But the Cat's Eyes Are Blind

1

            She knew she was in a dream. That's why it was so scary. She knew what she was seeing wasn't real but she had no choice but to accept it. What could she do? Say, 'No, no, no, no' over and over and over again until the murmured sounds of her own voice woke her up? Ironically enough, no.

            At first the teenage boy she saw was Matty…her Matty, her only child…that lived, anyway. If you could call being hung as a witch—he was a sphinx, she thought, couldn't they have gotten it right?—at seventeen living. To her knowledge, he wasn't even a man.

            But then the seventeen year old she saw was Jon, Jonathon Alter. And she'd made him a man…And as she protected him, she continued making him a man, just as he made her a hybrid freak, but a woman too. He had seen past Takeis to Kay, the one he loved.

            But Matty had loved Takeis, had not even known Kay. And now he was Matty again, her son, the one she killed Krenakaris for. She never killed Krenakaris for Thorn, only for Matty.

            But Jonathon Alter was Thorn! And you killed Krenakaris twice for Jon!

            Not Matty?

            No, not Matty. Those times it was Jon. Who was Thorn.

            He's not now, though. Thorn's not Jon.

            But he was.

            But I was willing to give up Thorn to save Matty.

            I was willing to give up Jonathon Alter, the real love of my mangled life, to save Matty. The child of a man I didn't really love. I was willing to forsake all the world to save Matty.

            But the world's never mattered to me, has it? No, when I saved Jon it was for Jon, not for Thorn, not for the world.

            Says you, said a voice in the back of the dream.

            Tell me, continued the voice, who do you love more? Jon…or Matty? Your true love, or your son?

            Takeis was jolted into reality and consciousness as the dream ended. She sat bolt upright in the motel bed, gasping for breath. She realized she was sweating, both hot and icy at the same time. It had been fifty years since Jon had died, 425 years since the death of Matty. The year was 2118. And Takeis didn't like it.

            It had been too long since the last time she had seen Thorn and Krenakaris. Too long in between that and the last surge. As is said in the hokey old westerns, it was quiet. Too quiet.

            But Takeis couldn't do anything about it. She had gone many times since Naia and Omitar's deaths to Sekhmet's temple. She had cried out for Sekhmet, and knew it should have brought her. She gave a sacrifice, once. She lit new incense.

            But the gods were gone.

            It was like someone had left a television on when they'd left the house. The actors in the show were forced to keep on going, even though no one saw, no one cared. Takeis, Thorn, and Krenakaris were the actors, and the gods had been the audience. But Krenakaris was the director of the show, too. And Takeis and Thorn were more like unsuspecting fools caught on candid camera.

            Takeis got up and began pacing. She wondered if she could scry for Krenakaris or Thorn. But her magic powers consisted of changing her appearance from human to a different human to a sphinx that could fly. But scrying was the only way she'd feel at peace on the Thorn and Krenakaris issue. She'd read about scrying, among other arcane practices, some twenty years ago, and had been intrigued by it. Somewhere in the entire bedamned world there had to be someone who could actually scry. After all, Takeis was a sphinx…why shouldn't witches be real too?

            Witches brought her back to thoughts of Matty. Yes, witches should be real. Matty should not have died on a completely vain charge.

            And thoughts of Matty brought her back to the dream. She told herself there was no reason she had to love either Jon or Matty more.

            But her heart, long since broken and unmendable, told her otherwise. It whispered to her that she had to choose…only then would it be mended. Did she love Matty more? She had obviously been ready to sacrifice the world over for him…Or did she love Jon more? He was the first person to see her as a sphinx but know her as a human, and she had loved him more than any lover besides.

            But why? Takeis cried to her heart. Why must I choose?

            Because, hissed the broken thing in her chest. Because, I am broken over them. If it came down to it, I must know who to choose…who to mourn over! Choose!

            Takeis looked in the dark mirror in the motel room. "Through these cat's eyes I see," she whispered. "But these cat's eyes are blind."