I didn’t know how the cat got in. You weren’t allowed to have pets in our building, and I certainly didn’t own one. I hated animals.
When I opened up the shower curtain, the thing bristled and hissed at me. It had pus-colored eyes and smelled like sewage. When I told it to get the hell out of there, it leapt up and ripped its claws across my cheek. Bloody paw prints were all I saw once my eyes stopped burning.
Returning from work that night, I heard chaotic bumping and shuffling noises in 42B. I might have suspected wild romance, but my neighbor was Mrs. Kindling, seventy-seven and sluggish. When I knocked, all the motion inside ceased. I put my ear to the door. I thought I smelled sewage. I thought I heard mewling, then a ripping noise.
There was a work party the next night. I drank too much, flirted with the boss’s wife. Decided to walk it off. Took an alley I shouldn’t have.
Six dozen of the creatures were waiting. They flew at me like bats. I saw a blizzard of fur, felt their swipes like razors.
The cops who came to the hospital didn’t believe my story. They said I was suffering from shock, trauma.
The press dubbed my assailant The Slasher. On the news I saw a reporter describe my attacker. Then she showed a “disturbing and graphic” picture of my face, covered with row upon row of stitches.
Coming home, I noticed cat fur coating the carpet like cottonwood fluff. I stopped at Mrs. Kindling’s door. Knocked. Nothing.
When I wrapped on the Superintendent’s door, he buzzed me in and the hinges sent the door swinging open.
It was dark. I stepped on something meaty and wet. I bumped into a chair. I called, “Mr. Andoni?”
The door slammed shut. The light flicked on.
A huge calico, wearing an eye patch and chomping on a stubby cigar, sat across the desk.
“What the hell?” I said. “Where’s Andoni?”
The cat burped up sandalwood and licorice notes—Andoni’s cologne! “You killed him? Ate him?”
The cat raised his paw, curled a claw. He wanted me to sit.
When I did, he flipped his lap top toward me. On the screen were four separate stories—Cleveland, Seattle, Memphis, Bismarck—about a certain Slasher on the loose.
“You gave us the idea,” the calico said.
“So, you’re, you’re attacking innocent humans?”
“You should try subsisting on rodents and Kibbles your whole life.”
“This is insane.”
I sprang out of the chair, but a posse of black felines had my passage blocked. Seated on their haunches, fangs bared, most foamy-mouthed, they looked a demonic crew.
“You can’t do this.”
“Say the secret password, and we’ll let you go.”
“Secret password? I don’t know.”
“Tough luck then.”
“Wait! How, how about abracadabra?”
The cat chortled, motioned his men forward and said, “I like mine a little on the rare side.”
About Len Kuntz:
Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State. His writing appears widely in print and online at such places as The Ramshackle Review, Blue Print Review, Troubadour 21, and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com