Alkali blinked, glancing into the closet they’d just managed to wrench open – and taking a step back as several years worth of box contents and decorations spilled forth, coating the floor in a fine layer of christmas cheer – and halloween cheer, and… easter decorations?
When had they even decorated for Easter?
Shrugging to themself, the deer stepped inside; if they didn’t manage to clean even a little of this up today, it’d bug them for weeks – why not get a head start while they were thinking about it?
So, it began – dusting, sorting, unpacking of old boxes and general reorganization, not even the shelves above escaped the deer’s mood for cleaning, being thoroughly reordered and scrubbed until they looked practically brand new!
It took them almost all afternoon, but soon enough the closet was nearly spotless, clutter reduced to a rough memory and a few stray spots of piled-up items with nowhere to go!
“Phew!” Alkali chuckled to themself, tugging their shirt down from its spot as an impromptu dust mask and glancing around. Perfect! Not a thing out of order, aside from…
The deer frowned, taking a step deeper into the closet. Leaned up against the far wall of the walk-in closet was a curiously bright and out of place… hula hoop, winged with contrasting stripes of yellow and white. It didn’t fit in with the surrounding items at all, standing out among scattered decorative stocking holders and a small inflatable porch santa like a sore thumb!
Tugging it free of the pile of items it had been largely submerged within, the deer made their way out of the closet to take a closer look – it was… well. A hula hoop?
An adult sized, unfamiliar hula hoop they didn’t remember buying in the slightest. In fact, Alkali couldn’t even remember the last time they’d used one – maybe it’d been a gift they’d forgotten about?
But, then again, who’d gift them a hula hoop?
The longer the deer held it, the more the urge to at the very least try it out grew – after all, that’s what hoops were for, right? Hula hooping?
Quickly, the deer peeked out into the hallway – first left, then right, just in case.
Assured that the coast was clear, they let the hula hoop drop to the floor and stepped inside – and, instantly, were struck by the strangest sensation they’d ever felt. It was as if the bottoms of their hooves had fallen asleep – though, just as easily, it could’ve been the carpet. Right? Right.
Bending down, Alkali grabbed the sides of the hula hoop and tugged it upwards towards their waist – and instantly regretted it, dizziness striking them out of nowhere as their height quite literally halved!
The hoop fell to the floor as they let go of it, Alkali blinking away the dizziness and glancing down at themself – and seeing their usual deer self, and the hoop denting the soft carpet below.
“…Huh?” They wondered aloud, before, cautiously, grabbing the hula hoop and tugging it slowly upwards, wondering if maybe skipping lunch to keep cleaning had been a bad idea.
To their chagrin, the higher the hoop traveled the worse the odd falling-asleep sensation grew – finally drawing their gaze downwards as the hoop reached their waist. Below the hoop’s plastic boundary, was… someone else.
Alkali blinked, wondering for a moment if he’d fallen asleep.
Two little yellow and white paws were denting the carpet – clearly made of felt and stuffed, stitching running up the sides of the two proportionally tiny legs to a waist the ring hadn’t revealed – and back, to a small, un-cervine like tail, a little plush tag with a star on it jutting out from one of their thighs.
Normally, they would’ve dropped the ring right then and there – but, something about it was captivating. After all, when they’d passed back through it before they’d changed back, right?
Surely they would this time, too?
Gripping the hula hoop’s sides, Alkali tugged upwards – the ring passing over their tummy, their chest, and up their arms – until, with a little clack, it wedged against the deer’s antlers, brand new plush rabbit ears flopping free of the ring as the transformation passed above them. Their clothes collapsed to the floor, many sizes too large and not even close to the right shape, anymore.
“Oh, come on!” Alkali complained in a voice that wasn’t theirs, brand new inklings of a lisp tickling at their voice as they began to adjust to the little plastic bucktooth now cutely wedged into their soft, felt muzzle.
They rattled the hoop, trying to push it just an inch higher – before, with a rather unsatisfying pop, it came free – and the plushie rabbit plopped to the floor, barely three and a half feet tall and oh so soft.
“W-Wow!” Alkali exclaimed in delight, feeling themself over with brand new soft plushie paws – and brushing their new mop of bright blond hair out of their eyes, squinting down at the tag.
In a tiny, looping bright blue font, it read the name “Cai” – along with, naturally, “machine washable”, and “100% cotton”.
“H-Hi!” Alkali practiced, bringing themself up to their full height and puffing their tiny plushie chest out.
“I’m…” They squinted at the tag.