High up on the hills beyond the tulips gardens and apple orchard of the Pink Palace, the black cat stretched lazily. His pink tongue curled in his open mouth as he yawned, showing many yellowing teeth, the hair around his battered ears slowly greying with age. He looked out from his perch atop the jaggered rocks and watched the grey clouds drift above the Pink Palace.
Ms Spink and Ms Forcable, Mr Bobinski, and many other inhabitants had left the Pink Palace, leaving many of the rooms empty and abandoned. The once grande house now home to nothing but dust and dry rot.
Maybe, the cat thought, it was time.
In the pale light of the cresent moon nothing stirred, not even a mouse: the cat had made sure of that.
The houses’ creaks and groans were like the death rattles of some dying animal, the cat listened for anything else, anything more to be heard, but there was nothing.
Slinking under a loose board under the patio he crawled under the house, silently he slinked around a hundred years of debrie that had accumulated under the patio.
The cat had been curious as to what had become of the Other Mother and her creations ever since her destruction, and you know what curiosity is said to do to cats.
Under the house, under the deck layed some rotten wooden boards, home to earwigs and pillbugs and under that was a very ancient and abandoned rabbit burrow. It was a tight squeeze, the cat didn’t like tight spaces but he new the way and his curiosity burned within him. The tunnel went on for seemingly many miles deep into the earth and twisted and turned the whole way but eventually the cat reached the end and poked his nose out, smelling the damp and rot to the patio before emerging under the same house.
The cresent moon painted white stripes over the hundred year debris, and the cat, under the floorboards. He listened once more and heard nothing, perfect stillness. In the pure silence, any less of a creature would have made a noise emerging out from the house, but not the cat.
The other world was a desolate wasteland, unchanged by time. The other house was as rotten and decreped as it had been since his last visit. The balcony that lead up to the other Bobinski’s house was still twisted and rusting on the ground were Coraline had fell. The clothes of the other Whybe still hung in rags above the still half ajar door. There was no wind to blow them though, and the house did not creak or groan. It was like everything was suspended, like toys in a dollhouse waiting to be played with again.
Although he was curious, the cat did not want to stray too far from the house and its exits, as he walked round the back towards the garden he noted that the seasons hadn’t changed either, although it was late fall in the real world, the gardens still displayed their early springtime flowers. They were dead and dry, beyond the point of decay but they still clung to their stems.
There were no insects here, or fungi, or microbes, the cat thought before a pang of fear went through him and he lowed himself to the ground, his ears flattened to his head and his limbs bent, ready to spring at any moment.
He heard something.
A something, somewhere between the creaky squeal of a wooden house and the groan of some great deep beast. The other mother.
He felt rather than knew that the sound came from the house, the drawing room. He also felt the sensation of icy fingers in his brain, pulling, beconing him.
As he sneaked through the open window of the kitchen he heard in his mind the words of the other mother to Coraline ’’Everybody loves games” as he relived the memory.
The creaking again, louder this time. It didn’t sound like the sounds of a house, but rather some strange insect beast.
As the cat rounded the corner nothing could prepare him to the sight before him. A Skeletal form of ribs and spinal colums twisting and mutating up into spiralling wooden framework, dotted with jagged teeth and gnarled bone horns. The drawing room way an impossibly huge cavernous place with broken tiles and floorboards that sprung up from the ground and climbed up onto the crooked walls like the scales and spines of some demented creature.
At the centre of this terrible structure was what looked like a pile of papery thin leather that clung to an almost humanoid marble stone skull (the image reminded the cat of one of those fur rugs with the animal head still attached which some humans were fond of). The skull had faint claw marks around the small indents where its eye sockets should have been,( confirming that cats suspicions) around it lay a carpet of hollow shells of a thousand tiny insects.
Just as the cat, having seen enough, was about to leave, the other mother gave another groan, the whole structure creaked in pain and the vibrations rattled the insect shelves like shaking leaves. A voice in his head that was not his own begged the cat for help.
A dry noise that sounded barly like a woman croaked out ‘’Please…please’’. Another death rattle shook the cavern.
Just as the cat was about to turn, the wooden planks threw him upwards into the air as two twisted spiny skeletal bones snapped together like the pincers of some great insect, luckily he twisted out of the way, howling as he caught the framework of the door by his claws and propelled himself through it and sprinted through the hallway, the voice screaching as he went.
The rabbits burrow that previously went on for miles now only went a few twisty metres before the cat reached the real world. As he leapt out the rotten wooden collapsed, effectively sealing the burrow shut. As he ran the dying screeches of the other mother still repeated over and over in his head.
Once the noise faded and he was safely away from the Pink Palace, the cat reflected on his findings; he had nearly been killed but he was satisfied that the Other Mother would never be able to harm another soul ever again.