"Narnia! It's all in the wardrobe just like I told you!" 353Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡuX8e5qYYT5
―C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
I had three bags with me. One was my school bag, not worth much given the situation. The other was my handbag and that thing could barely even hold my makeup. So that left one option. My duffel bag.
Moonlight fell in a straight beam through my window and onto the duffel bag, like God himself ordained that I use that one. It was a disgusting shade of ochre, with something that might have been a floral pattern embroidered on it. I don't remember why I had bought this bag, but it was perfect for the occasion.
I opened it out, slowly tugging at the zipper. Then I chose the things I'd need when I go.
I opened my closet and pulled out the dress I would wear. It was my mother's old dress. It was old and musty and blue (blue is her least favourite colour she hates the colorblue with a vengeful passion). But it smelled like my mother, and I figured that that was a good way to go, if I was going. I folded it and put it in the bag, trying not to crease it too much.
I got a clean towel from the bathroom and put it in along with the dress. Then, I lifted my pillow put my hand in the gap between the mattress and the headboard. I found what I was looking for.
It was my father's razor. It was the foldable kind, the kind where you have to put a blade into the slot. It had a beautiful mother-of-pearl handle. It was perfect. I put it in the bag, slung it over my shoulder and opened the door. That was when I'd realized that I didn't take anything to read. I went back and opened my bookshelf.
I closed my eyes, grasped at one of the books and pulled it out. Women's World, issue 452. 'Priyanka Chopra- Bollywood's Dream Come True' was emblazoned across the front cover. Yes. Perfect.
I looked back at my bookshelf. The only things I'd miss. Then I turned around and went back to the door.
Sneaking out of my house isn't the most difficult thing to do. My father sleeps in the door just across mine with the door wide open. The servant sleeps downstairs in her corner room with the door bolted tight.
I got so far as the spiral staircase and began to climb down when my mother's ghost popped up in front of me.
My mother's ghost started showing up last year. I have no idea what she had been doing for the past twelve years. I don't know how she got here. 3:00 am is her special time. She usually shows up around then, wakes me up, and does a pantomime of how she died. As suicides go, you can't say she wasn't creative. There's a building in the neighborhood called tower mall. She hid in one of the toilets till it was closing time, climbed up to the roof and at exactly 3:00 am, slit her wrists and then jumped off.
Tower mall was twelve stories high. But my mother wasn't the luckiest of people. She landed on an inflatable bouncing-castle, and slowly bled to death. Local legend has it that she died laughing.
She was laughing now, looking at me. She held out her thumb and placed it under her left ear. Then slowly dragged her thumb cross her throat to her right ear. "Good luck." She told me.
"Goodbye, mum." I told her. Then I left the house.
I got on my bicycle and looked around. All the houses were quiet. None of the lights were on. Except on the house in the middle. The front door was open and I saw a cat sitting there, licking its paws.
I walked up to the cat, my hands clenched into fists. The air was misty but I did not feel cold (did not feel cold because she soon would feel nothing and then with her paws on the ground would she feel everything). I crouched in front of it.
"Hello." It told me.
"You're a cat." I told it (her not it her her)
"So I am. And you are human. For now."
"What's your name?"
"Priyanka Chopra. Now, piss off."
The cat got up, its tail curled into a delicate swirl and it turned away from me. The cat dismissed me (dismissed oh I like that word, soft and puissant it ebbs like a crown like a damasked tiara)
I mounted my bicycle, switched on the light and slowly pedalled up the cul-de-sac and past the bend.
They say the city is beautiful at night. I didn't look at the city. I rode slowly, weaving my way through the few cars that sprinkled the road. I reached the park and dropped my bicycle at the gate. I wouldn't need it again.
I climbed up the gradient, straying from the footpath. I didn't want to meet any late night joggers. Or get mugged. I realized then that I should have brought my flashlight. The night was frosty, and I was cold. I kept climbing up the grass, past the trees, till I found my regular bench, overlooking the city.
The city was a neon haze now. Cars rushed by, their tail-lights bathing the streets in a red glow that looked like blood. Everything red looked like blood now. Probably because I was about to kill myself. Moonlight gleamed in the glass faces of high-rise office complexes. Cranes juddered and swayed with uneasy grace. I squinted and blocked out the rest of the world from my vison. Only the neon reds, pinks and blues of the city. A good way to die, I supposed.
Then, something happened. The city caught on fire. Blue, hot fire. Straight from the roots of the buildings (roots like metal corporate plants that rise into the sky yes yes I like her I like this mastersmith this slicer-dicer this mincer of words).
There was nothing. No noise. No sirens. No screams. Nothing. Then a cat strutted before me, a tin of tuna between its paws.
I looked at it. It was sitting on a rock in front of me.
"Tuna?" It asked me.
"No, thank you."
The cat licked its whiskers. "Its good stuff. It's always good over here."
"In the park?"
"No. In the in-between. You do know you're in the in-between, don't you."
I looked down. My bag was gone. So were my old clothes. I was in that heinous blue dress my mother used to own.
"What's the in-between?" I asked.
The cat lifted its head from the bowl and thought for a while. "That's a good question. I don't really know. Hey, what's your name?"
"Priyanka Chopra." I told it.
"Oh. My name is Nostradamus. It's a pleasure to meet you. Welcome to the in between."
I looked past the cat. The city used to be there. Now it was gone.
I began to cry.
The cat looked like it wanted to say something, but then decided to keep its mouth shut. It went back to its tuna.
After a few minutes, I vomited. Nostradamus leapt from his perch, his tuna kicked backwards. He scrambled out of the way as I flushed what looked like today's lunch out of my system.
"That was revolting." The cat said. "For what reason would you do something like that."
"Water..." I croaked.
"Yeah, there is a place to get water around here. The rock-and-roll club. They have water over there. Follow me."
The cat liked it's paws, looked at the spilt bowl of tuna with deep longing and regret (tuna is an important thing you should know T. Orientalis the pacific Bluefin the food of cats), and walked. I followed.
The in-between looked like a cheap imitation of the city. All of the buildings were the same, but the writing was gone. The signboards were all blank. The neon lights were all off. The streetlights, however, were blazing bright and ridiculously hot. Sweat drenched me. I could still sweat, or so it seemed. And I was thirstier than ever.
Nostradamus seemed unaffected by the light. He walked quickly but gracefully, his tail arched behind him, his paws just barely grazing the ground before lifting again. It almost looked like he was floating.
"Is this the afterlife?" I asked him.
The cat jumped. Then it turned around. It yelped out a terrified miyao!, and arched its back.
"Who the Airy Fic are you?" The cat asked me.
That's when I realized. It was a different cat.
Nostradamus was a brown, striped, harmlessly docile looking creature. This cat was black and sharp and angular. Its eyes were narrow slits, reflecting the light from the streetlamps.
"I was..." I began. Then I realized I was too thirsty to speak. I creaked out one word. "Nostradamus."
The cat snarled. "Nostradamus. That pathetic vermin. That which scours the streets with its wayside prophesies. That thing disgusts me."
It skimmed me with its eyes, like as if I were a prospective fish for its night-time meal. Then it licked its lips. "This is a dark, dead world, girl. It is rotting from the inside. There are things here which would rape you and leave you for dead, your blood dripping into these sewers. There are things in the sewers which would drink your blood and feast on your flesh. Then they will call on me and I will clean up their mess once more."
The cat extended its claws and picked something out of its teeth. "Voltaire. A pleasure to meet you."
The cat turned and walked. I did not follow.ns 22.214.171.124da2