Luna both liked and hated online learning. On the plus side, it allowed him to study at his own pace and turn in work whenever he wanted. He could stay up until four in the morning if he so desired doing his homework, and then sleep in until lunch. On the downside, the teachers almost never really knew how to use technology. They'd usually outsource everything to a company to design homework and tests, and they never worked very well.
The cat anthro was eager to finish with his high school classes and move on to college. He just had to finish one more test that took place over the course of multiple days and covered English, mathematics, another language of his choice, and three other categories to pick. He chose general science, business, and psychology.
The first part of the test was science, and Luna sat at his computer. His computer was in his room, and Luna had a large thick book on his lap. "Open book, online test for thirty minutes, it shouldn't be too hard." He said to himself. He doubted he would need the science book in front of him, but it didn't hurt to have it just in case. With a deep breath, he hit 'start quiz' on his computer.
The first science question popped up about water. Specifically, the question asked how many parts hydrogen was in water. It wasn't a multiple-choice answer either, but just a blank text box to put in. The screen was mostly white with the exception of the black text in small font. The design of the test was undoubtedly horrid, but they got the job done.
"Easy enough answer." Luna typed in 'two' and then hit submit. He could only move on to the next question once he answered the first.
The test indicated his answer was wrong. Luna typed in 'two', the test labeled the correct answer as '2' instead.
Luna groaned as he saw the answer. He felt a small twinge of pain in his head, but he figured it was from stress. "You've got to be kitten me right meow." He had the right answer; it was just in the wrong format. "I am screenshotting this and sending it in when this is all over." He knew it was only one point, but if the future questions were going to be like that, then there would undoubtedly be some problem questions coming up, especially when it came to numbers.
Luna pressed the next question and noticed another question about the elements. The test asked him about the element that had the lowest boiling point. Luna knew the answer to this one without looking it up as well. He was a very intelligent anthro cat. Not the smartest, but far, from the dumbest. He reached out to the keyboard to type, but paused. "Okay, it's not a number so there won't be an issue with that. Just type in what comes naturally." Luna typed in 'Helium' and then hit submit.
Just like with the first question, the website told Luna the answer was incorrect. While Luna typed in 'Helium', the correct answer was 'helium.'
"Okay, this is getting downright ridiculous." Luna said to himself. He had to submit not one, but two answers to be double-checked now. He knew fighting to get an answer changed wasn't easy either. "Just...just calm down." Luna took a few deep breaths and focused on his breathing. He closed his eyes and paused his test. There was plenty of time to go through the remaining questions. "They have to look at these answers and then confirm it, right? They have to have some sort of confirmation." He clicked next and got to the next question. He was thankful this question was multiple choice, but the question worded extremely strangely.
'Which vitamin is best known for aiding bone health?
Luna wondered why they phrased the question in such a manner that made the multiple choice even hard to figure out. Worse yet, he swore that multiple vitamins were good for bone health. Sure, some vitamins were better than others were. It was a matter of figuring out which the test deemed the most important.
"Okay, vitamin C is probably the answer they're looking for." Luna told himself. "So the answer is C." He looked up at the answer list. "So if I select C, then the answer is A, but that's not right. The answer is D, but it's not vitamin D, but the answer D, so I should click on B, because B answers D, which is C."
Luna wasn't even sure what he said. He felt himself get frustrated and just hit 'B' as the answer, which was incorrect. "The answer was D, which was C? This is getting so confusing."
Luna wanted to take a break from the test. His mind felt fuzzy and distracted, but the test had a timer. He was thankful that his internet connection was stable. He clicked on the next question. "This is getting ridiculous. I hope that the teacher grades on a curve or something. I can't imagine anyone getting these confusing questions right, or gets them wrong because of stupid capitalization."
'What element has the highest boiling point?'
Luna looked down at his book. "Okay, I should look in the book for this one." He took a deep breath. "But I'm not sure what page it'd be under." He knew he had time, but he wasn't sure how easy or difficult, the other questions in the test would be. "Okay. Think about thermometers. They have mercury in them, and Mercury is the planet closest to the sun." Luna decided to open the large textbook and look for himself. He wanted to minimize the screen, but the test penalized for that. In addition, his phone had a dead battery. The phone wouldn't turn on until 10%, which would take some time. Luna looked up mercury and turned to the first page he saw that referenced it. "Okay, the boiling point is definitely pretty high. This has to be the right answer. Why would they use a different element for checking temperature and refer to the hottest planet as that?" He typed in 'Mercury', convinced he had it right.
Luna was once again wrong. The answer was 'Tungsten.'
"What?" Luna's jaw dropped. He shook his head and went to the next question. He didn't get that answer wrong because of capitalization or how they labeled their numbers, he was just plain wrong. He felt his heart pound. He wanted to punch the screen, but that would just make his situation much worse.
The next question was the complete opposite. 'What element has the lowest boiling point?'
"Okay, Luna. Give this one some more thought. You rushed through the first few questions, so you have time. Pluto is the furthest planet, but it can't be Pluto, because that's not an element. Plutonium is an element though." He scratched his head. He was an intelligent cat anthro that knew various elements, but not quite all of them, much less, the element boiling point. He checked his book and noticed Plutonium had a boiling point of well over three thousand degrees Celsius. "Okay, that's obviously not it."
Luna knew there were hundreds of different elements to pick from, and while there probably was a page that listed all the boiling points, he wasn't sure what page it was. Even the reference pages in the back that mentioned boiling point, while it listed a few references, it didn't list all of the elements.
'Just try to think logically. There are those canisters that have condensed air. What's used in air conditioners? Would they even be able to use the element in air conditioners?' Luna drew a blank on the answer.
Luna had to try to guess. He glanced down at the bottom of the website to see how many questions he had left, but it didn't say. 'What if they don't give you enough time to think about these questions?' He rubbed his dark furry temples with his clawed index fingers. 'Carbon dioxide. That's it, isn't it? That has to have a low boiling point. They use that in all of the condensed cans and stuff.' Luna looked up the element and saw the low boiling point of -109.2 Fahrenheit. He thought the boiling point was more than reasonable, but he wondered if there was something even lower. He wasn't sure how much time he had to check, so he typed it in, and he was wrong again.
"Helium?" Luna asked in shock. He was already frustrated, but now it just felt worse. He figured these tests would be easy. He spent the last few nights studying them, he paid attention in school, even with online learning, yet he didn't have a single question correct so far. "Okay, that does it. I don't care how long this next question takes; I'm using the book for the answer."
Luna went on to the next question, read the question, and flipped through the pages in his book. He barely paid attention to the phrase of the question, he just knew it was a multiple-choice answer, and he was going to look up each answer. As he flipped through his book, he swore something felt off about it. The book he had on his lap was undoubtedly a science book, but it didn't feel like his old science book. He swore the pages that said one thing previously said something different.
Luna took a moment to look over the book he had in his lap. He noticed the front cover, and paused. "This isn't the book for final year students." The book he had was for students going into their final year, not the final year itself. He knew he was in his final year of high school and going on to college. That's what the whole test was about was trying to get out of high school and into college in the first place. "Am I taking the wrong exam?" It would be such a relief if he were taking the wrong test. He could just close out of it and say there was a mix up.
Luna grabbed his phone and turned it on. He was thankful the phone finally charged up enough for him to use. He didn't want to use it for the test, but he had to use it to look up something so he didn't minimize the test. "I just hope they give me more than enough time to look this stuff up." He went to the school's website on his phone and signed in to double check if he was taking the right test, even though if he were taking the right test, it wouldn't explain why his book changed on him.
Luna's jaw dropped when the website said his current grade. "I'm not in that grade though. I'm in the final grade! This is supposed to be my final test to be done with high school." He felt his heart race. He turned back to the test and noticed how less time he had. 'Okay, maybe just say screw it and go through this test, right or wrong answers? What if it actually does count for or against me though?'
Luna wasn't sure what he should do now. He knew this test should help him finish school, yet everything he looked at argued otherwise. "Okay, let's just get through this test. Plow through the rest of the questions; forget the grade until it's over. You're timed on this, Luna." He put his furry hand onto the mouse and hovered over to the 'next question' button.
'But should I try to get the rest of them right?' He thought. If the test wasn't for his proper grade, then it shouldn't matter if he got them right or wrong. However, if it was for his grade, then he should put forth his best attempt to get all the questions right.
Luna figured he should just try to finish the test as best as he could. He didn't want to use the book to search through the answers though, nor did he want to use his phone. He figured he'd just answer whatever he thought it was, and when the test was over, he could try to figure out what to do afterwards. Luna figured he could do decently on the test, or at least be adequate to get some questions right.
He was wrong. Luna didn't pay too much attention to detail in regards to the questions, he just read the question once, and picked the answer he thought was right. Click after click, he continuously got each question incorrect until the test ended and he was sitting at a screen that said 0% correct. The first time he not only failed a test in high school, but one he couldn't get a single answer right on.
Luna buried his head in his hands. "Okay, I didn't try 'that' hard on the later questions, but seriously? Even educated guessers could do better. Something is seriously wrong with this test."
Luna had a feeling that something around him felt different too. He raised his head and glanced around his room. He could 'feel' something different, but he just wasn't sure what at first glance. "Okay, well the test is finished for the day so I can take a break to figure this stuff out." He turned right to his small stand of videos and video games. He glanced up and down them and swore they were different, but he couldn't quite pinpoint how they were different. He hadn't kept very good track of the movies and video games he owned besides a select few, and those select few were there.
"Okay, movies aside." He looked up his school information. He didn't like sharing his information on websites, but school kept everything for him. He checked what grade he was in, and his jaw dropped.
Luna knew he was on his way out of high school. He swore he was finishing this year and he'd finally leave, but his school information told him he was two years away from high school. Students in the USA would call him a 'sophomore.'
"This is getting ridiculous!" Luna paused. He said that more than once already, but it was true. He buried his head in his hands. He knew he was finishing up with high school. He tried to think back to his school years and the last few years he had. As he thought back, he had a horrifying realization. While he could remember his earlier years in school, he couldn't remember his later years. He tried to think about teacher names, but he couldn't think of any. 'Okay, maybe I'm just freaking out so I can't remember any of them right now.' Luna thought to himself.
Part of Luna wanted to drop out of the other tests, but he knew that was going to be difficult. 'I still have many days left. I can always take these other tests. Surely they can't all be this messed up.' Luna walked out of his room and glanced around. His casual glance turned to fear as he quickly rushed back into his room just after he left. 'Wait. No way, that can't be.' He opened up the door again and peeked outside. He was back at his parents' home. Luna knew he moved out during his last year of high school, yet here he was back at home. 'Is that why my room is so different? I can still 'feel' a difference, but I can't really see anything vastly different in my room.' Now he knew there was something going on than just problems with the online tests.
He went back to his computer and went to his profile. He noticed his school scheduled him for other testing, but there was no way to drop out of it. He thought he could just not take the tests, but unless he had a computer error, the school would just automatically fail him. He wondered if what was going on changed him based on how well he did on the tests. If that were the case, then failing the other tests wouldn't be good for him. "Okay, just...let's just get through tomorrow's test and see what happens. Maybe, maybe this is all some kind of fever dream, or maybe I was dreaming before." Luna wanted to try to convince himself that maybe he was the one that was wrong. Reality itself couldn't be wrong, but minds could.
Luna closed the website and moved his mouse over the power button of the computer. He figured maybe a day of relaxing and just calming his mind would do him good. "I'll just take the test tomorrow and worry about it then. No biggie." He wasn't sure what else he could do. He turned off the computer, and then turned to his bedroom door.
He swore he lived on his own before, but that wasn't the case. He knew his parents often worked very hard during the day before they returned at night, and they would occasionally bring home fast food. He wanted to ask them what they thought, but he also figured that might make him sound insane.
Just then, Luna's phone vibrated. He checked it and noticed a message from a friend of his named 'Sira' on the phone.
'How did day one of the test go?' Sira asked Luna.
Luna knew this was his chance. He might sound crazy if he asked his parents, but if he asked Sira in the right manner, he might have an idea.
'Not well. They messed up a lot of the questions and now I'm questioning my whole existence.' It sounded almost as if he were kidding. He only wished he were joking about that.
'Hah I know what you mean. I finished the test myself and I swore I didn't live with my parents a day ago! Weren't we roommates or something?' Sira replied.
Luna's eyes widened. He wondered if Sira transformed too, and he was beating around the bush so he didn't sound crazy to Luna. 'Did he used to be my roommate? I thought I lived alone. However, a roommate would help pay the bills and everything, and Sira is trustworthy for that sort of thing.' Luna scratched his head. He tried to remember the pair being roommates, but it felt as if such a story was a reality that he was never in himself.
'We might have been. Or maybe it was just that sleepover.' Luna remembered the few times the pair did that, but not much else.
Sira sent another text. 'Maybe. We're a little old for that sort of thing though, don't you think?'
Luna had to think about that. He remembered his National ID card. He pulled it out from his wallet and confirmed the year definitely wasn't right, but the day and month were. 'Maybe.' He began his text. 'What does your ID card say? Mine looks off by a few years.'
He wasn't sure how many years his card was wrong. He'd guess two at the most. He thought it was strange he couldn't even remember the day he was born. It frightened him a little bit how little he knew about information that should have been incredibly basic.
After a few minutes, Luna got a reply from Sira. 'It does look off. What's going on?'
'I wish I knew.' Luna responded. He set the phone down and covered his face. He groaned and thought maybe he could go somewhere and just do something, anything. He tried to log in to his bank account online to see how much money he had, but his bank told him the account didn't exist. "I knew I had a job." He scratched his head. He didn't have a great job at a young age, but he knew he had one. 'Is this some kind of weird time travel? It's the same year, but everything around me makes it feel as if I'm a few years younger.' He thought to himself. He had no idea what could have caused it, much less a way to fix it either.
Luna leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Just take this one step at a time. The test is done, what would be the next logical thing to do?" He thought about studying, but as he looked over his books, he noticed even the books themselves changed and adjusted for his new grade; at least he thought they did. He wasn't even so sure what changed and what didn't anymore. 'I can't tell my parents. I'll sound crazy. Plus, I don't even remember ever talking to them within...god, I can't even remember that.'
Luna got out of his chair again and began to walk to the door. As he did, he felt his sock covered feet step onto his pants and trip him over. He fell onto the carpeted ground with a soft thud. "Ugh." He turned around and noticed his pants now looked a few sizes too big for his body. "Okay, if that's not a sign I'm transforming, I don't know what is." His clothes fit him just perfectly fine before. Part of him expected his clothes to change with his body too, after all, everything else transformed around him.
Luna opened up his closet and grabbed a different pair of shirts and pants. He put the shirt over his chest, and then took off the one he wore before he put the new one on. "Okay, this new shirt is a medium and the one I wore..." He checked the tag. "That was a large." He changed into a new pair of pants, and then sat down on his bed. "So the rest of the clothes changed, but not the ones I wore? In a world of reality changing, that probably makes the least bit of sense."
Luna decided one thing he should try was television. He knew quite a bit changed about his life, but everything else remained the same. He had a strong feeling television was still the same as it was now, but he wanted to make sure. He turned on his small television in his room and confirmed the same channels were on, and not the channels or shows he knew from his childhood. "This is so weird. It just feels like I became younger somehow, and probably Sira too. I mean, it's only like two years, but it's still so freakish."
Part of Luna thought maybe that he was just going crazy. There was no possible way he could get younger when the rest of the world remained the same. He wasn't sure how he lived with his parents again, as he swore he lived out on his own, but he tried to get that out of his head. "Just stay in your room and relax the rest of the day. You don't have to do any more tests until tomorrow. Maybe whatever weird feeling you have will go away, Luna." He told himself. He wished he could believe his own words.
Luna spent the rest of the day trying to relax, but it proved difficult. Every time he began to reach a state of calm, he turned to his computer and it reminded him of how strange his life was. Sure, the changes were largely subtle, but his life was no doubt different. He didn't interact with his parents much that day, as he was unsure how to speak with them. He didn't want to tell them that he remembered himself living on his own with the job he had. He figured they'd just call him crazy. They'd also tell him that he could never live by himself at his age.
Time passed quickly the rest of the day. Luna soon found it nighttime. He grabbed himself some dinner, and then kept himself in his room for the rest of the day. He remembered his parents well enough. He remembered telling them about how he was going to be taking a big test over the period of a few days, and he didn't want interruptions unless it was to check up on him, or for food, and they respected that. He then realized something as he had such thoughts.
'I shouldn't be remembering telling my parents about this test.'
Luna crawled into bed once it was late at night. He looked to his computer, and then to his books as he thought about what to do. He wanted to think this was some crazy dream, or maybe something strange happened. 'When I wake up, please just let me wake up to my normal life.' He wanted to panic in his situation, but panicking wouldn't get him anywhere. He had to remain calm. He closed his eyes, and slowly drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Luna woke up to the sound of his alarm going off. He shut off the alarm, and noticed he was still in the same room as before, and the same books from yesterday were still there. He really had gone back to living with his parents. 'I don't want to talk with them. I REALLY don't want to talk with them. Not that I hate them. I just...what do I even say?' He thought to himself.
Luna logged on to his computer and noticed the next part of the test was the second language. He flip-flopped between Chinese and Japanese, and ended up with Chinese. He looked at the instructions for the test, and he noticed a big button that would start the test, and the timer. His stomach growled hungrily for breakfast, and he briefly glanced to his door. "I remember telling them I would start the test at ten in the morning. I don't know 'why' I remember that, but I do." He turned to the time and noticed it was thirty minutes before the test.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Luna's mother opened up the door with a large bag in hand. "Good morning. How did your test last night go?" She spoke in a soft tone.
Luna turned to his mother with wide eyes. He looked as if she caught him red handed doing something he shouldn't be doing. In truth, he just didn't know how to respond. It felt like ages since he last spoke with her, but it also felt as if it was just yesterday. "I...it went fine." He said with a bald-faced lie.
Luna's mother frowned. "You're a very terrible liar, Luna. Please don't do that. I know these tests must stress you out. It's not often someone of your age takes them. You can retake them in a year. Here." She set down a white bag. "I brought you McNyandolds breakfast. I know it's not very healthy, but you need to remember to eat while you're taking these tests. I didn't see you get any food last night."
Luna sighed. He turned back to the computer and he wasn't sure if he should feel relieved or not. Sure, he could retake the tests, but that didn't help if he continued to de-age from the tests. Not that he knew the tests changed him, but he wasn't sure that they didn't. "I'm sorry. I'm just really nervous." He opened up the bag and pulled out a breakfast sandwich. "Thanks mom."
Luna's mom nodded with a soft smile. "Of course. I'll leave you be to take the tests. If you are having any problems, please let me know. I can't give you answers, but I can nudge you hints." With a quiet giggle, she walked out of Luna's room and closed the door behind her.
Luna felt uncomfortable talking to his mother. It reminded him of when he was younger, which was comforting, but it also felt disturbing to him. "I shouldn't be back living with her." He wanted to look more into what was going on, but he wasn't even sure where to begin looking. He could look online for curses, but he doubted it would explain real curses. He also knew he wasn't the only one going through the same thing, and it made him wonder if it was more than Sira and him changing.
"I can't focus on this too much before taking the test." Luna mumbled. "There's an hour window to take it, and if I miss that, then I automatically fail, and I don't want to know what happens if I fail." He took a deep breath and went back to the page on his computer where he could start the test. As much as he hated it, he had try to pass. After he finished his sandwich, he hit the 'start test' button.
The very first question asked Luna to identify 'Hello' in Chinese, and there was no multiple choice. "Okay, so there's that one show about learning other languages that has that one little girl." Luna said to himself. He pictured the girl, but he couldn't think about what she kept saying. "She had a pet too, I think." Luna remembered little about the cartoon. He wasn't one for watching little kid shows. "It was uh...what was it?"
Luna decided not to take any more chances. He fully charged his phone for today and looked up the show he thought it was. The very first show that came up he looked up the translation and typed in 'Hola'
Luna was half-correct. He translated the word, but to Spanish. It was then it hit Luna. "Why don't I just use the translate button?" He knew it was cheating, but at this point, he didn't want to risk getting any more questions wrong.
The next question asked him to identify the word 'cheeseburger' in Chinese. Luna wasn't sure why it wanted him to identify such a word, but with a shrug, he typed 'cheese' and then 'burger' into the translate box on the website. Luna quickly learned that the word 'cheese' in Chinese was 'Qi Si' while 'burger' in Chinese was 'hanbaobao.'
"So, logically, the answer would be qi si hanbaobao. That would literally mean cheese burger." He knew he couldn't take forever to double check his answers. He got the first question wrong and he felt something change about him. He did not want to get any other questions wrong, but he had to pace himself. He put in the answer, and unfortunately, he was incorrect. The website told him the answer was 'zhishi hanbao' instead.
The test began to remind him very much of the test he took yesterday. He had his phone right in front of him to try to get the right answers, yet nothing seemed to work. He glanced down at his phone, and then did a double take. His phone looked cheaper than before. It was still a phone, but the model looked different, and it looked bulkier. It was then he realized with no job, his mother must have bought him a cell phone. 'At least she did get me one so I can use it for this test.' Luna thought. He just wished it helped him more than it currently was.
Luna clicked on the next question after some delay, and it was another question about translating, but this time a sentence. Luna read the sentence, and then he looked at the blank spot below. The sentence above was Chinese, and they expected him to translate it to English. "Okay, no more screwing around with this." He typed the sentence into his phone and got the translation. He typed in the translation and paid little attention to his surroundings. His clothes felt big on him once more.
Luna was once again wrong. He wondered why he could have been wrong. He knew he typed the exact sentence into the translate box. He double-checked and realized he made a few typos when he wrote it in. The typos changed the answer to something entirely different. "Gah!" He grabbed his hair, ready to pull it from his skull. "I can't keep dealing with this. Yesterday I was getting all the answers wrong on stupid technicalities. This time I'm trying with translation, and even that isn't working!" Luna buried his head in his hands. He wasn't ready to finish this test. Every wrong answer made things feel so much worse for him, and he wasn't sure how much of that was a mental feeling.
Luna went on to the next question with a frustrated sigh. He was ready to just answer randomly and finish these tests. He looked down at his phone, and then at the screen as he had to translate another sentence. "Okay. One more." He typed the sentence as carefully as he could onto his phone as to avoid any typos.
Luna moved his mouse over the 'submit' button to submit his answer, but he hesitated to press it. 'I've never done so badly on tests before. Is this what it feels like to get every question wrong? This is a horrible feeling.'
Luna wanted to stop right then with the testing. He felt mentally defeated. He knew if he continued, he'd just keep getting every question wrong regardless, so he may as well give in to his younger age and keep on getting younger, if that's what was happening to him anyways. He wasn't sure. He looked back to his phone, and paused. His phone was no longer at his desk, and neither was the charger. He glanced down at the floor with a brief thought that it might have fallen, yet he couldn't find anything. "Where did my phone go? It was literally right on the desk." He knew he misplaced things on occasion, but there was no way something he was just using could go missing that far. He checked the plugins and didn't even see a spot for the phone. 'Do I still have a phone?' He thought to himself. 'I bought it...well when I wasn't with my parents I bought it with my job, but I don't have a job anymore. My parents would have bought the phone for me, but they always told me growing up that I couldn't get a phone until I'm older.' He slowly realized that he must have become even younger, so young that he no longer had access to a cell phone.
Luna raised his head and groaned. He didn't have a way to translate any of the future answers. Not that the phone he had allowed him to translate very well to begin with. He hit next question and looked at the word he had to translate. In many cases, Luna would try to deduce what the answer might be, but in this case, he drew a total blank. 'Okay, Zaijian. What could that possibly mean?' He thought to himself. He knew the English language and other languages often had similarities. "It must begin with a Z, but Ni-hao meant hello, and that didn't begin with an 'H', so it could also start with something else. If I take out the beginning, or mess up the letters, then it could say 'Janzai', but that doesn't mean anything, does it?" Luna scratched his head in confusion. "It has to be a basic word, it just has to be. They wouldn't give people complicated words on the test."
Luna tried to think of the most basic words. He knew they wouldn't use 'hello' again. He thought about other words such as 'bye', 'bathroom', 'road', 'store', common words that one might ask about for directions or general conversation. "Okay, Zaijian is two syllables. Ni-hao is also two syllables. Hello is two syllables, goodbye is two." He stared at the screen as he tried to figure out what the word meant. 'Does telling someone zaijian mean anything? What about telling them to go to the zaijian?' Luna knew he couldn't spend that much time on this question. As it was, he still had several translation questions left to go. If this question left him clueless, he could only imagine how the later ones would go. 'Okay, think Luna. You took this language because you studied Chinese. You shouldn't need a translator all the time. Asking someone to go to the zaijian doesn't sound reasonable, but saying zaijian does. Would I say it alone? Does it make sense to say it alone? What if it's a type of food? They just asked a food question though, so what if this is liquid?' Luna wondered what the translation of 'water' was in Chinese.
Luna stared at the screen for what felt like ages. He drew a blank as he looked over the question repeatedly, yet nothing came to mind. He knew if he took a math question that he could just guess the answer, but a language question made it that much harder to figure out. He knew he couldn't stay on this one question forever, so he had to guess. He typed in 'water' as he was uncertain what it could have been, and he got it wrong once more. He read that it meant 'goodbye', and he wanted to shout in frustration.
Luna hit the next question, and he was just as clueless as he was on the previous question. He read the Chinese letters, and looked at the box below to translate them. He reminded himself how many languages had connections somehow, but he couldn't think about the connections between English and Chinese. 'I just want to fail this and move on. God, why can't I remember anything? Didn't I visit China at some point? Wait, what about Sira? I could contact him on my phone, but now I don't even have that.'
Luna heard a noise from his computer as he got a message. He checked his messages and noticed the icon looked just like Sira. He immediately knew the message came from Sira. 'Of course, there's that computer app that...that I totally forgot the name of with the cat head.' He thought to himself.
Sira's text read 'I'm doing worse on this test so far...and I know I had a phone, but not anymore. How are things going for you?'
'I've had better days.' Luna replied quickly. He felt distracted, and his mind felt hazy. He looked back at the test screen and the question. He tried to copy and paste, but the text wouldn't copy over to the message.
'Yeah. You know what the capital of Zimbabwe is?' Sira asked. 'I thought it would be in these books, but it's not. I tried to search CatCatRun, but the thing keeps crashing.'
Luna knew 'CatCatRun' was a search engine, though he doubted anyone reading this story would understand the reference. He totally forgot about the search engine until Sira told him. Curiously, he opened up another window and tried to go to the website, but his browser told him the site was unavailable. 'The capital is Z.' Luna joked. He was glad he didn't take geography as part of his finals. Part of him wondered why it was even an option in the first place. He had no idea why a common cat anthro would need to know the capital of countries they would never visit, but maybe that was just his younger self that thought it. 'I really don't know. It's in South Africa, isn't it?' He then went back to his own test and stared at the Chinese letters.
"I think every Chinese letter is a syllable." Luna said to himself. "So this is two syllables again. This first one looks like a house, and this second one looks like a tree with a miniature robot on top." Luna leaned onto the desk. He wasted more than enough time trying to help Sira with his questions. He was just as unsure about Sira's questions as he was his own. "Okay, looking at the first one, it looks like a house, and then that one can't be a robot because Chinese is an old language. Maybe it means treehouse?" He wished he had the rest of the translation. "But there are little specs over the house as well, so that could be water. Maybe it's the water inside a house? A kitchen?" He knew the test couldn't give him extremely complex answers. With a deep breath, he typed it in and submitted it, and he got that question wrong too.
"It meant bathroom? Ugh. How many more mistakes must I make before this is over with?" He wondered if Sira was getting all of the questions wrong too. If both of them were doing horrible, he could only imagine how the rest of the class was doing. He glanced around his room and he could tell things were different again. He just couldn't pinpoint the differences. 'I wish I had my phone. I could just record everything and then review the footage. I doubt my parents would let me have a camera when I'm...I don't even know how old I am now.'
Luna glanced back at his test. He didn't even care about the language test anymore. He couldn't even make very good educated guesses since the language between English and Chinese was so vast. He still had a few more questions to go, and he was clueless. The next questions were no easier than the previous ones. "Place the numbers in the correct order, one through ten in Chinese." He read the next question aloud. He looked at the Chinese letters, and then at the English numbers on the other side. "Ugh. Is the question worth ten points at least? I'd like to get a score above a zero."
Luna noticed each of the Chinese letters only had one syllable, but 'seven' had two. It didn't make any sense to him. He arranged the numbers alphabetically, changed out one letter, and out of all of the answers, he got none correct. He then concluded the test with a score of zero.
Luna closed the website and buried his face again. He felt ready to have a mental breakdown. 'How many more days of this? I don't even remember. I did this to graduate school, but I can't even remember those later years.' Luna raised his head and looked around his room again. His room was a bit of a mess, but he didn't care. He looked down at the clock and noticed it was just past noon. He still had the whole day ahead of him, but he wasn't sure what he could do. His clothes felt strange on him again. There was no doubt he was younger than before he started the test, but he didn't know what he could try to stop the process of halting his reverse aging. He went back to the messages where Sira contacted him.
'I didn't do very well on the test.' Luna sent.
Sira replied. 'Same. I talked with a few others and they're doing just as bad. Someone took most of the tests early. I don't remember who it was, but they aren't even on my friend list anymore, and I know I didn't remove them.'
Luna checked his friend list and noticed it was smaller than what he remembered. He tried to remember the name of the people that were no longer on his list, but he drew a blank. He wasn't the best at remembering names, but he knew he should have been able to recall the names of people on his friend list at the very least.
Luna felt at a loss. He felt at a loss ever since he began failing these tests and getting younger. He briefly thought about a way to cheat the future tests, but he couldn't think about a way. He looked at his identification briefly and he confirmed he was younger than before, and by more than before. He remembered he was 16 before he took the test, but now his identification told him he was 13 years of age.
"13 years old." Luna mumbled. He looked at the rest of his schoolbooks on the shelf. He leered and noticed the books were different from before. "These look less complicated than they used to." He pulled one of the books out and glanced through it briefly.
'Well, I already have the rest of the day free. I can study and do my best on the next test tomorrow, but it sounds like almost everyone is struggling, which is bizarre. You'd think if it was just more than Sira and I transforming, then more people would be talking about it.'
"Luna! Dinner's ready!" Luna's mother called out from the dining room.
Luna wondered if he could grab his dinner and eat in his room, but he knew his mother would find that disrespectful. 'Has it been that long already?' He glanced at the time on his computer and noticed it was late in the day. Luna knew how time should have worked, but time felt strange since he was getting younger. He opened up his door and walked out to the dining room. He sat down at the table and looked down at the food his mother placed for him. It was a standard dinner with fruit, vegetables, and a main course.
"So, did you finish your test?" Luna's mother asked as she began to eat once Luna arrived.
Luna nodded. "Yes." He said quietly. He didn't look at his mother. He began to eat the food as well. He couldn't remember the last time his mom made him food. Ever since he learned to use the oven and microwave when he was old enough, he just made himself dinner most of the time when he lived with her, at least until he moved out.
"That's a very solemn response." Luna's mother said. "I'm guessing you didn't do very well on this test either?"
Growing younger made Luna too stressed to lie well, and he knew it. "No. I'd like to finish eating and then spend the rest of the night studying quietly if that's okay."
"Don't burn yourself out, Luna." Luna's dad spoke up. "We know you're not the type of kid to just throw caution to the wind. You try your hardest. These tests are important, but you're taking them early enough that you can retake them. The tests are also hard. The schools made them to be hard for graduates, and you're still many years away from that. So don't get down if you can't pass."
Luna rarely heard his dad spoke up. He felt lucky to have not one, but two supportive parents. Most children could only dream of such families. "Yeah, I know." He said quietly. He continued to eat slowly and kept quiet. 'Don't I have school when I'm this young besides the tests? Then again, I started this before a vacation, and younger children have a longer vacation.' Luna wondered. He dreaded the thought about needing to go back to school for so many years. He couldn't even be thankful that he knew everything he needed to know to breeze through school, as he wasn't sure 'how' much he knew with how bad he was doing on the tests.
Dinner came and went quickly. When he finished with his food, Luna went back into his room and sat down on his bed. He glanced to the turned off television, and then back to his computer. He noticed a few other messages from Sira, but he was in no mood to talk with him. There was no doubt they were transforming. He just wasn't sure what he could do about it.
'Some people would kill to go back to their youth. Here I'm getting younger and the year hasn't changed.' Luna glanced at the computer date, and then the various messages Luna sent about how things looked different for him, but he couldn't pinpoint every change. With a defeated sigh, he sent a text to Sira. 'Yeah, I know my books look less complicated and the year I was born changed again. I don't know how young we're going to get from this, and I don't want to know.'
Luna feared the worst. He remembered a horror book he read about a child that got so young they became an infant and had to reverse a spell in order to go back to their own age. 'What if I touched a cursed clock? No, that's silly. I didn't go to any weird clock shop. Unless someone 'else' in our class did, but that would also be really weird.' Luna decided to go to the page where the test was and try to look up who made the test. He doubted he would learn anything, and even if he did, he couldn't exactly travel the world when he was now as young as he was.
"A product of Hoss Studios?" Luna looked up the name and found out that the company was just as he expected. The company didn't design tests and books, but it took them, relabeled them, and then sold the information at a higher price. The company was located in the United Kingdom, and a 'very' long away from where he lived. "Okay, no way I'm going to be able to visit that." He relayed the information to Luna.
After a short delay, Sira sent a reply. 'They look pretty new. They were established less than a year ago.'
'Yeah, but that doesn't help us.' Luna responded. He checked the internet for whatever information he could find on the company, but it turned up little. The leader was a fox anthro, which Luna thought strange as 'Hoss' normally referred to a horse. 'What are we supposed to do?'
'I don't know.' Sira replied. 'A few of the people I've spoken with mentioned it to their parents and they just want them to stop taking the test, or they thought it was just their imagination or something weird.'
'This really does feel like a horror story.' Luna looked back to his bookshelf. At the top of the shelf, he noticed a single book that was a horror story for children. 'The kind of story where children transform and could lose their very lives and the parents won't believe them.' He turned back to the computer screen.
'So, was there anyone that didn't take the test?' He asked curiously. 'Like, did someone take it the first day, and then just not take the second?'
'Yeah,' Sira texted back. 'But they got younger anyways from what I last heard. At least, they claimed they did.'
Luna wondered what else he could do. If more people were transforming, there had to be something with the tests. He wondered if he could just find a way to withdraw from them rather than just not take them.
Before Luna had a chance to think for very long, there was a knock at the door. Luna's mother stepped inside. "Luna? Are you doing okay?"
Luna turned his head to his mother. "You two already know how well I'm doing on the tests." He replied quietly.
"I mean besides that." His mother replied. "I can tell you're upset about something, and it's something more than just the tests. Why are you so worried?"
Luna looked back to the computer, and then back at her. He knew he was going to sound crazy if he mentioned it. He still didn't want to say it. However, his mom was his mom. She was a kind-hearted woman, which was more than what he could ask for. "Um, it's a bit of a personal matter."
Luna's mother frowned slightly. "Is it something you and your father need to discuss?"
Luna blushed when his mother said that. He knew 'exactly' what she meant. "N-no! It's something else! It's just something with school."
"Ah." Luna's mother didn't look at the computer screen. "I know how stressful school can be. Once you've finished with these tests though, you have a vacation before you start again. Try not to worry about the tests. You still have a few years left of school, and you've been doing so well that you don't have to pass these tests."
'If only it was that easy.' Luna nodded. "Yeah." He simply replied.
Luna's mother sat down on Luna's bed. "So that wasn't it then, was it?"
"Is it that obvious?" Luna's mind ran wildly. He wondered if he should tell her, and how he should tell her if he was going to do so. He couldn't just say he was getting younger. He had to tell her in a way that sounded sane. He tried to remember his youth, but remembering one's youth was hard, even when he wasn't getting younger. "I just, I don't know how to say it."
Luna's mother nodded. "Well, you don't look to be in any pain. Is everything working okay? Did you break something or get in trouble for something?"
Luna shook his head. "No, I don't think so."
Luna's mother nodded again. "Okay. You don't have to tell me. If it's something important though, I need to know." She stood up and patted Luna's shoulder. "If you need help with your schoolwork or tests, let me know. Maybe I can help you out with a few answers." She smiled faintly, and then paused briefly. "By that I mean help you figure out the answers, not just give them to you."
Luna nodded. "Okay mom. I need to start studying now for tomorrow's test." He looked at the bookshelf. He knew he took another language of his choice and then science for the last two days. As he scanned his bookshelf, he noticed his books on business and psychology were missing. "Hey mom? Where are my other books?"
"Other books?" Luna's mom glanced at the bookshelf. "Those should be all of your books, unless you misplaced one. Why? Do you think you're missing a book for tomorrow's test?"
"Yeah, I'm missing my business and psychology book." Luna noticed he had an English, mathematics, Chinese, and science book, but that was all the schoolbooks he had on the shelf. The other books were miscellaneous children books that he hadn't read in years from when he last remembered.
Luna's mother blinked in surprise, and then let out a laugh. "Oh Luna. You don't have to worry about those kinds of things yet! You're too young to worry about business and psychology."
'But I had to take those tests too.' Luna thought to himself. He also knew there were kids that got into business at a very young age. He tried to think about how a business performed, as well as psychology, but he drew a blank. He felt as if he weren't just getting younger, but he was losing the information he gained throughout the years when he was older. 'It's one thing to grow young. It's another to grow mentally young as well. Am I going to become an infant and think like an infant?' He shuddered at the thought of having to go through aging back up again, or just growing down to the point where he didn't exist. "It's something I'd like to study though." He went back to the internet and opened up the web page to confirm what tests he needed. Just as Luna's mother said, all he had left was mathematics and English.
"We can work on that if you want, Luna. For now, finish the other two tests and then take a vacation after." She smiled before she got off the bed and walked to the door. "Make sure to eat some breakfast tomorrow morning before you start your test, okay?"
Luna nodded. "Okay mom." He grabbed the Mathematics book and opened it up. 'Okay, if there's one thing I can do, it is math. I know what two plus two equals, and you can't convince me otherwise.' He wasn't sure what pages to read, so he just skimmed through whatever pages he could until he got too tired to keep up. He noticed that, when he got tired, it wasn't even midnight. He was getting tired earlier than normal, and he knew it was because he was getting younger to blame. With a soft sigh, he closed the book and went to bed. He knew that if he were struggling in math for whatever reason that he could pull out a calculator and use that. There was no way a calculator could mess up basic math.
Luna woke up the next morning as his alarm went off. He looked at himself and noticed he was still much younger. His clothes still didn't fit him well, and it made him wonder how his mom didn't even notice his strange clothing. He didn't have much time to think about it though as he had to eat breakfast, and then get to work on the test. 'Okay, Luna. You have two more tests it looks like. You can 'not' screw any of these up. Your life depends on it! Maybe.' He put his clothes into the laundry basket and grabbed a new outfit. The new outfit was more childish than the one he currently had. The shirt was that of a video game animal, while the pants were a bright blue and didn't even have a button or top. He felt humiliated wearing such childish clothes, but he 'was' a child again, or at least technically a person going into their teen years.
With a new outfit, Luna walked out quietly and helped himself to breakfast. He didn't make himself anything too complicated. He just made himself some frozen waffles and orange juice. It was a cheap breakfast, but he wasn't in the mood to try to make anything complex. At his age, he was unlikely to know how to make anything more complicated anyways.
He turned to his parents' bedroom and noticed his father was gone, but his mother was still asleep. He remembered the days he went to school how his mom would often scold him for sleeping in fifteen minutes to school. Even on the weekends, he had to get up early to help her around the house. He barely remembered his younger days, but he knew the younger he was, the less for help she asked for, but the more she wanted to take him places.
Luna took his breakfast into his room and ate while he turned on the computer. He noticed more messages from Sira about what was going on, but he wasn't sure how to respond properly to him in a calm manner. 'I know we're all transforming.' He replied to Sira. 'But do you have any kind of idea how to stop this?'
After a short delay, Sira responded. 'I haven't heard back from anyone that has found a way.'
Luna turned away from the computer and crossed his arms. Sira wasn't of any help outside of just telling him that others were transforming, but he didn't know of a way to stop it. He looked back to the computer and typed again. 'Okay. I need to go start my test, but one more question. Did anyone you know get a single question right on any of their tests?' That question bugged Luna for some time. He never scored a single zero on a school test in his life. To get multiple zeros on these tests was strange.
'Let me ask around and I'll get back to you on that. I know I haven't.'
Luna figured as much. He wondered if he could get a single question right on this math test today. He pulled out his calculator and went to the test page. Like times before, Luna hesitated to start the test. He stared at the screen in thought. 'Okay, if I don't do the test then it's as if I scored a zero on it. Withdrawing isn't an option because that would take too long and they'd still fail me for at least one of the tests in the time it takes for withdrawing to go through.'
Luna looked down at the calculator, and then back at the test page. He knew he wouldn't get anywhere just sitting around doing nothing. With breakfast eaten and his mental state slightly better, he hit 'start test' and began.
"Okay, these are just simple math problems." Luna looked at the first question and then pressed the power button to his calculator.
The calculator screen failed to turn on. Luna pressed the button repeatedly, yet nothing happened. He would have checked the batteries, but it was a solar powered calculator. "Oh come on." He put his hands on his forehead and brushed his short hair. He looked at the screen and the first question. "Okay, I don't 'think' I'll need a calculator for this, but I'm not taking any chances." He tried to open up the calculator application on his computer, but after a delay, he got an error message that it failed to launch.
Luna wondered if the gods themselves were toying with him. He had no functioning calculator, but he had a pen and paper to work out his answers. "Okay, so this is long division. 315,233 divided by four, round up." He began to write down and work. "Ugh...how do I...I start with the ones right? Moreover, I can't divide a three, but I can divide the 33, sort of. I carry over the rest don't I?" He wished they gave him an easier question. He wasn't sure what kind of 13 year old was supposed to know long division, but he didn't know what he 'should' have known anyways. He felt as if something sealed his life in his older years away, never to emerge again.
After a bit of dividing, Luna got the answer of 78808.25. The question took approximately too long. He put the answer in and rounded as the question said. He then pushed the check answer button, and it labeled it as incorrect. While Luna had the right answer as '78808' he didn't write down '78808.25' that the question labeled, even though Luna knew the question told Luna to round. "Here we go again." Luna said with a huge groan.
He hit the next question button, and now he had a multiplication question. "This should be much easier to figure out. Five times 38. Okay. Five times eight is 40, so the answer is going to end in a zero. Carry the four over...now I multiply the three and that's 15, so if I add that then that's...55, right? But why does that feel so small?"
Luna scratched his head. Division wasn't that easy, especially when the number wasn't a whole number. Multiplication should have been much easier, yet as he rechecked his math, it made sense. "Do I add a zero somewhere though? Why would I add a zero? It doesn't make sense to include a zero. The first answer is definitely 40, and the second one is 15. If they're both added, that's 55. I can't think of any way that answer could be wrong."
Luna put in 55 and submitted the answer. When he saw the correct answer as 190, he wasn't so much mad as he was curious how the answer would have been that. He glanced over to his math book and scratched his head. "I can't look through that to see why I got it wrong. I wasted enough time as it is trying to get a calculator working." He looked down at the calculator on his desk and kept trying to press the on button, but to no avail. "I wonder if mom or dad have a calculator I can use."
Luna glanced to his door. He was about to leave before he turned back to his computer. 'But do I really want to start asking them? I don't want to get used to being this young. What if I get younger though? I'm going to have to live with them no matter what. I can't even think of how to live on my own now. Like, how do I even do my own laundry?' Luna mentally groaned. He looked at the next question and it was a question about a story with math and fractions.
Luna couldn't focus on the math question at all. He read the words and understood them, but he had to read them again to try to make any sense of them. "Just focus on the numbers. The topic is about slices of pie. One eighth, one sixth, another one sixth, and one fourth. How much of the pie remains? Write the answer down in percent."
Luna wrote down the numbers. "Okay, so all of the pie is 100%." Luna wrote down each number and carefully looked back at the problem on the screen. He felt at odds at writing, as he knew he had gotten so much wrong before, he just imagined he'd keep getting them wrong, no matter how hard he tried.
"Okay so one fourth is uh...what percent is that?" Luna scratched his head. "If it's 40%, but then that would mean four of that would be 100%. It's 25%, right?" Luna counted it on his furry fingers. He looked up at the ceiling as he counted in his head. "Okay so it's more than 25%. How much is one sixth? 10%? No that sounds too low...ugh I don't know."
Luna tried to figure out the differences between percentages and fractions, but it felt harder than multiplication or division. He had no idea there were so many forms of math too. "Just give me some stupid easy questions or something. Two plus two! I know that answer in a heartbeat. It's uh..." Luna paused. "It's four. Enough with these complicated questions." He doubted even someone of his current age should be able to figure that out. An 18-year-old Luna would know it no problem, but he felt as if he were procrastinating purely because he didn't know the answer now as a Luna that was much younger, possibly younger than 13 now, but he didn't want to stop and check his age. He spent long enough as it was trying to calculate the next question. Luna guessed the answer, and as he always did, he got it wrong.
Luna let out a frustrated sigh. He just wanted to send a text message to Sira he was ready to give up. He hadn't gotten a single correct answer since he started these tests, and he doubted anyone else taking these tests had either. He hit the next question, and it was another fraction question, but this time without needing to convert to percent.
As Luna looked at the question, he recalled the previous questions. "These fractions aren't that big. Are they making the questions easier?" He scratched his head with confusion. He wasn't sure about the difficulty of questions. He'd say long division without a calculator was hard. Multiplication was probably easier than fractions, but the fractions before him were no bigger than one tenth. 'It feels like it's taunting me by making them easier.' Luna sighed as he read the question. "Okay, you add the upper part of the fractions, but not the lower part. I remember that much, but what do you do with the lower parts again?" Luna looked at the two different fractions. There was a one fourth, and a one seventh. "They get bigger, don't they?" He noticed this answer was also multiple choice. "Hm...So if I add the top, that's four. I don't think I add the bottom. Do I multiply them?" He knew he got 28 if he multiplied the bottom, but he couldn't think of the proper logic as to 'why' he would multiply the bottom and not the top. If he did multiply the top though, he'd get the same 'four' as the answer on top.
"Ugh, I'm thinking about this way too long." Luna wasn't sure how much time he spent thinking about it, other than just too long a time. He felt impatient, and he wasn't sure if it was because he was getting younger, or because he was getting worried. Luna thought that maybe it was both. With a sigh, he typed in the first answer that came to mind, and he got that wrong as well.
Luna could almost feel himself get younger with that question. He was ready to rip out his fur. He looked at the next question, and blinked as he saw it.
"Two plus two?" Luna thought the question was a joke. All of the other questions felt as if he should have been able to answer them flawlessly if he was 18. Now he got a question that a toddler could answer. He almost felt insulted by it. He pressed 'four' and double-checked his answer. The answer was multiple choice, so there was no way he could type it wrong. The other answers also didn't make any sense. "Okay, if I get this wrong, I'm changing my name to Mud and relocating so I may live with the coyotes."
For the first time in what felt like ages, Luna got a question correct. He felt as if a weight lifted from his shoulders. 'Okay. Because I got that correct, that means I'm going to be older and everything will be back to normal, right?' He glanced around his room and noticed everything looked the same. He had books for younger children, video games for younger children, and he still lacked his cell phone. 'Do I have to get more right?' He looked at the next question and noticed it asked him a subtraction question that went into negative numbers. The numbers were larger than triple digits too. "Okay, maybe that last question was a fluke."
Just then, Luna heard a ding as Sira sent a message, followed by another, and then a third. "What now?" He opened up the messages and noticed Sira repeatedly asked for him. 'What?' He simply typed in as a response.
'Someone might have figured it out!' Sira responded. 'There were some really easy questions today. You've seen them, right? It sounds like people that got those questions wrong, or just skipped them, got much younger! The test might deage you or age you back up depending on how well you do.'
Luna had several questions. He couldn't argue that Sira was wrong, but he had nothing to prove it was right. He had a question, which was basic math that he got right. He faced another question he knew he could get right if given enough time to do so, but he kept neglecting to check the time amount he had on the test. 'So for now, just do well enough on the test that I don't end up in diapers, noted.' Luna replied.
'Very funny. By the way, you know what two and two is? Because I got that wrong.'
Luna thought the response from Sira was a joke. The question was so easy that he felt almost silly for getting so excited over getting it right. Then again, it was the first question he got right out of what felt like dozens. 'How could you get that one wrong? It's four.'
Sira replied. 'I said it was 22. I mean, it makes sense when you think about it.'
Luna scratched his head at the response. The logic of adding two and two together to make 22 was bizarre at best. He had no idea what kind of reasoning Sira used, but he was curious to know. He wasn't curious enough to ask. 'Okay, well that question is done either way.' He replied to Sira. He tried to remember their ages. He thought the two of them were once at a similar age, but now he couldn't stop imagining Sira being much younger than he was. He didn't see him young enough to be in diapers, but more than two years at least.
'What am I doing?' Luna thought. He was thinking about their ages when he had a test to finish.
Luna continued to answer the questions as he did earlier. He most of them wrong, but he got a few right. With every few questions, he glanced around his room to see if anything changed. He tried to remember how young he was now, but he couldn't quite pinpoint his own age.
Luna finished the test and then grabbed his identification card from his wallet, which now turned into that of a wallet with a video game design. His wallet was the kind of wallet parents would let their kids have to hold what little money they got. He noticed the year it said he was born, and after a bit of counting on his paws, he realized he was now nine years old. 'I'm not even double digits anymore.' He thought as he looked at the year. He knew nine year olds could do basic math, but not the advanced math that many of the questions asked him to do. "Maybe Sira was right about the whole transforming you based on what you get right and wrong." He sighed. He was glad to have just one more test tomorrow, and it was English. He knew he couldn't do that bad in English. After all, English was his native language!
Luna went about the rest of the day as a child normally did. He didn't want to pay attention to detail about 'what' he did as a child. He didn't have to worry about nearly as much as he did when he was older, which was both a blessing and a curse. He tried to remember about the days where he lived on his own, away from his parents. As he tried to think about his former life, he had a horrifying realization. He couldn't remember anything about his older life.
Luna looked over his set of games and noticed that, while there were some 'teen' rated ones, he was missing some iconic video games he once had. He tried to think back to when he bought them, but he couldn't remember ever purchasing them. All he remembered were his parents telling him how he was too young for those sort of games. He was mature for a cat of his age, but not nearly old enough for the mature rated games. Video games weren't his life, but it was still a concerning matter.
Luna wished he knew how he could spend the rest of the day. He couldn't leave the house on his own at his age, there was just no way. He couldn't even view many websites anymore, as there were parental filters in place. He knew his parents were just looking out for him, but he was limited in his searches to try to find a way to fix his mess. He could only pray that he did well on the test tomorrow and doing a good job on the test broke the curse, or at the very least kept him out of diapers. 'I wonder if there are others that young. If so, I probably can't remember them now.'
Not knowing what else to do, Luna spent the day just trying to distract himself. He noticed Sira didn't send him any more messages, and it made him wonder what was going on with Sira too. He didn't know about any other way to contact him. He just hoped Sira was doing well, and tomorrow once he finished his last test, this nightmare would be over, even if he did have a decent time at home. It was like a second childhood where he didn't have to worry about bills, food, or many life matters for that matter. All he had to do was live.
Luna awoke the next morning with a stretch and a sigh. He was glad he didn't completely fail the previous test, but he still had one final test to take. 'Why does a nine year old even have to take an English test? What are they even going to test? My ability to form sentences?' He thought to himself. He looked to his computer, but he was hesitant to turn it on. He just wanted to forget the test and move on with his life, but he knew that would never fix his problem about being young.
Luna took a deep breath and started up the computer. He went to the website to do his last test, and noticed it looked much more colorful than before. He noticed cartoonish graphics of characters that seemingly guided his way to the test. He thought the images too childish, even if he was just nine years old; he wasn't so long that he was a baby. He imagined a person that got every single question wrong on these tests likely might have been by now, but he didn't want to find out.
He hit start test, and he looked at the first question that just asked him to identify what the verb was in a sentence. The question looked easy enough, and he answered and got it right. He was speechless at how he just knew the answer, selected it, and then he went on to the next question. It felt strange how he was able to just answer that question and then move on. It felt like an actual quiz, and not the kind that he'd been taking for the past few days where it felt as if his life was on the line.
As Luna went through his test, he made sure to carefully double check his work. He didn't want to get an incorrect answer due to a technicality, such as the format or because he didn't properly punctuate his pronouns proficiently. He checked the bottom of his computer. He expected Sira to message him through the test, but he didn't get a single notification. Curiously, he checked his messenger program and noticed Sira wasn't even on his friend list. As he looked through his list, he scratched his head. 'Sira is too young to be able to use a computer. Why am I checking to see if I'm his friend?'
Luna rested his hand on his head as he looked at the friend list screen. He had a few other people on there, but he knew one was his mother, one was his father, and another was a relative of his. He felt confused as to why he wanted to check for Sira. He knew what was happening to his body, as well as his mind though. "Sira must have been able to use this earlier. What happened to him?" He doubted he could get in contact with him anymore if he had no computer or cell phone.
'Ugh. I have to forget about Sira for now. I have a test to finish.' Luna took a deep breath and continued his test. He got a few questions right, as well as a few wrong.
With each question right, he felt some weight lifted off his shoulders and he looked around his room. He hoped that there would be something new to his room, or something from his former life that came back. He couldn't remember what he was looking for specifically in his room. He just knew he was looking for some kind of differences between what it was before the question, and what it was after.
With each question wrong, Luna felt a sting of pain in his body. He knew the pain wasn't from any sort of transformation, but the mental sting of defeat from a wrong question. He glanced around his room and looked for any sign of changes, but he feared to find things worse. He didn't notice anything about his room change. He didn't know if it was because nothing changed when he got a question wrong, or if something messed with his head and made him think that nothing changed.
'Hey...wait a minute.' Luna wondered something about Sira, but he knew he had to finish the test first. He continued to finish the questions, but with his mind distracted, it wasn't easy. He wanted to minimize the test and go on to other things. He wanted to check if he could contact Sira in other means, such as a telephone. He wanted to distract himself with more video games and eat whatever he desired. He was a kid again, and that came with both benefits, and drawbacks.
As he looked at the question on his computer, he glanced at the time remaining. He rarely paid attention to how much time he had left, and he noticed he had quite a bit. He imagined that, since he was younger, they were likely giving him more time to do these tests, and much simpler questions, such as spelling questions with pictures. He looked at the last question, and then down at himself. He knew he got younger again. His clothes felt too large, but not oversized. He wasn't sure 'how' young he was, but he was old enough that he could still use a computer, but he also noticed the parental locks on that computer that only allowed him access to a few websites.
'If I finish this test and get everything else right, then maybe things will get back to normal. Alternatively, at the very least, I won't get younger. Still, how young is too young? Am I still Sira's friend? Am I friends with any of my old friends? I can't contact them through my computer, but I know they're still around. This de-aging process altered my memory and mind, but it hasn't erased my friends.' Luna tapped his chin. He had an idea about what to do, but he wasn't sure if he had the time to do it. He also knew he was procrastinating. He couldn't keep wasting time on thinking. He either had to get this question right and possibly stay as young as he was now, or he had to get it wrong and risk getting even younger.
Luna recalled the past few days of his life. He was once on his own not a few days ago, but he couldn't remember much else. As he tried to remember more about his past life, it was hard. He knew these tests made him younger, but it was almost impossible to recall much of his life when he was older. He doubted the problem would fix itself with just one question too. He still had many questions of his own, such as who did this to him, as well as to all of his friends, and how exactly they managed to do it, but he doubted he'd get those answers.
'Sometimes,' He thought to himself. 'You're not going to get all the answers you want in life. You want to know them, you'd do anything to know them, but you can't. Sometimes, you're better off not knowing the answer though.' He let out a soft sigh. His life as a child wasn't bad. His parents were loving, he had many friends, and now he could undoubtedly live much longer than before.
He hovered his mouse over the question. He knew the answer to the question, but he took his time answering it while his mind raced with the thoughts about getting it right, or wrong. He took a deep breath, clicked his answer, and then hit submit.
Once Luna finished his test, his computer sent him a notification from Sira. Luna checked the message on the app the computer provided him. The messenger app prevented him from adding friends without his parents' permission, but he noticed Sira, as well as his other friends, were already on that list. He opened up the notification and read it.
'That was the most stressful test of my life.'
Luna couldn't help but agree. 'You're telling me. Most of those questions were so hard.' He remembered the other tests he took prior to today, but he couldn't remember what the questions on those tests were.
'Yeah. Hey, you know I can't be on the computer that much unless I'm using it for schoolwork. You want to come over and play some video games?'
Luna swore that Sira lived far enough away that he had to drive there, or take a bus. As he thought about it more however, he realized he didn't have to travel nearly that far for Sira. There was a good reason the two were friends. 'Yeah, I'll ask my parents and I'll be there in a few.'
Luna turned off his computer and grabbed his handheld video game console. He put it in his carry case and walked out of his room. He knew things were off, but he didn't even try to think about it. He walked into the living room with a soft smile on his face. "Hey mom? Can I go visit Sira? I finished my test." Again, he tried not to think about what he was doing. He was just doing it.
Luna's mom muted the television in the living room and turned to him. "How did you do on your test?" She replied.
Luna couldn't even remember how well he did on the test. As he thought about it though, he knew it didn't even matter. "Um...not good." He replied honestly.
"See? I told you that you weren't ready for such an advanced test. You're six. I know you want to grow up and leave now, but you have a long way to go." She got off her chair and gently grabbed Luna's hand. "I'm not mad; I just wish you'd listen more. Let's go see him."
Luna took his mother's hand and walked out of his home. As Luna's mother opened the door, Luna looked around. He was in an apartment. The apartment didn't surprise him. When he lived with his parents before he left, it was in an apartment. He had a strong feeling where Sira was in this apartment. He knew he once lived so far away from him, and when he went to college they only had the internet to really talk with each other, but now he felt closer than ever. He walked with his mother to one of the doors, and Luna's mother knocked.
The door opened to reveal Sira's mother, and Sira right behind her. Sira looked behind his mother, and waved to Luna nervously.
Luna waved back while their mothers spoke with each other. He wondered if Sira knew exactly what happened to him as well. With the test finished, he hoped their aging down would end, and they could start aging back up. He knew there'd be problems when it came to getting older. He thought it strange how the rest of the world didn't even seem to react differently to how there were unquestionably more than a few cat anthros that got younger, but perhaps it was a question left better not answered. He'd be able to have a second childhood, and now he had an edge in school, and in life. Luna's mother let him in, and both Sira and Luna rushed to Sira's bedroom and closed the door to enjoy their new youth.