There it was again, gently walking across a thin, backyard wall. Wagging its tail from side to side as it moved. Its black fur shiny in the afternoon sun, it looked at Steven as it passed him. 

For the tenth time today. 

Steven was sure of it. The cat was entirely black save for its eyes, which were a deep yellowish-green, but there were some visuals about the cat that made him sure it was, in fact, the same cat. The way one ear had a chip out of it, the length, and particular fluffiness, of its tail. How it would stare at him as he walked past. As if it wanted to say something to him and was waiting for Steven to pause and look at it. 

Of course, Steven never paused or waited. He had no time for that, and this time of the year, even he had a little superstition in the back of his mind. He didn't buy black cats brought bad luck, but why chance it right? Although by now, Steven had grown incredibly curious, and he couldn't further brush things of as coincidence. The cat had crossed him ten times today, and each time it was in a spot in a completely different part of the city. 

The cat was following him. 

For a moment, he entertained the idea of the cat being some government spy project, but realizing that was too far into the realm of fantasy, he stopped and turned around. The cat had stopped as well and was now sitting at the very end of the back yard wall, looking at him, of course. This had gone far enough that it made Steven slightly uncomfortable. There were just too many things he couldn't brush off to coincidence anymore. Why did it stare so much at him?

"What?" Steven questioned his sanity for a moment, as he asked the cat what his beef was. The cat wagged its tail slowly as if agitated. Steven sighed as he stepped towards the cat, and once close enough, started to pet its head. 

"What is it cat? Are you following me? Or am I overworked and stressed out to a point where I am seeing things and going crazy?"

"No, you are fine, Steven." The cat said in a matter of factly tone. 

Steven yelped and jumped a step back, retreating his hand. "Wha- what? Did you just... Am I going insane? What is this?"

"Oh, stop the whining Steven, my time is precious, and I have wasted far too much of it already on catching your attention. Yes, I spoke, yes more of my kind have this ability, and yes, your kind is in general unaware of this. What about it? There is so much your kind doesn't know; it amazes me how you can still be surprised when these things happen."

Steven looked at the cat with big eyes and a gaping mouth for a moment, perplexed. Entirely in disbelief. 

"What, why," Steven tried to think what to say first, what to ask first. So many questions raced in his mind, and he feverishly tried to make sense of it all at the same time. "Wait, you mean you wanted to speak to me all day?"

"Yes, indeed."

"Why didn't you say anything then! Why did you follow me, why not just come to me and talk if you can do that!"

"Because, dear Steven, I am a cat. It does not befit a cat, especially one of my particular standing, to walk up to a human and start talking to them. There are certain protocols and rules to follow, you see. A cat is always approached by the human first. Then the human will do their best to woo the cat, and if this is found to be sufficient, the cat will allow the human to interact with it. Usually, this means you can pet us, but sometimes, on very rare occasions like this, we will talk."

"Wait, you mean all cats can talk?"

The cat snickered. "Oh, no, no, not at all. Some of us can, and others can't. Some others can and choose not to. But that is of little importance now, Steven, please. Try to focus on what is important."

"What is important, then?" Steven asked a bit impatient. So engrossed in the conversation and the wild nature of it that he entirely forgot what it might look like to others nearby. 

"That I need to talk to you, of course."

"Yes, but what do you need to tell me then!"

"Ah, yes. It is simple; I bring a message from Sir Leo Felis the fourth. The cat you referred to as, what was it again? Ah, yes, Omelette."

"Wait; what? Omelette is alive?!" Steven came closer again as he felt a surge of disbelief and happiness. Omelette had been his cat since he was little. But a year ago he didn't come home. Steven assumed a car or something had hit him. Steven had spent the better part of a month mourning him. 

"Yes, otherwise I would not be here carrying a message for you, now would I?"

"Where is he? What happened to him? Why didn't he come home anymore?" The questions flowed out of Steven in quick succession, and the cat squinted its eyes at him. 

"Silence!" It yelled, and Steven took a step back again, surprised by the volume the small animal could produce. "I do not know, but at times we cats are forced to listen to the call of duty. And it is in these times that many of us have to leave their servants. Sir Leo Felis has been in the same situation, I assume."

"Wait, could Omelette talk?"

The cat sighed. "Yes, sir Leo Felis can talk, but he only recently decided to do so. And this was out of a sense of duty. You see, the cat world is in peril. Things are moving, happening. Big things. This is why I was sent to find you."

"What kind of things?" Steven asked. 

"Cat things, you need not burden you feeble human mind with it. But Sir Leo Felis has asked me to offer you the chance to meet him again. If you decide to do so, you should follow me."

"What? Of course! I would love to see him again! Please, please take me to Omelette!"

"Very well." The cat said and then did not move an inch. It was seemingly waiting for something. 

"Well? What are you waiting for then? Lead the way!"

"It is customary for the human to serve the messenger a saucer of milk." The cat wrinkled its nose and whiskers. 

"Seriously? Fine! Come with me then, but hurry, please. I haven't seen Omelette in a year!!"

Steven hurried home, walking as swiftly as he could. At some pointing moving from walking to jogging. The cat hopped after him, seemingly happy with the exercise. Or perhaps he was delighted with the outlook on getting a saucer of milk. Once home, Steven quickly poured the cat a saucer of creamy milk and watched him lap it up. The cat finished by lazily lapping at its snout, trying to clear off the excess milk. 

"Now, please, take me to Omelette."

"Why the hurry? Sir Leo Felis isn't going anywhere, you know. But very well, I have grown tired of you and this quest anyway. Let's head to him right away."

The cat walked out of the kitchen into the living room. There he walked to the centre and sat down. It looked at Steven and then said something Steven was unable to register or repeat. As soon as the cat stopped, a large circle of pure black appeared on the living room floor, almost filling it. Steven took a step back, shocked by the pure obsidian colour of the ring. It looked and felt bad. 

The cat smirked.

"What? Are you scared of this? A black circle on the floor?" The cat snickered. 

"N-no, that's not it." Steven defended himself. 

"Then why don't you come closer? There is no use in lying to cats; we know when you do right away." Steven looked at the cat, then at the black circle and back again. Small wisps of smoke seemed to come off of it, just as black as the thing itself. The air around the cat seemed to distort, and the cat's shape changed along with the distortion at times. Making the cat's smug grin even more creepy, its fangs even shinier. 

"Come now, Steven, we don't have a lot of time. Join me."

Steven swallowed as he took a step forward, inching closer to the circle. The image of the cat distorted more and more as smoke and mist kept puffing up from the circle on the floor. As he got closer, Steven could feel warmth emanating from it. And when he hovered his head over the rim, his nostrils were assaulted by a vile stench that he couldn't put his finger on. He felt scared; his body fought his choice to move forward with all it had. The entire thing felt like a bad idea. But Steven had missed Omelette so much. He had cried every night for weeks. He forced himself to take another step. 

And another.

And another, one of his feet now on top of the black disc. He could see tendrils of whispy smoke gather around his foot, crawling over and around it. At times he thought he could even feel them. The cat started to chuckle to laugh. At him, Steven thought. The image was distorting even more, up to a point it looked more like a mirage than an actual cat now. 

"Come on now, Steven, don't be scared." The cat mocked him. Steven took another step, both feet on the disc now, pushing himself further. 

"Yes, excellent Steven. You are a big boy. You are a brave boy. Come on, closer, next to me now, boy." As he kept pushing himself on, Steven's mind wandered on the fact that the cat's voice sounded different now as well. Distorted, heavier, darker. As if laden with something.... wrong. 

"Yes, almost here, Steven. Keep walking. Soon you can see Omelette." Something was wrong, Steven thought. Knew. Felt deep inside. At first, he couldn't put his finger on it, as he took another step. But then it hit him. 

Omelette. The cat had called Omelette by its first name, no longer the silly, regal name it had used before. Steven didn't know why, but it sounded bad. It sounded wrong. It sounded as if the cat made a mistake by not using the regal name. Steven looked at the cat again, it looked creepy, vile, through the distorted air. But when he squinted his eyes, more because of the heat coming from the disc than to try to see better in the distortion, Steven yelped. 

The cat had not looked like a cat anymore but like a grotesque beast. One that looked an awful lot like the old drawings and illustrations of what a devil would look like. 

"I changed my mind; I don't think I can go with you," Steven said. He tried to take a step back but found his feet stuck to the surface of the black disc. Unable to move, he panicked. Flinging his arms around, desperately trying to pull his feet free. At one point, the disc released him, but his foot only landed further towards the cat, demon. 

"No!" exclaimed Steven. 

The cat laughed and chuckled. "Poor Steven, didn't you want to meet Omelette? Didn't you want to see him again? Hold him? Pet him?" As the cat spoke, the distortion grew even more intense, making it a blurry shadow. The shadow grew in size, and a myriad of tendrils sprouted from the black disc, connecting to the blur that was once the cat. More sprouted near Steven and crawled up his legs. Some of them lanced at him, stabbing his skin and sliding inside of him. Steven screamed as the black tendrils burned is skin and insides. 

"Why!! Stop, please!!" Steven cried out, but he only got laughter in return. 

"I will take you with me, Steven, to Omelette. You should be happy Steven; you will be together with your beloved cat. In the world beyond. Forever and ever. As little playthings in my everlasting garden." The once-cat was now an amorphous blob of black, bubbling tar. A multitude of black, smoky stalks connected it to the disc, and then slowly, it started to sink inside of it, gurgling and laughing. Steven began to sink as well, and he screamed louder, thrashing about, trying to break free. But only more tendrils stabbed him, sliding inside of his body, filling him with pain and fear. 

"No! Please! Help! Somebody help me! Mom! Dad! Please!" 

No reply came as Steven slowly sank deeper and deeper. No response aside from the mocking and the laughing of the once-cat. 

"Nobody will come, Steven, little boy. Nobody at all. Just like when I took Omelette. And all the other playthings I have. You see, I plan and watch. I watch, and I plan. And when the time is just right, I make my move. I lure and deceive. I conjure, and I alter. Creating a perfect trap, and all of them fall for it. And once I reveal myself, only fear befalls them — lovely, juicy, delicious horror. 

And I love it. 

"No! What are you? Please, let me go! Mom! Dad!" The thing laughed again as Steven sunk up to his collar bone into the hot, bubbling tar. 

"Oh, but Steven, I am simply a cat. Couldn't you tell? Maybe not the kind of cat you thought I was at first. But human stupidity and lack of knowledge can't be my responsibility, can it?"

The cat laughed again, and Steven cried out as loud as he could. He sank deeper, and as he screamed, his mouth filled with boiling tar, making him swallow it. It spread in his intestines, into his lungs, drowning him. Soon his voice was muffled, and he went under. The disc bubbled and trashed, but even those signs grew faint until they disappeared. The cat chuckled and then slowly sank as well. 

"A new toy to play with, a joyful day indeed. Until next year, world, for then I will reappear." Its voice was little more than a whisper, but as it spoke, the words burned itself in the wall of the living room. The disc grew smaller and smaller as the cat sunk away, and the disc was no more. The living room looked exactly as before, aside from the burned lettering in the wall. And it grew quiet again.

October 30, 2019 14:58

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