Khamet’s head ached as if it were being stabbed with something. He had no air and he was blind. It felt similar to the first time he returned, with his body swelling until he burst out of the mummified casing he was in. His body swelled with life. He felt the loose membranes of his eyes draw back and slip into their sockets. The crate had slid off him and he lay in the corner with his body crushed and underwater. He continued to grow. His chest swelled and his insides snapped back into place turning him over. His lungs suddenly expanded. He drew in water rather than air and in the next moment he convulsed and vomited with an explosive cough.

Around the cargo area the other cats were all whining and hissing at him in terror. Some were trying to escape scratching and tearing at the walls and cargo hold door. Khamet was finally able to stand. He stepped out of the water and leapt up onto the nearest crate and stared hard around the cargo hold. The other cats wouldn’t even look at him now. He was something else to them and now he was enormous. He was now as big as a medium sized dog and upset at being betrayed by his brother. Why had he done that?

The storm was still raging but the ship had settled somewhat. For the moment the crates had stopped shifting. It was apparent that almost no time had passed. Khamet wondered how it all really worked. It didn’t make sense. If he died right now the war might be over, then again if he died in several weeks it might be just a day or… what was it his brother had said? Time sometimes moved backwards? Who controlled that? Perhaps the Roadscholar could make some sense of it.

He needed to stop thinking about this. When he returns he is going to find his brother. He knew something he wasn’t tell Khamet and what was happening to his fur. The entire land of Heere was at war and the Princess of Hearts was a prisoner. Maybe he could go to the Kingdom of Hearts and see what the Popularopinion had to say about it.

He sat atop the crate cleaning himself. He didn’t want to die again. He needed to find a mirror on this side. His brother said things were different for him because he hadn’t come over completely. If he went through by mirror then he might be there completely. It seemed he was being drawn to the places he found himself when he died, important places. That seems to be the case with the Princess and the Jack after all. He happened to be at the one event that set everything off and it seemed he was one of the few who knew the truth about what happened.

Khamet stopped cleaning. What was most important now was to get off the ship and find a mirror. The boy no longer trusted him, even though Khamet tried to make amends. His hand had a deep slash in it that would probably scar him the rest of his life. He simply watered the cats and left them. When they docked Khamet tried to stow away in the cargo hold, but he was too big to be inconspicuous now and he was always spotted.

Months passed and Khamet was again getting sir crazy and ready to do something drastic. The cargo rarely shifted. It seemed the crew was getting better and better at tying everything down. Something told him to be patient and one evening his waiting paid off.

Khamet awoke one night rolling to the side and being thrown off the top of a crate. He dropped to the floor. Nothing was shifting which was strange because he was shifting back and forth from the floor to the wall as the ship rocked. For a moment he remembered the frog faced man’s hallway.

The ship was creaking and squealing like crazy. The ropes securing the cargo were taunt and straining against the weight. The sound of them stretching the little they did filled the room. Khamet saw an opportunity coming and tried to find a place he would be safe when the rope finally gave. The room tipped to the other side and water splashed against the far wall.

A cat was in the water yowling and Khamet was holding to the side of the wall with his claws dug in. The cat went under as the ship turned and tipped. The water sloshed towards Khamet with the cat fighting for air. In one motion Khamet reached out. Using his claws he grabbed the cat at the nape of the neck, pulled up and threw the cat up on top of the nearest crate. He was twice the cat’s size and it flew easily. The cat yowled. If there was anything that could cause the few remaining cats to have some respect for him, it was the fact that they all had been living in this hell together for months.

The room shifted again and the corner Khamet had been clinging too suddenly became a wall and the wall a floor. He looked up and saw the crate above him. Actually it was several crates, all tied together by ropes stretched so taunt he needed no déjà vu to tell him what was about to happen. The vision kicked in, but he had already seen which direction he needed to go. He leapt to the top of a crate that was now the side as the ropes snapped. The spot where he was in was suddenly filled with the rubble of splintered wood and broken bottles. The ship shifted and the water poured in taking everything with it. The hold became a death trap of splinters and glass sloshing about as everything loose went to the other side.

Khamet held his place on the crate and let the vision show him… There was another crash and water began pouring in through the door. The cat Khamet had saved cried out as the sloshing bottles and debris engulfed him. Another cat was clutching the top of a crate and ran forward as another wave dropped through the opening. Khamet waited and when everything shifted again he leapt for the stairs and up through the door. On deck there were constant shouts. Men were clutched to the railing trying to pull ropes, hold ropes, and lower boats as Khamet ran across the moving deck. Another wave hit the ship and he was drawn forward into another door on the far side. There was another room with furniture and everything shifting. In the dull light of the chaos something glimmered. Khamet saw a mirror being tossed through the water and it was just big enough for him to fit through… Khamet blinked and waited as everything unfolded. When the opportunity came he ran.

He was up the stairs and across the deck and in the room in a moment searching for the mirror as an enormous wave hit the side and water poured in from a window that had been smashed. Khamet tried to swim, but he was no swimmer. The mirror sloshed past him and the ship shifted again. There was another loud crash, but with his head beneath the water it was muffled. He clawed at objects trying to stay afloat as the ship shifted again and Khamet found himself hanging almost upside down on one of the walls. He scanned the water for the mirror, but it have been in the water below.

“ABANDON SHIP!”  Voices cried out over the storm.

Khamet saw the mirror bob in the water as another wave hit. He watched as it floated right by him and out the door. He leapt towards the mirror and did his best to run and swim in the turbulent water sloshing on deck. Outside everything was chaos. The mirror was sliding down the deck that was turning quickly into a wall. Khamet followed. Running and tumbling until they were just falling. The mirror flew right off the deck and into the ocean with the cat flying after it. The black ocean night was everywhere with debris and cries from men who had been thrown in.

The mirror surfaced away from him and he tried to get to it, but still he was no swimmer and the water rolled him about. He went down and lost all his air, paddling with his claws. A piece of wood floated by and he latched on. He was too large and wet for anything now and continued slipping beneath the water. He was cold and lost and tried to get his head above for air, but when he inhaled this time it wasn’t enough. When he went back under, he inhaled again and filled his lungs with water. Again the wonderful and terrible cold blackness took him and as he went out he felt himself falling.

Published by James Gabriel