A Shadowed Cat is Always Black

From the Story Arc: Sketches of Spain

Previous Story in the Arc: Girls Night at The Fellini by Gato Rojo (Wednesday, September 15, 2004)

(posted Wednesday, December 07, 2005)

Gato’s eyes fluttered as a beam of sunlight came through the apartment’s bare window. The hardwood floor was cold beneath her cheek and she closed her eyes again to avoid looking at the mess just in front of her. Unfortunately, closing one's eyes doesn't affect one's sense of smell. Shakily, Gato hauled herself to her feet. She was numb from body to soul.

She had been dreaming.

First, she had dreamt Mosca and Red Saviour had wed. Then she had dreamt of a dark place full of shadows and the sound of lapping water with a siren’s call. She preferred the shadows; the other seemed to be a nightmare more than a dream. She made her way to the bathroom leaving a trail of stained clothing in her path.

Gato lay on the bottom of her tub and turned on the shower full blast. Hot. With her toes she worked the stopper so that the tub began to fill as the water rained down. When it was deep enough she pushed herself under and watched a layer of blood and scum float to the surface. Higher and higher it rose, finally overpowering the automatic overflow valve. Closer and closer it climbed to the lip of the tub until finally creeping over the side, taking the layer of sludge with it. Still, Gato stared from beneath the water.

“It wasn’t a dream. He is married, and I cannot even bring myself to care anymore. I am dead. I am dead, and that is why I can stay under the water and watch it all wash away without caring.”

Minutes may have passed, maybe hours. The water leaked out of the bathroom and made its way down the uneven floor of the apartment. The water coming from the shower head was starting to loose its warmth. Her hand hurt.

She blinked and rose from the water, red hair drenched to black.

Staring at the wound on her hand, Gato pushed out from within to heal herself. Nothing happened. She tried again; sweat replacing water as the droplets on her brow. Her hand, glowing faintly, slowly healed. This was not normal; this was more work than she’d ever had to put into the aura that made anyone within it feel instantly better. This was different. This was weakness.

She heard someone coming up the stairs – the long heavy tread of her landlord as unmistakable as the smell of Cheatos and beer that followed him around like a puppy. Gato began to hurry. She rushed into the only other room the apartment contained and pulled on random bits of clothing that made no sense and even less decency – fingers flew through the laces of her boots. Then he was at the door, pounding and screaming about water dripping from the ceiling of the apartment below.

“¡Sea reservado!,” Gato screamed at him and had the satisfaction of hearing him at least pause before resuming his pounding.

‘Let this shut him up.”

She turned grabbed a chair and heaved it through the window. The sound of breaking glass had the desired affect, as did the sound of car horns and screeching tires that immediately followed.

Everything was lost. Mosca had married the bitch. Space and time were nothing. Her powers dimmed. Water called.

“How many lives does the cat have left, I wonder?”

She ran towards the empty window frame and jumped. In a flash of light Gato Rojo was gone.