Wake up.

"Good morning, Coriander. Move."

Brush teeth. Dress. Breakfast. Feed cat.


Shoes. Backpack. Check hair - no time. Keys. Out the door.

"Goodbye, Coriander!"



Home. Start dinner. Homework. Feed cat. Eat. Shower. Brush teeth. Lights off. Bed.

"Goodnight, Coriander."

Coriander woke up in the morning feeling snug and content. She got up and stretched, yawning as she did so, and enjoyed the feeling of the cool floor under her. After a moment, she went off to wake Corinne. When Coriander jumped on the bed, Corinne's eyes went wide and she snapped upright.

"Coriander! What are you doing?"

The cat mewed at her innocently, making a swiping gesture with her left paw.

"Ah," said Corinne, slumping back into her more comfortable, relaxed bearing.

Coriander yowled in protest and swatted and the woman's face.

"What, what?!" Corinne demanded in surprise. The feline looked pointed at Corinne's bedside table.

"Ah!' Corinne yelped when she noticed the time. "Oh no! Coriander, you've wasted time!"

Coriander sighed, and nestled herself in Corinne's unoccupied pillow; her morning's work was finished. To complete her contented state, she wrapped her lithe tail in front of her face and watched, amused, out of one half-opened eye as her human companion rushed flustered about the room. Though she shifted her attention to the ceiling fan that whipped around so tantalizingly, she could still hear Corinne's grunts and howls of frustration as she attempted to find a coherent outfit and gather her things for class. She chuckled mentally and drifted to sleep as soon as the woman slid hastily out the door.

Coriander woke again around noon. Though she could easily spend all day lying about, she chose to get up and roam the house, busily surveying each window. The squirrels and small birds outside tempted her so, but she resolved to be good and stay inside today. She scampered to her food bowl, but Corinne had left it empty in her scramble to get out the door. A bit disgruntled, she moved on to the bathroom, where she jumped on the counter and observed herself in the mirror.

She placed a curious paw on the surface of the glass, reflecting on much more than birds or squirrels.

"And so, you would be wise to be well-versed in the material in chapters twelve through fourteen by next Wednesday. That'll be all; I'll see all of you here on Friday. Bright and early, Ms. Callahan," Professor Archer announced, with a knowing look at Corinne. Around her, students efficiently scooped their books neatly into their backpacks. She grappled awkwardly with the difficult clutter that she'd spread across her workspace, clutching it close to avoid losing loose papers. She saw Professor Archer incline his head in reproach. "And try to organize, Corinne. Guaranteed to make things a mite easier."

"I will, Professor. Have a nice evening." Professor Archer was Corinne's favorite instructor. He was certainly very wise, and didn't seem to mind her recurrent tardiness, though he did occasionally tease her for it.

Coriander could hear Corinne coming the moment she turned onto Jackson Drive. Her ears stood at attention automatically, but she remained in her lazy sprawl to humor her sure-to-be-congenial owner.

"Coriander!" Corinne called, excited to be home at last. Professor Archer was the most interesting of her instructors, but a full master lecture with four times her normal class size made for a rough day. "How are you, my lovely louse?" Coriander protested loudly to this impulse nickname. "Sorry. My lovely honeybee." She stroked Coriander's receptive chin. "Long day, for me. I think I'll order Chinese food...how's that sound?"

Coriander agreed. For some reason, Chinese food appealed to her-though she didn't often share Corinne's meals.

After Corinne had ordered her food, she plopped herself on the couch and turned on the television. Coriander happily lay beside her. The student turned on something-the news, or a movie-she didn't know, for at this point she only sat unfocused and loving it.

Later, Corinne, clad in a bathrobe with her hair in a towel, decided to turn in a couple of hours early. "I must be tired from the huge lecture," she said to Coriander. She disappeared into her bedroom, leaving her door opened just a bit for Coriander to come in later, and soon the lights were off.

Coriander continued to float around the house, feeling quite satisfied, feeling as a phantom of the night. She thought that it was a rather romantic vision; a clever spirit, active in darkness, thriving even in the unknown. That was the creature that she was meant to be: mysterious, powerful, wonderful. She climbed up on a windowsill in the living room-her favorite one-and looked out at the night grass. So peaceful, it was; on the surface, that is.

The tortoiseshell cat awoke at her usual time that morning, and fiddled around. When she entered Corinne's room to wake her, she remembered her companion's weary state the night before and decided against it. Corinne would be a bit irritated when she did wake up, but she would need the extra sleep. Corinne was hardly ever ill, and Coriander hoped that she could prevent sickness in this case as well.

As Coriander left the room, she saw that Corinne's closet door was open just enough for her to go in; she was tempted to go in and sleep on a heap of Corinne's clothes, but recalled that Corinne would be angry as it was and moved on to the living room couch, settling on a throw pillow. She meant only to lie there for an hour or two, but after a few minutes of watching that most mesmerizing of ceiling fans, fell into a lovely sleep.

Corinne woke up and shuffled out of her bedroom in a daze. Once she'd realized what happened, she'd also become aware of her condition. "Coriander," she moaned, "my head! What should I do?" She came closer and closer; Coriander began to feel uncomfortable, but she didn't know why. "Coriander!" Corinne howled more loudly still. "Coriander, what have you done? What's happening to me? Coriander!"

And as Coriander watched, shocked and horrified, her suffering friend stepped toward her, and she noticed something different,strange about the woman's face. Surely enough, as she examined the left corner of Corinne's mouth more closely, she noticed that one side drooped, and drooped considerably. In fact, Corinne's entire face appeared to be melting. As the mortified Coriander jumped up into a readied stance, Corinne's flesh continued to melt and fall from her body, revealing a wire frame underneath made of a sort of black metal. The head of the underlying creature was the most harrowing of all: the eyes, or lack thereof, were hollow and sunken sockets; the nose was strangely absent; the mouth featured tapered teeth of the black metal, with the entire structure fixed in a horrible grimace. Coriander moved a paw to inch backward, and Corinne - the creature - lurched forward, arms spread forward to catch the feline. Coriander glared in fear from the corner of her eye, but before she could leap out of harm's way the horrid thing threw itself forward upon her. She was fixed, immobile, unable to react, and her last sensation was the horrid stench of death and charred flesh, the sour darkness encircling her.

Coriander awoke feeling feverish and jittery. She took in her surroundings with caution, and rose. It appeared to be early afternoon; the light slanted through the living room windows and warmed the wood floor below her perch.

"Coriander," Corinne moaned. Coriander jumped well over a foot into the air and before noticing Corinne standing in front of her, fully intact but for a few signs of menial illness. Her clothes were rumpled, her face a bit flushed, and her hair lent her a crazed air, but she was otherwise normal. "Ugh, Coriander…I feel just terrible. And you made me miss class. On purpose, I bet, hm?"

Author's Note: I already have succeeding chapters written, but I'm looking for interest before I post them. I imagine 5-10 reviews would do it...