In which Katy finally catches a break, explores Riverside Park with a gaggle of shadow beings, and comes to a horrifying realization.
The Beginning of the End: A Grocery Store Horror Story
The group stares at me in disbelieving silence. I wasn’t sure how they would react to Tom’s betrayal, but this isn’t too bad, I suppose.
“That motherfucker!” Arnold pushes off the wall. “He was always an asshole, but I never thought he would actually try to kill you.” The heat of everyone’s gaze turns my face scarlet red, and I twist my fingers together in front of me.
“Are you sure?” Regina faces me with a pained look. Rain gives her a fierce reprimand.
“Of course she’s sure!” Her response shocks the group into silence. Regina blushes and mumbles an apology to me.
“Anybody else planning my demise? A head’s up would be nice,” I chuckle to the group, who quickly deny any plans to see me kick the bucket. Rain abruptly stands out of her chair.
“That’s it! Katy, I need you to do something for me.”
“What?” I ask quizzically.
“Think of a thing, like a dog or a cat.” I give her a weird look. “Just humor me on this, please. Think very hard, put everything you have into making the animal in your mind a reality.” I nod, shut my eyes, and focus on the word cat for a straight minute. Not just the word: what it looks like, feels like in my hands, and the sound it makes after a good scratch. I don’t hear anything in my head, so I pop open an eye. I don’t see a cat on the table and sit back in frustration.
“Think about the cat your dad bought you when you were ten,” Guy says with a nod that suggests he’s catching onto Rain’s idea. I squeeze my eyes shut again. The moments rise quickly to the surface: adopting Mr. Potato from the pound, talking to him when I was lonely (so every day), the day he ran away, the day he came back, and reluctantly putting him down months after his cancer diagnosis. I open my eyes and jerk back in shock. The outline of a curled-up feline greets me on the table. The puddle of smoke stretches but flits in and out as my surprise turns into a mountain of questions. What does this mean? What am I? Is this even real? I’m talking to a bunch of shadow beings for Christ’s sake, so their ability to answer my questions truthfully is suspect at best. The shadow dissipates, and I breathe a sigh of relief.