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Caitlyn sat glued to the floor, awestruck, and had she not had her forelegs and butt firmly planted on it, she was certain she would have fallen over.  “That’s — I mean — but...” she trailed off.

“Wise man say, do not speak until your thoughts are worthy of being heard,” said Ji-Cheng dully, settling back down into his tub.

“How can my father be alive!?” she cried.  “I’ve been to his grave!  I — I helped choose the words for the stone...”

“You are here, are you not?” asked Ji-Cheng.

“Yes, but — ”

“How many people do you think know of this place?” he continued.

“But — ”

“There are at most five or six people who would know of this place and know of me and know of my password.  One of those people died in my arms from a gunshot.  Two of them died slow, painful deaths years ago, even more wretched, pitiable creatures than I.  Which I believes leaves your father, Lady Sang, and my niece.  So how came you to this place?”

“I don’t know...”

“We must assume that if the dead do not speak — and I think they do not — that you received your information from a living person.  Did Lady Sang or Miss Kim-na tell you of me or of this place?”

“N — no...”

“Then there is only one conclusion,” said Ji-Cheng, “and that is — ”

“— that my father is alive,” said Caitlyn softly, her eyes brimming with tears.

“Tell me, girl, what did he tell you?”

“I — don’t know,” said Caitlyn, sniffling.  “All I heard — there was a voice, and it told me to come here — that it didn’t have much time.”  She traced through her memory.  It was so wispy, so faint, but could that voice have been the one that sang to her when she was a child?  She tried to connect the two, glancing down at the table.  The puzzle there had so many missing pieces, so many gaps, so much critical information left out.

There came a creaking and a grinding noise, and the two of them looked up.  The creaking stopped, and out from around the corner popped Yu Kim-na, human for just a moment before she reverted to form.

“So, yo, you guys havin’ a fun time o’ what?” she said, brushing off her skirt.

“Hello, Kim-na,” said the blob.

“Dayumn, I hate comin’ down that thing, yo,” she grumbled.  “Why can’t Auntie Sang make it big ’nuff to fit a centaur’s yellow ass?”

“So what brings you here?” asked Ji-Cheng.

“Yo, unca Ji, this chick gots a problem,” she said.  “Them guys were chasin’ her?  They’s upstairs.  Auntie Sang sent me down here to warn youse.”

Caitlyn choked.  “They — they’re here?”

“They got these nasty-ass dog-men and lights and suits and sunglasses and they’re all men-in-black with they guns coming up to Auntie Sang and they’re like, ‘Where’s the girl?’ and she’s like, ‘I don’t know, bitch,’ and they’re all like, ‘We knows you gots her,’ and Auntie’s like, ‘Suck my ass, niggah,’ and she locks the door and sends me the hell down that fickin’ dumbwaiter to warn youse.”

Caitlyn’s jaw dropped.

Ji-Cheng nodded.  “Miss Camberley, I believe our discussion has been cut short.  Kim-na, if you would, please show Miss Camberley out the back way — ”

“I ain’t trudgin’ these hooves through no sewers!” complained Kim-na.  “I paid like a hunner-fifty on this damn pedicure!”

Ji-Cheng smiled at her.  “If you would like to stay, you’re welcome to help hold off the men with guns,” he said.

His niece glowered.  “Unca Ji, you suck,” she said.

“Yes, yes I do,” he grinned.
*   *   *

The girl was gone.  He was alone now, in the place he’d created for himself, left to his own private little hell when they came.  There was a massive explosion on the far side of the room, and half the ceiling came down, crushing the refrigerator.  It didn’t matter:  That old machine had cost them far more than a newer model would.

He sighed.  It was a shame that he wouldn’t be able to help replace the damaged floor.  When he was younger — well, when he was younger, he would have been preoccupied with his work, but Sang, sweet Sang, she didn’t deserve this mess.  Poor girl had only ever wanted to start a small restaurant, get married, and live happily ever after.  He should’ve paid more attention to her when he was human.  Live and learn.

Creatures fell through the hole.  Nasty, ugly things.  Kim-na had been wrong:  These weren’t so much half dog as they were half wolf, and it looked like whatever had been human about them had been forcibly removed.  These were little more than intelligent killing machines now.

“If you wouldn’t mind, could you please grab a broom and sweep up that mess?” he asked calmly.

The wolf-men growled.  He eyed them, not making eye contact.  He wished he could have called them werewolves, but he knew a few werewolves, and these were far too monstrous to qualify.  They were once surely men, but they looked as though someone had tried to turn them into werewolves by vivisection, attaching a bit of fur here, stretching the jaw there, replacing bits and pieces, trying to play God without even having the first clue about how to do it right.  He sighed again, feeling sorry for the poor louts:  They probably never knew what happened to them, but they’d probably suffered.

A man descended on a rope, and Kim-na had been right.  Black suit, black tie, black sunglasses, a gun...  it was a shame he didn’t have the fedora to match.  Some people had no sense of style.

“Where’s the girl?” he said.

“She left,” said Ji-Cheng, looking down and placing another puzzle piece.

“Listen, freak, I don’t have time for you.  Which way did she go?”

“Which way does anyone go?” asked Ji-Cheng wistfully.  “A man’s path in life is determined but by his own choices.”

“Don’t get Confucius on me, freak,” said the man as one of his allies slid down the rope.  “We have a hostage.  The woman.”  He pointed up, and a third man held Sang’s hands behind her back with one of his hands and held a gun to her head with the other.  Duct tape covered her mouth, and her eyes varied between terrified and angry.

“I suggest you let her go,” said Ji-Cheng helpfully.  “I won’t be held responsible if you don’t.”

“I’m not asking you again!  Where’s the goddamn girl?” said the man, pointing a gun at him.  The wolf-men growled.

“She is not here,” said Ji-Cheng, looking up at him.  “She is beyond your reach.  And you will not get what you seek.”

“Yeah, bullsh — ”

In a flash, Ji-Cheng flew from the tub, and the man was silenced.  The wolf-men were silenced.  Their comrade never had a chance to speak.  Translucent pink flesh surrounded them, and it stretched out from Ji-Cheng’s waist, who was staring upward through the hole, an angry frown of lizard teeth spreading across his face.

The man above stared down into the dimly-lit pit.  The faces and bodies of his companions were twisted in looks of horror and pain, and as he watched, their skin began to dissolve.  He blinked twice — and bolted, pushing his hostage over the edge.

Ji-Cheng caught her gently in his arms.  “I’m sorry for the commotion,” he said, pulling off the duct tape covering her mouth.

“Eeyow!  Ugh!  Ohh...  Are you alright?” asked Sang.

“I’m fine, my dear.  Did they harm you at all?”

“No.  But, oh, the store...”  She winced, rubbing her face.

“I’m sorry about that,” he said.  “In my younger years...”

“I know.”

She glanced over at the dissolving bodies under the blob beside them.  “Poor bastards,” she said.

“Yes, well, I’d feel sorry for them, but they were evil.”

She eyed him darkly.

“You know I’m better with good and evil than I once was, Sang.  Would you rather I’d capitulated?”

“No,” she said.  “But still...” she looked away.  “Sometimes I wish I could pick what you turned into.  Why of all things an amoeba-lizard?  It could have been a mammal...  And you will have terrible indigestion now too for at least a month —”

“Do you know that Kevin is alive?” said Ji-Cheng.

“No —!  You joke!” she said, her eyes wide.

“That girl is his daughter.”

“Amazing,” said Sang.  “But this means — do you think Kim-na will be safe?”

He chuckled.  “The girl is indestructible.  She has money.  And she knows how to find us again if she needs us — but she’s wanted an excuse to leave for a while now anyway.  Shame it turned out to be this.  But — you do know what this means,” he said.

Sang nodded soberly.  “I will begin packing, love.”

“Good girl,” said Ji-Cheng.  “So where shall we go?  Fiji?  Tahiti?  Australia?”

“I have a sister in Manila,” she replied, shrugging.

“As good a choice as any,” he said.  “For once, I don’t want to be involved when the crazy goes down.  I may be a monster, but at least I still have my mind and I’m not dead.  Yet.”

He lowered his wife to the floor and sighed, looking up at the hole.  “Kevin, Caity, Kim-na — good luck, all of you,” he said.  “You’re going to need it.”
Caity's World, Part 14. They're safe --- for now?

Part 13 is here. Part 15 is here. The introduction and author's notes are here.

I've been a little skeptical of this piece of the story, but, well, I couldn't come up with a better way to do with it what I wanted to do, so it is what it is. I'm glad Kim-na's back in the story, though; I like her character and can't wait to explore her a little more.

And I'm not going to apologize for the rough language; Kim-na speaks the way she does because it's the dialect where she grew up, and that makes it neither right nor wrong. I don't personally approve of a lot of what she says, but she's the one saying it, not me, and I doubt I can talk her into toning her language down (I'd probably get a hoof in my stomach if I tried).

As always, if you liked this, or hated it, or have any thoughts on it one way or the other, please comment!
Add a Comment:
squibble9 Featured By Owner May 3, 2013
I like Ji-Cheng
nathanl9 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2011
Do houses or buildings get destroyed everywhere she is??
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No... well, yes... er... maybe? She just has bad luck. Or destiny. Or something like that. Keep reading; you'll see what I mean.
nathanl9 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2011
???? I guess you could say that's bad luck but what I think it is is that it's the worlds way of saying "your getting in to much trouble".
LuciusAppaloosius Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2010
I can quite understand Kim-na's usage of street language........

....... but "youse"?

has she watched one too many old 'Bowery Boys' comedies? I thought "youse" went out with the Sixth Avenue El..... 7@=Q

Still, it's a great story; and I'm looking forward to finishing it.

Catgoyle Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2010
(smiles) If the language is in-character for her, I'll deal just fine.
Morraha Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2009
I don't know if Kim-Na is the sort I'd hang out with in real life, but she's hilarious!!
MadJackalDelta Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Student Writer
Brilliant, as usual.
Kramnhojpapermario Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009
*shot* dead
random-lil-azn Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009
"and Auntie's jusy like, 'Suck my ass, niggah'" EPIC LOL
RinSakura-chan Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009
This is completely addictive. I hate to stop reading, but I can't stay up all night reading, no matter how much I want to.
I look forward to devouring the rest tomorrow! Great work!
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

Have you finished it yet?
RinSakura-chan Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2009
You're very welcome!
No, I haven't yet. But I'm working on it! :D
diemechon7 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009
Holy-- that was awesome! Ji-Cheng is an absolutely fascinating character; I really like him.
His story and Kevin's is amazing, too. Was hooked today by part 1, haven't stopped reading since.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it!
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Tiny typo:
"He chucked."
I believe that's supposed to be chuckled?

And oooh, I can't wait to continue :sing:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ack! Oh dear! Thank you for noticing that; I can't fathom how I missed that typo.
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
No problem! I'd spotted another one in another part, but I got so engrossed in reading that I forgot to point it out.

Therefore, that is your fault too.

Uncle-Ben Featured By Owner May 11, 2009

Lizard Amoeba ... Indigestion for a month ...

Man, what I wouldn't do for details like that ...
phantom-inker Featured By Owner May 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Details like that"...? Not sure what you mean.
Uncle-Ben Featured By Owner May 12, 2009
You described the the room, his mobility, his eating process, all of it. It makes my descriptions pale by comparison.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner May 13, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Writing trick #427: Human beings have five senses. In any given scene, pick two or three of those senses and describe the scene to the reader according to those senses. So you usually always describe what the reader sees. But if you add in what the reader would touch, or what she would hear or smell (or even taste in a few rare circumstances), the scene becomes that much more alive for the reader.

Writing trick #306: Never forget that writing a good story is only about people and their interactions; everything else is secondary to that. So you can have a TF sequence, or you can have a fight, but first and foremost focus on how the people in the scene are thinking and feeling and interacting with each other. The reader will fill in any action details that you gloss over; but if you leave out what people are thinking or feeling, the reader will just assume the characters are shallow.

Writing trick #962: Focus your attention on a single character in the scene. Put the "camera" over his or her shoulder, and tell the scene from his or her perspective only. Let the reader into his or her mind, but do it subtly: Don't say "he thought" or "she thought," but just let the feelings and emotions of that character spill over into the descriptions of the scene and the action itself. So instead of saying, "This guy is an ugly brute, thought Jack as he inched away," you should write, "Jack sidled away from his attacker, a big, ugly reject from a grade-B action movie." It's almost the same content, but it pulls the reader into the story better.
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry I haven't been reading in forever. Still whittling down all the people I used to watch to just the ones I WANT to follow.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
S'okay! Just note that there are a whole bunch of additional chapters posted after this one! The story's not done yet, but we're getting close to the climax now :)
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I used to follow 'em as you wrote 'em but, things've just been too busy.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's scary busy, considering I've posted one every two weeks, on average ^_^
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, that an irregular internet access.
defultion Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2008
In the words of Dante "this just keeps getting better and better"
DeconTyke Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Love the story, any chance there will be illustrations for the any of the chapters?
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As I've said to many other people: I will not be doing illustrations of any scenes in this story, intentionally so. Every reader has his or her own visualization of these scenes and characters, and to draw them would spoil that. Caitlyn is who you see her to be, and she may be different to every reader. I certainly won't reject fanart --- I welcome it! --- but there will never be official artwork of the characters.
aurisano Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008
This is a very good installment. The first time I read it, I was very confused, but now I'm think that was due to my fever. Now that I'm healthy again, it made perfect sense.
bramblefox Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2008
Hmm...very interesting. Sorry I have no concrit to say, I'm just here to enjoy the story :)
tweeve Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
I liked it...cant wait for the story to continue.
Rogue7 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
Nicely written..

Makes me wonder what method Kim-na has for communicating if they're bailing for Manilla.. but I guess email's an option ;)
GGCrono Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
Well, you know what they say. The only thing better than one cute centaur is upwards of one. :D

Anyway. As good a storybit as any. Like I may or may not have said before, sometimes the story flows and sometimes you have to push it along. :)
betherfly Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yay! Another part!

I really loved the contrast between Ji-Cheng and Kim-na's ways of speaking, it definitely kept this piece lively. I think it was a great way to add to the story. I liked the way this was told more from Ji-Cheng's perspective too, it makes me even more excited to get back to Caity and see what she and Kim-na get up too. ;)
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Background and upbringing make a big difference on people. They didn't grow up in the same place, so they don't speak the same way. Kimmy grew up in an urban ghetto, so her lingo's straight out of the Boondocks. Ji-Cheng was a college type, so his diction is both more educated and more upper-class. That said, don't count Kim-na as stupid or mean; she may talk like a gangstah, but she's far from being one.
Catprog Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
I like it
DonSimpson Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
Good to see this continuing.
dawntheif Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
YAY! finally....
ooh, and first post. go me.
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