DUST TO DUST

Khamet did not know what to expect. He moved forward. It continued to grow darker as if he were staring into the depths of a void. Then he passed right through, into the glass and darkness enveloped him. It seemed to stretch forward infinitely and then he too felt himself reach and elongate continually feeling himself behind as well as reaching forward to an incalculable distance. He felt cold reach around him, covering his limbs and his body until he was consumed. He couldn’t see, but he could feel where the glass was as a part of him, a paw and much of his tail still remained and still he stretched forward into the dark void. Finally he took the last step and the tail followed.

The air became thin. Cold engulfed him so completely he could feel it in his bones and out to his claws. Suddenly he couldn’t breathe. His legs were constricted and bound tight to his midsection. His chest and stomach felt crushed and he struggled to breathe and have it expand. His eyes opened, strained with the pressure and threatened to pop from his head. Then his chest began to swell.

He still had no air and all the cold he felt became a fiery surge of pain that too reached into his bones. His limbs elongated and he struggled against his bindings. The tight cramped space he was in had already been filled and for a moment all his growth stopped. He was consumed in darkness, suffocating in the agony of the moment as the pressure became extreme then suddenly, exploded.

Khamet was flying through the air. He struck something hard then was falling. He was finally able to inhale once before he landed hard on a flat surface striking his head and falling back into unconsciousness.

On the wood floor, lying on its side, the body of Khamet looked dead. Suddenly one of his legs gave a spasm and stretched out. His eyes opened a little, but they were wet and glossy, covered with thick filmy mucus. His neck was stiff, but he was able to turn a little. He stretched out his two front legs and slowly began to blink and clear his eyes. The floor in the tiny room was dusty. He could just make out boxes, jars and bags sitting on shelves reaching to the top. Khamet stretched and stood, yawning. He immediately began cleaning himself.

He was back. He was certain. His body felt different somehow, as if the last couple of days he was not quite himself. He was also certain that it had not been a dream. He was more aware of the ground here than he had been there, as if he were heavier.

Right beside Khamet lay a broken clay face painting of a cat. He looked up. High on the shelf was most likely where he had awakened from. The dust was still swirling in the air and half of what looked like a hollow sculpture lay toppled on the fifth shelf.

Light was coming from under the door along with the sound of people talking and Khamet was shocked to find that some of the words sounded familiar to him.

He meowed. Somewhat shocked, he realized that the power of actually speaking had been lost. He thought back, the memory of it all was now beginning to fade quickly and was starting to feel like a dream. The Roadscholar, his brother, the Delirium, it was as if the Piassograss had completely effected his mind and dulled it.

Khamet walked around the small storeroom trying to find a way out. He thought hard and suddenly an image came to him and he saw himself, ‘Meow.’ Someone opened the door. “Aye what’s this then?” A large figure said reaching down and snatching him up in a large cleaver of a hand. He thought again and saw himself, ‘Meow.’ Again someone came to the door and he darted fast through the legs and down the hallway, “Aye what’s this then?” Khamet was able to see exactly where he was and determine exactly how he would proceed.

“Meow,” Khamet called as loud as he could. The sound from outside the door quieted.

“Did you hear that?” a female voice asked.

“Aye.” Came the response. There was movement and heavy footsteps. The door opened and he darted through the legs, “Aye what’s this then?”

People screamed. “Rat!” Someone called.

Khamet ran to the door of the room as someone said, “You’re daft ‘tisn’t a rat, ‘tis nothing but a cat so it is.”

Outside the door Khamet ran down the hallway, “Where’d it come from then?”

At the end of the hallway was a staircase and Khamet took it as fast as he could. The room below was a small area of shelves and stands with trinkets of all shapes and sizes. Polished brass vases and figurines, the style of many were familiar to him. He turned right, there was a scream and a broom came down on him. He turned left and ran beneath a table.

Khamet waited. There was a lot of noise and shouts coming from up the stairs.

“It’s bewitched.”

“Must be a demon.”

Another scream.

“I’ve got it!” Someone nearby called out.

“Hold it there then!” the response came from up the stairs.

Khamet crouched low and saw the door at the far end open and someone enter the room. He didn’t hesitate, he shot forward and just as he reached the door it slid open.

“Aye stop that beast!”

Khamet shot past a leg and through the narrow opening as a crash sounded behind him and he was in the sunlight of a street, assaulted by odors and sights he had never before encountered.

The scent of water, mud and filth of all kinds was overwhelming and everything was damp. There were people everywhere. Unfamiliar structures, horses being followed by large wheels with great boxes in-between. He ran down the street avoiding legs and turned into the first alley he came to. He slipped behind a crate and stopped. It must have recently rained. The smell of animals, humans, food, even death carried through the air.

A growl came from the left above him. He turned to see a large black cat sitting atop a crate staring down at him. This was a slight challenge, but for Khamet everything seemed different for some reason. He looked around and realized he was larger than he had been, substantially larger.

The cat growled a bit more the back of its throat and Khamet slipped out from behind the crate to stare up at the cat.

The cat crouched and its ears flattened. Khamet had never been liked by other cats, as if they sensed something in him that was different. This cat was like the others, but after the adventure he just had he wasn’t backing off now. This creature did not intimidate him.

He looked up at the other cat. For a moment he wondered why he was so much larger than he had been. It might be an effect from the mushrooms he’d eaten. What had they done to him? He thought of something else, but it was fuzzy.

Khamet flattened his ears and growled back. He had never known he was capable of the sound that suddenly erupted from him. It was so loud and grotesque that people near the alley gave a startled jump.

The other cat jerked as well and ran.

Khamet felt the urge to exert himself and gave chase. The feeling of déjà vu came over him again and he began seeing everything just a few seconds ahead of time as if he knew what the cat was going to do before it did it.

The cat shot down the alley and turned left at the corner running through legs and against the wall for a full block. It turned suddenly and shot across the wide street that was a muddy obstacle course of wheels and hooves crisscrossing at regular intervals.

Khamet saw the cat reach the other end as he stepped into the street.

A wheel passed close, he paused and darted left, and a hoof stomped him… He turned right instead and slipped around the wheel past a hoof and headed for the cat.

The déjà vu showed him his end seconds before it happened.

A hoof stomped on him dead center, Khamet shot left moved ahead and a second hoof struck him, he shot backwards and a wheel struck him, right and another wheel, he stayed where he was and was kicked. Khamet hesitated.

It seemed he had entered a space where there was no recovery. He chose and darted and in that instant a hoof struck him in the back of his neck snapping it as it crushed him into the thick mud and buried is head. He didn’t have time to cry out. Pain flashed through him and his eyes went dark as he felt himself suddenly squeezed and crushed by the wheel that ran over his back crushing his body and causing his right eyeball to pop. In the next few moments, hooves and wheels continued to work his body, crushing him into something unrecognizable in the thick muddy street.

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