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Demon Hunters of Kitty Cat Café
by Davina Lee (a.k.a WaxPhilosophic)
Demon Hunters of Kitty Cat Café is twenty-two chapters of fantasy adventure tale featuring a group of women warriors fighting demons from Japanese folklore. They're also undeniably cute, wearing their cat ear headbands and furry tails as they serve their exclusively female clientele in the café.
I am releasing the story in serial fashion. Think of it like episodes of your favorite series on streaming.
You'll have to wait a week or so between episodes (chapters.)
Some chapters will have unresolved endings. You'll have to wait for the next chapter to find out what happens.
A few weeks after the final chapter, the story will disappear from this site. So if you're going to binge it, check my profile page every so often for new chapters.
Japanese Folklore in Five Minutes
Demon Hunters of Kitty Cat Café centers around a group of women warriors with supernatural abilities fighting against mythical creatures from Japanese folklore come to life in the near future.
While warriors kicking butt isn't hard to imagine, unless you're familiar with Japanese folklore, you might be left wondering about some of the demons they encounter.
Here's a quick rundown, in alphabetical order, of the supernatural creatures in the story.
Kitsune -- Born as foxes, kitsune have supernatural abilities. Some kitsune are tricksters while others are benevolent. Kitsune grow another tail with each hundred years of age. After their hundredth birthday, kitsune gain the ability to shape-shift into human form and will often use this to their advantage. In folktales, some kitsune will pursue romantic relationships with humans.
Tanuki -- Like the fox, a tauki is an actual animal. Tanuki are members of the canid family and are also known as raccoon dogs. In folklore, a particular type of tanuki known as bake-danuki are said to be able to shape-shift into humans and even sing songs. Some tanuki bring good fortune while others are tricksters.
Tsuchigumo -- The literal translation of tsuchigumo is earth spider. It is also a derogatory name given to renegade clans. In folklore, tsuchigumo are burrowing spiders that grow to tremendous size. Essentially, a giant tarantula on steroids, tsuchigumo can make an incredibly formidable enemy.
Yuki-Onna -- Folklore says that a yuki-onna is a spirit whose body has perished in a storm. In tales, a yuki-onna in human form will visit a house, showing up on the doorstep during a blizzard. Upon touching the yuki-onna, a person will either see the spirit disappear into a whirl of snow, or if they are unlucky, the person will become bogged down in snow and perish by freezing.
Yamauba -- A spirit of the mountains who can be portrayed in a couple of ways, depending on the translation of the folklore legend. In one version, yamauba is simply territorial and chases away anyone on their mountain trails. The more gruesome version is cannibalistic, offering food to lure victims and then eating them. No matter their temperament, yamauba are often portrayed as white-haired older women.
Chapter 1: Kaiya
Here I am standing at a stainless steel table, a small island in the center of the café's kitchen, prepping another tray as women in colorful kimonos flow around me without a word. I was finally falling into the routine of my employment at Miss Nakamura's Kitty Cat Café when fate decided to push Ayumi into my path and change everything.
I'm holding two hand-painted tea bowls that look impossibly old and impossibly fragile, as the kitchen's swinging door bursts open. In strides Ayumi, Miss Nakamura's daughter, tall and beautiful and wearing nothing but a pair of cat ears atop her head, a jade amulet around her neck, and a tail. She's wearing a tail. It curves and sticks up just below the thumb-sized tattoo on her lower back. It's held in by... well... it's held in.
"Wagashi," Ayumi says, staring into my eyes. "I need wagashi."
For a moment, I freeze. Did I forget? How could that be? I've been doing this for, what? Nearly two weeks now. I look at all the items arranged on the tray in front of me. It's always the same. Two tea bowls, matcha, bamboo whisk, and a plate of wagashi.
"I'm so sorry," I say, bowing once before I go scrambling to fetch a plate of sweets.
Ayumi stands before me. "Kaiya?" she says, "Kaiya Yamamoto. That's your name, yes?"
I nod and quickly cast my eyes to the plate I'm holding.
"You didn't forget." Reaching for the plate with one hand, Ayumi cups my cheek in the other. "It's my client. She's gaijin. She stashed all the sweets in her purse when she thought I wasn't looking, and now she wants more."
As Ayumi takes the plate from my hands, I summon the courage to raise my eyes to meet hers.
"Thank you, Kaiya," she says, smiling.
I heave a sigh and watch her proud shoulders and muscular backside parting the sea of kimonos come to collect their trays. "Ayumi," I form her name on my lips, but keep the breath to myself. "Ayumi."
Since I started working at at the café, besides Miss Nakamura, I think Ayumi is the first one to address me by name. Granted, I'm not the most outgoing person, so I can't really fault the other girls for keeping to themselves.
And there's the fact that I work in the kitchen while they're out entertaining clients, so we really only see each other when the trays go out full and come back empty and ready to be washed--another one of my glamorous responsibilities.
But I wasn't blind to the other differences between us. The hostesses are all tall and beautiful with easy smiles, while I am small, and if I'm being completely honest, bookish, and keeping my smiles to myself. My body's not much to look at wrapped up in a kimono, and much less to look at without one.
I'd probably feel better about life in a chef's coat and pants, with my hair in a pony tail instead of all done up in fancy combs and pins. But Miss Nakamura says she wants me to feel like I fit in, and the way I dress is part of that. As if fitting in's ever going to happen for me.
I fit in better at the university library where I spent most of my time before my financial situation forced me out and into the kitchen here at Miss Nakamura's café. And though I haven't mentioned this to her, I'm just biding my time, banking my paychecks, and waiting out the days of prepping trays and washing dishes until I can return to my studies full-time.
"Could be worse," I mumble to myself as I push another tea bowl into the warm, sudsy water. "I could be working a factory job."
"Kaiya," says Miss Nakamura. "When you're finished, will you see if any plants need care before you go?"
I dunk the bowl I'm holding into the rinse water. "Yes, Miss Nakamura."
"Thank you, dear."
While the kitchen is coldly functional and utilitarian in its stainless steel appliances and tables under florescent lighting, the café is the polar opposite. The floor is cypress, the walls framed with a mix of exposed aromatic cedar and red pine. Warm hues of subdued lighting glint off of an artificial stream that meanders around the perimeter of the high-ceilinged main area.
It smells, looks and sounds like the forest heading into sunset. And if not for the fact it was on the seventh floor of an office building in downtown Neo Tokyo, it might be mistaken for an early twentieth century Taishō era estate. I kick off my shoes before I venture out.
Beyond the babbling stream that borders three of the four sides, separated by shoji screen walls, are the tea rooms. In one of those rooms, behind the thin white paper of the screens, is Ayumi, entertaining her client, the gaijin, as she called her. The flash of Ayumi's smile intrudes upon my mind's eye and I let out a little sigh.
Miss Nakamura's request to care for the plants is made easy by the automated soil monitoring and irrigation systems installed. All I need to do is a visual inspection and perhaps pinch off a dry leaf here or there or sweep away a fallen petal. And so there is plenty of time for my mind to wander as I make my rounds.
I allow Ayumi's name to again form on my lips as I review the image of her standing before me, naked as the day she was born, asking for another plate of sweets. This is the image I'm keeping in my mind. "Ayumi," I say in a whisper, wondering which of the paper screens hides her away.
I pluck a dry petal from a Rhododendron, and as it crumbles in my hand, I'm reminded of the powdered tea leaves I've placed on countless trays in the past several days. I picture Ayumi whisking the matcha into a froth before passing the bowl to her client. I imagine it could be me seated across from Ayumi, rather than the gaijin.
And after the tea is served and the tray pushed aside, Ayumi would rise without a word and shed her kimono. Naked, she would drop to her knees and crawl over to lay her head on my knee, as she was no doubt doing for her client right now.
Miss Nakamura's Kitty Cat Café did not get its name by chance. I knew the main attraction is not necessarily the quality of the tea, but the time clients spend with the kittens. Except, unlike the traditional cat cafés of twentieth century Tokyo, Miss Nakamura's café has a modern twist, with the hostesses playing the part of the kittens.
Clients pay by the hour to be entertained by wordless young women wearing nothing but cat ears and a tail. Only female clients are allowed and any touching is said to be initiated by the hostess, not the client. My understanding is that Miss Nakamura's rules are very strict and no second chances are given should they be broken.
I know if I ever had the chance to be seated across from Ayumi, I would be on my best behavior and most respectful. And I certainly wouldn't try to sneak extra sweets like the tourist. But such a meeting would never happen. I would never be served tea by Ayumi, cat ears or not. My place is in the kitchen.
I sigh and return to my inspection of the garden plants. The wisteria is next. I don't know how Miss Nakamura manages to get such beautiful blooms from it, particularly at this time of year. The fragrance is intoxicating.
"Kaiya." Miss Nakamura startles me out of my introspection by managing to approach without me knowing. "Thank you for your hard work today," she says. "Would you like me to get you a cab?"
"No thank you, Miss Nakamura. It's not far to my apartment. A walk in the autumn air will do me good." And perhaps allow me to clear the images of your beautiful daughter from my head, I don't add.
"Very well," says Miss Nakamura. "If you change your mind..."
"Thank you." I bow to her as we part.
Perhaps I should have taken Miss Nakamura's offer, I think as I hug myself against the chill. The wind had picked up half way into my journey and it feels unseasonably cold. But more than that, I can't shake the idea I am being followed.
Don't be silly, I tell myself. Neo Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world. But even so, I quicken my pace, with a tight grip on my phone and two of the three digits for emergency services already punched in.
The ratings are turned off, so no stars. But, I'd love to read your comments.