Wednesday, 13 July 2011
You'll need to read the others first if you want to understand where this is coming from. I assure you they aren't very long, but you probably won't want to read them all in one sitting. If by any chance you have followed this little series of mine (I thank'ya kindly) then I hope you enjoy this. It's only the beginning of round 2 of this series. I thought I was done after the first nine, but then I read Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, and I had to renew this.
The Adventures of Skelly and Cat
Window Tree Again
Caterina sat on the couch and watched as her five-year-old niece dropped on the floor next to the cat and yanked on its tail. The cat didn’t like that very much, and yowled in response – turning a death-glare at Sophie. Sophie’s mother and Cat’s sister, Tracy, was busy in the kitchen; she had no idea what her daughter had just done.
“He doesn’t like when you do that, Soph,” Cat said softly, but Sophie just turned a cheesy grin up at her aunt and began to pet the cat roughly; her plump little fingers tugging on the cat’s fur. Whiskers only allowed this unwelcome petting to carry on for a few moments before getting up from his comfortable place upon the floor. Sophie, however, wasn’t ready to let him go yet. Her arm shot out and grabbed his tail, yanking him back. Whiskers turned in a flash and nipped her with his teeth, and Sophie broke out into wails of agony. Caterina sighed as Tracy came running into the room.
“She was abusing the cat,” Caterina replied as Whiskers slunk over to the corner of the room, away from his master’s towering form.
Tracy gave her sister an exasperated look as she picked up Sophie to examine the damage. The back of her hand was dotted in small blood droplets – nothing too devastating, but by the siren resounding from Sophie’s lungs one would’ve thought it was the end of the world. “And you couldn’t have stepped in and stopped her?”
Caterina shrugged, “I told her not to.”
“She’s five, Cat; she doesn’t know any better!” Tracy replied and whisked Sophie away to the bathroom to dress her wounds.
“I wasn’t that stupid at that age,” Cat muttered.
Whiskers sat in the corner of the room with his tail curled around his legs and stared at her with orange-orb eyes. It sparked something in her memory, but she couldn’t quite place what.
“Can you watch the noodles?” Tracy called from the bathroom, over Sophie’s tapering wails.
“Sure,” Cat replied and went to the kitchen, Whiskers following at her heels.
She stirred the noodles and turned the burner down to let them simmer, all the while listening to Tracy trying to calm Sophie. Whiskers wove in between her legs and Cat smiled. She stepped away from the stove and hunkered down to pet him. He began to purr like the engine of a Corvette when she scratched behind his ears.
“It wasn’t your fault or mine; she’s just a spiteful child, isn’t she?”
Whisker’s continued to purr in agreement.
“I may not remember being that young, but I know I wasn’t like her.”
Something about that thought made Cat wonder; what had she been like at five years old?
Lying in bed that night, staring at the ceiling, Cat still wondered about her childhood. It had been a long time since she’d thought about it, and her mind kept turning over to Whisker’s orange-orb eyes, something about them unsettled her – something in the back of her mind was calling her name. She just didn’t know who or what. She lay in bed for a while before falling into a fitful sleep.
She was asleep a total of an hour before she’d woken up again from a nightmare. Sweat poured down her back and her night-shirt clung to her skin like paper. She couldn’t remember the nightmare, at least not all the details, but what she did remember was a mountain range silhouetted by an eternally orange sunset that was eclipsed by a silver moon dripping silver tears. She didn’t know why that should have scared her so badly, but something about it did.
She kicked the sheets from around her ankles, turned on the lamp beside her bed, and began rummaging through the closet. She had no idea what she was looking for, but she felt certain it was in the closet and when she found it she’d know. When she found nothing on the floor that offered any comfort or reprieve from the lingering vestiges of the nightmare, she began to shove things around on the top shelf. That’s when she came upon a dusty old top-hat.
She pulled it down off the shelf, brushed the dust off, and just stared at it. Holding it was a comfort but she wasn’t sure why. Something inside her said it had belonged to a special friend, an important friend. It didn’t matter, as long as it kept the nightmare at bay. Cat shut the closet and climbed back into bed, still clutching the top-hat in her hand. She laid down with the sheets pulled up to her chest and looked at it some more, contemplating where it may have come from.
She didn’t remember having it when she’d moved into the apartment, but that was also a long time ago. She was almost thirty, lots had happened since she’d acquired this old thing. Sleep began to work its way over her and she turned off the lamp, rolled over on her side and placed the top-hat on the empty half of the bed, fingers loosely gripping the brim. And that’s how she fell back into the land of dreams and imagination.
She was staring at her reflection through a window, but it wasn’t the reflection she expected. She stepped closer to examine the face she saw looking back at her. It was a child’s round face of about the age of five. There was two charcoal grey cat ear’s protruding from her raven-colored hair. Beyond her reflection was a mountain range silhouetted by an eternally orange sunset. She stepped away from the window and her reflection and looked around. She was surrounded by nothing but white. The window was the only thing that offered any relief from the absence of everything. She spun on her heels and as she did, caught something in her peripheral vision. She looked down and noticed a charcoal grey cat’s tail protruding out from underneath the skirt of her white dress.
She couldn’t take it anymore, she wanted out, but the only way out was through the window, towards that terminally, beautiful sunset that never aged. Cat went to the window and pushed on the vertical bar, expecting the window to slide easily. It didn’t budge. She looked down; saw the window was locked, and turned the latch, then threw her weight against the window again. This time it slid easily, opening a gap at the bottom of the window sill through which she climbed.
Cat tumbled head-first out the window onto a rocky, obsidian desert. She sat up in her five-year-olds body and massaged the elbow that had received the weight of her fall. As she turned around to face the window again she was struck dumb by the anomaly before her. The window she’d just climbed through was suspended by two thick wires tied around the lowest branch of a dead oak tree. Through the window she saw nothing but white. Cat stepped forward to close the window, and then thought better of it.
She had no idea where she was or who she was, but in this strange place, perhaps the world of white would become a place she needed later, so she decided against closing off any possible escape. Cat turned away from the window and examined the foreign desert she’d fallen into. To the north was the mountain range silhouetted by the sunset. To the south, east, and west was nothing but more obsidian desert.
This is a wasteland, she thought, there’s nothing out here but the mountains.
Go to them, go to the mountains, whispered a voice inside her head. It sounded like her voice, but she wasn’t sure it was her own thought; a sentiment that sent chills skittering down her spine. The voice was right, however, there was nowhere else to go but the mountains so that’s where she headed, without a single look back at the window tree.
Had she looked back at the tree she’d have seen something that would’ve chilled her more. The white was creeping in through the window, pouring over the window sill and dripping like paint upon the obsidian desert, obliterating everything it touched and spreading. The glass in the window had even cracked in jagged, staggered lines, and the white squeezed through tiny punctured holes, running like rain down a car window.