Tantomile yawned, stretching luxuriously in the way that only a cat can. She gazed around the damp Junkyard (it had been raining the night before, though twas clear now) with sleepy eyes. Like many other Jellicle Cats who lived in this place of human trash, she had no human and so remained at the Junkyard all the time. But Tantomile never worried about that. After all, who needs humans? She had the other Jellicles, and the Junkyard, and of course -- her twin, Coricopat. Tantomile needed nothing more.
She could still want more though -- and right now, she wanted to read the book 'Path of the Mage' that Coricopat had found a thrown-out copy of. He was somewhat overly-protective of his find, though, and hadn't allowed Tantomile to read it last night when she asked. But Tanto knew that was only because he wanted to read it himself, and Coricopat was a fast reader, the book wasn't very long, and surely he'd be done by now.
So Tantomile convinced herself that it wasn't very bad for her to sneak into the pipe where he slept, and take the book carefully from between his paws, where it was clutched. Tantomile curled up in the early morning sunlight on the rusty red car, surveying the still-slumberingJunkyard for a minute before opening the book.
Tantomile was well into chapter five when a shriek of laughter rang through the still air. Rolling her eyes, she tried to ignore the sounds of kittens waking up, and kept reading. It was difficult to do when Pouncival bounded over, jumping into a large puddle, and splashing rainwater all over her -- and over the book. Tantomile groaned, not even bothering to admonish the kitten, who hadn't even realized what he'd done and was now scrambling away after Tumblebrutus.
Tantomile examined the pages. They were splattered with dots of muddy water, and licking at them seemed just to make it worse.
Then the worst thing possible happened -- Coricopat stormed out of the pipe, looking upset. Tantomile could very easily guess what about. She quickly hid the book behind her when Cori came up, eyes narrowed. "Where's my book?" he asked bluntly.
Tantomile gave a nervous giggle. "Book? What're you talking about, Cor?" Coricopat rolled his eyes. "For Bast's sake, Tant, give me my book!" When she didn't immediatly pass the book to him, he reached behind her and grabbed it out of her paws. Coricopat glared at her. "Tantomile, I told you not to read my book! I haven't finished it yet!"
He opened the covers, and Tantomile winced. Cori didn't explode right away when he saw the muddied pages. He was silent, flipping through the book, but Tantomile could feel the boiling rage.... "Oh, Bast, Tant, what have you done..." he whispered. "This was my book, I found it, I told you not to read it, and now you've gotten water all over it!" He seemed on the verge of tears, which made Tantomile feel worse than if he had just yelled at her.
Coricopat flung the book down at the base of the car. "Well if you like it so much, take it! It's yours, and I don't want it!" The grey tom turned and ran off down the road, away from the Junkyard. Tantomile sat, looking hopelessly at the book. The cats of the Junkyard, who'd been staring open-mouthed at the scene, turned tactfully away.
Tantomile tried to apologize, telepathically, to her twin... *Coricopat, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that, it was wrong, you're right, and it was actually Pouncival's fault that the book got splashed, but I'm really sorry, please forgive me?*
The tom's reply was terse and angry. *Tantomile, I told you not to read it, and you stole it, and ruined it. I'm not --* His words were cut short suddenly, and a strange and painful feeling shot through Tantomile's head. "Coricopat!" she cried and ran down the road in the direction he had taken....
The car wreck was not a large one. It only gathered a few police officers, though the crowd of fascinated human observors was still big. The lithe grey queen who ran up frantically to the scene of the accident moments after it happened, though, was unconcerned with such trivialities as wrecked cars and possibly injured drivers. She was more interested in the still, bloody feline form lying in tire tracks in the middle of the road....
Tantomile was back in the Junkyard, though she had no recollection of how she had gotten there. The only thing she remembered was not hearing Coricopat's voice any more, and then seeing him there, dead, in the black river of the street.... Tantomile shuddered, and leaned against the car she found herself standing next to for support.
Demeter had been watching her from across the Junkyard. Now she came over, and said gently to Tantomile "What's the matter?"
Tantomile looked at her with anguished eyes and said mutely "He's dead. Gone. Silent." Demeter looked puzzled. "Who is? Coricopat?" Tantomile choked back a sob and nodded. Demeter half-hugged the other queen. "Oh, Bast, I'm sorry, Tant..."
Tantomile stared at the book lying before her. It hadn't been moved, though the time since she had gone running after her twin and the moment now, when he was silent, seemed an eternity...
Demeter was still speaking. Tantomile tried to pay attention. "...if you'd like." Tantomile struggled to speak. "What?" Demeter repeated herself. "You can stay at my human's house with me tonight, if you'd like."
Tanto looked up at her friend's face, sympathic and sad, and nodded. "All right," she whispered.
Demeter took her by the arm, and tried to lead her away, but as Tanto followed, she glanced back at the book. *Either I'm imagining things,* she thought. *Or that book is bleeding....*
Demeter stretched and yawned, unaware that she was mimicking Tantomile's actions the previous morning. She turned her head to look at Tantomile, but the grey cat wasn't there -- in her place was a piece of paper with words on it. Demeter picked up the paper, and began to read. It said "Demeter - gone 2 yard thank u 4 all from Tantomile."
*What's this?* thought Demeter as she turned the paper over and started reading the long, cramped words filling that side of the page. *Did Tantomile write this....* The words were:
"Blood, blood, blood, and he was dead, from the depths of darkness of death he cried and blood blood there was blood and he was gone he is gone and I was alone I am alone and one one just one single voice amid the darkness and the blood and death is coming to grab to take to steal like a thief in the night to take life to take love to leave me alone alone alone with only the darkness and the blood..."
Demeter raised her eyebrow. "This does not look good," she said matter-of-factly before dropping the paper and shooting out the door after her friend.
In the Junkyard, Demeter searched for Tantomile. "Have you seen Tantomile?" she asked the Rum Tum Tugger. "Over there," he said casually, gesturing towards the pipe. Demeter crawled into the dim-lit pipe where she found Tantomile, huddled in the shadows, tears streaking down her face. Demeter put an arm round her friend. "Tanti, it's not that bad," she tried to comfort her, but Tantomile shook her head, inconsoloble.
"I did it," she whispered. "I did it."Demeter looked confused. "You did what?" "I did it!" Tantomile whispered again. "I did it..." Demeter opened her mouth to try again, but was interrupted by the commotion outside. Demeter, puzzled, climbed out of the pipe and looked around.
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