Chasing Tabitha

Submitted into Contest #30 in response to: Write a story about someone who loses their cat.... view prompt



The green wicker chair on the porch by the door is empty. Normally, at 5:45 pm, my cat would be in the chair, waiting for me. My heart makes it way into my mouth as I struggle to insert the key into the lock to open the door. I step into the dark and silent hallway, closing the door behind me. There is no sign of my cat, my Tabitha, not even the whisper of a meow in greeting or distress. 

I put my handbag on the kitchen counter, before checking all the places a grey cat could hide in. I check on the bed, under it, in wardrobes and washing baskets. I even check the washing machine and dyer. I look on, around and under the brown sofa of my living room, behind the television cabinet. I call to the space behind the heavy bookshelf. I am greeted by more silence. I even dare to check the cupboards, I know of frirnds who have accidentally shut their cat in. There is still no sign of her. My mind starts to run out of ideas to check in the house as panic begins to drown me.

Images flash in my mind, of Tabitha’s little tabby body in a range of mangled and lifeless positions. I knew something had to be wrong, she had never been late before. I grab my keys, put on my coat and step back out onto the front porch and into the rain. I snail through the streets, combing them for any sign of my missing cat. 

I struggle to breath around the anxious lump in my throat. I call out to Tabitha, the deserted neon lit streets offering no clue to her whereabouts. I plead with her aloud to come home and silently beg the nightmares in my mind to not be true. 

Tears are now streaming down my face, indistinguishable from the raindrops that are still failing. I glance at the watch on my wrist, it is now 8:01. I am now soaked, frozen, tired anxious and still without my cat. I am also dangerously close to curfew. A shiver, more violent than any one the cold has ever produced goes down my spine at the memory of stories from my friends over what happens after curfew. I fail in pushing those imagines, along with the ones of an injured Tabitha from my mind, and force myself to go home. 

I study the concrete footpath as I slink back home, partly in defeat and partly in a effort to keep the stinging rain out of my eyes. A stationary grey spot makes me lift my head slightly. Sitting in the middle of the footpath, flooded in a flashing green neon light is Tabitha. Her yellow eyes greet me with a look that reads ‘Its about time’. I slowly approach her, repeating the promises of the bribes of her favorite things I had made earlier. I get close, too close, for she gets up and darts to my left. Into a cobblestone alley, a cobblestone alley I have never seen before, despite walking past up this street for the last two years. The alley was dark, almost too dark when compared to the illuminated road I am still standing beside. The buildings that line the alley are tiny and rundown, as if forgotten by the skyscrapers of the city. Along the walls of the small, decaying buildings are naked bulbs, giving off a warm glow so faint it appears like starlight. 

The strangest thing in the darken alley is my cat, sitting there, staring at me, waiting for me. The only movement in the alley is the flicking of Tabitha’s stripped grey tail. This time her eyes say ‘follow’ and, oddly ‘hurry up’.

I gingerly step into the alley and move towards Tabitha, begging her to come so we can go home. She does not move, beyond the occasional flick of her tail in annoyance. I must be taking too long for her liking. As I walk further into the alley, I notice the rain has stopped. I look behind me, back to the street with the flashing green light. Rain is still hitting the concrete. Unsure of what is going on, I look up to the sky. I see stars, something I have not seen since I was moved to the city. I have almost forgotten what they look like. Tabitha starts a lazy trot further into the alley as I follow her. I notice the light bulbs are not hanging off the buildings that line the cobblestone street. Instead, they hang on cords that seem to descend from the sky itself. I inhale deeply, even the air in my lungs feels different, fresher somehow. It takes me to memories of my life out in the country, before I was forced to move. I push that trauma aside as I see a staircase begin to take form in the darkness. 

Tabitha is sitting on a step, higher on the staircase. I put a hand on the railing, and take my first step. It is only now I begin to question how crazy it is to follow a cat to a location I know nothing about. Tabitha’s eyes, now yellow with a hint of green to the edges, convey another message,‘Hurry up’. 

I begin to climb up the stairs, to what seems to be heaven itself. There is no floor about us I can see, only the stairs until they disappear from view and the stars beyond. After what feels like ages of climbing I lean over the railing to look at the alley below. I can not see it. It is gone, and in it’s place are more stars. I could not even seen the lights that would mark where the city is. There are only stars. My legs and lungs do not burn the way they normally do when I climb long staircases, I am not even short of breath. I begin to wonder if this is some dream. Tabitha keeps walking, she only pauses long enough to look over her shoulder to make sure I am still behind her. She seems oblivious to the mysterious beauty that is around us.

I look at my watch, thinking it will give me an indicator of how long we have been walking for. The starlight is not enough to read the watch face, and I am thankful it has a light function. The numbers read 8:02. The minute after I last looked at it, the moment I would have stepped into the cobblestone alley. The battery can not be gone, the light worked. It is almost like time has stopped. I laugh out loud at the thought. The stairs even out into a boardwalk of sorts. Across the boardwalk I see a platform hovering below us. More stairs connect it to where we are. This must be out destination.

We continue towards it and the platform begins to grow into more shapes. As we get closer it becomes clear that it is a small village. I can see more cobblestone streets and houses, mirroring the alley that marked the beginning of our journey to this place. Tabitha leads me down the small stair case, onto a small lane and then, into what has to be a main road. The walkway is full of people, all packed like fish trapped in a stream, unable to fight their fate. Tabitha disappears into it, leaving me to fend for myself. I slide into the crowd, and am immediately caught by the current of people all trying to get to where there are going. I move in the direction the crowd is, mostly because I have no other option. I am just thankful that this is the way I last saw Tabitha head. Thankfully, she quickly appears over the top of the people river. She stands on the green cloth roof of a market stall. She seems agitated as she scans the people for me, and only relaxes when her almost more green than yellow eyes land on me. She jumps off and disappears again once she sees that I am still moving in the right direction. I can sense my movement is far slower than she would like. 

I look around at the people who jostle past me. I realize that people was the wrong word to describe many of the creatures walking the street. Some are human, like the man with the salt and pepper hair that reaches his ankles. He s standing at the market stall with the green roof, where Tabitha was before. I notice the goods he is browsing look suspiciously like human limbs. I force my eyes off the sight, and fight the urge to vomit. My gaze is then caught by another male looking figure, this time in a silver suit. His skin is not flesh, not like mine. Rather, it seems to be made from a rubber like substance, in a bright purple with glitter sprinkled throughout. He is standing still, ignoring the crowd around him as he takes a sip from his flask. He must be able to sense me looking at him, for he turns his head, slowly, towards me. I force my eyes away once more and begin to scan overhead for another sign of my cat. I see her, this time balancing on a green sign with writing I can not identify enough to attempt to read. Tabitha disappears once more once she sees me. We make our way, up the street in this manner. Tabitha finding an elevated position, makes sure she see me, that I see her, and then disappearing until she finds the next one. The further we walk, the small the crowd gets. Soon, I am able to breath freely again.

A woman catches my eye. She is standing by an apple cart, handling a dangerous looking red apple in her hands. She turns her head, slowly. It is like the purple rubber man from earlier, like she can feel my eyes upon her. As her greasy black head of stringy hair turns and I see she has no eyes. At least not eyes in any usual sense. Where her eyes should be, on a face that was otherwise human, was a long, thin, black silt. That seemed both empty and to hold all the secrets of the universe. A frozen hand grabs my heart and squeezes. My veins run cold and my breath becomes trapped in my throat. 

Something jumps onto my shoulder. A paw gently swats at my face. It breaks whatever hold that frightful woman has over me, and I turn to find it is Tabitha on my shoulder. Once she sees that I am free, she jumps off and runs up the street. I have to job to follow her. I make sure to keep my eyes off anyone who is still nearby. I can feel a gaze burning my back, and I suspect that eyeless woman is still watching. 

I release a breath in relief when we are finally off the main road and are walking down a side lane. It is a dead end and dread beings to fill my heart again. Tabitha, jumps onto a small platform, and scratches on a blue door. I climb the two steps up to it and knock. There is no answer. Tabitha scratches again. I wrap my hand around the bronze knob, it is freezing in my grip. The door, opens on its own, without me turning the knob. Tabitha darts inside. I take a depth breath, and follow, hoping no body is home. 

The musty smell of ancient tomes and dust infiltrates my nose as I allow my eyes to adjust to the lack of light in the room. It becomes clear to my mind that this is a basement of sorts. A basement full of books. I look at the pile to my right. The titles are in languages I can not read, but the characters are different, suggesting that there is more than one language there. There is a couple of books in my own tongue, and the title sends a shudder through my body. It is clear, I do not want to be caught breaking into this place. 

A voice, that of a mans cuts through the silence.

“How did you go?”

I hold my breath, suspecting he has spotted and is talking to me. A females voice responds.

“As well as can be expected. We almost had a problem with the old crone from down the road.” 

I allow myself to breath as she speaks. Her voice is strange, and yet somehow familiar. Like the memory of a dream long forgotten. I need to find Tabitha and get out of here. 

“I am not surprised. That crone sees things we do not want her seeing. It gives me the creeps.” The man’s voice comes again.

“We do not have time to dwell on that now. Go, I hear someone upstairs needing your assistance. I have to go and explain things to Beth.” 

My heart drops and races at the mention of my name. It is so loud I almost miss the faint ring of a bell from the floor above.

“How do you do that?” The man’s voice asked. I can hear his boots cross the room, walk up some stairs. A door slams.

“Beth, step out of the shadows. Please.” The woman’s voice requested in a tone that seemed more like an order. The ‘please’ was added, like an after thought of someone not used to saying it. I find myself walking towards the female’s voice. I feel mindless and powerless to stop myself.

Lounging on an old, green chair, is an slender, elegant woman. There is something about her dark hair, silver silk dress and soul piecing green eyes with an unusual yellow tinge that frightens me. 

A single word forms in my mind and makes it way to my lips. One word, three syllables. 


She nods, once and a sly grin crawls across her sharp face.

“H-how?” I ask, sounding like an idiot, even to myself “You are a cat.”

“Not exactly.” She indicated to herself. “This is my true form, the real me. I was only a cat, because, for some dumb reason, the the magical restriction enforcers never suspect a sorcerer to take the form of a cat.” She pauses for a moment, as if collecting her thoughts. “I needed to lay low for a while. So I made my way down to your city. I was looking for a place to stay while I plotted my revenge on those who took everything from me.” Her eyes flashed with a dangerous anger. “That was when I found you. Or, rather, you found me”

The woman rose from her seat, and silently glided across the floor to stand before me. I struggle to find a response, anything. 

“What” is all that comes out of my mouth.

“Do not worry.” She purrs, the sound was unnerving coming from her human throat. “You just need sometime to process everything, time I am able to give you.”

“What?” I repeat. She is so close, her green eyes are only inches away from my own.

“You are to stay here, as my guest. In a manner of speaking.” She smiles and a shiver runs though my body as my mind finally catches up. 

“If I don’t want to?” I want to sound brave, but my voice sounds weak, even to me.

“You don’t have a choice.” Tabitha says, her eyes flashing dangerously once more.

“Why?” My voice is so meek, it is hardly more than a breath. 

“My enemies will use you, to destroy me.” She moved a hair off my face. The gesture would be sweet if her tone was threatening. She silently steps away, in the direction I heard the man’s footsteps go. She keeps speaking over her shoulder. “You see, I can not have that. Not when I am so close achieving my dream of having the world.” She says over her shoulder before darting up the stairs.

I hear the locking of doors, including the one behind me. The one Tabitha had brought me through only moments before. I turn, running to the door and try to open it. Confirming my fears,I slam my shoulder against it. I try to kick it. Nothing works. I press my back against it and slide down to the ground in defeat. Warm tears stream down my face as my heart rising into my mouth and panic sets in.

I am trapped.

February 26, 2020 01:56

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