Patches the housecat entered the dingy apartment through the open skylight, hopping down to the strategically placed bookshelf, then to the dresser, then the bed. Her close companion, Mr. Kitty sauntered into the room to greet her. She allowed him to nuzzle her for several moments before her exhaustion got the better of her, and she dropped her spell, wanting nothing more than to relax her body and her mind. It had been a very long night, after all. As she shifted from Patches back to Calico, she stretched luxuriously across her wonderful, shitty new bed. The mattress was lumpy, and there’d been stains that she had quickly covered with the cheap sheets she’d bought from the Stuffer Shack. But it was hers. No more sleeping in gutters, no more trolling for “benefactors”. Well, not out of absolute necessity, anyway. She now had her very own apartment, with hot (usually) and cold running water, locking doors, electricity … the works.
“Isn’t it fabulous, Mr. Kitty?” she asked her obscenely fluffy, snow white feline companion as he bounded up to join her on the mattress. He pranced onto her stomach, arching his back appreciatively as she stroked his soft fur. “And it’s all ours. Yes, I think things are just gonna get better for us, you just wait.” Mr. Kitty purred his agreement. She laid her head back and closed her eyes, feeling the warm embrace of sleep beginning to creep slowly over her.
“You see the rewards your actions bring, but you are blind to the new risks that come with them”, observed the refined, latin voice to her right. She lifted her head up, and pulled her elbows back to prop herself up, regarding Mr. Kitty questioningly as he sat majestically on her dresser, his tail swishing lightly back and forth. “You have thus far had very few true challenges in your life,” he continued telepathically, “and therefore have had just as few failures. But you are now entering a time when your abilities will be sorely tested. You must prepare.”
Calico sat upright. She’d known some shamans who spoke with their guiding spirits almost daily, or claimed they did. But the Cat Spirit (she wondered if that was what he was even called) had only ever directly spoken to her a handful of times, and each time had been a pivotal moment in her life. Suddenly her fatigue was gone.
“Prepare how?” she asked, her voice filled with earnest attention. For several moments Mr. Kitty sat quietly, silently regarding her as she waited for whatever wisdom he would impart. Finally, he spoke without speaking, and his words filled her mind once more.
“You must seek the unfindable, learn the unknowable …. master the untameable.” Long moments passed as she waited for him to continue.
“Well ….. umm …. huh?” she stammered, having not even the beginnings of a clue as to what the fuck he was talking about. Even though Mr. Kitty was incapable of smiling, Calico telepathically felt his amusement radiating from him.
“You desire understanding, but understanding originates from the mind.” he explained cryptically. “What you must seek is beyond the mind and its constructs. It is the essence of what Is, and therefore transcends the mind.”
“But …. I don’t understand …” she protested in frustration, which was compounded by Mr. Kitty’s renewed aura of patronizing enjoyment at her struggle.
“And you must stop trying.”, he told her. “You cannot understand. You can only Know.”
Suddenly Calico was destroyed. Her existance had been obliterated, and yet her consciousness …. persisted. She had no senses, no sight, smell, or hearing. And yet she was utterly and completely aware of her surroundings in a way that went so far beyond what she’d known all her life, so much deeper, so much more fundamental, as to render her old definitions meaningless. Upon considering the word “definitions”, Calico laughed uncontrollably at the ridiculously inadequate nature of it, of all words. They were nothing more than the coat of paint that comprised the outer skin, the mere framework of something infinitely more complex and wonderful. She had been given the gift of Ultimate Knowing, and her life would undergo truly cataclysmic changes—
Calico sat up in bed, suddenly awake. It was cold, and she’d fallen asleep without covering herself, as her bare goosebumped flesh attested. She’d been dreaming …. something. Mr. Kitty regarded her curiously from the foot of the bed, offering a soft, questioning meow as she stared at him. And then she remembered.
The force of the loss hit her like a blow to the chest, and she mentally scrambled to reinhabit that place. But she was only able to catch the edges of it as it receded irretrievably into the void. For a moment she lamented its departure, but suddenly realized that it hadn’t been a complete loss. She knew what she had to do know.
She had to become a magical Initiate.
In her mind, the Cat Spirit smiled once more at her before following her dream into the nothingness. Had it been Cat? Or her imagination?
“Is there a difference?” Cat asked from Nowhere, and then it was Calico’s turn to experience a knowing amusement.
ONE WEEK LATER
Calico parsed through the enormous electronic document which expounded, from myriad different angles and approaches, on the mysteries of magical initiation. There was more information here than she could ever need, and some of it even seemed to contradict itself. She knew that when she found the path that was right for her, she would know it. It would jump up and grab her, and from there it would just flow. Maybe not easily, but naturally. But this felt like homework, and she had always hate hate hated homework. She was digging through a mountain of string, seeking the one string that would lead her where she wanted, where she needed to go. It was beyond frustrating. It was torture.
“FUUUUUCK!!!” she bellowed involuntarily, standing and pitching a dirty glass with all her strength against the wall. It shattered loudly, and Mr. Kitty bolted from the room in sheer terror. She slumped back into her seat. This was going to suck.