"Yeah," Anya said, sarcasm crackling in her tone, "go up to the portal of blackness and knock. I dare you." The three women stared at the shimmering black blob that took up space in the center of the kitchen, blocking their view of the other half. The only elements seen were the little touches of Gülay’s personality on the counter such as her cat-shaped cheeseboard, her black and white cat wine holder, the decorative bowls with cat legs holding them up, the cat-printed dish towel, the cat holder that had a long slender tail to hold the ring of paper towel, and the sign hanging in the window that read ‘crazy cat lady lives here.’
"Well, what are you supposed to do when darkness pools into your kitchen?" Nadya put her hands on her hips. "I mean this has to be some sort of omen."
"Is the kitchen still there?" Gülay asked. Her voice sounded distant to her own ears. She figured it was the shock. That would make sense in this situation. She stood slowly, leaning this way and that to try and see around the doorway of the dark. "Like..." she waved her hands straight up and down in front of her, wrists locked. "Is the... door... in my kitchen, or did it take my kitchen?"
"We're in your kitchen so clearly it didn't take it... unless it took us too. In which case we're in the dark puddle and this is the opening." Nadya leaned forward to look outside. The front door opened to the catio (the patio that was enclosed for a cat space) with the tree scratching post and several kitty toys scattered about that the cats took turns batting in every direction. The catio opened into the yard which was decorated with feline-friendly flowers and plants, and decor cat statues. From the window, Nadya could see the stone walkway that went through freshly cut grass and was brightly colored thanks to the flowers. It was cozy and charming, a welcoming sight that was taught by Uncle Hector who always had a green thumb. Nadya didn’t have such luck. Her thumb was whatever color that was the opposite of green. "Nope, it's in your kitchen. Your yard's still out there."
Anya dusted invisible debris off her hands and stepped forward. "One way to find out."
"Anya," Gülay hissed. "What are you doing?"
Anya flitted her hand dismissively and kept walking. She circled the sudden door slowly, giving it a berth of several inches. She carefully waved her hands in front of it without getting too close. "This is so weird," she said. All the way around it looked like a normal closet doorway, only it was all just one gaping hole of black.
"I change my mind about that whole ‘knocking’ thing… Maybe don't touch it. What if it's some alien organism and it's here to consume us? I mean this is like the start of a horror movie. One of the cheap gory ones where the leading ladies all get killed except one." Nadya paused. "Which of us do you think will live?"
Gülay and Anya craned their heads to give Nadya identical slow looks, their expressions clearly asked her, "Really?"
Ricky Ticky Tabby sauntered up to rub against Nadya's leg, purring loudly. The cat reached up a paw and patted at her leg in a series of three strokes. Nadya bent down to pick up the cat. She cuddled him close. "I'm just saying. I've seen enough horror movies to know how it goes." Ricky Ticky Tabby pawed at the air before melting against Nadya.
"So RTT's a traitor," Anya said conversationally.
"At least I have the vote of one." Nadya hugged the cat before letting him down just as Pumpkin Belly bounced onto the counter with Puddy Tat and Clawdia to inspect the key. The cats sniffed at it carefully, meowing in confusion. Pumpkin Belly tapped the hilt of the key with a careful touch of his paw. Sassy Pants, Nemehiss, and Ricky Ticky Tabby gathered on the floor and looked up with interest at the cats on the counter. Puddy Tat mewled thoughtfully before carefully picking the key up with his teeth. Clawdia hissed and slapped Puddy Tat three times in rapid-fire action, causing him to drop the key. It fell from the counter and clanged onto the floor, sending sparks in every direction.
"Hey!" Gülay lunged for the cats. "Stop that!" But it was too late. As she watched, Pumpkin Belly leaped off the counter, quickly scooped up the key, and ran toward the darkness. As the cat went through with the key in his mouth, the action seemed to unlock the door. Sparks flew and shimmered throughout the darkness, changing the color from inky black to a smokey black that was swirled with a faint orange.
"Pumpkin Belly! No!" Nadya lunged forward but was too late. Not only did the cat disappear into the dark, but the other five also went after him. One right after the other, the cats disappeared into the darkness. Sassy Pants of the Meow took the lead with Clawdia Meowsie and Puddy Tat close behind him. Gülay came a hair of snatching Ricky Ticky Tabby - who was in the back of the group - while Anya lunged forward after Nemehiss. But it was to no avail. All the cats were gone.
"Why do your cats have a herd mentality?" Anya demanded, darting back and forth in front of the dark door. Despite being so many of them, the foster cats had quickly taken to each other, forming their own clowder. That was even with the dominant personalities of both Clawdia and Nemehiss who had select territories in the house under their rule. Thankfully the catio always seemed to be a neutral space. And for the most part, the two cats got along with each other and the four male cats. Ricky Ticky Tabby was the baby of the group and was easily swayed back and forth. Pumpkin Belly and Sassy Pants often bickered like brothers but they had a deep loving bond between them. Puddy Tat was a snuggle bug and just wanted to be loved all while putting on the appearance that he was tougher than he truly was. All of which meant that the cats tended to cat as a hive mind - or clowder mind.
Nadya hovers in front of the gaping hole of darkness. All three were in a deep panic as they stared at the doorway. There was no sign or sound of the cats. "What if it's feeding them to something??"
"No!" Gülay gasped. She had never been one for adventure, but the sudden shock of her stupid furry children all running into danger gave her the courage to do the unthinkable. Before she fully realized what she was doing, Gülay ran into the dark.
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