The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: "Do You Like Cats?"
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2022 8:35 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 635
Topics: 69
Title - “Do You Like Cats?”

Author – Dub

Genre/Rating – Horror/Comedy, R+
Warning (contains story spoilers) -
Spoiler:
Graphic gore, Sexual themes, Graphic depictions of distressing physical trauma, PETA and the RSPCA will be pissed, Self harm, Severe mental distress, Suicide, Grief, The kitchen sink.
Disclaimer – I do not own the characters, world or a foot scraper. Disney owns everything, except SpongeBob someone else owns him, possibly Mr Krabs. There are also brand names, I don't own them either. Music, don't own that either.

Feedback – Many people tap out on horrors. If you do tap out please let me know where. I’ve already been called a sick puppy, advances are welcome.

Summary – Set between ‘The Gift’ and ‘The Bargaining’. Willow and Tara adjust to life with the consequences of what came before.

Authors note – I had so much fun writing this because it’s exactly what I was looking for when coming into Fanfiction. A story where Tara is the lead and holds her own. It is framed as a Tara and Willow story. Not just because of board rules but because Willow is an integral part of Tara’s character.

However character is an issue in this for me. I have held back character wise. I have made compromises to try and shift Tara more into the Horror lead girl style which involves crude humour I don’t think is very Tara but it is very dumb, young and fancy free of the starting group of soon to be corpses. I have also held back because I plan on writing this time period in a longer story and so didn’t want to write every aspect down here. Due to this there may be some lines that seem out of place but they do have a purpose to be indicators of more things Tara is going through that can’t be addressed and given justice in the time frame of this story.


Please read the warning before reading on. This is not a nice story and leans more to horror than comedy.



“And you’re sure you’ll be okay?” The red head sat beside Tara on the sofa, a tentative tone to her voice as she softly stroked the witch’s arm. All the pain that the last few weeks had brought, she didn’t want anything else to go fatally wrong, none more so to the most important person in her life.

Tara gathered the comforting hand with both of hers, all be it one in a cast and looked her lover in the eyes. “Will, we’ve been through this. I’ll be fine.” By been through all this, she of course meant she has repeated herself at least twenty times in the last half hour. Although she wasn’t too bothered by it as it was a way to try and convince herself that she would in fact be fine.

“I can ask Dawn to stay, make sure you’re safe.” A childlike voice in response but her eyes screamed seriousness.

“Dawn is finally hanging with her friends again, she needs to do this just as much as you need to patrol.” Tara removed her cast encased hand from the hold, interlocking her fingers with Willows. Her eyes followed as she fumbled a stray red hair behind her lover’s ear. Her hand stopping to rest on the thankfully dry cheek. There had been far too many tears cascading down them as of late. Foreseeing her own cheeks soon to be moistened she looked back into solemn emeralds with her enforced mischievous blue and offered a lopsided smile. “If anything I should be worried about you.”

The connection parted as Willow recoiled in mock aghast “You’re not!?!”

Tara retaliated a playful plaster of Paris tap in return but offered none of the playfulness in her tone as she shared the same seriousness with the girl in front of her “Of course I am, but if you think I’m worried, you won’t leave and you really need to leave, otherwise Vampires …” Tara could feel the tears building and lowered her head along with her volume as she barely vocalised the words none of them could yet accept. “Will know Buffy isn’t around.”

Willow lowered her own head, pressing her forehead against the wilting woman in front of her “Yeah, I know.”

They both lingered for a moment before lifting their heads back up, never losing skin contact until lips parted as footsteps thundered down the stairs.

“See ya guys. Don’t wait up.” Dawn grabbed her jacket off the end of the banister, swiftly sliding in her arms through the sleeves on her direct line to the door.

Willow leaped to action, quickly out manoeuvring the briskly teens clutch for the lock. “Err we discussed this, home by 10.” She folded her arms to punctuate the attempt of authority over her new ward.

Dawn tilted her head back, assessing the chinks in this new authority armour Willow was trying to encase herself in. Her eyebrows raised in satisfaction as she felt she found her checkmate. “You didn’t say AM or PM.” Her arms folded, to match the obstruction in her path.

“Don’t wind each other up please.” Tara lifted herself off the sofa and made her way across to the door. “Will is stressy enough and I’m not sure you have the skill set to take her on yet Dawnie.” Tara joined the arm fold Mexican standoff. A stance they have all got used to since moving in together. From bathroom queue jumping, to who put an empty juice carton back in the fridge? Tara knew it Willow, just not why she wouldn’t admit it.

“I too so have the skill set.”

“I’m not stressy!”

The standoff broke as both girls unanimously lost their strained attempt of authority

Tara removed Willow’s coat from the rack and passed it to her with an apologetic kiss on the cheek. “Of course sweetie.” The witch then side hugged the teen but finished with a gentle but noticeable hand on her shoulder, maintaining eye contact “Have a good time Dawnie and its 10PM. No arguments.”

“Ugh it’s like having two moms.” Once again she had been inadvertently double teamed. Although her grief and hormones told her to rebel, inside she couldn’t deny feeling touched by the normality the two witches tried to give her.

“Is this because we asked you to clean your room?” Willow partly zipped up her coat.

“You have more plates in there than we do in the kitchen.” Added Tara.

“There’s a lot of monsters in Sunnydale, how do you know it’s not one of them?” Dawn was adamant not to be doubled teamed again and the plates were gross, she didn’t want to touch them. She was hoping Tara would do it when she was out, she didn’t want to sleep with her window open any longer as bugs kept coming in but she also really didn’t like the smell the plates were producing.

A look exchanged between the couple. Willow sighed and opened the door stepping aside for Dawn to pass through. “Watch out for those lesser known, plate monsters.”

Dawn smiled as a walked out the house backwards. “Oh I will. You too. Bye guys.” She turned offering a little shriek as she excitedly bounced down off the porch on her merry way to Melinda’s.

“It’s good to see her happy” Tara pulled Willow in closer as she used her hand to zip up Willow’s coat all the way. “Be careful.” Her words stern but coaxed with worry.

Willow closed in with a lingering kiss. “I’m CarefullyMcCareful.” With that, the embrace was over.

“I think you should go now before I decide to change the locks.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Never.”

They shared one more kiss as Tara practically used the door to get Willow out.

“Love you”

“Love you.”

Tara pressed the door closed with a finalising click. That was as far as she had prepared for. The past couple of weeks Tara had not been left alone. She had moments to herself but there was always someone around the house.

Sensing that Willow was now a distance away from the door, Tara turned to face the house. It looked the same as it did every day. Well the days where furniture wasn’t smashed or Xander’s tools weren't littering the floors as he repaired the damage. Yet it felt bigger, colder and lonelier than it had moments before. She had always known 1630 Revello Drive as a happy chaos, with the Summers and Scoobies intermingling, but yet now it had a sense of foreboding, not too dissimilar than her childhood home had held for her.

She could see all the hubs of the house from this position. The comfort of the lounge to her left, the warmth of the kitchen straight ahead, the community of the dining room to her right. Yet the stairs led to shadow. The shadow contorted as Tara was lost in stare. She knew what it was like to be engulfed in those tendrils of darkness and every now and then she could feel the sickly tug of the looming noir.

CLICK

Tara jiggled the door once just to be sure it was locked and kept her head down as she gently jogged to the backdoor in the kitchen. Picking up the key on the hook and twisting it in the mechanism locking the only other access of entry in the house. She would unlock it before Willow and Dawn came home, they wouldn’t need to know. She was fine. This was just peace of mind, not fear. Not that feeling that snapped her eyes awake at night, in a cold sweat. The notion that at any moment it will be another trick, that she would still be in that room, with the voices penetrating her ears and those things, the spindly, thick oozy things contaminating every surface of her skin, orifices invaded and her humanity swallowed.

Maybe if she just turned the upstairs lights on too. She might feel like a walk around the house later and having the lights on would save time. Don’t want to lose stride half way through power walking across the landing. Could cause the loss of a personal best time. It’s not fear. She can be alone without the need for anyone to be near, No Anya and her board games, Tara had to shut down a child selling trade more than once. No Dawn with her factoids, which mainly involved conspiracies about the CIA. Tara really needed to talk to Willow about having parental controls on the laptop when she lends it to Dawnie. None of Giles’s reminiscences of England, They were happening more often since the Burial. No Xander trying to cheer everyone up with his clownliness. Even then she could see the pain in his eyes, putting on an act to convince himself everything was alright. No Willow.

Tara reached the base of the stairs and stopped in her tracks. There was something faint, something light but yet almost shrill in the stillness of the house. A thud lightly pounded the floorboards upstairs. Tara was not alone.

Instinct kicked in as Tara bolted up the stairs, turning on the lights as she went. Practicality not fear, she needed to see what was here and no one scared would run towards the noise. She was fine. The doors were locked, Willow and Dawn left. It was Willow, Dawn and Tara, no one else in the house. Logically Tara knew that meant she was the only one in the house at this very moment.

A rustle sounded as Tara reached the top step. It was coming from Joyce’s room, still trying to accommodate to the fact that she and Willow now shared that room. Their bedroom. Their first lodgings together. Yes they shared their dorms but this was official and not on campus but in the real world and now was not the time to get bogged down in that enormous relationship/life advancement as her creeping across the landing was now at an end. Standing at her currently ajar door.

She gingerly extended her injured hand to nudge the door open. The hallway light creeping into the gloom of early rising moonlight in the bedroom. The whine of its hinges piercing the silence, like an old man groaning when getting up from a seat. Giles had been doing more of that since the burial too. With her other hand she reached for the nearest lamp and switched it on.

Her head jerked to the bed as something moved in response to the change in lighting.

“Meow” Miss KittyFantastico looked up at her human and settled her head back down into the sheets. Nuzzling about to find a comfy spot to take a well-deserved nap in, She had napped on most of the house furnishings today but a day’s work was not done without napping on them all.

Tara lowered her head in embarrassment but with her hair already tied up it slumped over her shoulder, failing to mask her emotion. Secondary embarrassment set in as she realised she was trying to hide herself in front of her cat. The hat trick of embarrassment set in as she realised she worked herself up so much, thinking Miss Kitty was an intruder. This was her home too now. Tara had felt a lot of that lately. The embarrassment of everything she was unaware of, of how much the others had to do for her, especially Willow. Tara tended to think the wiping came after marriage and not on her. Willow didn’t want to tell her but Tara had worked it out early on. Knowing that wipe freshness felt different down there depending on who did it, was information the witch cared not to know past her own infancy.

“Hey there.” Tara gave Miss Kitty as tickle behind the ears as she came around the bed and sat beside her. “Thanks for not being a murderer. You’re a good little kitty. I was being a dummy.”

“Mew” Agreed Miss Kitty

Tara let the feline be and untied her hair. Taking out her hair brush from her bed side drawer, she took time brushing out her hair in long strokes. Feeling the sensation of the bristles against her scalp and then the pull as she pushed away. Then the relief as the hair broke free. Every stroke of the brush, a reminder that she could straighten out her head. If only the inside was as simple as the out. Thanks to her crushed hand, it wasn’t so simple to tend to the whole of her head but at worse a slight inconvenience. A broken hand and a restored mind was light in comparison to what could have been. Once finished she placed the brush on the bed and made her way to the bathroom.

The plastic rings jangled across the pole they were hung on as Tara slid the shower curtain open. With a brief tug of waistband, her lower garments pooled around her feet. Getting her pants off was the easy part. Now came what Tara had started to call ‘the dance of a thousand Willow spazdoms’, Willow penned the name to try and make her girlfriend feel better but the cheap laugh couldn’t mask the insecurity of being seen as a patient more than a lover. It wasn’t exactly sexy to wave about her left arm until it was out of the armhole and then bring the hand up through the neckline to (give a wave and) push the collar up and duck her head under finishing with thrusts of her right arm to motion the shirt down her arm and off her torso. Leaving a topless, red faced, out of breath, wild haired, knackered ragdoll. That wasn’t meant to be the look to start things off, only finish it.

Stepping out of her clothes pile, she leaned her hips onto the side of the bathtub and reached up to turn the shower dial on. She was getting used to doing it backwards, adjusting to left hand supremacy. Not that she had a choice not to. She was greeted with slap of water against the baths porcelain as the shower came to life. Staying behind the stream, Tara leaned back out and pulled the shower curtain closed as she let the water heat up. Neatly she folded her discarded clothing and opened up the cupboard, placing them in a half full laundry hamper. She removed two towels and placed them on the closed toilet lid. Then begrudgingly put on her plastic cast covering because nothing says sexy like Shake ‘n Bake. She closed the cupboard door and retrieved a palm sized item from her hiding place under the sink.

The sound of the water raining down echoed against the walls as steam started to escape. Tara pulled back the curtain and placed the small item on the far ledge. She slung her leg over the bath edge and bent over into the shower, gripping tightly on the tiles as she elevated her other leg in, steadying herself to regain balance. Normally she wouldn’t be so careful to get in however she didn’t want to do anything to hamper her recovery. The sooner she wasn’t a burden on everyone the better. She had already unknowing added more recovery time by removing her bandage before the fight and being thrown back didn’t make for a bone healing landing.

Droplets slid down supple curves, clinging to every ounce of bare skin it could adhere to. The heat coaxing her nerves, the vapour a thin lingerie tantalising her fantasies. Soap began to lather the whitish skin, suds building in crevices dying for exploration. Her hand roaming across every divine surface, unblemished from unwanted attention, nurtured by the savouring. Fingers ran through water plumped hair, friction proving no deterrent as shampoo lubricated the roots. Tara allowed the ambiences of liquid beading roll down her being as she left the lotion to pacify the natural oils.

The intermittent silence of her mind only disturbed by the niggling need for her personal shower pleasure. The thought of vibration against her was all she needed to pick up the item she left on the baths edge. The buzzing in her hand met with weeks of untouched flesh. Moans erupted from her swollen lips as she increased the setting. The beginning buzz now a vivacious rumbling, grinding against a taut crowning. Moans grew louder through exiled breaths. Body shuddering from the strain. Mind growing hazy, getting lost in the purge. Tara hadn’t shaved her heels in ages.

How she loved the smooth rubbing of skin on skin between the sheets. Heating up her girlfriends extremities. The sweet noises that that uttered from her succulent lips. The upward turn they would make and bed beginning to shake. All thanks to built-in suction, to help move the undesirable outer layers to reveal the silkiness beneath. Five settings to fulfil your satisfaction and a compartment to contain all the clean-up. All neatly packaged in a palm sized electronic foot scraper. Nothing worse than crusty feet scratching up her lover’s precious petit poi.

The right heel was now luxuriously smooth. The right foot was the easy side. She had not yet tried to shave her feet with her cast but she figured if she leaned against the wall and placed her foot on the bath edge she may get the leverage needed to sand down her rough edges. It would only be a matter of time before Willow said something and would stop touching her all together. She couldn’t leave the spiked death flakes as they were.

A tingle passed down the Wicca’s spine as the back of her torso and buttocks pressed against the condensed tile. She splayed her hand as much as she could, with a grip still on her favourite toy, to help create form a seal for stability and elevated her foot, pointing her toes like a ballerina to reach the baths edge with elegance however her thighs parted and world turned. She flung out her other hand to prevent her fall but the plastic was better suited for a slip ’n slide. With a heavy slam and squelch of flesh against porcelain, which sounded like flatulence but was definitely not flatulence. The slosh of water calmed and bubbles rose and popped on the surface. That might have been flatulence or the body changing air pressure to accommodate the sudden water pressure.

Tara hoisted herself into a sitting position with pained groans. A bit sore but otherwise she could see no damage. The showerhead roared as the water levels in the tub rose. The drain must have been clogged as the plug sat without prominence in the corner. Tara’s body sagged as he got back to her feet, switching off the shower and thumping out of the bath tub. More a sea hag than beautiful water nymph. Tara slung her hair back, flinging back like the hair of a girl from the bottom of a well than a shampoo commercial glamour model. She promptly wrapped a towel around her hair and used the other to hastily rub herself dry-ish and tightly bind around her body. She would sort the drain blockage once dressed.

Entering the bedroom Tara was met with wide hazel eyes. Miss Kitty’s body pumped, a pulse like force curling the back of her spine all the way to the front. A fearsome revolt trying to exorcise the undesired within. With every head jut, Miss Kitty’s eyes were unblinking staring directly into Tara’s. Every convulsion of the body met with a cough-retch, the bile coating the long strands of brown hair sagging from her mouth. Each pull back causing it to go taunt making the vomit slather down in swathes of revulsion. The hair was too far in to come out but still firmly attached to the recently used hairbrush to swallow. The bulk of hair and body expulsions coagulated with every persistent upchuck. Her tongue protruding to no prevail to break up the clog but everything to push it closer to her nose to smell the putrid stomach linings, tasting just as it smelt. Miss Kitty’s lungs burned, every gasp of air, futile as there was no passage through. Her eyes stayed open as her body gave out, offering one last scratch on the sheets. The moisture that glistened her hazel eyes now lacked presence but the one thing they undeniably displayed were that it was all Tara’s fault.

Paralysis dominated Tara’s body. She was unable to look away as her sweet, fluffy cutie, struggled to catch a breath, the movements growing desperate and erratic, yet weaker. She could have helped, could have pulled the hair out of Miss Kitty’s mouth but she couldn’t. She was hopeless, once again isolated on that bench watching her mind plummet to its nadir. The life faded from the cat’s being and all that remained was a corpse.

Tara dropped to her knees and shuffled closer to what laid before her on the bed. A quiet whimper passing from her mouth as her hand tremored forward to stroke her beloved pet one last time. She felt the sinew, fat and muscle part as she grazed through black fur. Her body wasn’t yet cold. Tara picked up one of the little white paws into her palm. Claws out, sharp with fabric attached from being skewered in the last convulsions of desperation. Eight slashes adjourned the bed spread. She lowered the paw and with the upmost dignity gently slid her fingers down Miss Kitty’s face, closing her blame filled eyes.

The hairbrush loomed in Tara’s mind, why couldn’t she have had put the brush away or cleaned it out. She reached for it and pulled, with little force, Mucus covered hair strands slide out of the Miss Kitty’s mouth. As the hair was extracted the waft of salmon came through with it. With all the fear of a child in trouble she stashed the brush under the bed. Under the bed is where the bad things hide, a place she often hid growing up.

Dignity exposed itself as Tara rose back onto shaking, ununiformed in smoothness, feet. The towel once bound around her body now splayed across the carpet. She picked up her silk robe as she backed out of the bedroom, back in the bathroom, unable to remove her vision from sight of Miss Kitty, She looked so peaceful although she was sleeping but yet Tara knew, she knew what she had done, why Miss Kitty wasn’t sleeping.

The cream silk turned sheer, the moisture working as an adhesive, snuggling the fabric to her damp flesh. Tara hugged the walls and whatever furniture could hold her up, making her way down stairs, into the kitchen. She went to pick up the phone but hesitated. She stepped back shocking herself as she hit the island counter. She wrapped her right arm around herself and the left came to cover her mouth. She couldn’t do this, she couldn’t ring Willow within half an hour of her leaving.

Tonight was meant to be proof that she wasn’t a burden. That she wasn’t useless. She had already caused so much trouble with letting Glory know Dawn was the key. If they didn’t have to worry about her, Willow could have found a way to stop Glory and Buffy would have never died. Buffy was dead because of her, because she was so pathetic, sulking off after a fight, she caused with dumb comments, when there was a God on the hunt for information. Tara turned pressing her stomach into the counter as she slammed her hand down. The plastic shower covering stupidly still on. She ripped it off. She deserved the pain her hand caused her. The physical pain was a fraction of the danger she put everyone in, the cuts Dawn endured, everyone a mark of Tara’s failings. Being her new guardian all but a sham. An act of guilt masked in kindness. What right did Tara have to heal? She gained everything back, Dawn lost her everything.

Tears streaked down her face. She couldn’t cry, what right did she have? She pressed her cast against her mouth and snorted up any escaping emotion. Tea. Giles seemed to use the beverage as a heal all remedy. Celebration, tea, bereavement, tea, stress, tea, relaxing, tea. Water gushed out of the tap filling the metal pot. Tara placed it on the stove, twisted the knob bringing the heat to the coil. Fit on the lid to speed up the process. She would tell Willow but not now. When she comes home. Tara felt the towel on her and proceed to unfurl her locks. She took out her frustration on her scalp as she vigorously dried her hair. She looked at the white towel in her hands. She needed to cover Miss Kitty. She couldn’t leave her there uncovered for Willow and Dawn to see without preparation. They had seen enough dead family members.

Tara walked back upstairs, holding out the towel as a ceremonial veil. The door was still open from her earlier embarrassment, she took a breath then passed over the threshold. She turned to lay the towel over the body but soon found a problem with the plan.

The bed was empty!

FFFFFWWWWWEEEEEEEEEETTTTT!

The whistle of the kettle screamed through the house, disturbing the stillness. Tara dropped the towel and hurried to the kitchen. The noise was piercing her ears, morphing into all too familiar sinister voices. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end as she took the kettle off the stove, halting the steam scream but the ringing still remaining in her mind. She paused feeling the heat of the metal radiate against her, almost welcoming her to press it against herself. The boiling water poured into the cup. Tea. Tea was the only thing the kettle was going to be used for this time. As much as the memory of the voices called for her to punish herself she couldn’t. Someone, something, was watching, they couldn’t know, they mustn’t know or it would mean she wasn’t fine. She needed to be fine. For Willow, for Dawn, she had to be fine.

Brown liquid swirled in the cup as Tara stirred, a vortex whipping around the tea bag. There was no thought to the action, just a movement of the wrist, monotonous, a routine she could focus on. Something she had control over. None of this could be happening, not really, she must have imagined Miss Kitty being unresponsive. She had to have been exhausted. She’s probably gone to another room to nap off the hairball fiasco. Tara scooped out the tea bag believing the beverage had stewed. The garbage disposal roared as it shredded and guzzled the bag. The drain Tara thought, she should unblock it before they come home. Willow might want a shower after fretting around tombstones anxious for the undead to show up.

A simple blockage, Tara could fix that. It’s not restoring your girlfriend’s brain or sacrificing yourself for the world but it’s something. She could be useful. The bathroom was still thick with condensation, the humid air hit Tara first, quickly followed by the look of the stagnant bath water. A milky scum layer broke up by oily fat bubbles. The most unenticing bubble bath Tara had ever experienced. She could have sworn she wasn’t that dirty when she showered.

She placed her cup under the mirror, the steam mingling with the condensation, obscuring its reflection. Tara did her best to roll up her silk sleeves but the fabric, true to its name defied friction, doing her best to tuck them under her arm pit. Perhaps she should have shaved those before her foot but the allure of her plastic shower companion was too much to resist. She needed it back. Kneeling in front of the tub she delved her left arm into the scum before her. The liquid almost gel like in consistence, a slurry of body scrapings and secretions, along with straggly hairs wrapping themselves around Tara’s arm as she felt for her feet shaver to no avail. Reaching the plug hole, Tara’s finger nails lifted from her cuticles as the drenched up slimy mixture of red and brown hair, scented with various shampoos and conditioners that paled in comparison to the rotting smell it brought, wedged between. Tara pulled it up, displaying the hair in all its grim grandeur. Once the full length was exposed the drain burped with dissatisfaction as the hair slapped back spraying Tara’s features with pipe grime. The burp was brief and the water stayed stagnant. So much for being useful.

White fur impacted Tara’s face as she turned to dispose of the hair glop. High pitched shrieks reverberated around the room as paws pounded and scraped, fangs snapping at her scalp. A frenzy of ferocious fur to the face. Tara writhed and stumbled, throwing her torso fervently to dislodge her attacker. A lucky punch resulted in release and a slash up of foul water. The force of the punch caused Tara to twirl on the slick discarded drain hair pile. Swiping for whatever she could get hold of in order to stable herself resulted in a shower curtain shawl as the rings burst open and the pole clambered into the bath. After a full 360, the witch did what came to mind first, a full 360 in the other direction. Detangling herself from her plastic confines and lobbing it away from herself, blanketing the bath.

The cat

Tara clambered through the shower debris, the wet plastic sticking to itself and covering itself in the oily scum layer of the water causing it to slip and slide out of Tara’s hand. Her sleeve proving a nuisance as it draped freely around her arm. After much fumbling she managed to peel off the curtain, revealing a bloated Miss Kitty bobbing on the surface. Apples were Tara’s preferred item of bob-ability, this was certainly not.

Seven droplets fell from the mirror, rippling Tara’s tea.

This time Tara would know, she would know if it was real or not, she wasn’t going to leave this alone, she was going to get evidence. Her knees began to dip as she sprinted down the stairs, heading towards the basement. She flung open the basement door and held steady to the banister. She always had a feeling a hand would grasp her ankle in-between the steps, unnerving her. Through her own heavy breathing and the creaks of the wooden plank steps she could hear another noise, a grating, it was fait but there.

The basement was filled with boxes of her and Willows belongings from their dorm rooms. While they had started to unpack it was hard to find the balance between keeping Joyce and Buffy’s memory respected, having it as a familiar home for Dawn but also their new place. Naturally this lead to the unpacking solution of out of sight, out of mind. Tara waded through the stacks of cardboard boxes to retrieve a garbage sack and one of Xander’s tool boxes. Tools clanged as they hit the floor, Tara needed it empty to keep Miss Kitty in. The clasp could only be opened from the outside. She would bag and lock up Missy Kitty, ring Willow and when she comes home everything will be fine. Apart from the dead cat in the tool box but it would mean she wasn’t going crazy. There was no way Miss Kitty was alive after being trapped in the water for that long. Tara was fine, In no way was she seeing things, she had scratches on her face to prove it wasn’t all made up. She couldn’t have made the marks on herself.

Pipes rattled drawing Tara’s attention to the far wall. A box was open with a wooden board, sitting on the concreate floor, in front of it. The grating sound came across louder in that area of the basement. More of a dragging as Tara moved closer. As her vision adjusted to the murkiness she recognised what the board was. Adorned with Victorian calligraphy, letters and numbers, basic answers such as yes, no and maybe. The wooden cursor moved with a sharp jolt.

M

The witch stared with trepidation, she had used the Ouija board many times but had never had it work without contacting the spirit world first. The cursor moved again slower this time as though it knew it had the girls attention.

E

Again in another sharp move

O

Tara stood keeping track of the letters her eyes following every movement as the cursor circled around, taunting the witch. The sound drowning out all other noise, the friction of woods flavouring the air with smoulder. The movents slowed and grew smaller, teasing between a few letters until eventually stopping.

W

M-E-O-W

Anxiousness about stair hand grasping was all but a blur as Tara sprinted up them and slammed the door behind her. She grabbed the landline in the kitchen. She had to be hallucinating, this wasn’t real. Cats can’t communicate through Ouija board. It’s ridiculous. Emotions, scents and occasionally apparitions were usual for animal spirit communication but words were undocumented. If they could communicate in death, why not in life? Are cat’s just passive arseholes? She thumbed in the magic box number hoping they were there, pressing it against her ear while hugging the garbage sack and toolbox, but all she was met with was the howl of a dead line.

She put the phone back on the hook and hurried back up to the bathroom, if she could bag up Miss Kitty and place her in the lockable tool box, all this will be sorted. The smell of blood hit her nostrils first, the slurry in the bath had crimson spreading from the sodden fur lump in the water. Tara didn’t think she saw any injuries on Miss Kitty other than, you know, being dead. The closer she neared, the stronger the second smell became. A putrid rot protruded her senses. It wasn’t a fresh rot like a newly slayed demon but an out in the hot sun, crispy punch to the rot. Like a fart trapped in a car that’s directly in the sun all day. Xander said it was an egg salad sandwich he left in the glove compartment once, they all knew otherwise.

The tool box clattered to the floor as the fur bobbed revealing not Miss Kitty but a decaying rat. The fur was sparse but the strands were think and wiry. A deep slash lead to chewed innards. Tara’s innate intuition screamed at her, this was a warning. Tara slowly stumbled backwards, why would her pet be warning her? Why is this even happening? This can’t be happening, how can this be happening? It’s not real. It can’t be real. It was a trick, the intuition was a trick, it had to be. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her, it must have been a rat but her mind made her think it was Miss Kitty. That was it. That had to be right.

A smash broke the witch’s train of thought. Hot liquid sprawled over the floor. Mourning for her cuppa was low on her priority list as her attention shifted to the sound of scattering claws on floorboards skirmishing down the landing. Tara lunged towards the sound, her bare feet hitting hard on the floor. She was about to turn for the stairs when her ankle twisted and her knee jerked sending her down to the ground, her face a couple of inches away from hitting the wall. She clambered up to a sitting position her back to the stairs. Her ankle pricked with pain but it was nothing a pain killer couldn’t quell.

After inspecting a fresh knee graze and checking for any other injuries, she noticed something wasn’t quite right. As she moved her leg the floorboard beneath moved, it was loose. She had never noticed it before but with the amount of action this house saw, new damage was never far away. Tara shifted on her knees and wedged her fingers in the gap to lift the board. The lift of the board came with a candyfloss of cobwebs caped in dust. Whatever was here hadn’t been touched in years. Small spiders’ skittered out as through the removal of the board was a starting gun being shot.

Through the mass of grey webbing, Tara could make out shapes, little humanoid shapes. Tara used her cast to swat away what she could, her hand already had the hair and sludge, broken or not, it was time for righty to pick up the slack. The limbs were sleek and offered no shine as grime clung to them as opposed to the falling rags barely covering their frames. Tara had never seen Barbies’ in such disrepair. Black melted plastic replaced half of one of their faces, one had their hair hanging off a flap of plastic, appearing to have been scalped. Another had their eyes cut out leaving two blank holes staring up with a pleasant, friendly but not overly familiar smile which now registered as sinister rather than the way the factory intended. Tara couldn’t work out if it was better or worse than the one with two sewing needles stabbed through her eyes. Another had a hole through their chest as though something small yet powerful punctured through with devastating force. The last one seemed unharmed other than the neck being snapped off. Just popping off the head wasn’t enough for whoever created this Barbie burial ground.

Tara couldn’t fathom who would have done this. The dust and webs made it look ancient but yet it wasn’t irrational to think Buffy, Dawn or even Joyce had murderous Barbie intent. Willow still had an unhappy reaction to Barbies' after Xander stole hers, could she have? No. What exactly did Xander do with the stolen Barbie, was Willows the only one he stole? Anya being Anya? There had to be a reason for this, the Barbies are real, Tara knew she wasn’t imagining this. The floorboard was in her grasp, nothing about the feel suggested it could be anything else and webs wisped about her cast. Everything told her this was real.

Hairs stood up on the back of Tara’s neck, something was coming. A scattering noise, faint but getting louder. It was coming fast. Tara rapidly twisted her upper body to face the top of the stairs but as she did forces collided and whatever came her way was slammed by her floorboard backhand, the wood splintered, a piece stabbed into the palm of her hand causing her to throw the board away down the stairs.

Missy kitty sped up the stairs, her target in direct view. Her prey was seemingly unaware of her presence. She extended her claws as far as they would go and bared her fangs, reaching the top step she leap off putting every strength she had into it. BAM! Black swarmed her vision as she recoiled into the wall, her back shattering then rattling as he unceremoniously slumped onto a step midway down the stairs. Her breath thinned and a calmness washed over her, it was time. But not before a floorboard was thrown down the stairs causing her to spiral down to the bottom. Her chalk outline would say Saturday night fever her final thoughts would suggest footloose.

A seething hiss passed through gritted teeth as Tara pulled the splinter out, luckily it came out clean apart from the pooling droplet of blood. The pain was real. She timidly licked the blood from her palm and confirmed to herself it wasn’t corn syrup and food colouring. Tara didn’t know if vampires had a natural liking for the taste or acquire it over the years, either way Tara wasn’t a fan as it offered no relief. If she was real then she needed someone to tell her what was real around her.

Staggering to her feet, she left the six Barbies in their final resting place and breezed into the bedroom. She removed her damp silk robe and pulled on some sleep shorts and a tank top. The top was tight forcing her chest upwards, such is the consequence of picking up and wearing your girlfriend’s clothes. She headed back to the landing but quickly rebounded, she couldn’t go out wearing this. She grabbed her burgundy leather coat off the back of the door and threw it over her right arm as she dashed down the stairs towards the door. Apart from a mass Barbie grave and the floorboard midway down the stairs, her path was clear.

Tara fumbled with the lock with unrelenting turmoil, to no avail, causing her panic to rise further. Her coat hit the floor as she fruitlessly started to whack the lock. The locks were barely ever used, the stiffness was reassuring for nothing to get in but she really wanted to get out.

“Aperta!”

Ever since the battle at the tower, Tara had used magic only sparingly. She claimed it was because she was tired, however, in truth, she didn’t trust herself to use it. As much as she didn’t like thinking of magic as an aggressive force, she wasn’t naïve to the knowledge that it is a weapon in the wrong hands and to wield it, the right mentality is needed. Tara didn’t have the mentality and right now as she willed magic to open the door, her theory was being proven correct by a steadfast lock.

The backdoor. Tara turned on her heels and headed towards the kitchen but soon stopped as her unscathed black and white feline sat proudly on the kitchen counter. Her tail clambering up her back in happy strokes and nose pointed up into the air as though she was smelling victory due to her paw resting on the backdoor key. Tara inched closer, she needed that key.

“Pspspsps” Tara edged closer and extended out her arm. It wasn’t actual magic but the pspspsps worked like it most of the time, sometimes to a sleepy Willow too. If Miss Kitty would give her the key, she could be out that door and heading to Willow within half a minute. Her cobwebby cast brushed against her bare leg as she inched even closer. Okay not half a minute but still fast. Tara let out a small compliment as Miss Kitty pushed the key forward whilst lowering her head. The cat’s eyes looked directly into Tara’s, her eyes were not glazed with blame this time but instead filled with pure spite. With a growled war cry, Miss Kitty swooped down and picked up the key with her mouth. She kept her stare into lost blue eyes and rose her head up holding up the key for all the see. Allowing a moment to bask in her fiendish brilliance, then it was lost down the trapped door of Miss Kitty’s gullet.

Tara stared in dismay as Miss Kitty levelled her head, offering a toothy sneer. It was gone. Tara was never going to get out of this house. Miss Kitty’s eye twitched as she jumped to all fours, her tail high in the as she turned and displayed her rear end to the Witch who still had her hand extended out. Tara retreated her hand, she couldn’t play that waiting game for the key. She would find another way.

Miss Kitty kept squirming around the island counter, knocking objects to the floor. Dishes smashed, silverware cluttered, covering the floor in sharp hazards. If only Tara remembered to put on shoes before deciding to leave the house. The hindsight was pushed aside when Miss Kitty turned again facing her owner. Blood drippled down the matted fur on her chin. Her eyes bulged with a failed cough that blasted out more blood from her mouth, spraying the counter surface. Tara stayed still, once again powerless, unable to help, just like earlier in the bedroom. Miss kitty leapt over to the sink, her back legs missed but she clamped on with her front paws. Her body strung out like meat in a butchers window. Back legs kicking and scraping against the counters side. The movement exacerbating the blood laden coughs. Miss Kitty was determined, she wasn’t going out choking again. With life depending determination Miss Kitty pulled herself up and promptly landed in the sink.

Tara couldn’t look away, how could this be happening again? The cat’s actions made no sense. Not just the dying but not dying, but why did she jump into the sink? Blood wasn’t the easiest to wash out but normally the wound is patched up before any cleaning happens. Now was not time for a bath, especially after how the last bath Tara thought Miss Kitty was in went. Miss Kitty clawed at the tap unable to turn it she banged it as hard as she could muster and nudged her head towards it indicating to Tara to turn the tap on. Not wanting to repeat her delayed actions in the hairbrush incident, Tara moved closer to the sink. She didn’t understand why she felt Miss Kitty wanted it on but with her experience of her pet’s behaviour, persistence instead of complete lack of interest often meant she wanted it. Every time she had a tuna sandwich, Miss Kitty would rub herself against Tara until she got a taste. A drink, Miss Kitty probably wanted the tap on to try and drink herself out of the choke.

The lightbulb moment was short lived as Tara’s foot landed on a rolling pin. As she fell forward she threw out both arms to break her fall. She slammed against the wall which activated a whirl of blades in the sinks garbage disposal. The grind of bone sounded over the agonised screeches of Miss Kitty. A geyser of blood painted the ceiling. Tara straightened up and moved her hand off the button but in doing so she accidently twisted the faucet lever causing the metal surface of the sink to turn slick, offering no grip for Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty kept pulling out her shawarma limbs from the drain only for another to fall in and be slashed to the bone. A grisly ice caspade, featuring H20 in liquid form and a grand finale of a disembowelling. With the press of a button Tara turned off the garbage disposal, this was not the way she wanted to find out how effective the kitchen appliance was.

Correcting her mistake Tara brought the run of water to a halt. It stopped going down the sink a few blended organs ago. This wasn’t the other way Tara had thought of getting out of the house but with minimal options she dredged her fingers through the body Bolognese. How she wished for the bath of scum water and other people’s slimy hair. Bones, flesh chunks and fur tattered skin scrapings all enmeshed with the blood and tepid water. The textural experience was in vain as there was no feel of the metallic key. Tara rinsed off her hand and looked up when she felt a drop on her forehead, four more followed as the blood rained down back to the minced body it gushed from.

The phone proved fruitless as the deadline tone continued its whine. Tara should have taken Willow up on her Morse code lessons, maybe she could have flashlighted SOS out the window and hoped someone saw. Willow would know the answer, she always knew the right answer, with all her brains she wouldn’t be trapped in a house graphically hallucinating her pet’s demise in disturbing detail. That’s if it was Miss Kitty this time and not some other creature roaming the house. She couldn’t go on like this, she needed help. What would Willow do?

Willow’s laptop sat at the far end of the dining table, its new residence since moving in. She could work her magic while everyone else read through the books. That, and if Willow took it into the bedroom Tara would be hearing the pattering of the keyboard all night. A noise that now filled the hush of the house as Tara loaded up the local police station web page. Each loaded bar reveal a contrast to the beating in Tara’s chest. Once the page reformed its seemingly shredded state, Tara went to the live chat option hoping someone was online at the front desk to see her message.

> Help! Currently locked in at 1630 Revello Drive.
> …
> U got a spar key.
>Spare?
> A key U keep bye 4 familynfriends 2 enter the property.
> You typed spar, I wasn’t sure if that meant something different. We do have a spare but I can’t get to it.
> Any1 U can ring 2 use the key?
>The phone line is down.
>That so, no reports in the aira of a line down.
> I think my cat may have caused the issue.
> Want the cat arrested?
>Excuse me?
>U said we, C-ing as U were spitin heirs earlier. I figure the situ8ion will resolve itself when Ur folks our home. Get off the chat waist in are time. Wed get their and no doubt Ur folks will show and What the criminal offense ear?
> Sorry officer. I’m home alone and need to get out but the lock is jammed and I feel unsafe. I really want my partner. I’ve not been well and she knows how to help me.

BAAHHHAAHHHAHAHA

SpongeBob? Tara looked up and saw the yellow cartoon character on screen for a second before the TV hissed with static. Chair legs grated against the wood flooring as Tara pushed back the chair. Not again. Tara could still feel Miss Kitty’s insides on her hand, the blood still in her hair. There’s no way her pet could be turning on the TV. Unless it really wasn’t Miss Kitty again. How many things was Tara going to kill tonight without knowing what she was actually murdering? She needed her sanity, she needed Willow.

With wide eyes and open ears Tara made her way to the front door, if anyone or anything was here they would have to pass through here. The doors are locked and nothing came through the dining room while Tara was in there. Tara could hear only the hum of static however her eyes befell upon the stairs again. Even in the light shadows cast down upon the wall and steps. The familiarity of the dark tendrils almost feeling like a comfort to her now, at least with her mind going she knew what to expect this time. It offered no relief but it always sounded convincing when people said knowing fear is half the battle.

Sound shouldn’t have been Tara’s priority as she felt her feet sweep from beneath her as she body slammed into the coffee table. Her lungs burned from being winded and she could feel a trickle of fresh blood run down from her forehead. Something had grabbed her feet, a cool, smooth leathery hold gripped on tight as Tara tried to kick it off her feet. The tinkling of metal sounded through a noise that Tara would describe as airing out laundry before folding. Tara winced as she turned herself in the shattered debris of the table. Thick wooden stakes protruded around her. Looking down Tara was mortified in realising, her foot was stuck in her coat’s pocket. With much shame Tara removed her foot with ease. Willow didn’t need to know this bit. No idea how to explain the table though. Hopefully she would see the funny side and not how useless her girlfriend is.

Tara removed herself from the table carnage on the floor. Her body ached but other than her forehead there were no significant open wounds. She worked on regaining her breath, finding synchronicity within the static. She found herself kneeling in front of the TV set just as she had done as a child. The screen feeling fuzzy against her skin. It felt like magic to her, the way the energy bounced around causing no harm. Not like her father tried to make her believe it was. The way the screen burst with energy but yet it represented death was an odd comfort to her. There was more after someone passed, she often found talking to dead people easier than the living. The living always act to survive but the dead had a calmness to them. It was compelling at times to want to find that calmness, to no longer fight against the unknown and embrace it. It was all balanced, all connected.

Blood wiped across the TV screen as Tara grazed in the fuzz. It wasn’t all survival in life. There were feelings like this one which made everything worthwhile. Connections that bound people to each other, not aimlessly floating in the NetherRealm. Not everyone was lucky enough to find that but recently Tara wasn’t sure if that luck was mutual. Her malaise was broken as mechanical ringing rang through the house. A repetitive tone that drove hope to leap through Tara’s thoughts. She picked up the phone from the wall.

“Willow?” Her voice came out more excitable than the grim circumstances called for.

“…”

Panic ate away at the short lived hope. Tara’s grip on the phone tightened as she could hear a faint breathing on the other end. What if Willow was hurt? What if she needed help? “Hey, Will, Can you hear me? Sweetie please say something, make a noise for me.” Her voice trying to remain calm but her worry seeped through.

“…”

“Are you hurt?” A question Tara wanted to know the answer to but at the same time she didn’t. The thought of how she would have to deal if the answer was yes, was a place she couldn’t take her mind. It would be worse than anything she has felt before, to the point it numbed her into a state of paralysis.

“…”

“Will?” A name often filled with love now filled with devoid panic. She wanted to scream the name to get an answer but she couldn’t. She couldn’t do anything but wait for a response.

What if these were Willows dying moments? Tara couldn’t do this without her, she can’t leave her. Not like this not now. Tears streamed down Tara’s cheeks. Was she selfish for these thoughts? How much more could she ask of Willow? Their whole relationship Willow had held Tara up. All she did was lie and create an extra vulnerability for the Scoobies that could, which was, exploited. Quiet sobs filled the line, keeping the flood gates subdued with everything she had, to hear the breath on the other end of the line. The wait for a response seemed to be an agonisingly slow crawl passing through time.

A slight shuffle sounded. A violent sob squeezed out of Tara’s tight hold. She quickly reigned it in to not miss whatever answer/ indicator she was given.

“Mew”

The dead phone line tone shot through Tara’s ears and heart causing her to recoil. Pain creased in Tara’s head. Her mind playing the cruellest of tricks on her, why would she make herself believe Willow was dying? There was likely never a phone call. Her hallucinations not only trying to make her believe in physical threats but emotional ones too. She put the phone back on the hook, her body growing increasingly tired from the extent of her mind games.

Hanging up the phone did not bring the silence expected to the house. A faint tone rang nearby. Tara used the walls and furniture to steady herself as she followed the noise. Taking the occasional stop to clutch her head, willing the pain to pass. When she reached the kitchen she found the source of the noise was the phone swaying carefree on its cord. The dead line tone came to an end as Tara placed the phone back on the hook. She picked the phone back up again hoping for the line to be active again but her heart sank as the line was still dead. She knew the phone call wasn’t real but now she couldn’t help but think of Willow in pain.

Tara sniffed the air, something wasn’t quite right. She didn’t want to gag, her stomach wasn’t churning from the horrors that were left in the kitchen before she tried for help on the computer. No. Couldn’t be. Tara turned relying on her peripheral vision in the hopes she was wrong but she wasn’t. The sink was clean. Not sparking but definitely not filled with cat carcass chunks. Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember knocking the phone off the hook. Was the phone call real? A call from inside the house. The feeling she felt of Willow in pain was certainly real.

Pain roared through Tara’s frontal lobes like forks of lightning burning through her brain. She hissed in pain while doubling over clutching her head between her hands. Why didn’t she look where she was going? So stupid and useless, can’t even stop herself from falling over a coat on the floor. Tara sucked in her breath and stood upright as the barb of pain slightly relieved its grasp. She made her way to the fridge, at least she knew she was good for one thing, filling the ice cube trays. She seemed to be the only one who remembered, or at least, the only one to remember to wash the tray and then fill them back up. Just because they had a cat didn’t mean they had to drink its fur. Goosebumps pickled on Tara’s skin as the chill of the fridge-freezer layered over her. She tapped out a hand full of cubes and pressed them against her open would, first came the shock then came the irritation of melting ice and blood mixing and trickling into her eye.

Her surroundings blurred as she closed the fridge door. Still pressing the ice against her head she tried her best to slot in her cast to brush away the unwanted liquid in her eye. As her vision cleared she noticed a black and white blur to her left. She turned to it, testing if it was something there or blotches in her eye sight. All Willow needed now was a blind, crazy, useless girlfriend. Tara tested varying squints, winks and blinks but the black and white remained. It was moving but not with her eye movements. The world came back into focus as she was greeted by Miss Kitty sitting on the kitchen floor, licking herself. Miss Kitty noticed her presence was known when her eyes met her owners, right at the moment her tongue finished its path from privates to the zenith of her outstretched leg.

Miss Kitty slowly lowered her leg while her tongue rimmed around her mouth, savouring her body delights. Once done, she cocked her head at the witch, then pounced once more.

The flinch was instantaneous from the moment Tara saw Miss Kitty move. Why her flinch involved opening the fridge door, she did not know but was grateful as she watched the mitten missile fly directly into the icy domain. Without thought, Tara seamlessly closed the door just as Miss Kitty started to thrash about among the chilled goods. Tara backed away from the fridge, what was done was done. She hadn’t purposefully gone out of her way to trap Miss Kitty in there but if she knew the cat was there then these sinister shenanigans should stop and Tara could wait it out until Willow came home.

THUD!

Or until Miss Kitty breaks out.

THUD!

Tara’s brain started to make up for lost time. If she held the door shut them she would be actively responsible for killing a living creature but if she didn’t and Miss Kitty broke out then there was no knowing who would get hurt. What if this wasn’t Miss Kitty and something else again, or not real and all a figment of her imagination. Or the milk’s turned bad. That was the possible concussion talking.

THUD!

The fridge door barely rattled in the last hit. The four ice cubes in Tara’s hand were now melted nubs numbing her palms. Tara’s nails dug in deep as she clenched her hand staring at the door for any more movements. Her breaths came out hard in a mixture of adrenaline and exertion. The kitchen appliances’ hummed with power, normally a sound that people become noise blind too due to it always being present however Tara had her hearing sense dialled up to eleven. The slightest egg crack or scratch of a carton and Tara would have to make her decision to keep the door closed or flee.

Clocks ticked away as Tara stood waiting. The fridge remained still. What would Willow think if she came home to her girlfriend staring at a fridge? Every single time Tara thought there was a dead body in the house tonight, it had disappeared, what’s to say this time was different? Tara crept towards the fridge. One check, she would look, know Miss Kitty is still there and then she wouldn’t look crazy when Willow came home. She will explain that their cat is in the fridge and that she is not fretting about an imaginary eye blur in the fridge. Maybe not so convincing on the ‘not crazy’ front.

She kept at an arm’s length distance as she slowly cracked open the door. The tips of her fingers, still numb from the chill of the ice, tapered off from the handle as she allowed the door to steadily swing open on its own momentum. The door passed her, giving her a glimpse of the white plastic walls being illuminated in a yellow tinge from the opening light that alternated between flickering and buzzing. On the centre shelf, curled up with torn open chocolate pudding cups was Tara’s pet turned tormentor. Tara dared not to touch her but had no doubt she would be cold to the touch because fridges had a tendency to do that to its contents. Plus the chocolate smeared over Miss Kitty’s face was a lethal amount for a cat to ingest.

Guilt washed over Tara. She had actually done it this time. She didn’t spoon feed the pudding to Miss Kitty but she was definitely responsible for putting her in the position to get to the pudding. No different to putting an addict in front of their vice. Willow would have known a spell to quell Miss Kitty instead of shutting her inside a fridge. Useless without and with a mind. Tara’s head forked with pain again but this time she allowed the pain to punish her, a small mercy compared to the pain she had caused her sneaky kitty. She closed her eyes trying to focus on all the pain she could, unexpectedly it did bring more pain as she felt her hand erupt into pins and needles.

Miss Kitty sank her claws deep into Tara’s hand. Tara flapped her arm trying to dislodge the cat dangling from her extremity as gently as she could. She couldn’t cause her pet anymore harm. Miss Kitty yanked out one set of claws and embedded it in the softness of Tara’s inner arm. Tara cried out in pain as blood seeped from around the new claw marks. Miss kitty repeated the action, treating the girl as nothing more than a rock climbing wall. Tara’s feet felt the crunch of broken plates under her soles, pain shooting up her legs with each retreating step until her back slammed against the wall. She had to get Miss Kitty off her but she was incapacitated with her feet roaring in agony.

The stove to her right was still warm from boiling the kettle, she couldn’t try to pry Miss Kitty off her on there, there was no way she was going to burn her cat, no matter how much the feline ploughed her claws in. To her left was the microwave, conveniently with the door ajar. At least with this containment she had a window to keep an eye on Miss Kitty to know she was in there. With that Tara started to wallop her arm into the microwave, pushing the cat off her with her cast covered hand, trying not to punch Miss Kitty but enough force to discourage her from her path upwards. That’s what she thought anyway, but thought hadn’t been her strong point tonight, one punch to the nose and Miss Kitty declawed from her new favourite climbing wall and found the glass door knocking her back into the confined space that was grimed with the grease and stench of reheated pizza. Miss Kitty was growing tired of doors.

Tara slid down the wall bringing her knees into her chest. Shards of plate rubble from the floor crunched in the gaps of her toes. She wanted nice shaved feet, now she had scab covered feet to scrape against Willow at night. One nice thing she could have done, now just another issue added to the list. She grimaced as she removed and brushed off any debris she could. Maybe she could pass off the blood as red nail varnish. No, Willow would know, she always knew. Tara would never forget the face Willow made when she first saw the scars, Tara pretended she didn’t see but the sorrow that ruminated so deeply in those emerald eyes had haunted her thoughts. They yowled an ache that hurt her more than Tara when she had carved them. Tara glared at her wounded arms peppered with puncture marks, would Willow believe these were self-inflicted? Tara had seen those eyes too much recently, she couldn’t do it to her again.

Evidence, she had evidence. Tara flung herself onto her knees coming face first with a spray of burst blister juice. Fortunately the glass screen kept Tara spray free. Unfortunately the microwave was humming away as the timer ticked down. Why does every appliance hum? Why can’t they have different coded noises to listen out for? And why does Dawn never cancel the timer after removing her food before the ping? Miss kitty’s skin blistered over erupted blisters, her skin ripping layer by layer. The dry heat penetrating through her system, the only moisture came from each blister burst, sizzling as it hit the crisping body. Tara scrambled with the dials trying to stop the damned contraption but each pop made her mind scream with conflict. No succulent pig caramelising its cracking but instead a sore bile obstructed view of her raw red and pink skinned cat. Tara let out a sigh of relief as the adrenaline left her body at the sight of 3 seconds to spare. Miss Kitty did the same, symbolically, as her eyeballs withered back, leaving empty eye sockets gawping out the microwave door. A door Tara vowed not to open, she had learnt her mistake, but through point of principle she cleared the timer for the next user.

Every part of Tara’s body ached. Each step was effort. She made her way to the front door, she had lost all hope that it would open for her and so simply turned and looked into the lounge. The TV was a blank screen, no static to soothe her. The coffee table was likely irreparable and she didn’t even have the decency to hang her coat up. Her body argued with her as she bent over to pick up her coat. She could clean that up at least. Having it bunched up on the floor wasn’t really tying the room together. Tara placed her banana peel identifying coat on the rack and looked back to confirm it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

A short scratch sounded on the front door, barely audible to the ear but that’s what made it worse for Tara. She should ignore it but she couldn’t. There was no way Miss Kitty could get out of the house, she was in the microwave, steaming in her own juices. She wasn’t falling for anymore mind games. Her body hurt, her head pounded and her nerves were shattered. There was nothing else her dysfunctional brain could do to her. None of this was real. None of it. She accepted she was in the house but as for anything else it wasn’t real. Tara rambled back to the kitchen door to look in. her eyes were met with the sight she left, two hollow eye sockets. She wasn’t sure who wore it better whatever her mind was telling her was Miss Kitty in the microwave or the Barbie in the floorboard burial ground upstairs.

The scratches grew louder as Tara stood firm at the bottom of the stairs with her arms folded and eyes shut tight. It wasn’t real, Willow would come home and tell her what had happened. She couldn’t trust herself but Willow was the only thing in the world she trusted impeccably. She was her safe haven, no trickery, Willow wouldn’t do that, especially knowing every torment Tara had gone through since childhood. They weren’t easy conversations to have but they got through them, just like she would get through this. The scratches were a cacophony circling the house. One scratch would come from the back, followed closely by the front. The sides, under the floorboards, the whole house scraping at different pitches and lengths. Overlapping leading to the crescendo of a smashed plate. A smashed plate from upstairs.

Dawn’s room. Tara hefted herself up the stairs and slumped around the hole of resting dolls. The door to Dawn’s room was wide open giving a great view of a teenage dream pad. Clothes piled up on the floor and across the bed, posters limped off the wall needing some tape to keep it up but no doubt a job that can be done later. A later that never comes, much like the plates that’s stacked on the desk. Flies did figures of eight spoilt with choice for what rotten food remnants they could devour or lay eggs on. The window was opened a crack but locked in place. Enough space for a bluebottle to limbo through, really helping rid that last week’s Chinese takeaway smell. Tara tripped but managed to catch herself from falling over. She picked up what smelt like a never washed gym sweater. Unknown to Tara it was actually acting as a cloche to the loaded crossbow discarded on the floor with no more care than the CDs left open and strewn about. No organisation, the disks not even in the plastic casings that were also strewn across the floor. Through all the mess Tara couldn’t even tell where the CD player was, who know what Dawn was doing with these disks, maybe she thought they would work like bait for when the CD player gets hungry for the auto tune siren of boy bands. Tara should have backed Willow up earlier, especially as Tara knew Dawn was expecting her to do it all while she was out. Dawn wasn’t a malicious person when she played on Tara’s guilt. Tara knew Dawn forgave her but expecting her to clean up this, it made Tara question that forgiveness.

The question was pushed aside as the lilt of music floated through the house. The tickle of piano keys played alongside a gathering of brass wind instruments. Tara’s body wanted to sway with the swing. Her gait falling in step with the tempo of the music. As much as she tried to rationalise and reason why music was playing, she found her mind clearing with each addition to the music until the vocals cleared and Tara found herself standing in the centre of the lounge, a broken coffee table behind her and Miss Kitty in front. Dawn’s CD player sat nearby, the power cord in ribbons from what Tara assumed was Miss Kitty’s fondness for chewing wires. All Tara could do was stand and watch as Miss Kitty sauntered closer and then stepped backwards as if dancing along with the song.


I'd tried so, not to give in
I said to myself this affair never will go so well
But why should I try to resist when baby I know so well
I've got you under my skin



Miss Kitty gave a little jump back revealing Tara’s small pleasure. Five settings with a vacuum into a convenient storage holder that could easily fit in the palm of the witch’s hand. Miss Kitty unscrewed the parts, opening up to the dead skin flakes inside, all while giving a sultry look that suggested it was a sordid scandal that betrayed unspoken trust, coaxed in sexy secrecy.


I'd sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear



Miss Kitty splayed her paw up for Tara to see and in a disturbingly sensual way, dredged her hand into the shavings.


Don't you know, little fool
You never can win



Bringing the paw up to her face, Miss Kitty forcibly smeared the shavings into her fur. Claws dug in causing the flakes to mix with the warm liquid and deepen into the wounds.


Use your mentality
Wake up to reality
But each time that I do just the thought of you
Makes me stop before I begin
'Cause I've got you under my skin



The swing coursed through Miss Kitty as she moved to and fro, shifting her weight to different paws as she dipped into and wiped on herself, more shavings. The music kicked up into full swing as saxophones and trumpets belted out pure exuberance. Taken by the sound Miss Kitty threw the container up into the air. Shavings and water showered down over her. She frolicked in unadulterated ecstasy, lost in the enjoyment such as a child playing in winter’s first snowfall. Her tongue even stuck out into the air as the electric mains flowed through her. Her wet paw making contact with the stripped power cord caused a small fluctuation in the power grid resulting in the lights flickering twice. The ecstasy remained on the kitten’s features as her stiff, fried corpse thumped to the ground, smoothing out the spikes of smoking fur.

Tara’s knees gave way under the sheer weight of her mental melee. Why couldn’t she ever be normal, a day without her sanity being challenged. A thought that was her own and not a deceitful coercion. To remember a single day of her own mental control was a needle in a haystack. Days of being told what she was and every bit of harm she would do to the people around her. The lies she believed in herself that never left even after the truth was revealed. Now she had her seemingly immortal pet cat dancing menacingly, while covering itself in recently harvested foot shavings. Every day was its own torture in maintaining a decorum that everything was fine when she was just one wrong turn in her thought track to bring horrifying nightmares into her awake consciousness. It was a lie. All of it a lie. Symbols clashed at the height of the instrumental as Tara weaved her fingers into her hair and dug in her nails. Her plaster of Paris encased hand trying unsuccessfully to follow suit, instead ended up bashing her head, each pound sending its own clash of symbols through her brain. The relief and joy of Willow returning her mind. It never happened, this was all a trick. Another way the cracks in her crippled mind was trying to make her fall further and further down the rabbit hole. The temptation of perceived reality that she couldn’t resist. How could she have a stable home and loving family, even then it comes at a price. Her own mind knowing that she wouldn’t accept happiness without a terrible price.


I would sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats how it yells in my ear



Miss Kitty’s eyes burst open, rigor mortis dissipating. Air filled her lungs as her life revivified itself. Energetic vigour surged through reawakening movement. Miss Kitty sprang up onto the wall, her feline flash speed, skimming over the wallpaper as she circumvented past the oblivious mess of a human. Weak prey gave Miss Kitty no moral dilemma, only opportunity for a successful kill and she was going to enjoy it. Miss Kitty pounced onto the curtain hoping to bounce off at a trajectory that will directly land her on Tara’s back. The angle was executed with precision but the manufacture of the curtain rails was not. The rail fell, the curtains clung to Miss Kitty, as if trying to prevent its removal from its destined partner, the window. Built up momentum faded fast. Miss Kitty twisted in an ill-fated attempt to remove the material burden however a thick stake of the coffee table carnage punctured through her skin, muscles, ligaments and organs. Wood filled her insides, splintering off inside her as she slid down, the universes act of revenge on behalf of every scratched piece of furniture. Her final death rattled purr gave away her impulsive, virtually stealthy actions to the witch beside her.


Don't you know, little fool
You never can win
Why not use your mentality
Step up, wake up to reality
But each time I do just the thought of you
Makes me stop just before I begin
'Cause I've got you under my skin
Yes, I've got you under my skin



Tara halted her self-imposed physical bombardment by way of a flinch as a Kitty kebab appeared beside her. The flinch transitioned in a scurry backwards on all fours. Nothing was real. None of this is real. Her eyes remained wide, mouth broadening into a smile as short bursts of laughter broke out from her as she continued reversing. Her bum bumped into the table bringing her retreat and restraint to an end as she contorted on the dining room floor belly laughing. With no tears left to give, she could give in to the madness. Never had a sound of happiness felt so misplaced yet perfectly methodical in expression to her. Nothing had to make sense though. It wasn’t real. She was real but that in itself had always been nothing and that just made her laugh harder. Her life a joke she finally found funny.

Clicks from the table top sounded in between Tara’s gasps for air, gaining her attention. She manoeuvred herself onto her knees, gripping the table edge to hoist herself up. Her head popped up with the enthusiasm of a mole in a whack-a-mole game, coming face to face with her entertainment for the evening.

“Is this because we didn’t call you Trixie?” Content with her question she pulled out the chair and plonked herself down. Might as well make herself comfortable. No point messing up her knees to match her mind. Tara oohed as Miss Kitty stretched over the table and slammed her paw down and dragged it all the way across the table between them. One deep line clawed into the smooth top. “Is that one for yes? Or one for no? Wanna fetch the Ouija board?” Tara leaned back laughing at her faux pas, cats don’t fetch that’s dogs, silly thoughts.

Metal dragged against the table. A revolver sat in front of Miss Kitty. Her paw resting on the curve of the handle. The shiny cylinder open to reveal only one cartridge in a chamber. When Miss Kitty saw Tara’s attention return she slammed down her other paw locking in the cylinder and then nudged the weapon towards the witch with little nose nudges.

All the laughter froze and melted away leaving nothing but the extreme sobering of fear. When the gun reached the centre of the table, Miss Kitty pushed against the barrel causing the revolver to spin. They both watched, bodies tense as the barrel pointed in their direction, ultimately coming to a slow stop in Miss Kitty’s direction. Miss Kitty lowered her head and indicated for Tara to pick up the weapon. She would be the decider of their fates.

The world seemed to slow but enhanced all at the same time. Tara could see every pant of Miss KittyFantastico, lungs expanding and then emptying. Expanding and then emptying. Expanding then emptying. Why did she even go with that name? Tara’s heart thumped harder and faster the closer she got to the handle. Beat beat, beat beat, beat beat. A mirroring shake in her hand making the increasing rhythm visible. Dawn’s CD player in the other room continued to repeat the same song.


Don't you know, little fool
You never can win
Why not use your mentality
Step up, wake up to reality



The reality very real as she picked up the revolver keeping the barrel pointed down toward the table. It was cold in her hand. No life, no hum of a machine, no clanking of gears, no comfort of a plastic grip, only the industrial body. This was a human tool for destruction, a designed projectile to bring nothing but pain and sorrow masked in the delusional lie of protection, worn as a fashion. Tara didn’t know any form of protection that felt like this.


But each time I do just the thought of you


Excitable, intelligent, powerful, scared, hot headed, brave, beautiful and optimistic. That was Tara’s protection wrapped in a tiny red headed girl. That protection wasn’t cold. It was the warmest she had ever felt and warmth she had never truly felt in her life. It was so much more than a nice pair of socks, a thick blanket and roaring fire. It was a feeling from deep within that let her know she was worth something, she wasn’t a joke or pathetic. She didn’t need to pretend she was fine, even if she wasn’t then Willow would be there and still love her.


Makes me stop just before I begin


Tara thumbed the hammer and rose the man made monstrosity. The cold she felt of the gun extending up her arm and into her chest. She lined up the barrel to Miss Kitty with the strength of Atlas holding up the world. She couldn’t do this. Real or not real, Miss Kitty’s life meant something. She kept the name Miss KittyFantasico because it created a smile on Willow’s face every time she said the name, Tara would see the corners of her beloved’s lips upturn and it made her entire existence lift. No matter how bad a day they had, that one smile would reset everything. Warmth spread across Tara’s body turning to feverish levels, expelling the cold as she pointed the gun at herself.


'Cause I've got you under my skin


That’s all she was now. Skin. What purpose did her life now hold? What state was she in physically if this was her mentality? Tara has seen the crazies at the hospital, restrained with leather straps, drugged up with catatonic levels only to scream and ramble nonsense. Her head thundered again with pain, a thought she was trying to avoid but it broke free. Willow left her. Yes, that’s right. They had an argument, that’s why Willow wasn’t at the fair. Oh god. This is why her mind tricked her with the past few weeks of relative domestic bliss. Moving in together, Willow fixing her, her friends caring about her even when Buffy was dead. How could she have believed all that? But then again she should have, believing her girlfriends best friend to be dead so she could gain Willow for herself, have Dawn look up to her for protection and help instead of her hero big sister. Stealing a family, that’s what Tara did, she caused pain and sorrow. She had evil inside her and it hurt people for her own gain.


Yes, I've got you under my skin


She was no different to the gun in her hand. Nothing she could provide would be good. She added less value to life than a silly name that puts a smile of Willow’s face. All night her mind had been trying to kill her and she wasn’t getting it but now she did. For the first time in what felt like eternity Tara’s mind was clear, calm.

Tara fired the gun.

“TARA!” Willow purposely but gently shook the whimpering girl curled up on the bed with tears flooding her cheeks.

Tara jumped in response, her eyes flying in every direction trying to gather her surroundings until they locked on to glamourous green looking right back at her. Sobs burst from her as she turned into the cradling arms embracing her. The soothing beat of Willow’s heart calming the sobs as Tara pressed her head against her lover’s chest, embracing the life that radiated from her. The warmth.

“Shh shh, you’re okay baby. You’re okay.” A quiet whisper repeated in between kisses on her girlfriends head.

The repeating statement didn’t give Tara the same warmth as the embrace. She knew the words were heartfelt but her lies repelled that warmth. She wasn’t okay, she wasn’t fine. Tara pushed away shaking her head, keeping it low to avoid eye contact. All but a croak broke free. “I’m not.”

Willow ran her thumbs across Tara’s cheeks to wipe away the waterworks. She kept her voice quiet and reassuring “Hey, I had to use the spare key.” Before Tara could apologise Willow continued “That means you tried to deal. We talked about this, if you need to lock the door and come to our room to feel safe. It’s good. It means you’re taking control.” She ended with a little smile.

Everything wasn’t alright but that smile told Tara all she needed, it will be. “Yeah?”

“Yeah” punctuating her certainty with a kiss full of passion and pride.

Tara broke away as she felt a presence leap on the bed. Blurry eyed and producing a yawn of jaw disjointing quality, Miss Kitty made it known she was rudely awakened with a low purr. Panic struck all senses as Tara scrambled up the bed pressing against the head board. “S-s-s-stay b-back.”

The stutter in Tara’s voice threw Willow off, why was she acting so strange? It was only Miss Kitty. Willow picked but the cat in her arms and rested her on thigh to let miss kitty sit on her lap. “Baby, It’s Miss Kitty she won’t hurt you.” The red head picked up a paw and waved it with childlike glee.

All Tara saw was a sinister wave of foreboding doom and endless torment. The voices, she could hear the voices. She huddled up, her head in her knees as her arms sheltered above. “No, no, no.” Tara rocked with each no but resisted the urge in her to try and knock out the voices, they would go. They would leave because they don’t belong in her head any more. Take control, that’s what Willow said. She was taking control.

A gentle knock sounded at the door. Dawn shared a concerned look with Willow. “Hey.” She tried her best to withhold the worried tone to her voice but her guilt made it hard to supress it. It was her fault Tara went through all of this and now she was still suffering while trying to look after her. She shouldn’t have gone tonight, she did it for Tara and Willow but she knew if she left something bad would happen. It always did.

“Dawn can you take Miss Kitty to your room for the night. I don’t think she’s done anything but.” She nodded her head towards Tara.

“Uh huh. I’ll make some of that herbal tea Giles Britished out about too.” Willow exchanged an encouraging smile as she passed over the feline.

“We can talk about what you got up to. Was it boys? I’m not sure we’re qualified for boy talks yet. Should we be getting you protection?”

“Whoa, I’ll just go put Fantastico away. TV. We could watch TV.” Dawn backed out of the room pulling the door closed. Exactly like having two moms.

Willow sat back against the headboard and tucked in towards Tara making sure her whispers could be heard through everything Tara was currently experiencing. “You don’t have to be fine. I still love you.” She wrapped her arms around her girl and joined in with the rocking. She believed Tara would get through this, she could overcome anything. If only she could do the same.

A shout came from the other room as Dawn fell to the floor. Miss Kitty screeched as the crossbow twanged. The witches shot up from their huddle, eyes besmirched in horror in witness to a bolt head penetrating their adjoining door. Crimson soaking the carpet.



The End.


Dedicated to June 8th 1984.
On this day in the USA my all time favourite film, Gremlins, was released in theatres along side another favourite Ghostbusters. What a day to go to the cinema.

Now to get Amber to act this out, ill direct and join the June 8th Horror/Comedy classics.

_________________
One Shots - Basement Grotto - Door 25 - "You're My Always" - "Do You Like Cats?"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - Pens Write A Holiday Story
Existing at some point, maybe - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: "Do You Like Cats?"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:48 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:01 am
Posts: 544
Dibs! :whip
I'm a bit torn about the story. The sixth deaths of Miss Kitty in Tara's nightmare were just gross and I could have done without the detailed descriptions. And that Miss Kitty lost her (last) life in reality via crossbow bolt made me sad (although it was true to canon, if I recall correctly). Rest in peace Miss Kitty! :kitty

I liked the humour scattered between the horror, especially this line:
Quote:
“Is this because we didn’t call you Trixie?”


How you described Tara's shaken mental state was brilliant. My heart ached for her and I just wanted to hug her and tell her that everything will be okay. I'm glad that Willow did that in the end and that it helped Tara to some extent, but that girl has still a long way to go to overcome all the traumas of her life. Frankly she's in dire need of professional therapy but I don't expect she'll get it.

I'm looking forward to more stories out of the "Justice for Tara Maclay"-arc but I'd personally prefer them with much less gore.


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 Post subject: Re: Will's redemption Feedback.
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2022 9:05 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 635
Topics: 69
Thankyou for the feedback.

Quote:
I'm looking forward to more stories out of the "Justice for Tara Maclay"-arc but I'd personally prefer them with much less gore.

No worries about gore in 'The Justice For Tara Maclay' series. It wouldn't fit the tone of the series. while "Do you Like Cats?" could possibly be taken as a substitute part of the series, it is not.
The crossbow incident plays out completely different in it (no death), while I haven't worked out the entirety of the The Gift - The Bargaining section of the series, I am sure that a main theme is grief throughout it and there are many different forms of grief that do not require gore and death.
While i float some ideas of character emotions during that time in this, its not necessarily what will be happening, I'm still a long way off writing that part and it is the part I am the most excited about and feel a massive responsibility with handling as it feels like a time period of massive Injustice for Tara's character arc to go from no mind to running about on patrol cracking jokes with Spike and Giles.

Quote:
The sixth deaths of Miss Kitty in Tara's nightmare were just gross and I could have done without the detailed descriptions

I liked the humour scattered between the horror

How you described Tara's shaken mental state was brilliant


Thankyou for your compliments.

I'm really pleased you picked up on these three points though because when writing this story I took a three pronged approach.

Gore - Horror aesthetic
Miss Kitty - absurdity for humour but also a metaphor(ill explain below)
Tara's state of mind - The real horror of the piece.

Ill start by saying I don't read horrors, which is probably a mistake on this. I watched a lot of horrors to get the tone for this story though which is why the gore(on the surface) was overly graphic because in films, its overly graphic. not defending the use, if its too much for the story, I accept its too much for the story.

I only have a desire to write for Tara and it was a real point of trouble for me because I really wanted to try my hand at horror to counteract all the mushy emotional, lovey dove-y stuff most Tara story's are (not an insult, different preferences.) Most horror girls fight back. I couldn't work out Tara fighting back against a murderous enemy. I don't see her falling into the same idiotic practices horror film girls fall into, running up stairs, not leaving the house, not hanging up and calling for help etc. But then I thought a later series six Tara could possibly fight back if its protecting someone, like she did the demon in the bargaining but I'm currently writing that era of Tara for 'Justice for Tara Maclay' series. I want something different to break it up. So thought what if she wasn't of sound mind and fell naturally to mindless Tara.

Then when it came to the villain of the piece I thought about the classics, Freddie Kruger, Michael Myers, Pamela Voorhees (Jason sucks), the girl from the ring. I could have had a slasher demon but it doesn't work, or at least I felt it didn't work. all these bad guys have a personal attachment to their original victims and each one quite tragic at its core, taking away all context. Murdered, traumatised, death of her son, ultimate neglect.
Then there is Church in Pet Semetary. again the horror in Pet semetary is the grief, not the resurrection.
I was reading interviews of Stephen King and he says he is scared of everything and that while he uses supernatural elements his fear is rooted in the human aspect. Which changed my mind to what I was trying to do with this piece. I didn't have to worry about a demon.

That settled me on Mindless Tara having to be the era of Tara I chose, but I already wrote "You're My Always" this year. So I pushed it forward to recovering mindless Tara because its a big time of transition, Buffy is dead (eliminating a natural horror hero), she has moved in with Willow and is looking after Dawn and somehow Tara finds all this confidence.

The murderer always 'dies' in the end, so I thought about who is originally tied to Tara but is expendable. Miss Kitty. Contrary to what people think, I did not want to write graphic cat deaths for the sake of writing graphic cat deaths. It needs a purpose however this purpose didn't occur to me until I was a way through writing the story.

I have left it purposefully ambiguous because its up to the reader what they see but I have placed three options in the story as to why Miss Kitty is doing what she is doing.
1- Cats are passive arseholes.
2- Miss Kitty blames Tara for the hair brush situation.
3- Its not Miss Kitty instead its a metaphor for intrusive thoughts.

For me the purpose is intrusive thoughts. They start off as something quite simple and comforting and you let them in thinking nothing of it. but the thoughts persist and grow more aggressive and in your face until there's no escaping them, every turn and they are there.

What I wanted to say with this piece is how hard it is on a daily basis to cope with these thoughts. Sometimes they are fine and other times its all you can think about. This whole piece is probably 2 hours, if that, for Tara. In this time she does try coping techniques, such as locking the door, trying to busy herself, having a shower, getting a cup of tea. That is her fight back, trying to do every day things without Miss Kitty winning but its so easy to make mistakes and slip up. For the most part when Tara hurt Miss Kitty it was an accident because to her she is seeing Miss Kitty but in her head she kind of knows its not Miss Kitty. which like intrusive thoughts you cant always identify them for what they are.
This is why half way through she does admit she needs Willow and her thoughts turn more to her. sometimes you need to say the thoughts out loud to determine what they really are (therapy) but the thoughts twist and fight back using Willow as ammo to break down Tara.

Despite having an infinity of strength, I thought its important to show no one is invincible and infallible, the relentless bombardment will break anyone.

The methods of death in the story are also not just there for the sake of it. Okay the microwave is a nod to the kitchen scene in Gremlins and there are a lot of nods throughout to different horrors. But I knew the whole time the horror aesthetic was a dream ( I wasn't lazy with the ending) So I needed things to tap into Tara's mind and I'm always intrigued by Series 4 Tara intuition/sixth sense to things to come. Series five she expresses an interest in palm reading and she practices Tarot reading. I wanted aspects in there which was this intuition of what's to come. Gun a obvious one but it never happened. the bath - flooded, under your skin - once more with feeling, fridge - freeze ray in gone, Barbie burial ground - Buffy and Dawn fighting in The Grave, leading to hitting Miss Kitty down the stairs - Tara falling down the stairs in normal again. Garbage disposal - cherry pie lady in Double Meat Palace. Coffee table stake - Willows stake through Tara's heart.(some metaphors are metaphors)
If she is experimenting with reading the future I think its its only plausible for her to have knowledge of the future in her head but she has no idea what it is and the intrusive thoughts take all the attention so she cant focus on these things that could possibly help her down the line.

Subtly is not my forte so I tried my hand at misdirection, on the surface you have a horror slasher but the real story is Tara's struggle.

I tried to bring this home with the ending. each girl having their own struggles so they aren't alone but each one feels completely isolated with them. That is 'the killer isn't dead' moment that happens at the end of the film but because making things a dream is often a cop out, I had to Kill Miss Kitty for real. So that one was decided on story balance but also the fact that it was an accident. they had no control over what happened and it brings home the vulnerability of life even if cats do apparently have nine lives ( there are eight dream deaths, a intuition countdown by Tara). One life isn't easy as each girl is experiencing. The blood on the carpet I felt on screen would look good to fill the screen red and have the credits roll but can also work as foreshadowing but it never happened so no idea what its foreshadowing.

This is why I chose "Do You Like Cats?" as the title. While it's an innocent question I feel the fandom has completely taken this to symbolise a deeper meaning of commitment. So on the surface its, do you like cats because you either will or wont depending on who you root for reading this and it indicates there's a deeper meaning to the story and if using the metaphor, its a question of do you like living like this? and that plays into the over arching character development of the story of Tara trying to keep strong and claiming she is fine, to admitting she really isn't fine, to herself and to Willow.

Do I feel I utilised subtext to present this purpose? no but then again, when I know the purpose I know what I'm looking for so its easier to see. Which is why your honest feedback is useful.

Quote:
Frankly she's in dire need of professional therapy but I don't expect she'll get it.
No need for therapy when you're written by Buffy series writers, the plot dictates where the character is. who needs naturally progressing believable characterisation when they're only a side piece to the main plot point, err I mean the partner of a core character.

Thankyou for taking the time to read and give feedback. It's much appreciated.

_________________
One Shots - Basement Grotto - Door 25 - "You're My Always" - "Do You Like Cats?"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - Pens Write A Holiday Story
Existing at some point, maybe - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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