Lifting her head off the floor, she felt the warm trickle of blood running down her pale face. Her hair was matted with the stuff. Clenching her fists, she pushed herself up and winced as her brain rocked back and forth in her skull. She wasn’t aware of the cat that had come in through the window, nor of its gaze as she got to her feet. Unsteady as she held out her arms to balance herself, as she did so, the cat was joined by another, and then another. Slinking in without a sound, the two tabbies sat behind the first in awe of the one before them. Moving with the uncertainty of a toddler taking its first steps, X stripped herself of the clothes she’d been wearing for the best part of a week and discarded them in a pile by the TV. Hobbling across the room until she was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, the three cats spoke among themselves as behind them came the rest of their curious kind followed by the squirrels and rats and thieving magpies who were in a game of tug of war over a safety pin one of them had plucked from the ground outside. Their squabbling was cut short however as X let out an anguished sigh that caused the fur and feathers belonging to the motley crew to collectively stand on end. Eyeing her up in unison, they kept their mouths and beaks firmly shut as the girl-who-would-be-a-woman raised her hand to her head before disappearing out of sight. There followed a period of uneasy silence, and the animals were quite unsure as to what to do next. The tortoiseshell named George took it upon himself to be the first one to move, but not before surveying the scene and telling the others to only follow when he gave the signal. As the minutes passed, it was the best part of an hour before he put one paw after the other sniffing the wooden floor as he tread as lightly as possible. The scents that danced upon his nose were both strange and new to him. Turning them over in his head, he edged closer to the doorway X had gone through, and when he got there, he peeked around the corner. The first thing he saw was her slender, outstretched hand resting upon the cold white linoleum. The second was the open bottle and the scattered pills lying next to it.