The Door to Everywhere

The aroma of lavender and chamomile tea floats through the smoky air. In her worn recliner Beatrice enjoys the last gulps from her mug as the embers of last’s night’s fire die out. He glares at the ceramic in her wrinkled hands; cursing the cartoonish cat plastered over the surface. Every time she pulls the cup from the cupboard, she makes a spectacle their resemblance. As if that ugly graphic can depict the majesty encased in his luminous black coat. His whiskers are smooth and elegant, not gawky, and misshapen. His golden eyes sparkle in the full moon’s light, while the idiot on the cup looks like he jabbed his paw into a socket.

“Now Lucifer my heart, I’m off to market for a few hours. Keep watch over the cottage while I’m gone. And if you’re a good kitty, I’ll bring home a treat.”

“What if I’m mediocre?” He stretches from the cat bed beside the fire, “does that still merit a sticky bun?” She winks pulling a plaid shawl over her grey curls; disrupting the pink hoop earrings in the process. Placing her handbag and basket are over her arm, she strokes his head and says goodbye.

The chirping robins summon the morning rays through the lace curtains. He stretches again, digging his claws into the fleece fabric. His day begins with the usual rounds, inspecting each small room on both floors. She’s a tidy roommate, not a wayward sock in sight. He nods at the spider in the corner of the reading room; an alliance formed long ago. As long as the archaeid keeps the flies from the cream, the freeloader stays.

He descends the stairs when a strange squeak pierces the stillness. A loose step, he mutters to himself. Surely no mouse dares to invade his home. Such a trespass is inexcusable. Another step, but this time it comes from the kitchen. Well, he better enjoy his freedom while it lasts. He slinks over the stairs, around baskets of yarn and hugs the wall until he reaches the kitchen. A grey fluff ball scurries from under the chair legs and vanishes through a crack in the pantry door.

His stealthy paw pulls the pantry door ajar. Slipping behind a sack of potatoes he follows the invader to a tiny plum coloured door. Curious, he muses, how long has this been here? He pries the wooden entrance open and peers into the darkness. An aroma of sulfate and metal greets his twitching nose. Pushing his face, his shoulders and finally the tip of his tail onwards, he passes through the gateway. His sleek body contorts to fit the narrow passageway. But he follows the shimmering light ahead of him until he emerges at the top of a winding stone staircase.

A pulsing galaxy of stars swirl around him; the backsplash of inky blues drip into a vibrant rainbow. Stretching across the abyss are miles of shifting staircases connecting hundreds of portals. Each one twisting this way and that until they reach a stone archway. Every portal is unique. Some have colours leaking into the starry sky. Others are dark or shut completely. But the one that catches his eye vibrates with shimmering coral sheen. And standing before the entrance is an ancient warrior with a sword in his hand.

His tail flicks in anticipation as he races over the steps. Reaching the warrior as he leaps through the shivering portal. With nothing better to do, he pushes against the thick film. Squeezing past a jelly substance until his feet touch something soft. Pollen clings to his whiskers as he strolls over the lush grass. The warrior, in mythic leather armor and helmet, held his hilt as he trudges over the terrain. Only stopping when he reaches a cave at the side of a rocky mountain.

The stench of sulfate and rotten eggs makes his fur curl. They descend deeper into the cave, until a rhythmic vibration shudders under his paws. The passage opens into a wide room where sunlight cascades from a crack in the ceiling. Casting a spotlight on the sleeping beast in the center. Mountainous in size, plastered with smooth scales is the largest dragon Lucifer ever saw.

 His whiskers scrunch as the sword screeches from its sheath. The dragon’s tail flicks but he doesn’t notice the weapon. What is this human doing? The warrior approaches, as stealthily as a bipedal human can, and reaches the snout. Two twisting strands of smoke dance from its wide nostrils. With the sword poised high in the air; hanging dangerously over his head, the warrior waits. The world seems to stop, the ground falls still as two red eyes shoot wide open.

It’s gapping mouth unleashes a brilliant fire burst. They singe the tips of his whiskers and lick the slick crystalline walls. The warrior doesn’t cower, his sword pulses with a blinding light that cuts through the flames. It inches closer to the snout as the two face off in a battle of strength. But a flick of the dragon’s tail pulls Lucifer’s attention. Like a thick worm it snakes behind the warrior. His paws vibrate as adrenaline courses through his veins. Poised at the edge of the rock, his butt wiggles to expel the pent-up energy. Three, two, one. He leaps through the air wrapping his claws around the tail’s tip; sinking his sharp teeth into the hide.

Lucifer spins this way and that, as the tail flails from one end of the cave to the other. Five of his nine lives zoom across his eyes. From kitten to magical familiar his life swirls around him in a dizzy haze. Until something grips his neck and rips him from the circus ride from hell. The cave shudders, the dragon’s outrage evident, as the roars echo around them. The stranger tucks him under one arm and dashes past the crumbling stones. But he’s safe, snuggled between the stiff leather armor. A scent of lavender and sage floats among wisps of chestnut locks tumbling from the helmet.

“You’re a brave kitty aren’t you,” a playful voice giggles from under the helmet. The leather gloves slip from the hand, revealing rainbow polish on each delicate nail. The helmet comes off, allowing long curls to tumble over the broad shoulder pads. She tucks a lock behind a jingling hooped earring before reaching for his collar.  “Ah Lucifer, very suiting. You definitely earned your kitty treats today.”  Her smile was contagious, mixed with sincerity and a playful smirk.  When she leans in to place a delicate kiss on his head, he breathes in her scent. A wave of flowers and tea engulfs him.

“Beatrice?” He whispers as she waves goodbye, disappearing over a flight of moving stairs. “It can’t be…”

A chill crawls over his spine to the tip of his tail, a signal indicating his witch is almost home. He searches among the possibilities until he spies the grey mouse bouncing over the stairs. He follows the trespasser to the top of the steps where it slips through the miniature plum door. Pushing his cheeks through the narrow hole, he squeezes through the passageway. Returning to the familiar pantry as the bell over the front door jingles. He shuts the door and reaches the living room as his witch drops her shopping basket by her favorite chair.

“My my Lucifer, aren’t we eager today?” She scratches his ears, moving her violet tipped fingers to his chin. “Did you miss me? I missed you. Were you a good boy while I was gone?”

She carries her overflowing basket to the kitchen where she spills vegetables, fruits, tea tins and herbs over the counter. She hums as he studies her aging form, in her youth she could have been taller. He watches the tacky earrings he hates, jingle as she moves.  But what if they were on the ears of a rebellious youth who combines fashion with adventuring? A phantom of the woman she might have been hovers above the surface.

“Beatrice?” But he pauses, as if he’s about to trespass on sacred ground.

“Yes, my heart?” Her raspy voice revealing a tenderness set aside for a rare few. The truth skirts in the air hovering between reality and make belief. What was real anyway, the magic of the door or the woman before him?

“Beatrice… I mean…did you bring me a sticky bun?”