Chapter 17 - Accalia
Copyright © 2021 by Tigerstretch.
"You stay right there while I'm calling the police!"
"No! Please! Don't do this!"
"You are a thief, and you attacked one of my employees. You should have thought about it twice before doing something so idiotic."
"You... you can't keep me here by force!"
"I sure can. Have you ever heard about a citizen's arrest? You stay on that chair and don't move a muscle until the police show up. You can plead your case to them to your heart content."
How did it come down to this? What kind of twisted situation did I put myself in? It shouldn't have happened. I was trying very hard to think of a way out, but there was none. I had been caught in the act.
This woman was stronger and more intelligent than me, and she forced me to sit on a chair in the kitchen, making sure I had no easy way out. Even if I decided to run for it, I would have no chance of success.
Her smartphone was on speakerphone while she talked to the cops, proving that she wasn't bluffing. Simultaneously, she was pressing some tissues on her employee's nose to stop the bleeding.
An ocean of regrets washed over me, but there was nothing I could do about it now.
I was going down, and it made me feel extremely sad.
A week ago...
"Oh my God, guys! This is fucked up!"
"Whaaat!? No way! A café full of latex petgirls? Who would go to such a place? Perverts and losers!"
I was sitting in a fast food restaurant with two friends when one of them showed us a news article on her phone, something about a new café that had recently opened downtown. There was a picture of a woman and three costumed girls; a fox, a raccoon, and a rabbit. The place was called Cakes & Pets, and it was absurd.
They said it was a place where people would relax and pet animals while eating delicious cakes. It was an excellent description to embellish the reason for the existence of a shop destined for porn addicts in need of making their fetish dreams come true.
Casey and Rachel started theorizing about the place.
"I wonder if they make a lot of money."
"Probably! It's porn, right. And the clients probably all pay cash too because those nasty nerds don't want their wives to find out about it."
"Hahaha! We should go for fun!"
"Ewww! No! I'm sure those girls stink of bodily fluids!"
Feeling brave, I decided to jump into the conversation and challenge my friends.
"I'll go! I want to see what kind of guys go to a place like that."
"Common, Lian! You can't be serious."
"Why not. Just for the kick of it."
"Well, it's true that you are Asian, so you like those fucked up Japanese cafés!"
"Hey! I was born here, you know! And I'm not even from Japanese descent."
"Whatever... You still look Japanese enough."
It had nothing to do with anything, but they liked to make fun of me just because I was Asian. It was annoying, but I had to live with it since only white people surrounded me.
"Screw you, Rachel. At least I'm not a coward."
"Heeyy! I'm not a coward!"
"Alright, prove it then. Let's go to the café on Saturday."
"... Fine! But if we get HIV, don't come whining!"
"I'm coming too, Lian. I want to witness that. At least they have cheesecakes. I love cheesecakes."
And just like that, we had a twisted plan for the weekend. On Saturday, we would go to the creepiest shop in town.
"I expected this place to be in the shittiest area of the city, but it's in the cleanest part instead."
"Well, at least we won't get raped."
"Alright, you go in first, Lian... It was your idea."
"My idea... Well, you are the one who found this place first, Rachel."
"No way! Let's send Casey in, first!"
Not leaving her any choice, I pushed Casey inside the shop while Rachel held the door open. It must have been the most chaotic entrance ever, and right off the bat, it got us scolded by the woman standing in the lobby.
"Hey! Hey! What the big deal, guys? Do you want to break my door or what? "
We couldn't stop giggling like idiots, but what she said brought us back to reality. We had entered the most perverted place in town.
"So, what can I do for you?"
I elbowed Casey in the ribs to make her talk.
"We... we found the news article about your shop."
"Oh, so you are here to see the pets?"
"Y... yes. And eat cheesecakes."
"Sounds good to me. Welcome. I'm Lucy, the owner. We have four pets that you can play with today. Can I see your IDs?"
"Our IDs? Why?"
"Because I made this place nineteen years old and over."
"Because... there is sex?"
"Sex? What are you talking about? I just didn't want this place to become a petting zoo for kids. It's not the objective. Were you coming here for sex?"
I decided to jump in since Casey ran out of words.
"No, no. We are just here for the cheesecake and visit the place."
"Alright then, show me your IDs, and I'll let you in. Our cakes are the best in town."
Luckily I had turned nineteen last month. Casey and Rachel were twenty and twenty-one, respectively, so we were good. Lucy opened the lounge door, and we stepped into it.
We all stopped breathing at the same time.
The place was not exactly what we had in mind. It had a soft relaxing ambiance and was not as creepy as it was supposed to be. The big windows allowed a lot of light in despite the privacy blinds preventing pedestrians from looking inside. The carpet was soft, and the booth and sofa had a cozy feel to them.
But what intimidated us were the four latex petgirls who had noticed our arrival. Two of them were busy with other clients, but the two others seemed to want something from us.
When the red fox approached Casey, she yelped and hid behind me. Rachel was even bolder and pushed the raccoon on the forehead to prevent her from coming closer, which made me uncomfortable.
"Aaah! No! Stay away from me!"
"Rachel! Don't do that! We will get kicked out! I'm sure you aren't allowed to rough them up."
"They are so creepy!"
"Ssshhh! Don't insult them. Let's go sit down."
We came here for shit and giggles, but what they were doing was rude. I didn't say it out loud because my friends would have made fun of me, but the petgirls were not creepy. They were pretty cute, in my opinion. The red fox was kneeling next to me and clung to my leg. But the raccoon seemed very offended by what Rachel had done and turned heels on us. That wasn't a good start.
After picking one of the booths, the fox girl sat next to me and wrapped her arms around mine, which caused my friends to make fun of me.
"Haha. You are turning into a lesbian!"
"Shut up, Casey! You are going to get us expelled. Why are you so mean?"
"Well, you never had a boyfriend, so it just makes sense that girls attract you."
"Haha! Lian is a lesbian!"
Rachel could be just as mean as Casey. Not only were they teasing me for being Asian, but now they had assigned me a sexual orientation without any good reason. It was true that I never had a boyfriend, but it didn't mean anything, I was just small and intimidated by guys; they were all so big.
But the most embarrassing was that they didn't seem to care about the girl sitting next to me. She may have been wearing an animal costume, but she could hear everything they were saying. I wondered what kind of emotions she hid behind those big black eyes.
It was mortifying. I didn't know my friends were going to be so openly disrespectful. All I wanted by coming here was to have a bit of innocent fun.
The next phase of their misbehavior was to comment on the physical appearance of the other clients. I had to admit that I participated in that, probably as a desire to fit in. But then I felt extra bad when the fox girl just shook her head and walked away from us. Inside my heart, I wanted her to come back. But she went back to her raccoon friend and gesticulated something, probably fed up by our nasty behavior.
Still, we ordered our cheesecakes, at least they were delicious, but the owner looked at us weird when we said that we preferred not having pets with us while we ate. Rachel wouldn't stop calling them creepy.
Shortly after our cakes, we were ready to leave. We had seen enough and I didn't want them to insult the pets further. Rachel announced our departure, but Casey had something else on her mind.
"Alright, let's go. It was fun but way too weird. I'm out of here."
"Wait! Did you see the cash register at the entrance? On the desk where she checked our IDs?"
"Yeaaah? What about it?"
"I think the cash drawer wasn't closed."
"Oh, really? Interesting."
My eyes grew round as dish plates. What were they referring to? I understood what they were saying, but I didn't want to believe it.
"Woah, guys. What are you saying?"
"Well... If nobody keeps an eye on it, we could make a few easy dollars."
"Ssshhh! Keep it down, Lian! It's no big deal! Rachel and I have done this before."
"I didn't see any camera either... It would be easy to get away with it."
"Guuuuuys! We can't steal their money!"
"Well, why not? They will never know who did it. I'm sure they make plenty of cash here anyway."
That wasn't cool at all. I knew Casey and Rachel weren't angels and made me complicit in some dine and dash before, but stealing from a cash register was next level. They kept pressuring me.
"Come on, Lian! It's not a big deal, I tell you. If the drawer is closed, we forget about it, but it would take two seconds to grab what's in it if it's open. They probably won't even notice it's missing."
"... I... I don't know. It feels so wrong."
"Don't you always say you need money?"
"Yeah... but... I mean..."
Out of the blue, we heard a big splash coming from the table next to us. One of the clients tipped over his chocolate milkshake, and it spilled all over the table. The white rabbit who was sitting next to him received her fair share of the sugary drink.
Lucy, who was nearby, rushed to the table with napkins while the client apologized profusely.
"Haaa, Trixie! You are full of chocolate now. Did you do this?"
Trixie shook her head.
"Okay, well. We have to clean you up, don't we? Come with me upstairs. I'll take care of you."
After tossing a few more napkins over the mess, Lucy took Trixie by the wrist and exited the lounge.
Immediately, Casey smelled a perfect opportunity.
"Let's do this now! She said she was going upstairs to clean up the creepy rabbit!"
"Okay, Rachel and I will make sure nobody comes in, and you, Lian, you go grab the cash from the drawer if it's open. If it's not, at least we will get a free cake out of this."
"No, no! Wait! I..."
Rachel and Casey got off their seat real quick, and because of the intense pressure, I followed them. We exited the lounge, and they both headed to the front door to make sure there was nobody around.
"What are you waiting for, Lian! Do it now!"
"Shiiiit! Hurry! I think someone's coming!"
Panicking, I didn't know how to react to what my friends asked me to do. Not thinking straight anymore, I went behind the desk and looked at the cash register.
The drawer was indeed not shut properly...
"Hurry! Lian! Hurry!"
I opened it with my finger, saw a pile of twenty dollars bills, and nervously grabbed it.
What was I doing? Why was I doing this?
DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!
Coming out of thin air, the raccoon girl had sneaked in the lobby and slammed her paw repeatedly on the call bell next to the cash register with the clear intention to alert the owner.
Panicked, I quickly ran around the desk, but the raccoon girl tackled me at the waist level, causing me to drop all the money I tried to steal. I heard Casey and Rachel in the background.
"SHIT! What an idiot! Let's ditch her! I'm not getting in trouble again because of her!"
"Yeah! Fuck her! She had one job to do!"
Fighting someone as big as me was not easy. I wished I had been a few inches taller, but I wasn't.
"LET ME GO! LET ME GO! I'M SORRY!"
Her strong arms around my waist prevented me from running away. She then pulled very hard to make me lose balance, and we both fell heavily on the floor.
As I tried to regain my sense, a woman with an angry face towered over me.
"Don't you dare move a finger, thief!"
"Meeka? Are you okay?"
The raccoon shook her head, and pointed at her muzzle repeatedly.
"Coming here to steal my money is one thing, but the fact that you hurt my pet, that ENRAGES me!"
"Are you okay Meeka?"
"Yeah... I don't think my nose is broken. I just got her elbow in the face when we fell."
"Well, that's gonna go on the police report too."
"Lucy, I don't think she wanted to hurt me. She was just trying to run away. It was an accident."
"She is still responsible. It wouldn't have happened if she had not tried to steal our money."
I lowered my head in shame. What the girl named Meeka was saying was true. I never wanted to hurt anybody and didn't even want to steal the money. My friends were the ones who had dragged me into this, yet, I followed their stupid idea like a sheep.
When we got to the kitchen, Lucy had unzipped Meeka's costume and peeled her raccoon mask off to check on her. When I saw the blood running out of her nose, I felt super guilty and wanted to die. But the most unsettling was that Meeka was trying to protect me.
"Lucy, you know it was not her? It was her douchebag friends who forced her to do this. I heard everything. That's why I decided to hold the lounge door open when they left to see if they were actually going to do it."
"Meeka, I told you not to use dirty words like that. And it doesn't matter. She got caught red-handed. The police will deal with her as they see fit."
"Awww, but it wasn't her fault!"
"Meeka, that's enough. And keep your head slightly forward, else you are going to swallow your blood."
A bit later, the police showed up to pick me up. They talked to Lucy and Meeka separately to get the full story, and then, after cuffing me, they took me to the police station to file a case against me and take my fingerprints. It must have been the most humiliating day of my entire life.
Since I had no previous criminal record, they let me return home with a court date and a promise not to contact Rachel and Casey or go to any restaurant. I didn't want to go back to jail, so I was certainly not going to break those conditions.
A few weeks later, I appeared in front of a judge, and things didn't go at all as I had expected. First, the charge for having hurt Meeka was dropped; I wouldn't be surprised to learn that she had tweaked her story to get me out of trouble. And then, the robbery attempt charge was dropped as well since it was too severe for what I had done. So I ended up with a strange charge for having schemed to commit a crime. My lawyer used terms that I couldn't understand, and his discussion with the judge was just a blur.
All that to say that I ended up with two hundred hours of community service to do and a criminal record. I would only be able to request a pardon after five years.
After the hearing, my lawyer went one way, and I went the other, carrying a stack of papers in my hands. All of this had been very transactional and left me very confused. When I opened the door to exit the courthouse, I thought the entire population would throw rotten tomatoes at me and treat me like a criminal, but there was nobody. Nobody cared about what I had done, and more than ever before, I felt very lonely.
But then, a small voice coming out from behind me stopped me in my tracks.
"Hey! Lian! Wait!"
"Wait! It's me, Meeka! Recognize me?"
"Mee... Meeka? I... I don't think I'm allowed to talk to you."
"Yes, you are! I was in the courtroom when you talked to the judge. You have a lot of hours to do, but they lifted all your other restrictions. Weren't you listening?"
"You... you shouldn't talk to me. I... I need to go. I'm sorry for what I have done... I didn't mean to."
"I know that! I'm not dumb. I heard everything at the café. Stop walking! Hear me out, okay? I can't call your friends douchebags because Lucy said I shouldn't, well, I guess I just said it again, but that's what they are. Anyway, I explained what happened to the police, and that's why you got away with only a few community service hours."
"A few? That's two hundred! It's a lot."
"I want you to do them at the café! I already asked Lucy, and she is okay with it. I can't think of a better way for you to apologize to her."
"That's impossible... she must hate me so much. I tried to steal from her, and I hurt you."
"Yeaaah... Well, she kind of still hates you and said no. But I asked her again... and again... and again... and then she said yes."
"... I don't know. It feels so wrong. What would I do at the café, anyway? I never worked in a place like this before."
"Oh, don't worry about that. Lucy will find you something to do. Alright, tell me the name of your probation officer. We will call him and set this up."
"Are... Are you sure it's a good idea?"
"Yep, you are small and cute, so it would be perfect."
"Small and cute?"
I had no idea what Meeka had meant by that, but she insisted so much that I had no other choice but to share my probation officer's contact.
A few days later, I was standing in front of the Cakes & Pets, traumatized. Why did I even accept to do my hours here? My eyes got all wet at the thought that I would have to face the owner again. Last time, she was far to be as understanding as Meeka had been.
The café's door opened, and my heart skipped a beat; it was Lucy.
"Don't just stand there, Lian. You'll be late for your first shift. You don't want me to call your probation officer, do you?"
"Come on, then, follow me. You have nothing to fear."
Looking at the floor, I walked into the café and followed Lucy. She led me directly upstairs, probably to scold me for what I had done to her and ask for an apology.
We entered a small room, and she asked me to sit on a chair.
"Alright. To be honest, I didn't expect to see you ever again. You can thank Meeka for this. She can be convincing. Thinking about it, working here will be a good lesson for you."
"... I... I don't want to be punished again! I'm just here to work my hours. Meeka said it would be okay."
"I said, teach you a lesson. Not punish you. And yes, you are going to work, don't you worry about that."
"So, what do I have to do, then? I can serve drinks and do the dishes and clean the washrooms."
An evil grin appeared on Lucy's face as she retrieved a box from one of the shelves. She sliced the seal and pulled something out of it. When I understood what it was, I stopped breathing.
"You... you can't be serious?"
"Oh yes, I've been looking for a new pet for a while, and you are the perfect size."
"But... But... I don't want to be a pet."
"Why not? Didn't you find them cute. Vix told me you liked it when she cuddled with you on the bench."
"The red fox."
"Oh... well... yeah... she was very cute... but..."
"Alright. Just try the costume, and if you don't like it, we will take it off, okay?"
"That would be the best way to apologize to me, okay? Just try. I swear, if you don't like it, we will take it off."
Putting the animal suit on was quite an experience. Not only the rubber felt a million times better than I had expected, but on top of that, Lucy showed me a lot of kindness and support. She didn't seem angry at me anymore and was very encouraging while I was going through this new experience.
The mask part was the toughest, but she went very slowly and made sure to walk me through every step to avoid discomfort. Once I was all zipped in, she moved me in front of a mirror.
And my heart melted.
"So, do you like it? You are super cute."
I surprised myself nodding.
A few minutes later, Lucy opened the lounge door to let me in, rubbed my back gently, and called all her pets over.
"Come here, everybody. Let me introduce you to your new friend."
The petgirls all stopped whatever they were doing and came very close to me.
"This is Accalia! You have to be very gentle because she has never done this before, okay?"
As soon as she said that, a bunch of cushy rubber paws touched me everywhere.
They liked me much better as a small grey wolf.