The journey of a boy searching for his kidnapped sister, dimensions apart.
The night is silent, save for the quiet creaking of trees, the soft wind pushing at its leaves. The porch light glows yellow, displaying the two-seated rocker, a small wooden table and rows of potted plants lying before the frosted windows on either side of the white painted door. The gravel pathway leading towards the porch steps is damp, the automatic sprinklers having just been turned off from their nightly watering, always at midnight. The rows of flowers, on either side of the path, in front of the green grass and two tall pine trees, all closed to the moonlight, drooping and dripping, the soil beneath their petals wet and the roots drinking.
A black boot falls on the gravel, crunching the stones. The front door opens and a little girl walks out. She sleepwalks down the steps, her bare feet smacking cold marble. Her long white and red nightdress drags along the ground behind her. Her black hair falls to her shoulders, strands covering her green eyes. She is 7 years old. She walks to the figure standing on the path and holds out her hands. The figure reaches to her, a skeletal hand with long fingers and curved nails. The hand has golden scales covering some parts of its skin like hair. It lifts the girl into an embrace and pulls a small round object from beneath the robe. Twisting the top half, the creature activates the teleportal orb and the night sky around the pair lights up in a green blaze. Then darkness. The figure and girl have disappeared. The front door still stands open.
The next morning finds police vans outside the house. The weather is gloomy, dark clouds hover. Inside the house the mother is crying, the father shouting at the policemen. And outside on the steps to the porch sits a boy with his head in his hands. His dark hair cut close to the scalp, his hands covering his green eyes. Eyes like his sister. He is 11 years old, with blue jeans, a black t-shirt and white sneakers. His eyes are red-rimmed from crying, his shirt soaked with sweat from running up and down the roads, searching futilely for his sister.
The bushes beside the house rustle softly and the boy lifts his eyes and looks towards it. Silent gold eyes stare back at him. They are slanted. The eyes move forward and behind them emerges a grey cat, closer the size of a month old lion than a regular tabby. The boy stands up quickly and looks around for help. The grey cat walks forward slowly, showing no sign of harmful intent and then sits on its haunches a few feet from the steps. Its grey hair sticks out in all places, like a soft-pinned porcupine. A few black streaks cut across the face and chest. The boy is paralyzed, and finds himself hypnotized by the golden feline eyes. He is drawn into its gaze, as the world around him falls away and a fountain of images wash over him.
He sees the hooded man with golden scales disappearing with his sister in the green flash. Then the scene blurs into a mirage of fire and fighting, faces he doesn’t recognize, voices that seem foreign, places that make no sense or shouldn’t exist, creatures of strange shapes and sizes, scrolls and books, doors, thousands of doors, all these images and more rush into him at once, and he screams.
He opens his eyes to find policemen standing over him, his mother running outside. The cat is gone.
It is close to midnight but the boy cannot sleep. He hears his parents and their friends downstairs, waiting for phone calls, trying to figure out where their daughter is. He hears a new noise from his 1st story window and looks outside. The grey cat is standing in the middle of the garden, staring up at him. The boy’s eyes widen in surprise. The cat stares and then starts to walk away, all the time looking at the boy.
The boy doesn’t move. The cat walks back and continues this until realisation dawns. The cat wants him to follow. He walks quietly downstairs and out the backdoor while his parents are preoccupied in the lounge. He runs around the house to where the cat is but sees no creature. Instead a man stands in a dark jacket and a walking stick. Long dark hair runs down his aged face, with dark stubble framing his broad chin. He looks at the boy with an intense grey-eyed stare.
“Come,” the man tells the boy.
He child is frightened but stands his ground. No reply.
“Come,” the man repeats himself. “I can take you to her.”
The boy’s loss of his sister jerks him to respond.
“You …. You know where my sister is?”
“Yes boy, I know where they are taking her. And I can help you, but we need to leave now.”
“Who are you?” the boy asks, “Where is the cat?”
The man laughs, “The cat? Is that what you saw?”
“Yes,” says the boys “A big grey cat.”
“No. That was me. It just didn’t seem so at the time.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Boy, we don’t have the time now, I will explain later. Do you want to find your sister?”
“Yes, but where are we going?”
“It does not matter now, will you come with me?”
“What about my parents?”
“They will understand.”
“I can’t just leave them!”
The boy is shocked, “How do you know my name?”
“Deacon, I know many things about you. I know that you didn’t start that fire in the shed last year. I know there’s a book under your bed that you read every night but still cannot understand it. I know that sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night with huge headaches and you crave water. I know that you see things, but you can never explain what they are, yet you’re too afraid to tell your parents. I know of all these things.”
“How?” Deacon asks incredulously, “How do you know?”
“Because once I was like you. Deacon, I will not ask again. I’m leaving now. Do you want to find your sister?”
Deacon looks back at the house, thinking of his parents inside.
“Yes,” he answers softly. “I need to find Carina.”
“Then take hold of my hand. And close your eyes.”
Deacon does as he’s told and a blinding pain escapes behind his eyes. He feels himself lifted, then being torn apart. And then it’s all black. The garden stands empty. The boy too is gone.