I can’t say that I am prone to self-examination. I have lived a very long time, which is itself proof of my skill. I am First, and I am Cat, and these things are sufficient to overcome almost any obstacle in my way. The handful of times when I have found myself defeated, I returned to my human, settled down to receive affection and grow stronger, and then proceeded to murder whatever had embarrassed me. It was very difficult to kill me, so long as I had a human. But Horace had a rather frustrating lack of confidence in me. “You know what your job is, Horace. Why are you going through this? How can you even trust this man?”
I smoked a cigarette to try to regain some sense of normalcy. I smelled of rosewater and lavender, which made for a disconcerting change. The strange spirit had come through with disease-repelling essential oils. I’d taken a long bath in it, and while it had been enjoyable, it had made me feel like I should be eating chocolate ice-cream and doing my nails. It helped that Hector, John, and Marco were no more pleased with the situation than I was. We had met briefly on the sidewalk outside of the park, before moving to our predetermined locations to prepare for the battle ahead. It was Sunday. Horace had gone with the camera to go get what he was needed. Randall had arrived as the last of the cult’s setup was being completed. Betty and Li were… Well, I didn’t know. I didn’t need to know exactly where they hid, and with any luck, they’d remain hidden until the moment when they could do the greatest damage.
The human capacity to live with the apocalypse is unrivaled. On the first night after the meeting, I had horrific nightmares of plague, of Betty dead, of Randall and my new friends torn limb from limb, of the world falling apart around me. It was excruciating, knowing that there was nothing I could do besides what I was already doing, taking care of Betty. But I got used to it surprisingly quickly. By Wednesday morning, the dream had faded entirely. I asked Betty about that.
I sat down heavily on the subway, my head spinning from the encounter. My hand still ached faintly. I’d performed actual magic, three times. There was a small thrill in that, and a lot of disappointment.
I sat at the front desk, a tall tumbler of scotch in hand. I stared down at the dispatch through a haze of amber. We were getting quite a few calls from frightened people. I took down their information, told them what I could to try to help ease their fears and advise them, and then went on to the next call. I threw a paperweight at a large, glossy black rat in the middle of a call. It hissed at me defiantly, and skittered away into a hole in the wall, followed by half a dozen others. I was tempted to get my gun, but I’d been drinking. That would probably not look good at review time. I sighed, and instead threw back the scotch, feeling the burn as it went down.
It was Sunday afternoon. There was only one place my uncle would be. I sat in the subway, feeling the rage burning in the pit of my stomach. It was almost deserted, except for a pair of men in rat-faced masks holding a conversation, and watching me from one of the far corners. I tightened my hand around the pendant Betty had given me, and thought of the words to the ritual that Phoebe had told me. It suited me, I supposed, a magic to let me run away. It wasn’t as though I was going to be any good at fighting if things became violent, no matter how angry I was. But eventually, the two men got off the train, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
I left the apartment, seething, on Friday. The human just didn’t understand. Just because I didn’t want to mate with him didn’t give him permission to go find some other spiritual floozy who had none of my restraint and experience, and lay with them. And there was still the stunt he’d pulled with the serpent sorceress. Humans just couldn’t seem to understand ownership, sometimes. I hissed as I hopped out of the window, leaving it open behind me. It was time for me to investigate the clinics that the human had found. I still knew little about what was being planned by the cult, but it didn’t matter. Perhaps I would pin down a few of those rat-faced men, and ask them questions.