Fanfiction Fridays: Ishara by Madame Mush

Sometimes, after a hard week, all you want to do is sit down and relax. After spending an entire day fixing my laptop and dealing with a slew of other things, I think I’ve earned a little break, so that’s what you’re all getting this week: guilty pleasure fic.

Catherine Game BannerAlthough I’m super shit at puzzle games—and I’ll be the first to admit it—one of my favorite games of the past gen was Catherine. A curveball from popular developer Atlas, the block puzzle game has the player taking on the role of Vincent, a dude in his thirties stuck between the decision of committing to his girlfriend of five years, Katherine, or giving into temptation and cheating on her with the blond bombshell, Catherine. For its potentially squicky premise, the game actually manages to present a compelling and fun narrative concerning relationships and values all while trying forcing Vincent to work through his self-doubts and shortcomings. By the end of the game—no matter if the player decides to have the man of the hour stay with Katherine or flounce off with Catherine—the message seems clear that Vincent needs to commit to something rather than playing both sides. But, honestly, for Vincent such a thing wouldn’t be possible. At least, not in my eyes. Spoilers for Catherine under the cut.

Madame Mush’s Ishara picks up where the game left off. Rather, it picks up in the ending where Vincent becomes the lord of Hell. Despite enjoying the freedom of being able to be with whomever he chooses in addition to the succubus princess Catherine, Vincent feels unfulfilled. One night, he decides to drop in on his old stomping grounds, the bar Stray Sheep, only to find that everyone has moved on without him; no one moreso than his ex, Katherine.

Actual canon Vincent, TBH

Actual canon Vincent, TBH

Katherine has all but expelled Vincent from her mind, getting a new boyfriend and generally being a badass businesswoman who knows what she wants in life. Needless to say, she’s not impressed with Vincent’s sudden return to her life and, in no uncertain terms, tells him to fuck off.

As I said, after all the struggling Vincent went through during the events of the game, I find it hard to believe that he was instantly okay with whatever ending he got in the end. Luckily, Madame Mush’s Vincent is still someone that has yet to grow up despite all the power he’s been given—a much more accurate portrayal than suddenly-in-control-of-everything!Vincent if you ask me. Due to his relentless inability to grow up and take responsibility, Vincent looks into Katherine’s new boyfriend and ends up finding out that he’s cheating on her, and ends up doing a bunch of other stupid, elaborate things to prove it—mostly to himself.

“Huh?”

Catherine was lounging on the top of the throne-room stairs on her back, head resting on a lower step so that she peered at him upside down.

“Blonde guy. Brown eyes. Kind of fat… A- A chin this big,” Vincent explained with frustration, waggling his hands out past his ears. The blonde pouted up at him, frowning in a way that meant her irritation levels were rising.

“Um, Vincent,” she murmured dangerously through plump lips, “you’re not making any sense.”

“You have to know him,” he shot back maniacally. “I mean, how many thick-necked mouth-breathers work in the corporate sector? C’mon think, baby, think real hard. His name is Paul.”

That worked. Catherine rolled over instantly, lifting herself up on her elbows in surprise.

“Oh, Pauly!” she exclaimed.

“Yes,” Vincent groaned. “Yes, Pauly. That guy.”

“Sweetie, he’s not fat,” she giggled. “He works out.” Vincent stared at her. She cooed at him and reached forward to twirl a finger over his thigh. “Ooh, but you know I think you’re so much hotter.”

“Listen, just… You’re already working the guy, right?” he attempted past a scowl, ruffling furiously at his hair. His lover examined her pink fingernails with a smug little smirk.

“Well yeah, since last week. You’re not jealous, are you?”

“I need you to try harder,” Vincent said, so far off on his own tangent that he didn’t see her expression slide right past irritation and into deadly. She pulled herself up to a sit, daintily brushing imaginary dust off her naked and tattooed knees. He dropped to his own a few steps down and made a grab for her shoulders. She stared at him with icy malice. “C’mon Catherine, you can do that, right? For me? You know, work your magic. Sink the hooks in good and deep, really mess with his head.”

—from Ishara, Chapter “Secundus”

Does this look like a woman who is here for your shit?

Does this look like a woman who is here for your shit?

Now, I’m completely aware that this fic isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea: from the way it’s written it seems like Madame Mush intends for Vincent and Katherine to get back together at the end, and Vincent does engage in some stalkerish things that are not okay in the least. However, what I sincerely appreciate about this fic is that Katherine doesn’t ever start falling for Vincent’s shit. He surprises her by showing up coincidentally where she is? She calls the police. He takes her to literal Hell? She demands that Nergal, the previous king of Hell, take her home right now or she’ll do it her damned self. Though Katherine is a victim, she never becomes a damsel, and that’s so important especially in a situation where it’s so easy to cross that line.

As much as I enjoyed the writing in Ishara, it seems to be an abandoned fic. However, at a cool 32.5k words, it provides an interesting outlook on what could have happened after the game. Although after a two year hiatus I doubt I can expect an update, I still recommend it nonetheless!


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