In the Shade of Bast.

| Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 |

by Balticbard


disclaimer; Popular is someone else's property

warning; a/u, strangeness

chapter 1; As Dark Clouds Gather

Carmen Ferrara looked around her, surveying her surroundings. The young woman was greatly disoriented, but even in her present state, she slowly realized that she was in a padded cell, that she was wearing a straightjacket. Carmen's first reaction was to panic, which she did, feeling suddenly trapped, and then she began to hyperventilate. Consecutively, Carmen began to scream at the top of her voice, then kick, squirm, and struggle violently against her bonds. Carmen began to bite the fabric of her straightjacket, and then to knock her head against the walls of her padded cell. When Carmen got even more restless, going beyond her present state, the cell's door opened suddenly, and two men in white lab coats entered. One of the men held Carmen down, while the other took out a syringe filled with a light blue liquid, and injected her.

"This is a sedative, Ms. Ferrara," the man injecting Carmen said quietly, "this will calm you down."

"Don't be afraid, Ms. Ferrara," the other man said in a kindly voice, "we won't harm you. But we have to keep you from harming yourself."

The two men in white coats released Carmen, then remained standing over her, looking down at the woman, as she lay on the floor. The effects of the drug now coursing through Carmen's bloodstream seemed to take effect immediately, and she began to noticeably calm down. After having observed her for several minutes, the two men turned, and left wordlessly, closing the cell door behind them.

Carmen's mind was empty for several seconds, then slowly she began to recover human thought. Her mind began to function once more through the artificial calm that had settled over her nerves. Finding herself alone, still bound, almost unable to move now, for the aches, and pains from her recent battle, Carmen did the only thing that she could still do freely; she let her mind wander back to the time before her nightmare began, when everything seemed fine, before all hell broke loose, and her life plummeted downward into her present hell.

Carmen could still hear the distant echoes of voices now gone into memory, now encased solidly in the winding halls of her mind;

"Just close your mouth, and pass me the salt, Carmen."

Carmen had been reading again at the breakfast table; her favorite classic, "Wuthering Heights," by Emily Bronte. Carmen quickly snapped out of her self-induced daze to reach for the salt shaker that was beside her, and handed it to the woman who sat across from her, her on-off again friend, and sometime rival, Brooke McQueen.

"If you keep reading so much, Carmen, you'll end up getting brain damage!" Brooke said with a smile, as she shook the salt shaker in her hand, thus applying a thick covering of salt on her greasy bacon, and eggs. Brooke smiled with pleasure, as she sat comfortably in her chair, with her long, straight, pale blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, and she wore baggy, unrestrictive clothes that hid her statuesque figure.

"If you keep that up, Brooke," Carmen said, as she pointed to Brooke's plate, "you'll end up dying of a stroke in a few years!"

Blond, slender, beautiful, tanned, green eyed, former porn star, frequent nude dancer at private men's clubs, expensive call-girl, 25 year old Brooke laughed heartily at Carmen's words, "yeah....I guess so.....but at least I'll have a few years to have fun, and I'll go down with a smile on my face......instead of a certain head librarian who eats cereal, and does nothing but read all day, and is guaranteed to kill everyone else around her with boredom!"

"" Carmen swatted Brooke with her paperback book.

"You're just jealous," Brooke replied with an evil smile, "because I have all the fun around here!"

"Of course you do, Brooke.....and you can't keep a man long enough to even remember his name!"

"Men get boring after two days," Brooke said quickly, "you have to keep changing them."

Brooke, and Carmen had been reduced to arguing, and expressing themselves through infantile conduct, such as sticking their tongues out at each other, and stepping on each other's feet under the table.

"I still won't let my boyfriend even withing twenty feet of you, Brooke McQueen!"

Brooke was charming, and had a good heart. But Brooke also had the overwhelmingly obnoxious habit of pursuing, and stealing every married, or engaged, or committed man that she met. Brooke had broken up countless marriages, and had wrecked families. Brooke had been the cause of countless women being left at the altar. Brooke had broken up countless, newly forming couples. In short; Brooke McQueen had destroyed many lives. Brooke would conquer the man, separate him from his wife, fiancee, or steady lover, enjoy him for a few days, then she would dump his as well, to move on to greener pastures, or to new territories. To Brooke, men were simply a sport; conquer, and move on.

Brooke's reputation as a man-stealing slut was known to the entire city of Newdale, in the blessed state of California. Brooke was now so infamous, that the women of Newdale literally hated, and despised her so intensely, that the young woman was banned from dozens of social events.

Brooke had no women friends, and didn't care. Brooke had two, real friends, which happened to be women, and that was all that she needed; Carmen Ferrara, and Sam McPherson, the only two women who were neither threatened by her, nor impressed by her now legendary, sexual antics.

Carmen Ferrara was of middle height, chubby, with short, wavy red hair, and dark eyes. Carmen was the head-librarian of  the local library, she dressed discreetly for her job, she was well paid enough to enjoy a middle class style of life, and she dated a much older man, named Jones, who owned the most successful drycleaner in Newdale.

"Your boyfriend is sixty two years old, Carmen....." Brooke said with a smirk, "he's balding, beer-bellied, and too old for age limit stops at forty five!"

"Just in case you didn't know, Brooke.....quality over quantity!"

"Stop arguing you two!"

Brooke, and Carmen both looked up to see Sam enter the kitchen, "your racket just woke up Harrison!"

Samantha McPherson was a beguiling sight, even in her most disheveled state. Sam's long, golden brown hair fell around her shoulders, her bangs danced upon her pale forehead, and her sleepy blue eyes were still unfocused. Now, the stunning brunette beauty looked at her friends, as if in a daze, "Harrison is going to France today, he has to take some classes on painting landscapes......." Sam was wearing nothing but an oversized t-shirt that always clung to her tall, gorgeous, voluptuous figure in all of the right places.

"Sam.....hi," Brooke had begun to babble already, as she got up from her seat, greeting the newly arrived, young woman as if she were a queen. Brooke was always nervous around Sam, who was the only woman that she truly respected, and admired. Sam was the only woman that Brooke would never hurt by deliberately stealing her rich, spoiled boyfriend, the ever brooding Harrison, "how are you? I you want breakfast? Uh.....I'm sorry for the"

"Its okay, Brooke," Sam simply smiled, "Harrison sleeps to much anyway."

Carmen observed Brooke's sudden change in composure with discretion, loving every moment of it, "it never ceases to amaze me....." Carmen thought to herself, "Brooke always turns into putty around Sam....."

Samantha seemed to have it all; she was stunningly beautiful at the age of 24, enormously wealthy, living off a substancial trust fund, unburdened by the need to work, or study. Since Sam had nothing that she HAD to do, the girl simply did what she WANTED to do; she wrote screenplays. Strangely enough, Sam had bragging rights on two of her screenplays already having been snatched up by powerful movie studios, and made into TV movies. So now, Sam was on her fourth screen play, the third one being the subject of negotiations by a foreign, movie production company. Sam was a strange young woman, often suffering from depression, always dressing in black, often sullen, and attracted to morbid, dark plots for her writing. Sam's lover, rich brat Harrison was elusive, coming, and going from her room, her house many times during the week. Sam was the owner of a three story, red brick, Victorian style house, located on exclusive Vine Drive, the most prosperous, and select neighborhood in the city. Since Sam had no close relatives, and despised living by herself, she had Carmen, and Brooke living with her, absolutely rent free; something for which both young women were grateful. Despite their economic, and social differences to her, Sam treated Carmen, and Brooke with equal respect, considering them her only family, and at the same time actually shunning many wealthy socialite friends. Sam lived in her own, exclusive world, and answered to no one. Sam didn't care about anyone, or anything that was outside her immediate circle that included Harrison, Carmen, and Brooke.

" the coffee still fresh?" Sam sat at the breakfast table with her friends, as she ran her pale, slender hands through her wild, long hair.

"Yes, it is," Brooke said, as she got up quickly, and poured Sam a fresh cup, "two sugars, black....."

"You know me so well, Brooke," Sam replied teasingly, as her full, ruby lips curled up at the ends into the most seductive, beautiful smile ever seen.

"Oh," Brooke felt her insides melting at the sight of Sam's smile, as her hands trembled, as she set the cup of coffee down before her beguiling friend.

Carmen watched Brooke's behavior with pure glee, "she went from bully-bitch to Jell-O in two seconds," Carmen's smirk became obvious now, "oh....I do love to see Brooke become a total fool.....she swears that she hates all women......and she simply goes ape over McPherson!"

"How are you, Ferrara?" Sam asked.

"Doing fine, McPherson," Carmen replied.

Carmen, and Sam got along very well, and had the odd, annoying habit of addressing each other by their last names, instead of their first names.

"So, Brooke," Sam said calmly, as she sipped her coffee, "how is your latest victim?"

"Wha.....what do you mean, Sam?" Brooke had sat down next to Sam, as closely as possible, and now doted over the brunette in the silliest fashion, "want some of"

"Are you serious, Brooke?" Carmen was shocked, and horrified, "you expect McPherson to actually eat off your plate?"

Carmen almost chocked on her own saliva, as she watched the exquisitely beautiful, ravishing, delicately refined Samantha take an extra fork lying on the table, and actually start slicing pieces of bacon from Brooke's plate, and eating them slowly.

"What I mean, Brooke," Sam said, as she simply ignored Carmen, "your latest much longer is he staying? Last night I could hear him snore so loudly, I thought the house would simply quake, then fall to the ground."

" mean John Motley?" Brooke said with a blush, "I'm bored with him already."

"John Motley? You mean......Brenda Motley's husband?" Carmen asked with amazement.

"Yeah," Brooke replied, too distracted by Sam's beauty to even care that Carmen was still at the table.

"Brenda Motley, as in the head of the local coven of Newdale," Carmen's astonishment deepened, " stole a witch's husband.....a witch who just happens to be of dark leanings, who has also publicly professed to be a Satanist?"

"You don't believe in all of that silly you, Carmen?" Brooke was laughing.

"Well.....I respect the unseen, Brooke.....yeah.....I guess that I do believe in that stuff," Carmen said quietly.

"Well.....that Brenda-chic got really mad at me," Brooke said nonchalantly, "she threatened me with some stupid curse! She caught John having lunch with me in the restaurant around the corner, and she just started ranting, and raving like a lunatic that I was going to regret taking John away from her. Everyone was staring at the three of us, and then Brenda started some kind of stupid chant!"

"Really?" Carmen was mesmerized now, by Brooke's account.

"She was talking in some funny language," Brooke replied, "I heard one word clearly.....bass, or bast...."

"Bast," Carmen added, "or Bastet....she's an Egyptian deity......a cat goddess.....I think you went to far this time, Brooke.....this is one woman who won't just pout, and go home to cry it out! Brenda is dangerous, even in the more ordinary way.....she's crazy enough to get a gun, and stalk you!"

"I don't believe any of that foolishness,'re as full of hot air as she is!"

"Hey......McPherson.....will you talk some sense into this blond bimbo?"

"I'm not a bimbo, Carmen!" Brooke was getting angry.

"I have no comments on the subject, Ferrara," Sam replied with a dignified air, "to me, the supernatural is simply as drab as reality."

"I have to go," Carmen said hurriedly, "today we have to catalogue a new shipment of anthropological books that just arrived from Boston."

"Have fun, Ferrara," Sam said with a smile.

"Thanks, McPherson....bye, Brooke," Carmen said, as she turned briefly, and saw the strangest thing; Brooke had leaned into Sam, and was now sniffing her hair in the most brazen fashion, "I can't believe it," Carmen was saying to herself, as she exited the handsome, elaborately decorated, oak, front door of the McPherson house, "I wonder about those two....."

"Sam?" Brooke's voice quivered somewhere on the edge, between embarrassment, and deep shyness.

"Yeah, Brooke?"

"I have this problem lately, Sam.....I really don't know what to do about it.....I sort of wanted to tell you about it."

"What's wrong, Brooke?"

Brooke nearly fainted at that instant, as she noticed how Sam's voice had softened, and how pregnant it was with tenderness, "well....Sam.....I think that I.....I'm fed up with men......."

"That's like saying that Elvis Presley is still alive," Sam laughed softly, "I can't believe that, are you favorite stamp collecting, or....."

"Not anymore, Sam....." Brooke said sadly, "I'm just sick of them now.....I'm so tired.....and I was scared at first.....confused......but its alright now.....I know what I want."

"What are you going to do, Brooke? Men are your livelihood."

"I don't know, Sam.....but I want to change my life.....I don't know what I'll do about money."

"That won't ever be a problem for you, Brooke," Sam said with a smile, "this will be your home food, and shelter won't be a problem for you.....but I do believe you'll die of boredom."

"Thanks, Sam," Brooke said with tears in her eyes, as she gently wrapped her slender arms around her beautiful friend, "I've already made my choice as to what I want to do.....I'd like to talk to you later tonight about it."

"I'm free tonight," Sam replied warmly, "Harrison will be out for the next three months anyway."

"I'm ending things with John today," Brooke was saying with enthusiasm, "I have to go jogging now......" Brooke reluctantly let go of Sam, stood up, and left the kitchen, "see you later, Sam?"

"Yes, Brooke."

Carmen was rushing to get a taxi that had just stopped close by. Carmen was getting into her taxi, and turned for a moment, only to see Brooke McQueen jogging by. Brooke waved, and Carmen waved back, as she finally sat down in the back seat of the taxi. Carmen saw Brooke disappear, and she got the oddest feeling, as if a chill suddenly rushed up through her, "I feel as if this were the last time that I will ever see Brooke again!"

Carmen Ferrara shook her head, because she simply had too many other things to think about.

chapter 2; A Strange Cat Comes Calling

Carmen Ferrara giggled happily, despite the pressure of her constricting bonds. It seemed that the sedative given to Carmen, had worked a miracle within the once, reluctant redhead. Now, Carmen danced happily, freely about the small, padded cell, for she was no longer within her own body.

It seemed to Carmen, that the padded cell was getting smaller, "or am I getting bigger?" the pretty redhead had started to laugh, "this is so like.....Alice in Wonderland......" Carmen was laughing again, " I keep this up.....I really will have myself convinced that my brains are toasted, " at the age of 25, Carmen was completely out of her mind.

But once more, Carmen descended into her body, as memories of what her life had been like before her descent into darkness, called out to her to be acknowledged.

Carmen had learned her lesson very well, but much too late; when one receives an ominous message from the heart, one should act upon it. The pretty redhead had felt that she would not see Brooke ever again, that last Tuesday morning, that the blond went jogging, and the redhead rushed off to work in a taxi. Carmen's sudden premonition had been right; Brooke never came back home.

At first, neither Sam, or Carmen acted upon their suspicions of doom, because the beautiful Brooke would often disappear for days, going off to some unknown location with one of her temporary lovers.

It had been five days since Brooke had disappeared, and Carmen had started to paBrooke, "I'm going to call the cops, McPherson!"

"Don't exaggerate, Ferrara," Sam replied calmly, "you know how Brooke is....she's crazy.....she's probably run off with some new lover."

"I know that you're right, McPherson.....but I just can't shake this awful feeling that Brooke is in big trouble!"

"Look, Ferrara.....a bad feeling is like a headache.....take a pill, and it will go away."

"But what if I'm right, McPherson? What if this time.....just this once, Brooke really is in trouble, and we're not doing anything to try, and find her?"

Sam sighed, and nodded, for she too had been visited by the constant, nagging feelings that Brooke was in some kind of danger, "alright, Ferrara.....I confess.....I'm getting those same awful feelings that you are....something awful may have happened to Brooke."

"Finally!" Carmen exclaimed triumphantly, "I'm calling the police right now to report Brooke's disappearance!"

"You do that, Ferrara.....and I'm going to check around."

"What are you going to do, McPherson?"

"I'm going to hire a private investigator to search for Brooke," Sam replied firmly.

"Good idea, McPherson!"

With that said, each woman went her separate way; one to call the police, and the other to get a private cop to find her.

Two police detectives arrived at Sam's house, and spoke to Carmen, regarding Brooke McQueen, and her disappearance. The detectives took notes on Brooke's life, her lifestyle, her habits, the places she frequented, her lack of friends, her livelihood, the names of her most recent lovers, what she was last seen wearing, in what direction she was headed, when she went jogging.

Carmen patiently explained every detail of Brooke's life to the detectives, and answered all of their repetitive questions calmly, and provided them with photographs of Brooke. Finally, after a painstaking interview with an eager, nervous Carmen, and a quiet, aloof Sam, the detectives were satisfied that they had enough information, and left.

When the detectives left, Carmen threw herself onto an easy chair, and let out a long sigh of anger, mingled with frustration, "damn.....I can't believe that I had to repeat everything several did those apes ever make it to the ranks of detective?"

"Those men are smarter than you think, Ferrara!"

"What do you mean, McPherson?"

"The detectives were testing us.....testing our reactions, and memories, Ferrara....just to make sure that WE had nothing to do with Brooke's disappearance!"

"How dare they!" Carmen shouted with indignation.

"Calm down, Ferrara....they were just doing their job....but I don't think that they're going to find Brooke."

"I'm really worried about Brooke, McPherson," Carmen said softly.

"Me too, Ferrara....I've already hired a private investigator to look for her.....but...."

"What is it, McPherson?"

"I don't know, Ferrara....I am getting such bad vibes from all of this....."

"Me too....."

"All that we can do now, just wait, and hope that everything turns out well.....maybe Brooke will just show up on her own, and start laughing at both of us for worrying about her."

"I hope so, McPherson.....I hope so."

That night, Carmen slept horribly. The redhead's dreams were plagued by images of the two detectives who had visited her, now coming to arrest her. Other dreams filled poor Carmen's troubled sleep; images of Brooke dying, or being raped, or running for her life, and calling out to her for help. It seemed like the longest night of Carmen's young life, for the young woman found no respite within her dark slumber all night long.

Finally, morning came, and touched Carmen's cheek, to awaken her from troubled dreams. Carmen opened her eyes, as relief flooded over her, as the morning rays chased away the last vestiges of her nighttime darkness, and the redhead blessed the daylight.

Carmen quickly got out of her bed, and headed quickly for the bathroom. Carmen took a cold shower, and even though she was literally shivering, she was shouting with joy at the prospect of being awake. Thoughts of Brooke, and her safety were replaced in Carmen's mind by more mundane ones, such as being on time for work. Carmen dressed quickly, brushed her hair, and applied her usual light layer of make-up, and went downstairs quickly to the kitchen. On her way to the kitchen, Carmen saw Sam in the living room, sitting on the plush, dark sofa that dominated the entire room. Sam was watching a sappy, romantic movie, which was surprising for someone who dressed in black, was prone to hopelessness, and depression, and considered romance to be utter nonsense. Sam seemed to be conversing cheerfully with someone on the phone, and waved at Carmen, as she walked by.

"Hey, Ferrara!"

"Hey, McPherson!'

Carmen trudged on towards the kitchen, almost tripping on her three inch heels, as a thick veil of sleepiness suddenly settled on her, "I need coffee right away," Carmen screamed inwardly. The redhead entered the kitchen, and was suddenly greeted by a sight that was so terrible to her, that all thought of sleep, and coffee flew quickly from her mind.

When Carmen entered the kitchen, her dark eyes fell upon a very strange sight; a can sitting upon the kitchen counter. To Carmen, the fact of a cat sitting upon a kitchen counter wasn't nearly as strange, as the cat itself. Carmen had never seen such an odd looking cat in her entire life, "a blond cat? No. That's not even remotely possible!"

The cat had very thick, long fur like an angora, but the fur was a pale blond in color. The cat's snout wasn't very pronounced like it would be in a normal cat. The cat's green eyes were round like those of a human being. The cat seemed to almost have human lips, which were of a deep, pink hue in color. The cat had no tail.

"HEY!" Carmen exclaimed angrily, for she particularly disliked cats, "how did you get in here?" Carmen entered the kitchen quickly, raising her arm with the intention of striking the cat to get it off the kitchen counter.

In response, the cat hissed angrily, baring its sharp, long fangs at Ferrara, who was suddenly afraid for her life. A look of such utter, deep hatred shown in the cat's eyes, that it made Carmen shudder, and step back towards the entrance of the kitchen.

"McPherson....quick....get over here!"

"What is it, Ferrara?" Sam said, her voice carrying over from the living room.

"There's a cat in the kitchen, McPherson!"

"Chase it away, Ferrara!"

"I'm scared of it, McPherson!"

"You are so pathetic!" Sam shouted back, "a grown woman scared of a cat?"

"GET OVER HER NOW, McPherson!"

"Oh.....alright, Ferrara.....get under control already.....I'm coming!"

Carmen felt a flood of relief fill her heart, when she heard Sam's reluctant footsteps getting close.


"Yeah....I'm here....Ferrara.....where is the kitten?"

Sam playfully poked Carmen in the back, and the redhead screamed, then turned, as she became ten shades paler than she normally was. The usually sullen, stoic Sam held back the almost overwhelming urge to giggle hysterically.

"I'm almost on the verge of strangling you, McPherson," Carmen said quietly, as she brought her hand up to her bosom, and inhaled deeply to try, and get her madly beating heart under control.

Sam ignored Carmen's empty threat, and entered the kitchen. Sam stopped short when she saw the strange cat that was sitting on the kitchen counter, "wow....Ferrara.....that is a really strange looking cat!"

"Get rid of it, McPherson!"

"Aaawww.....its sort of cute, McPherson," Sam replied, as she stood for a moment to look at the cat, "and it sort of.....looks familiar...."


Carmen watched intently, as Sam, and the strange cat faced each other, staring straight into each other's eyes. Then, Carmen would swear later on, that it seemed to her that a spark of recognition was lit in the cat's eyes, at the sight of the beautiful brunette. The cat was instantly up on all fours, as its fur puffed out, and it began to mew, then purr affectionately, then the cat moved to the edge of the counter, to get as close as it could to Sam.

"What a beautiful cat!" Sam exclaimed with delight, as she quickly extended her arms, and took the cat, cradling it like a baby, "its so big, and chubby," Sam was actually smiling, as she held up the cat, and looked into its adoring, green eyes.

"McPherson!" Carmen practically screamed, "HOW CAN YOU TOUCH THAT THING?!"

Sam seemed impervious to Carmen's scream, and simply continued to cuddle the now, adoring, purring cat in her arms as if it had always been her pet, "you're just exaggerating, Ferrara. This is just a cat.....a harmless one..."

"It tried to attack me, McPherson!"

"Ferrara.....did you go after it?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, Ferrara.....did you try to hit it? Didn't you try to scare it away first?"

"Well.....yes.....but that thing is still dangerous, McPherson."

"Cats are funny creatures, Ferrara.....they defend themselves quite well.....but if you approach them the right way......they are quite friendly.....haven't you read that in some book?"

"Just because I'm a librarian, doesn't mean that I've read every single book in the damn library, McPherson!"

"It's a female," Sam said absently, as she examined the cat in her arms.

"McPherson, haven't you heard a single word that I've said?"

"Yeah....sure, Ferrara.....Bast....."

"Huh? What are you talking about, McPherson?"

"I'm naming my new cat, Bast.....that name you mentioned the other day," a now absorbed, distant Sam said quietly, "I like that name for a cat."

"You're just going to keep that thing, McPherson.....just like that?"

"Yeah, Ferrara," Sam's usually pale, smooth forehead was creased, her dark, arched brows were furrowed, and her blue eyes flashed a look of annoyance, "you have a problem with that?"

" don't," Carmen answered honestly, because she knew that Sam always indulged her in every way, and that it was only fair to return the favor, "I guess I can put up with a weird looking cat.....if I can put up with an even weirder brunette.....then it should be easy!"

A usually elegant, aloof Sam McPherson simply glared in mock anger at her friend, Carmen, then turned, and walked away with the newest member of the McPherson household in her arms.

Despite her drugged stupor, Carmen's mind was still clear enough for her to understand that her present nightmare truly began when the strange, blond cat entered her life, and the home that she shared with Sam, and the absent Brooke.

From the moment that Sam took the cat into her arms, she never let it go. It seemed to Carmen that the blond cat completely dominated Sam's life.

The days seemed to pass slowly from then on, as Carmen watched silently, as her best friend, Sam became engulfed in a distant, private world inhabited only by the blond cat, and herself. It seemed that the blond cat was leading Sam down a road of no return, as the gorgeous brunette neglected her writing, and her almost obsessive love for her lover, Harrison, whom she called, and spoke with almost every day.

From the very first day that Sam held the blond cat in her arms, everything, and everyone that she had loved before seemed to vanish from her life forever, until all that was left was the cat.

Carmen watched Sam's strange transformation in both awe, and silence, as if it were a movie unfolding before her eyes, as she sat in a dark cinema. Sam would carry the blond cat around with her constantly about the house. The few times that Sam would leave the house, she would take the cat with her. Sam became the typical, haughty, wealthy woman, sporting a spoiled brat of a pet, to whom she hand fed Hershey chocolate kisses, and strips of raw fillet.

Carmen's mind had become like a darkened womb, where the details of her former, everyday life seemed to have vanished forever. The few memories that remained in Carmen's dark mind, were few, like bright spots on a dark horizon.

One memory that Carmen could recall, was a distant Friday night that she, and Sam sat on the plush couch, in the living room, and watched television. Carmen smiled as she remembered that there was a horror movie marathon on that night.

"Of course you love horror movies,'re so dark, and make a corpse look like a happy face!" Carmen laughed, as she ate popcorn, and watched her beautiful, best friend glare at her in mock indignation.

"Oh....and like you're Miss Sunny-Side-Up, Ferrara? You're a Goth under those awful pastel colored clothes you wear to work!"

Carmen, and Sam laughed, waging a verbal battle of witty retorts back, and forth between them. Carmen would throw popcorn at Sam, who would catch it, then feed it to her blond cat, Bast.

"You're going to get that damn cat of yours sick, McPherson. Cats don't eat popcorn!"

"But Bast loves it....don't you, baby?" Sam raised the adoring, purring cat in her arms, and kissed it on the snout.

"Eeww," Carmen wanted to vomit.

"I'll bet my kitten is a much better kisser than you, Ferrara!"

"You wish!" Carmen laughed again, as she turned back to watch the television.


Carmen had been completely absorbed in the movie playing on the television, and she almost didn't hear her friend call her name. But Carmen turned at the soft sound of Sam's quiet voice, "what is it, McPherson?"

"How many nipples do cats have, Ferrara?"

"Um....." Carmen was struck by Sam's odd question, "I don't know, really.....probably four....or six."

"But always more than just two, Ferrara?"

"Definitely, McPherson," Carmen replied with a smile, "of that I am very sure."

"You were right, Ferrara....this cat is strange."

"Look," Sam said slowly, who motioned the redhead to come closer to her.

Carmen had been sitting on the opposite end of the sofa, and she turned her attention from the movie, as she moved closer to sit next to Sam, who sat on the other end of the sofa, with the blond cat on her lap. Carmen saw that Sam had the cat lying face up on her lap, and was struck by the fact that it was an odd position for a cat to be in. The cat was purring in sheer delight, as Sam's slender, pale hands ran through its thick fur. Carmen sat close to Sam, and watched as her friend gently parted the fur on the upper part of the cat's belly, to reveal what seemed to be, two, small, pale mounds topped by two, bright pink aureoles.

"Those look like a woman's breasts, McPherson.....that's not possible!"

"I know, Ferrara."


"There's more, Ferrara."

Sam wordlessly moved her hands further down on the cat's belly, towards its lower limbs. Once more, with great care, Sam parted the cat's thick fur to reveal a small slit.

"No....wait....." Carmen was momentarily dumbstruck, "that looks like...."

"It looks like a woman's vagina," Sam said, as awed by what she was seeing, as her friend was.

"I know that female cats have vaginas....but directly under their tails," Carmen replied quickly, "but not there.....and this cat doesn't even have a tail!"

"There's more, Ferrara."

"More, McPherson?"

Without saying another word, Sam began to caress her blond cat, teasing the cat's nipples with one hand, then teasing what seemed to be the cat's vagina with her other hand. The blond cat mewed, purred, and even began to growl, then wail in pure, unabashed pleasure, as it trembled, and swayed under the brunette's caresses.

"Damn.....McPherson.....STOP THAT!"

"It acts just like a woman, Ferrara."

"Its just sick, McPherson. You should get rid of this cat....if its even a cat!"

"It most definitely is a cat, Ferrara....just a strange one."

" don't know where this creature came from.....what diseases it might have....for God's sake....turn it over to the Humane Society."

"They'll kill Bast!" Sam exclaimed, horrified at the thought.

"They'll put the cat to sleep humanely, McPherson."

"But why does it have to die, Ferrara?" Sam's soft voice was almost a wail.

"McPherson.....just listen to me, okay?" Carmen said calmly, but inwardly, she was beginning to worry about her friend's mental state, "this animal is a freak...."

"But that is no reason to kill it!" Sam exclaimed angrily, her voice rising in timbre, and desperation flashing in her cerulean eyes, "no....I can't bear it....NO!" Sam gathered the blond cat up into her arms, got up from the sofa, and turned to leave.

"McPherson....please wait!" Carmen pleaded.

"I won't let my cat be killed....I won't lose Bast!" Sam exclaimed in desperation, as she climbed the stairs to her room, disappearing from Carmen's sight.

Carmen was now alone in the living room, aware of the fact that she, and Sam had just engaged in what could be termed as their first, real quarrel in their seventeen year friendship, "that damn cat is to blame!" Carmen was now very angry, "that freaky cat has taken over McPherson's mind....." suddenly the pretty redhead felt a surge of hatred for the blond cat rise within her bosom, "I have to do something....but what?"

Carmen was slowly aware that the calming sedative that she had been injected with earlier, was wearing off. Carmen was slowly floating away from her pleasant, peaceful sensation. Drop, by drop, in slow, ever darkening shades, fear, and desperation were creeping once more into Carmen's securely bound body. Now, the vivid memories that returned to her encased in life-like dreams were turning into frightening nightmares.

A strange wall of silence, and an uneasy calm settled between Carmen, and Sam after their first argument. For three days afterward, the two women were polite around each other, but were inwardly aware of a sudden, unspoken gat that had developed between them. No further reference was made to the incident of the blond cat's odd resemblance to a human woman between the two friends. Carmen decided to be discreet, and never to speak to Sam about the cat ever again, so as to preserve her very precious friendship with Sam. But from that day on, Sam, and Carmen lost the closeness that they had once enjoyed, and the damage that the quarrel had done was permanent.

In Carmen's mind, the blond cat was responsible for the difficulties in her friendship with Sam. In Carmen's mind, the blond cat was also to blame for the present, unstable state of Sam's mind.

One night, Carmen woke from an uneasy sleep, from troubled dreams filled with the shadowy shapes of an elusive, despised, blond cat that had become a burden upon her once peaceful life. Carmen woke up with the oddest urge, which she fulfilled unquestionably; to go to Sam's room, and check up on her.

In seemingly precise, mechaBrookeal movements, Carmen got out of her bed, walked a few feet, opened the door of her room, and went out into the hall. Almost in a sleepy haze, Carmen walked slowly down the hall, towards an explosion of light that lit up the other end of the hall, that the redhead knew was coming out of the open door of Sam's room. To Carmen, it seemed like it took her an eternity to reach the end of the hall, and she stopped right before the entrance of Sam's room.

That night, a full moon crowned the nocturnal heavens, and her light burst powerfully into Sam's room, lighting it so fully, that it seemed to be a late afternoon. Every corner of Sam's room, every detail of the furniture, the window curtains, the huge bed, and Sam herself who slept in it, were perfectly, clearly outlined to Carmen's dark eyes. Carmen saw the beautiful, voluptuous brunette on the bed, with a flimsy nightshirt covering her luscious body. Sam was fast asleep, lying on her back, with her long, dark hair strewn wildly around her glorious head. Sam's alabaster, unblemished skin seemed to glow unnaturally in moonlight, her fine features were still, calm in sleep. Then, Carmen saw something that horrified her, even til the last vestige of her soul; the blond cat, Bast, had jumped onto Sam's bed, and now crawled up the beautiful woman's body. The cat settled itself comfortably upon Sam's bosom, and then descended upon her face. Carmen brought both of her hands up to cover her mouth, to stifle the scream that rose within her, as she watched in disbelief, as the cat covered Sam's fine nose, and full lips with its snout.

"It can't be!" Carmen cried to herself, "that awful creature is licking Sam's lips, and swallowing her breath! I have to do something!"

Carmen attempted to enter Sam's room with the intention of beating the cat off her friend's body. But the cat noticed Carmen, and it looked up at her, its eyes glowing like twin fires. The cat bared its fangs, and growled dangerously in warning at Carmen. When the blond cat saw Carmen hesitate, then move slightly back, it continued licking Sam's ruby lips. Then, Carmen stepped back out into the hall, then fled back to her own room, and quickly took refuge in her bed, after making sure that her door, and windows were securely locked. Carmen trembled in fear, and was unable to sleep for the rest of the night.

Carmen woke the next morning with the memory of what she had seen the night before, still fresh in her mind. Carmen got out of bed, left her room, and walked down the long hall towards Sam's room. Carmen couldn't fight the urge to see her friend. Just like the night before, Carmen found the door to Sam's room open. Carmen stood in the doorway, and looked into her best friend's room. The morning sunlight flooded Sam's room, making the haunting memory of what the redhead had seen the night before, seem more like a fantasy in Carmen's mind. Carmen sighed in deep relief to see Sam sleeping by herself in her bed, and the blond cat was no where to be seen.

"Good morning, Ferrara," Sam said sleepily, as she stretched her beautiful, statuesque body out seductively, making her nightshirt cling erotically to her voluptuous curves, "so you like watching me sleep?"

"What do you mean, McPherson?"

"Wake up, Ferrara. Either you've fallen in love with me, or you're a peeping Tom, or you're just sleepwalking. Which is it?"

"Um.....I just wanted to make sure that you are alright, McPherson."

"I'm okay, Ferrara. Thanks for caring."

"Okay," Carmen replied with a smile, relieved to feel the former walls between her, and Sam vanishing.


"Yeah, McPherson?"

"I'm sleeping in late, today....Ferrara.....if you see Bast....could you bring her up to me, please?"

"No problem, McPherson....consider it done!" Carmen said, as she turned, then walked down the hall, away from Sam's room.

"Thanks, Ferrara," Sam's sultry voice floated back to Carmen across the distance like a delicate echo.

When Carmen went down to the kitchen, she found the blond cat sitting on the kitchen counter. At the sight of the cat, Carmen became enraged. Upon seeing Carmen, the blond cat growled angrily, puffed itself up threateningly, and bared its sharp fangs at the approaching redhead. But this time, Carmen would not be put off by the cat's haughty display of viciousness. Carmen grabbed a nearby broom, and quickly struck at the cat, who jumped of the kitchen counter quickly, "you bitch!" Carmen cried, as she pursued the cat around the kitchen, trying to strike the cat with now unrepressed fury, "I'm not going to let you hurt Sam!" Carmen chased the cat around the kitchen, trying to hit it with the broom, and always narrowly missing it. But Carmen didn't miss other items such as dishes, cups, saucers, and other inanimate objects that unfortunately got in her way. On the third turn around the kitchen, Carmen opened the back door that led to a small alley. The blond cat managed to escape out of the back door, with Carmen in close pursuit, "GOOD RIDDANCE!" Then, Carmen threw the door shut with all of her might. As Carmen turned, she saw a startled, disheveled, beautiful Sam at the entrance of the kitchen.

"What the hell is going on here, Ferrara?"

" saw a roach on the dishes, McPherson......I killed it, and threw it out!"

"Just a roach, sounded more like a war down here!"

"It was just a roach, McPherson," Carmen replied weakly.

"I'm glad you don't hate people that way, Ferrara," Sam said, as she bent down to pick up the fallen dishes.

"Haha," Carmen replied sarcastically, as she too knelt down to pick up the fallen items.


Both Carmen, and Sam stood up, and stared at each other in utter surprise, mingled with shock, and recognition of the voice that had just called out.

"Did you hear that, Ferrara?"

" you think it could be......"

"ITS Brooke!" Sam yelled as she rushed to the back door, "Brooke!"

"Brooke!" Carmen echoed, as she followed closely behind her ravishing friend.

Sam opened the back door, and was shocked to find Brooke McQueen lying on the doormat that lay on the floor, just outside the back door of the kitchen. Brooke was completely naked, and seemed weak, " God....Brooke...." Sam said gently, worriedly, as she knelt down beside the blond, who seemed out of breath, and was sweating profusely, "where have you been, Brooke?"

Brooke was crying now, as she sought shelter in Sam's slender arms, "oh....Sam....I missed you so!" Brooke was only able to say that before she broke down completely, and began to sob despairingly.

" an ambulance!"

"NO!" Brooke managed to exclaim loudly, "please.....they'll take me away from you, Sam.....please....I'll be fine......please.....just let me lie down in my bed....."

"Are you alright, Brooke?" Sam asked with concern, "you may need a may be hurt....."

"I'm just tired, Sam...." Brooke said in a trembling, teary voice, "please.....don't call anyone.....just help me upstairs.....and stay with me."

Sam didn't reply, and helped the weak, blond woman up onto her feet. Carmen, who was standing close by, extended her arm, and helped Sam bring Brooke into the house. Then, Carmen watched as Brooke clung completely to Sam. Carmen stepped back, as she understood that Brooke preferred Sam, and suddenly realized that Brooke was deeply in love with the stunningly beautiful brunette, "so that's why Brooke always turned into a quivering, bland, blubbering fool around Sam.....Brooke is in love with her!" For a moment, Carmen felt a deep stab of jealousy at the thought of Brooke loving her best friend, but shook her head quickly, "I should be glad that Brooke is back again....that she's alive, and well," but Carmen couldn't help herself, because for one month, she had Sam all to herself, but that was over now. Carmen would have to share Sam with Brooke once more.

Sam helped Brooke upstairs, and Carmen followed close behind, in case she was needed, "I doubt that Brooke will even notice me," but still the redhead followed the two women down the hall. Carmen opened the door to Brooke's room, and Sam led the weak, trembling blond inside. Carmen watched silently, as Sam lay Brooke down on the bed, and wrapped her up in the bedspreads, "I'm going to get you some tea, Brooke," Sam said softly, as she tenderly stroked the woman's long, disheveled, blond hair.

"No! Please.....Sam.....don't leave me.....please.....I need you.....just....stay with me.....lay down beside me.....please.....Sam.....I need to hold feel you close.....I'm so cold!"

"Well....." Sam seemed hesitant, for she wasn't a terribly emotional person, and touching was somewhat disagreeable to her.

"Please.....Sam," Brooke begged weakly, tearfully.

"Yes.....alright, Brooke," Sam said softly, as she took her slippers off, and got onto Brooke's bed, and slipped into the blond's anxious arms.

Carmen watched with a strange intensity, as Sam lay on her back, and Brooke greedily enveloped the young woman into her trembling, pale arms. Brooke clung to Sam, and buried her tearful face in the brunette's long, thick hair. Feeling a strange sensation of distaste, Carmen turned, and went downstairs. Carmen was frowning as she left, for she wasn't needed.

chapter 3; Unleashing the Beast Within

It was early morning, and Brooke sat at the kitchen table, slowly sipping a mug of hot coffee that Sam  had just handed her. Brooke quietly watched Sam, and Carmen bickering, which signaled an unexpected closeness between them that Brooke had never seen before, which she was unaccustomed to, and was beginning to become jealous of. Brooke tightened her bathrobe around herself, as she recalled the night before; the feel of Sam's beautiful body in her anxious arms, the perfumed scent of the brunette's long hair, the exquisite silken smoothness of Sam's curvaceous, bare legs, as her own bare legs tangled with them.

"What do you mean, Ferrara....what do you mean that you haven't seen Bast this morning? Sam asked, her voice rising in timbre.

"This is the third time I've told you, McPherson....I don't know where that stupid cat of yours is!" Carmen replied testily.

"I deeply resent you calling Bast stupid, Ferrara!"

"And I think that you love that damn cat too much, McPherson!"

"That's MY business, McPherson," Sam said quietly, firmly, with a warning tone in her voice that was a clear signal to Carmen that she was treading on dangerous ground.

Brooke watched the two women before her in absolute wonder. Brooke was shocked at the evident fierceness that was playing out between Sam, and Carmen. What bothered Brooke deeply, was the immense change in Sam's character. Brooke had always known Sam to be somewhat aloof, stoic, and sullen. But now, Sam was angry, vibrant, and very vocal. In Brooke's eyes, even pretty Carmen had changed. Brooke had always known Carmen to be playful, mellow, easy-going. Now, to Brookek Carmen seemed resentful, bitter, petty, even jealous.

But what was Carmen jealous of?

"Its just sick, McPherson," Carmen said stubbornly, not heeding Sam's very apparent warning to not continue pursuing the very delicate subject.

"At least I have feelings, Ferrara....I don't live with my head constantly in a book."

"Oh.....look who's talking about feelings," Carmen replied with marked sarcasm, "the queen of frigidity, who can't even keep her own man warm in bed."

" would you know, Ferrara?"

"Harrison left you, McPherson. That's proof enough!"

Sam smiled, making her full ruby lips curl seductively, and her cold, blue eyes seemed to glitter with an almost evil spark, "hhhhhmmmmm," the ravishing brunette purred in a sultry manner, making poor Brooke tremble with desire, "I'll bet you're the one who wants to warm my bed....don't you, Ferrara?"

Brooke was getting angry, and bile was rising up in her throat, as she watched what was undeniably sexual tension rising between Sam, and Carmen, " can't be true....they can't be lovers," the blond said to herself.

"Never!" an indignant, flustered, embarrassed Carmen exclaimed much too quickly, as she blushed profusely.

Brooke watched in horror, in utter shock, as a new side of Sam's personality seemed to emerge before her very eyes; cold, cruel, erotic.....evil. Brooke watched in silent awe, as Sam moved from her seat at the breakfast table towards Carmen, who sat nearby. Brooke noted that Sam got up from her chair, and moved slowly, with the feline Sam of a large cat, as she leaned down towards Carmen, until their faces were uncomfortably close, and within kissing distance.

"You wish it, Ferrara......."

Carmen made no verbal reply, but quickly brought up her hand, and slapped Sam's beautiful face, making her head whip to one side from the force of the blow.

Sam's back was to Brooke, so that the blond couldn't see the young woman's reaction to being slapped. But Brooke could see Carmen's face clearly, and it had become a mask of terror, as the pretty redhead backed away from Sam so quickly, that she fell off her chair, and unto the floor.


Sam was silent for several seconds, then she threw back her gorgeous head, and began to laugh heartily. Then, Sam sobered down, as she became as sullen as she had always been.

"McPherson?" Carmen asked weakly, as she still sat upon the floor like a scorned, angry child.

"I'm so sorry, Ferrara," the beautiful brunette said apologetically, as she helped Carmen get up from the floor, then to sit down. Sam briefly hugged Carmen, and kissed her forehead, "don't take me so seriously.....I haven't been well lately.....and I need Bast so much!" Then, Sam opened the back door of the kitchen, with the intention of leaving.

"Where are you going, McPherson?"

"I.....I need to find Bast quickly," Sam replied nervously, "I'm going to look around the neighborhood....maybe she's around somewhere."

"Please.....McPherson.....let go of that cat!"

"Just leave me alone, Ferrara!"

Sam left the kitchen, and slammed the door on her way out. Carmen reacted to Sam's anger, and brusqueness by bursting into tears.

"Please, Carmen.....please don't cry," Brooke said gently, soothingly, as she sat next to the redhead, and hugged her.

"I can't help it," Carmen replied tearfully.

"Carmen," Brooke asked slowly, carefully, "tell me what happened. You were afraid of Sam just now. Why?"

"No.....I can't talk about it, Brooke."

"Please, Carmen.....what did you see in Sam that frightened you so much?"

"I was awful, Brooke.....I'm still scared."

"Please.....Carmen," Brooke ran her long, slender fingers through her friend's hair, "tell me."

"She's....changed," Carmen said softly.

"How did she change?"

Carmen swallowed, then sighed, then slowly began to speak, summoning up all of her courage as she began to relate an occurrence that had just left her trembling, "when I slapped McPherson.....she hissed at me like a cat......then her entire face changed.....her eyes weren't even human anymore."

Brooke gasped involuntarily, and she felt a cold wave rush through her limbs upon hearing Carmen's words, "what do you mean?"

"McPherson had the eyes of a cat."

Carmen finally mustered up enough strength from her tired limbs to stand up from the table. Carmen was still shaking with fear, "its.....that damned cat.....its done something to McPherson!"

"What cat, Carmen?"

Carmen shook her head, and brought her hand down suddenly, banging on the table unexpectedly, and frightening Brooke, "a strange looking cat showed up when you were gone, Brooke....McPherson saw it.....and she fell in love with it....she just took it in."

"You hate the cat, Carmen," Brooke said quietly.

Carmen kept talking, as if Brooke had ceased to exist, "that awful thing took over McPherson's life....she even gave up Harrison for it."

"Harrison is gone?" Brooke's heart jumped for joy, as the thought of Sam being alone, and available filled her with hope, "maybe.....just maybe she can love me.....unless....." Brooke's heart fell to her feet, as she thought that Sam, and Carmen might have become lovers in her absence, "they were never like this before....they were just friends.....friendly, sweet.....but now....."

"Things have changed a lot since you left us, Brooke."


"Where the hell have you been, Brooke?" Carmen asked with urgency, "McPherson got a private investigator to look for you, and I called the cops. We went out ourselves looking for you around the city. The only other thing that McPherson could think about besides that damn cat, was you!"

"Oh," Brooke was gushing with joy.

"Where were you, Brooke?" Carmen was insistent.

"I was here all of the time, Carmen."

"That's impossible, Brooke."

"That's all that I know," Brooke cried, almost on the verge of tears, "I was here....I could see you, and Sam......I wanted to talk to you.....but I couldn't."

Carmen's heart was moved by the sight of unshed tears in Brooke's, glowing, green eyes, so that her apprehensive, brusque manner softened, "its okay, Brooke....." Carmen felt guilty, and embarrassed at her roughness towards the blond, "whatever happened to you must have been so horrible, that it traumatized you to the point of making you forget completely."

Carmen was standing next to Brooke, who suddenly reached out, and drew the redhead to her. Brooke wrapped her arms around Carmen's waist, and hugged her tightly, "I missed....."

"McPherson," Carmen said abruptly, finishing the blond's phrase quickly, "you missed McPherson."

"Yes," Brooke replied quietly, "I missed Sam terribly.....I yearned for her with all of my heart.....I need her so much it hurts......but I guess you already know that.....and I don't have to hide it from you anymore."

"I know that you are in love with McPherson, Brooke."

"Yes.....I am, Carmen,"Brooke replied calmly," and so are you."

Carmen stiffened, her heart becoming hard, and cold, as she disengaged herself from the blond's clinging embrace, "McPherson isn't the same anymore......she's changed......she's become a darkness that will never see dawn," Carmen said, as she stepped away from Brooke's reach.

"You've changed too, Carmen," Brooke whispered more to herself, than to the retreating figure of the redhead that left the kitchen much too quickly.

Carmen Ferrara screamed at the top of her voice with all of the might that she could muster, hoping that perhaps in such a way, she could drown out the invading memories of terror that were now engulfing her. The sedative that she had been given, had worn off, and Carmen was now completely at the mercy of her private, inner demons, which tormented her relentlessly. Carmen squirmed violently within her straightjacket, and put all of the force that she lacked in her bound arms into kicking her bare feet against the padded wall of her small cell, "LET ME OUT OF HERE!" Carmen screamed, "I'M NOT INSANE! LET ME GO!" But no one came, and no one heeded the redhead's despairing cry. So Carmen began to spiral downward at increasing speed, into a bevy of dark memories that overwhelmed her completely.

From that day on, the McPherson household was even stranger than before. All three women were together once more, but now were mere shadows of their former selves, which had somehow managed to co-exist in a peculiar, harmonious order; private, exclusive to them.

Sam, once sullen, quiet, dark, mysterious, bearing the torment of her inner demons within the confines of her silent soul,, had become loud, brash, paranoid, obsessive in her constant search for the now elusive, blond cat, Bast. Carmen, once a gentle soul, was now petty, sour, and argumentative. But Brooke was the one who had changed the most of all. Brooke, the golden blond, filled with inmense self-confidence of her sexual charms, extroverted, flirtatious, was now shy, quiet, and of a docil demeanor.

Once, Brooke was rarely in the house, always away at parties, or in pursuit of a lover, or with a lover on some dalliance to a far away place. But now, the blond never went out anywhere, prefering to stay at home, taking care of the household chores such as cleaning, and cooking, and following Sam around the house like a dependant child. Brooke had become especially fond of taking care of Sam, of doing her laundry, making the gorgeous brunette breakfast in bed, and fetching things for her. But Brooke had also developed the annoying habit of going around the house totally in the nude. Oddly enough, Brooke's new habit of being constantly in her natural state, didn't seem to bother her house mates, who were too busy bickering over a now absent cat named Bast.

Sam went out every single morning, and patrolled the neighborhood in search of her cat, Bast. Every day, Sam would go a bit further out, thus slipping further away from her home. Sam had knocked on every door of every house in the neighborhood, asking whether anyone had seen Bast. Sam had stopped cars in transit on the street, and had even walked up to total strangers to ask them about her cat. But always, the answer to Sam's constant, urgent question was the same; no one had seen Bast.

One Friday evening, after an especially hectic day at the main library of the city of Newdale, Carmen came home in a very dark mood. The mechanism of Carmen's mind was now set to go off at even the slightest mention of a certain, obnoxious, blond cat named Bast.

Carmen entered her house sporting a heinous migraine, and about five hours worth of undiluted, repressed rage. From almost midday, everything that went wrong in the library, seemed to converge upon Carmen; from lost books, to nasty customers, to quarrels between employees of the library. Carmen returned home from work, bearing a heavy, burning yoke of misery, and anger that she was ready to conveniently dump on someone, or something. Since the something, which to Carmen happened to be a cat named Bast was absent, then the someone, who happened to named Sam McPherson was readily available.

Carmen walked in the door of the house, and then into the living room, only to find Brooke crying, wailing at the top of her voice, and looking up, while holding out her slender, pale arms. Carmen looked up, and was shocked to see Sam sitting on the railing of the stairs of the third floor, poised like a cat, and seemingly ready to jump.

"Please....Gracie come down," Brooke wailed piteously, "please don't'll hurt yourself!"

"You are always exaggerating, McPherson!" Carmen screamed at the top of her voice, finally finding an outlet for all of the venom in her heart.

"Carmen!" Brooke shouted, "don't say that! Sam might jump!"

"She's too much of a coward!" Carmen replied angrily, cruelly.

"I.....can't find Bast! I need Bast!" Sam said in a trembling voice.

To Brooke's horror, Carmen's responses to Sam's despairing cries, simply became increasingly crueler.

"You are just SO PATHETIC, McPherson.....I expected so much more from're acting like a junkie......a sick thing in love with A CAT!"

"Shut up, Carmen!" Brooke cried, trying desperately to stop Carmen from damaging her beloved Sam's already, fragile, mental state.

Brooke was horrified to see a war erupt between the two women. Sam began to laugh at Carmen.

"And you are the sex-starved, plain Jane who can't perform in bed with a man, Ferrara....that's why you hide behind that old man you call your lame excuse for a fiancee!"

"At least I prefer to have sex with a human being, McPherson!" Carmen shouted in response.

Brooke screamed, as Sam suddenly jumped from the stairs, and hurtled downward. From then on, everything seemed to happen in slow motion, as Carmen, and Brooke both watched Sam fall, and were unable to do anything to save her. Both women watched in awe, as Sam suddenly turned in the air, and landed on her two feet when she hit the floor, then tripped from the sheer force of the fall, finally ending up on her hands, and knees. Sam quickly got up from the floor, with an unbelievable, feline swiftness, and defiantly faced Carmen.

"What do you mean? What are you saying, you filthy cow?" Sam asked, her face turning so red so that it seemed that she was about to explode from the immense rage within her.

"I know why you REALLY want that cat back, McPherson!"

"Its none of your business, just SHUT UP!"

"! Are you angry, McPherson? Well I DON'T CARE!" Carmen yelled, as she turned towards Brooke, "look.....Brooke.....McPherson even has fangs like a CAT!"

Brooke turned her emerald gaze from Carmen to Sam, and was shocked to see the brunette hissing, even growling, her full, ruby lips spread, showing her pearly, white teeth, showing her two front molars looking very long, and very sharp like fangs.

"I went to your room a few nights back, McPherson, and I saw that monstrous, filthy cat doing things to you."

Now, Brooke was overwhelmed with a sudden, deep need to know what had happened during her absence from her friend's lives. Brooke was finally on the verge of understanding the reason for the emnity between Sam, and Carmen, "what did you see, Carmen?"

"That filthy cat was kissing McPherson! She likes having sex with that cat.....that's why she wants it back so badly!"

"You're one to talk, Ferrara! You're just as sick, and like to watch!"

"Haha!" Carmen was now in top form, as the venom that she spewed from her mouth was increasingly more vicious each time, "guess what,'re stupid cat is lost because of me....."

"What do you mean?" Sam's voice was filled with anger, with fear, "what do you mean?"

"I chased that stupid beast out of the kitchen, McPherson," Carmen replied with an evil smile, "I got rid of it, and I am SO GLAD!"

"You're actually jealous of the cat, Carmen," Brooke said, suddenly enlightened by the meaning of the redhead's words, "you've wanted Sam all to yourself all of this time!"

Sam was seething with fury, as her beautiful face seemed to change into a mask of pure rage, and evil, "you bitch....." the brunette said in a deceptively calm voice, "you petty bitch....I trusted you so could you do this to me? You.....bitch!"

Like an erupting volcano, Sam, and Carmen finally attacked each other simultaneously. The two women went head on, and began shoving each other, amid Brooke's screams. Then, the shoving evolved into slapping, and screaming expletives at each other. Finally, the true violence erupted, when Carmen dug her fingers into Sam's thick, dark hair, and Sam reacted, by curling her slender, elegant fingers almost like claws, then dug her long nails into the soft, tender flesh of the redhead's pretty face, then pulled down with force, thus making deep tears in the skin, leaving very long, deep, painful scatches on Carmen's face. Carmen responded fiercely by screaming even louder than before, and kicking Sam in the shins, then between the legs, right in the vagina, thus making the brunette reel backwards with a cry of pain.

 Brooke quickly came up behind Sam, and wrapped her arms around her friend's tiny waist. Brooke pulled Sam up to keep her from falling, then tightly up against herself. Carmen took advantage of this, of Sam's momentary helplessness, by kicking the brunette once more.

"Carmen....STOP IT!" Brooke yelled angrily, as she pulled a faltering Sam back up into her anxious arms.

Suddenly, Sam began to tremble, then convulse violently. A frightened Brooke quickly moved Sam over to the sofa, and made the young woman lie down, and began to soothe her with loving words, and gentle caresses.

Carmen brought her hand up, and touched her face. Carmen's soul was lit to a deeper rage, as her fingers traced the long trails that made up the scratches that went from her cheeks down to almost her chin, "I'm calling the cops!" Carmen exclaimed, as she looked down at her bloodstained fingers.

Carmen turned to walk out the front door that was still ajar since the redhead's entrance into the house.


Carmen stopped at the doorway of the house, and turned at the sound of Brooke's voice calling to her, "yeah, Brooke?"

Whenever she was forced to leave the house to fetch the mail for herself, and her friends, Brooke would cover her nudity by quickly throwing on a bathrobe that she would always place near the front door, "Carmen.....wait.....please!" Now, Brooke threw her bathrobe on, and approached the redhead, "please....Carmen....don't do it!"

"Have you seen the scratches on my face, Brooke? This time McPherson has gone too far!"

"The police will put Sam in jail.....they'll take her away from me, Carmen!"

"McPherson is insane....even dangerous, Brooke. She might attack either of us....and next time she might do some real harm. I can't let things go on this way!"

"She'll be put in an institution, Carmen. She'll be out of my reach. I won't be able to see her!"

"That's what McPherson needs, Brooke!"

Brooke grabbed Carmen by the shoulders, and shook her gently, trying to reason with her, "Carmen....please don't.....they'll take Sam away.....and I need her...." Brooke was crying now, as if she felt Sam's absence already, and the pain was so intense, that it seemed as if a dagger were being dug roughly into her heart, "Sam is all that I have ever wanted in my entire life! I can't live without her!'

"But what about all those men that you had in your life, Brooke?" Carmen was truly shocked to learn that her blond friend had always been in love with the ravishing brunette.

"I've been living a lie for years, Carmen," Brooke replied, "but I've always been in love with Sam....I always just wanted to be close to her....even though she never saw me as anything but a friend....but now....finally I have my chance, and you want to ruin it for me!"

"What chance, Brooke? Have you seen her eyes? McPherson even has fangs some kind of cat....she's not even human anymore! How can you still want her after all of this, Brooke?"

"I don't care, Carmen! I just want to take care of her forever....I want to hold her all night soothe her when she's in pain! I just want to be with her.....that's all that I want!"

"This has gone too far, Brooke....I just can't keep ignoring McPherson's actions anymore!"

"I'll keep Sam away from you, Carmen.....I promise.....I'll be completely responsible for her.....just don't go to the police!"

"Its too late, Brooke," Carmen turned her back on the lanky blond, and walked out of the house.

"You're going to take Sam away from me,'re breaking my heart."

"Just grow up, Brooke!" was all that Carmen said, as she walked down the street.

Carmen had walked to a nearby phone booth, had taken the receiver in one hand, and had poised her other hand to dial the phone number of the police station. But Carmen had stopped herself in mid-dial, and had taken to walking around instead. Carmen spent an entire hour walking around the local park. Then, Carmen went back to her library, and sat at her desk. Carmen reflected upon Brooke's pleas, for hours, until her heart softened, and she decided to give Sam another chance.

Night had already fallen when Carmen returned home. Carmen was quietly surprised to find the front door of the house wide open, "what is going on here? Why is the door open like this? Is Brooke crazy? Anyone can just come in, and rob us!" As Carmen entered the house, she was seized by a feeling of strangeness, as if this wasn't her home anymore, as if everything had changed during her absence, as if she no longer belonged there, "everything is so quiet....all the lights are off.....what the hell is going on here?" Carmen proceeded further into the house, turning on the living room light, "Brooke? Where are you, Brooke?" Carmen suddenly go the temporary impression that the entire house was empty. But the sudden impression of emptiness was quickly curtailed, when Carmen heard noises coming from the third floor, upstairs, where the bedrooms were, "those noises....groans....sighs....coming from upstairs....what's going on?" although Carmen had the sneaking suspicion that the sounds were of sex, "maybe Brooke got lucky tonight, and she is finally knocking McPherson up!" Perhaps Carmen's two friends were indeed making love, "I have to see them...." it was a strong urge that the redhead couldn't deny, that drove her on, "maybe its not sex....maybe one of them is matter what it is....I have to see it.....I can't help myself!" Carmen climbed the stairs slowly, the hair on her head rising because of the sudden eeriness of the sounds, that seemed to echo from every corner of the house.

Carmen felt more like a machine than a human being, as she climbed up the stairs to the third floor, "its so dark up here....but I don't want to turn on any lights.....that would be a signal for them that I'm here," Carmen whispered quite calmly, aware that she was fulfilling Sam's low opinion of her; that she was a voyeur who enjoyed watching others have sex, "if those two aren't fooling around, I want to know what the hell they're up to!" Carmen's mind was dark, filled with twisted, evil plots planned by the women that she once considered her friends, "they left me behind!" Now, the truth finally emerged, as Carmen Ferrara faced her own dark self, finally admitting the reason for her anger, resentment, and pettiness towards Sam, "Brooke was right....I love her.....I'm in love with McPherson!" At that moment, with the truth unveiled within her psyche, Carmen seemed to speed up the stairs, until she finally reached the third floor, "that's why I hated that damn cat so much! Because SHE loved it! I had McPherson all to myself, until that little monster showed up!"

Carmen walked slowly, silently down the hall towards Sam's room, and she briefly recalled the first time she had walked this same path so many night before to the brunette's room, only to be greeted by a frightening sight of the cat kissing Sam, "but this time I'm not scared," Carmen thought, as she finally reached the door of Sam's room, "the door is closed this time," Carmen thought, as she brought up her hand, and turned the doorknob, then slowly opened the door, then looked inside. Carmen's momentary sense of triumph, and lack of fear quickly evaporated, for what she saw now, was even more terrifying than what she had seen before.

Sam's room was dimly lit when Carmen opened the door. Carmen's dark eyes fell upon Sam's huge bed, and what lay upon it. Carmen saw Sam nude, and lying upon her back. Carmen's heart almost exploded with rage, when she saw that the blond cat that she despised so intensely, had returned, and was now lying on top of the beautiful brunette. Carmen's rage dwindled within her heart, to be replaced by a wave of cold fear, as she noticed that the blond, furry, tail-less cat was now monstrously huge, covering Sam from head to toe, making it at least three inches taller if it had been standing like a human being, next to Sam. The huge, blond cat was grinding sexually into her gorgeous mistress. The blond cat's head covered Sam's face. Carmen's heart almost stopped beating completely, when she saw the obnoxious cat turn its furry head, and look directly at her. Carmen was filled with deep horror, when she saw that the now, huge, blond cat had the face of a human woman; Brooke McQueen. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, Carmen heard Sam moan softly. Then, Sam turned her head, and looked directly at the pretty redhead, who received another deep shock; Sam's face was no longer human, for she now had the face of a cat.

From that point in time outward, Carmen could not remember anything but a vast darkness that became a void in her life. Only bits, and pieces would return to Carmen periodically, like small lights that briefly illuminated the nocturnal sky of her tormented mind. Carmen could remember hearing her own screams, as she ran down the stairs, practically falling as she descended. Then, Carmen ran out of the house screaming, then down the street. Then, Carmen saw nothing but darkness, and all existence seemed to stop for her. The redhead's last memory before oblivion, was that of two police officers leaning over her, as she lay on a sidewalk, and one of them calling an ambulance.

chapter 4; Return from Neverland

Carmen spent three days under heavy sedation at the Newdale General Hospital. Finally, Carmen was released under her own recognizance after she had recovered enough to go home.

When Carmen got out of the hospital, she took a cab home, preferring the company of a stranger to that of her recently estranged, sixty-two year old fiancee, Winthrop.


"Yeah?" Carmen was stirred from her thoughts by the cabdriver's gruff voice.

"Are you sure that you gave me the right address, lady?"

"Yes, I did," Carmen replied testily.

"311 Dover Street?"

"Of course," Carmen replied.

"There is no 311, Lady."

"Of course there is," Carmen exclaimed with irritation, as she got out of the cab, and finally focused her somewhat still dazed attention on her which, "isn't there?"

"I guess your dose of cocaine finally wore off, lady?"

Carmen handed the cabbie a twenty dollar bill, and he quickly drove off, leaving the redhead to a peculiar dilemma, "what happened to my house?" Carmen was in tears now, as she looked at the empty lot that lay between houses 309, and 313, "where is my house?" Carmen shook her head, as she continued to stare at the wide space that lay between the two houses, "it must have burnt down.....the ground is dark....." Carmen then spotted an old woman walking down the street, some distance away, "that's Mrs. Williams....she'll know what happened!" Carmen pursued the elderly woman, and stopped her, "Mrs. Williams!"

"Oh!" the kindly faced woman exclaimed, "its so good to see you, Carmen.....we all thought that you had died in the fire as well!"

"The fire?"

"311 burned down three nights ago, Carmen.....Brooke McQueen, and Sam McPherson died in the fire, although their bodies were never recovered. Everyone thought that you had died also. I'm so glad to see you, but I'm sorry your friends are gone!"

"Brooke....McPherson.....are dead?" Carmen had begun to cry, "it just can't be true!" Carmen ran back to stand before the lot that once bore the structure she once called home, "I can't believe that they're friends.....I never should have left them!"

"Then you would be gone as well, Carmen," Mrs. Williams replied softly, as she came up behind the distraught redhead.

Then, Carmen saw something which caught her attention, and caused her to start laughing; two, odd looking cats came out from behind one of the houses adjoining the empty lot, and sat in the middle of the empty lot, observing the redhead closely. One of the cats was blond, with green eyes, the other cat was a tawny, golden color with blue eyes. Both cats were tail-less, with short snouts, with big, round eyes that seemed almost human, "its....Brooke....Bast was always Brooke....and now McPherson is a cat also....and they're together now....." Carmen turned towards the old woman who stood nearby, "look.....Mrs. were wrong.....Brooke, and McPherson are still alive."

"Where are they, Carmen?"

"Right there, Mrs. Williams," Carmen pointed to the middle of the empty lot, "there they are."

"All that I can see are two cats, Carmen."

"Its them," Carmen said, as she began to laugh hysterically at the irony of the situation, "so....Brooke was always really that awful cat.....and she only came back for McPherson......Brooke finally did get what she wanted all she has McPherson all to herself now."

Carmen just kept laughing, until Mrs. Williams took out her cell phone, and dialed 911. This time around, Carmen Ferrara was permanently confined to an institution.

Carmen came to the end of her memories with simply no explanation as to what happened. All that the redhead could surmise, was that due to her threats of fetching the police, Brooke had burnt down the entire house with McPherson, and herself in it, "but they're not dead.....I saw them.....they turned into cats!" Now, Carmen watched as the door of her cell opened, and two men in white coats entered, "those two gorillas have come back to sedate me again....but I suppose its just as least I'll get some sleep," Carmen closed her dark eyes, and sighed as she felt the needle of the syringe puncture her skin, "why did they have to leave me behind?" Carmen just wanted to cry, when the men left her alone in her torment.

This time, before Carmen's consciousness vanished into temporary, comforting oblivion, she saw something, a figure peering at her from outside the small window of her padded cell, that faced an alley. Carmen saw two cats looking at her from outside the window; a blond cat with green eyes, and a slightly darker cat with blue eyes. Carmen smiled, as she felt a wave of relief sweep over her, "they've come back for me......" and then, Carmen fell asleep with a smile on her lips.

The End

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