I have never been a superstitious person. I have never balked at the idea of walking under a ladder or opening an umbrella indoors. Stray pennies that I find on the sidewalk don’t fill me with excitement at the prospect of coming luck. Quite frankly, I think that people who do think this way are a bit ridiculous.
Still, I had to admit that I had seen more than just a few strange coincidences that day.
It started early, with not one of my six alarms going off to wake me up. Sure, that’s just a small thing for most people, but I have six separate alarm clocks. All battery-operated, so I knew that it wasn’t a power surge or a flipped breaker. Unless all of the batteries died at once.
When I got out of bed, I tripped over a box. Again, normal for most people, but not for me. I like to keep everything in perfect order, perfectly clean. This box had somehow slid out from under my bed.
All throughout my morning, I kept running into tables, chairs, my bed. For some reason, I felt that all the furniture in my house had shifted just a few inches. Things seemed to have moved from their normal spots, and I couldn’t find anything where it was supposed to be.
By the time I left home for work, I was exceptionally uneasy. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen.
The streets were quiet, much quieter than they would be normally. I felt vulnerable and uneasy, sure that at any moment, something would jump out at me and drag me away.
When a black cat walked out of the alley and sat down right in my path, I thought nothing of it. There were plenty of stray cats in the city, though this cat looked a little more the worse for wear. It stared up at me as I stepped around it, one eye slashed with an awful pink scar.
I shuddered and kept walking.
I hadn’t walked a full block when another cat walked out of the alley and sat down in the walk in front of me. I paused for a moment, confused. This couldn’t be the same cat, could it?
As I got closer, I realized that this cat had the same pink scar crossing its eye. I stared at it, bewildered. I quickened my steps and walked around it.
I was anxious to get to work now, but I knew that I still had several blocks to go. I looked over my shoulder, expecting to see the black cat still sitting on the sidewalk. But I was gone. I sighed in relief and turned around, only to stop abruptly.
The cat was right in front of me.
I stared at it, my heart pounding. What was happening? This just could not be the same cat!
I waved my hands at it, making hissing noises at it.
“Shoo, cat, shoo.”
The cat just blinked at me slowly. I tried again, to no avail.
Disturbed, I gave the cat a wide berth as I passed it.
I was speed-walking now. I tried to distract myself by counting streetlights, but I could hardly focus on that and kept having to start over when I lost the numbers in my head.
I was so focused on not focusing, I almost didn’t notice the cat for the fourth time.
I tripped, almost walking right over it. I didn’t stop this time. I knew it was the same cat, and I didn't know why it was following me. I walked quicker, then broke into a run. My heart pounded and my breath came in gasps. Was I really this out of shape? Or was it fear?
When I finally arrived at my office building, I gave a sigh of relief. I hurried in and over to my desk, dropped my bag and sat down heavily.
I immersed myself in work, not letting myself think about how strange that morning had been. I turned in finished project after project, feeling satisfied with how much I had gotten done.
I sat back in my chair, smiling. This morning hadn’t gone so well, but at least work was good today.
I looked out the window and felt my heart drop.
The cat was out there.
I groaned and dropped my head into my hands.
My coworker John leaned over from his desk.
“Too much work, eh,” He said sympathetically. I turned and looked at him.
“No, it’s that stupid cat out there!” I cried grumpily. “I swear, it’s following me!”
John looked out the window and frowned.
“Um, what cat?”
“That cat, there!” I cried, whirling and pointing out the window at… Nothing? The cat was gone. I groaned again and shook my head.
John gave me a concerned look and turned back to his own desk.
That day, we experienced more technical failures than we had ever experienced in a day. The printer broke, computers crashed, lights flickered and went out. I was growing more and more uneasy.
By the time I clocked out, I felt as though I would burst from anticipation.
I slung my bag over my shoulder and pushed through the door, determined to get home quickly. I jumped when I noticed the cat, sitting right in my path.
I sighed angrily and made kicking motions towards the cat, hissing. It just stared at me, completely unconcerned.
I whirled around and went the other way. I knew that this way was longer, but I hoped that it would deter the cat from following me further.
When I saw it again, I wasn’t even surprised. I just moved around it robotically, growing to expect it now, though that didn’t stop me from dreading it.
Twice more I saw the cat, sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at me. I walked quicker and quicker every time I saw it, anxious to get home. My heart pounded, my blood rushed in my ears. Everything felt wrong.
Finally, I arrived at my house. I ran up the stairs, threw open the door, and slammed it without looking back.
Relieved, I sank to the floor with my back against the door. I took a deep breath and sighed, trying to catch my breath. I was finally home. Finally safe.
I stood up and walked into the kitchen. Stopped. I couldn’t help the scream that escaped from my mouth.
There, on my kitchen counter, sat the cat.