Keres, with a swift motion of her eyes turned towards the brick wall. The same soft, plush black tail flailed around for a second, and then vanished, like a feather in the wind.

This was the tenth time now. She had grown so accustomed to this ritual, it almost felt like she was waiting for the next brick wall, just to try and see another lurking black cat.

But as she yet again craned her neck to get a better view of the disappearing feline, a strange thought floated into her head. The previous brick wall around which she had spotted another cat, seemed to have the same appearance as this one.

The exact same.

The dull, faded red of the cracking bricks, the paw mark on the wet cement pavement, the little hole in the third brick of the fourth column. It almost had a horrible similarity to that feeling of deja vu.

In fact, Keres could recall seeing the exact same brick wall, at ten different places, at different times, with ten different black cats, all in a day. Could this be the start to something sinister?

She let her eyes wander in the direction of the Sun. It was dropping lower and lower in the western part of the sky, exactly the same as it had been about two hours ago. Keres almost felt scared that it would plunge to it's death on the horizon, swallowed by the vulturous sea. However, it kept on splashing the sky in pale crimson hue, which seemed only to lend an ominous backdrop to the absurd phenomenon happening around her.

She could now faintly recall her grandfather warning her of gruesome nature of black cats.

"If a black cat passes your way, you know it won't be a good day. Cats are witches Ker, that's why they're the guardians of the underworld. And the black ones, they're the most dangerous ones. If you find one staring at you and lightly licking it's paws, ", he had grabbed her by the shoulders then ," you run. Don't look back, you run!".

But then the doctor had entered the room with two other orderlies and sedated him, albeit with huge difficulty.

Keres looked down again. She didn't believe in superstitions. With a name like 'Keres' ,which meant 'evil spirits' in Greek, you tend to filter out what you can't quite believe. But in her heart of hearts , she could feel a strange fear creeping around at the bottom of her stomach. It gurgled and churned like an oncoming cyclone.

She decided to evaluate the situation more practically and started walking again, her snow white sneakers thudding heavily on the pavement. She walked past buildings ,and shops ,and the arguing baker with the bargaining customer, all the same as she had passed before. Her heart sunk lower and lower with each step she took. The realisation filtered in like hot, searing lava. She had already seen all this happen. She had walked right past. More times than she had noticed! Nevertheless, she kept on walking. The only thing that seemed abnormal in the whole townscape was her irregular breathing. And then, she saw it.

The same feather of a tail, disappearing around the corner of a brick wall. A brick wall with a hole in the third brick of it's fourth column.

She dropped down to her knees. She couldn't believe it. The brick wall, the paw mark, the cat, her surroundings.....

This had all happened before! For a split second, the cogs of her mind stopped working, overwhelmed by the fear of being trapped in a nightmare. She pinched herself, slapped herself, even cut her skin on the rough rock of the pavement, all to determine whether this was a dream or not!

After her brief nervous breakdown, she started to realise the vulnerability of her situation. She steadied her breath as it came out in fitful pants of anguish and dread. She shakily stood up on her knees. She noticed her jeans were now torn. They were the new pair she had just bought.

Thus, she shakily got to her feet, and started analysing her options. Going forward on her way would be huge mistake. She had decided that she did not want to see any more black cats or brick walls in her whole life now. Going back didn't remain an option. As far as her eye could see, she spotted a dozen more black cats, all disappearing behind corners. Corners of faded red brick walls.

She couldn't ask anyone for help, they all were probably a simulation in this weird ,topsy-turvy time loop. The only other living thing that could release her from her misery now remained hidden behind brick walls.

The black cat.

She looked down at her hands. Her right thumb was bleeding and the skin over it was dangling dangerously loose. She sucked in her breath, and with her unharmed hand grabbed the stray piece of skin and tore it off her thumb, just as another gush of blood rushed down her hand and onto the pale tracings of her venom green veins. She watched as the torn skin fluttered to the ground, never to be alive again.

Suddenly, an idea struck her. She picked up a stray rock lying on the edge of the sidewalk.

The cat. The stupid black cat, It had been the source of her misery and pain. Initially, she had blamed it on the ill omen her Life seemed to be cursed of.

"WHO SPENDS $250 ON A STUPID GIFT!?!", she could still faintly recall her mother yelling at her father. Her father standing timidly in the centre of the room. She had looked on in great distress, trying to catch her father's lowered gaze. When she finally did, he flashed her a sad smile. A smile that didn't quite seem to read the corner of his lips.

But the smile was not what she recalled. It was the 'I am sorry', that he mouthed to her as he met her gaze. The next she saw him was on the bathroom floor. There was a white-yellowish foam seeping out of his lips like a volcano. He was lying in a pool of his own piss. The police report read that the body had been at least 2 days old.

The stupid cat! With it's abnormally plush black tail! And it's arrogant gait! It didn't deserve to live. Not if Keres couldn't. She marched on, a newfound confidence in her step. Her head was filled with thoughts. Malicious thoughts. Of death, and blood, and of the feeling to come as it would run down her hands, and she could finally look at it's beauty as she contemplated the thought of finally exiting this nightmare. She unconsciously clutched the stone further, to the extent that her own hand started bleeding. But she couldn't even feel it. Her mind was now addicted to the thought of Death. Her arm longed for the heavy impact of the stone against the bones of the black feline. Her nose could almost discern the foul odour of blood in the tangy, salty sea air.

Ah-ha! The brick wall! And there was the cat! She lunged forward, eager not to miss, and landed right on her victim, the ominous black cat. Before her rational mind could stop her, she raised the stone up high, and banged it on the head of the creature. The skull was soft and brittle. It cracked open as waterfalls of blood sprouted out of it's tiny frame and splashed her pristine white sneakers.

Weird, Keres thought, one would think that such a small body would have virtually no blood at all.

But the splashes on her face, and the pools of red around her feet contradicted her.

She discarded the fleshy skeleton on the sidewalk. It splashed in a nauseating way before settling in a twisted posture. The cat's eyes were open, the demonic pupils peering like two daggers. It's mouth was open in a scream of terror, frozen forever in death.

Keres sprinted forward. She felt better. Better than she should, she thought, but then pushed the thought away.

She was finally free!

Her house would now come, her family would now come, her ill omens were banished forever!

But then she saw it. The brick wall.

She stopped short and eyed it like a lion waiting to pounce on it's prey. She could not bear another cat, she thought, even as she clutched the blood stained stone closer to her blood stained clothes.

So she waited, glaring at the wall and wishing with all her might that it should burst in angry, hungry flames. But it didn't burst. And neither did a cat come. Not a black one. Not a live one. Not even a dead one.

Keres blew out the breath she didn't realise she had been holding. Her ill omens were finally dead. She was free!

And thus under the crimson garb of the falling Sun, Keres continued her victory-run. In her crimson stained sneakers, never to be pristine white again.

In her soaking, splashing clothes.

In her rough, bloody hands, still clutching the Death streaked stone.

But, what she didn't notice behind her back, was another black cat, slipping around the corner of another brick wall. Another brick wall with a hole in the third brick of it's fourth column.

October 31, 2019 10:19

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