Note: Disturbing image. Nudity. Yes, Yimiki, this one contains BUM.
A lot can change in a moment.
Run for the hills, girl, lest you be promised for an eternity of servitude and humiliation at the hands of a heartless monster.
I see that you have met my fiancé.
In a moment, the world can become unrecognisable.
In another moment, we ourselves can become unrecognisable.
Once significant thoughts can tumble into a jumble of noise. The language that we hear can sound alien and familiar all at once when it is no longer the one we can speak.
And now I know that a moment can leave us feeling like we are what we were – but yet unlike either.
Very little occupies the thoughts of the average cat beyond the primitive musings of hunt. kill. cuddles. For one who spent her existence haunted by the minds of others, it has been both bittersweet and bitterly lonely. I was robbed of everything I had created, everything I had fought so hard for, and compacted into a fluffy little case.
For centuries, there was barely a thought of my own in my rudimentary brain, let alone the littering of a hundred others.
They flooded back to me as quickly as they’d drained away.
On elongated limbs, that I shall never again take for granted, I shakily wandered the dock and pondered this unexpected outcome. Slipping into my cat form was easy and often rather convenient, if not terribly comfortable, but thanks to that blasted curse, reverting from it was impossible.
Whatever did she – Seth’s new girl – do to reverse it? I doubted that she herself would even know.
With my bipedal stride swiftly relearned, I was led beyond my surroundings, to a path of discordance; trying to fathom the events in my hazy mind. I was attempting to reconcile what once was, and comprehend the vastness of what could be now that I was finally free, in every sense of the word, when I was wracked by a pain, the likes of which I have never felt.
A constriction in my throat, a shuddering ache in my bones and my torso convulsed as if attempting to dispel my shrivelled innards on to the stone at my feet.
No! Not yet! I pleaded to an entity that had long ago forsaken me and continued to do so.
Oh! The cruel hand of fate that would return me my true form on the wing of a promise, only to take it from me mere moments later! Was this a new layer to my damnation? Would I forever slip between forms, never knowing how I would wake the next morning? A tentative lick of freedom and now – alas! I would forevermore be—
An almighty jerk bent me double; simultaneously interrupting my thoughts and ejecting something from my face into the murky water before me.
I wandered the darkened dock, restless. Aimless. Wherever does one begin when their prison door is unexpectantly thrown open?
Do we dare to hope? To start again?
A rat scurried from me towards a crevice in the brickwork I had spent many nights gazing into. His tiny heart vibrating in terror as his feet carried him as fast as they could to safety. But gone was my urge to pounce.
Fear me no longer, little rat. I needed a more substantial meal.
I ran my tongue, now smooth, over the needles of my teeth. Sustenance. Hunting. I suppose that was as good a place to begin as any.
Hunting as a vampire.
How did that work again?
The manmade clearing was alight and abuzz with a food festival. How very convenient. A bite for my bite and a bite for me; the world was in balance.
I questioned my appearance immediately upon setting foot in the lighted park. The stares followed me as the eyes of old portraits would.
Perhaps, I thought, the transformation had gone awry? Perhaps I still had a tail?
I smiled at a human, whose eyes flitted over my whole body in horror, and asked, “Mwatchu starn aht?”
Lucifer’s arm. Those were not even words. The vocabulary of a feline was so limited; perhaps a few muscles of mine would take a little more flexing. There was once a day when my voice had kept me fed; perhaps it still could. I cleared my throat, clogged with fur and the shadows of bird entrails, and began to warm up my long dormant vocal cords.
“She’s naked!” somebody shouted.
I paused. Looked around. Looked down.
That did explain a lot. I halted my humming and yawning, lest I appeared entirely unsound.
However was I to communicate when my vernacular failed me? I wondered if, perhaps, I could blow the substantial layer of dust from my inner voice.
I turned towards a scarlet-haired human in my eyeline and addressed him from within. Hello.
Nothing. He continued to stare at me like a simpleton.
I tried again, louder, as it were, finally eliciting a response.
“W-what the fuck are you?”
He could evidently hear something as I projected to him, but perhaps that skill also required a little more lubrication. I decided to toy with him a little as I found his language rather impolite.
I am the woman your mother warned you about, Joshua. Follow me.
He did not move and was joined by numerous others who gawked and leered in dumbstruck silence. Nigh on three centuries have passed since I last embodied this shell and it appeared that men had changed not-at-all. That was both infuriating and oddly comforting.
Through the slowly growing sea of idiots, I spied a fairer face who, judging by her tilted head and curious, slow steps towards me had, perhaps, heard my call. My spirits lifted. I reached into her mind to retrieve her moniker: Brandii.
She kept her eyes trained firmly above my shoulders as I approached. Her body twitched backwards, defensively, instinctively as it processed the unspoken threat. Some over-salivate at the thought of a tasty dish, whereas I produce an excess of – well, you’ll see.
Barely above a breath, Brandii asked me, “Are you OK? Should you, y’know, be out?”
I most certainly shouldn’t be, Brandii.
Ah. I did not take her life, but the sanguinary satisfaction – or perhaps the power – did get the better of me.
Wasn’t that always the way?
It took all night and a handful of hours of the next day, but I found him, as I always do.
I had watched him for a short while. Followed him. Like a masochistic puppy, he could never stay away from Lilith for long and, in turn, she could never be away from her brother. It was only a matter of time before I was back in Caleb’s lap – in one form or another.
I watched Seth waving his gloved hand at this human he had encountered – a call of memory displacement, executed with perfect precision – and watched the human fail to be affected. Seth should have been highly skilled at that, yet his efforts yielded no result, other than confusion from his prey and a chuckle from myself as, alas, he failed again and again.
Most peculiar. My first assumption was that his latest preoccupation had frayed more than just his heartstrings.
It took longer than I’d like to admit before I realised that I could assist rather than simply watch, and marginally longer still before I gained the will to do so. I had no idea how Seth would react to seeing me after all this time and no real idea what he was capable of. Approaching him while I was still relearning how to operate would have been foolish.
Add into that the fact that he’d never once looked for me… Perhaps I should have simply left him to suffer.
But – sigh – he was still my baby.
My intention was to subdue the human. However, when I made my attempt, nothing happened.
This was more than being out of practice. I could feel the resistance, thick in the air around me, subduing my efforts. I recognised it immediately. There lay upon this town a shield; a blanket of restriction, thwarting those who would attempt free magic.
That should have prompted me to abort; Seth had tried multiple times already to break through it – it would no doubt have caught the attention of the witch who had cast this so-called protection – and she was surely a force to be reckoned with. But, loathe, if three hundred years of poking my whiskered little nose boldly into every nook and cranny hadn’t made me curious and contrary forevermore.
I gave it all that I had. The effects were phenomenal, if I do say so myself. No human had a cat in hell’s chance of resisting that.
Naturally, like a spider who senses a fly caught in its web, the witch appeared, drawn to the perversion; the attempted corruption of her pure magic.
And, oh! Holy damnation! Seth was not the only one making a hasty retreat as this emerald enchantress wandered into the square.
Gravity had won as the clock had wound on; I could hear her knees creaking from my distance and her once raven hair shone silver. Yet I recognised her instantly.
And I could remember her, as I had seen her last.
“It’s not fair!” Sage screamed, stamping her feet like a child. “This is my home!”
“Would you exercise that flabby brain for five minutes, Sage? You’ll be far safer with me.”
“I’m safe here! I don’t need a stinking magical shield! I’d like to see them try and take me!”
Beside me, in the shadows of the chicken coop, my comrade, Layne made a noise that could have almost passed for amusement as he projected his thoughts to me.
That sounds like an invitation.
No, I threw back. It sounds like a trap.
“I’m staying! And we’re going to find the lot of them; every single last one!” Sage had screeched. “Just you wait. Heads are going to roll!”
“We?” Ma had huffed. “Child, you are sending me grey before my years.”
“I’m not afraid of them!” Sage insisted, raising her voice to a shrill wail. “Do you hear me, parasites!? I’m not afraid of you!”
I’ve heard enough, Kitty, Layne communicated; even his inner voice bore his trademark monotonous drone. Those two pose no threat nor hold any interest of mine. Come.
She is his daughter. She shouldn’t exist—
Then maybe she isn’t his.
I swallowed hard; unwilling to yield. Can we not take her? To be sure?
“Breath in the calm…” Ma inhaled deeply. “And breathe out the psychotic teen rage. Breathe in the calm and breathe out the childish temper tantrums…”
No. Look at them, he sneered. Hardly worth staining one’s fangs over. Merely a spoiled brat…
…and a crazy old bat.
I waited around the corner until Sage had given up on looking for the source of the spell. I wondered what had changed in those years. What did Sage know? What did Seth know? Sage had felt the need to cast this barrier; what did she fear? And was Ma still around? Oh, there was so much to explore, but I had learned the hard way what happens when we attempt to run before we can walk.
I had waited centuries, without hope.
I could wait a little while longer.