Saturday, July 24, 2010
The sun had been up for several hours when Nicole woke up, stretched, and looked out the window to see damaged buildings, emergency vehicles, and a police blockade holding back a crowd. Yes, indeed, the world was still safely ending. She nudged Rosalind in the ribs. Rosalind didn't move.
She looked up at the sky. There was a storm on the horizon - a literal storm, not just a metaphorical one. It looked pretty nasty. Nicole considered moving on, but there was still the smell of food here. The answering machine beeped and a man's voice blared over it, all pathetic and needy.
"Rosalind! It's Winston. Are you both okay?"
Nicole was fine. Rosalind still wasn't moving.
If there was a soundtrack for Nicole's existence it would be a guitar, broody and apocalyptic - but only partly by design. Nicole had learned, thus far in her kitten existence, to not care. She was very good at not caring. Rosalind acted oddly, but Nicole only really cared about two things - her food and herself. She told this to Rosalind a lot, every chance she got, especially at the wrong times. Yes, broody; yes, apocalyptic. She barely even tried.
In truth she was happy Rosalind was gone. She liked to be alone in dark places, and the thing is you really can't be alone with someone else there. Nicole snuggled into something soft and fell asleep. She slept right through the earthquake until the bookshelf came crashing down. She burrowed herself deep into some sheets with the world shaking around her, hoping it might make everything all right.
Very briefly she wondered if Rosalind might make it home. Very, very briefly.
Rosalind ran after the woman. She heard her footsteps, heard them plunk against stable ground. The catwalk fell to the theatre floor with a loud crash and the tinkling of glass, landing where Rosalind had just been. She went to where the footsteps should've been, but the woman was mysteriously gone and the shaking got more intense and everything was falling around her and the only option was to wait it out for the time being.
When everything was still once again, she sprinted outside into the street. It was too dark to see if the woman was around. Yes, yes, she should be thinking about getting home, but she had more important things on her mind. She yelped out for the woman, for anyone, yelped out for attention and care.
She was scared, so scared, and nobody would answer her calls. So she ran instead.
There were fires and damaged buildings along her path, and off in the distance, the sound of sirens. She kept running, clearing her mind of anything except the rhythm of her footsteps and her breathing, vaulting fences and cutting through back alleys to shave off distance. She fell once, tripping on a milk crate in an alley, opening that scrape on her forepaw back up, but the time saved was worth it. She got home safely and found Nicole, who looked up sleepily at Rosalind before turning away and falling back to sleep. The ground rumbled again and the lights flickered out, and soon Rosalind too found herself falling asleep to the endless sound of sirens in the distance.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
It was dark. Rosalind and Nicole were snuggling against each other. Rosalind stood up suddenly and snuck out. Nicole blinked her eyes, stretched out a paw towards Rosalind, but made no effort to stop her.
It was raining outside and Rosalind's fur was completely drenched by the time she made it past Winston's lawn. She was cold and shivering, but she had somewhere in mind that she wanted to be. All of her instincts screamed at her to go back inside to the warmth, but kittens, like humans, only listen to instinct when it's bad for them.
Rosalind found herself back in front of the theatre where Winston found her. Rosalind used to live with a woman, a gifted actress, a lesbian, a hipster, a post-rock jammer wannabe, but one day when the theatre shut down she was just the woman who abandoned Rosalind on the theatre's front steps. Winston walked by and saw her and scooped her up and the rest, as they say, is history. But then, they say a lot of things.
The door was open, interestingly, and Rosalind walked inside. She made her way through the darkness, down the sloped alleyway inbetween the rows of chairs. She made it to the stage, rolled around in the dirt and the strewn, torn fabrics. Then she heard footsteps and she turned around and there was the woman who had abandoned her. Rosalind was shocked for a moment, enough time for the woman to reach her and pick her up.
"My, you're a pretty kitty." Didn't she remember those nights they had together? Did they mean nothing? Rosalind felt like hissing, felt like clawing at her, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Rosalind gave into instinct and snuggled into the woman's arms. She'd lay there forever, taking in the darkness and the memories for as long as the woman would stand it.
Or, at least, that was the plan.
But instead, at the moment, exactly seven minutes past three o'clock in the morning on the Thursday five days before the end of the world--or, depending on your perspective, very late on Wednesday--the ground started shaking and the woman dropped Rosalind and once again, she ran away.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Rosalind hopped up onto the island in the middle of the kitchen. Winston had left out a small saucer of milk and some kitty treats. She pecked at these while Nicole swung her paw and slapped at one of the boxes clumped around the trash can. As Nicole thought about climbing into one of them and thrashing around, Rosalind jumped down onto the pile, knocking it over and tumbling into her. The two rolled a couple feet and hit the wall next to the fridge. Nicole hissed at Rosalind and batted at her face.
"Meow." Rosalind said as she worked her way to her feet. Nicole leaned over and licked at Rosie's ears. She always knew the right things to say.
Friday, July 16, 2010
It was morning. Nicole nudged Rosalind awake, poking at Rosie's belly with her nose. Rosalind stood up, stretching out and yawning. Her paw patted a piece of paper placed next to her. That usually meant Winston would be gone for a while. The two kittens groomed each other and then went for a walk around the house. They smelled treats.
Outside, an SUV had rear-ended a minivan, there was a conspicuous fire on a front lawn, and a swarm of locusts was buzzing around.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
As Winston drove home later that evening, he saw Rosalind frolicking in a random yard with another kitten, thrashing on a piece of errant cardboard. He stopped, got out and picked her up.
"Well now how'd you get out?" He asked her as he carried her into the car. She hopped out of his arms and onto the side seat where she promptly shook the water out of her coat. He drove the few blocks home and carried her inside. The meat and milk were both gone.
He heard some scratchings at the door; it was the kitten Rosalind was playing with. Winston let her in and she immediately found her way to Rosie. Winston got them a large saucer of milk to share and grabbed himself a bottle of booze and tossed the cap out into the middle of the floor. He didn't feel like caring right now.
"It's crazy out there, Rosie. The water in the Midwest just went bad. Killed off lots of people. They're rationing off the water and everyone's rioting. They're blaming terrorists."
The kittens ignored him, drinking up the milk like they knew the world was going to hell and they didn't need to be reminded of it every day.
"Well, at least they didn't say the water here was poisoned." Winston drank up. "I'm kinda tired of the news." He stared at the two kittens, having a grand old time just with themselves. "So, I wonder who your friend is, Rosie." He paused. "I think I'll call her Nicole." No response. They kept on lapping up the milk.
By the end of the evening the other kitten had fallen asleep and Rosie was rubbing her ear like she was strumming a bleak melody on a guitar. Winston sat, deep in thought, trying to force his eyes to focus.
"You ever feel like . . . like something's wrong?"
"I dunno, I feel like I've been in the city too long. You know? Like, I need to get out, enjoy the fresh air. You want to go camping? I might not be able to bring your kitten friend."
Rosie stopped playing.
"Yeah, yeah, I might as well go by myself, finish up that book, just me and the stars, yada yada yada." He staggered to his feet and pulled his jacket on. "It's nice out. I'm going to go walk and think." Rosalind gave him a weird look and he smiled tiredly. "Don't worry, Rosie, I won't do anything stupid. I know you'd hate to see me get hurt." He winked and ducked out the door. Rosie opted against giving chase.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
"You're so messy, Rosie." Winston gently rubbed down Rosalind with a hot towel, fresh from the dryer. The blood would stain the couch, but there were tons of other stains already. He'd get the couch reupholstered eventually. Meanwhile he had to get to work.
He scruffed at Rosie's ears. "You're such a good kitty, I really can't stay mad at you for ruining my couch." Rosie mewled in response, and he left.
The door closed and Rosalind licked at the saucer. The milk was bitter, but she liked it bitter, just as she liked licking at her wounds and tasting the iron as the blood seeped into her mouth. She smelled some meat on the coffee table, but for now she snuggled into the hot towel, closed her eyes, and fell asleep purring. She was going to sneak out and meet up with that kitten later, and she'd need her rest.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Exactly one week before the end of her world, Rosalind was wondering why patches of fur were falling off. She worried sometimes that she drank too much milk, mostly on mornings like these where she woke up on Winston's couch, hungover and injured in ways she'd probably never figure out. Most of the time she didn't think she really drank that often.
And one week before the end of his world, Winston Stewart was late for work again because he was tending to the hungry and injured kitten sprawled out on his couch, begging for attention again. She was always pulling something like this, and he was always giving in. He grabbed her a saucer and looked around for something to clean up the blood. There had been a lot over the past year. He always berated her or threatened to kick her out or call the catcher, but he never followed through and she never listened. She wasn't listening now, either; she was just licking at a rash on her right forepaw.
"You aren't listening to a word I'm saying, are you?"
"I'm late for work, Rosie." He sighed. "I suppose you'll want some actual food to go with that milk."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll get a clean towel from the bathroom, too."
The grass and trees where I used to romp are blasted gaping pits and burning hellfire. And there's that whole burning sulfur smell. The fires retreat before my footsteps like I'm some sort of prince of hell--or maybe an avenging angel.
Some of the other kittens are red-skinned and have horns or whatever, and a few have the whole cloven hooves thing going on. Some are horrible slavering hell beasts. Mostly it doesn't matter what they are, except I try to get away from some of them faster than I normally would.
Some of the kittens give me weird looks. I don't know why. Are my actions that odd?
And then there was the kitten in the alley behind the shop, just wandering around, all white and shining and perfect. She came out of the alley, the hellscape bowing before her and the smoke and the flames crowning her like she was the master of this realm, and I just wondered which one of us was which.
"Meow," I said to her, and she looked at me like I was the worst thing she'd ever seen.