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Horror Fiction Thriller

“Why in the hell did I ever move to Chicago?” I mutter to myself as I cross the open-air parking lot. I’ve worked late, and it’s about five minutes before midnight. It’s Friday the thirteenth in February, and I can barely keep my eyes open because the wind is sandblasting snow into my face at about forty miles an hour! On top of that, I parked my car at the end of the lot. All the other cars are gone. Only shallow squares in the snow mark the spot where they were parked. Clutching my top coat tightly at my throat, I lower my head and push on. The wind is just ripping through me, and I feel like I am standing behind a jet plane about to take off. I turn my back to the wind just to catch my breath, my hair blowing into my face. I stand for a moment until I finally take a big gulp of air and turn around to face the wind again. But wait! What’s this coming at me through the snow? I shield my eyes from the snow and wind with my hand to determine what it is when it stops at my feet.   It looks up at me with knowing yellow eyes. It’s a freakin’ black cat! I screw my face up angrily and take a kick at it only to miss and nearly fall on my backside. The cat shoots off into the darkness and snow.

I don’t consider myself a superstitious man, but I believe that all superstitions somehow have their roots in the truth. For example, “A pig in a poke” and “The cats out of the bag.”  At one time, some poor local yokel was talked into buying a pig in a sack, but when he got home and opened it, a cat jumped out. It’s been used for years as a lesson to teach not to spend your money foolishly and know what you are buying. Well, the same thing is true about black cats crossing your path. It must have happened to someone, and the myth is that it is bad luck to have it happen to you. Cats, black or otherwise, have no power to cause chaos or harm in any way.  Thus convincing myself, I decide it’s time to move ahead because I’m freezing! I sigh deeply and let my shoulders slump as I notice the tiny imprints of cat paws crossing my path in the snow. I hesitate and decide that the snow will soon cover these and they will no longer be crossing my path. Once again, I turn my back to the wind and snow and count to sixty by Mississippis. Finally, I turn around and stop dead in my tracks. Oh, horror!

My heart skips a beat and then, with a mighty thud, starts pounding in my chest. I suck in copious amounts of freezing arctic air, causing my lungs to burn with pain! My eyes are so wide open that they are tearing, immediately freezing at my temples. There, right in front of me, sits the cat. The halogen lamp of the parking lot casts a ten-foot-long shadow of it across the snow. I scream, “What do you want!?! Just leave me alone, will ya!” Instead, it just sits there unperturbed by the howling wind, the same wind that just now pushes me back a foot or two.

I see my car’s tires are buried halfway up with snow. It is about fifty yards from me. As I look, the lamps at that end of the lot go out, and the one nearest me starts to flicker. Still the cat sits watching. Finally, I close my eyes and think. “Cats, cats are just cats. They are neither good nor bad luck. They haven’t any mythical powers that allow them to harm. They are just God Damn CATS! I’ve once again convinced myself that I’m just being silly and need to go straight to my car and go home. I’ll have to pass through the cat’s unbelievably long shadow though. When I realize I’m thinking this, I say, “So what! It’s just a stinking shadow!” I ball my fist and lean forward, but my legs won’t move! They are stuck there, frozen in fear. Try as I might, I can’t get to my car. Shaking my fists in the air, I growl through my clenched teeth, “I’m being such an idiot!” The cat is in front of me, licking its paw nonchalantly. “I can’t believe I’m letting you control me like this. It’s stupid, stupid, Stupid! Man, I hate you so much I could kill you!” The cat stops mid-lick and fixes me with its narrow yellow eyes. I feel a pain in my chest, for my heart has stopped for three long beats.

I fall to my knees, clutching my chest. I’m panting, trying to catch my breath but the wind keeps snatching it away. Slowly I regain my strength and, despite the freezing temperature, I am drenched in sweat. I struggle to get back on my feet and mop my brow with the sleeve of my tweed top coat. I wonder to myself how this situation ever came to this. The wind, the snow, and the black cat all seem so unreal. And when did I become so superstitious? I’ll admit I’ve always disliked cats, but this is ridiculous! This is more than superstition. This is abnormal or perhaps paranormal.  Suddenly I have an idea occur to me and yell to the cat, “You know what I’m going to do? I will return to the office lobby and spend the night there! What do you think of that, uh?”

I laugh out loud at my own cleverness. The cat looks at me with those hideous yellow eyes, and I swear I see amusement dancing behind them. I turn swiftly and start stomping my way back to the office building. The wind, which has never let up, seems to increase in strength and is beating, buffeting, and pushing me so hard that I’m slipping and sliding all over the place.  While trying to keep my balance, I trip over one of the parking lot jersey barriers. I fall hard and sprawl in the snow.  I push myself onto my haunches and look at my scraped and bloodied hands. Raising my head a little, I see a pair of large black paws about the size of my hands. Its dagger-like claws slipped in and out. I drop my chin to my chest and begin to whimper pitifully. “Oh, God! This can’t be real! Oh, God, no, no, no.”

Early Saturday morning of the following day, Mary Wilkins pulls into the parking lot at work. She notices a car covered in snow at the far end and thinks that perhaps someone couldn’t get it started and had to walk home. “I hope they made it alright,” Mary thinks. She’s here today to pick up some paperwork she forgot to bring home. Walking cautiously through the drifted snow, she comes across an imprint that looks like someone may have fallen. “Oh my!” she exclaims and feels the need to step around it.

As Mary rounds the corner, she is frozen in place, unable to process the scene before her. Suddenly a scream erupts from her throat. Her vision fades, and her knees turn to rubber. Afraid she may faint, she steadies herself by leaning against the brick building. There propped up in the corner of the doorway, is Brad Ellis, one of the junior accountants, dead! His head is thrown back with his mouth hanging open. His eyes have rolled up into his head. From beneath his overcoat emerges the black cat that looks at Mary with menacing yellow eyes before it saunters off into the snow.

October 24, 2022 13:43

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1 comment

Rabab Zaidi
10:50 Oct 30, 2022

Scary !

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