"Cat Shit Croquettes" by A.S. Coomer

Something snapped shut on the inside. Theo saw thick iron bars and latches inches thick. Even the faintest whiff of the good time he’d just been enjoying disappeared.

He opened his mouth to say, “Something’s not right.”

Instead the freshest remains of some cosmological litterbox spilled out. He watched the little banana croquettes of shit shutter on their way towards the pavement, splitting into fragmentary doubles and triples of themselves in varying shades of neon, where his feet hung like stalactites under his nose.

What did they give me?

He opened his mouth to ask Stephen. Stephen would know. He knew those guys. He knew what those little crystals were that they sprinkled into the papers. He knew them.

It took more effort to move his head to his left, the last location in which he recalled seeing Stephen in, than it did to unstick his feet from the pavement and step up onto the sidewalk.

From somewhere above a great rush of air then the spiking of the sky with bright flashes.

“Stephen, what did they give us?”

More croquettes plopping limply next to his clinging feet.

“Stephen?”

He turned to find something else inhabiting Stephen’s space. There was vastly more hair than was required for an evening in August.

It's still August, isn't it?

“Stephen, those crystals are time-specific? What quantum leaps are we skipping through?”

Nothing but cat shit croquettes.

The hair seemed to be multiplying, spreading, maybe catching.

“Stephen, your hair is out of control. I think it’s time we consult a barber.”

Cro. Quet. Tes.

Sweat dripped down his forehead into his eyes. Theo blinked back the tears and the colors of the rides and funnel cake stands smeared into something more familiar, if not as easily recognizable.

“Stephen, I think we’re all just little orbs of colors. The ash is evolving. The dust knows better now. I think we’ll be able to come out of primordial sludge and take to flight soon.”

A wide-eyed creature stood staring up and pointing with one hand that wasn’t a melting ice cream cone.

Theo gave it a wide berth then nearly fell from the sidewalk as another great whoosh erupted somewhere not-too-high-above his head and coated everything in green and blue sparkles.

The light refracting the lights in the sky in the creature’s eyes was telling. It was accusatory.

“They know, Stephen. I think the little crystals in the papers lets them track our progression.”

Why isn’t Stephen talking? Is his mouth filled with hair too?

Theo turned to find himself alone in the crowded street. Humps of half-completed humanistic statues surrounded him, all with their faces turned upward, the celestial maps of fireworks blinking in like static on the snow-channel.

He felt a great bristling spread across his body and knew the hair was catching. Theo also knew it was making his feet less likely to hold to the sidewalk. He’d fall soon. The hair covering the bottoms of his shoes would cause him to slip and plummet into the explosions of lights in the sky.

He found a bench and clung.

“I don’t want to be covered in hair.”

He watched a string of sausage-like banana croquettes of cosmic cat shit uncurl from his open mouth into his lap. Little patches of hair took root wherever they touched.

It’s happening.

He watched the hair spread from his crotch to his thighs, from his navel to his chest, from his wrists to his hands, and tried to cough up something that would prevent it from reaching his face.

“Sir, are you ok?”

The voice skidded across the ice surrounding the world before coming to a slippery stop somewhere just to the left of exactly between his ears.

“Sir? Are you…ill?”

Theo unlatched the links of chains from his neck with effort, looked up into the face of some graven image, some personae from the depths of human interaction in which he was but a pawn, in which he knew his place was less than zero.

“Don’t talk down to me, Cherub.”

Cat shit croquettes.

“Sir?”

The crown the Being wore had bits of soft gold above the hardened brim. There was a fire in the eyes –– a far cry different than the dull reflection of sky light.

This is a Being to fear.

The conscious understanding of fear reminded Theo of the hair sprouting across his body.

“I’m in great danger of being completely covered in the fur of the underverse.”

A static hiss grated through the thick slices of night served up before him. Theo saw that several of the half-completed statues had moved, had, in fact, somehow completed themselves. Theo saw they were the careful renditions of families with small children, teenagers with painted faces and longish hair, elderly men and women painted in thin rivulets of sweat and powdered sugar.

“Where?”

Am I?

Another crack of light and peal of color illuminated their faces, and they turned upward.

Michigan City, Indiana.

The sign lit up in a spurt of goldenrod yellow behind the Being still in front of Theo.

Welcome to.

“Sir, are you on any medication? Have you had anything to drink tonight?”

The sun was out. How could it be night?

Theo looked down and saw his body was hair and fought back against the lump in his throat that he knew, also, was hair.

“I’ll die right here swimming in this drink of fur but you already knew that, didn’t you? The crystals let you all in.”