Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Prose: Black Cat

To be published on Hazard Cat.

Black Cat

The vole in her mouth was still warm as she leapt onto the discoloured brick wall of her owner's home. The furry shape gently swung with the movement in a moment of false animation. From a bird's eye view the wall formed a rectangle around a council house, identical to all the other rectangles surrounding it. From the ground, it was marked out from the rest of the brick walls by the words "Abby" and "Sam" chalked on it with a heart between them.

The August sun gleamed from her glossy black haunch, highlighting blues and purples as if her fur were an oil slick, like those on the crumbling road behind her. The smell of the fumes that hung in the air were strengthened by the heat, making that morning's hunting more challenging. Of course, there were plenty of rodents loitering in the area, picking from scraps of left overs and food wrappers that had been dumped in the street; there was no risk of starvation here.

She trotted along the brickwork, observing a dirty, unwanted doll lying helplessly on the pavement, leaning lifelessly against the foot of the wall. Her sharp ears detected the spokes of a bicycle in the distance, which quickly gained ground and sped past. The bored schoolboy in the saddle threw a stone in her direction which she neatly avoided. At the end of the wall, she dropped to the ground, vole still intact. Drops of its blood clung onto the cat's whiskers, illuminated by the sun like tiny garnets.

As she neared the house, a sickly sweet scent dominated the heavy, smoky fumes. Flying insects buzzed around the front door, some enjoying the remains of her last kill, which she had left on the doorstep. Some pestered the cat for the latest delivery dangling from her jaws, or tried to suck at the blood on her whiskers. As she slipped through the cat flap, some managed to follow her in slyly before the flap fell back into place, shutting the rest of them out.

The rich smell from outside had suddenly grown thicker, but, after a week, the cat had built up some immunity to it. She paced down the gloomy corridor. Her cat flap was the only source of light from outside, but the scratches and stains it had accumulated prevented much sunlight from piercing the darkness. Shadows did not bother the cat though; if anything, she was amongst friends. She continued down the hall into her owner's bedroom.

Lying in bed, entwined in bed sheets that were once white, was her owner. Lifeless like the doll outside. Also like the doll, her skin, which had drained from rosy pink to white, had darkened as bacteria swarmed inside her swollen body. The cat jumped up next to her owner's head and dropped the vole on her pillow. Up here, there was a hint of another smell. Fumes, but not like those outside. This was a chemical odour, not industrial. It came from the white plastic bottle that stood on the bedside cabinet, its lid lying next to it. Some of the solution it held had vaporised and now lingered around the bed.

As the cat lifted her head, her sharp eyes noticed slight movement within the right cheek of her owner. Soon, her whole body would be writhing, like an abandoned kill left to parasites. Whoever would finally take the initiative to investigate her absence would be presented with a heaving mass of pulp dressing a framework of bones. Or perhaps she would be a perfectly clean skeleton, lonely in death as in life.

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