Chapter Three: The House That Jim Built
Inside I found my inner peace redouble as I came to admire the furnishings within. A tattered black and orange curtain swayed limply in the breeze from a broken window. From one lamp sprang a marble tail, thick and smooth. From an open closet I could see several blue dress shirts, some still in good condition. There was a soothing familiarity to these sights which brought a stupid grin to my face. For a moment I thought maybe I had inserted the serotonin vial into my spine applicator this morning, but I then remembered the clear blue of the estrogen vial.
Wandering slowly in my state of bliss, I stepped out into the backyard. A fence separated the dead grass here from the more unruly vegetation outside it. A red wagon was parked against it. Out there on the porch, leaning against a striped pillar, was a young man, pale and gaunt, smoking a cigarette. Stubble adorned his face and dark circles lay under his eyes, which were a cold blue. His hair was thick and black and it swayed along with the smoke circling his head. He was dressed all in black and had a couple body modifications on his ear and wrist- the kind you could only get in the city.
"Hi," was all I found myself saying. The shock of seeing someone from the place I had fled this far out into the country barely registered.
"Hey,' he said. "How'd you find this place?"
"No idea." I admitted. "How long have you been here?
"Not sure. A week? Maybe a month. But it feels like less."
We both stood in calm silence for a while. Before I knew it we were watching the sun set against the green horizon. Suddenly I remembered the question on my mind.
"...Do you know anything about this place? This house? Why it all feels so familiar?"
The man in black flashed me a knowing smile. He dropped his cigarette but didn't turn his gaze from the sunset. Neither did I.
"All my friends from the city know who this place used to belong to. They've all moved on of course, but then again, they were never big fans of Garfield."
He glanced at my confused expression and continued, suddenly seeming impatient with me.
"This house used to belong to Jim Davis."
When I heard those words it all made sense. The decorations within the house, though in disrepair, all bore the features of a certain fat and lazy cat. I was now sure that if I had gone upstairs I would have found a bedframe with those cute ears and large sleepy eyes. Who would ever think to have such a bed custom-built other than Jim Davis, creator of Garfield?
You might think this revelation would have pleased me. Yet somehow it filled me with fear and dread. This was wrong, so wrong. Jim Davis was not dead. This I now knew despite how many years had passed since I had seen a Garfield strip. I also knew that he was in pain. Terrible pain. I shouldn't have come to his mansion. The site of such beauty was a trick, and it had worked.
Bounding over the fence before us leaped a dark figure against the sinister orange glow of the setting sun. The man in black ran inside and disappeared. When the figure approached the porch I saw who it was and froze. It was Stanley.
"You fucking killed Michael, Riese. I'm taking you back."