The carriage had finally stopped. Pushing through the flap, Cashew emerged onto the path that lead through Monsuta’s twisted gates and up to the front door. Looking back one more time at the unmoving coffin in which only an hour ago Cashew had stuffed the blonde in, he shook his head and started unloading the crates of flowers onto the floor nearby.
“Was th’ raad al’aight?” Shouted Janardan as he jumped down to help him.
“Yes, we’re very grateful for your help.”
“An wher ’s Monsuter?”
“Oh... he ran inside quickly; said he was dying to go to the bathroom or something” lied Cashew. Alphy and Sasha then appeared suddenly beside him and helped with the crates. Cashew quickly glanced at the coffin, but to his relief it was still immobile. (Monsuta might actually be sleeping from tiredness by all that crate lifting and chasing after his carriage) thought Cashew. (Wait a second, if he is now destined for death why am I even bothering with all of these crates anyway? It was just part of his plan to make me work more!) but no longer had he finished this thought, had he heard a quiet thump coming from inside Monsuta’s coffin. In panic, Cashew dropped whatever he was holding, and rushed up to Janardan, snatching away the last crate he was lifting.
“I think we’re all done here, thank you again for all your help... it’s ok, I’ll manage carrying these up to the mansion. Oh... we must have taken a lot of time from you, yeah? You can hurry on your merry way then!”
Cashew was frantically pushing a very confused Janardan up to the drivers seat and then pulled on the reins and jumped off. The old man looked back with wide eyes, but then eventually shrugged his shoulders and waved back, then fully began controlling his horses to continue his journey. Cashew proceeded to stare intently at the back of the carriage just in case Monsuta had somehow miraculously woken up and got out, but no such thing happened. (Had my plan actually worked?) Cashew dared to be hopeful.
But his optimism quickly died away when he saw the stacks of crates that surrounded him. (Even when he is not around, Monsuta has the devilish power of annoying me to death!) Cashew started to angrily carry one crate at a time into the mansion, accompanied by the silent cat-children.
“Thank you for your help!” Cashew exclaimed wearily, but the two cats only looked at him with glassy eyes.
“Master told us to do so, which is why we are helping.” Alphy plainly replied.
“He... what? Ah never mind, just hurry up with these crates.”
A few more hours passed since all the crates of flowers had been moved. Cashew fell asleep on the couch and in the morning he now lay sprawled out while drowsily eating a sandwich that he had made, much like the one that he and Monsuta ate on the day of their hunting trip. Each moment that passed sent shivers of excitement down his spine as he thought more and more on how Monsuta will never be coming back. He considered that what he had done was brilliant, in the way that, if Monsuta’s parents were to ever find out that their son was dead, they would be sent into immense grief, but be unable to pinpoint who had committed the crime... or wrongly accuse the coffin maker... or the people who had hired him. (My parents have finally been avenged, he thought with a happy fluttering in his stomach.) He now found himself in a house with no owner, and decided to savour every second of this opportunity.
After he saw Sasha and Alphy nonchalantly exit the mansion to sort out the crates, Cashew finished his last mouthful and lazily got up. He spent some time looking closely at every detail of the house and he allowed himself to look deeply into various cupboards and drawers that he never dared to approach before. He hoped to find any more information about the man who he tried to kill for the past month, such as any secret notes or items that Monsuta could be hiding. Nevertheless, Cashew only found more books stuffed here and there, and various, old shopping lists that Monsuta had used to go into town with. His wardrobe bared the same set of clothes he always wore and the only marginally interesting thing Cashew found in a dark, dusty corner of the wine cellar was a little box with a ring that glowed a pale green. When he touched it he felt a sudden burning sensation and immediately dropped it. “What just happened?” A fragment of a memory momentarily flashed in Cashew’s head. “It’s just like that night 20 years ago! Is this something passed down from his family?” He wondered as he further examined the worn out box through squinted eyes. He carefully picked up the ring with some cloth and dropped it into his pocket. Who knows, maybe this will lead to some answers in the future? He continued exploring and was beginning to give up from disappointment, when on the last floor, he remembered stood a door that Monsuta specifically told him to stay away from. With something new to do, Cashew gingerly ran up the stairs and noticed that next to it hung a small envelope that was the same colour as the wall. (Finally something exciting,) Cashew couldn’t help but think wishfully to himself, whilst reaching into the envelope at the same time, (I will finally see Monsuta’s deepest and darkest secrets today- but firstly, what on earth is this?)
In the envelope he felt some sort of smooth, cold, metal object. Taking it out, he saw that it was a rectangle shape and flat; it had smooth edges and was black in colour, decorated with various bumps and shiny surfaces. He shook it a few times and placed it close to his ears in hopes of hearing something, but nothing happened. Unamused by the thing, he just registered it as some rock that Monsuta had picked up once, and threw it onto the ground. Upon impact, the object buzzed suddenly and lit up. This action startled Cashew, who jumped up and ran behind the piano. The object stayed alight and, when Cashew made sure that it was no longer going to move, he cautiously approached the thing. Lifting it up to his face, he squinted his eyes to look past the bright, unnatural light that it gave off, and saw that strange English words and multiple colours had appeared on one of the smooth surfaces of the object. When Cashew had finally got used to the light, the thing burnt out and suddenly became black again.
He did not understand the thing, but knew that he did not like it. With care this time, he placed it back into the envelope that he had found it in and decided to focus on the mysterious door instead. He wasn’t as excited this time, as the unknown made him feel weary after seeing the mysterious object, and Cashew had a bad feeling that more strange things would be behind this door. Mustering up any last courage he possessed, he twisted the handle and gave a push. Nothing happened. He tried again with both hands, but again the door only shook slightly. Annoyed, Cashew stepped back a little and, with a run up this time, he crashed his whole body into the door and immediately lost his balance as it swung open. He flew out of the other side and with a few painful grunts, rolled down a few stairs, and crashed into a passerby, both landing onto concrete. He did not move from the pain for a while until he felt someone moved from under him and Cashew immediately jumped up. Still in a haze, he looked down and saw that he had run into a tall man with medium, jet-black, wavy hair which reached down to his shoulders and was tied up in a small ponytail at the back. The man was wearing a greyish-yellow tailcoat with a white berry pattern accompanied by a matching waistcoat and tie. He also wore dark grey trousers and waistcoat with a pocket-watch chain hanging loosely from one pocket. His piercing black eyes, pale skin and long face definitely reminded Cashew of someone but for the life of him he just couldn’t think who. Cashew tried to ignore the additional feeling of discomfort and danger that he felt around the man and instead offered his hand to help him stand up.
“I’m really sorry about that, are you ok? I must have given you a heart attack, flying out and crashing into you like that-“
“Yes, I’m quite alright; this is the first time I’ve seen someone come out of that door except him...” Murmuring under his breath, the man ignored Cashew’s hand and curtly stood up. “I suppose this means he’ll want my help soon.”
“Huh? Did you say something?”
The man looked icily at Cashew, making him flinch, and then without another word continued down the road.
Cashew’s eyes followed him for a split second before he realised that something gigantic was standing beside him. He slowly looked up and saw miles of stone towering above him. These enormous structures grew out on either side of the street, and glistened evilly as the sun shined its rays onto them. It was at this moment that Cashew also noticed the beasts which angrily roared as they passed only a few centimetres away from his feet. In terror, Cashew scrambled back up the stairs he had fallen from and nervously made eye contact with the beasts glaring eyes. They did not seem to notice him, and all the strangely dressed people which passed also did not seem to care for the monsters that could crush them at any moment. Cashew also noticed a strong scent of tar in the air, causing his nose to burn and his eyes to tear up. Not a single tree or flower could be seen and the sky was as grey as everything else that surrounded him.
(Where am I?) he continuously repeated to himself. He spent a long time on the cold stairs, looking out in amazement and horror at the scene he had found himself in. Hours passed where he just sat there, frozen to the spot and alone like an abandoned kitten. The woman from before was the only person who seemed to notice him, as every other person simply walked past with emotionless faces and dressed in black from head to toe. They all seemed to be in a hurry, moving together, as if possessed, and somehow managing not to fall over one another. A lot of them carried the same metal objects that Cashew had earlier found in the envelope, with which those people would seemingly speak into the empty air. This deeply confused Cashew, but he did not dare to ask them what they were doing, just in case he were to be possessed as well. He then studied the monsters a little more closely. They were of various sizes and colours, yet each one could kill him if it wanted. They had four, rolling legs and only ran in the centre of the street. At one point, he noticed with despair that people were trapped inside their bellies, but they seemed unfazed. (It is probably something that resembles a carriage) Cashew came to the conclusion. The towers of stone on the other hand, were monsters which did not move, yet also contained people and grew as high as forty storeys into the air. Another thing Cashew learned was that everyone seemed to speak and write in English. (This must be one of the things that Shirley said was made of magic... Monsuta’s door must be somehow leading to a whole new world in which strange clothing and futuristic machines roam alongside humans.)
Still with a little bit of fear, Cashew finally pushed off of the ground and decided to explore this land a little more. With a huff, he tried to take a step into the street and immediately was swept away by the flow of briskly walking people. He had no control for a few long moments as to which direction he wanted to go. He had failed to notice that as the day grew longer, more and more people populated the busy streets. He was eventually pushed out into a larger street than the one Monsuta’s door had led out onto, and was once again struck with awe as even more people, beasts and towers of stone greeted him.
With a little more space around him, Cashew managed to regain control of where he wanted to walk, and slowly made his way down the concrete path. He made sure to keep away as much as possible from the growling carriages, and instead looked inside the stone towers, eventually realising that they were actually various shops and houses that people used. This is how Cashew had spent the next few hours, staring past enormous glass walls at various clothes, buns, books and toys that were available in this world.
He did not understand the way anything worked around here yet, even after spending a day on the long street, yet one thing he did learn was that when crossing a single path where the roaring carriages ran and joined up to the main street, he should follow the flow of people in order to cross safely. He did not know why or how, but the monsters stopped sometimes to let the people pass. (Maybe they are not as scary as I had first thought... but still, I must not take any chances and make sure to never cross the large street...) Cashew slowly thought to himself.
This street was so big and had so many interesting and strange possessions, that Cashew easily managed to spend the whole day there. It was beginning to get dark when he had nearly got used to the tar in the air and he heard a familiar voice being carried in the wind. Immediately, Cashew stopped looking into the sweet shop he had been passing by and instead frantically looked from side to side to see if he could pinpoint the owner of the voice. Walking a little further away, Cashew realised that the voice was coming from a poorly lit alleyway which he had not noticed before, and after a few moments of hesitation, he decided to enter. Cashew didn’t understand how he had heard the voice from the racket of the busy street, nor why he had followed it... after all, it was impossible for HIM to be able to be here, right?
As Cashew continued deeper into the alley, the voice mingled with a few other unknown voices and their conversation became clearer. Cashew quickened his pace into a light jog.
“Listen pal,” came a rough and menacing voice, “we won’t hurt ya, that is, if you comply....”
“Yeah,” another voice, more high pitched and squeaky, but with the same menace joined in “just give us ya wallet and ya expensive lookin’ phone and we’ll leave ya be- all in one piece but with a few additional broken bones!” Along with the two unknown voices joined in a few more as they all broke out into mad laughter.
“Hey, guys, listen here, I don’t want any trouble, I just need to find my maid!” at the sound of this voice Cashew started running and, upon quickly rounding a corner, nearly bumped into one of the men whom Cashew had heard was threatening before. There were about five men that Cashew could make out in the dark, all of different size and shape, but all unmistakably dangerous. Most held a knife or a broken bottle in their hands and all wore a red bandanna around their left leg, probably signifying that they were part of some sort of gang. The guy who Cashew thought was the leader, wore ripped, black leather jeans and jacket, was twice as tall as him, and had muscles so big, each were the size of a Cashews head. He slowly looked back at the appearance of Cashew and smiled with a row of golden teeth.
“Cashew! It’s good to finally see you, I was looking for you all night and all day!” A cheerful voice came from behind the leader of the gang and, when Cashew looked over one of Golden Teeth’s humongous shoulders, he saw a smiling Monsuta sitting on a rubbish bin with dusty clothes and ruffled hair. It seems Cashew was right at pinpointing the voice. He sighed in relief at finding out that the other seemed unhurt, and immediately felt disgusted with himself. (Why is he not dead in the coffin I left him in? How dare he survive? And did he just have the audacity to call me a maid?!) he thought with increasing anger.
“Oh, so it seems you brought a little friend with ya, eh?” Golden Teeth spoke, slowly turning fully around and facing Cashew.
(Friend?! Is he making fun of me?)
“Are you kidding me,” Cashew spat, “friend? I don’t care what happens with this man, please take care of him... you’d do me a favour!”
Cashew turned around and huffed in annoyance as he walked back up the alley. It seems his response took the gang by surprise since they didn’t move even after he started to leave.
“Hey Cashew!” Monsuta’s voice rang out, “Wait for me, I still haven’t shown you around Lon-“
“Hey, where do ya think ya going, man?” The leader and his gang members sprung back into action at the sound of Monsuta jumping off of the rubbish bin. Golden Teeth went in for a punch at Monsuta’s face, but the other nimbly ducked and continued to walk after Cashew. This meant that Golden Teeth missed and instead, ended up punching a wall directly behind.
“Cashew, wait for me!” Monsuta didn’t pay any attention to the attack, he only thought of catching up to Cashew.
“After him!” The groaning leader managed to cry out to his members as he sank down and curled up around his fist in agony.
Two people swung their fists at Monsuta this time, from both his left and right side, but the blonde simply took a step back, which resulted in the two people knocking each other out.
“Cashew! Wait, at least take a selfie with me since it’s your first time to the city!”
But Cashew did not care about what was happening behind him. His thoughts were still full of how it was possible for Monsuta to be here, alive and well.
The blonde, in the meantime, was trying to catch up when suddenly something glistened in the corner of his eyes. Two more gang members jumped onto Monsuta, this time one managed to grab his throat, while the other tried to smash his bottle onto Monsuta’s head, but Monsuta bent down at the exact same time, pulling the man who clung to his throat up and making the other smash the bottle onto his fellow gang member’s skull instead. When Monsuta had picked up whatever was glistening on the floor, he abruptly got up and accidentally head butted the last gang member- meaning everyone who wore a red bandanna on their left leg was now either knocked out or writhing in pain.
“Oh, sorry about that. Hey, Cashew!”
Monsuta finally caught up with Cashew back at the main street and the other finally stopped. Giving an agitated sigh, Cashew spun round with anger blazing in his eyes.
“How did you end up in that alleyway?” He finally managed to ask through gritted teeth. Monsuta’s face took a change from an innocent smile to a devilish smirk.
“Isn’t a better question right now is to ask why you walked through the one door I told you not to?” Monsuta asked in a disconcerting voice, the look on his face sending a small electric shock down Cashew’s spine and forcing him to stiffen into silence.
“Well never mind,” Monsuta suddenly laughed whole heartedly and stretched out his arms as he gave a loud yawn. “I only wanted to share the experience of showing you around this place my self just in case you get yourself into trouble, but everything seems to have worked out. You see, that door leads to an alternate world which previous generations of my family used to... enjoy the presence of humans from two different places. It also has its quirks if you’re trying to get out of trouble in one world! Amazing, don’t you think? Oh and you won’t believe this, but I woke in a coffin of all places. I enjoyed a few hilarious moments as I watched the people mourning some graves run away screaming, but then I had to walk all the way back home, which wasn’t very fun since I had lost my book.” Cashew let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding. It was possible Monsuta was furious but from his response it seems that Monsuta does not wish to investigate the matter. Still, Cashew sensed that staying quiet was probably his best course of action in this uncertain situation. “And when I found out that you had got through into London, I was a little sad that you didn’t wait for me, but also overjoyed with your eagerness... I immediately wanted to find you so that I could show you my favourite places. That’s when I started running around all the streets and came across this sweet shop, thinking ‘jee, it would be great to share a packet of Maltesers with Cashew!’ and so I took out the pound coins I had in my pocket, when one of them rolled down into this alleyway... and when I went to get it, these men-“
The longer he watched the disgustingly gleeful face of his murderers son talk, the more Cashew snapped back into reality. Mustering up all of his anger and hatred, Cashew suddenly shoved Monsuta right into the path of one of those growling monsters, silently waiting for the moment he would hear a screech and a thud that would mean the end of Monsuta’s life. But no such sound came. In total shock, Cashew saw how Monsuta lay baffled in the middle of the street with a line of growling carriages standing mere inches away from him.
“Yeah! That’s exactly what they did! Except they pushed me onto a rubbish bin, not the street-” Monsuta jumped right back up and energetically brushed himself off.
“How... Are you a god or something? Why did they stop just now?” Cashew barely managed to whisper out with rising despair. All day had he seen these ruthless monsters drive up and down the centre street, but he had never seen them stop for one man before!
“Oh, the traffic lights have turned red. Cars stop when traffic lights turn that colour and go when it turns green. It avoids mayhem around this chaotic city!” Monsuta answered as he indulged himself in looking at Cashews stunned face.
(How has this lucky monster managed to survive three deaths in less than 24 hours?) was all that Cashew managed to think at that moment. Monsuta simply patted the others shoulder and bought both of them a packet of Maltesers. Then, the traffic lights turned green and the cars continued to drive down the street.