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There!
By RD Rivero



"There!"
By RD Rivero
April 30, 2000

Dear RD,

You can't understand and I don't blame you.  Do you think that I'm
crazy?  Well, I have gone off my head, maybe I have a little -- but not
for the reasons you're thinking of right now.
Yes.  I am getting married.
No.  I haven't changed my ideas on that subject.  I still believe that
it's stupid to get hitched.  More than ever I feel incapable of loving
only one woman since I will always be too much in love with all the
rest.
But I'm getting married.
I will say that I know the woman very well.  I have  been with her on
many occasions.  Nayda doesn't displease me in the least and for the
present purpose that's enough.
"Why, Panthro, why get married?" you'll ask.
I'm doing it so that I won't be alone.
I don't know exactly how to put it but I do know how to make you
understand.  But in so doing you will no doubt feel sorry for me, pity
me.  I don't want to be alone at night anymore.  I need to feel another
being near me, next to me, beside me, someone who can speak, someone who
can say something, anything.  I want to be able to wake her up, I want
to be able to ask her a question out of the blue -- a question of mere
idiocy -- if only to hear the sound of a different voice, a voice other
than my own.
I am afraid to be alone.
Damn it, RD, you still don't understand -- oh, thickheaded oaf!  If I
were there in the room I'd slap you upside the head!  If I could somehow
write my fist into these words I'd knock some sense into you!
I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.
I'm not afraid of any danger.  If a man was to break in I would kill him
without ruffling a hair and I'm certainly not afraid of the dead
either.  What I am afraid of is of myself -- I am afraid of fear, the
spasms of my frenzy, the horrible sense of incomprehensible terror.
Laugh.  Laugh, go on, laugh if you want.  It's awful.  I am afraid of
the walls, of the furniture, of familiar, inanimate objects that to me
are infused with degenerate animal life.  Above all I  am afraid of the
terrible mess that my mind is in.
It begins with a trembling disquiet that sends chills throughout my
skin.  I look around and of course I find nothing.  Yet I want there to
be something?  What?  Something I could comprehend for the only reason
that I am afraid is because I do not understand my fear.  I speak and I
am afraid of my own voice.  I walk and I am afraid of what's behind the
doors, behind the curtains, in the cabinets, under the bed.  I shake.  I
feel my terror grow and I shut myself in my room.  I get into the
mattress and I hide under the blanket.  Crouched, rolled up into a ball,
I close my eyes in despair and I remain there for eternity.
Had you or had anyone else told me of the morbid fears that would one
day enslave me -- incredible, ridiculous and terrifying -- I would have
laughed.  I never used to have these problems.  Every night I would go
to my room without a second thought.  I would come and go through Cat's
Lair with impunity.  I would open doors in the dark.
In the most unusual way it all began a few months ago, one stuffy
evening in autumn after Lynxo's funeral.   Dinner had finished and I
wondered what I should do.  For a while I walked around the garage
tired, depressed, unable to work.  I was sad, the sadness of a sort that
comes for no reason.  Well, perhaps, there was a reason.  Lynxo was a
good friend, a close friend and then the whole deal with Snarf on top of
that, but, then, you know about all that already.
I felt alone.  My room was empty in a way I had never noticed it was
empty before.  An infinite solitude surrounded me.  What was I to do?  I
sat down and then a nervous impatience ran through my legs.  I stood up
and began to walk around.  A fine drizzle misted the windows and a
shiver of cold ran down my back.  It occurred to me then that the
dampness was getting into my room and I thought I should turn the heat
up a little.  I did so --  it was the first time that year.  Still,
though I tried to sit down again my inability to keep quiet had me on my
feet.  I thought I should go and find one of my friends.
I went out and searched through Cat's Lair.  Tygra and Cheetara were at
the Tower of Omens, I suddenly remembered and Pumyra and Bengali had not
yet arrived.  Liono was up north visiting the Snowmen.  The kittens were
asleep and I was not about to disturb them.  Having nothing else, having
no other recourse of action, I made it to the front doors and walked out
into the darkened countryside determined to track down someone I knew.
Sadness was everywhere.  The wet grass was shiny in the moonlight.  The
foliage of the tall trees was coated in dampness.  I walked at a gentle
pace, I repeated to myself that I would find no one to talk to.  I
managed to get to a village of some sort but by then it was already so
late, so late that I had to return home.
Back in Cat's Lair I lumbered through the winding halls back to my
bedroom.  I have always made sure to lock the my door when ever I leave
so I was surprised to find that it was not even shut completely.  I
assumed one of the kittens had pried their way in to pull a prank on me.

Inside the lamp was still on but there was painfully little light,
dismally little light.  My eyes hurt, my temples throbbed.  In the daze
of that nauseating confusion I thought I saw someone sitting in my
armchair, his back toward me, his feet atop an ottoman.
It was Bengali -- there, I was not afraid anymore.  Wait, did I say I
was afraid to begin with?  No, no, quite reasonable  explanations came
to mind.  My friend, of whom I could only see his mane, must have fallen
asleep while waiting for me.  I approached.  I stepped across to wake
him.  I could see him perfectly:  his right arm hung down, his legs
crossed, his head bowed a little against the left side of the armchair.
I reached out my hand to touch his shoulder.
It came to rest on the wood of the armchair.
I recoiled though some fearful danger had materialized before me.  I
spun around feeling that there was someone behind me but an overwhelming
need to see the chair again impelled me to turn once more.  Scarcely
breathing, I was ready to drop.
"No," I said, "No!  I've only had a hallucination."
A hallucination, I had had a hallucination, that was all.  That was all
-- but that was not all.
Immediately I heard a voice call from the distance -- it was WileyKat.
Yes, it was WileyKat and it was coming from elsewhere, from elsewhere
deep within Cat's Lair.  He sounded, terrified and while I ran out of my
room to where I perceived the sounds of his screaming and of his
pounding came from I wondered why none of the other Thundercats had been
aroused by the feverish din.
I burst into the kitchen ready to pounce -- but I stopped cold dead in
my tracks, frozen in terror by what I stumbled into.  Snarf, but he was
dead, I myself had kicked his battered body into the lime pit.  None the
less there he was -- on a cobblestone floor.
I know what you're going to say -- there's no stone floor anywhere in
Cat's Lair but there indeed it was.  In the time that I had been away
there had been a material change in the kitchen: the metal appliances
had been replaced by primitive stone and mortar equivalents except for
the stove that then had transformed into nothing more than a small fire
over which a deep, iron kettle boiled its top off.
Snarf looked at me with electrically bright red eyes then dashed to the
side to stand before the only modern device left in that place -- a
microwave oven.  I followed right behind him, I saw him wringing his
small, little hands together in a show of perverse pleasure that was
missing only that hideous, vile laughter.
The microwave was grossly exaggerated -- its door was six feet by six
feet and constructed of a heavy, of a thick plastic that was virtually
unbreakable.  Inside were white, smooth walls, shiny and clean.  At the
back, where the bright light shone from, were holes, large holes.  The
air all around was warm and inundated with a low, dull hum.
WileyKat didn't see me but nonetheless he banged his fists against the
clear door in total and in complete desperation.  I ran toward him, I
yelled at him that I was going to free him.  I looked around the edges
of the door but to my horror there were no edges, the door blended,
melted seamlessly into the stone stucco of the remolded kitchen.  I
could not find buttons, I could not find levers, not even a plug.
I could not help but see what happened helplessly.
At first WileyKat's skin began to bubble, not noticeably, not violently,
in fact it was almost imperceptible.  Until his temperature became so
extreme that the effect was undeniable.  Around his fingers, his hands,
arms, face, huge bubbles would expand and then contract, randomly,
chaotically.  Several that had grown around his fingers burst, blood in
both liquid and steam form, splattered out onto the walls.  The flesh of
his hands and upper arms wrinkled and charred black, burnt black though
there was no fire, no flame.  His feet and his lower legs had suffered
similar effects.  In mere, trifling seconds more of those flesh bubbles
burst along his head and his face.
He jumped up and down, he banged against the wall more and more
violently.  He screamed and blood came out from his lungs.  The inside
of his mouth steamed in the intense pressure of his boiling saliva.  His
eyes, that he tried to cover with what was left of his hands, exploded
in a mess of yellow pus.  Then at last, then at the end when all was
said and done, a large, a very large bubble, a bubble more massive than
any that had come before formed along the bulk of his lower abdomen but
unlike the rest that one did not contract.  It expanded and it expanded
until at last it popped in a great -- No! -- WileyKat had blown up
clearly in half.
All the while I yelled, I screamed but no one came.  No one.  I turned
around.  Snarf was gone.  The stone motif of the kitchen had reversed
and everything was normal again.  I turned around once more, the
gigantic microwave was no more -- my fists were up against the doors of
a cabinet that my pounding had grossly deformed.
I don't know exactly what followed but I do remember that next I was in
my room again.  The whole of Cat's Lair was deadly silent except for the
sounds of my breathing that seemed to echo loudly, oppressively loudly
everywhere.  I got into bed and turned off the lamp.  That was the end
of that, I told myself, I had a fever or an illness.  In any case I felt
stupid.
At daybreak I found myself in an unusually good mood.  I lunched with
the others in the mess hall.  WileyKat was there, safe, I don't know why
but I hugged him firmly for no apparent reason.  Everything seemed at
first to have started out right but by the time I went down to garage I
was afraid of seeing that 'Bengali.'  I wasn't afraid of the real
Bengali, by no means, but of that of the 'Bengali' that my eyes would
deceive me with again, of the terror that it would seize me with again.
For more than an hour I paced, I went left and I went right, up, down
until I was so breathless that I could barely climb stairs.  I stayed on
a landing for a while, for a good ten minutes.  I had no choice, I had
to go back to where it had all begun.  Back in my room what relief, what
joy I felt was cruelly momentary.  I was not reassured.  The shadows
everywhere but especially those on the corners made me uneasy.
The rest of the day meandered seemingly without end and I was more than
unusually nervous around the real Bengali -- I wondered if perhaps that
did not give the wrong impression.
That night I slept poorly.  I heard WileyKat struggle again in the
microwave and though it pained me beyond belief I stayed back, I did not
leave to see -- for I already knew what awaited me in the kitchen.  I
needed to see that only once and no more.  The image of Bengali returned
to the armchair but thankfully I had moved the offending piece of
furniture away to an unseen corner where I knew I could keep my eyes
from.
Since then I have been afraid to be alone at night.  I feel it there,
close to me, around me -- the visions.  It bothers me because I think
about it all the time.  The right hand hanging down, the head leaning to
the left.  The horrific visual of that boy's death.
Enough.
I don't what to think about it anymore.  What is this obsession?  RD?
Why does it persist?  I'm haunted -- it's crazy but it's true -- it
haunts me.  Who?  Bengali?  WileyKat?  Snarf?  I know very well that
nothing of the sort exists but there's no use reasoning with myself,
telling myself that everything is all right.
I can't live on my own because those visions are there.  At night, even
though invisible, even though out of sight, I know that WileyKat is in
that oven, I know Snarf roams around the hall, basking the darkness in
that red light from his eyes, searching, conniving against me.
There!  There!  Always, forever there!  There, behind doors.  There,
under  beds.  There, in dark corners.  There, in shadows.
There!  There!  There!  There!
Ha.  Haha!  Hahahahahahahaha!  Mwahahahahaha! Ha! Ha, ha! Ha.  Ha.
What am I to do?  RD!  What am I to do?
Hahaha, haha, ha, haha, ha, haha!  Ha!
But if, but if there -- but if there were two of us in my room, I think
-- no! -- I am know that the visions would have to go away.  Snarf would
return to the grave, to the hell where he belongs.  The kitchen would
surely never transform, or greet me with such horrors if by chance I
were hungry in the middle of the night and stepped in for food.  And I
am more than certain that Bengali, his image at the least, would not be
in my armchair anymore.  Those things happen because I'm all alone,
purely and simply, because I'm all alone.

Yours Eternally,
Panthro








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