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The Cat and the Doors

This was something I wrote for creative writing, just to keep in practice. I didn't develop much on it, I just wrote it to keep my writing skills in check. I thought you guys might want to check it out, though. Just so you know, it's not meant to make sense, so don't try to make any out of it.


Author’s Note: I love cats. I know it’s the Year of the Dog, but cats are better than dogs, so ha. Anyways…inspired by Rag’s “The Wrong Station” and the nickname “Mercury Rainboweye”.

The Cat and the Doors
By Eric Chen

It was commonly known that the quietest person of his age in the school was Keith “Rainboweye” Alexander. “Rainboweye” was a nickname bestowed upon him by his classmates, as to how his eyes seem to mysteriously change color when the light changes, whether in strength or in angle or in color. It had a mysterious clarity to it, and yet the color was so hard to discern, because it kept shifting. A common joke was that Keith often had problems trying to fill out application forms when it came to asking him for his eye color. After all, how do you put “mostly green in the mornings, and maybe blue or gray in the evenings” into a space meant for only one word? But it was just a nickname, and Keith didn’t take it seriously.

The one thing that Keith did take seriously was the fact that his “Rainboweyes” saw things. They were never of great importance, perhaps an aura around someone, or perhaps a spinning skull where the sun was supposed to be. Small things, in Keith’s opinion. Déjà vu’s often happened, as did hallucinations. Of course, they never made any sense, but Keith saw them. He didn’t intentionally make it known, but people started noticing that Keith saw things others couldn’t see. Sometimes it would be an offhand remark, like “there’s a lot of dogs over there”, to which others would stare in confusion, because all they saw was an empty schoolyard. This continued from first grade to second grade, where his classmates thought he was special, or cool. But he never advertised it, so in third grade, people thought he was a nutcase, or just looking for attention, but never made too much fun of him. After all, he wasn’t looking for the attention, and he was quiet, in a sense. So, as Keith went into middle school, he was still called “Rainboweye”, although no one ever really mentioned about what his eyes could see.

But, Rainboweye or not, Keith was quiet. It wasn’t exactly that he was picked on often, or that what he saw through his Rainboweyes freaked him out, his quiet just was. It was said that he hardly cried or fussed as a baby. It wasn’t true; Keith cried just as much as any baby, tired his parents out just like any infant. But what was true was that the baby Keith could sit for periods at time staring at something, doing absolutely nothing. There was a great calm to him, something that composed him at all times.

People had different reactions to him. His parents wished he was more active and social, but since he was keeping his grades up and wasn’t a problem child, he passed. His teachers all agreed that Keith was a brilliant student, except he never asked any questions, did not participate in group activities, and it was hard to tell whether he was listening or daydreaming. He had no real enemies, no one he had annoyed or aggravated, other than some classmate called Brad Kinders, who often told him that he would beat him up for no real reason at all. Keith had rather wished that he would move away to another middle school after the two had graduated from fifth grade, but, alas, luck wasn’t quite on his side, and Brad ended up in the same middle school as Keith. Most people liked him, respected him, because he was mostly nice, although he didn’t say much. There were many girls who had a crush on him, if only because of the mystique about him, and perhaps his appearance. It was true that he was still in puberty, and his body proportions weren’t completely altered yet, and Keith was still somewhere between “cute” and “handsome”, but he looked good enough, nonetheless, good enough to make him the love interest of at least six girls in his entire grade against his will.

But Keith “Rainboweye” Alexander held this pretty well, didn’t really care that much. It was, after all, merely attention, and he was used to that, whether he liked it or not. Besides, it would be something he would have to endure for the three years of middle school, and perhaps the next four years of high school as well. It wasn’t that bad, anyways. One of the girls, Shana Wong, was a cute girl with a kind heart, with extremely long hair and a peculiar way of dressing herself. She was in Keith’s honors class, and also played violin in orchestra. Keith rather liked her, but it was something he did not confide to anyone. Besides, it was more of a friendship thing than a crush, although he was vaguely aware that Shana probably didn’t take it that way.

The day, ironically, had gone well enough. He had met along with his best friend, Matt Taurus, who was often late but somehow managed to catch up with the early Keith this time around, and walked to school together, immersed in a one-way conversation about PS3s and Nintendo Revolutions, in which all Keith had to do was nod and give an occasional grunt. It was like this most of the time; Keith didn’t quite listen to people or give them his undivided attention, but he had worked out feigning attention for so long that it was now an art. It was difficult for people to read him anyways, and Keith can practically detect pauses and breaks within speech in the back of his mind, so his nods and grunts are almost always on queue, even if he wasn’t listening.

After running into Brad Kinders in the hallway, who tried to move over and roughhouse him (but was conveniently blocked by a crowd of girls passing by), Keith and Matt double-timed it to their first period, social studies, which Keith did rather well in. He was well into his second period, his eyes turning from green to blue as the sunlight came through the window at a different angle, and Keith was pretty sure that by the time language arts ended, it would be a light shade of gray. It was like him, to daydream sometimes, because there wasn’t much else to do at certain times.

“Keith,” Ms. Myers, a young teacher of honors student and was nicknamed “Princess” derisively by the staff behind her back (because she often did things her way instead of following school regulations, often causing some unnecessary trouble for the staff), suddenly called out, and the back of Keith’s brain told him that the tone of the voice was a wake-up come from his daily daydream period, “Are you listening?”

“Yes, Ms. Myers,” Keith replied quietly and automatically, just loud enough for her to hear.

“Then can you please read off from where Daniel had just finished?” Ms. Myers’ voice had a challenging, testing attribute to it, almost as if she had caught a student red-handed in thievery.

“Yes, Ms. Myers,” Keith replied as he stood up to read, as required in Ms. Myers’ classroom, although, honestly, Keith had no idea that Daniel had been reading, much less than know where he left off. Thankfully, Shana, who sat right on Keith’s left side, tapped her pencil on her desk twice, almost like an unconscious gesture, meant to attract only Keith’s attention. Keith gave a covert, sidelong glance at Shana, who had already hastily scribbled “page 17, fourth paragraph” on the corner of her language arts book. Keith took the cue as he quickly read from where he was instructed to read in his usual quiet voice. With nothing to criticize him about, the somewhat disappointed Ms. Myers calmly asked him to sit after Keith finished the paragraph. As soon as Ms. Myers had turned to another student, Keith mouthed a “thank you” to Shana, who blushed furiously and smiled.

Before the switch over to his math period, Keith focused okay in remainder of his language arts class, drifting in and out of attention, but, thankfully, Ms. Myers didn’t call on him again. Besides, the miniature aurora borealis dancing in the classroom hadn’t appeared before Keith the first time, so after a look that seemed to told the Northern Lights that he acknowledged it was there, he returned his attention to Ms. Myers before letting it float again. Then came Mr. Green’s math and science periods, in which Matt left the class to attend Mr. Wagner’s eighth grade honors math and science periods; Matt had extra tutoring in math and science before middle school, so when Mr. Green couldn’t give him anymore math and science problems to solve, he brought Matt to the principal, who said he was free to join the eighth grade honors class during math and science. Unfortunately for Keith, though, science wasn’t one class he excelled in. Physics was okay; at least the thing had a pattern and it made sense, unlike chemistry and biology, which almost nearly depended on forced memorization. Thankfully, Mr. Green allowed everyone to go at their own pace, and at least Keith was bringing in B minuses, so he was okay with that.

Keith’s lunch period was perhaps more eventful as he and Matt were once again together, walking around the school yard and chatting. Usually, Matt would go play basketball with some other friends while Keith just found someplace to sit and rest, but occasionally, the two near-polar opposites would get together and chat during lunch period. They had reached a climax in their conversation before Brad happened to show up and, once again, told Keith he was going to beat him up.

“Screw off,” Matt said harshly to Brad as he motioned Keith to walk in the other direction. Keith knew that Matt used to pick fights in elementary school and could hold himself okay against someone of Brad’s large build, but ever since entering middle school, Matt calmed down a bit, perhaps realizing he was now a small fish in a big pond. Unfortunately, Brad decided to follow along, jeering at Keith. They knew Brad probably wouldn’t try anything foolish with Matt beside Keith; Matt’s reputation as a fighter during elementary was Keith’s safeguard. It wasn’t common knowledge that Keith had only fought once in his life against another classmate off school grounds, and it was a fight he lost. But hardly anyone knew this, so everyone just assumed him to be a nice guy and, when it came to fighting, an unknown variable.

“What, Keith?” Brad jeered as he continued to follow them, “Too chicken? Running and hiding behind Matt? And I thought you were a man.”

“Hey, Brad,” Matt scowled, “Leave us the hell alone or you’ll have to recheck your chances of being a man within the next three minutes.”

To that, Brad made a mocking gesture and laughed at Matt, who wasn’t at all amused. Still, Matt held his composure, and continued walking down the schoolyard. Brad still persisted in following.

“I don’t see why you’d be hanging around with an ****** like him,” Brad changed tactics as he directed this at Matt, “Little fag that he is. ‘Rainboweye’, huh? Full of shit.”

The art of verbal taunting in middle school was a hard one to master, and yet most boys have it around their thumb almost instantly. While every boy is somewhat eager to fight and prove their worth when it comes to fists, they’re also somewhat relieved when their friends pull them apart from a duel. Pride and one’s well-being are at stake on a pendulum sometimes. So the best way to settle it sometimes was not to fight at all. But backing away from a fight was risking one’s pride, while going head-on into a fight was risking one’s well-being. So taunting was the way to go, an attack that superficially showed one wasn’t going to back away, yet harmed the other person’s dignity. At the same time, the taunts had to go in a direction to embarrass and to deflate the opponent. Verbal taunting in middle school was an art that required one to both aggravate and calm another person at the same time without losing dignity, to defuse a time bomb while making the timer run two times faster than it already is.

Keith never bothered with this kind of art, apathetic as he was, but, for Matt and Brad, two social-conscious middle school students, this was something that was practiced almost daily. “Hey,” Matt said angrily, “Would you like me to kick your ass?”

Looking at Matt, Keith calmly realized that he saw a red aura around Matt as Matt said this, and knew Matt was at a boiling point, a part where he might burst and really break into his first real fight in middle school. He calmly placed a hand on Keith to calm him and pull him back.

“Oh, yeah,” Brad grinned with a voice of mock terror, “Seeing as how you’re really going to kick my ass, I’m just going to have to…”

Brad had seen an opening; as Matt had turned angry, that was a precise second where calmness was still being replaced with adrenaline, and Matt would be lax for just a moment, a moment where Brad would get to scuff someone across the face. Instead of choosing Matt, however, he chose Keith.

Thankfully, that punch never connected.

A firm hand was suddenly laid on Brad’s arm just as Brad finished cocking his arm back. At first, Brad looked enraged that someone would interrupt him, but as soon as he looked right and saw who was stopping him, he nearly gasped in shocked and took one involuntary step away from him.

Ysionris Gavotte came from an elementary school on the other side of the city, so not many in the school knew about his history in elementary school. However, his rise within the hierarchy system of middle school was legendary. It was hard to say whether or not Ysionris was popular or not; he always preferred to be alone. In a sense, many thought Keith was like Ysionris, quiet and lonely. But people also knew that other people had hidden allegiances to him, that people who are hardly ever seen at Ysionris’ side would suddenly come forth in full fury should someone try and take Ysionris by the collar and whale the living daylights out of him. And if half the rumors were true about him, Ysionris had started more than forty percent of all organized school fights, often in retaliation for his classmates being picked on by other students from other schools, many in which he had appeared to join the heat of battle. Naturally, these were rumors Ysionris had never bothered to confirm or deny. Of course, the teachers could find nothing wrong with Ysionris. Despite the rumors, Ysionris appeared a polite and intelligent student, albeit quiet and an overachiever. He never sported any injuries, and was always innocent and far away from any school incident that might have happened. Some may suspect Ysionris to be a sly fox, but the fact remains that he was never caught, so the teachers couldn’t pin anything solid on him.

“Starting a fight, Brad?” Ysionris asked in his good-natured voice with a smile, although Brad suddenly suspected that nothing about Ysionris was good-natured at the moment. Brad fought for a way to get away from his opponent while salvaging his pride, but nothing could quite come up as he looked at Ysionris stupidly. Keith gave a covert look around and discovered that some boys, ranging from honors students to guys on the basketball team, even students from other grades, were suddenly watching quietly with a sort of predatory gaze, as if waiting for just the right queue to jump Brad. It was then that Keith decided half the rumors about him were probably true, that they weren’t just rumors.

“Yeah, well, not really, I mean,” Brad fumbled for words, but couldn’t quite catch his tongue, “Just…talking with Keith here.”

“Talking with ‘Rainboweye’, huh?” Ysionris smiled as he looked at Keith for a moment, “Well, go on, talk. It’s good for schoolmates to get along; otherwise, other schools just pick on us.”

Brad tried to put own a scowl or a grimace, but it merely turned out to be a dry click of the throat. “I’ve…” he started, then backed away slowly, “…I just finished with Keith here.” And, with no further ado, quickly and quietly faded into the background, hoping to get away from Ysionris as soon as possible. Ysionris gave a small, quiet, self-satisfied smile as he watched Brad disappeared before turning to Keith and Matt.

“Thanks, I guess,” Matt muttered as Ysionris looked him over.

“I figured he was a bit of trouble,” Ysionris gave a small laugh as he shrugged, “Maria, that is, Maria Sullivan from your school told me about Brad, and how he often messed with Rainboweye. As she put it, ‘quite a jerk’.”

“Eh, Maria hates Brad like hell,” Matt laughed, “Has to do something with fourth grade, I think.”

Ysionris laughed with Matt, and Keith just smiled. Ysionris shrugged and finally bid his farewells before leaving. As soon as Ysionris was out of earshot, Matt turned to Keith. “You think he was waiting for that to happen?” Matt asked Ysionris.

Ysionris gave him a confused look.

“I mean, come on,” Matt groaned, “The guy’s timing was just too convenient, and he’s all preaching about how we have to get along and stuff.”

“It could be that he’s nice and just passing by,” Keith replied simply. Matt gave him a “you’re an ******” look, but didn’t pursue the subject as the subject of conversation changed to the Houston Rockets.
The period after lunch was P.E. Keith often wondered which idiot placed their physical education period right after lunch, when everyone was either already tired from their games, or when they had just finished eating. But school was a monarchy, in a sense, so Keith chose not to complain. He double-timed it to the locker room and started changing into his P.E. shorts. He ignored both the birds that only he could see flying around the ceiling of the locker room, and the commotion that was undoubtedly coming from Jordan Smith, an unpopular honors student who had a large backpack that wouldn’t fit into his locker, and often had other people either steal the backpack or tow it around to tease him just as Jordan discovered that his backpack was no longer next to the teacher’s office door.

P.E. class was mostly several laps around the gym one, which consisted of three basketball courts created to cross over each other, so that a full-court game or six half-court games were possible. Matt and Shana were also in the same class, although co-ed classes in P.E. were rare; most of the time, the girls were split to gym two, which basically had the same layout as gym one.

Keith did okay in sports; he was neither good nor bad, but he still preferred to do something a bit more refined and quiet. The only sport he had ever enjoyed was fencing, which excited him and pumped his adrenaline. He had attended a summer school course on kendo, and would’ve probably been a star student with his excellent reflexes had he not held the katana at such awkward angles. Still, despite this, he felt a small surge of delight when it was heard that Mr. Shepherd, the usual boys P.E. teacher, was on sick leave, so Ms. Erie (a sweet woman despite her title and surname pronouncing “misery”) had the two classes together in gym one for a bit of dodgeball. Dodgeball had always been one of his favorite pastimes, and he was all in for it as Ms. Erie split the teams randomly.

Dodgeball, overall, went well, except near the very end of class. Keith had performed an excellent jump to avoid a stunning fastball thrown by the baseball team pitcher, Janis Sutherland, just as he got another ball in two hands. Just as he was about to throw, however, fires suddenly engulfed his vision, as the entire gym turned a hot red and fires burned. Keith tried to convince himself that it was an illusion, as usual, but somehow, the flames looked so real, and Keith could practically feel the heat searing him. His hallucination was, however, promptly interrupted as something suddenly struck his face, and he went sprawling across the floor. Keith was momentarily stunned as he landed on the back of his head, and a ringing sound filled his hearing and a fog clouded his vision. He vaguely heard a whistle blow, vaguely saw figures looming over him, vaguely knew that he was hit by an illegal head throw; rule was that balls had to be thrown below the head.

When his vision finally cleared, he realized that he was lying on the floor, and people were staring down at him. Matt and Shana were leaning down on his left as Ms. Erie was leaning on his right with a bottle of water. It took several seconds before he heard Ms. Erie say, “Keith! Can you hear me? Are you alright?”

Keith grunted as he got onto his elbows and pulled himself up. “I’ve been better,” he muttered, which relieved Ms. Erie, and that was that. He did not feel severely damaged in any way, and there was no blood, so Keith decided not to pay a visit to the infirmary; at Ms. Erie’s request, however, he sat the rest of the game out. At least the fires were gone.

The last period of the day was art with Ms. Andreas, and although Keith enjoyed art and liked Ms. Andreas well enough, he wondered how she had been assigned to teach art at this middle school. Her teaching style was only better than average, her skill at art mediocre. In other words, Keith was barely learning anything at art, and spent most of his time daydreaming, as usual. Keith considered re-applying for orchestra as his last period throughout the entire class; he knew how to play a bit of violin, and perhaps Shana would be kind enough to teach him.

As soon as art ended, Keith packed up his bags and prepared to go home. His home was a thirty minute walk through the rather suburban district, which would take him pass a shopping mall and also a large street with more urban buildings around it, complete with alleyways and ghettos. Keith occasionally took these alleyways whenever he needed a detour or was in a hurry home, and knew how to navigate them pretty well. Of course, his parents would ground him (not for eternity, but probably somewhere near there) if they ever found out he was taking such dangerous detours, but since Keith never mentioned it to anyone, his parents would never have any way to find out.
He was thinking of going straight home; Matt had extra classes with Mr. Wagner, so, as of late, he couldn’t walk home with Keith anymore. Although Keith missed Matt’s company, he wasn’t exactly uncomfortable without him at his side. However, just as he was headed for the third floor staircase, he saw Shana also walking to the staircase from the other direction. Shana saw Keith as well, and waved.

At least he had company now. Keith vaguely noted that, despite having spent three months at school already, he had never seen Shana leave orchestra this early. He had overheard that Shana often stayed late to ask Mr. Zimmerman, the school conductor, extra questions about music theory.

“Hi,” Shana smiled breathlessly as Keith walked up to her, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much,” Keith shrugged quietly and started heading down the stairs, “Just got out of art class, so I’m going home.”

“Really?” Shana said, seemingly interested, “How was it?”

Keith wasn’t really sure if it would be a good idea to tell what he truly thought of Ms. Andreas. He decided to make a white lie and avoid further trouble. “She’s a pretty good teacher,” Keith replied tactfully, “But I’m not sure if I belong in art class.”

“Oh…” Shana seemed to be giving it plenty of thought, but she swallowed whatever she had to say earlier, and changed the subject, “Well, I go to orchestra, so…yeah, it’s pretty fun. And Mr. Zimmerman is really funny, too, so we all have a great time in orchestra. Today, he was telling about an opera supposedly set in Japan called ‘Butterfly’, and…”

And the conversation, or, rather, Shana’s one-sided monologue, continued as they walked their way to the school gate. Shana happily talked about things they do in orchestra, and how Mr. Zimmerman was a competent and humorous teacher. It was just as they got to the school gate that Shana seemingly started to run out of breath; Keith realized she could be quite talkative when she was happy. It was also then that Shana seemingly realized she was talking too much.

“Oh…” Shana blushed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to talk this much, it just…”

“It’s fine,” Keith replied with a light smile that melted Shana’s heart, “I enjoy listening to others.” In all honesty, Keith wasn’t really sure that he enjoyed listening to others, but it was a role he was used to, so Keith didn’t complain.

“Really?” Shana seemed relieved as he smiled gracefully, “Well…it was really good talking to you! You’re a good listener too.”

Keith smiled, but he had nothing to say to that, if only because that was what everyone told him.

“Well…” Shana said, looking at Keith, “I’m going this way…” she pointed left of the school gate, “What about you?”

“Other way,” Keith replied simply.

“So…” Shana looked away slightly and twiddled her thumbs before setting her eyes on Keith again, “…see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Keith nodded, “See you.”

“Bye, then!” Shana smiled happily as she quickly skipped off into the other direction. Keith watched her depart with a strange, small feeling of self-satisfaction before turning left and heading home. He wondered how Matt would’ve taken this information, and, after thinking it over for five minutes, in which he had already reached the mall, decided against telling him about it unless the need arises.

The mall was not the largest in town, but it was pretty big for Keith’s standards, considering that he never shopped much. Three stories high and covering nearly forty acres, it was universally referred to by the students as “the Mall”, because of its wide variety of shops, its excellent food court, and most because of its proximity to the school.

But Keith's mind wasn't on that, as he started to pass the shopping mall and into the urban areas, because, to his surprise, he saw Ysionris in front of him, seemingly doing nothing except staring at a sign through the mall window, almost as if he was waiting for something to happen. He saw Keith and gave a small wave.

Well, Keith thought, I guess it can't be anything bad.

“Hello, Rainboweye,” Ysionris grinned as Keith approached.

Keith wasn’t sure if he liked Ysionris calling him “Rainboweye”, but he decided to return the reply with courtesy. “Hey,” Keith nodded, “Thanks for earlier.”

“No problem,” Ysionris replied with a touch of modesty, “You live near here?”

“My house isn’t far, yeah,” Keith nodded again, “You? I don’t see you around here.”

Ysionris laughed as he looked around, almost as if he had been here at the mall for the first time. “Nah,” he smiled, “I’m just strolling around the mall. I’m taking Latin class in a place around here, so I’m just killing time until then.”

“I see,” Keith whispered, and, for just a moment, wondered how Latin class will look on the records when he was applying for a college, but eventually got back on his bearings and returned his attention to Ysionris, “Well…see you. Have fun with Latin.” He waved and started walking past Ysionris, toward the urban section of the city.
Ysionris watched Keith walk on for a moment, then suddenly called out. “You might not want to go that way,” Ysionris warned, “Brad’s waiting over there for a comeback. I think he knows you go home this way.”

Keith turned around, surprised that Ysionris knew this. Seeing Keith’s expression of surprise, Ysionris merely smiled as he waved goodbye and walked away. Keith watched Ysionris disappear around the corner, wondering if Ysionris was telling the truth, and why he was going his way helping Keith. Problems aside, however, he didn’t feel like running into Brad anytime soon, so he decided to take another approach to the problem. His house was beyond the urban section of the city, so he decided that he would still go through it, except take several detours through the alleyways, avoiding places he believed Brad might be in. Though he might be ambushed by the occasional gangs that hung there, chances were small, and Keith was a pretty fast runner. Three minutes later, Keith was already making his second detour through the alleyways. Other than garbage and stray cats, however, nothing accompanied his presence in the alleyways.

As he made his way through the second alleyway, a garbage-infested corridor between two “we-could-do-better” apartment buildings that was dark and twisted through the block so one had to take many turns around the garbage pile to get to the other side. Fortunately, he was sure Brad would be nowhere near here. So as he made his way through, ignoring the black cat sitting on top of a garbage can that looked it him with a piercing gaze for a single moment before continuing to groom itself, he continued along the alleyway, glad that he was going home in once piece, before running into a dead end.

The wall came abruptly. It was a red, brick wall that sealed the path to the other side of the block, and it appeared just as Keith turned the corner. Keith blinked; the last time he came here, the wall wasn’t here. And that was only a month ago. Was the wall newly built? It didn’t seem to be; the bricks looked old and cracked, and the red color was somewhat faded. Keith frowned, but set his confusion aside. There wasn’t anything to do about it anyways, so he decided to head back out the alleyway.

Turning around, his pace steadily getting faster, he headed for the entrance to the alleyway in which he came in, but just as he was still walking through the path almost completely obscured by garbage bags, he heard a voice, and he was sure it was directed at him.

“You don’t have to try. That way’s a dead end as well.”

Keith froze in his tracks before turning around slowly. He looked back, but noticed that there was no one there. No one there at all. He frowned; he was sure he heard someone telling him that he was headed for a dead end, but not a human soul occupied the alley other than him. Except…

Keith looked back down at the black cat, still sitting on the garbage can as it groomed itself, licking its paw. Its eyes were closed, and it showed no sign that it had acknowledged Keith, nor did it look like it had just spoken. Yet there was just an air to the cat that showed it was the one who had spoke in the indignant voice. And, other than the cat, who else in the alley could’ve spoken to him?

I’m insane, Keith thought to himself, thinking a cat can talk.

“Dead end?” Keith asked apprehensively. He nearly smiled; what was he doing asking a cat if it had talked?

“That’s right.”

Keith stared. The cat had spoken very much indeed, not opening its eyes, nor deviating from its activity. But it had spoken; that Keith was sure of. The cat spoke in a slightly arrogant, matter-of-fact voice that almost seemed lazy and dismissive.

A talking cat, Keith thought.

“I just came in from that way,” Keith replied blankly, not knowing what else to say.

“Did you now?” the cat replied casually, still without looking at Keith.

Now, despite the calm and composition that Keith was showing, it was not to say that Keith didn’t feel afraid or intimidated. Sure, he may have seen strange things before, but not exactly anything that talked to him. He was afraid, there was no doubt, afraid and intimidated, but he still held himself under firm control, because he knew it didn’t help being afraid. What was fear going to do, anyways? It was a talking cat. Unless it was suddenly going to go Resident Evil on him, he didn’t have to be worried too much.

“Yeah,” Keith said slowly, “I did.”

The cat gave him the barest of glances as he (Keith wasn’t sure if he could continue think of the cat as an “it”) opened one of his eyelids and looked at Keith, before closing it again and continued grooming itself. “Humans have horrible sense of direction. Besides, paths change.”

Keith frowned at the cat, then backed away slowly. Okay, Keith thought to himself as he turned around and continued to head for the exit, I’m seeing things again. It’s fine, I just saw a talking cat, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m the only one that can see it anyways. He convinced himself, as he turned the final corner that would lead to the exit, that he was just seeing things, and the cat that only he could see (at least he assumed only he could see) would be left behind, out of his life, as soon as he got out.
It didn’t go exactly the way Keith had expected. Because he ran into another wall.

Keith stared. He touched the wall in front of him, making sure that his eyes weren’t playing games with him. They were not. His hands touched the cold, brick wall when he reached out.

Now fear was starting to grip Keith’s guts. It was a two-way alley, no other paths, and yet there path he came from was now sealed with the same red brick wall that he had run into when he tried to get to the exit. He stumbled backwards in a mixture of shock and fear (mostly shock; fear didn’t always have their way when it’s Keith the fates were talking about) as he stared at the wall with a stupid gaze.

“Told you so,” the cat said from behind the corner to Keith, his voice impassive.

A mixture of emotions, mostly confusion and anger and fear clutched Keith as he turned on the cat. “What the hell is going on?” Keith demanded as he turned back at the cat, stared at him, and feeling that the words coming out of his mouth was embarrassingly cliché.

“What do you think?” the cat replied, scratching itself with its hind leg as it rolled on its back, “You’ve walked into a dead end.”

“I just came from there,” Keith replied. Anger was boiling inside him; he was sure that the cat pulled some kind of trick on him, but he felt it was best to be reasonable for now.

“You came through there, but you didn’t come from there,” the cat corrected as it opened its eyelids and rolled its eyes, almost as if annoyed with Keith, “There’s a difference, you know.”

Keith’s anger settled somehow; the cat, despite his obvious sarcasm and cynical attitude, seemed to carry a somewhat reasonable undercurrent. He sighed, and replied, “Okay, then. How do I get out?”

The cat looked at Keith for moment, seemingly the first time he took Keith into consideration. Finally, he replied quietly, “Well, you’re taking it rather well.”

Keith chose to remain silent. So did the cat. After a moment, the cat jumped off the garbage can and, somehow, without saying anything or making any notable gestures, beckoned Keith to follow. Keith just felt that the cat wanted him to follow, and he did. The cat walked up to a metallic door at the side of the wall, and stared at the lock. After a moment, there was a click as the lock unlocked. Keith stared.

“Open the door,” the cat commanded. Keith wanted to ask the cat as to how he could unlock the door, and yet couldn’t open it, and decided against it. He opened the door, which slowly creaked open. The hinges were rusty and decaying, and the entire door threatened to fall in. It didn’t, though, so the cat walked through. Keith followed, and, as an afterthought, closed the door behind him.

Inside was somehow what Keith expected, and yet it wasn’t really what he expected. It was a hallway that had seen better days. White walls stained with graffiti and god-knows-what, checkerboard floor that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for decades, and dim lights above. Exactly what one may expect in a building like this.

Except one little detail. The hallway that Keith was walking down was easily as long as his school corridor. There was no way such a long corridor could’ve fit into the building he had just walked through.

“This isn’t a hallucination, is it?” Keith smiled to the cat.

The cat was impassive in reply. “What do you think?”

“Well, considering that I’m following a talking cat through a hallway longer than a Boeing, not really.”

The cat gave a small, derisive snort that dripped with contempt, and didn’t say anything else. But Keith, despite his usual demeanor, had more questions to ask.
“Exactly what are you?” Keith asked, cocking his head to the side.

“I’m a talking black cat,” the cat replied sharply.

“Well, yeah,” Keith frowned, rather set back by the cat’s demeanor, “Except it’s not everyday cats can talk.”

The cat gave a small, hacking laugh. “Is that so?” he said, “Then I suppose I’ll have to tell the others.”

Keith was puzzled by this. “Others?” he asked.

The cat didn’t reply, merely continued to walk down the long hallway. Lights flickered above him, and the place was in disrepair. An empty Coke can lay on its side, and a brown, sticky puddle of stale Coke was on the floor; Keith wondered why it didn’t dry up. After a moment, though, the cat started talking again.

“Well,” the cat shrugged as it walked on, “you can say we’re ideas.”

“Ideas?” Keith echoed. Curiosity began to take over fear, and he felt a bit more at ease with the cat.

“What, you never heard of them?” the cat replied in a rather condensing tone.

“Well,” Keith scratched his head sheepishly, “I have, but…ideas?”

“Ideas,” the cat mused just as he stopped at a hallway intersection, paused for three seconds until a light suddenly flickered to life, and, at that moment, turned left, without beckoning Keith to follow, although he did, “Well, perhaps ideas aren’t the right word. It does not mean that any idea can take form. But, for the lack of a better word, yes, we will use the word idea. It is a simple enough word for humans to understand. It could be things as random as a child’s fantasy or maybe even religion. Those are ideas. Some are meant to be seen, some are not.”

Keith wasn’t sure if his next question made sense. “And only I can see them?”

There was a rather harsh edge to the cat’s voice when he replied. “Don’t be conceited. I noticed that your eyes are shifty. They changed color a bit when you came in, and they’re now kind of a dull red. But, trust me, that doesn’t mean a thing. You were just born with eyes like that, and just because you have those eyes doesn’t mean you get to ‘see’ ideas.”

Keith bit his lower lip. “Okay…” he tried to emit a small laugh, “I kind of understand, and kind of not.”

“I didn’t really expect any more,” the cat scoffed as the two started to climb up a rusty, metallic flight of stares, dimly lit by a single lightbulb.

“Did you?” Keith decided to mimic the cat’s way of talking. The cat nearly paused; apparently having his own demeanor shot back at him wasn’t something he was expecting. He was silent for a moment before going on.

“Well, in an essence, I’m a talking cat,” the cat finally said, his voice a bit calmer and more level now as he got to the second floor and continued to lead Keith down the hallway, “I’m an idea, and an overused idea, at that. They are born, and, like all other ideas, one day, they will die.”

Keith blinked. “Ideas die?”

“Of course they do. They don’t hang around forever.”

Keith wasn’t sure he understood. “How to ideas…die?”

“When people stop thinking about them, dumb ass,” the cat shot back harshly again, “Ideas are fueled off by thoughts of them. That simple. There are many gods that have already died, because no one thinks about them. No one on this goddamned planet knows about them.”

Now this was something that no one, and definitely not those Bible-belt leftists, had ever told him about. Keith was instantly intrigued, although his voice betrayed a bit of hesitation. “…Gods die?”

“What kind of god would you be if you don’t have people that worship you?” the cat laughed a bit, but it merely sounded like having a wet furball being stuck down his throat, “Without people inferior to you, people that can understand you and yet cannot, you’re not a god. Just a being. And when that happens, yes, gods die. Because gods are ideas.”

“But what if gods are real?” Keith asked, almost as if he was engaged in a philosophical debate, “If ideas are based of god, and not the other way around?”

“Good question,” the cat replied, his voice rather crisp and matter-of-factly, but other than that, did not try to answer the question, “Take the Hamun-dei-Ra, for example.”

“The what?” Keith had never heard of the term before.

“Never mind, just some really, really old god. I’m not surprised that you don’t know about him, because no one does. At least, not for a good eight centuries. Old god of Eastern Europe. Really big at one point, but about five millenniums ago, the people who believed in them were killed.”


“My god is better than your god, that kind of thing,” the cat said with a derisive sneer, almost as if mocking humans, “Yeah, killed. The victors of the crusade to wipe them out destroyed all records of the existence of their little religion. The survivors of the massacre managed to live just a bit more than four millenniums before going in the end. Now, no one knows about Hamun-dei-Ra. Nowadays, he’s just an old man curled up in a ball in some alley.”

“Curled…” Keith blinked, not quite catching on, “…wait a second. I thought you said he was dead.”

“Well, he’s no longer living, so I guess he’s dead, isn’t he?” The cat sounded like it was obvious.

Keith was incredulous. “What?”

The cat sighed as he turned left at a T-intersection. “Okay, fine, I shouldn’t have used the terms ‘alive’ and ‘dead’; humans tend to mix them up so much. Let me put it in a better example. What does it mean to live?”

Keith thought for a moment. Lectures from Mr. Green’s class instantly kicked in. “Well, if your heart’s beating, you’re thinking…or if you’re metabolism is going…”

“Bullshit,” the cat snapped, “When someone doesn’t have purpose anymore, they’re dead. People like Achilles, Caesar, Arthur, Washington, Hitler…they are alive. They have purpose.”

“Purpose?” Keith whispered.

“People still think of them,” the cat replied, and this time, there was a bit of a fond edge to his voice, “Use them as examples. I mean, your metabolism can work fine, for all I care, but if you’re a useless bum without purpose, then no one notices you. You live for nothing. You exist for nothing. Then you are dead, because if you live for nothing, you don’t live. People you so often hear about are alive even though they are dead, because they have purpose.”

Keith managed a small smile. “You mentioned Hitler.”

“Oh, yes,” the cat chuckled, and to Keith, it was a comfort, a first, genuine expression of good humor from the cat, “Adolf Hitler has purpose, perhaps more than any other. It takes the deaths of millions of people to realize the terrors of the human mind. Hitler serves as a reminder as to how stupid humans can get. He has a great purpose, indeed.”
Keith noticed that the hallway they were now walking through on the second floor now had many doors. They also looked old and in a state of disrepair, but they were all closed and didn’t seem as if it was going to fall apart any second. Somehow, they seemed so ordinary, doors that you can expect in any old urban building, yet it somehow felt special to Keith. All of them had three-digit numbers, and Keith counted them down at the back of his head. Two-six-three, two-six-four, two-six-five…

They walked on for another five minutes or so through the hallway, and the cat didn’t say a word. Neither did Keith; he supposed he would know of things in time. But the walk was rather tiring, considering that he was carrying a backpack with a plethora of hardcover textbooks. This would be a great excuse to skip my social studies homework, Keith thought sarcastically to himself.

They came to the end of the hallway, where there was an old, rickety desk in front of an old, rickety chair. Both were made of wood, and decaying. It almost seemed as if termites had bitten through a lot of it, because some patterns and holes in the desk reminded Keith of an ant’s nest. There was a lamp on the desk, which was not lit, and several pens and pencils. Otherwise, the desk was pretty much a desk, with a chair that was pretty much a chair behind it.

“Nope, not today either.”

Keith suddenly noted that it was not the cat that was talking. Something was speaking clearly, he voice having a rather secretary feel to it, a voice that was spoken in a shrill, matter-of-factly voice. Keith looked around. He couldn’t find anyone other than the cat and himself.

“I’m not looking for mine,” the cat replied, “It’ll probably never come, anyways. This guy lost his way in here, and he wants out.”

Keith wanted to say that he didn’t get lost, that it was something that was playing tricks with him because it was a detour he had taken many times in his life, but he decided against it. It was why he was so quiet; he could decide against anything he wanted to say, because it was obvious there would be no apparent result. Besides, now that the cat had dragged him into this building, he was lost.

“Oh, you’ve brought someone along,” the voice said, with a bit more interest in the voice. The voice sounded like it belonged to a female, with its shrill tone, but there was no way Keith could be sure.

“I’m glad you noticed,” the cat muttered sarcastically.

“Turn me around,” the voice said once more, “I couldn’t fall asleep yesterday and wanted to stare at a blank wall and I told McGinnis to turn me around toward the wall, but the idiot forgot to turn me back. Pretty please?”

The cat sighed as he jumped onto the desk with a graceful leap and walked up to the lamp. He turned the lamp around one-eighty, and that was when Keith realized that a lamp was talking to him.

Keith stared. Talking cats was where he drew the line, but talking lamps? Keith wondered what he had gotten himself into.

But as the cat turned the lamp around, he noted that there was nothing special about it. It looked the same in the front as it did in the back, just a normal bedside lamp. Keith wouldn’t have been able to tell which side was front and back, but he supposed he was facing the lamp’s front now.

“Oh!” the lamp squealed in a happy way, “He has such interesting eyes.”

“It shifts colors, yes,” the cat rolled his eyes, “I don’t intend on staying long, so can you just give me the key and we’ll be over with?”

The lamp pouted a bit, then seemed to direct her (at least, Keith believed the lamp was a “she”; no way he could tell, anyways) voice at Keith. “Now, dear,” the lamp said to Keith, “Let me take a good look at you…”

Keith turned away slightly in embarrassment. He had never liked attention on himself, which was kind of why he didn’t like his Rainboweyes very much. He looked at the lamp out of the corner of his eyes, wondering what to expect.

“Now, don’t worry,” the lamp seemed to be smiling, but there was no way for Keith to tell, because lamps didn’t smile, “I’m not going to hurt you. Now, what’s your name?”

Keith hesitate for a moment, then replied in his usual quiet reserve. “Keith Alexander…” he muttered, then, for a reason even he did not know why, added, “My friends call me ‘Rainboweye’.”

“Oh, ‘Rainboweye’?” the lamp seemed intrigued, and gave a shrill laugh that Keith did not have much sympathy for, “Very interesting nickname you’ve got there. It suits you rather well.”

“Jenny,” the cat said impatiently as he nudged the lamp a little, “Key, remember?”

“Oh, fine, fine, don’t rush me!” the lamp pouted to the cat, then back to Keith, “Now, Rainboweye, do you mind if I call you that?”

Keith did mind, but he decided now wasn’t the time to talk about that. “I don’t,” he said simply.

“Alright, then,” the lamp replied, “Now, I want you to close your eyes, and think ‘key’. It’s that simple.”

Keith frowned. Close his eyes and think “key”? What did she think this was, an overused plot device? Yet Keith didn’t have much choice, so he closed his eyes, and thought key. He thought of his house key, the keys that Mr. Green always used to unlock his classroom, his mom’s car keys, a strange ornamental key that seemed to belong to a fantasy world…

“Alright, that does it,” the lamp’s shrill voice suddenly brought Keith back to reality, “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Keith wanted to ask what happened, and he had intended to, but the cat had interrupted first. “We’ll be going now, Jenny. Thanks for your time.”

“You sure you don’t want to stay?” the lamp asked, and somehow, she sounded seductive and disappointed. It frightened Keith a bit.

“He’s still young, Jenny,” the cat seemed to sound annoyed as he jumped off the desk and began walking down the hallway again.

“But his eyes are so cute!” the lamp squealed and giggled. Keith tried hard not to roll his eyes and turn red.

“I’m sure they are,” the cat sighed without stopping his pace, then, to Keith, “Come on, Keith.” Keith followed.

“Bye-bye,” the lamp cooed to Keith, almost as if she was blowing a kiss goodbye.

“Um…” Keith frowned, scratched his head, then gave an awkward smile to be polite, “Bye.” He then hurried to join the cat.
“Where are we going?” Keith asked the cat.

“Door two-oh-five,” the cat replied, “Mind you, keep an eye on the numbers. I know these doors almost by heart, but I’m getting to a point where I tend to forget things or daydream, and I’m too short to see the numbers properly, so pay attention, will you?”

“Of course,” Keith replied innocently, and continued to follow the cat down the hallway. Unfortunately, the doors were counting down from six-nine-four, which meant they had a long way to go. Keith wasn’t sure if he was up for another long walk through the hallway, but he decided not to complain too much.

“So…” Keith asked, “…you’re looking for a door too?”

The cat threw Keith an inquiring glance.

“Well,” Keith hurried to recover himself, “The lamp…she said that yours isn’t here. It’s just that now we’re looking for doors, and I was thinking about keys, I was wondering if you were looking for a door as well.”

The cat seemed to give it some thought, then replied simply, almost in a sad and melancholy tone, but still somewhat impassive, “I don’t mind it here. But I do miss going out.”

“Huh?” Keith blinked, but the cat didn’t seem to hear Keith, so Keith decided to let it drop.

After about three minutes of fast walking, they finally got to door two-oh-five. Keith didn’t need to tell the cat; the cat simply stopped in front of the door just as Keith spotted the number.

“Reach into your pocket,” the cat commanded. Keith did as he was instructed; his left hand went to his left pocket.

“Your other pocket,” the cat corrected.

“Oh,” Keith pursed his lips as he reached into his right pocket this time. Other than his house key and his locker key around a keychain, however, he couldn’t feel anything.

“Pull it out,” the cat instructed. Keith did so, and looked at the key, expecting to see an alien key in his hand. It wasn’t, however. It was still his house key and his locker key attached to a keychain. The chain was in the shape of a square, a flat plaque, a simple thing that Keith somehow felt attracted to.

“Unlock the door,” the cat commanded.

“But this key is…” Keith started.

“Just do it,” the cat sounded impatient. Keith shrugged off his questions and picked his house key as he stabbed it into the keyhole. It wouldn’t go in; the key was incompatible with the keyhole.

“It won’t go in,” Keith said to the cat, a puzzled expression on his face.

“Of course it won’t go in,” the cat snorted, “It doesn’t fit in the keyhole.”

Keith’s anger started to rise again. “Then what…” he started, but was interrupted by a loud click as the door suddenly unlocked. Keith stared at the keyhole, then his key, wondering what the hell just happened. The cat, however, did not seem surprised. He cocked his head toward the door, almost as if telling Keith to open it.

Keith looked at the doorknob, a silver, rusty, metallic doorknob that he found to be rather ancient. His hands grasped around the cold, rough metal as he turned it, and wondered what could be on the other side.

He pulled.

Beyond the door was only light, but Keith could feel a sort of familiarity to it, a feeling so alien and so welcoming at the same time. He could not see what was beyond the light, but somehow, he also knew the light was headed for the right direction, knowing that this was somehow the right door. Despite the light beyond the door, the light didn’t seem to come through it; the ambience in the hallway did not change. However, it was reflected off the cat’s eyes as Keith looked at him.

“And this,” the cat declared, “is where we part.”

Keith looked at the cat for a moment, and, while wondering exactly what this cat was, asked, “Why don’t you come with me?”

The cat blinked. “What?”

“Come with me,” Keith repeated, “You want to leave this place, don’t you?”

The cat looked at Keith for another moment, and said, rather solemnly, without the sarcastic edge Keith knew him for, “This isn’t my door.”

Keith frowned. He didn’t understand.

“You don’t have to understand,” the cat replied, almost as though reading his mind, “You just have to go.”

Keith looked at the cat with an unreadable expression. The cat seemed to be interested in this expression as he stared at Keith’s face for a moment.

“You know,” the cat said to Keith, “You’re really an interesting person, Rainboweye. I’d like your company, but I suppose you have other things you need to deal with…so go deal with them.”

“Will we meet again?” Keith asked that cat. It was a simple question that Keith had been waiting to ask, despite him not knowing why he asked.

The question seemed to put the cat off guard as he flinched and thought for a moment, before he finally replied, “We might. But let’s hope it’ll be under better circumstances.”

Keith looked at the cat strangely, wondering what he was, how long he had been stranded here, and silently thanking him for bringing him this far. He didn’t know why he felt this to a cat; perhaps because it talked? Perhaps not. Keith somehow sympathized with this cat, with this sarcastic, cynical, arrogant, self-centered cat he had been with for about twenty minutes.

Somehow, as Keith walked through the door and into the light, disappearing into it and watching the cat disappear from his eyes, which had turned a light shade of blue, Keith knew he would be meeting the cat again.
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