Originally published by F. Tennyson Neely in 1895.
Also published online by The Project Gutenberg
Title: The King in Yellow Author: Robert W. Chambers

Banner Artwork above by Shasta Lawton.
Illustration for THE PROPHET'S PARADISE by Eric York,
taken from the collection Carcosa Tenement Blues by Edward Morris

Friday, January 22, 2010

MAU BAST

by Rain Graves






Cat Cemetery. Ancient. She crouched low, barely breathing. Slinking shadow in inky air, black like the womb. Like decay. Pausing, ears forward and back only once - Something calling her name. Lift nose; that's the way to smell souls. Test tongue through fuzzy lips, twitching whiskers for static. That's how to taste fire and power.

Singing...low, monotonous, symbolic. She listens, starts padding softly in that direction. It's ok, she knows the song. No words out of place, nothing strange in the lilt of the voice. Pretty soon there will be questions. Must get closer to hear them, to answer.

It's faster on paws than feet, she thinks, moving from her city Bubastis, like fierce wind towards a village. Greenwich? So far...almost too far. The call is strong enough to help pull her.

All stop. She listens cautiously, circling Greenwich Village--foreign place, city populated with crime. Ignorance. No place for a cat, or a cat goddess. Tinkling vibrations touch her golden hoop earring. There are two voices now... One is meek and small. Desperate. Learning Bast through a wall that is sacred. Small Voice is trapped. Must prowl... Must find!

As she reaches the room, it is thick with pain. Power-words like water, cascading through oils, prayer, fire, and wax. A woman lay heaped next to the altar, one arm clinging to the stone, the other clinging to her belly. She wants to scream, Bast can feel it. She is bleeding...everywhere.

She crouches, must make herself small, light, and greasy. Closing her eyes, she sees the entrance. Must get inside, drag it out. Left-right-left in rapid hind-leg motion.

Pounce! Run fast--into the Mother's nine centimeters. She chews a bigger way, so she can fit in and drag Small Voice out. Mother screams, it hurts. Small Voice is very faint now... Almost stopped singing. Bast must fix somehow.

"I am stuck," says Small Voice.

"I am a cat," says Bast.

"Can you help me?" says Small Voice.

"I can drag. Keep singing." says Bast.

Small Voice sang, gentle determination in its voice. Gentle frustration. Gentle need. These things made Bast strong as she worked, chewing and untangling the umbilical chord from around Small Voice's neck. Must get it out, thought the goddess, as she heard Mother moaning. Stay awake! Stay awake to help Bast! She felt contractions threatening to choke her.

Push... Push... Chew, push, chew...

The eye opened wide, and Small Voice could see it. Went towards it. Still hooked on something though, and Small Voice panicked. Flailing, kicking--hurting Bast, hurting Mother. Squeezing past, Bast took the baby by the neck and dragged... Through the eye, into the world.

Mother lay at the foot of the altar in a pool of nature's juice, exhausted. Better for her to sleep, thought Bast, as she licked the mucous and slime from the newborn.

"Ouch, your tongue is harsh!" Said Small Voice.

"The world is harsh." Said Bast.

"May I come to you for guidance?" Said Small Voice.

"Yes, sometimes..." Said Bast, purring the child to sleep.






~



Tune In Next Monday as
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE
by David Agranoff
continues with Chapter 12:
Face To Face

5 comments:

  1. The Internet is made for people who write in sentence fragments!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's called poetic license. I see the story as a fragment, itself, of a larger picture. Even the image used up above is itself, a detail--a fragment of a larger painting. As an example of "flash fiction", the use of sentence fragments here is rather lovely. Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find this piece quite beautiful, actually. Touches something deep. Very cool.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really love it. One of my favorite stories here.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I admire how the style of “Mau Bast,” in slivered present tense that shifts to past tense, evokes the evanescence of individual life within the eternity that is creation. From the opening invocation of life and death, “black like the womb. Like decay,” this story presents both tribute and offering to the divine force of creativity. The feline flow of the narrative extends to the reader a natural joy and sympathy, as if the story were itself a friendly cat – and like a cat touched with aloofness, which we hear in those last lines seasoned with the wisdom of life’s asperity – and uncertainty. A deft integration of lyric and narrative methods! And a fascinating use of changing tense.

    ReplyDelete

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