As the sun sank lower into the West, and the last of the warm afternoon rays left my face in a shadow, I felt the cold creeping up my arms.
I could just make out the ominous black clouds swirling in the distance, like great ghostly ballet dancers, stretching their claw-like tendrils across the closing of the day. The last of the sun’s rays disappeared into the black oblivion, and the slight breeze suddenly whipped up to strong gusts, pulling at my hair and clothes like bony fingers, as I stood on the porch.
I turned and entered the house then, and gladly closed the front door behind me with an ominous creak, hoping my partner Bran, who had gone to a meeting, would not take too long. His meetings were very secretive and he would never discuss them with me, I assumed they were for work.
I didn’t like this dark feeling which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and a chill run down my spine.
Having changed into my pyjamas and robe, I settled down on the large squishy couch with my book, and my small dog snuggled in beside me. Outside, the gales began to rattle the door, and roared through the trees, I could hear things being tossed around, and then the rain began. Just lightly at first, like a cool summer shower on a ghastly hot day, and I hoped this was a sign that the storm was blowing away, how wrong I was.
The rain got heavier, much heavier, it pelted against the roof and the windows with a roar so loud, I was sure the glass would come crashing into the house at any moment. The branches of the trees were scratching at the windows intent on getting inside. It was hard to concentrate, but I kept my mind on the pages of the book in my hand, even though the words were swimming before my eyes. My dog had disappeared, behind the couch, cowering from fright.
Suddenly the door rattled, “At last!” I thought. Bran had finally arrived back. Or had he? I waited, as the knob started to turn.
I expected him to walk through the door, but the door stayed shut and the knob kept turning, slowly, ever so slowly. I forced myself off the couch, and on unsteady feet crept to the front door, with my heart pounding in my chest. The door was being rocked by the rain and wind as I peered through the glass panel.
It was so black it was hard to make out anything, just wavering shadows with bursts of light from the storm, but I could just make out the outline of the front gate, blowing back and forth like the sails of a ship.
My heart leapt into my mouth and I stifled my scream, as a black shadowy figure passed by, outside the front door, long flowing hair being whipped up by the gales as it stood there, and then, as I stared, with my mouth open in horror----- it was gone again.
I backed away from the door, heart pounding, chills running up and down my spine “Who or what WAS that?” But as scared as I was, my curiosity overruled me, I had to find out or I would never be able to settle down again.
Pulling my robe around me as tight as possible, I pulled the front door open, and was almost knocked over by the wind and rain. I forced myself forward and pushed out onto the porch and into the black night.
The outside light had blown, and I didn’t have a spare.
As my eyes adjusted to the dim I started to look around, there was a sudden violent crack of lightening, which lit up the whole sky. As my hair blew around my face and whipped at my eyes, it came into view.
There, standing on the rail at the end of the porch was an enormous black cat, green eyes shining in the night, tail swishing and hair standing up like pine needles along it’s back. There was a low burbling growl emanating from the creature.
Panic spread over me, it looked so menacing. I wondered where it had come from and why it was there, but it was just a cat. I told myself not to be stupid, it was probably just as scared as I was in this abysmal storm.
I started towards it, but it let out a terrified scream and leapt towards me, claws aiming at my face, I tried to jump out of the way, but felt the scrape of it’s claws down the side of my face, as hot blood ran down my neck. It soared over the rail, off the porch, and into the blackness.
I was drenched, shivering and in shock, I headed back to the front door, only to hear a low growl and then a hiss, from behind me. I turned around too quickly skidding on the wet verandah and falling hard on my hip. As I lurched back onto my feet I saw a large black shadow with long trailing hair, disappear around the end of the porch.
I raced inside and slammed the door shut, almost shattering the glass panel, and leant against it to get my breath back and stop my thumping heart. But someone was there, pushing the door open against me!
I backed away, my eyes standing out of my head, my heart jumping out of my chest, as the knob turned and the front door slowly opened!
Bran stood outside the door, dripping wet, his long dark hair plastered to his face and his green eyes feverishly bright in the half-light. He told me his car had broken down, and he had been trying to call me.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone, and what the hell have you done to your face?” “Have you been out in that storm?” “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
I tried to explain what I had seen, but he laughed at me, so I didn’t try any further.
The next day the man from the auto shop called around with the car. He handed me the keys to my husbands’ car and started to laugh. “I don’t know what your husband did, but all that was wrong was that he had flooded the engine.” “I would have thought after so many years of driving he would have known how to start it.” “Strange thing is, he called on his mobile for us to pick the car up, just a mile down the road.” “when we got there he was nowhere to be seen, and the keys were left in the car.”
“Exactly what time do you think that was?” I asked. When he told me I realised it was the same time I was out on the verandah.
“Terrible storm last night.” I remarked. “A few locals have told me they saw strange things, but I guess it was probably just the dark night and the storm, playing tricks with the light.” “It’s all gone now, so guess we’ll never know.” He laughed at me, and then remarked on the scratch on my cheek. “Oh that, I accidently slipped over on the wet verandah last night and scratched myself on a splinter.”
“Did you know another bad storm is predicted next week?” I asked him.
As I said the words, my heart started to beat loudly in my chest.
My husband had told me they were very busy at The Lodge where he worked and he would need to go to another meeting the following week.
Why did I have a feeling there was something connected between my husband and what had happened the night of the storm?
The scratch on my cheek got very red and sore, my temperature soared and I spent a day in bed having strange nightmares.
The Doctor came to look at me, put some weird green gel on the scratch and stood whispering to Bran in the doorway.
The next day the scratch was almost gone and I was up and about and feeling great.
“What did the Doctor have to say? I asked Bran
He glared at me for a few seconds, then smiled, “Oh, just to make sure you feel okay for the next few days, that scratch was a little bit infected, but should be right now.”
“You have to promise me you won’t do anything silly again, like going outside in the middle of a storm.” “You are just lucky you didn’t knock yourself unconscious when you slipped over.”
“But Bran I told you it was a -----“ “Enough!” “I don’t want to hear anymore of your insane stories!”
With that he left for work. I was convinced he knew a lot more about the “cat” than he was letting on.
I wasn’t looking forward to the storm which was predicted the following week.