Writing

Kitty Dreadful

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I had a cat who was bitten by a werewolf. There had been attacks on animals in the area, and by attacks I mean that neighborhood pets had been eaten, and we’d find the chewed remains in the days following the full moon. I don’t know why my cat wasn’t eaten, but it came limping home, favoring its front right paw, half its face bloodied and swollen. It wouldn’t let me come near, arching its back and hissing and growling at my approach. I put down some food and water, with extra treats, and let it be, sure I’d have to corral it for a trip to the vet soon. It climbed into a sunny spot in the window and cleaned itself, and, rapidly, over the next few days, healed completely. I thought at first it had been involved in a scrap with a tomcat or stray mut. We had a little cat door in the kitchen so it could come and go as it pleased, and it often spent its time roaming the surrounds, so it wasn’t unusual for the cat to be out on particularly moonlit nights.

Contrary to common belief, werewolves can’t see in the dark any more than we can, and that is, in part, why the full moon is so important. They can’t hunt without the light.

The attacks on house pets became more prevalent, and the authorities recommended keeping them in, having some concerns about the cultish activity of the early 80s regaining in retro-chic popularity. I couldn’t find my cat. The next morning it came trotting back home and launched into its accustomed spot in the sun and began a vigorous bath.

The next month the animal shelter put out traps to contain any strays who might be at risk. Four terrified dogs were taken, two cats, a raccoon, and one trap was left broken to pieces. I locked the cat door and kept my cat in after that.

I remember driving home from a book club meeting, enjoying the way the moonlight cast the rolling fields in silver. Before I even pulled into the drive, I knew something was wrong. The house looked wrong, though I couldn’t say why. Everything was in perfect order at the front. I pulled my car into the garage, and stepped through the garage door into the kitchen.

The back door, the one with the cat door, was torn off and lay in the yard. Dishes, left neatly stacked in the sink, were now in fragments across the floor. The sink itself dripped from a bent faucet. The wallpaper beside the door was shredded and the wall beneath scarred. The police didn’t know what to make of it. It was ruled a burglary, though nothing was taken. Eventually insurance paid for the door.

There were no more animal attacks for a few weeks and we left a window open a crack so the cat could come in and out again. The poor thing had been in such a state of anxiety following the incident with the door, I determined not to lock it inside again. Another bright evening descended on us. I was making dinner, listening to the news playing from the next room, when I had a call. A neighbor had let her dog out into the yard. She heard a terrible yelping and when she ran outside, the dog was gone, and she only found it’s torn collar. I closed the window, and called from room to room, “Kitty! Here kitty! Where are you?”

When no answering meow came, even with the shaking of a treat bag and the running of the electric can opener, I resolved to go out after it. The night was cool and damp and I hugged myself as I went into the yard, calling for my cat. There was movement in the hedge, and I crouched down to peer into the greenery. Yellow eyes peered back at me. I reached in after my cat. It hissed and backed up. I followed and my hand nearly closed on it’s scruff, but the hiss turned to a growl, and then the growling became deeper and more guttural.

In the strange broken light filtering through the bushes, my cat’s snout appeared longer, and it’s teeth larger. I drew back, then looked again. This was a bigger animal than my cat, but I had been certain only a moment ago that it was my pet. I crouched low to the dirt and tried to get a better look. The silky striped gray coat was familiar, and knowing that there was a wild animal out here attacking pets, I reached into the hedge again and grabbed hold of fur. Teeth like daggers sank into my arm. I cried out and jerked back, and lay staring up at the night sky, clutching my arm for a moment. I heard a ruckus in the foliage and when I looked again, the animal was gone. The bite went deep, but there was less blood than the horror movies suggest. I went inside and washed myself up and bandaged my arm. I made a visit to my GP that week, though the bite had healed quickly.

My cat came back the next morning. It meowed and bumped its head against my leg, then took up it’s accustomed spot in the window. When I reached out to stroke its head, it groomed my injured arm. I took it as an apology.

My arm is almost completely healed now, just a few red marks remain. This evening I can feel a tickle in the back of my throat, like the start of a cold, but I have more energy than I think I’ve ever had. The air seems full, more alive with smells, and I’ve left all the window’s open. I couldn’t bear to have them closed up somehow. My cat jumps to the window sill, stares back at me, as if questioning, for a long moment, and then jumps out into the awaiting night. My skin feels tight, like shrunken clothing, and the bright moonlight is calling to me. After a moment, I follow my cat.

 

This story was originally shared on Medium on October 8, 2016

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