Oscir eyed his newest visitor dubiously. The stranger had a plain face, not at all handsome but not ugly, either. There wasn't much of anything noteworthy about his appearance. Yet something about him seemed... odd.

Maybe the cloud of inky black mist hovering over his head, spraying tiny droplets of drizzle in the air, had something to do with it.

"Who are you, strange being?" Oscir asked, knowing full well that it took one to know one.

"I am Prozac. I serve as god of depression, angst, sorrow...." He lowered his head in shame. "Oh, I know you were expecting someone more pleasant... I'm so sorry...."

"Stop that!" Oscir shouted. "Your cloud is dripping on my fur!" Not to mention that Prozac was wetting his back-issue collection of Shaved Nuns in Bondage Quarterly. "Why don't you just give me your story idea?"

Prozac appeared puzzled for a moment. "Oh, yes. I remember. You are he who is called the 'Feline God of Crappy Fanfiction.' Oh, what a lonely and tortured existence to be a hermaphroditic cat god! To be consigned to an existence of...."

"I said stop that!" Pulling a mallet out of nowhere, Oscir crowned his visitor forcefully. "Do you have an idea, or not?"

"I have one. You've probably heard of 'Ill Met by Starlight?' Mine has a similar premise. What if Ranma had a slightly different personality? I'm afraid mine's not nearly as good as that one, though. You probably don't want to hear it."

"Of course I do." Oscir smiled. "The ideas we deal with here are supposed to be bad. Step over here to the scrying bowl."

Prozac followed as he had been bade, then began sobbing loudly, tears falling into the water. "Oh, the pain! The pain and the shame! Waaaaaaah!"

"Scrying bowl!" Oscir hit Prozac with the mallet again. "With an 'S!'" He reached over to pull the handle, and the waters began to swirl....


"Oh, he wants Akane!"


"Oh, definitely!"

"You must be joking!" Akane grimaced at her sisters. "Why would I be--"

Nabiki put a hand to Akane's shoulder. "Well... you hate boys, don't you?"

"So you're in luck!" Kasumi smiled as she wagged a finger at Akane, looking like a teacher imparting some valuable lesson. "He's half girl!"

"Me? Marry that pervert?! Never!"

Ranma's mind sank into the pit of despair. Oh, the pain! Of course none of them wanted to marry him. Who would want anything to do with a half-man? Such pain... such pain and such angst. How could he let such beautiful, innocent women marry a non-man like him, even if they wanted to, which they wouldn't?

He leaned into Akane's face. "Say -- whaddya mean, 'pervert?!'"

"You looked at my body, pervert!"

"Hold it! You walked in on me!"

"It's different when a girl sees a boy!"

Mr. Tendo chuckled. "They're already a perfect couple!" he said. Ranma's pop laughed heartily along with him.

Please... no more... Ranma cried silently to himself. It was bad enough that he had lost the respect of his beloved father. But they were laughing... not only at him, which was no more than he deserved, but at Akane. Dear, sweet Akane, who had done nothing to earn such torment beyond offering a little kindness to a stranger. Why? Why did he have to bring such hurt to the people around him? Maybe it was time to... end it all.

"He's a couple by himself!" Akane yelled at the parents, then turned back to Ranma. "And if you ever--"

"Goodbye!" Ranma interrupted as he turned and walked away indignantly.

"Where are you going, boy?" Pop asked.

"Back to China!" Ranma said. "To find a way to change back for good! This is no time for 'fiancees.'"

Yes... back to China. Killing himself could wait. Or maybe he would do it while en route. That way, no one would ever know. Oh, why had fate been so cruel to him? Changed into a girl... what a horrible fate! According to the Jusenkyo Guide, he had just missed the Spring of Drowned Quadriplegic. But he ended up a female instead. What rotten luck! Surely, the gods hated him with a passion.

"By the way...." Ranma turned his head back toward Akane. "You took a pretty good look at me, too." He pulled on the collar of his shirt, showing a hint of his ample breasts. "Besides, it's no big deal for me to see a naked girl. I mean, I've seen myself plenty of times, right?"

He laughed loudly as he began to walk away again. "And I'm built better, to boot!"

Akane picked up the living room table and flattened him with it.

"Now that he had coming!" Genma said.

Oh, the pain!


"He he he! Sticking quite close to the scenes in the original so far, I see."

"Oh, yes... I'm so very, very sorry...."

"Not at all." The constant apologies were really getting on Oscir's nerves. But complaining would probably only result in another apology. "That's a tried and true way to create a really terrible alternate universe story. Bore the readers to death with scenes they've already seen a million times. He he he!"

"Er... maybe we should jump ahead a bit?

"Okay. I don't usually do this, but...." Oscir pulled out a bottle and poured some liquid into the scrying bowl. The waters began to churn.

"What was that?"

"That stuff that buy in the supermarket that turns your toilet water blue. On Earth, it has no known effect other than the color change. But when added to this particular bowl, it causes the story to jump ahead."

Prozac stared ahead, nodding vaguely. The two stared into the water once more....


"Let's grab something at the cat cafe!"

"Yeah, like that cute new waitress I heard about!"

Ranma flashed a smile at his two high school buddies as they stepped into the Nekohanten. "Come on in!" His frilly apron swished as he zipped over to the table in back, a platter of steaming ramen in each hand.

"Wha--" Hiroshi gaped. "It's Ranma!"

Ranma wanted to die. If he'd had a knife at that moment, he'd have plunged it through his heart. The pain of steel piercing into his heart would be nothing compared to the agony of being seen as a girl... stuck in female form for the immediate future... working as a waitress... wearing an apron. Was there ever a person in the history of humanity who ever faced a fate so horrible?

"Groom!" Shampoo's great-grandmother placed another bowl on the counter. "Take this ramen!"

"Yes, ma'am!" And I'll take that phoenix pill! Ranma's hand lunged forward toward the round tablet that hung from the old woman's neck.

"Hold still. Take this bowl." The old woman deftly thrust an order of ramen into a position where Ranma was forced to intercept it. He tried to grab the pill with his other hand, but again found the bowl in the way. Pushing his speed to the utmost, Ranma struck again and again, but the old woman blocked every time.

"Wow, check it out!" a customer watching the action said.

"That bowl's floating!" another one said.

Shampoo's father placed several more bowls on the counter. "Five more piping-hot ramen!" Sweat trickled down Ranma's cheek as the old woman flung the bowls into the air at him.

Ranma moved more quickly than he ever had before. He caught two bowls of ramen on each arm, one on top of his head, and the last on a pair of chopsticks gripped with his heeth. "Deliver them quickly or you'll spill hot broth all over yourself!" the old woman said as she lay back on the counter smoking a pipe.

Old ghoul. That was exactly what she was. A foul creature from the depths of hell. Ranma knew that he would see her face in his nightmares.

That face... gruesome, hideous, repulsive, hideous, loathsome. Antonym, see BEAUTY. He would dream of her striking his pressure point, cackling madly as he plunged into the very depths of hell itself.

The customers applauded Ranma's performance. "Bravo!" one shouted.

Ranma walked ahead slowly, maintaining his precarious balance as the bowls wobbled. "Old ghoul!" he mumbled through clenched teeth.

And he angsted. A lot.


Oscir scratched his head. "It's still no different than the original, is it? I mean, apart from the angsty narration."

"Well, no. But can't you just feel that angst? Doesn't it just want to make you want to jump from the highest window while chanting songs from Pink Floyd's 'The Wall?'"

Oscir shrugged. "To tell you the truth, angst isn't really my saucer of milk. Give me a good lemon where Ranma makes passionate love to a hermaphroditic cat-deity." He stared wistfully into space. "Why don't they write fics like that anymore?"

"Did they ever?"

Oscir shrugged again, then gazed back into the scrying bowl. The arrival of Happosai. Ranma and Akane performing Romeo and Juliet, then arguing over cookies. Mousse's return.

"Look, let's save some time here." Oscir turned to his guest. "At what point in the storyline does your alternate universe deviate?"

"Deviate?" Prozac stared back uncomprehendingly.

An idea began to penetrate into Oscir's brain, cutting like a knife through spam, however that was. "It never deviates at all, does it. You go through the entire thirty-eight volumes of the original series without any changes in the scenes or dialogue."

Prozac paused, obviously putting a great deal of thought into his answer. "Well, yes." Oscir raised his mallet to club him. "But-- but it does continue on after that!"

"Really? What happens?"

"After the failed wedding, Ranma makes the suicide attempt that he'd been procrastinating on for so many years. He ends up in intensive care, female and unable to change forms due to hospital regulations. During this time he no longer has a penis, so Akane dumps him and marries whomever is convenient. Then he comes to the conclusion that his male side is to blame for all of his troubles, so he decides to embrace his womanhood, but that's for the sequel."

"I see." Oscir sighed. Well, if nothing else, this one was creatively bad. "One question before you go. Do you really think people will believe that Ranma could've been that angsty all the way through the original series?"

"Well...." Prozac pondered for a moment, then answered as he exited the room. "Why not? I mean some of them believe that Ukyo's his best friend, right?"