Thursday, October 31, 2013

This is Halloween

There is a black cat that has become taken with our back porch lately. Her yellow moon eyes beg for food, and she's in the right place to play that trick. Our own little cat watches from inside, completely fixated with the view out of her window. She's deeply offended to see an intruder sharing her food. Occasionally she hisses, but mostly she just moans. A completely disappointed whine.

We woke up to rain beating the windows. Mornings are holding onto darkness longer these days, and you feel it when you work through routine. I made my way downstairs, where the increasingly familiar sound of whining from my cat met my ears. It was obvious why - the black cat was eating her food once again, but this time inside her house. Inside my house. "Michael, you let that other stray cat in? I thought we agreed! One was our max!" Despite my slight relief that this little animal was warm through a storm last night, I couldn't hide the fact that I was annoyed.

"What are you talking about? I never let it in," Michael said, as he came in the kitchen.

"You didn't? But ... it was already down here, when I came downstairs. I think it has been here all night," I told him, staring at those big yellow eyes that stared back. Without the glass barrier, they seemed to lose some innocence.

She must have slipped in when I closed the door last night, I decided. We sent her back outside after breakfast and then left. Work and school wait for no one, not even Halloween.

That afternoon we rounded the last corner to our apartment, and the black cat bolted across the street in front of us at the last possible moment. With just a slight swerve, and the smallest of shudders, I was in our parking spot and making my way up our walk. I went straight upstairs, always ready to turn my business casual to casual as quickly as possible. There, at the top of my stairs, were yellow waiting eyes. The black cat watched me pause. We both stared, for just a moment. This time I knew I felt no sympathy for it, and its eyes seemed to understand the same. How did it get in?

I shooed it outside, nudging its final inches out the door with my foot. My own little cat was instantly there, circling between my ankles as a thank you. That night, I was too aware of the windows. I kept my glances elsewhere, avoiding eye contact with any potential eyes on the other side. I thought I caught glimpses of bright, reflective yellow here and there, but I refused to meet the gaze. And I refused to touch the doors, until Halloween had passed.

And with that, here are some possibilities you can take or leave:

|| Maybe only the first paragraph is true. ||
|| Maybe this is the real reason why Manchester Village has a "don't feed the cats" rule. ||

And here's a little list for you if you're in the mood for some spooky short-story reading, which happens to be my Halloween celebration of choice. No scary movies. No haunted houses. Don't even try reading these out loud to me. I just like a good short story reading session with hot chocolate, and Reeses pumpkins are always invited.
|| The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens ||
|| The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs ||
|| The Statement of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft ||

What spooky short stories do you love?

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