Good Twin, Evil Twin
By RD Rivero
“Good Twin, Evil Twin”
By RD Rivero
April 7, 2000
What they could see of the river was a straight length of currents with
a mild ‘S’ crink near the exact center of the field of view. The water
was calm and blue, very clearly blue and what waves rippled the surface
glimmered and shined in the sunlight of the noonday sky. The river
stretched from one end of the horizon to the other and at both extremes
the form faded into a dense mist, into a cloudy fog that completely
obscured their sights even from on u p that high.
WileyKat and WileyKit directed their hover-boards lower, lower, lower
until they could almost skim the surface, until they could feel the cool
spray of the flowing river. On either side of them the jungles of third
earth spread in ever-growing entangled abundance. The first few layers
of trees could be made out errorlessly but of what was hid in the recess
beyond that remained in dark, shadowy oblivion. The ground was black in
fertility and dotted here and there by small groups and sparse bundles
of grassy flowers, craggy moss and a knee-high underbrush.
The upper canopy was no longer in their view but they could still see
the treetops sway through the action of the animals whose habitat that
was while hopping and leaping one branch to the next. Though the hover
boards produced a low murmur and though the river was itself quite
noisy, the two could hear well the sounds produced and emitted --
diffused -- throughout the environs.
The greenery ended abruptly with the spread of a yellow plane, covered
in mounds of gray rocks. Dead and brown-dried plants hung down the
sides of those edifices like spider webs, delicate, like fingers of
death, thin. A cold wind caromed across the open land and those eerie
vines spread out open in the air but did not come off the rocks on which
the roots and the leaves had adhered through the ages onto the eroded
faces of the monoliths. The flat was also adorned by numerous holes
that vented a vast network of subterranean caverns that those two
enjoyed to explore often.
In the distance all around and all over the bare peaks of the forbidden
mountains loomed intolerably tall into the white sky. No longer the
bright blue of morning, no longer so warm, the air was cold, the heavens
had amassed dense, evolving clouds that rolled and meshed together into
each other in wild formations.
WileyKat was tired but oddly enough his heart raced. He sat himself and
his hover-board down on the side of one of the taller of the monoliths.
The thin vines hung down from an extended ledge in much the same way a
weeping willow would. The yellow grass in the immediate vicinity had
been pressed down flat firmly, softly. He saw his sister walk though
the waist-high, yellow grass that swayed and danced violently in the
omnipotent wind. She had mischief on her mind but his attention was
A dark shadow passed through the vegetation in the distance.
Under one of the larger, looser boulders was the circular opening to one
of the caverns below. He had discovered it that last time he had been
there. He stuck his hands and arms in and felt around. Along the
inside walls of the opening was the rough metallic suggestion of a rung
ladder. For some reason, for no reason he then stuck his head into the
hole. He saw down the incredible length of the tunnel the faintest hint
of a red aura -- a warm, red aura.
He lifted himself up and turned around. His sister was no where. He
could not find his hover-board. The sky alternated in momentary flashes
of brightness and mild shadows formed while the clouds passed before the
sun. The wind that had ruffled the scene produced an eerie sound that
echoed everywhere and uplifted a scent, an aroma of unknown, woodsy
The shadow in the distance moved away -- not closer -- moved away into
WileyKat pondered the significance of the hole again and decided
silently, without fanfare, that he would enter. At first his fingers
and his toes could find and fit neatly into the rungs of that imbedded
ladder but after a while, after he was so deep, so deep, he could not
hold himself up any longer. He was heavy, his movements were slow and
sluggish, he felt that familiar rushing sensation in his stomach before
he had actually fallen.
The tunnel had seemed to have been deeper than what it actually was. Lo
and behold he fell onto his back in a small chamber under the ground.
The rocky, dirty walls glowed red. Not by light, not by fire, but by an
illumination that was totally and completely -- indeed deliberately --
inhuman. The light itself throbbed, the walls throbbed, though he was
not inside a room, though he was inside the abdomen of a firefly, a
The wind howled and echoed through the tubular passage he had fallen in
WileyKat began to look around. There was only one opening, only one
passage way but he dared not -- no. Behind the misshapen, jagged
outline of the orifice was nothing but absolute darkness, so black, so
black he had mistaken it for a wall of rock. And then there was the
sound -- the breathing, the walking.
A presence was approaching.
He stepped back, treaded over the loose rocks and dirt of the floor, of
the glowing-red chamber, back, back, back until it appeared at last.
"What are you?" WileyKat tried to hide his face under his hands, tried
to cover his eyes, tried to go blind if only, if only just never to see
that, thing, again.
The figure stepped yet closer from the formless currents of the
He tried hard but he had to see: the thing looked like a man but that
was not all for there was another man who stood behind, right behind,
back-to-back but even that was not enough, both men, both figures, were
deformed -- the bodies twisted in intertwined spirals into and around
each other. The thing had four arms, four legs and walked in the
slowest, most peculiar gait and then and only then did he realize why:
the 'front' legs that he saw belonged to the man at the back while the
'back' legs belonged to the man at the front.
The face he saw was colored green and hairless, the only features were
deep, folded wrinkles, the eyes were buried under those masses of skin,
the nose that he saw were only two small holes punched into the face,
the lips were thin -- the mouth was a slit, barely open, barely moving
while the figure was talking -- the chin was small and seemed to be
buried abnormally into the head.
"No, stay back, stay back, you're horrid!" WileyKat stumbled until the
cavern wall stopped him. He began to sob, he began to crouch into a
upright, fetal position. "What are you?"
"I am evil. I am formless."
WileyKat looked up. The thing had changed.
He saw himself. He saw himself exactly and behind that was his sister,
not bent around one another but two separate beings that continued to
act in unison.
The two turned around, walked around abruptly.
"I am good," the WileyKit-image said. The jaw had been smashed and
shattered and hung limp, lopsided. Teeth were missing and bent out over
the lips though those might fall out at any moment. The neck was split
wide open and he could see clearly bloodied and moist internal
structures. The left hand was missing the thumb.
"I have lost my mind, I have lost my mind, I have lost my mind."
"WileyKat, wake up! Wake up. Wake up, Wileykat! Oh, by Jagga, wake
up!" Her voice trailed into an explosion of tears and of sobs.
"What? What is the," he began, "WileyKit?" He stood up, he put his
hands around his head. His eyes ached, his temples throbbed. "What is
it, Kit?" She held his forearms tightly in her grip and he looked down
on her. Her clothes were bloody, torn, ripped. Her body was bruised.
He was confused and shook his head. "What happened, Kit, was there an
By causality he looked back down on the flattened ground. The
hover-board he had slept next to was missing.
WileyKit tugged him away slowly for he was groggy and still somewhat
disoriented. Her hands were wet with blood and in her motions she had
smeared him and his clothes. He was dragged several yards away from the
sanctity of the rock monolith, through the tall, yellow grass to the
fringe between the plane and the forestry.
The hover-board was there all right, it was there, smashed, shattered.
"I had an accident."
"But you're not bleeding, but you're OK."
She pointed to dark mass below the largest section of the wreckage.
WileyKat bent down and removed the metal shrapnel. He uncovered it, he
uncovered it and turned and threw up.
"I couldn't stop it. I was coming down too fast. I couldn't stop it.
I crashed right into him. I sliced him half then I crashed into the
She sat down next to him. She wrapped her arms around him while he
rocked back and forth.
"How could I have been so reckless? How could I have been so foolish?"
"It's not your fault, Kat, I did it."
"No! If the others ever found out? If the others ever knew?" He
looked around the scene while the wind blew and howled up above. "We
have to hide the body." She stared at him silently, wild-eyed. "Help
me drag it into one of those holes. We'll dump it inside. We'll cover
up the ditch with some rocks. No one, not even Liono will ever find
The twins took away the hover board and placed it into one of the gentle
riverbanks that lined the nearby-shore to wipe the blood away. The body
was another problem. It had not been cut as neatly in two as WileyKit
had thought. While most of the chest was exposed, the ribs and the
spine were pretty much intact. The face and the other features,
however, were too doused in blood and torn and ripped by the impact that
the body was unrecognizable. She would not look at it so she took the
hands and arms and walked in the lead while he grabbed the corpse by the
He saw that the left hand of the body was missing the thumb but thought
little of the matter.
The hole, it turned out, was not large enough, the body would not go
through. With his hands he clawed away at the rim until it was just
wide enough that the upper torso went through. He stood over the body
and began to jump up and down. After each bounce he pushed the victim
further into the tubular passage.
A strange sound, a tear, a rip followed.
"What was that, Kat?" She stood up against the rock formation, her eyes
welled up with tears, her lips curled, her hands before her open mouth.
"The body must have finally broken in half." He spoke coldly. Then
with one last heave the corpse fell through entirely, he himself almost
went down with it had he not extended his arms to break his fall. His
sister tried to reach out to help him but he did not need that. He
managed to lift himself up from the ditch.
There was another problem. The hole was too big to cover with the rocks
that were nearby. Then he got an idea. With his sister's help he was
able to drag the tall, rock monolith but, clumsily, the two did not have
a good hold and the stone fell to the side.
"WileyKit? Are you OK?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine."
Which was odd because she had been standing right in the path of the
rock's trajectory. It should have landed on top of her but by some
force, by some magic she was then effortlessly standing next to him.
"You moved out of the way so fast."
She did not respond. Her eyes had a strange, faraway look to them. For
the first time he realized that she never ever really looked at him.
WileyKat sat at the edge of the water and of the dry land. The broken
parts of the hover-board were at his feet. He wondered, after all, she
had a board of her own, why had she used his? Suddenly he was
distracted by the sound of splashing and giggling. His sister had
stripped -- her clothes were wet and wrung, hung on the ends of thick,
dried stumps -- and had taken a dip in the strong waters of the river.
Her hair was wet and clung to her head closely, conformed to the mold of
her form entirely. Her ears were visible, clearly visible. Her eyes,
so dead, so dead, still sparkled in moisture. Her face was painted in a
devilish, in an evil smile that oddly enough retained the faintest hint
of innocence. She gradually stood up and the rest of her body came into
He could see in their entirety her small, supple breasts. He had
noticed that she had begun to grow them a long while ago but for some
reason they had not enlarged much lately. He wondered how long it would
take them to be the size of Cheetara's but he kept that to himself. Her
furry chest, her flat stomach, he smiled and almost laughed at her belly
button, then she turned before she could stand up entirely and submerged
-- disappeared back into the river to rejoin the rest of the nymphs, no
doubt, he thought.
He wanted to go to her but feared that she would never understand, that
she would only take it the wrong way, he cursed his body, how it would
always get in his way.
WileyKit resurfaced directly before him and fell down upon him, into his
arms. He lay on his back in the mud. He wrapped his arms around her
and kissed her cheek.
"It'll be all right, Kit."
"What do we do now?"
He looked into her eyes, he left his hands on her back and pressed her
body yet closer, yet deeper into his.
"Take your hover-board back to Cat's Lair. Tell them I was in an
accident but that I'm all right, tell them my board broke but that I'm
OK and that I'm on my way back home on foot. That'll be the end of it
but if they ask what happened I'll say the truth. I'll say that the
board crashed into a tree."
"You are so good to me," she said, she began to cry once again.
"Don't be sad."
He had lost it. So close and he had lost it. He was happy. She ran
her hands across his body and he got it back again and what was more was
that she knew and that he knew that she knew. He was nervous, utterly
nervous. She laughed and kissed him once on the lips -- much to
WileyKat's astonishment -- before they parted.
The sun set in a brilliant aura, like a swan fading into music.
Back at Cat's Lair, hours later, the adult Thundercats dinned quietly on
the meal that Snarf had taken the whole day to prepare. The round table
was abound with plates full of meats bought from the market, vegetables
hand-grown from the nearby gardens and, for desert, the mythical candy
fruit picked fresh from the bushes. Throughout the room -- the darkened
room whose walls were lined with windowed view of the starry night,
whose air was vented briskly cool to combat the oppressive summer heat,
whose only light came from green-glassed fixtures in the high ceiling --
the sounds of cutting, chewing and drinking echoed in unison to the
seductive odors emitting from the kitchen.
"Since I finished first, I'll begin," Panthro spoke gruffly,
forcefully. The others turned their eyes to him while they finished
their food. "Repairs to the Thunder Tank are nearing completion. I'm
sorry, that it's taken me this long -- I've been inundated with
complaints -- even from Snarf! -- that things have slowed down quite a
bit here, that maintenance has taken longer and longer to finish and,
worse, that I may have lost my edge." Everyone was silent, Liono put
his cup down and nearly formed an inaudible gulp. "Well, if I haven't
seemed to have been on my feet lately the answer is simple. Tygra and
I," at the last moment he caught himself, "Tygra and I have finalized
the plans for a new defense system with multiple-personal vehicles and
weaponry for us all. Since we discovered the old mines and abandoned
factories of first earth, I have made one crucial and critical discovery
after the next. Trust me that when I'm done there won't be one more
complaint lodged against me!"
He was about to howl or growl some more but Tygra stuck his hand out
just in time to stop the panther. He stroked his friend's exposed chest
-- over his beating heart -- open for all to see, open for all to know.
Neither Panthro nor Tygra acted on the merits of their conscious,
restrained minds but the tiger's consolation worked. Panthro merely
slammed down his cup on the tabletop -- an act that could have shattered
the glass, spilt it contents everywhere in an explosion, perhaps even
cut himself up badly but which only produced its desired effect -- the
other Thundercats were stunned dumb.
Without another word he got up from his seat, looked to his left, to the
only empty chair in the room and stormed out. There was no door to slam
-- or else he would have done that too -- rather he faded into the
darkness of the interior.
Everyone looked at Tygra.
"Um, well, I," he began fidgety, he shifted in his chair that only then
seemed to have turned entirely and unbearably uncomfortable. "I have
studied the technology of first earth and I believe that there is, um,
much there that can be useful. I believe that understanding it and
using it, um, will, um, make us stronger than the, um, mutants." He
tried to loosen his clothes around his collar. The tiger was hot and
sweated. Beads of liquid profused the fur of his mane, arms and the
rest of the parts of his body both covered and uncovered. Liono was
about to speak when: "I've finished several building designs for the,
um, Wolos and the Berbils. And I have spoken to, um, Willa, about the
security systems around the territory."
Liono had sat still all the while. He saw that Tygra's eyes fell fixed
on the empty chair across the table from him. Not Panthro's.
"And you, Cheetara?"
She looked up to him abruptly like if she had been caught in an act of
deviance -- albeit in her mind only. "I'm worried, Liono, why don't you
try the sword again."
The Lord of the Thundercats complied. He stood up to properly unhilt
the mystical weapon. Back on the chair he inspected the object. They
Eye of Thundera had not changed and there was no growling coming from
the sword. "The boy is fine," he said at last, "there is no danger."
Cheetara shook her head in compliance. "WileyKat's education is going
through another one of its lulls. He gets distracted, he dazes off into
space when he should be at work. He listens, of course, but by his eyes
I know his mind is elsewhere. Sometimes I've caught him talking to
himself and on more than one occasion I've seen him --" she put her head
down into her hands. "Every year, at about this time, it happens, every
year, year after year since -- I suppose that it's only natural. He's
growing up, his body's changing and all, but instead of getting better
he only gets worse. I sense something, something foul about him but I
dare not subject him to hypnoses or read his mind or anything else out
of fear of what horrific memory that might unleash. Remember that he
knows more, much more about what really happened than we know and he had
never once talked about it, thought about, made reference to it --
sometimes repressed memories and feelings can come out in drawings,
writings, in anything for any reason, but not with him as though nothing
had ever happened."
"Is there no therapy? No, um, medication?" Tygra asked, conformable
that the focus of attention was no longer on him.
"The remedy the victim must administer himself."
"That boy needs to learn a trade, if he is to become a truly useful
member of this team. He had one more year of general education and it
must be fruitful, Cheetara," Liono said. He looked at her: she had
nodded ‘yes’ but her eyes were fixed on that empty chair but then, just
then she looked down to her left hand. "Tygra, I want you to take that
"Yes. I want him to learn discipline and I think so too that you would
benefit much from caring for him in that way. No -- it would be good
for the both of you. You are both Tigers, somewhat and the boy clearly
need someone like him to look up to, someone else like him to admire."
"I, um, would gladly do it but --"
"Excellent. Start off easy with him. Get to know what he likes and
then school him around it, on it, hone him in on it."
"But you know, um, what Panthro thinks of him --"
>From behind the wall in the darkness of the vast, winded passage,
WileyKat heard well the full force and brunt of what the adults had
"You leave Panthro to me," Liono said. WileyKat stepped boldly into the
room. "And stop placating him like that, you'll only encourage that
kind of behavior."
"Hi, Kat," Cheetara said.
The boy walked up to her and held her hand while she sat on the chair.
He leaned over and gave her a kiss. He heard a giggle and stopped and
drew back. He looked around the room but he could not see WileyKit.
"She must be somewhere," he thought to himself. "Hi," he said back to
"WileyKat," Liono said. He then stood behind the boy and put his hands
on his shoulders while he pulled him back further from the cheetah.
"I know, but don't you know?"
"I had an accident. I crashed my hover-board into a tree and broke it."
"Um, won't Panthro be glad to hear that, too," Tygra said under his
breath but the adults had managed to make out the murmurs. WileyKat,
too, but he had not reacted like the others.
He kept his eyes on Cheetara's breasts, he kept his eyes on her beauty.
There were more giggles. He squirmed under Liono's grip to turn around,
to not face the other adults.
"You won't have that fixed properly for a while and that's a good
thing. Instead of wasting your time playing and frolicking around all
over third earth, you'll be with Tygra, studying."
"You heard me, you are to be Tygra's squire, he's you master and
"OK," he said. He bent his head down. He could clearly see his and
"Oh, come on, you should be happy, you're growing up the old-fashioned
way." Liono ran his fingers down and across WileyKat's bushy mane until
the boy began to laugh. "That's the spirit. Go with Snarf to the
kitchen, he'll make you something to eat before you go to bed. You
should have a good night's rest, you will have a big day tomorrow, a big
day. Your apprenticeship will begin promptly after breakfast."
Somewhere down in the depths, in the garage, Panthro's screamed loudly.
"I guess he found your hover-board. Go, go before he come sup to look
for you," Liono concluded.
"There was no reason for him to be so angry at you, Kat, after all, it
was an accident." She spoke while she spooned the mash potatoes and
gravy. "We're almost done with the icky vegetables." Her brother was
about to speak but she cut him off: "No, no, don't, let me, let me take
care of you. You need a lot of that, you know."
She put the spoon in his mouth and he ate of it.
With the spoon up right she continued her mini-lecture for a moment.
"How many accidents has he caused with those machines of his? When he
built the Thunder Tank he nearly ran over Berbil village." She had
already ladled a large fill of the gravy along with most of what was
left of the vegetables. "Or that new engine he and Tygra worked on, the
one that almost destroyed Cat's Lair. And no body ever yelled at him."
WileyKit put the plate down in the serving tray on the makeshift table.
The bedroom was totally dark except for the bright lights of the
bathroom behind her, that cast her form in shadows, her silhouette in
darkness and the TV that played what programs could be picked up from
the interstellar antennae that flashed colors sporadically in the silent
chamber. Once again he was taken aback, forced and yet at once utter
willing to take in her pefectious beauty.
"We'll teach him, soon enough, I don't want you to worry about that mean
She put a candy cane fruit in his mouth but she let him eat chew on it
at his own pace.
"And what about that Tygra? Well, at least you won't be spending so
much time ogling over Cheetara. Don't you think I know how you stare at
her, undress her with your eyes while you sit in class. You wish we
were back on Thundera, don't you, so that your eyes and perhaps your
hands, too, could wander and roam freely." She took his free hand into
her own and giggle. "Feel me,” he ran his hand across her breasts, “I
think they’re big enough for me right now, but I, too, wonder when or if
they’ll ever be like Cheetara’s. Ah, you don't need her, besides, she's
Liono's and she's old, too, real old, too old for you. She would never
let anything happen between you and her. You'd have a better chance of
being serviced down there by the Warrior Maidens. Oh, don't think I
don't know what goes on in that head up there and in that other one."
She ran her fingers across his forehead then very quickly, very gently
poked him below his belt under his tunic. "We came out of the same
place, nothing is strange between you and me and I know all about you,
about what you hope for and what you wish for. You don't need any other
girl when you have me."
She kissed his hand.
With a napkin she wiped his lips and the sides of his cheeks.
"Go, go wash-up. I have to do something here."
He got up from under her to some more giggles.
"Oh, you," she said, she gave him a little shove.
While he walked into the bathroom he saw her open a small box he had not
really seen before, ever before. Its exact nature was unknown. She
opened the lid coyly and dropped an object inside with a slight grin.
"Go and don't close the door. I need the light."
He was out of view but the conversation continued.
"Tygra makes me nervous."
"I don't like that I have to, that I have to spend all that time with
him. Things are changing so fast it seems like I get to spend less and
less time with you. I hate it when things change, Kit, I hated leaving
Thundera, I hated when --"
"When what, Kat?" She asked. He had been silent.
"When, when I. When I had to start school. I was so uncomfortable with
Cheetara in the beginning. Now Tygra. I know he and Panthro talk about
be behind my back. I have to call him 'master'? That's not fair, Kit,
that's just not fair. I'd rather have Liono."
He walked out of the bathroom stark naked. His muddy clothes he had
sent down through the laundry chute She walked up to him and wrapped
her arms around him though to clothe his body with her own, though to
wrap herself around him completely, totally, deliberately. She pressed
herself firmly on him, she rubbed all the way up and down his back. She
withdrew somewhat and began to run her hands across his chest. She
giggled at what she then felt -- not at what she alone could see, like
before, but at what she could actually feel and without the aid of her
"They shouldn't treat someone so good so bad, Kat, but don't you worry
about that," she kissed him on the lips, she rested her hands behind his
ears, "don't you worry about that."
"You are so beautiful, Kit, did I ever tell you?"
"All the time you just don't know it."
He kissed her back, equally if not more passionately.
The bed no longer had the box on it and so he led her to it. He pushed
back the blankets and helped her in. Her clothes were already on the
floor elsewhere. She guided him next to her and for a while the two,
the twins lay silent side-by-side, face-to-face, panting into each other
The halls echoed in that low wail. Down in the subbasements of Cat's
Lair, oddly better lighted than the esteemed upper portions, the lonely
Snarf treaded to his room. He walked across the floor on four legs,
barely inches off the ground he had regretted he had not vacuumed
earlier. The moldy dust had combound with a stagnant humidity to form
coughs and powerful sniffles.
"What a miserable place this is."
The walls were of a thin, brown stone native to the site where the
building itself stood. The ceiling was tall but then most everything
was tall to him. The floor was also stone but smooth and polished. The
large sections of tile shined in the dull light cast by the lamps
"Why would WileyKat want to live down here? Snarf. Snarf. A boy his
age should be up with the others, not --"
The door to WileyKat's bedroom loomed before him. From the crevice he
could see that some sort of light was on inside and his first thought,
his first impulse was that the boy should not be up but asleep. After
all, starting tomorrow, his whole life would change forever. Nothing
could ever be the same. Again.
"That boy needs his sleep."
He reached up for the door knob then stopped suddenly. He perched his
ear up against the sturdy frame. Up to that point his coughs and his
sneezes had muffled the sound but just then it became intolerably clear
to him. There must have been animals in that room: the grunts, the
snarls, the moans, the groans.
"It must be something from the TV," he tried to reason with himself.
Then he remembered the food. "That's right. He took his dinner down
here. Well -- Snarf. Snarf. -- that's my department, isn't it? I'll
just go in with the excuse that I have to collect the serving tray --
yes! -- and in the process I’ll figure out what in Jagga's name's going
on around here."
He opened the door. There were two roars, one masculine, one feminine.
"Kit! Kit!" A loud voice called. "Kit!" That last one seemed to go on
and on forever, beyond the capacity of the body to prolong the duration
of the spoken word.
"WileyKit?" Snarf was confused.
He entered, he walked into the shadows in the recesses of WileyKat's
bedroom. All the while the animal sounds had not ceased though they may
have quieted a little. Well inside the chamber, Snarf was aware of yet
more noises, telltale noises and just as quickly as he had entered
boldly he exited cowardly. He dared not even bring the door to a
complete close for fear that the sound would only alarm his overt,
Out in the hall Snarf was absolutely horrified.
"His own sister! Snarf! Snarf! His own sister!"
The others would have to know, he would have to tell Liono.
All was quiet again, the whole world was deadly quiet.
"Cheetara. I'll have to tell Cheetara. I'll have to tell her
tomorrow. She'll know what to do about this. Snarf. Snarf."
He was oddly aware -- or perhaps paranoid -- that he was being overheard
from inside WileyKat's room. Already disturbed and more than quite
distraught he turned and began to walk back to his room. When he was no
more than a few feet away he heard to his absolute horror that
WileyKat's bedroom door had at last but not by itself -- not on itself
-- closed shut with a loud click.
The next morning WileyKat was alarmed by the sun light that broke
through the windows of his bedroom. He was surprised that his sister
was not on top of him. He was also surprised that the felt so tired, so
Slowly he got out of bed and walked to one of the windows where there
was less light coming through. He could see the underside of the
bridge, the walls of the canyon on the other side of the thin ravine,
the dark ravine that separated Cat's Lair from the rest of the
surrounding country side.
He turned around still weary, still achy. His legs were sore and felt
oddly arthritic. His hands were also unusually spent.
The room was exactly the way he had left it the last night before he
shut his eyes. His dinner plates, utensils and cups remained in the
serving tray on the small desk. He was astounded that Snarf had not
come and picked up those items.
WileyKat moved to approach the table and saw from the corner of his eyes
that on the floor next to the bed was the box, was WileyKit's box.
Intrigued, he went down to take a better look of it but before he could
get any closer his sister entered from almost out of no where in one of
those discontinuities of hers. She shook the box and made sure it was
closed before she slid it under the bed out of sight.
"Sorry, I forgot to put it away after I came back."
"Came back? Where did you go?"
"I had to take care of something."
WileyKat looked stunned.
"You're tired, aren't you? Oh, there, there," she cradled him in her
arms. She let him drop the side of his face down onto her breasts.
"You were so nice to hold me last night afterwards. I expected you to
just get off of me but you stayed in until the end."
"I don't know, Kit, I feel like I ran a marathon. Are you sure that
nothing else happened last night?"
She let go of him and drew back.
"Snarf walked in on us."
He turned white. "What did he see?" he asked.
"Who did he tell?"
"No one and he won't ever tell anyone either, Kat, because I fixed it, I
handled it. Just like you fixed my problem yesterday. I returned the
"You're too good and too decent. You're not like Tygra, your, um,
'master.' Um, what did he ever do? Got himself addicted time and time
again to rocks, fruits, flowers. No one ever yelled at him. No one
ever called him, um, weird. No one ever talked about him behind his
back. And on top of that, he's the responsible one, the trusted one,
the leader. Even after he let, um, Mumm-Ra get the Sword of Omens, even
after it, um, was his fault the sword, um, was broken. No, it's you who
they pick on, my dear brother, it's you who's the target and for what
reason? Because of the crime that you love me -- what Cheetara will
never have!" She cupped him in her hands and gently, gently stroked him
with her thumb. "My noble and sweet brother."
"What about Snarf?"
He kissed her on the lips while she held him entirely vulnerably.
She pressed her forefingers up to his lips to silence him. "He's of no
consequence anymore. Trust me. But it's almost time, you'll be late
for breakfast." She kissed him once more. "Wash up. I'll wait for
WileyKat entered with the serving tray in his hands, he was disturbed by
the silence. The kitchen was dark and cold. It was well past sunrise,
Snarf should have been there already about to ration out the breakfast.
Instead, when he turned on the lights, he found emptiness.
The refrigerator hummed softly. Water trickled from the sink for
Panthro had not yet repaired the cold-spigot's washer. One of the
fluorescent lights vibrated in the most disturbing way.
He walked further inward, his footsteps resonated in dense, shiny floor.
At the back he put the used serving tray entirely into the deep metal
basin of the sink. Next to that, on the black countertop under warm
spotlights, in a thick wire contraption was all of yesterday's
dinnerware spotlessly clean.
Before he stepped out of the kitchen he walked past the stove -- which
was unused -- and opened a side drawer next to the refrigerator. For
some reason he could not understand he opened it. Inside was a set
knives used to carve meals on special occasions. Except that one meat
cleaver in particular was not there and what was more -- he knew it
would not be there.
He cracked his knuckles and then and there under the bright lamps he saw
that his hands were covered by gashes, scratches, small cuts. Nothing
major, nothing overtly noticeable.
"Come on, come on to the table, Kat."
He looked around. One of the heavy kitchen doors swayed forward,
backward but his sister he could not see. By the time he reached the
exit the doors were sill and it took him more than the usual effort to
force them open.
In the dinning hall, seated around the table was Cheetara, an empty
chair where Liono would sit, Tygra, Panthro, a wide arc were there were
no more chairs, then his own, then at last, at the end was his sister.
She sat in Snarf's place.
WileyKat walked around the circumference of the table. The adults --
who had conversed freely -- had stopped silent when they had noticed
that he had entered.
He looked at his sister.
He passed Cheetara: "Good morning, Kat, you look tired."
"I know." WileyKat smiled at her. Her nipples showed more than usually
through her dress. His sister began to laugh and pointed at him.
He passed Tygra: "Um, we have to talk later."
"I know." WileyKat noticed that there were large numbers of blue hairs
on and around the tiger's crotch, in which, by the way, he also noticed
the outline --
He passed Panthro. The 'mean old man' grunted and whispered something
under his breath while he rolled his eyes. His fur was superannuated,
typical for the summer when Thunderians begin to shed.
"I know," WileyKat said.
"Oh, don't we know," his sister continued.
"Stop it you two, there are more important things right now," Cheetara
said. "We can't find Snarf anywhere." WileyKat looked at her. "Liono
went out to find him."
"Sit down, WileyKat," his sister said. "You'll only --"
"All right," he complied.
"That damned Snarf! Complain, complain, complain, that's all he does!
I hope he's gotten stuck in his litter box."
WileyKat's somber state was perturbed by Tygra who had gotten up
quickly from his seat and walked around over to his would-be student.
Panthro reached out to stop him but it was too late to do anything about
The tiger knelt down to the body's eye level and whispered into his
ear. "It seems breakfast is going to be late. Why don't we wait until
after lunch," WileyKat looked right into his eyes, so deeply, so closely
he could see his own reflection in their glossiness. "Cheetara has a
few things she wants to do with you and I need a bit more time to
The boy gave no answer. He did not have to, at that very moment Liono
stormed into the room violently.
"Did you find him? Did the Sword of Omens show you where he was?"
Cheetara asked then she turned around in a loud gasp. She saw that his
hands were covered in blood up to the elbows. The fresh blood, the
dense red blood, dripped and tickled in the floor in elongated drops.
WileyKit smiled, she almost giggled but put her hands over her mouth
though to try to keep the sounds down.
A window in the back of the dinning room smashed and shattered to
pieces. The Thundercats in the vicinity -- Panthro, Tygra and WileyKat
-- ran for cover. But it was not a stone thrown by some disgruntled
interloper, it was Snarf's body, in flames, with a torn noose around the
Cheetara got up and screamed hysterically, Liono, with his bloodied
hands in over his already red hair babbled about water or a blanket to
put out the fire. Only WileyKit remained calm and levelheaded but then
she did nothing either way inclined.
At the end the flames cleared themselves. The body had not been very
badly damaged by the fire because it was wet. It had begun to rain only
a few moments before but just then the outside climate worsened with
thunder and lighting.
The body, covered in deep gashes and wide rents, did not move.
The central stairwell was lit not from any windows -- the gray concrete
walls were featureless -- but from the crystalline skylight. The glass
was tempered and a gray color that changed colors from almost clear to
completely black depending on the ambient intensity. It was still
morning and though it was raining the clouds were not so thick.
The air was damp with fresh moisture. The handrail was coated in a
slight film of cold water. The individual steps were of a deeper shade
of gray but were not wet. There was no danger in slipping.
WileyKat descended one, then two, then three stories until from the
upper halls where the irrationally evacuated dining room resided he was
at the same level as the garage. In fact he passed that large room on
his way to see Cheetara.
Large chains hung from pulleys on up high from the tall ceiling from
within the support framework of thin metal spokes. The design was
highly geometrical but had the uncanny air of a spider web unfurled,
unwound if such a thing were even possible. The rest of the garage
consisted on odd mixture of opened and unopened crates, spare parts held
in red containers, miscellaneous tools and supplies along the floor
every which way and, of course, the vehicles -- broken. His own
hover-board in three pieces and the Thunder Tank, some of its engine was
on the floor scattered in chaos.
All the way in the back, beyond the scope of sight even for him, was
Tygra’s workbench. The tiger worked amidst scrolls of blue paper. He
gave his would-be master a quick wave but was unsure if he had been
Down a wide hall with long fluorescent fixtures he walked by countless
doors. One of them opened with the sound of a toilet flush. Panthro
stood before him, his right hand on the doorknob. He had an amiable
look on his face until he saw the boy. It was incredible how many
wrinkles and contortions his brow metamorphosized into.
Somehow, something about that seemed dreadfully familiar to WileyKat.
The blue panther said nothing but he did utter a few low grunts and
there was a hiss when the boy was the closest to him. For the most
part, though his heart raced in fear and in panic he was confidant that
nothing would happen to him, nothing physical any ways. He did not
answer Panthro but he did stare attentively into his eyes. Panthro
deflected his path away from the boy and disappeared in the garage.
Another door opened but that time a friendlier face came to great him.
“Kat,” his sister said. She ran to him in open arms from the school
“Kit,” he hugged her. “I’m so happy to see you, I’ve missed you.”
“We’ve only been apart a few hours.”
“It felt like an eternity, like forever.”
“You don’t have to hide, I know you were afraid back there. That mean
old man needs to be straightened out.”
“But I don’t understand why he hates me so much. And it’s not just
because of the hover-boards. Nothing I do ever makes him happy.”
“Panthro only gets meaner and meaner every year.”
“I stopped trying along time ago, Kit, I don’t care about him or what he
thinks. I just want to know what I did, that’s all, I want to know what
excuse he gave to condemn me to this tortured alienation.”
“Don’t give him that much, not even that much.”
The door to the classroom closed shut and for a moment, for a little
tiny moment WileyKat thought he saw Cheetara but dismissed it all
“I guess I have to go.”
She kissed him on the lips and petted him before she, too, disappeared
down the corridor behind him.
In the classroom Cheetara stood by an open window with the most
spectacular of wide rolling, green with trees that swayed in the
noiseless wind. She held a tissue before her face to wipe away the
tears. She noticed he had entered from the sound the door made when it
shut with a click.
Cheetara stumbled over to him gave him the biggest hug he had ever had
from her. Her hair fell into his face and he very discretely pushed it
back with his hand, then -- and then he let his hand drop to her side
with all the casual excuse of her own rhythmic rocking.
His fingers felt the warmth of her body but he wanted more. He wanted
to run his hands across under her breasts at the least but held back
when he heard the giggling. He turned back, broke away from her hold to
look around the room but could not find his sister anywhere.
“What will we do today, Cheetara?”
“I don’t know. Something terrible happened today. Were you
“I was surprised. I didn’t think that was going to happen.”
She looked at him funny.
“What did you think was going to happen?”
He shook his head: “I’m not sure.”
Cheetara got up from the floor on which she had been kneeling. She
handed him several sheets of paper and a pen. “Why don’t we do this,
you’ll, write a letter to friend about Snarf’s murder, about what
happened and what you feel about it.”
“Can it be to WileyKit?”
She looked though her eyes were about to burst out of their sockets.
She leaned her head back, nose up in the air, hear hair separated and
parallel to her body. “Of course.” She pulled out a chair for him and
helped him to the seat. “Are you all right? Do you need anything?”
“No, I’ll be fine.”
Cheetara ran her hands across WileyKat’s mane and carefully adjusted his
tunic because it was somewhat disheveled, somewhat lopsided especially
around his legs. He resisted her at the beginning in the way he did
lately but then relented at the end. With one more gentle pat of his
head she walked out of the classroom.
“Dear Kit,” she heard him say under his breath while be started to
scribble away on the blank sheet. The empty sheet. Out in the hall she
looked to her left, she looked to her right in disbelief.
“Snarf,” she whispered, “why Snarf, too, after all these years?”
The examination room.
The ceiling was ten feet high and covered, crisscrossed with pipes and
struts of various sizes. Faint droplets of moisture leaked from the
cast iron tubes. Small pools of water formed along miniature basins,
nearly imperceptible defects that marred the otherwise flat surface.
The walls were a light, blue concrete with rough but glossy texture.
The floor was a white tile and was shiny.
>From thin, horizontal windows perched on the fringe between the ceiling
and the vast northern wall great bursts of sunshine mixed with lightning
bolts illuminated the interior scene. The strong sounds of the rain
hitting the glass echoed loudly. There was no dampness, there was no
smell of moisture. Instead the room was inundated with the telltale
odor of burnt flesh and hair.
One a small table made from cemented gray bricks at the center of the
room was a deep metal dish with a white shoal covering, hugging closely
the contours of an unseen object. The thin blanket -- stained yellow in
numerous places -- was held in place at the corners by the weight of
knives, scissors and other heavy implements.
Three male Thundercats stood around the deep metal basin.
“Are you sure you, um, want to go through this, Liono?” Tygra asked. He
looked up to the lion whose eyes had not left that mysteriously covered
object since he had entered the chamber.
“I have to, Tygra, I have to.”
“You might want to wear this,” Panthro handed him a surgical mask, “for
“Um, we, um, must all, um, wear them.”
After the three suited prepared Tygra pulled back the white shoal. “I
had to shave the body, the fire, um, may have been either, um, weak or,
um, weakened by the rain but the charred fibers, um, were just too
intrusive to the examination. I also amputated the tail,” he lifted
Snarf’s body just a tiny bit to show Liono where the tail was.
“Why don’t you start from the beginning,” said Panthro.
“Tygra, why does the body look so flat?” Liono held his hand over his
already covered mouth. He had to look away but he could not move his
head out of the fear that he might gag.
“That’s part of the autopsy, I had to remove the internal organs. But
let’s, let’s start from the top.”
Panthro put his arms around Liono to hold him up.
“Snarf, um, was hit over the head with a blunt object. See the
indentations around the eyes? That’s, um, were the blow landed. I’m
not exactly sure, um, what the object could have been but by the, um,
way the skin in that area bruised you could almost, um, make out the
imprint of knuckles.”
“He was hit over the head?”
“Yes. That’s, um, what I’m guessing at. It’s also the only bruise on
him. The cuts and gashes that, um, mar the rest of the corpse, um, was
inflicted after death, um, when he, um, was hung on a tree.”
“The rope, the noose around his neck,” Panthro began, “had traces of
pine needles, the trees that surround the candy fruit bushes.”
“So far that’s about all, um, we found --”
Liono momentarily lost track of what Tygra and Panthro said. His eyes
roamed the corpse from head to toe and back again. Snarf’s eyes were
open and bloodshot, blackened, charred from the flames, rotted green and
yellow and oddly seemed to still be moist. The mouth was only slightly
ajar but he could see clearly the tongue that hung loosely toward the
back of the throat, the teeth blindingly white and clean.
The Lord of the Thundercats shook his head violently and managed to
break free from Panthro’s hold. The body was completely unrecognizable
in that hairless state. A part of him, a large part at that, could not
believe that his beloved nanny was dead.
“And so cruel and so violent a death,” he could not distinguish or
control his inner voice from what he spoke aloud. “But you say you
“The thumb of the left hand is, um, missing.” Tygra took Snarf’s dead
hand and peeled back the fingers to show the jagged stump where the
missing appendage had been. “It, um, was ripped off.”
"Um, well, Liono," Tygra said. He tried desperately hard to delay.
"Um, we found a, um, message in his anal cavity."
Liono shot back in utter surprise. Under the white mask the other two
Thundercats could see that his mouth, his lips moved in the form of word
that he dared not speak, utter. "What, what, what, what drove you to
Panthro put his hand over his face lucky that his mask hid his smile
well but it was another matter to stifle the oncoming laughter. His
eyes turned red. The panther walked to the side, his back to the other
men, he walked out of the room and when in the hall it was clear -- it
was undeniably clear -- that his body shook in the convulsed spasms of
Tygra kept his eyes down on the ground. He wanted to use the right
words but could state the facts only: "A candy fruit, um, was sticking
out of his rectum. Apparently that's how the, um, message, um, was
jammed up in there, in the anal cavity."
Liono looked up at him with such an intense gaze that his eyes could
have popped out, could have actually popped out. He walked backwards
into the recesses of the examination room. His mind raced oblivious to
Tygra -- who remained in place -- he was completely and totally
unaware of the world, of existence, or reality.
“The, um, message, um, was, needless to say, badly stained. Right now
it’s in the lab, Panthro and I are busy trying to, to, to fix it up so,
um, we can read it.”
“By when do you think that can be done?”
“If, um, we, um, were to, um, work on it all the rest of today and, um,
maybe tomorrow --”
“Do it, do nothing else but that, I want to know what, by Jagga, is
responsible for this.”
>From an air duct hidden within the network of pipes up in the ceiling,
WileyKat and WileyKit saw and listened to the whole events while the
“WileyKat’s apprenticeship will have to wait for later, this problem is
far more important.”
“I, um, will tell him as soon as I see him.”
“All that boy has seen, all that boy has had to go through and now
this. We have to be careful with him. Perhaps I should take on the
responsibility myself at least for the meantime. In any case, that will
all have to wait until this business has come to an end.”
“This isn’t good, Kat.”
WileyKat and his sister were back in the safety of their room. After he
had helped her out of the ventilation duct he began to reinserted the
thin mesh grate over the opening until he heard the familiar click that
alerted that it was secure in place. He looked up at her while he arose
from the floor. His sister stood by the open windows, the wind ruffled
her clothes in the air.
“You did that to Snarf?”
He had walked up to her side, she put her hands over his mouth to stifle
“I did what had to be done. He knew too much, he saw too much and he
was more than willing, indeed, he had intended to tell Liono and
Cheetara about us. Did you want that to happen? Could you imagine what
would follow? You and I, we would be separated. Those, adults, would
never let us see or touch each other again.”
She moved her hand down between his legs.
“Would you have wanted that?”
She began to stroke him.
“Don’t laugh at me when it happens,” he looked down on her breasts, he
did not see the smile that had formed on her face. His heart raced, he
panted for breath. “Kit, that’s incredible.”
“Let’s go all the way --”
“No, we can’t,” he pulled away. “Snarf’s funeral is later today. I
don’t think we should be doing stuff like that for a while, like that
“You do forgive me, don’t you?”
He leaned in closer to her and, with his hands roaming her hair he
kissed her lips. “I could never be angry at you.” Now he was sly in
response, he let his one hand press up against her chest while the other
ran up her dress between her legs in return.
“Oh, Kat,” she giggled. “Oh, you’re so bad!” She lightly palmed him
across his chest. “Oh, don’t stop, no, don’t stop.”
Then she turned white, almost ghost while and stared more than usually
into the distance. She looked down on her brother and walked away back
to the wall, to the darkness of the shadows past the windows. Cold,
“What’s the matter, Kit, did I hurt you?” He ran to her. “I didn’t
“No, no, that’s not it. Kat. We have to get that message.”
“The one Tygra and Panthro found in Snarf. I don’t know what I was
thinking when I wrote it, I was so upset, I was so angry at what
happened, at what I had to do and at the others. That Panthro, that
Tygra, how I want to wring their necks! How I hate them!”
WileyKit cried loudly into WileyKat’s shoulder. He held her close to
his body in his arms. He rocked her gently back and forth, left and
“It’ll be all right, Kit, it’ll be all right.” He lifted her face up to
his. “Tonight, when everyone’s asleep, we’ll crawl up into the lab and
we’ll take care of that message.”
“It’s important, Kat, if any of them find it, if they can read it --”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. Kit? Did you see how everything
worked out well at the end.”
She laughed. “Yes. At least Liono will be better to you than that,
better than Panthro’s ‘friend.’”
“Yeah, his ‘special’ friend.”
They laughed together.
“Liono was always nice to us, ever since we were all kids. I don’t know
what’s gotten into his head that now he thinks he’s the bedrock of
leadership. I bet it’s only an act, I bet that, when you and he are
along that he goes back to being his usual self. Still, you knew that
this day would come, you knew that sooner or later you would have to go
“This growing up. I don’t want to be an adult, Kit, I don’t what to
have all that responsibility. You know what I would do if we lived in
paradise I would take you to an island, far, far away and we would live
together there without a care in the world.”
“Oh?” she asked.
“Yeah and we would be naked all the time.”
“Not all the time?”
“All the time, Kit, there wouldn’t be any part of our bodies that we
would not know completely, totally, intimately.”
She blushed. “But what if it gets cold?”
“Then I’ll keep you warm, in my bed.”
“Tell me you love me again.”
WileyKat had forgotten that the Thundercats had a cemetery -- a flat
clearing of ankle-high grass surrounded by old trees. The storm had
dissipated early that afternoon but the ground was still moist. Tygra
and Panthro -- mostly Panthro -- found that digging the deep hole was
rather simple due to the loose mud. The two worked covered in thick
canvas overalls to protect themselves from the contamination of the dirt
but it must have killed them in that profuse heat of that summer day.
Juxtaposed to that muggy, stagnant scene was a cool, strong wind. The
unexpected breezes would momentarily push clouds before the way of the
sun and cast the land in a mild shadow, would sway the treetops, would
rub branches together and would form sounds of disquiet and of unusual
solemnity. On occasion the gusts were so strong that what droplets of
moisture that had remained on the green leaves of the tall arbors or on
the fluffy tendrils of the trim grass would fly into the air, would rain
into the scene though the world itself cried.
One of the drops landed in Liono’s eye and he had to rub it away. His
eyes were left unusually red, Cheetara’s too, but her lips curled though
she was about to snarl in revulsion. She clung close to him, her arms
draped down across his waste in a semi-embrace.
The air was scented in a misty dew that sent WileyKat back to the green
open fields and blue, clear skies of Thundera. He walked around the
others. He peered into the hole that slowly, ever so slowly got deeper
and deeper. “Just to what depth was Snarf going to be buried?” he
thought to himself, “Or are they going to send him back to hell?”
While he explored with his eyes he stumbled upon a headstone, a black
rock with faint and withered carvings. The plaque he and Liono had
carried from Cat’s Lair was identical to that one on the earth under
him. Then he remembered that in fact he had been to that cemetery once
before, shortly after they had arrived from Thundera.
“Why would they have buried Jagga? After all, we never found his
body.” He looked around slyly, coyly. “I suppose it could have been
out of respect but I just wish I could remember more.”
Only the faintest, shadowy visions of the past came to him, came to his
mind. He saw Liono on the ground, hitting the earth with his clenched
fists. Cheetara was trying to console him, but she, too, cried
uncontrollably. Tygra moved around with the shovel, he tried not to
speak to anybody. But the strangest thing of all was that Panthro --
yes -- Panthro was actually nice to him. The blue Thundercat paid no
attention to his sister and for a few moments WileyKat felt that there
was no one else, that there was nothing else in the whole universe
except for himself and Panthro, locked together in a deep and warm
embrace. He never realized before how much he missed that intimacy.
Yet, he did not understand, neither he nor his sister were moved by what
was happening or what had happened the way the others were.
“I guess we just never knew Jagga that well,” he said.
WileyKit sat on a mound of dirt before him.
“Where did you come from?”
“I was always right here, Kat, you were just too busy in la-la-land to
notice. What about Jagga?”
He shook his head gently and ran his hands across strands of hair that
had come down before her eyes and pushed them back. “It doesn’t
“Those tow are looking at us.”
WileyKat turned his head around slightly to see that his sister was
right. Liono and Cheetara stared attentively at him. “Just jealous,
that’s all, those two could never have what we have, Kit, we are one,
you and I are one. Two halves of one body, two forms of one soul.”
“We better get back. Tygra and Panthro have finished digging up the
“Do you remember the last time we were here?”
“I don’t think we were ever here, Kat, or at least I never was.”
“I think I remember some of the details --”
“Don’t!” she said uncharacteristically sternly. “Don’t. I’m sure
there’s only sadness and pain. Let’s not have any of that stuff today,
OK?” She had managed to soften her tone. Her brother nodded his head
in compliance and just like that the matter dropped and died.
The twins walked hand in hand to the side of the finished tomb, next to
an enormous pile of dirt -- red, black and muddy -- that Tygra and
Panthro had unearthed. The two shovels that had been used in the
macabre chore stood planted in the loose soil upright.
“The catapult was right in front of Cat’s Lair,” Liono whispered to
Cheetara. “Right at the end of the bridge.”
“Tygra told me it was in flames.”
“It was a primitive design, easy to build from spare parts.”
“Could it have been made by the Warrior Maidens?” she asked.
Liono blinked his eyes suddenly. “Did look like it but I doubt they
were the ones who did it. Someone might have stolen the catapult from
“There was a trial, a mud trail that led into Cat’s Lair but the soil
was thin and the rain water did much to erode the evidence,” Tygra
continued from the pit below.
Liono and Cheetara picked up a long, flat wooden gurney upon which was a
tightly-wrapped object. It was clear to everyone present merely from
the general form and outline that is was Snarf. He had been thoroughly
covered to protect the Thundercats from seeing what had become of their
much beloved companion. Those two carefully maneuvered into the pit,
they held the gurney by the ends. When they reached the bottom their
feet were immersed up to the shins in the soil. Long worms, wet and
slimy, crawled all around them.
Snarf’s body was dumped down there in the darkness complete with the
wooden gurney. WileyKat was sure no one wanted to see that anymore.
The pit was so deep those two needed help to get out. Liono was the
first to ascend with the aid of Panthro. He then went on to help up his
cheetah. Then while the tiger and the panther looked on crouched on the
ground the remainder of the adult Thundercats took the shovels and began
to fill up the grave.
At the end, after about an hour from the start, the ground acame to a
fresh swell. The loose soil tumbled about scattered in the clearing.
Worms and the green snatches of grass displaced from the digging poked
up through the new, brown surface. Liono patted down the small bulge of
earth as best as he could with the flat, working end of the shovel but
he stopped when he saw how futile the effort was. He left that up to
nature to correct the matter in its own time.
The headstone fit into place nicely, neatly and almost perfectly
parallel to the other, older one abandoned on the side. The lettering
on it had been filled with gold. Tygra had said that it would keep the
carved letters from fading or eroding at least for a while.
Liono nodded. Then the Thundercats gathered around him in a semicircle
before Snarf’s grave. “I tried to think of some thing to say but none
of what I came up with would make much sense to you all. Snarf was the
closest to me, closer even than my own father ever was. I know you’re
going to laugh or think this unusual but for a while -- no -- for a long
while there was a part of me that actually believed he was my father --”
WileyKat looked to his side -- apparently the others were too caught up
with emotion themselves, even Tygra, to have noticed. His sister
laughed and violently, too. She had doubled over with her arms wrapped
across her stomach, she was in pain, her sides ready to burst open, her
eyes watered and turned blood red. She was about to cry and it was
hard, very hard for him to tell just when her mirth had ended and her
sadness had begun.
WileyKit had by that time let go of his hand and free he moved from the
outer edge of the semicircle to be closer to Liono and Cheetara at the
center. The Lord of the Thundercats had about finished his speech when
he looked down on the boy, his sister’s laughter-sobs then came from the
distance, the faraway distance. He reached his hands out and gently pet
the kitten’s mane.
“Thundercats,” he said, he pulled free the Sword of Omens from the Claw
“Ho!” the others responded.
“Thundercats --” he looked at the Eye of Thundera, the sword responded
“Ho?” the mystical image growled, the hilt vibrated.
“Thundercats --” he looked back down on the boy with the strangest, the
most frighteningly contorted face.
Then there was silence.
Liono, with his eyes unmoved from the muddy earth turned away from the
others. Tygra and Panthro followed him with the shovels that they
carried perched on their shoulders. Cheetara took WileyKat’s hands and
warmed them -- rubbed them in her own. He was nervous that she would
notice the cuts and wonder where those wounds had come from.
Instead she picked him up and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around
her neck, his chest was pressed up against her breasts. He kissed her
on the cheek and then --
WileyKit had been quiet but she now pointed and laughed at her brother.
She giggled and jumped up and down in the air almost innocently, almost
innocently. Cheetara noticed that there was something wrong, too, she
broke his hold around her and moved him off of her body. She held him
up in the air at about her eye level at arm’s distance. She noticed for
more than a fleeting moment that the boy had done more than simply look
down upon her, he ogled at her in that way that men were want to and on
top of that his own involuntary reaction was both clear and undeniable.
Cheetara put the youngster down and with her hands covering her
welled-up eyes she ran away back to the others who were well within the
forest trail back to Cat’s Lair.
His sister came up to him and whispered into his ear: “See, I told you
He looked at her, he was about to cry. “I didn’t know she would react
that way. Do you think that she still, likes me, Kit? She won’t hate
me the way Panthro does?”
“I don’t know.”
“No, I never wanted that, I never wanted things to change.”
“Not everything has to.” She petted him under his tunic and with that
tease and his heightened response she continued: “Over there, by the
trees, I’ll finish you over there. Would you like that?”
She did not wait for his answer.
The tall, thin windows of Tygra’s lab were covered in dense, heavy lead
curtains. Odd, for there was nothing to block out but the darkness of
the night or perhaps it was to keep others from looking in. The vast
room itself was cold -- almost freezing -- the humming of the central
air conditioners remained static in the background. A dark, blue light
bathed over a cluttered workbench.
There was a single sheet of paper in a clear and hollow cube. Tygra
placed small iron weights on the corners of the document to weigh to
down flat. He slid shut the box and carefully placed it within a
larger, metal device whose shape, grossly distorted by the vaporous
shadow, reminded the Thundercat of Slythe’s profile. He flicked a
button and a great burst of light shot out from the cracks and seams of
“You’ve been working on that all day,” Panthro said.
Tygra looked back, his friend stood behind, the slivers of white light
from the large metal device danced across the blue fur of his naked
“Why don’t you come to bed?”
The dirty overalls they had used hours before lay on the floor between
“I have to finish this, Panthro, I need this to be finished.” He placed
a protective covering over the device and once again the room was in
blue light only.
“I have to be his mentor, not Liono. Liono doesn’t know --”
Panthro put his hands on Tygra’s shoulders, the tiger his back to him.
“This is the last round of treatment, the message --”
“Can it be read?”
“Barely. No, it can’t be read easily. Too many stains, too much water
Panthro stepped up closer to his friend until their bodies touched. His
lips met the back of Tygra’s ear and he began to nibble softy while he
whispered unintelligible grunts and a few recognizable words of
affection. The tiger’s heart beat faster, his breathing became
shallower. The panther let his hands drop but Tygra moved away.
“I don’t like how you treat WileyKat.”
“Not this again.” Panthro turned again and walked to one of the blocked
“It’s important to me.”
Panthro peeled back some of the heavy coverings.
“That boy --”
“That boy is important to me.” Tygra paused and reached out for a
chair. “Everyday I feel like a failure around him, like somehow he can
see right through me. Size me up. Measure me as a man. More than
anything I know I have let him down, there’s something I did, there’s
something he expected from me that I just could never ever give him. I
don’t know but that’s what it feels like to me. That’s why I need to do
this. I have to be his teacher because maybe then I’ll put to rest
those demons that claw and tear at my heart.”
He looked back at Panthro, he could see him entirely -- his eyes had
adjusted at last to the near absolute darkness of the lab.
“What could have ever happened between you two that could have soured
you like this? What could he -- a small, lonely boy -- have ever done
The panther nodded and shook his head at once, at the same time.
“What sort of an excuse is that? You don’t think that maybe your
attitude has contributed -- to no small degree -- to what he’s been like
ever since? Cheetara tells me that he can sense our feelings and that
he’s more than aware about your indifference to him and you don’t think
that has anything to do with his behavior? He’s ‘different.’ And
aren’t we ‘different,’ too?”
“That’s not the same. What we have is not the same.”
“There are no differences! Or you accept him without question, love him
as your fellow Thundercat or --”
“Or to hell with the Code of Thundera. Why hide behind this pretended
morality? Loyalty? Friendship? Why shouldn’t we just all become
animals again? Separate back into the enclaves of beasts --”
“I don’t like what I get from him. There’s evil there, can’t you see
it? That boy’s been nothing but trouble, he’s had a hand in all the ill
that’s happened here since the accident with his sister and I wouldn’t
be surprised if he had something to do with that, too.”
“Panthro!” He stood up.
Panthro stopped. He had caught himself, he had bitten his tongue. “I’m
“I shouldn’t have said that.”
“That you could think that he would --”
“I didn’t mean it --”
“By Jagga, you didn’t!”
“Please,” Panthro ran to his side, “please.” He held him by his striped
forearms. “I take it back. Don’t be angry at me.”
“You just don’t have to be so --”
“I can’t promise you much but I’ll try --”
“You would make me so happy.” Tygra began to cry. “It’s important that
he can trust me and bond with me.”
Panthro had him wrapped in his arms in a hard embrace. He plated with
“I know, I know.”
>From somewhere in the background came the telltale sound of metal
clamping on metal.
“What was that?”
“It’s nothing, it happens all the time.” He looked down on the blue
Thundercat and that time he let his own hands wander. “If you promise
to be nice,” he said while his fingers ran gingerly across Panthro’s
nipples, “I’ll promise to --” he whispered into his friend’s ear.
The panther laughed. “All right, then I promise, I promise.”
“Why don’t we go take that bath --”
“It’s not too late. You’ve finished the Thunder Tank, most of
everything else and I certainly have nothing else to do. Why shouldn’t
we indulge just a little bit?”
“OK,” he giggled, “I’ll protect you so you won’t have to be invisible,
so that I can enjoy seeing every part of you, my little kitty katty!”
WileyKat held onto the wire mesh of the vent portal for dear life. He
had miscalculated the force of his strength and had almost knocked the
grating onto the floor in a loud din.
“I thought those two would never leave!” His sister said. “Careful
over there. Let the grating slide across gently.”
“I know that, I’ve done this before.”
“What? Got caught before, too?”
“Keep your voice down.”
The metal plate covering landed on the floor soundless and WileyKat
and WileyKit eased themselves free from the cramped passage.
The sound of giggling and running water came from the bathroom all the
way down the end of the interior hall that wound out of the enormous
laboratory. Strong white light came from the open doorway and as the
twins got closer they could see faint steam clouds swarm around in the
interior. The doorway was really only half open.
He peered through the long, thin crevice between the wall and the door.
Tygra’s back was to him, the tiger relaxed back within the large tub
that slowly began to fill with water. Just then, in front of the tiger
rang Panthro’s loud, booming voice but the Thundercat did not approach
the door, rather he slipped into the tub facing forward. Tygra leaned
up to him and the two locked lips for no more than a mere moment of
“Gross,” WileyKit said. “Thank Jagga they don’t do that around us.”
The adults stopped suddenly. Tygra turned his head around while Panthro
merely stared blankly into space. WileyKat was sure that Tygra had
whispered or had at the least had mouthed his name in confusion but he
could not tell for he had dragged himself and his sister back deep into
Though his heart raced in terror and adrenaline rushed throughout his
system, WileyKat found it almost impossible to keep his eyes opened. He
would move them to look around and they would seem so dry, so painfully
dry that he felt almost completed to close them. When he did so it was
hard for him to open then back up again.
“What’s the matter, Kat?” His sister asked. The twins had crawled back
to the large laboratory chamber.
“I don’t know what’s wrong but for some reason I can’t keep my eyes
Tygra laughed in the distance and there was the prolonged sound of water
splashing, thrashing, hitting the cold, hard floor that surrounded the
bath tub. The running water from the spigots had been cut off so the
two could hear what was happening quite well.
“That doesn’t matter, this won’t take long,” she turned around to face
the lit corridor then back to her brother coyly. “Find the message, it
must be hear somewhere.”
“He said it needed to be treated so I'll take a glance at what machines
--” he yawned -- “he has running right now.”
“Good,” she shook him, “that’s good start. Check the drawers out first,
though, just to make sure.” She looked back at the hall. Her brother
was wobbly, he could no stand still or upright for that matter and he
kept yawning and yawning. “Are you sure you’ll be all right? I can
help you look --”
“No, no, I can find it. We’ll just stick to the original plan. You
keep a look out for me.”
“OK.” She kissed him on the lips but he broke away with another yawn.
“You’re all worn out, but wasn’t that worth it?” She rubbed him gently
under his tunic.
“That’s all right. The sooner -- the sooner we can -- go -- bed.” His
speech was slurred, his words incoherent. He fell, he stumbled down
into this sister’s awaiting arms and that was all he could remember.
WileyKat awoke that morning, sprawled naked on his bed. His left leg
and arm were both intertwined with his sister’s right side. The sun was
out and shone in throw some of the open windows, the rest was shadow
cast from the extended draw bridge. There was an odd silence from all
around Cat’s Lair and in the confusion of his groggy and still
half-asleep mind he could not recount the events of that night.
“My sweet,” he kissed her cheek but she did not respond. “It must have
been quite a night.”
Carefully he managed to crawl his way out from under her and without
disturbing her rest he sat himself on the edge of the bed. He put his
head in his hands while he rubbed his eyes. That was when he noticed
there was something wrong.
His hands were covered in blood and fresh, new gashes, new scratches.
He panicked. He looked back on his sister. WileyKit was unharmed, the
blankets, the bedclothes unstained. Only his palms and then he saw that
between his legs, too, his fur was tainted with both fresh and crusted
WileyKat grabbed a fresh green towel and headed to the bathroom in the
back of the bedroom. Before he stepped into the small antechamber he
looked back on his sleeping sister. He never noticed it before but she
was missing her thumb on her left hand. He stopped in the doorway to
the bathroom, whose fluorescent lights were only slowly coming to life
and wondered for awhile about that, about why he had never paid
Once again he was surprised. Already well past sunrise and there was no
activity at all in Cat’s Lair. Under the running water of the shower
head he rinsed himself off as best as he could.
“Will all the oceans of third-earth ever wipe this blood clean? Where
do all these scratched keep coming from?”
He noticed he had a lot of blood down around his --
Cheetara screamed. She yelled something but the distance and her
hysteria made her words unrecognizable. She pounded on the floor while
she jumped up and down.
His heart pounded: “What happened last night?” He turned off the water
and dried quickly. He grabbed a fresh tunic newly cleaned from the
laundry. None of the mud and blood stains were anywhere on it.
WileyKit was no longer on the bed or in the room. She was gone. The
mysterious box she kept was left clearly out in the middle of the room
just next to the underside of a table.
“Why doesn’t she learn to clean up after her self,” he muttered. He had
the inkling to go and to explore the box but Cheetara screamed again and
so he left the bedroom to investigate the strange cause of the
In Tygra’s lab he found everything pretty much the same way he had
remembered and supposed to have left it the night before. The vast room
was still darkened although someone, no doubt Cheetara, had peeled back
the heavy black coverings of one of the tall, thin windows.
Through tables crowded with scraps of metal, bent, corroded, machines
and devices of all manner and variety, WileyKat walked forward to the
hall at the end of the lab where bright lights and soft, spoken sounds
“How?” Cheetara asked. She had her head buried in Liono’s shoulder.
The two stood embraced, hand-in-hand over the and before the gray, metal
tub. “How can this be happening? Who’s doing this? For Jagga’s sake,
who’s responsible for this?”
“I don’t know, Cheetara, it’s not the mutants, not the lunatics, not
even Mumm-Ra. The mutilation’s too disturbing, too sick even for them.
No, there’s a different sort of evil --”
“Evil! I can feel it, it’s still here, Liono,” she drew back from
Liono’s body to reveal --
“No! No! No!” WileyKat screamed and ran back, back from the fringes
between the door and hallway, back from the laboratory to the shadowy
oblivion of the interior of Cat’s Lair.
Tygra and Panthro were still in the tub, still submerged in the soapy
water. Their heads leaned back over the rim, dead, blood had trickled
down from their noses, their lips. Eyes were wide open. Fur stood on
end. The hands stood firmly erect over the water in the throws of rigor
mortis. The left hands, mangled and torn, were missing the thumb.
A toaster hung into the water from a black electrical cord. It was
still attached to the power outlet. Steam and a faint smoke evolved
like a mist from the water in the tub.
Liono held her back. “He can take care of himself. Don’t worry about
Cheetara shivered, huddled on a chair in the dining room. The tabletop
glimmered -- small fragments of green glass remained, sharp and thin.
The air reeked with the smell of burnt flesh and hair. All over there
was the omnipotent aura of death and darkness, though the sun was out in
a clear, blue sky. A thick shadow covered her in its wake -- the broken
window had been covered up the last night by Panthro with a wooden
Liono entered slowly. He held a white sheet, a parchment in his hands.
“Are you feeling all right?”
“I’ve calmed down a little.”
“I haven’t touched their bodies. I don’t I ever can but I know those
two can’t be kept there for ever that way.”
“What have you done?”
“I took out the, toaster, I drained the water. I tried to get their
arms down but --”
“Oh, Liono,” she got up quickly and held him in her arms. She kissed
him but he continued.
“The eyes, I closed the eyes.”
The two Thundercats were silent for a while.
He unraveled the parchment before her. The paper, though meticulously
cleaned, smelled with the odor of where it had been. “I found it in one
of the machines in the lab. I think this is as good as it gets but I
can’t make any sense of it. The words are all random, all almost
She took the sheet. She skimmed it. She looked back up at him. “This
is the paper found in Snarf?”
“Yes. This is the one.”
“But it, can’t you, doesn’t it look familiar. I mean you surely must
have seen this, something like this before.”
“No, I don’t follow you.”
“Come with me.”
In the classroom Cheetara scrambled through several notebooks and loose
leaf papers. “Look at them,” she said.
Liono took one of the sheets and put it side by side with the curled
document. “The handwriting, the handwriting, Cheetara.”
“It gets worse. WileyKat wrote this one yesterday, after the Snarf’s
body crashed through the window.”
He looked at the paper, it was identical, it was absolutely identical.
“What did you think of this when he gave it to you?”
“Just that he was emotional. The random words, they’re the product of
“Of what? Of what? Where is he? Where is he?”
He stormed out of the room. He let the papers drop in his rage.
Cheetara picked them up and trailed him. The Lord of the Thundercats
barged down through the hall, down the stairs into the bowels of Cat’s
“What a mess! It’s like two animals live here,” Liono said.
Cheetara followed him into WileyKat’s bedroom. Clothes dirty and clean
littered the floor. Some of the tunics had blood stains, some were
encrusted with blood, yet others were marred by the stains of another,
“The bathroom’s empty but he did take a shower in it. The mirrors are
“Liono,” she said, “I noticed something about the words.” He turned to
face her. “On the papers. The words are not all random.”
Liono stumbled toward her in the awkward calamity the room was in. “So
there is a message.”
“Here,” she pointed to a set of phrases in the center of both papers,
“those words are about the same size and shape, the whole rest of
document was written around them.”
“Yes, it does stand out from the rest, Cheetara.”
While he read the letter where she had pointed she, too, explored around
the empty bedroom. “No, he’s not here, Liono, the evil has lifted from
“Listen to this: ‘Gross, sister said, wouldn’t touch me, sister said,
wouldn’t touch me, angry, wouldn’t let me touch her, anymore, wrong,
angry and wrong, angry, I couldn’t stop myself, I couldn’t stop what I
had to do to her.’”
The two were stunned silent.
“A box, I found it on the floor next to the table. It’s full of
She gave him the box. It rattled in her nervous hands. It resonated
loudly. The box was tin and shiny. The lid as well as the sides of the
main body would bend in slightly when pressed firmly.
Under the lid, scribbled in black ink were the words that Liono read
aloud. “‘Anyone who opens this box will die, Wiley --’” To be sure
there was a ‘k’ and a ‘t’ in the name but the character in the middle he
could not make out. It seemed to him to be both an ‘a’ and an ‘i’
superimposed one over the other though the word was written in error and
only hastily corrected.
He opened the box and shot aback in horror.
The box fell onto the floor, onto a clear part of the floor. Cheetara
screamed and darted to the side, too. Neither she nor he could keep
their eyes off of what spilt out.
Thumbs. Thumbs. Thumbs.
She looked at him, he looked at her. The two Thundercats went down on
their knees to sift through the gory details. Liono pointed them out,
Cheetara would move them to the side. “Panthro, Tygra, Snarf!”
“What about those?” She picked one up. “It’s not old, it’s recent.”
“I can’t recognize it.”
“And this one. There’s nothing but bone, Liono, it’s small, it’s his
own sister’s --” she turned to the side and threw up on the already
cluttered floor of the bedroom. She pushed her hair aside and ran into
The thumbs had been cleaned, the bases where they had been cleaved from
had been tied shut with the excess flesh so that no bone or internal
structure of any kind stuck out of the end. The nails had a heavy black
marking that began from just down the tip and continued up through the
trimmed edge of the nail to the ridges of the fingerprints on the other
side of the severed appendages. Along the top of the large knuckles was
another black mark -- a line that went perfectly across around the
He stood up suddenly about to loose his own meal, too.
“Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight --”
On the field of yellow grass next to the river Liono parked the roving
Thunder Tank. In silence the only sounds came from the river. The air
was calm and still. There was no movement in the trees, or in the
The two Thundercats got off board and walked to one of the many large
stone monoliths that dotted the flat clearing. On the side was
WileyKat’s hover-board, most of the damage had been repaired but the
frame of the body remained badly mangled. Panthro had not yet gotten to
The rock had been haphazardly moved to the side to reveal a large hole
in the ground. Liono and Cheetara looked inside. A red glowing light
came from beneath, from the caverns below.
“How do we get in?” she asked.
He pointed to the river bank. “There’s a large opening in the marshes.”
“Tygra, Panthro, Tygra, Panthro,” a male voice spoke.
Liono and Cheetara crept through the darkened interior of the
subterranean passages toward the source of the only light. A chamber
lined with luminescent fungi. A chamber from which two voices echoed.
“I said those two would pay,” the female voice broke. “I said so, Kat,
now they can’t harm you anymore.”
“But all we wanted was the letter.”
Liono held Cheetara’s hand while the two reached the only entrance into
that small room. They stood behind the jagged rocks. They stood in the
absolute darkness while they watched in horror.
“But all we wanted was the letter. Liono was going to be my mentor, not
Tygra, not Tygra. There was no reason to kill them!”
“My dear brother, you are too noble, too loving. They had to die, don’t
you see, they displeased you.”
“And what about this man? How did he displease me?”
“He touched me. While I scavenged through the trees he came up to me
from behind and began to touch me.”
“Kit. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Kit?” Liono asked Cheetara. She, too, could not believe what she was
hearing. They walked silently into the chamber. WileyKat’s back was to
them always from the start.
“Don’t be mad at me, Kat, here, let me do that. You like it when I do
“Kit, something has to be done about all of this.”
“But you killed Kit,” Liono spoke suddenly, sternly, “just like you
killed Snarf, Tygra and Panthro, just like you killed that man, there,
with your hover-board.”
It did not seem to them that WileyKat had heard anything that Liono had
“You took their thumbs, you stood on your own sister’s grave, you --”
Cheetara gripped the boy’s shoulder and turned him around quickly. He
stood before them with his hands over, running over, rubbing over
himself swiftly, violently. Liono tackled him to the ground.
“You killed them, you killed them!”
“Liono, what are you doing here,” WileyKat asked in total shock. “No,
no, he knows, he knows now,” the boy spoke in a female voice.
“He sounds exactly like her, Liono, exactly like WileyKit.”
“Get off of me! Get off of me! Kat, help! Kat help!”
“No one’s going to help you --”
“You’re going to die, Liono, you’re going to die. Kat doesn’t need you,
he doesn’t need you --”
“He’s turned into an animal, Liono.”
WileyKat snarled and growled, he salivated foam, his nails clawed into
Liono’s flesh. He tried to flail his arms, his legs moved wildly. He
screamed, he yelled in both voices.
Suddenly he was calm, suddenly he lay still on the ground.
Liono stood up gradually. The boy’s hands were covered in blood and
scars and so were his feet. With his toes he had cut Liono across the
stomach in three or four parallel gashes, not deep but which oozed blood
He looked at the boy, he looked at Cheetara, he put his hands down along
the scars and stopped the bleeding. She ran to him to help him and with
that the two Thundercats began to walk away, back away. WileyKat
remained on the floor motionless but it was quite clear to them from the
quivering of his lips that he conversed with someone who was not there,
not there at all.
The last thing they heard before they left the underground caverns: “I
am evil,” but then the voice was not feminine, not masculine any longer,
it was a new and unheard amalgam, a bone-chilling mixture, “I am good.
Kat, Kit, Kat, Kit. Ha, haha, hahaha, haha, hahahahaha, mwahahahaha,
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