'Urrgh! Urrgh! Urrgh!' The tiny kitten cornered the terrified mouse and fell upon it hungrily.
'Tomas! Don't! Tomas! Don't! Tomas! No! No! No! NO!...Ohhh!'
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Slurp. Gobble.
'Tomas...' Disappointed, Nadia sighed and turned back to sorting through the pile of clothes.
Tomas turned away from the tiny corpse, having eaten only it's brain. He began to stumble clumsily back toward his owner.
Tomas was no ordinary kitten, having been resurrected and dug up from the garden where he'd lain dead in a shoebox for three weeks. But then again, Nadia was not your run of the mill teenager either.
Nadia ran a small on-line shop called 'Nadia Brooks; Vintage Clothing' in a small commercial unit that doubled as her home. She'd had an eventful sixteen years of life up to now, but it hadn't entirely been a happy one. She'd become an orphan only 18 months ago, had become the ward of an aunt who'd she'd hated, had subsequently run away from the new home that had never ever felt like one, and had then 'officially' disappeared. She'd struggled for months but had then 'acquired' a new identity for the price of nearly everything that she'd run away with, and had then started a new life with the virtually nothing that she'd been left with.
But she was still happy. Mostly.
She looked up at the poster that covered a large part of the wall facing her bed; Baron Samedi and the Coffin Escapees. It was a reproduction of the cover of their début and, to date, only album; the best selling 'Transient Lives' album that she had never stopped playing since she had first downloaded the demo tracks six months ago. The Baron, looking striking as always, looked as though he was going to step right out of the poster; his rumpled black top hat, dark glasses and tuxedo a counterpoint to the stark white face, open rib cage and the Death's Head cane he held. The other band members were similarly dressed but the guitarist, standing slightly behind Baron Samedi, who was called Baron La Croix, was the embodiment of sophistication, sensuality and an overall desire to enjoy all that life and death could offer. He was somewhat more stylish and crisply dressed than the others and the knowing leer on his face promised that he knew how to give and take the ultimate pleasure from every situation. This was the man that Nadia loved with all her heart and would do anything to get close to.
It was La Croix who was the powerhouse within the group, the guitarist being the principal writer of the band's songs although, technically, Samedi was the leader on-stage.
'In life we are apart, But in death we'll be together, Forever', Nadia sang, reliving that night at the illegal gig held in the old cotton mill warehouse. La Croix had been everything that the album had promised, his guitar blazing like a beacon as it had wept and screamed and coaxed and finally assaulted the ears of everyone there, leaving everyone united in a common sensuality and lust for further experiences. However, on the stand-out track on the album was 'Death Wedding', La Croix took the microphone and raised the crowd up from being a high-spirited mass of humanity into something much more; to become a single pulsing entity driven by love and life and death and tragedy and triumph and … and...
And you really had to have been there to know what it was like.
There were three other members of the group but, for Nadia, they were just incidental and filled in the spaces in the music left by Samedi and La Croix.
At the end of the night, the band had retreated to their coach and had been driven to their hotel but, instead of disappearing into the foyer, they had spent time with the ecstatic fans who had followed them there, playing an impromptu acoustic set in the car park, and where Nadia had somehow caught the eye of La Croix. Suddenly, he'd stopped playing his trademark matt black guitar and put it down on the ground. And then he had beckoned to her, his leer and wink drawing her closer. And then she had been pushed forward by the now silent crowd. And then he had reached out to her and pulled her onto the stage, his hands cold but welcoming. And then he had kissed her, his tongue writhing between her lips. And then... bliss! Bliss like she had never known before and had never known since.
But could never forget.
For a while, everything about her life since that night had been such an anticlimax. She'd briefly toyed with the idea of suicide but the band were still together, even though they had never returned to England since that night. There was talk of another album and another tour...very soon, according to the band's website. So there was still some chance that she and La Croix could meet again...
It had been five long months since that one singular glorious night. One hundred and fifty nights of wondering and wishing and dreaming and hoping that tomorrow would bring the news she wanted...
But every morning brought with it new hope and a renewed optimism. She was just like that.
The first bag of clothes seemed to hold nothing of significance. There were some nice items, which could be washed and then resold, but nothing that 'spoke' to Nadia so that she'd want to put it away especially for herself.
Maybe the next bag would hold something special.
Nadia crossed the room, looking briefly at herself in the mirror. The darkest black hair, the tight black cupid's bow for her lips, the dark eye-liner and the pale skin was as always, but the tired look around the eyes was new.
If only she had someone special to share her life with.
She sighed and picked up a second bag of clothes. Looking through it, there was very little that looked immediately interesting. There was a couple of old party dresses that were faded and obviously past their best, there was a gentleman's suit with some dubious looking stains under the arms, there was a nice taffeta ball gown with a layered tulle skirt that was going straight into her wardrobe, and there was...
Picking up the smart looking late 1980's turquoise power suit, there was something that brought an immediate chill to Nadia. Hesitating a moment, she started to go through the pockets, looking for anything out of the ordinary that could have caused the sudden frisson she'd felt. It was in one of the inside breast pockets she found it; a fancy gold coloured circular make-up compact case with a tooled finished lid which she absently flipped open to check for any contents.
It was then that she felt a sudden falling motion as though she had just stumbled while walking. The room swam around her and then suddenly she was somewhere else...
Nadia looked around her. She was in a another room; a room that she didn't recognise. There were pastel lilac walls and a large mirror made up from a tessellation of smaller hexagonal mirrors. There was a long grey leather sofa running along three of the four walls of the room, only broken in two places where doors came into the room. There was a huge window filling the fourth wall from floor to ceiling and from corner to corner with a pair of chrome edged doors opening onto a balcony. A balcony with such a view.
She walked across to one of the doors, ignoring the balcony, but wanting to go to it to look out over the reservoir that shone like a ridged grey mirror beyond it. It was then that she realised that she had no control over her body. She opened the smoked glass door and went through into the bathroom where she saw herself...
Nadia saw a tall blonde with long lightly curled hair cascading across her shoulders, wearing a turquoise suit with exaggerated shoulder pads and piped edgings. She – or rather the woman she'd seen - opened the cabinet over the avocado coloured sink, taking out a bottle of Aspirin and unscrewing the top. She closed the cabinet and looked long and hard at herself, at the smeared lipstick and the smudged eye-shadow and the ugly dark runs of mascara that ran all the way down from her eyes to her cheeks, and then over her jaw to her neck and beyond. She tossed away the bottle's cap, cupped her hand beneath the open top and then began to pour the tablets into her palm. She raised her hand to her mouth, taking a mouthful of the chalky tablets and then gagging as she tried to swallow them.
Determined, the woman began to chew and then, finding it even harder to swallow the lumpy paste that filled her mouth, she turned on the cold tap, filling the convenient glass with the icy water that gushed into it, raising this to her lips and taking a long drink.
The tablets started to go down slowly but the lining of her throat began to contract, starting to spasm. She took another big drink from the glass, swallowing forcefully and then coughing up a wad of plaster-like debris back into the sink.
She tried again. And again. And again, her head starting to swim as the cramps began and she slid to the floor limply.
And then Nadia was back in her own room again, throwing the compact hurriedly to the floor as though it was red-hot. The mirror inside it promptly cracked into three, the pieces falling out onto the thin carpet that covered the small piece of concrete floor next to her bed.
'Urrgh, urrgh,' Tomas began to shuffle across the floor toward the compact, his kittenish curiosity still intact.
'Tomas! No,' Nadia shouted sharply, 'Don't do that!'
Minutes later. Nadia was sitting upon her bed with Tomas struggling to escape from her lap, and with the pieces of mirror safely in the waste bin. 'Tomas, you bad cat,' Nadia continued. 'You really need to be more careful. You know that you don't stop bleeding when you get cut. You just leave blood stains everywhere until I can manage to plaster it over so it can begin to heal.' She stood up again and placed him back on the floor, where Tomas quickly found his way back under her bed to where he had decided to make his lair. 'You and me, Tomas,' Nadia sighed, 'we're such a pair aren't we? What are we going to do with ourselves?'