Please Don't Feed the Strays

Submitted into Contest #59 in response to: Set your story in a small town where everyone is suspicious of newcomers.... view prompt

118 comments

Holiday Thriller Kids

Warning: The following story contains scenes of violence that may be upsetting to a younger audience. Reader discretion is advised.





“Dad, are we lost?”


“No, sweetie. Of course not.”


“Where are we then?”


“In the car.” Tom chuckled as Abby rolled her eyes at him from the backseat in a perfect imitation of her mother. Alongside him, Susan was staring straight ahead, a tiny muscle working in her jaw – a clear sign she was annoyed. “Don’t worry, this road has to come out somewhere.”


Except Tom was worried. The trip had started well enough. They’d left Durban that morning for a much needed weekend away in Port Edward, and seemed to be making good time. But, somewhere on the last leg of the trip, Tom must have taken a wrong turn. The barren two-lane road stretched on, no end in sight.


“Well, at least we’re going the right way,” Abby offered from the back. Beside her, baby Jo slept contentedly on his car seat

.

“How can you tell?”


“Because, daaaad,” she dragged out the last word in the way only a ten-year-old can. “We’re following the river. And all rivers lead to the sea.”


She had a point. The road was indeed following the course of the broad, muddy waterway alongside, both nestled between endless verdant hills, and would take them to the coast eventually. But with little over an hour of daylight left, they needed to find a place to stay for the night with increasing urgency.


“Still no cell reception,” Susan huffed. “You know, Tom, if you hadn’t insisted on being such a man and stopped to ask directions – “


“Stopped where! We haven’t seen a single person for hours!”


“Well – “


“Guys, look! Did you see that sign?” Abby shrieked, starling baby Jo awake.


Susan leaned back to retrieve the howling infant. “What’d it say, Tom?”


“Port St Johns, 3 Km. Sounds like a town. We’ll definitely find a place to stay the night there. See, Abbs?” he grinned at his daughter in the rearview mirror. “Never doubt your old man.”





Nestled in the crook of the valley, where the river flowed into the sea and surrounded by lush vegetation, the town didn’t lack for impressive scenery. It did, however, seem to lack inhabitants. As they drove down the lone tar road, they saw not a single person or car. Nothing. The few establishments were shut tight. The place was deserted.


It must be the time of year, Tom figured. It was the second week in March, slap between the peak December-January summer rush and the winter sardine run. When the tourists packed up and went home, the place probably shut down. Still, there had to be somewhere they could stay.


“Look, Tom! There’s a guest house over there.” Susan was just as tired as her husband and eager to find a convenient dry nesting place for the night.


“I’ll take a look.” Tom parked in the deserted lot and approached the ramshackle old building. His wife may not have been pregnant, but he would take any room the inn had to offer. And, failing that, the stable would do. It’d have to – when it came to accommodation in Port St Johns, this place seemed to be the only game in town.





In what passed for the reception area, Tom found an old man – presumably the proprietor – busy hammering a wooden plank over one of the windows. Curious. “Help you?” the man asked, not looking up from his task.


“Um… yeah. We’re looking for a place to stay. My family and me. We got lost, see, and – “


“Sorry, no can do. We’re closed.”


Tom was taken aback by the man’s abruptness. Weren’t small-town folk meant to be friendly? He decided to be assertive. “Look – “


“No, you look, mister. Let me give you the lay of the land hereabouts.” The man put down the hammer and squared up to the interloper. “This here’s a tourist burg. Peak season, the place is packed. We do enough trade to last us through the lean months. But times in between? It becomes a ghost town. We don’t take kindly to strangers wandering in the rest of the year.” His icy tone, and the glare accompanying it, gave his words a distinctively threatening feel.


“Okay. Could you at least direct me to somewhere that is open, then?”


“No can do. There’s nothing for you here, son. I were you, I’d get back in my car and hightail it on outta here. You don’t want to stick around, not tonight of all nights.” He then picked up his hammer again and resumed his task, signaling the end of the conversation.





Tom paused to collect his thoughts back outside. Dark was closing in fast, he was exhausted, and further driving wasn’t an option. Not with two young kids in tow. He was just wondering if they could sleep in the car when a voice startled him out of his troubled thoughts.


“You lost?” On the front porch of the dilapidated building, an old African woman sat in a rocker. Not old, Tom amended to himself, ancient. Between the endless folds and wrinkles of her chestnut face, two milky white eyes stared sightlessly out at him. He was certain she hadn’t been there before.


“Uh… no – “


“Oh, I t’ink you are. Don’ worry, I know a place you can stay. You and your family.”


How had she known about Susan and the kids? Even if she hadn’t been blind, the car wasn’t visible from the porch. Tom was about to decline when he remembered the old man’s words. There’s nothing for you here, son. In terms of accommodation options, there were none in Port St Johns, it seemed. “Okay. Thanks.” He replied reluctantly, not about to look this gift horse in the mouth, toothless though it may be.


“Up over on tha hill, yonder. Small green place. Can’t miss it.” The woman replied, pointing vaguely to the east. She held out a small, silver key. “You be safe there for tha night.” As if summoned by her words, a black cat emerged from beneath the rocker and began twirling between her legs.


“Thank you. I’m happy to pay. How much – “


“Oh, don’ worry. You will pay. Later.”


As he walked back to the car, Tom thought he heard her add something, but when he turned back, she appeared to be fast asleep, the cat resting on her narrow lap. It had sounded like, Don’t feed the strays.


A tingle ran the length of his spine for no reason he could identify. “I’m just tired, that’s all,” Tom muttered to himself. But that wasn’t all, and he knew it. Something about the encounter with the old woman had given him a grade A case of the willies.





The house was easy to find, perched atop the hill as it was, and just as small as advertised. Tom supposed it had been green once, probably back when the old woman still had the use of her eyes and a mouth full of teeth, but the paint had long since faded and peeled away.


It did have a quaint, rustic charm though. The view of the estuary and the endless ocean beyond, bathed in the light of the spectacular sunset, was quite something. Inside, there was an open-plan living room with a small kitchenette in one corner. Through a door to the right was a bedroom. Abby claimed the former, expressing a desire to sleep on the musty couch. Her parents and baby brother would take the bedroom.


After a quick dinner of cold chicken and mashed potatoes, Abby went outside to play in the last of the daylight while her parents washed up. They were quickly summoned by their daughter’s hysterical shrieks.


“H-he b-b-bit me!” She wailed, pointing to the large black cat disappearing into the trees.


“It’s okay, sweetie. It’s just a small scratch,” Tom consoled his daughter, hoisting her up onto his hip as he did. He peered at her offered palm. “It’s not even bleeding much. Come on, let’s go inside and get it cleaned up. It’s nearly time for bed anyway.”


“Tom, what about rabies?” Susan asked in a lowered voice as she trailed her husband inside.


“I wouldn’t worry, hon. Did you see the size of that thing? It’s definitely not a stray.” As he said this, Tom flashed on the old woman’s parting words. Or, at least, what he’d probably imagined were her parting words. The tingle returned. “It’s got to be someone’s pet. It’s being fed well enough.”


Susan hoped her husband was right. She cast a wary glance over her shoulder before closing the sliding glass door and locking it behind her.





Later that night, the family slept soundly while the full moon gazed down on the still, silent town below. No, not quite still. An observer might have noticed some movement in the shadows. A twitch here. A flicker there. Barely perceptible at first, but steadily progressing until eventually, it seemed as if the shadows themselves had come alive and were flowing down Main street in a black tide. But, of course, there was no one to observe. No one but the moon.





Tom and Susan came awake together, disturbed by Abby’s shrieks for the second time in a matter of hours. Baby Jo, in his cot next to the bed beneath the window, awoke as well and began howling in tandem with his sister.


“Tom, wasamatter?”


“It’s just Abby, hon. Probably a nightmare. I’ll go see.”


When he walked into the living room, Tom saw his daughter not in her bed on the couch, but standing before the sliding door, palm pressed to the glass. As he watched, she lowered it, leaving a bloody handprint behind. “Oh, sweetie – “ He stopped cold as she turned around. Abby’s eyes had the blank stare of one who’d been hypnotized. Her mouth hung slack and she swayed gently back and forth in place. Behind her, through the glass, Tom saw what at first he could barely credit.


The porch was covered with cats. Thousands of black cats, bathed in the pale glow of the moon, stretching back as far as the eye could see. A seething, swirling feline mass.


Susan, having quieted the baby down, came out of the bedroom and joined her husband. She let out a little yelp of surprise and rushed forward, kneeling down beside her daughter. “Abby, what happened – “


Her words were drowned out by the sound of breaking glass from the bedroom. Baby Jo began to cry again, the sound cut off abruptly by an earsplitting feline wail, followed by silence.


Tom rushed back into the bedroom, telling his wife and daughter to stay put. He emerged seconds later, wild-eyed and frantic, grabbing the broom from the kitchenette and leaving abruptly though the back door. He said not a word, only held up his palm like a traffic cop, ordering his wife to halt.


“S-sweetie. S-stay h-here, okay? Mom will b-be right b-back.” Susan instructed her daughter as terror gripped her heart. She stumbled into the bedroom. The scene flashed before her in a series of still images, like a gruesome slideshow. The broken window. The empty cot beneath. And the smear of blood running up the wall and over the windowsill.


Through the broken glass, she saw her husband emerge from the side of the house. He ran towards the undergrowth, where he stopped, frozen beneath the searchlight of the moon. He dropped the broom. He fell to his knees. He raised his hands to his face and covered his eyes. His mouth was working but Susan couldn’t hear what he was saying. Tom’s words were drowned out by the sound of tearing, of gnashing teeth and sharp claws, coming from the bushes.


As she watched, transfixed in horror, the shadows detached from the foliage and swarmed over her husband, a black sea of fur and claws and fangs.


Susan turned from the sight, slamming the bedroom door behind her. Although her mind gibbered at her in terror, threatening to freeze her in place, the practical, logical part that remained had the final say. Get out! Now! It screamed.


She scooped up her still comatose daughter, grabbed the car keys, and made a mad dash for the vehicle in the driveway, not expecting to make it but knowing she had to try.


She managed to bundle Abby into the passenger seat and get round to the driver's side before the cats descended. She only just managed to shut her door in time. Hands trembling, she took several tries to get the key in the ignition. When the car eventually started and the headlights bathed the long, steep driveway, she could not believe what she saw.


Every inch of the surface was covered in cats. Black cats. A teeming blanket of hungry shadows.


“Hang on Abby, it’s going to get bumpy.” Susan put the car in gear and hit the gas.


The car shot down the driveway, a horrendous crunch and crackle emitting from beneath the tires. The vehicle didn’t stay on the driveway for long. It lost traction and veered off to one side, careening down the steep hill and smashing into a tree.


Susan hit her head on the steering wheel and blacked out for a moment or two. When she came round, she saw a tide of black streaming in through the broken windshield. The last sight afforded her was of a big, black tabby, possibly the same one from earlier, perched on her daughter's chest. It was eating her face.


Susan’s mind snapped then. She began to scream uncontrollably. The sound was cut short before long, and silence descended on the small town once again.    





The next morning, the sun rose as fierce and proud as always over Porst St Johns. If any of the year-round residents noticed the town’s rodent population had decreased drastically overnight, or that any pets left outdoors had gone missing, it went unremarked as they unbarred their doors and unboarded their windows. These things were expected on rare days when Friday the 13th coincided with the full moon. Such was the price of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it was deemed well worth it.


Out in the countryside surrounds, countless old women slunk back into their villages as the fiery orb in the sky was cresting the horizon. If any of their families noticed their absence is the night, or that the number of livestock in the fields had diminished somewhat, it went unremarked. These things were expected on rare days when Friday the 13th coincided with the full moon, and perhaps explained the local’s superstitious dread of black cats. Such was the price of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it was deemed well worth it.


At a certain quaint old guest house in the center of town, the elderly proprietor and his wife enjoyed their first cup of coffee of the morning out on their back porch, overlooking the river mouth. The muddy brown water mixing with the pristine aquamarine shade of the sea was a sight to behold, especially backlit spectacularly by the rising sun as it was.


“Beautiful, isn’t it?” The woman remarked after a while.


“Yep.”


“That man that came round yesterday. Think he and his family got out in time?”


“I hope so. I tried to scare the fella off as best I could. He seemed to get the message.”


“And if he didn’t?”


“Hush, woman. Nothing we can do about that now, is there?”


The pair sat in companionable silence a while longer, enjoying the view and the cool morning breeze, before the woman spoke again. “When’s the next one? You know…”


“Not for a good many years. We’ll be long gone by then, I should think.”


“Thank God for small mercies.”


“Oh, come now. It’s not that bad. It’s the price of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”


“And it’s well worth it,” they finished together.


Because it was.

September 18, 2020 06:33

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118 comments

Elle Clark
21:58 Sep 30, 2020

Hey - Deidra wants you to take the Myers Briggs personality test. She thinks you’ll be something cuddly like a squid, I think quick witted and adorable like a fox. Go find out so we can see who is right. https://www.16personalities.com/ She’s an architect, I’m a defender. We are attempting to build a superhero team but I think we need the face of it. So cross your fingers that you’re an extrovert who loves fighting crime.

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:30 Oct 01, 2020

You're not going to believe this. Or maybe you are. I am, dead serious, The Advocate (INFJ). 🤣🤣 But I can still be in the superhero team, right? Ask Thom and Sarah to do it. I'm sure Thom is an extroverted something. This is amazing!

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Elle Clark
07:00 Oct 01, 2020

I was just reading what that means and came across the line: Concepts like egalitarianism and karma can mean a great deal to Advocates. See? Eating eagles is just what you lot do. Deidra is going to be the builder of the superhero headquarters, I’m the techie who makes sure people have a cup of tea when they get back from mission and I guess this makes you the lawyer who knows all our secret identities and is our inside man in the court system. You’re a lawyer after all!

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Elle Clark
07:01 Oct 01, 2020

It’s such a shame that we can’t tag people on Reedsy - I’m not going to have time to message Thom or Sarah till after work but if I could @ them, it would be done already!

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:45 Oct 02, 2020

Ha! We just need a team name now. I'm looking forward to some Reedsying this weekend. And writing, prompts willing. I'm really going to try do a story next week. How about you? I feel like too long out and I'll forget how to do it 🤣🤣

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Elle Clark
07:06 Oct 02, 2020

I’m thinking that I’ll give a story a go this week but I’m mostly just excited to hear that you are going to give me something new to read! I think I’ll prob try for a week on and a week off - but that’s prompt dependant. I could’ve written a story this week if I’d had a gun to my head but none of the prompts fit anything I’d want to write about. Though to be honest, I usually pick a prompt and then go find a picture to give me some actual inspiration.

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Jonathan Blaauw
17:07 Oct 02, 2020

I think I need to try that because these new prompts are not looking inviting... But then, they seldom do when brand new. How do you find pictures? I mean, do you go looking for a picture to inspire you or do you just happen upon a cool picture and it sparks an idea?

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Thom Brodkin
15:45 Sep 18, 2020

Who are you and what have you done with my friend Jonathan? This is an amazing departure from your other stories I've read. It's got so many elements of a good horror fear, suspense, mystery and yet it isn't over the top. The story is the story not the gore. I wonder how I might have read it if you hadn't included the warning. I know why you put it there but I would have loved for the violence to be more of a surprise. Your ability to describe people and places and emotions is phenomenal. It helped me to get lost in the story, it alwa...

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:02 Sep 19, 2020

It’s a bit strange, because I think this is the kind of stuff I’d want to write, especially in longer form. I find lighthearted easier in short stories, I think that’s why I’ve been doing a lot of that. If you ever find yourself wanting to try some horror, you must read Lovecraft. In fact, I think everyone should read him. He did mainly short stories, and, bonus, most can be listened to on Youtube. He does something incredible, where he makes things terrifying by not describing them so much as hinting at them. Very tricky to do, but it works...

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Deidra Lovegren
13:47 Sep 19, 2020

The End (Deidra just shortlisted again)

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:32 Sep 19, 2020

Arrrggghhh, damn it! I knew this would happen! *To the person who gave Deidra a point for that comment: I will find you, and I will depoint you!

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Deidra Lovegren
01:00 Sep 20, 2020

Laura Clark gave me an ultimatum about a 1000-word short story based on every horrible pun about willies. So of course I did it. TA DA.

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Thom Brodkin
10:57 Sep 19, 2020

Ok I hate post apocalyptic as a prompt. No lie. Not trying to impress you. I was Toying with two things the first is joking around with it. Having it be about a guy who works for the The Washington Post Apocalyptic. Maybe working on a theme of a Trump second term. The second was using the second definition of apocalypse and concentrating on the concept of more of a personal apocalypse like life after your spouse dies. It’s staying true to the prompt without staying true to the prompt. Once again all rights reserved for Thom and Jonathan.

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:08 Sep 19, 2020

Looking at your general, preferred story type, I can see how post-apocalypse (can we just call it PA, rather? I struggle to spell apocalypse, and Grammarly keeps interrupting to correct me) so, as I was saying, I can see how PA isn’t your preferred genre type. But, having said that, your ideas are brilliant! I forgot that creative writing requires both writing and creativity. I love your out-of-box thinking. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep, but maybe, just maybe, if I open my mind a bit, I’ll come up with a story this week. Maybe....

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Thom Brodkin
13:37 Sep 19, 2020

Sports and politics. I’m not only a new writer I never read. I’ve read less than ten full books in my life and that includes high school and college. How crazy is that? 😀😀😀

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:30 Sep 19, 2020

What!?!?!?! Oh, no Thom, that just won't do. The single best way to improve your writing is to read. And it's quite possibly one of the most enjoyable solo activities in the world. Here, I'm going to give you some homework. Six great, amazing, incredible short stories for you to read. Each can be found as audiobooks on Youtube if that helps. Very short. Give them a try. I often watch cricket with the volume off while listening to audiobooks (multitasking, I call it), it'll work just as well with baseball/football I think. The Lottery – S...

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Deidra Lovegren
13:48 Sep 19, 2020

Too close to reality. 😑 God save the USA

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Deidra Lovegren
01:03 Sep 20, 2020

I just put up one describing exactly how I feel about the USA right now with the passing of RBG. Laura Clark challenged me to make as many phallic puns as possible. So there's that, too. And the end of the world. And sterno and romance. And container gardening.

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Thom Brodkin
16:56 Oct 01, 2020

As I wait patiently for your next story can you give mine a look? I'm trying to get as many trusted eyes on while I can still edit it. :-)

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Andrew Krey
01:40 Sep 29, 2020

Hi Jonathan, I really liked your story, it was so well balanced. Started with strongly fleshed out characters, then the creepiness was ramped up when they entered the town, and then the gore of the ending. Great job! I would have enjoyed it more if the violence was a surprise, but I understand why you had to do it. In hindsight, might have been worth adding a warning for anyone with a cat phobia too! Lol Hope the feedback was helpful. Happy writing

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:55 Oct 03, 2020

Hi Andrew Thanks, really appreciate the comment. And sorry for only replying now. I totally get what you mean about the disclaimer. One of the early stories I read on here was a nice, normal tale that descended into baby-murdering madness at the end, and the outcry in the comments was… significant. I also know there are quite a few youngsters on here, so I didn’t want to upset anyone. But, yes, the warning lessens the blow. To balance it out, I did put it in the ‘holiday’ and ‘kids’ categories (because it does indeed involve a holiday and...

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Andrew Krey
14:31 Oct 03, 2020

You're welcome. Maybe it should be 13+, or whichever the halfway house one is - "kids can watch as long as their parents are ok for them to be traumatised" lol Yeah I'm sure it's better to have the blow of the twist softened, than feel the backlash of a well crafted twist/horror that makes you fill your metaphorical litter box!

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Jonathan Blaauw
17:38 Oct 03, 2020

I recently read a great line in a story - 10 is the new 16! And it's true - they've got full on swearing in cartoons these days, so we shouldn't worry about the kids. Or we should worry more...

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Andrew Krey
00:47 Oct 04, 2020

Great line, sounds like a very talented writer! Lol Yeah as a kid I watched 18 certified films, and played games that age too...but the thing that disturbed me the most was Chucky because it was a doll. Creepy is worse than blood and violence everytime

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Amy De Matt
20:02 Sep 27, 2020

Ooooh! I loved this! The story itself builds suspense well and does not sound silly—which is difficult in this genre. My favorite thing, though, is the beautiful language—the imagery of shadows flowing down the street in a black tide, the crunching of tires on gravel, the searchlight of the moon. There is poetry in this. A beautiful, eerie story that I intend to read aloud to the kids. Fantastic job!

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:02 Oct 03, 2020

Thanks, Amy. I have been a terrible Reedsy friend lately, not replying to comments and not getting round to reading my favorite author's stories. I'm going to check your page for new goodies asap, though. Bizarrely enough, I went down to Port St Johns briefly in March this year. On Friday the 13th. Which was also full moon. It was also 13 weeks after the last Friday the 13th in December! I was not eaten by stray cats, though. I'm very glad you enjoyed it and seeing your comments always makes me happy!

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Thom Brodkin
15:01 Sep 25, 2020

My awful story is posted. Don't tell anyone but go read it and tell me to delete it quickly.

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:48 Sep 25, 2020

I doubt it's awful. I'm going to have some quality Reedsy time tomorrow, so I'll check it out first thing in the morning (your midnight). Looking forward to it!

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Thom Brodkin
16:58 Sep 25, 2020

Be careful what you wish for. Did you post a story?

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:34 Sep 26, 2020

I did - sent it off in the mail just before the deadline. Not sure why it's not showing - maybe I didn't put enough stamps on the envelope? 😋 We know how poor the mail service between SA and the US is, though. Mail is dying out. You could call it... the POST APOCALYPSE!! Sorry, I meant, no, I have not got a story this week. But on the plus side, yours is good enough for the both of us.

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Thom Brodkin
11:17 Sep 26, 2020

Fine. I expect two next week.

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Elle Clark
07:09 Oct 02, 2020

😂

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Thom Brodkin
02:21 Sep 25, 2020

You writing one this week?

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Caroline Mundy
09:00 Sep 22, 2020

Another great story, Jonathan and demonstrates your range. I read down a little and found your inspiration was monkeys. I'll be honest, for me, monkeys would be way scarier. I'm not sure why, maybe because they're more humanistic. You still managed to capture a really sinister feel with the cats though and this works perfectly with the later reveal of the old women being witches. I've read a fair bit of horror in my youth (also sadly a distant memory) and I got a great SK vibe from this. The only one implausible bit for me was when Susan ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
17:48 Sep 22, 2020

I love how that was the only part you found unrealistic 🤣🤣🤣🤣 But , yes, I was improvising, since I've never retrieved a baby from a car seat. Or from anywhere, actually. I'll take your word for it, though 😃 Thank you so much for reading and your wonderful comment. Really appreciate it.

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“Because, daaaad,” she dragged out the last word in the way only a ten-year-old can." Lol, it's like I can hear her saying this. “You know, Tom, if you hadn’t insisted on being such a man and stopped to ask directions – “ This was so funny too. You really do a good job of making the characters feel real. “No, you look, mister. Let me give you the lay of the land hereabouts." Reading this I was just like well, aren't you a rude one. Get a load of this guy right? "You don’t want to stick around, not tonight of all nights." Reading t...

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:48 Sep 21, 2020

Remember when you used to call me dude? Made me feel all young and hip. I miss that... Thank you for reading and commenting. You're on my to read list, I'll get to your stuff soon. I saw you had an exciting new release the other day. Looking forward to it. Thanks for your valuable feedback. Dude 😎

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Oh yeah! Lol. Well, dude, you are so great with stories! I always look forward to reading yours. I'm glad your looking forward to reading mine! My stories aren't as great as yours but I try. You're very welcome. Till next time dude.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
01:07 Sep 21, 2020

This is such a darkly thrilling story - I feel like a bad person for enjoying the violence a bit too much. Great story! I'm glad the baby survived, though. The pacing was excellent, strategically written to keep the reader captivated the entire time. I felt my heart stop at least once while reading this - the horrific thrill is spectacular. Great work! I await your future stories! ~Adrienne P.S. Could you please check out my stories? Thanks!

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18:51 Sep 20, 2020

”Starling baby Jo awake.” I think you mean startling. ”may not have been pregnant but would take any room in the inn” very clever ”i were you I'd get back into my car and hightail...” you may want to add an ’if’, ’if I were you ”dark was closing in fast...” maybe make it ”darkness” african woman vs afrikan woman? ”Hoisting her up onto his lap as he did” I don't think you need he ’as he did’ just end at lap. ”Flowing down Main street.” I think street has to be capitalize because main is. Or it could be ’down the main s...

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18:58 Sep 20, 2020

Ok I’m back. And if I were you... I’d write a little more about the scene where the cats eating her face. That is a big moment so I think you could develop it a little more to really drive it home. And I really liked the image the the sea of cats moving like a blanket towards her over hills etc is develop that a bit more too because that is horrifying. Get more bang for your horror buck

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:51 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you kind Sarah, so great to have you back. You've earned your pay this week as a story advisor with your insightful insights - they're all valid and spot on and the only reason I haven't implemented the changes is the story is locked for editing 😔 I think it's excellent that you're growing in confidence and feel able to point things out. The only thing is you don't need a disclaimer, because your input is very valid and valuable. If anyone is picked on in this story, I think it's the hapless tourists. I love how cats are such asshole...

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17:13 Sep 26, 2020

Btw I got another story for you when you get a chance. I felt neglected by you this week so come visit me again 😁

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Ola Hotchpotch
13:57 Sep 20, 2020

I just feel so sad reading this story. Sad for real cats and more so for the unfortunate stray ones. Whenever I hear such stories or read such news or watch such movies I feel sad. I have many times tried to break the myth about cats. In some places people have superstitious belief that black dogs bring misfortune. Yesterday I went out to feed my strays and as usual a woman started making her hate speeches. She does that frequently. Never have any of the strays hurt her or anybody I know. But such people never stop their venomous speeches. S...

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:34 Oct 03, 2020

Hi Ola. Sorry for taking ages to respond. I feel a bit bad because you're clearly passionate about animals and when you saw the title of my story you probably were not expecting a pack of man-eating cats. Credit to you, then, for reading to the end and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. Part of the story was inspired by the enduring superstitious belief that black cats are unlucky/evil, etc, and I agree that it's not fair on them. The stray animal situation in Port St Johns is really bad, so your comment did make me pa...

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Ola Hotchpotch
15:51 Oct 03, 2020

I don't know what to reply. I can only say, may GOD bless your ever loving heart.

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Kristin Neubauer
17:36 Sep 19, 2020

What a crazy story! I loved it! Talk about a thriller - you built up the suspense so deliciously and I was so caught up in it. And even though Tom's family seemed perfectly nice and completely innocent, in a way, I'm glad you killed them off. There are so many stories that build and build and build and then sort of wimp out. Not this one! How did you come up with this? I love seeing your versatility - no matter what the theme, you seem to nail it every time!

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Deidra Lovegren
13:44 Sep 19, 2020

At least a dingo didn’t eat the baby...Meryl Streep doesn’t need another Oscar. (1988 Movie🎥 reference — never mind) Loved the gore. Oddly, I posted a note to you about my picture on NoMoWrIteNoMo and it’s me WITH A BLACK CAT. What odd coincidence is that?? Or what my Nigerian daughter writer Chi would write 🐈😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃😃 That marriage was doomed anyway. My only quibble is that Susan didn’t die first, being the relentless harridan she is. Tom should have resolved his Electra complex before marrying her. Baby Jo? You’re ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:14 Sep 19, 2020

I just googled the dingo/baby thing. Fascinating. Can’t believe I haven’t seen that movie! Many amazing things happened in ’88. What a vintage year that was 😀 NaWriMoNo isn’t showing me messages. At all. I’ve sent a few and had no replies. I just thought I was really unpopular, but now maybe I’m thinking it’s a technical thing? Unless Reedsy contacted them to tell them to restrict our communication abilities on there so as not to contaminate that gene pool as well? Wouldn’t be surprised.😂 But that is a bizarre coincidence, a black cat,...

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:47 Sep 19, 2020

I just saw your note, it was on here, not WriMo. Which means I am just unpopular, I guess. 😐 Unless I'm doing it wrong. Who knows?

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Elle Clark
15:31 Sep 19, 2020

I sent you a message on WriMo, Jonathan. I just assumed from the lack of response that you didn’t want to talk to me - which seems fair, given how much of your time I waste on here.

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:13 Sep 19, 2020

So it is broken! What a relief. I sent you a message on day 1 asking about your book. At least now we know. Reedsy is way better for time wasting, anyway.

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Elle Clark
16:42 Sep 19, 2020

I got that about 6 days later and replied about 5 days ago. Honestly, I’m just excited that I have time to waste today. New story is nearly finished - just going to polish it a bit but should be online by tonight. Tomorrow morning at the latest.

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:41 Sep 20, 2020

⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆ Narrator: The story did not arrive that evening, however. Nor was it released the following morning... OMG, I just saw you have a new story!! Ignore the above. On my way over NOW!

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The Cold Ice
03:51 Sep 19, 2020

Good story. Would you mind to read my story “Underground world?”

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Jonathan Blaauw
09:54 Sep 19, 2020

But, it was age-restricted! Man, your parents are not going to be pleased with me 😂 Oh, well. Just don't tell them. I will get round to reading 'Underground World' at some point, I promise. 🐈

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The Cold Ice
10:12 Sep 19, 2020

I changed the title the title name is”Leaf me alone”

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Katina Foster
15:53 Sep 18, 2020

This is great, Jonathan! I love that it's the old ladies slinking back in the morning after turning into black cats like werewolves. It's like witch lore and were-creature lore with a dash of earth-magic-sacrifice, but it's all left vague enough that it comes across as very fresh and new. The imagery of a sea of murderous black cats was terrifying! I totally tried to look away from the worst parts, forgetting the picture was in my brain. I think that means the descriptions were well done. ;) The pacing was good, too. Sometimes with horr...

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Jonathan Blaauw
10:10 Sep 19, 2020

You keep reminding me of favorite books! I think George Stark is on a level with Norman Daniels. I wish they’d make movies of these. Actually, no. Best they leave well enough alone. Thank you for reading. I think there’s a SK short story about murderous frogs that rain from the sky and eat people. I’m sure that had a subconscious influence. And I’m just as sure that an extra ‘s’ is not the only error to be found here. I finished it up at 4 am and, like with an ill-advised text, after hitting send/submit, I haven’t been back to look it ove...

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Katina Foster
18:06 Sep 19, 2020

I can't roll my eyes, because I'm too busy laughing. I know this six year old who told me the "Sir Cumference" joke recently. He was surprised by how funny I thought it was. I can't wait to tell him your pen name joke. I saw that story about Venus too! I am enjoying the cagey comments from scientists. "We're not saying that we definitely know it's microbes in the clouds, but we can't think of anything else that would produce it." Nobody wants to be remembered like that one guy who said he saw dried up canals on Mars and deduced that an...

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:34 Sep 20, 2020

Wait, so the Sir Cumferece fact is a joke!?? And nobody told me... I've updated it to a real amazing fact now. I can't imagine why scientists are so excited - according to Ancient Aliens, ETs are old news. I would love to get your opinion on that show, because I find it hard to believe that educated people can make the claims they do with a straight face (we're descended from aliens! We were made by aliens! Da Vinci was an alien! Trump is an alien! Jesus was an alien! We're all aliens! Technology is alien! And fish! And food! And animals!...

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Katina Foster
05:14 Sep 22, 2020

🔸️Author's note: 25% of Americans believe shape shifters live among us. 20% believe that they are married to a shape shifter, while 10% claim to BE a shape shifter. What follows is a cautionary tale - one that may indicate a shockingly high occurrence rate of shape shifters in South Africa. Unfortunately, our data analysts keep disappearing...🔸️ Facts are so 2010 anyway. I wasn't raised with any kind of religious education. I remember asking my dad who wrote the Bible when I was about 10 and his answer stuck with me. He just sort shrug...

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Batool Hussain
09:27 Sep 18, 2020

Wow! This is amazing. Definitely changed my otherwise not so good mood. The horror element has been embedded beautifully but is just not too much. I mean it never bored me by any chance. I have to say I was disappointed when the story ended because I wanted more. Wow again.

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Elizabeth Inkim
23:38 Sep 19, 2020

SAME! I agree I want more too, I want to know what happens next, and I think when an author does that they've succeeded. What do you think?

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Elle Clark
08:27 Sep 18, 2020

I love a fresh story in the morning. Very interesting concept – don’t think that I have read a story where cats are the bad guys before. Well, at least not in a murdering way. Firstly, one massive thing that you must change – I am absolutely not mature enough to read a story that has the word willies in it without laughing. As this is a horror, me cackling perhaps wasn’t what you were hoping for. Maybe this is just me but I maintain that willies is an inherently funny word. I really loved the beginning and the end of it. It had nice s...

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:29 Sep 19, 2020

Good morning, and thank you so much. Doesn’t Albie try to kill you regularly? That’s what I heard, so homicidal felines should be right up your alley. I was recalling that discussion of ours and was tempted to use some of your cat puns as a title (Cat-astrophe/Bad Feline, etc) but restrained myself. I am maturing. So much so that I managed to include ‘willies’ without so much as a giggle. But, now that you’re laughing at it, I can’t help but agree. On a similar note, I always thought that the main character’s name in Charlie and the Chocolat...

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Elle Clark
08:35 Sep 19, 2020

He does - I should’ve taken that into account. I guess I should be grateful that he mostly just weaves round my legs as I’m coming down the stairs rather than sharpening his claws on my brake lines. I’ve started writing one but I’m stuck. Gonna give up for a bit and come back to it- hoping that my brain magically fixes the plot issue.

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:44 Sep 19, 2020

Oh, hi there! Remember the good old days when we were still young and could spend hours back and forthing on Reedsy? Good times. On your story, I once read an account from a concentration camp survivor. He was talking about sleep, comparing it to a small bird. When you want it, and try grab it, it flies away every time. The more you try, the less likely you are to get it. If you ignore it, feign indifference, then it'll come to you out of curiosity all on its own. I often feel it's the exact same with writing ideas. Often, the best thing...

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Elle Clark
12:54 Sep 19, 2020

Ah yes, back before jobs. The halcyon years. Thanks for the advice - I’ll give it a go!

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:17 Sep 19, 2020

It's what you were doing anyway, I think. I see I'm on your bio! Yay! You can be on mine if you make a verbal donation to the cause. Let's say 2 farthings (that's the London currency, isn't it?) Brilliant. Thank you for your generous donation, updating my bio now. 😃

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Deidra Lovegren
13:49 Sep 19, 2020

My next story is just 1000 words about “willies”

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Elle Clark
14:08 Sep 19, 2020

If this isn’t true, I will unfollow you.

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Deidra Lovegren
14:13 Sep 19, 2020

I love you.

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Elle Clark
15:24 Sep 19, 2020

I’d say back at you but my love is now conditional on 1000 words about willies.

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Deidra Lovegren
17:10 Sep 19, 2020

It'll be up by Sunday night. (See what I did there? Heh? Heh?)

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Pragya Rathore
08:21 Sep 18, 2020

I loved this one. This story is chillingly creepy! The last lines seem to add to the haunting, superstitious and mysterious tone of the story. This was really interesting and enjoyable! Is it based on a local legend or myth?

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:30 Sep 19, 2020

Thank you, wonderful reader. No, this story is based on real events that occurred in Port St Johns last year. It’s pretty much a true story. I want to just leave it at that, but I guess I should explain. I was trapped in a house by an angry herd of monkeys in PSJ last year. They weren’t cats, and they didn’t try to eat me, but that’s where the story came from. And the experience of weird people in small towns. Very traumatic. But I’m okay, don’t worry.

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Karen Mc Dermott
07:34 Oct 08, 2020

I come here not to pass comment on your brilliant story but in search of new ones. And nada! Boo, I say (tis spooky szn after all).

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:25 Oct 08, 2020

I've been too busy making my Harry Potter YouTube video. When it's ready will you watch, like, comment, and subscribe? Please? 😂😂😂

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Karen Mc Dermott
19:08 Oct 11, 2020

Sorry, I'm too busy rn with school, trying to choose a halloween name and upvote sprees to even read your comment 😥

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:16 Oct 14, 2020

It's okay, you'll be sorry when I'm famous. Is name changing for Halloween a thing? Never knew that. A Brighton tradition maybe?

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