Travis’s ragged breaths tore through the Niche’s silent front courtyard. He was still sprawled on his back, looking up at the stone vestibule’s ceiling, the wooden stoop under him cold through Kevin’s fleece. The voice echoed through his head, pounding on beat with his heart.
Help me, help me, help me…
Maybe it hadn’t even happened. He leaned up on his elbows, half-hoping that—
Nope. New cat was still there, staring at him with a level of intensity that perfectly matched the voice. Those blue-gray-green eyes that, sure, were still unfairly pretty for a cat, but now they were giving Travis the creeps. There was something else behind those eyes, maybe the source of the voice? Maybe the cat really needed help?
Travis’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Do you need help?” he asked out loud.
The cat tilted its chin, looking at Travis like he was an idiot.
“I’m not an idiot,” Travis said. The cat seemed skeptical. “I can help, or I can find someone who can. You came to the right place, you know.” He pointed up, at the giant lantern hanging from the vestibule roof, bathing the courtyard in a soft glow. It was ancient, crafted by Niche witches generations and generations before Travis had even set foot on the property, and forged in the shape of a bursting star, with dozens of cloudy white glass points each holding a flickering candle. It lit itself, automatically, every night at seven o’clock exactly.
“We’re all witches here,” he continued. “If something weird’s going on with you…”
He trailed off. The cat was obviously not listening anymore, if it even had been listening in the first place. It padded up to the walnut slab double doors and put one paw on the carved wood. Letting out a loud mrow, it looked back at Travis expectantly.
“Okay, okay, I get the message. Not me. We’ll find someone else to help.” Travis heaved himself off of the ground and yanked the door open, letting the cat inside first. This was weird as hell, sure, but half the stuff he saw at the Niche was weird, and he sure didn’t want any negative cat karma coming around to bite him in the ass. And the noise the cat had made, strange as it was, almost sounded like the voice that had yelled for help. Deep and rumbly, like standing underneath an avalanche.
The exact opposite of the cat’s striking eyes, but somehow also… Pretty? Could a voice be pretty? Could a voice that screamed at him about two minutes ago be pretty? Travis wasn’t about to dwell on it.
As he walked, letting the cat lead for reasons he didn’t know (laziness, maybe; it wasn’t as if the cat knew where it was going), he weighed his options. No one at the Niche was really proficient in animal magic; it wasn’t practiced much, anyway, and seemed difficult as hell from what Travis had read. He could take it up to Jake, see what healing magic could do on a cat, but it was dark outside already and disturbing Jake after he’d turned in for the day was a surefire ticket to nightmare city. Maybe Coots, but plant magic seemed like the exact opposite of the kind of shit he’d need to tackle this cat problem.
Claude was the obvious answer, but two Travis Issues in one day might prove too much, even for Claude.
“Oskar,” he said to the cat. “We’ll go see what Oskar has to say about you, okay?” The cat looked over its shoulder like he didn’t know who Oskar was, and didn’t really care. Travis knelt and held out his arms.
“Come on,” he said, “we’re gonna have to walk a lot. You can get on my shoulders if you want.”
The cat actually hissed. Travis held firm.
“Don’t be an asshole. If you’re mean to Oskar, I’ll make you sleep in the henhouse.”
The cat didn’t hiss again, just narrowed its eyes at Travis until he stood up again and put his hands in the pockets of Kevin’s fleece.
“Fine,” he said, “do it your way. You better fuckin’ keep up, though.”
He closed his eyes and felt throughout the Niche for Oskar’s energy. This was a specific magic that each new witch was taught in their first months of training, and would go on to use about fifty times a day once they mastered it. The Niche was so big and sprawling, finding others in its depths would be near impossible if it weren’t for magic.
Oskar was easy to locate, both because his energy was so bright, and because he and Travis were together so often. The more time Travis spent with someone, the more he got accustomed to their energy and aura. It was the simplest thing in the world to reach out and find Oskar in a perpetual state of reaching back to find him. Their energies meeting in the middle, a thread he’d follow to find his friend wherever he was at.
The kitchen, it looked like, with Scotty, Sanny, and Provy. Good, he’d have a whole bunch of opinions, some logical, some definitely not, and some dinner, too. He looked down at the cat again.
“Let’s go find out what’s up with you,” he said. “And I can feed you, if you keep that asshole energy to yourself.” The cat let out a soft mrow, which sounded, to Travis at least, like a yeah, right. Typical.
Travis headed to the kitchen, his feet taking turns and staircases and secret passageways like it was second nature. The cat kept up, even though Travis might have been walking faster than usual. Hey, if the cat was going to be an asshole, he might as well bring that same vibe to the table. Candle wicks sparked into flame, lighting his path as he walked, and they doused themselves as soon as he turned a different corner. If he glanced over his shoulder more than once, just double checking to see if the cat was still there, no one needed to know.
The hallway leading to the kitchen’s back entrance, through the expansive pantry, always smelled good. Tonight it smelled like baking bread and chocolate, a rich, almost earthy smell that definitely meant Scotty was making dark chocolate filled croissants. And there were only three other people in the kitchen with him? Fuckin’ score. Travis was going to eat at least five and no one on earth would be able to stop him.
“TK!” Sanny’s voice boomed through the pantry before Travis even made it to the kitchen. “Don’t you dare bring a cat in here!”
“He’s got a cat?” That was Scotty. Scotty loved the Niche’s cats. Travis was pretty sure he’d given them all names, and there were at least twenty-odd cats that roamed around. “Is it Yerba?”
“No one knows your cat names, Laughts.” If there was a loving the Niche’s cats spectrum, Sanny was on the exact opposite side of Scotty. He raised his voice again. “TK, I swear —“
“Okay.” Travis poked his head into the kitchen, just to alleviate this tension before introducing a whole new kind of tension. Also, he was right; Scotty was leaning by the stove, a cooling rack of croissants beside him, another batch already in the oven, and Sanny, Provy, and Oskar were crowded on the stools by the island. Sanny and Provy were playing Knuckle Down with a tattered old set of cards and a cup of tokens, and Oskar had a thick book open in front of him and was taking detailed notes as he read. “I have a cat, but…”
“Get it out.” Sanny pointed at the closed door, one that led into the dining area and subsequent courtyard. Travis made a pleading noise.
“I need you guys’s help, okay?”
Oskar’s eyebrows furrowed as he marked his place in the book and looked up. His eyes were concerned already. “What’s going on?”
Travis fully entered the kitchen and the cat came along with him, sitting back on its haunches in the doorway like it didn’t want attention. Since when? Travis thought as he gestured to it.
“Found it by the front door,” he said, and the cat hissed. “Okay, it found me, I guess.”
“He’s not one of ours,” Scotty said, leaning around the island to take a good look at the cat. “And he, not it, Travis. God, don’t be a degenerate.” He shucked off his apron and put down his spatula and bent down to examine the cat. Travis heard a little bit of muttered baby talk, but decided not to make a big deal out of it.
“Are you new?” Scotty asked the cat, and held out his hand. “Can I pick you up?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t—“ Travis started, but the cat butted Scotty’s hand in greeting and allowed himself to be picked up and cradled like a— Okay, Scotty was now holding the weird magical cat like a baby and not laying on the floor with a grumbly voice yelling in his head. That was a thing that was happening. Scotty used his thumb to pet the cat’s forehead up between its (his?) ears, still mumbling sweet nothings as the cat—
Holy fuck. The cat was purring.
“Did you just get that damn thing to purr?” he asked.
Scotty looked at him like he was insane. “Lots of cats purr when I pet them, TK. Lots of cats purr when you pet them. You’re acting like Sanny, what’s going on with you?”
“Both of you suck,” Sanny said from his seat at the island.
“Okay, so this is what happened,” Travis said, and, in the time it took him to down two chocolate croissants, told them about the cat, the voice, and the plea (scream? Demand?) for help. Oskar chewed on the end of his pen the whole time, and the cat kept on purring. Really undercutting the part of the story where it had mentally bullied him so loudly he’d fallen on his ass.
“That sounds like a Claude thing,” Provy said as soon as Travis finished (the story, and also his third croissant). “Did you ask him?”
“Yeah, Prov, we had a long talk about it in the time it took me to get yelled at by a cat and come find Oskar immediately afterward,” Travis shot back. Oskar beamed.
“You came here first?”
“’Course I did,” Travis said. Oskar put the pen behind his ear and held out his arms to Scotty and the cat. Reluctantly, Scotty placed the cat in his arms and Oskar tucked him right up to his chest. The cat laid his head on his shoulder and closed his eyes.
Oskar ran his head down the cat’s neck, regulating his breathing and closing his eyes, too. He’d done this exact thing to Travis hundreds of times before, letting both his cooling touch and his magic undo all the stress knots in his back and relieve the tension in his forehead. The cat looked like it was half-asleep, which Travis could also relate to.
Oskar hummed softly. “I don’t feel anything. He’s all jumpy and stressed, well, was, but he seems calm now.” He gently handed the cat back to Scotty, who cuddled him for another minute before letting him lay on the counter. It looked like Oskar had really knocked him out for the count; he curled up and draped his tail down the middle of Oskar’s spellbook like a fluffy bookmark.
“Seems like a normal cat to me,” Oskar concluded, with a shrug aimed at Travis. “Sorry, TK.”
“Doesn’t mean he’s not weird, though,” Provy said, leaning across the counter to grab a croissant. “I still say talk to G about it.”
“Definitely talk to G about it,” Oskar said. “Maybe the cat latched onto you for some reason.”
Travis remembered how adamantly the cat tried to get inside the Niche’s front door when Travis offered to help him, and raised his eyebrows. “I really don’t think that’s it.”
“Well it needs a name,” Sanny said. “Laughts is good at that.”
“Make fun of me all you want, Sanny Boy,” Scotty said, “but I embrace all my talents.” He considered the cat and then poked the large bag of deep brown powder sitting among the rest of his baking ingredients. “How about Cacao? He showed up about the same time as these croissants, he’s brown, he’s sweet when you get to know him…”
Scotty trailed off as the rest of the room agreed with varying levels of enthusiasm. It was a pretty good name, Travis thought, as far as cat names went, when the newly dubbed Cacao raised his head and fixed Travis with a devastating glare.
Potent rage knocked Travis back a few steps; he slammed into the counter and grabbed his head.
“Don’t—“ he managed to choke out. Oskar was at his side in an instant, supporting him as he slumped over. “Don’t name the cat.”
“Holy fuck,” Sanny said, and came up on Travis’s other side, lifting him up uncomfortably; their heights really weren’t compatible at all.
“What’d he say this time?” Provy asked as soon as Travis was able to lift his head again.
“Nothing.” Travis massaged his forehead. The cat had lowered its head, resting it on his front paws, and was still looking directly at Travis. It was disconcerting, but at least he wasn’t in pain anymore. “He’s just pissed off.”
Scotty raised his eyebrows in a huh expression and turned to the cat. “I apologize, no more names.” He crossed his heart.
“I’ll talk to Claude in the morning,” Travis said.
“That’s a good idea,” Provy said. Oskar nodded.
“Is it weird that none of you guys can hear it?” Travis asked. “Feel it? I don’t know. I’m kind of freaking out.”
“It’s probably not that weird,” Sanny said as he and Oskar led Travis to one of the stools and made him sit. Scotty slid another croissant across the counter to him as Provy filled a kettle with water. “Remember when Beezer turned orange but only he could see it? He thought he was going nuts until Jake made him drink that potion.”
“Or when Coots tried to grow worthand in the wrong soil and spoke gibberish for a week?” Provy laughed from his spot by the stove. “He thought he was fine, but all we heard was—“ Provy let out a string of, well, gibberish. Travis remembered that week; it had been funny at first, but Coots insisted on holding lessons anyway, and it quickly devolved into a nightmare.
“Point is, weird things happen.” Oskar scratched his nails across Travis’s hairline. “We’ll figure it out.”
Travis lowered his shoulders and breathed out. Took a bite of croissant. Breathed deep again.
“We’ll figure it out,” he repeated.
Provy’s kettle began to whistle, a lilting melody that petered out as he took it off of the stove and slid it onto a hot pad in front of Oskar. He gathered mugs from one of the cabinets; last year Claude and Raff had built a tiny pottery studio branching off of Claude’s potions lab, and most of their dishes were now hand-thrown, hand-glazed, hand-painted, and sometimes godforsaken ugly clay pieces. Claude was good at it, because of course he was, and the rest of them tried, for better or for worse. Throwing clay was fun, and oftentimes the pieces made by the others reflected that part of the process more so than skill.
The creations usually still kept a tinge of their creator’s magic, and as Provy rooted through the cabinet he naturally emerged with a baby blue and gray mug made by Oskar, a lopsided half-midnight black dipped mug made by Scotty, a green vase-looking monstrosity made by Sanny, a delicate dark purple cup made by himself, and, finally, slid Travis’s favorite mug he’d made, a deep orange tankard mug that Claude had complimented and later tried to steal, into the space in front of him. He poured from the kettle into each mug, steam raising in curls to the dark ceiling. The cat stretched, kicking Oskar’s pen to the floor.
Forever ago, before Travis had come to the Niche, Jake had put some sort of spell on this particular kettle. Whatever came out of it was the tea its recipient needed most at the time, no teabag or sugar or milk necessary. Provy filled the orange mug and Travis immediately smelled mint and lavender. He grabbed for the mug and let it warm his hands for a heartbeat before taking his first sip; hot, but not too hot— just enough of everything. He probably should have something other than chocolate croissants for dinner, but now he was all warm from tea and comfortable between Sanny and Oskar and he really didn’t want to move much at all for the rest of the night.
The kitchen drifted into silence as they all drank their tea and thought their thoughts. Scotty found some shredded chicken, leftover from someone’s dinner, and fed it to the cat before rooting in the cabinet for another, shallower mug and filling it with water. Oskar leaned over until his shoulder was pressed against Travis’s.
From there, the night progressed in pretty much the same way it had been before Travis introduced all of his cat drama. Sanny and Provy started a new game of Knuckle Down as Scotty started cleaning up his baking mess; Oskar gave Travis’s arm a squeeze before hopping off his stool to help him package up the rest of the croissants. Breakfast tomorrow, Travis thought.
People drifted in and out. Raff came in and made himself a cup of hot chocolate before leaving with Scotty, Beezer wiggled his way into what was quickly turning into a full Knuckle Down tournament, Oskar took his book, picked his pen up off of the floor, and headed to bed. Through it all, the cat still lay on top of the island, accepting head pats and behind-the-ear scratches from every witch that passed him, and one very aggressive session of baby talk from Brauner, who was second only to Scotty in cat enthusiasm. No one screamed, no one fell on the ground. Maybe this cat just had a vendetta against Travis in particular for some reason. That would be dumb, he loved cats.
Maybe be mean to Sanny next time, he thought viciously towards the cat, who made no move to show he’d heard anything.
However, when he got off of his stool, rinsed his mug, and made to leave the kitchen, the cat stood up, stretched, jumped down from the island, and followed. Huh.
“Maybe you just need to know me better,” Travis said out loud as the cat followed him through a skinny, dimly lit hallway that wound around the kitchen and led back towards the center of the Niche. He’d thought about going to his room, but he wasn’t that tired yet. Maybe he’d head to the study cubicles over by fifth yard, do that spark conjuring he’d wanted to do before this whole cat fiasco started. He’d tire himself out, go to bed, and fix it all with Claude in the morning. That sounded like a plan.
“Want to come with me and do some magic shit?” he asked the cat. No answer, but the cat still followed him as they walked, which Travis took as a hell yeah, TK, I’m always up for watching you kill it at spark conjuring.
“My name’s Travis, by the way,” he said. “Konecny. A lot of people here call me TK. And since you wouldn’t let Scotty give you a name back there, I hope you know I’m just going to refer to you as cat.” The cat mrowed. Travis cocked his head. That one actually sounded kind of encouraging. “How about Cat? Like, uppercase C. Kind of a name, kind of not.”
The cat’s eyes narrowed, like he was thinking about it, and then another mrow. A solidly affirmative noise.
“Cat it is.” Travis turned the a corner and opened the double doors leading to the outdoor corridor that cut through fifth yard, surprised to see lanterns already lit and someone, half obscured by shadows, pacing around in the grass. Travis let the doors close heavily after Cat had come through, loud enough that he wouldn’t catch anyone off guard. He squinted through the hazy darkness. “Hartsy?”
Carter flinched like he hadn’t heard Travis close the doors and raised his blindfold. Whoops. He waved a hand and the lanterns flared brighter.
“TK? What are you doing out here? Is that a cat?”
“Heading to the cubicles,” Travis said, climbing through one of the arched stone windows instead of walking through the entryway. Cat followed, jumping higher and faster than Travis thought he’d be able to. “Getting some more work in out here, or what?” There were foam rockets scattered all over the yard and Travis didn’t miss the way that Carter’s shoulders slumped, just slightly.
“Yeah, I guess.”
Travis gathered a few of the rockets and dumped them into the almost empty bin connected by a tube to a larger launcher than the ones Moose and Nisky had used that afternoon. It was set to automatic, one launch every two seconds.
“This is all pretty intense, Hartsy.” Travis flipped up a rocket with his foot and kicked it into the bin. “Is everything okay?”
“It’s nothing.” Carter picked up a few rockets himself, slotting a few into individual launchers and dumping the rest into the bin. “It’s just… Okay, you saw this afternoon, right? With the—“ He pantomimed ripping something in half.
“When you fuckin’ killed it during training?” Travis raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, Harts, we all saw it.”
“I can’t do it again,” he said, and there, undercutting his voice, a tiny thread of heat. Carter didn’t get angry. Not at his defenders, not at Moose, and certainly not at himself, not that Travis had ever seen or heard about. “I’ve been out here trying for an hour, and I just—“ He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together, composing himself. There was a faint brush of pink across his cheeks and ears.
He took a deep breath.
“I don’t like flukes. I want to know exactly what I can do and how to do it better.”
Travis shrugged. “Want me to help you out? Two witches are better than one, or whatever the fuck that saying is.”
Carter frowned. “No offense, TK, but you aren’t a protector.”
“Yeah, but—“ Travis hefted one of the launchers and settled it on his shoulder. “I can definitely shoot you with these damn things all day long and not get sick of it.” That actually made Carter crack a smile, and Travis grinned back. “And, hey. Maybe doing it in front of someone else will force it out.”
“Maybe,” Carter said, backed up until he was in position, and pushed the blindfold down over his eyes. “Okay, whenever you’re ready.”
Travis made sure the reloading enchantment was locked onto his particular launcher, and fired a test shot right at Carter’s head. A tiny square of the air shimmered, and the rocket stopped in its tracks, shuddered, and fell to the ground. Travis fired three more in quick succession, Carter stopped them all, but didn’t tear through any in the sheer display of power from that afternoon. It just wasn’t happening.
They stayed at it for about ten minutes, until Travis’s trigger finger actually started to hurt and beads of sweat rolled down Carter’s face as he blocked rocket after rocket.
“Maybe we should stop,” he yelled over the echoing pow of the launcher.
“Keep going!” Carter’s voice was ragged.
Travis fired again, and as soon as he pulled the trigger, Cat let out an ear-splitting yowl from the doorway. A bolt of aching shot Travis right in the center of his chest and he dropped to his knees, slamming his hand to his chest like he could physically stop the carving feeling tearing away at his insides. He huffed out a soft fuck, bending over so far his forehead brushed the grass.
“TK?” Carter sounded far away, and also maybe underwater? It was hard to tell. “TK!”
Carter’s arms wrapped around his shoulders, holding him down, grounding him. He smelled clean, like rain. He hefted Travis in his arms, pressing his forehead into Travis’s hair.
And then, brief like a bad stomach cramp, the feeling was gone. Travis slumped against Carter’s chest, breathing loudly like he’d just run a mile.
“Sorry,” he said into his sweater.
“What happened?” Carter asked as he half-lifted Travis to his feet. “Did I do—“
“It wasn’t you, Harts, I promise.” Travis massaged his chest, but nothing felt weird or out of place. “Ever since this morning, I’ve been feeling. I don’t know. Weird.”
“Yeah, Claude knows.”
He doesn’t know about you, though, he thought, glancing over at the entryway were Cat still sat on his haunches, eyes locked onto Travis. Carter took his face in both of his warm hands and turned his head back and forth, like he was checking if Travis was still alive. Travis forced out a laugh and pushed him away.
“I’m fine, promise. Thanks, though— holy shit.” He grabbed Carter by the shoulders and forced him to turn around. The last rocket he’d shot was torn in two, just like the one from that afternoon. “Check that out.”
“It worked,” Carter breathed. Travis clapped him on the shoulder.
“You fuckin’ rock, man.”
Carter’s face split into a huge grin as his hair flopped into his eyes. He pulled Travis closer, wrapping him in a hug. Travis could feel his heart racing.
“You should go to bed,” he said, for the second time that night, into Carter’s sweater.
“Yeah.” As if to prove his point, Carter pulled back and let out a giant yawn, right into Travis’s face. “Gotta clean up this stuff, and then I can… Then I can…” Another yawn, and Travis bumped him with his hip. Together they gathered the rockets and dragged the bins and launchers into the small shed off of fifth yard. Travis ended up walking the whole way to Carter’s room with him; he’d started telling him about Cat (who was still adamant about following Travis), and Carter had a lot of thoughts, mainly about linking Cat to Travis’s weird chest feeling (but Cat showed up after that started happening, Travis argued) and about letting Claude know as soon as possible (I already promised Oskar I’d tell him first thing in the morning, Travis insisted).
Cat didn’t yell at Carter when he touched him, either, and Carter was probably one of the most magical witches Travis knew. Cat did the opposite, and actually pressed further into Carter’s hand like he was looking for some extra affection. Travis crossed his arms as Carter and Cat said goodbye outside of his bedroom door, the one with the metal 79 in the same hallway as Kevin’s.
“Let me know if Claude has any idea what’s going on,” Carter said, giving Cat one last scratch behind his ears. Travis promised that yes, Hartsy, as soon as he found out the exact cause of the Cat weirdness, he’d be the first (okay, maybe fourth) to know.
“You like him a whole lot, huh?” Travis asked Cat as they headed up another flight of stairs to the hallway Travis’s room was in. Cat didn’t answer.
Cat didn’t do much of anything after that, just jumped up onto the little bed Travis made up for him on the plush chair in the corner of his bedroom, curling up and laying his head down on top of his paws. His eyes followed Travis as he got ready for bed; took off his fleece and the shirt underneath, ran a comb through his tangled hair, ducked down into the hallway’s bathroom to brush his teeth. He changed his pants there, too. For some reason he felt like he shouldn’t change in front of Cat, like he was a new roommate and not, well, a cat.
When he returned to the room it looked like Cat was already asleep. He doused his big lamp and the few candles that had started burning when they’d first come in, and fell back into his bed. He whispered a spell and he heard his door’s lock click. Normally he had nothing against Oskar or Beezer or Sanny or whoever coming in his room in the middle of the night, but it was Cat’s first night in his room, and Cat was weird. It felt right to give him some privacy.
Travis made a nest for himself in his pile of blankets and arranged his two flat pillows just the way he liked them. The day’s exhaustion began seeping through his bones as he relaxed, and his eyelids felt like they were attached to bricks, drooping lower, and lower, and—
Travis opened his eyes. Dreamspace, he thought, but this was a wide expanse of white nothing. This wasn’t his dreamspace. He also didn’t initiate this dreamspace, and that was the whole point of it. It was a meditation thing, a get in your own head and calm the hell down thing. Was he in someone else’s dreamspace?
That wasn’t, like, a thing that could happen, was it?
He looked around. It seemed like he was in a giant white box, with blank walls, a blank floor, and nothing for what felt like miles and miles. He turned. There— a tall mirror. What was a mirror doing in this dreamspace-that-definitely-wasn’t-Travis’s-dreamspace?
Hell, he’d worked for years to curate his dreamspace into somewhere where he felt fully relaxed and at peace. His dreamspace had a lake and a cute little dock, for fuck’s sake.
He approached the mirror. It took him a while to get there, and his footfalls started out soft, but grew louder and louder as he approached it. As he walked towards it, he could see his reflection, dark and fuzzy at first, brighten and sharpen.
With every step he took, the mirror changed his reflection. He grew taller, his shoulders broadened, his hair gained a few inches and a few more waves. By the time he was close enough to the mirror to touch it, he was looking at an entirely different person.
And an entirely different person was looking back at him.
His reflection-not-his-reflection tilted his chin. He had an angular, perfect jaw painted with a brush of stubble and the barest dusting on his upper lip. His hair fell in soft waves and, as Travis watched, he reached up impatiently to tuck a few errant strands behind his ear. He was blushing, or maybe his cheeks were always that pink.
Dark brows hovered like a warning over storm-cloud eyes. Slate mountain eyes. Ocean colored eyes. Travis took a stumbling step back.
“You’re Cat,” he choked out. He couldn’t hear himself talk. The dreamspace swallowed his words before they reached his ears. “What’s going on, what can I do?”
The man, Cat, opened his mouth to answer, and he, the mirror, and the unfamiliar dreamspace shattered into a thousand pieces.