I remember it like it was yesterday.. It was the summer of 96', I had just finished playing baseball with some friends, and I was on my way home to get ready for a family outing. My white Chuck Taylors turned grey as I stirred up dust on that old gravel road. I could feel each rock through my shoes as I stepped on them, I might as well have been barefoot.. I was a teenager at the time, about fourteen I'd say, so the mile walk from my friend's house back to my own wasn't exactly a challenge, but still I had to stop for a minute, to give my aching soles a rest, those shoes never did my feet any favors, but they were my favorite pair so I wore them everywhere, even to church on Sundays.
I sat there on the side of the road, listening to the birds, watching squirrels scurry about, foraging. Then something caught my eye, a tuft of orange fur sat on a fallen, rotting tree. It was a cat, except.. It wasn't.. Everything about it was cat-like, all but its face.. The first thing I noticed was its nose.. The bridge was long, its nostrils were flared, and wide, it looked human.. So did its thin lips, curled into a haunting smile.. Its unblinking eyes were dark brown, I could see its soul through them, and I was sure it could see mine..
It was a hot, humid day, but I remember shivering, goosebumps covered my arms, the hairs on the back of my neck rose, and my breathing halted. I tried getting to my feet, but my legs wouldn't work, if I could have stood my knees would have probably buckled beneath me.. I just sat there, staring at the creature, and it stared back, still, and silent..
I think it sensed my unease, its smile grew larger, the corners of its mouth disappeared, and the tips of its jagged yellow teeth protruded ever so slightly from its lips..
It stood up, arched its back, and drug its claws along the dead tree, scraping off bark, digging out maggots.. It let out a long, deep yawn, it sounded like a woman's.. The noise threw me into a terror-fueled panic, but I still couldn't stand, I couldn't run, the best I could do was slowly, clumsily, crawl backwards into the woods on the opposite side of that gravel road..
It sat back down, and began licking its paws without breaking eye contact. The scraping of each lick had the same effect as nails on a chalkboard, I winced at each stroke of the cat's tongue, why was it so loud?
I didn't have a cellphone at the time, so I couldn't capture evidence of what I was seeing, if I had a camera I'm not sure I would have been able to hold it steady enough to get a picture anyway..
It stopped its licking, pursed its lips together, and whistled loudly.. It sounded just like a bird call.. It crouched down in its hunter's pose, and waited patiently. Sure enough a curious bluejay landed beside the cat, but it didn't see it, it had no idea how close it was standing to its own doom.. It tried to fly away at the last second, but it was too late.. The cat opened its mouth, and revealed rows of short yellow fangs, its jaws gaped open so wide it could have swallowed the bird whole.. It pounced, and tore the poor bluejay clean in half. It gnawed at the bottom half loudly, cracking the thin bones, while the top half flopped around for a moment in a puddle of its own blood..
I had cats of my own, so there were plenty of times I had witnessed their carnivorous handiwork, but it was never so gruesome, so.. upsetting. My stomach turned at the sight, and I threw up my lunch in the leaves. I wanted to get away from whatever the hell it was that I was witnessing, but I was frozen in place, and I was too afraid to close my eyes.. I just sat there, forced to witness the bird's carcass be devoured, I still remember the sound of it, like twigs crackling in a fire..
When it finally finished it began licking the blood from its paws, not quite purring, it was more like someone humming in delight after filling their belly with fast food.. it might as well have been dancing.. The blood soaked into the rotting tree bark, staining it crimson, and the cat lapped up what remained of it..
It smiled at me again, blood matted on the fur around its lips, the sun bouncing off of its wide brown eyes, it was still humming a tune, and it almost sounded familiar.. If I wasn't already dehydrated from the heat I probably would have been pissing myself..
The cat curled up on the blood-stained bark, closed its eyes, and in a soft, soothing voice it spoke: "You can go now.." As if a curse had been lifted I could feel my legs again, so I stood up quickly, causing blood to rush to my head, making me dizzy, stumble, but I regained my footing and ran from the scene, I didn't stop running until I got home. I left a trail of dust behind me as I sprinted, every bird call, and crunching leaf kept me going, I was fueled by fear..
That image is still vivid in my mind, retrieved from my subconscious a couple times a year to be recycled in my nightmares.. Its eyes, its nose, its satisfied red smile like a killer clown's.. I saw them all the time..
I used to tell people about it, tried to warn them about the demon cat of Wild Rose Lane, until my parents got tired of my nonsensical rambling and forced me into therapy.. I don't blame them, I wouldn't have believed me either, but I saw it, and now, I can never unsee it..