1: Suffering the consequences of my cowardice
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ATUHOR'S NOSE: This is gonna be our low-effort story. No outline, just write; no schedule, just post.

... i mean, we have ideas, just not an outline of them.

When I saw the truck coming at me, my first thought was "holy crap, I'm about to be isekai'd!"

I'm not sure whether I'm more annoyed that I was enough of a nerd to think that, or that it turned out to be true

When I woke up in my next life, the first thing I noticed was that I was in a cage. Which was not promising.

I got up, stretched my new body, and took in the room. It was quite small, and while the door latch was right at eye level, it was also on the wrong side.

I paced back and forth a few times before deciding to call for help.

And then I remembered.

Finally, what manner of being would you be?

"I... guess I'd like... to be..." Intellectually I knew that the angel before me wouldn't judge me for something like this, but it was still hard to spit it out. Come on, self! One word, two syllables! "A... cat... ... ... ... g-"


As the meow escaped my mouth, I cursed the angel, my past self, the truck, the forces of the universe, and anything else I could possibly blame for this predicament. If I had only spoken a microsecond faster!

Once I finished cursing a good half of all existence, I took a breath and, now that I was properly lucid, took stock of the situation again. 

My cage contained a cat bed, a two-sided bowl with kibble and water, and a little shelf I could climb up onto if I wanted to get off the floor. It wasn't very large, but it had a hole in one wall, leading to another compartment with the same construction but no bed or bowl, only a litter box.

The intent seemed to be to make it as comfortable as possible on a limited budget. I could only assume this was an animal shelter. Looking outside, I could see similar cages lining the walls.

At this point I finally thought to examine myself. I looked like your standard black housecat of no particular breed, which I worried could cause problems, if my new world retained the associated superstitions. 

It would probably help that I seemed to retain typical human cognition. And possibly color vision? I vaguely recalled something about cats having fewer cone types. Or maybe that was dogs. In any case, I seemed to have normal human color vision, at least judging by the few colors I could see from where I was sitting.

I looked around, but none of the shelter's caretakers appeared to be present. Lacking anything better to do, I curled up on the cat bed and napped.

I woke up what seemed to be a few hours later to the sound of a door opening just out of sight.

"Meowning, little kitties!" Entering the room was a blue-haired young woman — with cat ears! That should have been me! — in a uniform that could only belong to one of the caretakers. "Time to play!"

My ears perked up at that. While I wasn't exactly desperate to chase a red dot around, I was looking forward to getting out of this little box. I meowed plaintively and pawed at the cage door.

"Ah, our new arrival's awake!" she exclaimed. "And eager-looking, too. But you need a checkup first." My ears drooped slightly at this. I didn't know where the veterinarian was, or how long I'd be waiting.

Not that long, it turned out. I had just curled up for another nap when the veterinarian arrived — an elfin woman, a full head shorter than the catgirl caretaker, and dressed... like a veterinarian.

Being poked and prodded was boring and not super fun, so I (deliberately) don't recall most of the details, but I was given a clean bill of health, and brought into a slightly larger room.

The catgirl caretaker was there (once again I felt a wave of envy and regret — I'm gonna stop explicitly mentioning that every time now) waving around one of those feather-on-a-stick toys, while a good dozen cats of various appearances pounced on it.

I noticed one calico lurking behind her, eyeing the caretaker's gently-swaying tail more so than the actual toy. This looked like it might be amusing, so I simply sat down patiently and watched. It didn't take long before the kitty pounced!

... and the caretaker's tail twitched right out of the way at the last moment!

The calico made a moderately-graceful recovery, landing on their feet and padding off haughtily as though they had meant every part of that. In other words, a typical cat.

The caretaker giggled. "Sorry, Jellybean, you're gonna have to wake up earlier than that to pull one over on me!" She glanced over at me. "And you, Lucky!"

... I tilted my head in confusion. Did they name me Lucky? I gave her a questioning meow.

"That's right, you! Are you having fun observing?"

I could only tilt my head further. Could she actually understand me, or was she just "talking to kitty"? ... I meowed again to see if she would have a response.

"I see I see!" She nodded and gave me some earscritchies. "There's a good kitty."

I purred despite my vexation — apparently she couldn't. It would've been so convenient... 

Of course, she couldn't focus on me exclusively. The other cats started meowing for attention and she turned to wave the toy at them.

I was content just to sit and watch them. Despite my understanding that cats needed to regularly work out their pent-up energy, I was feeling no such desire. Whether this was because I used to be human or because cats in general worked differently around here, I couldn't tell yet. 

After several minutes of this, the other cats seemed all tuckered out, and dispersed to the little beds and towers and whatnot scattered about the room. I, of course, remained entirely alert, because I hadn't worn myself out jumping after a feather.

"Not a purrticularly athletic kitty, Lucky?" the caretaker said.

That name again. Were black cats good luck in this culture, were they being ironic, or was it a total coincidence?

And the pun! I liked a good pun as much as anyone, but it immediately raised the Isekai Language Question! Gah, I'd dig into that later, only thing more awkward than bringing up the Isekai Language Question is dwelling on it when there's other things to do.

Such as deciding whether I wanted to try communicating my sapience or not. Considering what I would do if I lived in a fantasy world as a cat shelter caretaker and one of them told me they were sapient, I decided not now. If there were any such thing as a baleful polymorph spell, she'd probably assume that's what happened to me and spend a lot of effort trying to undo it — but I'm not polymorphed, this is my natural form now, so all that effort would just go to waste! 

"You do need to get some exercise, y'know," she said, giving me a nice scritchy behind the ears. "If you get the zoomies in the middle of the night, there won't be anyone here to help you."

I leaned in to the nice good scritchies purringly. I'd still rather be humanoid, but at least there was some upside to being a cat. 

Most of my mind was focused on the scritchies, but after a few moments I managed to consider the merit of her words. I didn't know I'd get the zoomies naturally like a normal cat, but I also didn't know I wouldn't, so...

I shook my head, twitched my ears, and stretchyawned. Looking up at the caretaker, it seemed she was looking through her toys in hopes of finding one that appealed more to me. She pulled out a mouse on a string — no, a nondescript floofball on a string, but I could interpret it as a mouse anyway — and started dangling it around. "You like this toy, Lucky?"

I didn't have any particular interest in this toy, but I'd already decided to just play with whatever she got out next, so I pounced on it anyway. "Ah, so you do like it!" she exclaimed, yoinking the mouse away just before I caught it. I readied another pounce...


... After a while of this, I was getting pretty tired, so I padded over to a cat bed and curled up. I didn't really want to sleep yet, just rest, but my body apparently had its own opinions...