Chapter Fourteen: White Gold:
Anna made it back to the city by noon. I've already been here a whole day, she thought. They didn't even tell me how to find that Caterpillar. Anna sighed and shook her head. If only there was some way to…
Someone glomped her from behind before she could finish that thought.
"Whoa!" Anna cried as she fell to the ground. Giggling made her freeze. She looked up to see the Cheshire cat's grin.
"Oh, it's you," Anna said.
"I missed you!" the Kazue-double said. Anna frowned.
"Right," she said. Kazue's look-alike cuddled close to her "friend." The other woman pushed her off.
"Get off," Anna mumbled. The kitty looked at her with innocent eyes.
"So, where are you off to?" she asked. Anna forced herself to remain pleasant.
"I need to see someone," she said.
"The Caterpillar," Anna replied. Her kitty "friend" perked up.
"Yes," Anna said, nodding. Cheshire leapt to her feet.
"I know where she is!" she cheered aloud. "I know where she is!" Anna narrowed her eyes.
"You sure about that?" she asked.
"Yep, yep!" the kitty exclaimed, nodding. "I can take you there now!"
"Is that right?"
"Yes! Come along!" She grabbed Anna by the hand and dragged her away before she could argue.
"Slow down!" Anna shouted. "You're hurting me!" The kitty only laughed aloud.She led Anna down to a shop where the Cheshire turned to her, grinning.
"We're here!" Anna's face twisted in confusion.
"It looks like a sex shop," she mumbled, particularly because of the pink neon lights. The winking kitties in the window did little to improve it. Kazue's clone giggled.
"Pretty cute, huh?" she asked. Anna forced herself to be polite.
"Sure…" she lied through gritted teeth. "Whatever you say." The kitty jumped up in her face.
"Let's go!" she shouted. "Let's go!" Anna took a step back, shuddering. Must you be so loud? The Cheshire dragged her into the shop.
Smoke surrounded them as the pink bell rang against the glass. Anna coughed and fanned it away feebly.
"What the hell?" she asked. "What's with all that smoke?" The kitty turned to her, grinning.
"I take leave of you now," she said. "Bye-bye." The kitty bowed and walked out. Anna looked around in the pink smoke.
"Wait! Come back here!"
"Who goes there?" a woman's voice croaked. Anna jumped at the sound. Her eyes dared to look around the place.
"Uh… only me?" Anna offered.
"Who is 'me'?" Anna examined more closely the objects around the room.
"Where are you?" Anna asked.
"Back here, Honey," the woman said. Anna walked down the hall toward the back room. She pushed back the beaded curtain where a woman sat on a gold lounge couch. Her white gold robe revealed her huge breasts and curves underneath. Her silver glasses and long smoking pipe gave off a strange elegance. Anna stared oddly at the woman.
Is that… Tatsumi?
The woman took in a smoke. "What do you want?" she asked. Anna shook her head.
"Are you the Caterpillar?" she asked. The other woman raised an eyebrow.
"I am," Anna said.
"And who is 'I'?"
"Someone who's trying to get back home," Anna said. The woman on the couch took another smoke.
"Okay," she said. "I am the Caterpillar. What is that you desire?" Anna stood strong in front of her.
"Tell me how to get to Heart Castle." The Caterpillar dumped the pipe.
"May I ask why?" she asked.
"I want to help Bunny-tan," Anna said. The Caterpillar leaned forward with intent in her eyes. Anna tried to keep her own eyes on the Caterpillar's face.
"Why would you want to do that?" the Caterpillar asked. The other woman drew in a heavy breath.
"I want to help her because she can help me out too," Anna admitted.
"And why do you need help?"
"I want to go home."
"Where is home?" the blue-eyed woman asked. Anna pointed to the ceiling.
"I'm from reality," she said. The Caterpillar took another smoke from her pipe.
"What is reality?" Anna made a strange face.
"Why do you keep asking me these questions?" she asked. "I just want to go home."
"Is that all?" the Caterpillar asked.
"Yes!" Anna yelled. The Caterpillar smiled with the pipe in her teeth.
"Come with me then," she said. The Caterpillar rose to her feet and headed into her store. Though extremely confused, Anna followed behind.