The cat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
We all knew the cats have nine lives...

Submitted: March 22, 2017

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Submitted: March 22, 2017

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The cat

I

It was still and quiet in the whole house. The sunlight came in through a narrow window on left side but there was dimly and an old man who sat in the chair by the fireplace felt a strange and displeasing smell. It as if oozed through the cloth and skin giving him a sick. He looked at Franck who sat opposite him.

“Looked like a bag with potatoes he thought.”

He could see only Franck’s eyes and a red dot of his cigarette.

They were sitting in the dining-room and talking about how bad were Nick’s cases.

Franck spoke. He liked it and Nick having knowing that bear with it and heard him very still. Franck’s voice was low and sharp but sound very loud in the room so small for living-room that gave Nick felt he heard a radio in his kitchen. From time to time it seemed to Nick that except of the sound voice there was something else, a sound more low and quiet, but he didn’t understand what it was.

Franck was older then Nick but the latter looked older for his age. The wrinkles lay on his face so deep that his wife Jane often joked he was a map of the mountains with lags. Franck looked like a man in deeply illness but Nick knew that even in his age Franck was very strong that Nick felt the envy. They had been known each other for forty years, it is not that they were friends, not at all, but Nick knew Franck was only man who could loan him.

Nick didn’t smock and disliked when somebody did. Franck knew that but balked it. At the time Nick felt numb in his buttocks and shifted his position not took his look from Franck’s face. He waited Franck would say about the case. His count was empty, so Franck had gave him one thousand bills on credit. It had happened two month ago.

Franck leaned over the table that stood between them and asked:

“How long I will wait before you take me my money?”

It was the words Nick did not want to hear. In spite of he waited for them they sounded like a shot. He dropped his hands on his lap and took a deep breath. Franck turned from him to the fireplace that was dark and sold because of it was the middle of the summer now. The windows were closed and the smell of oldness and dust that flew in the air was everywhere. 

Nick had been told about Franck character and had knew it himself so he had hesitated to go at first. His wife didn’t know Franck and heard about him. Nick knew him. Once when Nick had been a kid Franck’s father had bay a house on the opposite side of the street there they had been lived, then Nick went out to play into the street, it was very interested to him to see who was moving in. Franck’s father had taken a pet with him. It was lying in the open box when Nick went pass just looked in it. Its eyes looked at him and he heard its purring. At first he didn’t understand what it was and was afraid. Franck who sat nearby laughed, but it was not friendly laugh. 

Nick frowned.

“Way you laugh?”

“It’s only the cat,” went on to laugh Franck crumbling with his pimply face.

Then Nick leaned over and looked in the box.

He could see only two red eyes and a couple of white claws that cut his palm. He hadn’t any time to realize what it was at first and screamed. Franck took it from the box. Nick was nearly wept and very rage.

“Your cat is crazy!”

He returned with his ball holed and with tears that a boy from the opposite house did hurt him. Nick’s and Franck’s fathers became enemies since then.  But it had happened many years ago and now they were both the old men and it didn’t matter.

He signed and took a view around the room that he didn’t hitherto. 

There were many old things in the dining-room and one of them was moving. He didn’t notice it at first. It had lay in the dark corner when he had enter went on till this point. Now it was moving. Very slowly and lazy it did every step towards Franck’s chair. At first Nick thought it was an urchin but when it came on in the narrow line of the light that fall there on the rug he saw what it was. It was a cat.

Nick hated the cats and the cat gave his fear that he nearly jumped in site of his age. It was not the same cat, of cause not, but so he was like that of that one.

“I don’t give moratorium, you know it,” Franck’s voice came to him through his feelings.

The cat approached Franck and jumped at his lap.

“Oh, my dear,” laughed he.

Nick looked at Franck’s face that was gray and yellow through the smock of his cigarette so he could not see his smile. He had smiled the same way then.

“Don’t afraid him,” Franck said.

“My wife has an allergy,” shortly said Nick, it was the true. “I cannot do it now,” added Nick.

Franck laughed settling back in his chair. It creaked under him as if it was alive. 

The cat purred on the lap of his owner. Probably it only seemed to Nick but then he dared swear that the cat fixed its eyes at him. Two eyes gave his cold as snake ones.

“You have known me for ten years and you know if I tell you I give it back I did.”

Franck puffed. Nick couldn’t see thought he or not. There was a silence for a while and then Franck said:

“I give you two days.”

It was last word. When he had come there he knew that, but in his head it seemed like a strange chance, but now he saw he was the same he had been. He could say he hadn’t any money but he knew it didn’t matter for Franck. The jerk blast of rage rose in his chest and he closed his palm in two fists, glowering at the cat as if it was cause of it. Then he didn’t noticed like it was, the rage died away and only sad stayed in his heart: “What I say Jane?”

“I give you two days,” the words echoed in his brain like bell’s toll and for a moment he didn’t hear what Franck was speaking. Then he looked at him.

“Don’t hurry, two days is a long time,” he laughed again and the cat’s purring was accompaniment of his laughing. Nick felt irritate and rage. “I could be beat him for that laugh,” he thought. But he didn’t. He put his anger fat back in attic of his brain as he usually did when he was helpless.

Then he stood up to leave the house.

“Goodbye,” said Franck.

As Nick was coming out, he casted a glance at the cat and it seemed to him for a moment it looked at his with rage. It as if had felt his rage for the some time, but it was only the pet and nothing more. 

Nick left. He had parked his car nearby because he didn’t want to stay her close Franck’s house. Why, he didn’t know. The jeep was as old as his owner but worked as well as one. Sitting in his car Nick thought of the money and Jane and Franck and the cat but those thoughts drifted away soon, as he drove along the highway towards his house.

 

II

His house was on the east end of the town by the woods. He had bay it many years ago, after he left his parents’ one on the south end. Jane told it was a nice spot for living in. He thought so, because he liked the woods that came near the house and smell of pine-trees always gave him the feeling that he was in his great-father’s home where they spend Christmas every year before his father died. Their children went every five month to see them and their grandchild spend almost whole summer with them. They were about to arrive the next week.  He was able to do all for to keep it like it was.

There were still and chill but he was glad that he was home and not with Franck who gave him irritate. The yard was empty. Jane was inside. A white smock rose from the chimney and fused in the sire against the top of pine-trees and the blue sky.

He entered the hall when his wife was cooking their dinner in the kitchen. She was sixty-five, but looked younger for her age. He loved her. As he passed to the living-room a something heavy pressed his chest just under his heart. He looked around – the old things were everywhere, the things he knew very well, his remembrances and his feelings. Franck was very avid man he knew, and he felt as if he pounced by his claws their life to kill them and took it away. 

He sat down on the sofa and turn on the TV. It always helped his to forget all what he wanted. But now it didn’t. The thought that he had hid as if didn’t want to be hid and knocked at the door of his consciousness with obduracy some salesman could envy. The veins pointed a horror picture on his temples and he got headache.

Jane came in. He didn’t turn to her.

“Where were you?” asked Jane.

“I have driven to Sam to ask of our fishing.”

“Do are you going to fishing?”

“We do it on the next week.”

She went back to the kitchen.

He thought of how he would get the money. He could be to call to one of his sons. No, it was impossible. Joe was owed to the bank some and Jim was hurry by building his new house in Kentucky. No, he ought to do it his own.

A lot of memories ran by his eyes. He saw his own childhood in great-father’s house by the lake, childhood of his own sons that were too young to make out the pleasure of fishing when they were there. Then his great-father’s house was sold. A lot of things was gone during his life. He had only this house and some things and now Franck wanted to take it from him.

The thought came in his brain again, slowly but jigged on through his feelings. He squinted at his desk.

“No, I can’t,” said he to himself. But he went on to look at the handle of a drawer that was shut by the key.

“Can’t you?” he heard in his head.

The shadows ran across the room as though something passed by the window. He turned back at it but nobody was there. He let his eyes returning to the desk. His head throbbed. Then slowly shadows came again, his headache was too strong to bear it, he looked at his desk at third time and saw the shadows were now the shadow that formed a figure… a figure of a cat!

He jumped fast and stared at the place there it was. But now all was like usually, and the light coming through the window filled the room. The awful figure was gone the same way like his headache and stayed only sweat on his forehead and palms.

“It was just an optic illusion,” he said to himself. But it was so real that he was afraid for a moment.  Then sounds of the radio in the kitchen came and rest came with them.

He went slowly to his desk. It stood in the corner, facing the living-room through the arch-doorway that too strong recollected him throat of some animal now. When he was closely he looked at the kitchen’s door – Jane was busy and could not see him. You ought to do it your own. He opened the drawer and looked in at his gun. It had been his father’s gun many years ago. He presented it him when he was twenty-one. 

He took his gun from the drawer of his desk. It was heavy and cold. A pain skittered across his brain and he felt creeps on the smell of his back. It had been there for ten years during which he never took it out until that day.

His head throbbed again.

“The dinner is ready,” his wife’s voice came to him waking him slowly up from the drugging dream.

“I come.”

He hid the gun as he had hid the thought that had given him fear far away in attic of his mind and scrambled towards the door. Jane didn’t notice the change in his look.

While they were eating nobody spoke, as usually they did.

When Nick took a fork Jane put her palm on his one. He looked up at her.

“I see you are upset,” she said.

“Not at all!”

“You cannot trick me.”

She smiled as she could and add rage and irritate that ate his soul were gone.

“I think John and Lilly will be fats after they eat your meal.”

“In the city they cannot eat so much and so healthy.”

Later, in the bed, when Jane had fallen asleep, the thought returned with sound of purring. The sound was as if in his head, puzzling, irritating and send his mad. So he got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. His hands shacked and he could help it. He opened the cooler and took a can of bear. “It will be better than…” his own thought froze and the can dropped on the floor when he saw, or it only seemed to him that he did saw, a cat on the corner behind him. He jerkily turned back to see but the corned was empty.

“It is the nerves,” he said to himself. “When you is about to do something of that sort you halted,” added he mentally. 

“And did you are halting?” asked his own thoughts.  There was no answer and he was back in the bed.

He slept very bed that night and could see the sun grayed the air outside and when Jane woke up Nick fell into the sleep.

When he woke up it was about two P.M.

The day was sunny and warm. The dew was glistening in the bright sunshine and the air was fresh and cool when he went out into the porch for two bottles of milk and newspaper. There was nothing interesting in the newspaper and he laid it away and began to eat.

He felt that all feelings the day before were gone. His head didn’t ache and his heart was normal. Jane made the bacon and eggs for breakfast and they ate together in the kitchen hearing the radio.

“You look better than yesterday,” she said smiling.

But by the time they finished the vague thought was back. Jane took their plates to wish them when he drunk a juice. It was the orange juice, - the same one Franck had given his the day before. With its sweet taste the bitter feel of his helpless returned. He felt sick at once and put the glass on the table. Jane didn’t notice it and he hurried to the living-room.

Two hours later Jane took her bag and said she came to the shop. Nick was sitting in the chair looking out of the window. Her words came to him from the hall:

“Do you want me baying bulls?”

Nick stared at her as if he could see her through the wall.

“What did you say?”

“Do you want me baying beard?”

He didn’t remember what he answered. Jane left him alone with his thoughts and fears. All experiences the day before came back with a rotted smell of death. They led him to the drawer.

“No, it is impossible I can,” he whispered to himself.

Nevertheless he stood up and came up to his desk. It was dusted and when he touched it there where he did it stayed stripes a dark wood it was made. 

When he touched the handle of his drawer the phone puzzled. He jerked towards it and took the reviser. 

“Hallo.”

He felt his heart dropped somewhere down.

“Hallo, Nick, it is Franck! How are you?”

It seemed to him he heard the purring of the cat in line.

“It’s all right.”

“Have got you the money?”

The old son-of-a…

“You had given me two days!”

“The time is fast, I need them today! Sh-h-h darling!” the last phrase was addressed to the cat. Probably it is sitting on his lap now and purring. 

Nick glanced at the drawer. It was open. Probably he unlocked it before he rushed to the phone, he could not recollect.

“Yes, I have got,” Nick’s voice was calm so he surprised himself, “Do you know the old Long Lake?”

“Yes.”

"We’ll meat there by six o’clock.”

“Why there?”

“I have a business neighborhood of it, you know.”

“Okay, Nick.”

Franck hung up.

 

III

It was getting dark when he drove to the Long Lake by the Nevelson Park. It was the old place he knew. He often had been here as a kid with his father and later with Jane when they were not married. Its paths and trees gave him back almost the twenty years. Whole there was the same, even the porches along the Long Lake. He felt fear and sad when he felt his gun inside of his pocket. Franck was late.

He was about to go back when he saw the headlight of Franck’s car. It moved along the shore of the lake so close that Nick wished for a moment Franck did his work himself but the latter passed by the lake and stopped near Nick. He didn’t open the door and shout through the window:

“Get in.”

Nick did.

“You are late.”

“The money?”

There was a displeasuring smell, Nick froze. Franck looked at him. Then Nick understood that it was the old smell of Franck, not the cat. He took a deep breath. But the anxiety wasn’t gone.

“How long I will be waiting?”

It was too difficult to do than Nick felt he needed to mark the time.

“I wish you haven’t anything if I would give you a part.”

“You know I don’t like when somebody jokes at me,” said Franck squinting at Nick. It was the time and he sent his hand inside his jacket.

When he tucked his arm in his pocket he realized what worried him. The cat – it was here. Suddenly he felt its look at his neck. It felt it too and purring, maybe saying to him good evening.

“You always keep your car near you.”

“Yes. He feels people.”

“What did you mean?”

To answer Franck laughed. Nick fixed his eyes at him. He had a sensation of being watch by two pair eyes.  His bravery was gone. Franck went on to laugh when the cat began to hiss at Nick. Franck finished at once.

“He dislike you,” he said, “Where my money?”

He could not recollect what had befallen then. The blood filled his look with fear and rage when Franck hit him. The car was full of howl of the cat. Nick lost the time to take the gun so Franck saw it. It didn’t him fear but only rage.

Franck jerked back and hit him in jaw. Nick felt the blood in his mouth and pain in his lips. It nerved him so he didn’t hear the cat howled and beat it by the gun. 

The fight was short. In spite of Franck was stronger than Nick he was helpless against five bulls holed his chest. It was so easy that Nick was surprised. 

The body lay in the driver’s seat like bag. Nick abhorred to it and wanted to be outside.

He touched the handle of the door when felt an acute pain in his left shoulder. It was the cat. It clawed hold of Nick, tore his jacket and skin. The pain was so strong that he dropped his gun.

He tried to drag the cat but its claws were too deep in his flash. It howled tool laud to bear it. Nick turned his face to it for a moment and saw its eyes and it gave him dread – they were just like humans ones. Glowered at him the cat cut his skin to the flash. Nick tried to get to his gun but it lay too far.  He beat it but the more he bear the more claws cut in his flash. Then he took a deep breath and learned over to get his gun. It was heavy now but he could do it and shot at it.

Having getting his shoulder free at least and jump out the car. There was still and dark outside. He touched his shoulder – the wound was not as deep as it felt. He tried gathered his thoughts together now.

The case was half done.

He pressed the car down to the Long Lake. He knew this place very well and knew the shore was easy and the car slid down into the water without troubles. It did. It was a difficult part of work to draw the car to the edge of the hill but there it came down its own.

He was gasping and looking as the car was slowly sinking in the water. It put in his mind of a shipwreck he had seen in some movie. He used this lull to nerve. It was done. Nobody knew about it. Nobody will ever know about it, and even somebody will do, it will be too late to arrest him, by the time he will be dead.

But then he nearly jumped when he saw the face beyond the glass. Franck? Nick saw two eyes lowering at him as if they were made of fire. But then he realized – it was the cat.

The cat was alive, but not for long. A strange smile appeared on bloody Nick’s lips. The noise of wreck died away and when the car was underwater he thought the cat was alive yet and would be alive about one minute. Can the cats hold its breath?

All became still at once. The light wind dropped and there was only silence. All became still inside him.

 

IV

When he was back home Jane was watching TV but when he approached her he saw she was sleeping. He didn’t wake her up; he was too weary to that. He showered and got in bed.

It seemed to him he didn’t sleep that night at all, but he did.

He dreamed Franck creeping in the mud trying to get him. His mouth was full of water and mud. Nick was here by the lake, looking at him and crying. Franck tried to say something or he laughed. The thought Franck laughed gave Nick fear so he began to run. He was not far away of the entrance of Nevelson Park when he fell on the stony ground.

Then he looked back. Franck was creeping to him in rate of leopard. The cat ran beside him. Nick tried to get up but Franck made clutch of his leg. Nick tried to flee but his fingers were strong. When his face was closely Nick could smell of corruption of his body.

The purring woke him up that morning. He jumped up in the bed and realized it was puzzling of his alarm-clock. He turned it off and got up from the bed.

Jane was still in the living room while he showered and shaved. His nerves were still and quiet.

“All will by good now,” he thought, “nobody can touch us.”

“I had a nightmare,” he said pouring the milk over in the glass, “as if the cat tries to kill me.”

Jane didn’t answer.

Nick had a look at the clock – it was seven P.M.. Only now he knew she was sleeping the more than ten hours.

Nick ran to her. She was lying in the chair, her head on the shoulder, her eyes – open. He felt her pulse.

She was dead.

“Oh, darling,” whispered Nick. “Why?”

Nick was crying. All he had done to keep their life as it had been for twenty years was in vain.  He knelt and hugged her cold body to him.

“Darling, how it could happen? Oh, my darling.”

When he saw a dag of fur on his jacket he had put on the chair.

“No! It impossible!”

He went on tightly hold her in his arm not taking his look from the dag of fur because he could swear it had not been there when he came home.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2018 John Arnall. All rights reserved.

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