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666 Great Junction Street

Part 2

The overwhelming stench of cat piss was a feature Seraphema missed when she first looked over the apartment a few weeks previously. Of course, then it was inhabited by a couple of lads whose body odour had masked any other possible aromas. They seemed like nice boys, Philip and Quentin, despite their lackadaisical approach to personal hygiene and obvious passion for moggies, of which Seraphema had counted at least thirteen on her visit.

It had looked bigger too, with its clutter and mass of feline fluff. Now, with all furniture and fittings removed, the one bedroom flat felt even smaller than when squirming with living organisms. Initially, Seraphema thought the small mounds dotted around the edges of the threadbare brown carpet were lumps of caught material uprooted during vigorous hoovering sessions. On closer inspection, she discovered they were in fact dried up deposits of cat shit.

The working surfaces of the tiny kitchen area adjoining the living room appeared to have an irregular spotted design, but as Seraphema ran her fingers over them, the tiny black dots were brushed onto the floor where they were captured by the sticky linoleum.

Woodworm had apparently conquered the door leading off the living room to the bedroom, but then Seraphema remembered that Philip and Quentin had a dart board. They must have been awful shots, she thought, examining the pitted surface. The 12' square bedroom also looked a lot smaller than she remembered, now stripped of its carpet and the double bed which had virtually filled it before.

Still, none of this dampened Seraphema's spirits as she wallowed in the glorious rusticity of it all. She felt compelled to dance and promptly span around, her arms akimbo a la Sound of Music. Dare she sing? Well, of course. She belted out a quick verse of I'm Every Woman then collapsed blissfully on to the floor creating a petite mushroom cloud of dust.

Two minutes later, as her coughing gradually subsided, she noticed a shiny black creature scuttling away from the scene of the disturbance. It could have been a beetle. It could have been a cockroach. Or maybe something larger. It was hard to judge amidst the grimy fallout. Whatever it was, Seraphema was none too concerned. All living things were equal in her eyes. Except guinea pigs.

Seraphema's earliest memory was of caressing a guinea pig when she was four years old. Her exuberant mollycoddling of the beast resulted in her squeezing just that little bit too tight whereupon, the alarmed rodent, fearing its innards were about to shoot through its mouth, flew to Seraphema's throat intent on nibbling her jugular. Luckily, her father intervened just in time, but ever since the incident had sullied her all-embracing love of animals. It seemed to her that all guinea pigs had the same mistrusting stare, as if the word had passed amongst the guinea pig brotherhood that she was a squeezer.

As she attempted to focus on the creature disappearing under the skirting board, Seraphema heard a man's voice mumbling beneath. She peered through a crack in the floorboards and saw an eye staring back at her.




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