Thursday, September 02, 2004

The City, Like Cats (Excerpt)

Kit wakes up in an exhalation of breath and finds himself standing again in an empty city; or rather, he dreams he awakes.

It’s always somewhere he knows, somewhere he’s been in the metropolis: the well-lit Ayala avenue of the Makati business district; the claustrophobic and grungy side streets of Binondo, the Chinatown of Manila; or Marcos highway at the edge of the metro in provincial Marikina.

This time, he's looking up at the darkened buildings of the Ortigas commercial area in Pasig with the slowly falling rain rendering everything shiny, almost new under the orange light of the street lamps.

But Kit knows he's dreaming because despite the strangeness of the hour (is it past midnight? 3 o’clock?), the street's devoid of life.

Kit turns around, looking for whoever had called him, the sound coming from nowhere and everywhere, expecting it as he always does.

Moreover, it calls him by his full name (and not his nickname like his friends do) in a voice that was voiceless, tuneless yet all-too human.

He hears it again and he slowly starts walking, fearful, away from where thinks the sound is coming from. As he walks, he shivers at the sight of lonely Pearl Drive bereft of cars and the well-dressed students walking to the nearby University of the Asia and the Pacific.

He finds himself confronting the looming towers of the Tektite Stock Exchange building, hauntingly white against the blackness of the sky and he begins to run.

No, he doesn’t want to stop, he doesn’t want to go back (and Kit almost stops in surprise because he’s not sure which the voice said—stop or go back).

He keeps on running, heading towards the conglomeration of shopping malls nearby (and his body almost swerves in hesitation, his memory dredging up past movies of zombies and shopping malls) and hopeful safety.

Where are the people, he asks himself for the nth time in this kind of dream.

Where are the cars and the trucks and zooming public jeepneys and the yawning cigarette vendors and insomniac Koreans walking about and the security guards sleeping under the eaves of buildings they’re protecting and God, where is God in all of this, he feels like screaming into the air.

At the response, he jerks to a stop and wakes up.

Kit’s first indrawn breath upon waking up sets him coughing.

His first statement, “GetoffmeGiraud,” came out as gibberish as he reached up to his face and tried to grab a handful of fur. With a yowl of outrage, the cat sitting on Kit’s face eluded the reaching hand and bounced off to safer heights.


Sitting up, Kit spent a few minutes trying to damp down his racing heart as well as cursing the cat and promising to turn him into siopao.

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