachers telling people to stay away from you?"


Alexandre grinned. "Anyone try to Bible-bash you?"

"Oh, yes." Now the cat grinned up at him. "They kept trying to make me slip up, and say something that was against scripture. It drove them crazy that I could answer their questions in ways that they didn't expect."

"Yeah, I remember that kind of thing ... only most of it was in Portuguese," Alex finished. "So what happened to all those friends of yours?" he asked.

The cat's face fell, and he sighed. "Most of my best friends got arrested after I left, and killed."

Alex jumped for a second, then quickly sat back down and smoothed out his tail. "Whoa! Are you, like, serious?"


"Where was this? Some kind of third-world country?"

"Yes." The cat had a distant look on his face. "It was a very religious society, and those preachers had a lot of influence in it. I tried to get through to them, but I couldn't. And after I left ... " He looked up. "We'd dedicated the whole area for preaching the Gospel in, and called and set apart local leaders and missionaries. But as soon as I went back home, people started arguing and disagreeing with each other, and mixing in local religious beliefs with the teachings of the Gospel."

"Oh, wow ... " Alex looked away for a second. "Weren't you, like, able to send more people in there to teach them?"

"I couldn't!" The cat threw his hands up in the air. "People were killing them! And I tried to get through to them, but no one was listening anymore. They were all just talking to themselves. It was like they left the phone off the hook, and then complained that I didn't call."

"I'm ... really sorry," Alexandre said, and forgot what else he was going to say. Because he'd just remembered that he was a pink fox with blue hair, and he was talking to a brown cat.

"I am too," the cat said. "Nowadays I've got more friends than ever, but for a while there ... " He sighed.

Alex looked down at the cat's tail, and then up at his face. The tips of the cat's ears twitched, in the cold. "Listen, can I, uh ... " He coughed. "Can I ask you something real quick?"


"When you look at me. What do you see?"

"A person. Who is lonely, scared and confused." The cat clasped his paws in his lap again.

"No, I mean ... " Alexandre cringed. "What species am I?"

"What does it matter?"

And then Alex knew that the cat was real, and that he could see him, and that he wasn't just dreaming this up. "So I'm a ... " He gestured helplessly. "And you're a ... "

"How does it matter?"

" ... I'm not sure." Alex looked down at his feet, at the boots that were a little too small for him now, and curled his squashed, frozen toes inside them. His dull claws dug into the soles.

"You're a child of God, Alexandre Britos. And he has a plan for you."

"How do you know my name?" Alex was sweating.

"Through the power of the Holy Spirit, which also bears witness to you of the truthfulness of my words." The cat looked into Alex's eyes. He did not seem so short anymore. "Whatever else you are, and whatever the people around you think you are. You are a child of God. You must never forget that."

"I won't," Alex said, in a quiet voice, because there were tears in his eyes.

The cat put a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then stood up. "I've got to go, now. Feel free to come back and talk to me anytime." With that, he turned and departed, his short tail swishing behind him. And watching him, Alex knew. He knew without figuring it out, and he knew without having to think about it.

"Happy birthday," he called out to the cat, under the Christmas lights.