Ever get the feeling you are being stalked? Ever get the feeling you are being stalked…by a cat? There is a black cat that I have seen for like, the 10th time today. The thing is following me and he is starting to really creep me out. It has these green eyes that narrow when it looks at me. Like it wants me dead. It hates me, and I haven’t even done anything to it. Hell, I like cats. They have never really liked me, but still. It shouldn’t hate me this much.
It all started when I was going for an evening stroll. It was a nice evening. As soon as I opened the door, he ran past and then sat across the road, with an aloof air. I’m not crazy, don’t get me wrong. The first time, I laughed, called for him to come to me for a cuddle and then went about my business. He didn’t come to me, of course. Do cats ever come when they’re called? I walked along the quiet street, and made my way to the local park. There were a few families and their dogs playing but I took little notice of them. Suddenly, and without me seeing where he came from, the same black cat shot across my feet. He sat just out of my reach, but sat there, judging me again. I still wasn’t worried. Who would be worried just because a cat followed you to the park? I did glance at him twice this time, but it was nothing. Right?
It was only when I was on my way to work and he ran past me twice more that I started to get suspicious. The little bugger was up to something. It was that evening that I mentioned the re-occurrence to my friend. She raised one eyebrow and went strangely quiet.
“What’s wrong?” I demanded.
“It’s probably nothing. But... Look, it’s just my great grandmother always told me that a black cat was both a blessing and a curse. Some black cats are blessings. They cross your path, and suddenly things start to go your way. It’s only ever little things, but they are much happier. And then there are other black cats. The ones that are the curse. They do one thing for you. Generally save your life in one way or another. And then they own a part of you. You’re never the same afterwards. If you live. Sometimes they claim what is theirs. But I’m sure that it’s just a coincidence. It’s just an old superstition.” My friend smiled, in a comforting manner, which did not comfort me in the slightest.
I made my way home and there he was again, darting across my feet, twice in the short walk home. He licked his paw, smiling smugly at me. I hated him. How is it possible to hate a cat I have no real interactions with? I was managing it somehow, though. I am ashamed to admit I chased after the damn thing. I followed it for three blocks. It always managed to stay out of my reach. Eventually I lost the sleek little cat and I had to admit defeat. I trudged home and I was almost free when I heard a little purr. Then I felt the almost familiar tiny foot on top of mine as the little thing shot across my path.
“What do you want?!” I screamed, frustration making my voice even louder. It didn’t answer me. The neighbour stuck his head over the fence.
“I hate this bloody cat!” I screamed again. He tutted and left me to my madness. I decided to walk around the block to clear my head. He followed me, slowly. I broke into a run- I was running from a cat! And he was chasing me. I slowed down, and it was immediately making figure eights through my legs. I pretended to not notice and then quick as a flash, bent down and grabbed the little cat. He was like oil, slipping through my fingers. I have picked up a lot of furry creatures in my time and I have never felt anything like this. It wasn’t fur that I felt. It really was slick, like oil. I gasped, and let go. It hissed at me as I stared at my hands. It had left a sheen on my hands from its weird body. I wiped my hands on my pants and kept going. I got to the edge of the park, looking for it. It was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t notice that I had reached the road. I didn’t notice that the cars were coming towards me, quickly. I didn’t, but that stupid black cat did. It stopped, sitting directly on my feet. I paused, and with that pause, the cat saved my life.
I stared at it in horror. It saved my life. I didn’t know where I was now. Would I ever see the sweet little darling cat again? The hero cat was still sat, looking up at me with its big green eyes. I bent down and this time, he didn’t run from me. It let me pat its odd fur. With a nip to my finger, claiming me as his, he ran away. I watched it leave me fondly. I knew in that moment that I would never see it ever again. If only I had been right.
I went home, happily and without incident. The next day I went to work and told my friend the good news. She smiled, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s probably nothing. But… that doesn’t sound like a blessing, does it?”
“It saved my life. How is that not a blessing?”
“No, it’s great news. But it’s not really a small blessing is it? Which makes me worry that it isn’t a blessing, but a curse. Do you feel different?” She asked it with an indifferent tone, but she was studying me.
“No,” I lied. I felt a sinking feeling settling in my stomach.
“Oh, good. It’s just a silly superstition anyway,” she shrugged.
It was a week later that the cat came to claim what it wanted. It first appeared across the road, staring at me from in front of the window. My heart skipped a beat. Then I didn’t see it again for another day. It sat staring at me in the park. Every time I forgot about him, he appeared again. I was a wreck. Then one day he was waiting as I stepped outside. His little claws dug into my feet as he shot across my path again.
I ran. I’m not proud of it, but I ran from the cat. No matter how fast I went, it was just behind me. I made my way across the road, through the park and to the other side. There was no one else around. No families, no traffic, no-one. I slowed. It was eerie, like I was in a world where the only things to exist were me and that cat. I got to the cross roads where it had saved my life. I slowed, looking for traffic. Then the world came back. Kids were screaming in the once empty park. Traffic was heavy in front of me and the cat was gone again.
I breathed a sigh of relief. There was a break in the traffic and I stepped out, carefully, certain I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. The cat came out of nowhere. It shot between my feet and caught my back leg. I fell forward, almost in slow motion. The cars never slowed. The cat watched what happened to me, licked a paw disinterestedly and disappeared right in front of my body.
If only I could warn you.
Cats do have nine lives. Some just collect theirs in a different way.