Black Cat was everything to Calico - brother, teacher, saviour... and traitor? Calico couldn't accept that the one person she could remember trusting would betray so brazenly. But now she was on the run, and as she searched for a safe haven, she would have to come to terms with the terrible, awful betrayal Black Cat had saddled her with. An entry for "The Fault in Our Stars" competition.


5. Begin Again

It hurt so much, the clash of love and hate in my heart. Black Cat was still yelling even as I struggled to come to terms with the revelation. “It was her officer! She killed the guard! She killed him!” Fury rose up, blotting out everything else, and with a wild cry, I wrenched myself from Black Cat’s grip and stabbed him in the stomach. He screamed and collapsed, his blood staining the snow the same color as my dream dress. The resemblance made me retch, and before I could fall beside him, I flung the knife at the lights and ran.


I guess they were shocked to see me stab my accomplice, because it took them a while to muster their forces and set out after me. I made straight for the alley where we’d hidden our car and sped out of Utopia as fast as I could. I was never coming back. I would never dream of the Palace again. I would never see Black Cat again.


I could actually see the policemen now. There was a sharp crack and a hole burst in my windshield. Warning shots. I would soon be dead. Would that be so bad? Then I saw a lake coming towards me beside the highway and I took my chance.


I yanked the steering wheel hard and the car shot straight into the lake. Time slowed down as I neared impact, I saw the car break through the wooden barriers, shattering them into splinters, I saw the front bumper hit the water, throwing up a million droplets that hung still in midair, sparkling like diamonds in the headlights of the police cars. Then I went in and time went back to normal.


It was a muffled thing, falling into the water. My descent was haloed by a thick trail of white bubbles that spiraled to the surface, contrasts to the inky blackness of the water. I opened a door and pushed myself out. I could see the searchlights pointed into the water, creating lacy patterns to my eyes. For what felt like forever, I floated beneath the lights, transfixed by the dancing brightness. The need to breathe only came when I knew I would die if I didn’t get air that very second.


Somehow, I made it up. As I reached for the surface, nothing mattered anymore but my desperate need to breathe. The police could shoot me, Black Cat could betray me, but I needed to breathe. My first breath was heaven. The police had left, and I was alone in the dark. I saw my bare arms brushing the water away and realized I had lost my jacket in the lake. All my goods were gone.


I paddled for the shore and pulled myself out, shivering in the sudden cold. I was alone, I was alone, I was all alone. I remembered being alone before and how miserable I always was. I remembered meeting Black Cat and how happy he made me feel. I remembered stabbing him and how much pain had forced my hand to do that.


I curled up on the bank and cried and cried and cried. I was hurting so bad. I cried for my dreams, for the Palace, for all the pretty things, for Black Cat. And most importantly, what I thought I had with Black Cat. In the end, I was nothing to him. A means to an end. A stepping stone on his path to the Palace. That hurt the most.


When I couldn’t cry anymore and the sharpness of the pain I felt had faded to a dull throbbing, I sat up and looked around properly. There were some lights in the distance. I could find help there. Start a new life for myself. I dragged myself to my feet and was about to start when I felt something cold and wet hit my collar bone. Grasping at my neck, I found the silver chain Black Cat had let me keep from our first raid. Tears stung my eyes again and I hastily felt for the clasp. I yanked off the chain and was about to throw it into the lake when a voice in my head stopped me. Why? Why throw away the one thing that can help you start afresh, simply because you hate what it symbolizes? Why?


I ran my fingers along the pendant, feeling the cat shape in the dark. It had diamonds for eyes, it would probably be worth a lot. Sighing, I stuffed the chain in my pocket and set off for the lights again.


I had to cross the highway to get to the lights. As I limped across the tar, I noticed my hands all lit up in the streetlights. They were clean. Bloodless. And mine. Then and there, standing in the middle of the highway all wet and broken, I realized that despite all that had happened, I could start afresh. I had a life to make. Because I was Calico.



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