Calico

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.

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3. Utopia

Soon, even fur coats weren’t enough for Black Cat. He wanted more. And that meant we had to risk far more than we ever had before. The first time we walked into Utopia, I was so nervous that I clung to Black Cat’s hand like a child, trembling in my patched-up boots. Utopia was the finest neighborhood in the city, with houses that looked like candy castles and gardens enclosed in glass that somehow let the intoxicating perfume of their flowers spill into the street. It was snowing when we first went there, and lacy flakes settled over everything, caking up on the mansions like a layer of icing. My coat was drawn up to my chin but I still felt cold. Black Cat didn’t seem to mind the weather, because he strode confidently through the wide roads, acting as though he knew the place like the back of his hand. Technically, Utopia was open to everyone, like any other part of the city, but there was an unspoken rule amongst people like us - don’t enter Utopia. Seeing the place for myself made me understand why - we would never fit in, and that was reason enough to throw us out. But Black Cat didn’t seem to know this, or if he did, he didn’t care. He walked like a person who lived here, the only thing he lacked was the uniform.

 

We were turning down the third street when a figure in a dark coat and cap stepped in front of us. Black Cat halted smoothly, while I slipped a little in the snow and nearly dislocated Black Cat’s shoulder to keep from falling. Unmindful of my clumsiness, Black Cat considered the figure with haughty disdain.

 

“Can I help you, Sir?”

 

The figure looked up and I could discern a toothbrush mustache beneath the shadow of his cap. He had no other distinguishing features. His coat, I suddenly realized, was a uniform and on the pocket, I saw a golden patch that bore a black crest of arms on it. A rearing lion wearing a crown, and the letters CQR. The man snorted and his mustache bristled.

 

“What business do you have in this neighborhood? You’re not from here.”

 

Black Cat’s head twitched to the side like he was dismissing something irksome.

 

“Why is my business any concern of yours?”

 

The man stood his ground.

 

“You’re from the streets by the looks of you. Your kind are never up to any good. Planning to rob one of the good people in this place?”

 

Black Cat remained silent. The man pressed further.

 

“If I were you, I’d leave. Now.”

 

Black Cat pierced the man with his hard gaze. I shivered. Black Cat’s eyes had hardened like I’d never seen them before, hard like emeralds, sharp and unforgiving. I’m not sure if the man could see them but I could, and I knew Black Cat would never forget this insult. He stared at the man for a moment longer and then turned and walked away, pulling me with him. I glanced back when we reached the end of the street and saw the man still watching us. Black Cat increased his pace and we soon found ourselves in a street narrower than the rest, between the backs of the houses.

 

“Did you see where he was from?” he hissed. I nodded.

“Gold and black crest, a rearing lion with a crown and the letters CQR.”

Black Cat’s mouth twisted into a vicious smile.

“Good. We’ll pay a visit sometime.”

 

The rest of our excursion was spent scouting out the neighborhood, though we were sure to stay away from the street where the man had stopped us. By the end of our visit, Black Cat had settled on the mansion done up in pale yellow and warm brown in the west end of Utopia.

 

“When are we going to go back?”

“Tonight. We’re going to try something different tonight Calico. The first step to getting to the Palace.”

 

I jerked the steering wheel again, leaving streaks of blood on the gray vinyl. My hands were so red... So very red. I fought back a sudden sob and focused on the road ahead. The sirens were getting louder.

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