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sugarcoated hell

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you open your eyes to a deep blue sky. this on its own is weird, because you distinctly remember falling asleep in your bed, in your house, not outside. then you try to stand up, only to collapse back onto the ground; your body does NOT feel right. you look down to see… paws.


there are cats around - so many cats. you can count three in your line of sight, as well as four strange slabs of wood rising in front of you with pictures of cats on them, labeled as doors. also, the world fucking stops at them. literally. there’s no ground past them. you also notice a small sheet of paper at your paws:


- Goto new places
- Collect Emerolds
- GET Keys
- Find Our Room (please)
- Catch the killer
- Mew mew mew

there are simple drawings next to some of them, and the handwriting is abhorrent. it looks like a six year old made this. you look back up only to abruptly make eye contact with yet another oddity: a pink and purple rabbit, with a halo and shocking blue eyes that seem to burn into your soul.

“hai!!!” she cheers, and your first thought is oh god this thing can talk. “you’re finally awake!! my name is lucy fur, and i’m gonna teach you how things work around here!” she either doesn’t notice or completely ignores your nonplussed expression.

she stares at you, and you try to speak. “where the fuck am i?” your voice fails you, however, and only pitiful mews come out. she seems to understand what you mean despite this.

"you're in kitten love emulator, of course! didn't you read the site before buying?" oh right. this has to be a dream. you did, in fact, buy said game the night before as a joke. there's no other explanation for it. "'kitten love emulator is a fast paced exploration game where everything is all smiles, sunshine, and sweetness!' it's right on the steam page!"

something probably shows on your face. it doesn't seem like she's going to stop talking for a while. "remember now? great! that'll save us some time. you need to start the tutorial, but first you need to stand back up."

right. you nearly forgot that you're a fucking cat right now. you suppose you should be panicking, but something about the absurdity of the situation counterbalances that. you steadily rise to your feet- paws- and try to keep your balance. you're much shorter than you're used to.

"perfect!" lucy fur says, before raising a paw to point at another slab of wood rising from the ground(?). "now, you see that big door over there? the one that says 'jump in here for tutorial'?"

it looks more like a painting, but alright. you're also confident you would have been able to tell what she wanted without her explicitly pointing it out.

maybe noticing your scorn, she says, "yeah. jump in there." she then begins to stare at you with even more intensity, something that makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable. slowly, you start to wobble over to the so-called door, feeling as though you'll fall at any moment, and she sighs. "oh my god i'll just do it myself."

she bounds over, much faster than you, and suddenly grabs you by the scruff. rabbits aren't supposed to be bigger than cats, right? just how fucking small are you right now?

without hesitation, she jumps right into the door, and you're sent spinning. you close your eyes, expecting the pain of hitting solid wood, but you're now surrounded by darkness. lucy fur is nowhere to be seen. there's some type of dog in front of you, and you can see words appear from seemingly nowhere:

TASK: Move your cat over to the sleeping dog and run to it.

simple enough. you walk over to the dog, taking the time to get a little more adjusted to your new body, before stopping and staring at it. cute thing. too bad it disappears when you lightly poke it - and by disappear, you mean disappear. it doesn’t fade away or anything, it’s just… gone. it’s replaced by some type of moving platform above you.

TASK: Jump onto the platform.

you take a quick moment to look at the platform itself: it’s several shades of blue and white, constantly shifting, and there seems to be something on the other side of it. nonetheless, you hop up, and once again, it disappears from under your feet the moment you touch it. the landscape is replaced by gravel and grass, an area much larger than where you were before. the sky is still pitch black, though, and even though there are mountains circling around it seems as if the area ends abruptly here as well. the gravel creates two paths that go nowhere.

TASK: Hover inside the striped sphere for 5 whole seconds.


you look around. sure enough, at the end of one path is a floating striped sphere. how the hell are you supposed to hover, though? is there something specific you have to do? you wouldn’t care if you had clear controls, like an actual game, but right now you’re literally just a cat.

however, you run over to it anyway (you’re so slow, or is everything else just huge?). perhaps you can do this from sheer force of will. only one way to find out. you jump up, and a small purple five appears in your vision before you fall back down, like how gravity intended. you contemplate giving up there, but somehow you get the feeling that you aren’t going to be able to leave otherwise.

you jump back up, this time envisioning yourself staying in place, and somehow this works. you’re suspended midair, like somebody paused in the middle of a game, and you watch as the number reappears and counts down.

you can’t believe that fucking worked.

TASK: Boost around really fast until you hear the chime.

another purple number appears in front of you:

Speed: 0/8000

eight thousand? eight fucking thousand. not only are you unsure of how to do this but you’re pretty sure you would crash into something and break every bone in your body at that speed. of course, that feels like an inevitability, but you’d rather not have to experience it. you’re still hovering frozen in place, though, so first you visualize yourself back on the ground and pray you aren’t stuck.

thankfully, your paws land back on the ground, and the speed meter goes up a little as you do - apparently just falling generates it. you hesitantly start walking at your normal speed, then running, but the meter only fills part-way. as if sensing your confusion, more words appear:

NOTE: If you have issues try jumping around like an idiot while holding down boost and hope for the best.

damn. alright. you pick up your pace before launching yourself in the air, watching the meter rapidly rise before it disappears and you hear a small ding. it also looks like you can keep doing this; there doesn’t seem to be a cap to how long or high you can jump, you just… keep going at breakneck speed. maybe you’ll end up shattering your bones sooner than you thought, but this is much quicker than walking everywhere.

it’s incredibly disorienting, however, and you soon lose track of where you even are. you look down nervously only to see that the ground is what feels like miles below you. whoops. that might be a problem? maybe you’ll be lucky and you won’t feel it. there’s a new, dark shape on the ground anyway, so you assume this is mandatory.

closing your eyes, you make the conscious decision to stop jumping, and almost immediately start falling. you brace yourself for pain, refusing to look at what you assume is your inevitable doom, but it never comes. your paws just land safely on gravel as if nothing happened. you slowly open your eyes, expecting at least some broken bones - but there’s nothing. huh. looks like you can’t take damage in this game.

thank god. even though that was a terrifying experience, it’s much more efficient than walking, and now you don’t have to worry about the risk of death every time you try it. speed-jumping over to the dark object you saw from above just a minute ago, you notice it’s a door. an actual door, not one of the cat pictures you saw earlier - massive, black steel, heavy duty; it would look right at home in an over glorified, fictional representation of a spaceship.

TASK: Go over to the door and Meow to open it.

reading the task, you see that there’s some type of authorization on the door. it’s also much, much larger than you, so you jump and hover in place to get a better look (you aren’t going to get used to that). the screen is a sharp contrast to the rest of it: baby blue, once again crudely made with the word “MEOW” on it.

…that's just talking, isn't it? you ended up meowing earlier when you tried to talk, but something about consciously choosing to meow feels humiliating, even if you think you're alone. nonetheless, you comply, and the door opens abruptly. there's no animation for it - one minute, it's closed, and the next it's wide open. you're starting to see a pattern.

TASK: Get out your teeth and go grab the giant candy cane. Then take it over to the striped area on the path.

…get out. get out your teeth? what the fuck does that even mean? does it just mean your actual mouth? what else could it mean? well, you'll figure it out somehow. you look for the mentioned candy cane, but it's not easy to miss; it's fucking massive, even from a distance.

you speed-jump over to it and yeah, this thing towers over you. you aren't even tall enough to reach the first stripe. first you wonder how on earth you're supposed to carry this, then you wonder what the first part of the task even means. surely it doesn’t mean your real mouth? there’s no physical way for you to do that - although, given what you’ve seen so far, it might not be out of the question.

christ, what are you even thinking? it seems as though this place is already getting to your head.

well, given how mental visualization of otherwise impossible tasks has gotten you this far, maybe it applies here as well. initially, you imagine yourself somehow grabbing the candy cane in your mouth, and, to your relief, it doesn’t work. you then imagine a disembodied, large pair of cat teeth grabbing it, then human teeth, mentally flicking through the jaws of any and every animal you can think of.

you open your eyes. nothing.

maybe it doesn’t mean real teeth at all. you think of dentures, fake vampire teeth, anything - even those chattering teeth toys. you’re about to give up when you notice something floating in your peripherals; sure enough, there’s an odd pair of bright red teeth floating above your right, clearly fake. the last one must have worked, except it just… hovers there. you take an unsteady step forward only for it to follow you as if attached.

well, whatever. you’re pretty sure things are going to go downhill from here, so maybe this is the least of your problems. you go to grab the candy cane with it, and it unceremoniously attaches itself to your “teeth”; the two objects clip through each other, and the candy cane takes up almost all your vision. you struggle to look past it, searching for the aforementioned striped area, before deciding to just jump in the air. sure enough, it gives you a much better angle, and you find it nearby, similar to the sphere from earlier.

jump-boosting over to it, you hover above for a moment, before letting yourself drop down with your heart (free-falling is always going to be terrifying). you once again land safely, but everything is so bright all of a sudden that you’re forced to screw your eyes shut and wonder if you actually died this time.

nothing else happens, though, and you open your eyes to the source of the sudden light: the previously dark sky is now what looks like a child’s drawing. the colors are saturated to the point of being painful, and it seems to just be a splash of random colors with poorly drawn hearts. the lines are thick and sloppy, like it was finger painted.

ah. fuck. things definitely went downhill.

TASK: Take out the Heart Wand and then lay some eggs. Wait for them to hatch into chickens.

you glance at your side. the fake teeth are still there, and, without thinking, you somehow will them away. they’re gone without an animation, just like most other things here, but you don’t really care at this point. you just wish there was a better way of doing this instead of guessing on every item you’re supposed to use.

thankfully, the new item at least sounds more intuitive - you picture an overly cutesy staff you’ve seen in several magical girl anime before. almost immediately, a transparent pink wand with a heart on one end manifests to your left. not as fancy as what you imagined, but apparently the sentiment is close enough to work.

now how the hell are you supposed to lay eggs with this thing? obviously the “heart wand” is a euphemism for breeding, no matter how much lucy fur might say it’s about love. god knows they aren't interchangeable, and you don’t think that applies to chickens anyway. either way, you are not complying if this somehow has to do with you. you’ve already seen some weird shit, but laying eggs yourself as a human-turned-cat is where you draw the line.

so the only possible way for this to work would be for the wand itself to spawn eggs, which seems like a very asinine thing to have. sure enough, you will it to spawn a few; they appear a few inches in front of you, stacked on each other, not seeming to even come from the wand. why would you ever need this? for food? maybe, but you don’t feel hungry at all, and you’d sooner starve than trust anything here.

you sit down, watching the chicken eggs for a few seconds before what sounds like cracking comes from them. there isn’t an animation for that, either; soon there are three tiny, yellow chicks squeaking. well, that was quick. they wander aimlessly, and you reach out to touch one only for it to walk right past you. they kind of jitter around, and at a closer look they almost seem 2d, like a flat image, but it soon changes back. either your head is playing tricks on you or is trying to rationalize that you’re supposedly in a broken video game.

it doesn’t take long for them to grow into chickens - well, grow might be an overstatement. they’re technically chickens, but it looks more like they just abruptly changed forms instead of growing properly, which you guess isn’t wrong. they’re barely any larger. this doesn’t stop the next task from appearing:

TASK: Change the game speed multiple times.

…what. you could at least somewhat understand the thought processes behind the last tasks, but seeing as how you’re not technically playing a game right now so much as living it, you cannot think of one way to complete this. you struggled to even get to your items because there’s no fucking ui.

suddenly, a flash of gray sparkles appears, and lucy fur drops down in front of you. you’re instantly very, very scared. “oh, don’t worry about these next few!” she laughs, grabbing the words from the air. “normally you’d have to do ‘em to complete this, but there’s no physical way like this. :)” she rips more purple text from seemingly nowhere, and you catch glimpses of it. she notices your stare and says, “oh, did you wanna see them?? here.”

TASK: Change your view a bunch. There are multiple ways to see your cat, each one more confusing than the last.

TASK: Change your character’s form, then switch back to a cat.

TASK: Go through some cat animations.

you feel your face scrunch up, and you’re very grateful you don’t have to do these; the last seems at least doable if not confusing, but the other two make you feel slightly sick.

“yeah, these are for people using their pc for this game; kind of impossible otherwise.” lucy fur grins, shoving the text down her throat like she’s trying to eat it. “i can’t have you leaving just yet y’know! anyhow, just finish the rest of the tutorial, ‘kay?” without letting you get a word in, she disappears in another flash of sparkles, and different text appears.

…what the fuck?

TASK: Go find three doors. Doors can be almost anything, but are commonly cat pictures.

alright, no acknowledgement then. three more objects have appeared, each at one end of the splitting paths: the closest is a cat picture like the few you saw in the other area, one is an image of a cat flipped upside-down, and the other is a flowerpot. you go to the first, lightly touching it, only for your paw to phase right through to the sound of a bell. you realize that said sound is signifying you’re doing the right thing, but you’re more focused on the fact that the “door” doesn’t feel physical; you can walk right through it. explains why you didn’t eat shit trying to enter the tutorial earlier. it’s convenient, but still very unsettling to look at.

you easily go over to the flowerpot and tap it, waiting for the bell, before bounding over to the upside-down cat picture. you tap it, but nothing happens. sighing, you throw yourself into the air and forcibly flip yourself upside-down as well, trying your best to not puke in the process as you fly through the door. it still doesn’t hurt, but the speed and angle are incredibly disorienting, and you take a moment to lay on the ground to stop the world from spinning.

TASK: Collect a bunch of emotions and reset them in the bed.

near the middle of the gravel path is a large billboard with eight words written on it, all in different colors and fonts. the background itself is glittery and metallic, and even though it's a rainbow, it’s much easier to look at than almost anything else. there are also words on the ground, with weird transparent objects(?) floating above them, ranging from crosses to roses to spiders to crying cartoon faces. you get a closer look at the billboard:


…you’re fairly certain not all of these are emotions. you also really, really don’t want to touch any of these, so you decide to touch every single one of them. the last part of the task implies that it won’t matter, right? hopefully you won’t get too fucked up from this. the worst it can do is cause severe mental stress, but you’re sure you’ll experience a lot of that.

so, before you can talk yourself out of it, you line yourself up with the path of strange objects and rush through them. a cacophony of noise fills your ears, loud and grating, and you can only assume every different emotion has a different sound. something floats in your vision, rising up, but it’s so distorted that you can’t make it out. it disappears as soon as it appears, though, so you guess it’s an indicator of what emotions are active. you sure don't feel any different.

skidding to a stop, you turn around and find a bed behind you with a cat curled up on it. it’s not a cat bed; instead, it’s an actual, human bed. it actually looks very nice, so it’s a shame when it disappears after you touch it.

TASK: Go through an enabled area on the billboard.

it’s replaced by a large billboard right in front of you. it’s white, with dozens of dark squares like a checkerboard. some of them are pictures of locations you haven’t seen before, presumably other levels. you jump up to one of them, and you phase through like the cat pictures.

TASK: Pause and unpause the game, and reset position.

okay you’re not sure how to do this one either. you’re about to call for lucy fur again when what looks like a remote drops from the air and lands at your feet. it has only two buttons: one with the word “PAUSE” above it, and the other with “RESET”.

it looks inconspicuous enough, even though every sense in your body is telling you that it’s terrible. nonetheless, you tap the pause button. sure enough, the word “PAWS” appears in your vision, large and obnoxious. the chickens you hatched earlier have stopped moving, and you’re almost worried about how to unpause until you realize that you can still move. well, not fully - you can turn your body in place and move your paw enough to tap the button again, but that’s about it.

pressing the button does unpause the game, for what it’s worth, and you probably can’t pause without using this remote in the first place, so hopefully you shouldn’t be able to trap yourself. you turn your attention to the other button, pressing it, only to jump back. a green cube appears in front of you with the words “RESET POSITION” and some strange drawing on it. it only gets larger as you hold down the button, and releasing it teleports you back onto the middle of the gravel path. you don’t get whiplash or anything similar, but the sudden change in scenery is enough to make you nauseous.

…what the fuck is that? there’s something on the grass - or a lot of something. you cautiously walk over to the edge of the gravel and come face-to-face with… well, you don’t know what this is. it looks like a 2d drawing of a heart, with eyes and a large toothy grin that extends along the entire bottom of its body. there are also hundreds of them; they’re only outlines, so you can see through them as they sway from side to side. dozens of different colors, every single one staring at you for as long as you can see. they don’t make an attempt to go after you or talk, they just keep looking at you, and somehow that’s worse. even when you move around them, their bodies are always facing you.

you jump back onto the safety of the gravel, taking note of the new task.

TASK: Go back home using the “Go Home” ability. Hold the key until the RED block appears then release the button.

sounds good to you. you hold down the button and watch as the cube appears and goes from green to yellow. the yellow block has the word “RESET” on it with a circular arrow on it. you don’t let go, even when it only gets larger and larger, waiting until the cube turns bright red. it has a drawing of a simple house with the words “GO HOME” and you let go instantly.

your vision goes to black. you think for a moment that you might actually be dead, but then your eyes open again to where you started. the cats are still here, along with the pictures and the door leading to the tutorial. there’s a building behind you that you definitely didn’t notice earlier, and the locations billboard is off to the side. you just take a moment to sit down, but lucy fur barges back into your line of sight.

“you took an awful long time in there!” she laughs. “well, you can get started officially though! i’ll always be around so don’t be afraid to ask for help! always.” her voice takes a dark note at the last word, and despite your discomfort, you call out for her before she disappears again.

“can i -” you struggle. you’re still making cat noises, but she understood you earlier. the problem is getting the words out. “can i have an easier system for the items? i don’t even know what most of them are because i can’t access them.”

lucy fur stares at you. “the disorientation adds to the game! i’d sure hope you can’t go five minutes without getting confused!” your face falls, and she adds, “however, i don’t want you quitting too early… y’know what? i can give you something to keep them in so long as you don’t lose it.” she then slams a paw into her open maw, stretching impossibly until she pulls out a sling bag; it’s in the shape of a cat’s head, bright pink and covered in glitter. she pushes it in your direction, ignoring your disgusted look. “here! they’re all in there. it’s bigger on the inside. ;)”

you hesitantly grab the bag, praying it isn’t dirty, and to your surprise, it isn’t. you give her an incredulous look and she winks.

“trust me. you don’t want to know where that came from.” she watches you open the bag and stare down into it. she isn’t kidding; there’s tons of items in here, from the fake teeth and heart wand to several other wands and what looks like a gun. you pull something out, and it somehow fits through perfectly, same as when you set it back inside. “don’t worry about how it works! if you’re hung up on just this, then this is going to be a long game for you.” she laughs again. “anyhow, just go through a location on that billboard to get started! i don’t care how long you take, but you might not want to make me bored…”

you nod, slinging the bag over your shoulders with a blank look. it touches the ground, but it’s certainly easier than trying to manifest things. she grins at you. “have fun! ❤️” she then disappears in a puff of sparkles.

you stare blankly at the spot where she was, trying to comprehend what just happened. the bag is incredibly light, but the straps are enough that they dig into your fur and ground you. your only thought is how the fuck did she say that out loud.

you turn to the billboard. there are eighteen squares on it, most blacked out. you sigh. it’s gonna be a long fucking day.