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literature by InorganicHeart5

Caity's World by fares002

Caity's World by phantom-inker by dominusexmachina

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Submitted on
November 29, 2007
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The wind had picked up a little as Caitlyn trotted down Sixth Avenue, and by the time she reached Chinatown, a chill had started to settle into her bones.  Somewhat to her surprise, it didn’t take much searching to find Yu Sang’s Delicatessen; it was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a large red sign, buried among the “genuine imported jewellery” stores and discount electronic stores along Mulberry Street.  It wasn’t lit; nor would she have expected that it would be at two in the morning.

So she stood there, trying to decide what to do next in the dim greyish light leaking from the end of the street.  This might have been the city that never slept, but that didn’t mean an arm or a leg didn’t occasionally take a cat-nap, and Chinatown looked deserted.

Figures turned the corner behind her, and she turned around.  She could tell from the echoing clops that they were hooved — definitely Changed — but beyond that, it was impossible to tell who —

“Oh, yeah, girl, you go!” said one, and that helped nail them down a little better.  She had a very solid New York accent.  “So is he gonna — ”

The other one then said something softly.

“What you mean he’s not gonna — girl, listen, if I had your looks I’d be goin’ after Jared or Billy Lee.  Don’t you sell yourself as less than all that.  I’d go up to him and be all like mhm and he’d be damn, woman, and I’d be like oh yeah, you know it.  Give that man a piece o’ yo’ mind.”

The other one said something else.

“What?  How you think you gonna catch a piece of that pie if you don’t — hold on, girlfriend, I gotta stop.  Yo, who you?”

One of the figures pointed at Caitlyn.  The figures were still shrouded in shadows in the dim lighting, but to her eyes, they looked like — they looked like centaurs.

“Hi, uh, I’m Caitlyn.  Is — is this Yu Sang’s Deli?”

“Girl, you can see the sign,” said the one figure.

“Yeah, I know, um...  when will it open?”

“What?  Just ’cuz you a horse don’t mean you gotta eat like one,” said the girl, her hands on her hips.  “You can wait yo’ fat ass until we open in the mornin’ like everybody else.  Dayumn.”

Caitlyn shook her head.  “No, no, I’m looking for somebody.”

“Well, you found her, girl,” said her rival.

“You don’t understand — ”

“I understand damn well,” she said.  “You come here in the middle o’ the night, prolly high as a kite, to rob my aunt?  No way, girl.  You can kiss my yellow ass before I let you in.”

“Kim —” began the other figure beside her.  By her voice, she was female, but she sounded a lot more timid.

“No, no, I’m looking for Yu Ji-Cheng,” said Caitlyn.

There was a long pause.

“Kim —” said the other girl again.

“Where you hear that name?” said the first girl.  “There ain’t no Yu Ji-Cheng.”

“Please,” cried Caitlyn.  “I don’t know what else to do!  There are these weird people after me I don’t know who they are they’re chasing me with dogs please this voice came out of the trees and told me to come to Yu-Sang’s Deli and ask for Yu Ji-Cheng because whoever that is would put me in his safe house because nowhere else is safe.  I don’t know what else to do.”  She buried her face in her hands.

There was another long pause, as Caitlyn gently snuffled into her hands.

“Damn, girl, who are you?” said Kim softly.  She turned to her friend.  “May, you go home.  This ain’t gonna be an easy night, and you don’t want no part of it.”

The frizzy-haired May nodded, turned, and left.  “Good luck,” she said back over her shoulder.

Kim stepped closer, and in the dim light, Caitlyn could now see what she looked like, a little.  She was a short, pretty Asian girl, perhaps in her early twenties, with long, straight hair, and she was definitely a centaur, half horse, half human.  Her naturally-black hair had been dyed vaguely blond-ish in streaks to match her palomino coat, and she was wearing a tiny halter top, outlandishly-oversized gold earrings, and a gaudy blue belt.  She looked like she’d been clubbing, and her breath stank of rainbow-colored mixed drinks.

“I’m Yu Kim-Na,” she said.  “Yu Sang’s my aunt.  You call me Kim.  Ain’t no sha-na-na in my name, you understand?”

She walked up the steps, unlocked the door, and motioned for Caitlyn to come inside.  “But the bigger question is, who are you?  You better be for real, girl, or my aunt’s gonna get all Hun on your ass and you gonna wish you was dead.”
*  *  *

They went inside, and Caitlyn stood in the middle of the deli as Kim disappeared up the steps in the back.  She could hear Kim shout, and there was a muffled response, and then a short argument followed.  Finally there were footsteps and there was some shuffling, and Kim came back down the steps, awkwardly, and positioned herself in the corner of the store, her arms folded.  Caitlyn noticed to her dismay that the girl was now holding a small shiny silver pistol in her right hand as well.

“My aunt will be down in a moment,” she said.

Caitlyn nodded.

The light from the staircase framed a figure coming down the steps, a middle-aged female human in a robe — and carrying a shotgun.  She stopped on the bottom step.  “Who are you and what do you want?” she asked in a mild Asian accent.

Caitlyn took a deep breath.

“I was sent here by — well, somebody, I don’t know who.  There are people chasing me.  He told me you have a safe house and said to ask for Yu Ji-Cheng.  I’m supposed to say, uh, that I’m — having an interesting life, whatever that means.”

She couldn’t see the woman on the steps, but somehow, she could tell that the woman blanched hearing it.  There was a long pause before the woman responded.

“What — what is your name?  Who are you that you know that?”

Caitlyn shrugged.  “I’m nobody, that’s the thing.  My name’s Caitlyn Camberley.  I’m just a secretary, barely even.  My degree’s in illustration.”

There was another long pause, and she wondered what was going to happen.  The other two didn’t move; Kim was simply waiting for the woman to give instructions, and the woman wasn’t moving.

At last, she spoke.  “Caitlyn — Camberley,” she said.  “Well...  I never thought I see the day.  Kim, guard the door.  I must take Miss Cam — Miss Camberley upstairs.”

“Aw, auntie, I gotta sleep!” groaned Kim.  “You know I need my beau — ”

The figure on the steps glared at her, and she stopped.

“Alright, alright, goddamn stupid — girl, you’d better be worth my night’s sleep,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” said Caitlyn.  “Really, I — ”

“Are you coming or not?” asked the woman on the steps.

“I’m coming,” she said, and followed.
*  *  *

The woman led her up the steps, around the corner, and up the steps again to the third floor.  They went down a short hallway, and into a dusty back room.  The woman reached up and pulled on a cord hanging from the ceiling, and a bare light bulb lit up on an old storage room, filled with dusty chests and boxes and an old cracked silvery mirror tilted back on its hinges.

As the light dangled back and forth on its cord, Caitlyn got her first good look at Yu Sang.  She was an Asian woman in her fifties, and had probably once been very pretty, but time had eaten away as it does with everyone, leaving Sang a little more stout and round-faced than she looked like she preferred.  Her hair was black and cut short, and she wore a cheap purple fuzzy western-style robe and pink bunny slippers, and smelled faintly of peppermint.

She lowered the shotgun until it pointed directly at Caitlyn’s chest.

“You will swear,” she said, “to tell no-one of what you see.”

Caitlyn gulped.

“Yes, of course,” she said.  “What’s going on here?  Do you know who —”

“Questions lead to knowledge,” said Sang, “but not always to wisdom.  Your questions will be answered in time.”

Caitlyn nodded silently, and Sang gently bent down and set the shotgun on the floor.  She stood back up.

“Now then:  Can you make yourself human?”

Caitlyn nodded.

“Good.  You will not fit as you are.”

Sang walked to the back of the room and moved aside a bookcase.  There was a small panel there, and she grabbed the bottom and slid it open.

“This dumbwaiter leads to the basement.  It is the only way in or out.  You will climb in, and I will lower you.  You will speak nothing of what you see there.”

Caitlyn swallowed hard and nodded.

Sang walked over to an old dresser.  “Do you have pants or a skirt?” she asked, and Caitlyn shook her head:  Wils hadn’t let her bring any of those tonight for fear she might panic and want to “hide her true self” — of course, that dinner seemed like it was ages ago now.

Sang reached into the dresser and took out a piece of soft patterned cloth and handed it to Caitlyn.  “This will do then.”

Caitlyn held it up.  It was a pretty black sari with flower patterns on it.  She’d never worn such a thing, but it looked like she was going to have to get used to it.  She quickly wrapped it over her shoulders, leaned against the wall, and then winced as she began to squeeze her lower half down, down, smaller and smaller until that horse’s body was somehow compacted to fit inside human-shaped legs.

Sang shook her head, watching.  “I have never seen anyone do that before,” she said.  “Kim does not change herself back, though I know she can.”

“It’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Caitlyn, standing herself back upright.  “But I’d give my right arm to stay like this.”

Sang nodded.  “It is not easy to wear a false face,” she said, “but some are more difficult than others.”  She waved at the dumbwaiter.  “Now then, off with you.  Say hello to Ji-Cheng for me.”
Caity's World, part 11. (Part 10 is here, and part 12 is here. The introduction and author's notes are here.)

I'd like to thank :iconbetherfly: for inspiring Yu Kim-Na; originally, I didn't have Kim in this scene (I'd been planning on having a much shorter bit with a ten-year-old girl instead), but I think Kim came out nicer than my original concept (well, actually, this Kim's just a grown-up centaurized version of the original girl, so it's not that different).

You'll probably see Kim again: A clubbing, slightly ghetto Asian centaur girl with an attitude is a fun character to write.

May, the timid other centaur girl with her, is also in betherfly's picture as the second girl from the left (Kim is obviously the leftmost). Sang is obviously not in that picture ;P

So what's down the rabbit-hole? You'll have to wait and see... ;)
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Gimiglider Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
Funny, I never expected asians to speak with a south-western U.S accent...
Catgoyle Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2010
Fun additions to the cast, and her "breakup" with Wils timed to be such that at least he won't be left wondering/worrying why she isn't showing up for their not-dates every Friday. (smiles)
MadJackalDelta Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Student Writer
I love how all your chapters end in cliffhangers.
Kramnhojpapermario Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
You certainly know how to leave people on tenterhooks!
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's the idea! :D
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Aussieman3 Featured By Owner May 21, 2009
you, uh, forgot to link it to the next one... But now that I've made my appearance, it's time for some comments! First, amazing idea. This, if you sold it to some sort of anime-network thing and they followed your storyline, would probably be the best thing on the air since the avatar series (in my opinion). Second, the chapters tend to be rather short, and seeing that this has gone to a thirty chapter series and still growing (I hope), you could probably do with lumping some of the chapters together, unless of course DA put a word limit onto these submissions. I have currently spent too much time writing and not enaugh reading, so I will stop here.
Keep it up!
phantom-inker Featured By Owner May 24, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Um... there's a link from 10 to 11, and one from 11 to 12, so I'm not quite sure what you're talking about on that.

Seeing this living and moving would be fun, but I highly doubt anyone would ever want to take the time and energy to film it; it's a good story, but it isn't Shakespeare.

The chapter breaks are where they are because they are appropriate separation points in the story; there is no limitation on the chapters' lengths other than what I've perceived to be appropriate for them. The final length of the entire story is likely to be around 60,000 words, which makes for a short-ish novel, but I'll have said everything I needed to say.
Aussieman3 Featured By Owner May 21, 2009
heh, never mind that first note I made, I'm just not very attentive.
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