The room was dark, but upon entering it I realized I was somewhere else entirely: an empty cabin. The room was full of dust, the air was damp, and somewhere nearby I could hear the steady buzz of a wasps nest. When my eyes rested on the table I frowned.

Underneath the table an old man was curled up. He didn’t seem to be in pain. He just . . . Stared at me with some unknowable intent. A pair of golden eyes bore into me. I suddenly began to feel uncomfortable.

Sitting on the table was a small black cat. It flicked it’s tail back and forth. The cat was watching me too; it’s eyes were silver.

Perturbed, I asked: “What is going on?”

“I know the hearts of all men,” the cat whispered, if a cat it was. “I know your every desire, your every fear . . . ” it trailed off.

“What is the meaning of life?” The words flew out of my mouth all on their own.

“The hearts of men . . .” The cat crooned. Silver eyes mocked me.

“Happiness, pain, and happiness again,” the old man answered. “Love, hate, and love again . . . A never ending cycle where your kind constantly hungers for what was lost.”

“I don’t understand.”

“To live and die again each day, and never ending the endless search, until what was lost has been found.”

I took a step back. The old man wasn’t human. Gold eyes pitied me. “What did we lose?” I asked him.

“Too much.”

“Too much of what?”

The cat hissed. “The hearts of men miss their power. The hearts of women miss their freedom. Male is female, female is male. Both give and both take, while both whither away into the next life. You’re all guilty.

“I would suggest you start screaming for mercy now!” The cat began to billow out like a cloud of dark smoke.

I found it harder and harder to breathe. In a desperate attempt I turned and ran away from Silver and Gold. Silver began to cackle as Gold wailed.

“Ask for it!” The old man begged. “Just ask!”

Ask for what? I looked down at my feet; they were pumping back and forth, but I wasn’t moving anywhere. A sickening sweet smell began to fill my nostrils, and I gagged. My limbs began to slow down in their movements, growing more and more sluggish as if something were holding them. I lurched forward without really doing anything; the upper half fell while the lower half was glued to the ground. In a desperate attempt I turned back to the old man. “What should I ask for?”

Gold cocked his head to the side, and with a slight smirk shrugged his shoulders.

I sighed, annoyed at the unexpected switch in character; I thought Gold was the good one. They were both rotten. “Can I have some space please?” I wheezed as Silver began to crush me.

Nothing.

“Clarity? Sanity?”

Silver began to chuckle. The sound left a sour taste at the back of my throat.

“Mercy!”

At the word time reversed itself. The cloud or dark smoke let me go, and my legs began move before slowing down. I found myself staring at Gold, who was chuckling heartily. Silver was nowhere to be found, but I could have sworn that I heard him wailing in the distance.

I looked at Gold, my mouth working silently. After a few seconds I shut my mouth and began to leave the room.

“Come back soon!” Gold crooned to me as I shut the door.

No thank you! I thought to myself. A part of me knew that our paths would cross in the future.

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