By RD Rivero
By RD Rivero
July 4, 2000
The earth shook and when there was silence once more the faint, distant
sound of the light drizzle echoed throughout the stone vaults and
passages of the Black Pyramid. The crypt chamber was itself dark except
for the red torches that adorned engraved, picturesque walls. The tomb
was open, the lid upright on the side of the sarcophagus.
A tiger was upon a stone altar. The animal was chained across the neck
and the limbs. The legs were kept spread far apart and flat on the
tabletop in a position that was both unnatural and severely
uncomfortable. The cat tried constantly to break free from the
restrains but that was in vain and in the course of the long evening it
had only managed to weaken itself. The poor beast whined in pain but
he was not moved, he did not care -- he had work to do that was more
Ma-Mut was perched under the altar watching -- he was tired and tried to
go to sleep but the excitement of the day had not yet passed.
He hovered over the pool of boiling, brown water. “Ma-Mut,” he said to
himself aloud, “Ma-Mut, Ma-Mut. I’ve tried so hard and I’ve failed so
miserably time and time again. Why is that? Is it only because I am
evil? and who said that good had to will all the time? This is the
real world, not a fantasy.”
With a large, wooden ladle he spooned up a large volume of that ethereal
liquid -- it was lighter than air and floated in the basin of the flat
cup. Smoke and gray fumes poured out of the boiling mass. Little bits,
little chunks of red flecks floated in the oily slick.
He walked to the restrained tiger -- in the dim, red light its coat was
nothing more than a weak tint of black and gray, its majestic red-orange
stripes were distorted and invisible in the ambiance.
“Happiness, joy,” spoke the devil priest, his words resounded in the
immense vault, “beauty.” He wanted to say one word more but he stopped
himself in time. He put the ladle down on the table next to the beast’s
head, its open, gaping mouth was dry in exhaustion, its tongue hung limp
over its lips. He pressed his hands tight against his ears, invisible
under the mass of bandages that covered his body, as if to squeeze out
of his head the images that had formed in his mind. He wished so
desperately to erase those words from memory -- no -- to destroy them
Was that not his duty? What that not his job, he, the ever-living
source of evil?
“I look around this dreadful planet and what do I see? Green forests
and teeming jungles, great flowing bodies of crystal-clear waters. Pure
waters, unpolluted and unfouled. Bright, blue skies open to infinity.”
He lunged his arms up into the air and shook his clenched fists in
defiance. “I’ve had about enough of that!”
Thunder reverberated through the walls upon which shadows danced
torturously -- the red flames of the torches flickered, quivered in
terror. The ground, too, shook but in a moment the world was calm once
He picked up the ladle. The tiger tried one last time to free itself.
Ma-Mut, in the panic of the frenzied roaring bolted from under the table
to the open darkness of Mumm-Ra’s tomb.
“I pity you,” the devil priest spoke, “you don’t have much longer for
He poured the liquid onto the white underbelly of the tiger. The
oozing, blob caused intense pain while it soaked through the fibers of
the coat. The red flecks and accreted into small, little balls that
clung to the fur and turned it black in smoldering in flames. One of
the legs broke in two parts, mangled in a dire attempt to break free,
severed arteries gushed blood into the air and onto the floor.
While the creature was still alive he took out a knife and cut a rent
into the stomach from the end of the ribcage to the midsection. He tore
the flesh apart with his bandaged hands to reveal the internal organs --
only one was he interested in. Under the folds of collapsed lungs the
heart continued to beat and he smiled his work to see. He removed the
heart, blood vessels dangled from the upper valves and dumped the organ
into a metal basin.
The tiger continued to bleed heavily until the open abdomen turned into
a noodle soup, a deep pool of blood and severed body parts. Worms and
maggots that evolved from the red particles began to consume the flesh
-- even on the heart, which was consumed in a matter of minutes.
At the end there was nothing left of the heart but dry, crisp dust.
Then even the worms and maggots died, overstuffed in that digested
meat. He took a pistil and ground the decaying substance into a fine
Ma-Mut whimpered around the carcass of the tiger, the maggots on it had
reduced it to a hide-covered skeleton. The dog watched in awe while the
vermin steadily crawled back to the pool of boiling water from whence
“Now the hard part, my pet, now I have to bring the powder to Cat’s
Lair.” He looked down on the dog. “I’ll have to do it myself, the
magic is far too dangerous for you to handle.”
He laughed and smiled at the image that gradually painted itself in his
“They’ll never know what hit them.”
Outside Cat’s Lair the sky was dark for the sun had set already. The
clouds were sparse and the rain that fell from the was thin but cold,
bitterly cold. A strong breeze came down from the north and they
shivered, they, Tygra, Panthro and WileyKit. The three stood around the
main entrance watching while Liono and RoberBill walked out past the
extended bridge into the surrounding forests.
“It’s not fair, I wanted to go into the village with Liono,” she yelped.
Tygra looked down on her: “You have work to do, remember, homework?”
“Homework! But it’s the weekend! I’ll have all day tomorrow to do it.”
“But if you did it now then you’d have the next two days free.”
“Tygra is right, WileyKit, you shouldn’t be out fooling around with the
adults. Why can’t you be more like your brother --”
“What?” her jaw dropped.
“At least he’s in his room studying,” Tygra added.
“WileyKit,” the panther spoke.
She was about to respond but pouted instead. The adults rolled their
eyes and walked away, back to the lair. When they had their backs to
her she looked up to the skull. A bright, small bird had swooped down
from the thin air and landed, perched on the right ear.
Its eyes sparkled red but she took little notice.
“What a cute-looking bird,” she said, “I think I’ll go up and get a
better look.” WileyKit sprinted past the two adults and beat them to
the open door. Within the lobby the light was bright and hurt her eyes
but she did not let it stop her.
“That must have been some pep-talk we gave her,” Panthro said.
Cheetara was in the control room. WileyKit had to be very careful so
she tiptoed past the open door into the small side closet. It was a not
a closet, of course, inside were switches and electrical parts along
with a tall ladder that led up to the mouth of the skull. No one was
allowed up there except for the adults and only then to perform
The ladder was a hundred feet high and was cast in shadowy darkness.
She could not tell where the next rung was even when her eyes had
completely adjusted. For a while she was scared -- especially afraid of
what the others would say and do if they learned what she had been up
to. No, she reasoned, it was too late, she had to go through with it to
At the very top she hit her head on the metal hatch. The pain was so
sharp that her first reaction was to wrap her arms around her temples.
But that would have meant loosing her grip on the ladder and she would
have fallen. The very thought of that sent adrenaline rushing through
her body, her fingers, her hands, she trembled. Slowly she reached up
and began to open the hatch. It was rusty and it made quite a sound
when she slid it away.
The cold air hit her, the wind blew her red mane a little. Wetness --
the rain had greatly strengthened. She was inside the mouth of the
skull, it slopped down gradually to the front fangs. There was no
tongue, she had forgotten that.
Because everything was wet she did not want to venture out far from the
safety of the hatch. There was a deep pool of water and her feet
slipped. She was fast enough to counteract the fall but she dropped on
her back anyway, she did not advance further.
Her heart raced and she wanted to scream.
“Why do I always do this to myself? Why do I always keep getting into
trouble?” She started to whimper but then -- the inside of the mouth
was lit in a faint, red glow. The strange bird was in the skull with
her, waddling to her side. “Oh, you’re still here! I’m so happy, at
least what I’ve done wasn’t a waste of time.”
The bird was very friendly, much more friendly than bird usually where.
The creature showed no fear, it was next to her leg, close enough to her
that she could see it better. She noticed that there was a crystal ball
around its neck. It looked heavy. There were black stripes on the
surface and within there seemed to be a glittering, sparkling
substance. She reached out and grabbed the pendant -- the bird bowed
its head and the object was free from around its neck.
WileyKit held the ball in her hands. It was so delicate and fragile, it
melted in the warmth of her hands. A gentle current let in hard rain
and the ball was quickly covered in slippery water. She held it a
little harder than he should have -- it cracked and burst in a puff of
thick smoke. The grainy, glimmering particles covered her hands. A
liquid that was even lighter than air hung over her legs, it sailed
around the air until it hit the inside of the skull and dissipated,
absorbed entirely into the concrete.
The shards of the glass of the ball had spread around her lap decayed
into a clear salt that clung to her fur.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to --”
The bird was gone, the red light had vanished.
There was so much of that salty dust that it was impossible, it was
amazing that it could have all been in that small object. The chalky
substance came off onto the hatch, the rungs of the ladder, the door of
the utility closer, around the open passages within Cat’s Lair, on
everything everywhere that she even slightly touched or rubbed against.
In her room her brother was on the floor reading a history book. It was
First-Earth history about what life was like in ancient Egypt. He did
not notice her arrival -- she headed straight to the bathroom, removed
her clothes and sent them down a laundry chute. The crystallized salt
clung to her fur so completely that it was impossible to remove the
small chunks without causing a lot of pain. She stood under the shower
head and let the hot water remove the dust.
“Now it begins, my pet,” he stood over the circular pool. Within he saw
the image of WileyKit in the shower, it changed quickly with the wave of
the hand to the scene in the control room. “My small accomplice has
done her job well, don’t you think so? I can always count on those two
troublemakers to help me in my mischief.”
“What is that dreadful racket?” Panthro complained when he entered the
control room. Cheetara and Tygra looked back stunned though caught in
the act. “Has some alarm gone off?”
“No,” the tiger answered, “we weren’t --”
“Did you hear something?” Cheetara asked having cut him off.
Cheetara was silent and then: “Pounding!” she shouted. The men looked
at her while she spun around on her feet so fast that for a few moments
they could not see her. “There’s great evil here, here everywhere. We
must find the kittens.”
“WileyKat and WileyKit. Why is it that when something goes wrong it’s
always those two?”
The pounding that Panthro had heard when he was in the utility closet
became louder and more pronounced. “See,” he said, he pointed and then
he looked at his finger. “Where did that dust come from?” He rubbed the
dust off of his palms. The melted salt fell onto the floor where it
disappeared between his feet.
A red light went off along with a loud, piercing siren. Tygra pressed
some buttons quickly and everything was silent and dark -- the power
failed, he announced. And then a low, dull hum resonated from deep
within Cat’s Lair.
“What is that?” Cheetara asked. She was in Panthro’s arms, she had come
out of the trance too abruptly but he was there to catch her in time in
“It’s not the power generator. I don’t know where the electricity is
“Maybe the instruments aren’t working right, I mean, there’s not much
power to begin with.”
“Yes, they might be too weak to detect what’s going on.” He looked at
the others. “We’re going to have to go ourselves to see what’s going on
“Cheetara, are you feeling better?” Panthro asked her.
Her eyes could barely open. “Yes, I’ll be fine, if I could just --”
He helped her to her feet but she was still a little weak and held on to
Tygra looked at his fingers -- his palms were covered in blood. “What?
“Are you bleeding?”
“No, it’s not from me.” The gaps between the multicolored buttons began
to ooze that thick, red substance. The buttons, too, had transformed
from a hard plastic to something that was soft and mushy. The panels
had no functions any longer and when he pressed one of the switches too
hard it burst -- it popped in a white, yellow puss that squirted into
“What is it? What is it, Tygra?”
“I don’t know but I think I’ll be all right.”
“We have to go get the kittens,” Panthro said.
He and Cheetara began to walk to the door. Tygra was behind, rubbing
his eyes, the dense liquid had melded with the blood and had begun to
There was a bad smell, too, but now it seemed to be coming from
everywhere -- from the walls.
In the hall he stopped the others: “Look at the walls,” he said under
his breath in disbelief.
Cheetara was feeling a little better, she reached out and touched the
wall. It was not cold, it was hot to her touch and not entirely solid.
It was soft and pulsated softly. The surface was wet. “It’s sweating,
the walls are sweating!”
The pounding from below came even louder.
“It’s only going to get better, my pet, wait until they see what’s in
store for them down below! My plan is working perfectly.” The devil
priest wrung his hands together. The sound of his knuckles cracking
echoed violently in the stone chamber. “If I had a psychiatrist, he’d
be a rich man by now!”
The kitchen was cast in shadow but the lights managed to strengthen in
their presence. The sounds that Panthro had first heard came from there
-- from the cabinets violently closing and opening. All over the floor
were broken plates and cups, cookware and utensils, even whole drawers
had been spilt out.
A grayish net or webbing had formed over a small pile. Panthro studied
it closer. The membrane was tougher than it looked. A thick goo seeped
from between broken plates.
Meanwhile Tygra and Cheetara tended to the spasmodic cabinet doors. She
saw that where the hinges had once been there were now red strands whose
ends were capped by white hand-like ligaments. She reached out and
grabbed the cabinet nearest her. It was hard to hold on but with
Tygra’s help she stopped the violent motion. In so doing, though, the
door broke in their hands -- it fell to the floor, bleeding from holes
where the ligaments had been attached to. The red strands remained,
hung limp over the edge of the open cabinet, twitching. Large veins and
arteries drooped next to it. Cheetara examined the twitching strands
and recognized it immediately -- it was muscle.
Tygra opened the faucet and to his horror blood poured from the tap. He
tried to close the spigot but the valve would not turn no matter how
hard he twisted. Someone screamed and he looked back.
Over on the floor Panthro had uncovered Snarf’s body, or what was left
of it. The flying pots and pans had pummeled him to death -- his head
had been smashed in and open wounds exposed parts the small brain. A
densely textured slime had formed over the corpse from the floor, green
acid trickled from little black nodes that dotted the organic meshwork.
“It’s digesting the body, I don’t believe it.”
“What is? What is eating him?”
But there was no answer, there was something else more important.
The walls had deformed under the immense weight and pressure of the
building and sweat flowed loudly from large pores that had carved
themselves into the concrete. Deeper in the lair the air was brutally
hot and dense. Humid and hazy. The air then began to circulate. A
strong wind would blow from one end of the passage, stop and then blow
from the other end. The breeze was accompanied by a low groan -- the
building’s support structures were tensing and compressing but there was
no way to tell for sure what was happening from inside
A loud, steady rhythm emanated from the kitten’s bedroom. The
Thundercats knocked on the door but it was not solid and sound of the
timber was wet, inaudible.
“WileyKat! WileyKit!” Cheetara scolded but there was no answer.
Panthro tried the door knob and when it did not work he punched a whole
through the door. The metal had the consistency of wet bread. He tore
through it producing some of the most vulgar sounds yet, the sounds of
flesh tearing. He was covered in blood when he was through for there
were vessels in and behind the door.
A clear, globular substance was excreted from the scars of the tears of
the busted-open doorway but no one took notice of it.
Within the bedroom was surprisingly well-lit. The bathroom door could
not be opened and because no sounds came from there it was skipped. The
walls of the chamber were coated in a dense meshwork of ligaments and
pulsating arteries that twitched and responded to their presence. The
air was also unbreathable and they kept coughing, kept getting dizzy and
lightheaded. The floor was soaked in blood and felt like a trampoline,
a gooey flesh that would break apart under them at any moment.
The sounds came from the main part of the room. WileyKit was on her
bed, naked. At first no one knew better so the Thundercats rushed to
her side -- they screamed when they realized what they found. WileyKit
had melded with the bed and with the wall behind her. Large veins and
arteries grew out of her head -- the grafting was so perfect that there
was no seam, there was no line that marked where her body ended and the
Her body expanded, she grew three times her normal size and then
contracted to the point where they could see her bones. Tygra leaned in
closer -- he could hear fluids gushing within her.
“She’s the heart,” Panthro said, the tiger nodded.
“Can we save her? Is she still alive?” Cheetara asked.
“I don’t know.”
Tygra inched over to WileyKit’s face. He pried open one of the eyes.
The youngster reacted quite unexpectedly. She screamed -- she opened
her mouth and a stream of blood sprayed out. She turned her heard, or
tried to. She had to angle her massive, bloated body toward the
others. She reached out with one of her arms that like her body
expanded to the point of bursting and the contracted. She pointed to a
wall at the other side of the room where something seemed to be growing
out of the wall.
The Thundercats were stunned silent and only gradually tiptoed to where
WileyKit had indicated. The mass was pulsating, a node five feet above
the ground. Something appeared to be moving within. Instinctively
Cheetara thought it was WileyKat. She tore into the strange flesh with
her claws. A thin, runny puss poured out and streamed onto the floor.
A book, half-digested, flopped out soundlessly. If she had paid more
attention she might have recognized it.
Slowly, after more digging, WileyKat’s outline became distinctly
visible. The others then began to help her. The last layer of the
flimsy tissue was removed and the boys upper body was in view.
He was choking and a white liquid came out of his mouth. He had a thin
but raspy voice: “Help me! Help me! I can’t get out of here,” he
“Hold on, kid, you’re almost free,” Panthro assured him. He pushed the
others aside and hammered into the wall with his fists. He tore into
the mushy substance and peeled it back to his horror. It was WileyKat
to be sure, but only from the chest up. Everything of him below the
waist was gone, replaced by large veins and arteries and a
greenish-brown, shinny organ Tygra recognized was a liver, grotesquely
WileyKat could not be saved but he had no way of knowing that.
“Come on, come on!” he shouted, his arms flailed in the air. “Get me
out of here already you guys, this isn’t funny.”
Panthro tried in vain to search for WileyKat’s legs but -- Tygra held
him back. “There’s nothing we can do,” he whispered to the panther.
The men looked to the side, Cheetara was already at the door.
Cat’s Lair began to move.
“Get me out! Help me! Help me! Hey! What’s happening to my sister!”
A large burst, a fluid-like explosion, a screaming wail followed that --
it was the last the adult Thundercats heard of WileyKat and WileyKit for
they were running down the hall at top speed.
He was bent-over laughing. He held onto his sides, his chest ached in
glee. “So much for the Code of Thundera! I really have to give it to
providence for that delightful feast of horror. In a thousand years I
could’ve never come up with something that gruesome.”
In the waters of the circular pool he saw the scene that was left of the
kittens bedroom. WileyKit had expanded so much that she exploded like a
water balloon. The walls, ceiling and floor were sprayed and covered
not only in blood but of what was left of her shredded body parts.
Oddly, only the head remained intact, still connected to the blood
vessels from the wall. The eyes were blinking, the mouth was opening,
closing, the tongue quivered though in speech.
“Tygra should be quite proud of himself. They certainly don’t make
Cat’s Lairs like they used to!”
“The door, go for the door!” Panthro shouted.
The stairs that opened to the rest of the building heaved and pulsated.
Corridors and passages were squeezed tight and impassable. The lobby
itself was slowly collapsing.
The main doors had melted together into a single, coherent flesh. The
three Thundercats clawed through it, punched holes through it -- it was
thicker than before and was not soppy, nor was there much blood although
Tygra was sure that he felt a large vessel. At the end, at the very end
came a thin film of mucus then a fuzzy layer that when broken completely
exposed them to the air outside.
They heard a sound, a cry of pain and Cat’s Lair shook violently. They
tore open a hole large enough for them to go through one at a time.
Panthro was first, he helped Cheetara through. Tygra was last.
Outside the sky was black -- there was a moon out but the clouds were
thick and they could not see it. There were plenty of other, softer
lights around, though. They saw that the building was coated in a layer
of soft fur. The outer surface was collapsing and expanding, rising and
falling -- it was breathing. They heard a scream and looked up -- the
head was moving on its own, side to side at first, then it slowly made
its way down to them.
Tygra gasped -- one of the red eyes blinked. He and the others bolted
across the bridge that only then was beginning to withdraw. At a safe
distance away they looked back. The arms of Cat’s Lair began to flail,
fully separated from the rock of the mountain. The upper body moved
from side to side, freeing itself from the foundations. The mouth
opened and closed, a tongue licked the air and saliva trickled to the
shaking ground where blood had collected. The hole from where they had
escaped from was bleeding, the loose skin was flapping in the air.
One of the arms was thrust out, extended over the chasm and Cat’s Lair
pushed itself across, scrapped itself across over the rift and onto the
meadows and clearing that bordered the forests.
They could hear the sounds of iron supports snapping, breaking. Cat’s
Lair began to roam around the open field looking for god only knew
what. It had arms and a chest but no legs, no lower body. Organs and
blood vessels of unbelievable sizes drooped out of the jagged back end.
Tygra, Cheetara and Panthro scurried around in the dark through the
trees. Just then the skies parted and the moon was revealed. Cat’s
Lair loomed before them, its arms were pressed down perpendicular to the
ground, holding its body up from the ground of the clearing a good ten,
twenty feet. The internal organs that it had formed from the concrete
and mortar and metal drooped down a little, some of them actually lay
across the grass. Its mouth opened and it roared into the air -- it
began to swing its head down to the terrified onlookers.
“Now, my pet, to undo the spell.” The dog growled in answer. “You’ll
see why, you just watch!” The mummy rubbed his fingers over the
boiling, purple waters. A blue, sparkling salt trickled down into the
pool. Ma-Mut looked on enthralled by what his master had so
painstakingly planned. “What genius, what brilliance! Who else but I,
Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living could have conceived of this?” His cackle
resonated with the pangs of distant thunder.
Cat’s Lair stopped moving, its loose flesh became rigid. The fur fell
off and decayed into dust on the soil. The mouth, the hole head
remained where it was, fixed, motionless. The building began to rock
back and forth in its precarious balance.
“It’s going to collapse!” Cheetara screamed. She and the others sped
away, further into the safety of the forest.
Cat’s Lair had become a building once again and it toppled over to the
side. The concrete collapsed, the steel skeleton was mangled and it
crashed so loud that everyone on that side of the world could have heard
The head remained whole for the most part. It rolled unstoppably toward
the chasm and in the canyon fell to its doom. The rest of the body was
destroyed and nothing was left of it but a pile of bleeding rubble.
“Mwahahahaha, mwahahahahahahahahaha! Hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha! Look
at their faces, Ma-Mut! Look at how they stare in disbelief!
Hahahahahahahaha!” He fell to his knees. “Ha hahahahaha ha! I broke
the Litter Box! I broke the Litter Box! Nananananana! Mwahahahaha!”
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