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Mrs. Crowley was the "special" lady on the block. "Special", meaning senile. Age certainly hadn't been kind to her; there were sunspots all over her face and arms, making her look like a peach-colored Dalmatian. Her half moon glasses hung over her crooked nose and her skin dangled loosely from her face. What hair the chemo didn't take away from her was slicked back, trying to cover the bald spots.
Her house was the oldest one on the block. Her two-story house was made of wood that had slowly turned brown and then turned yellow and started to rot. There were no windows at her house, only smoke that continually floated out of the chimney.
Her only child had died from food poisoning when he was young, and when her husband disappeared, there was no one to take care of her anymore.
So she started adopting cats.
Those things were infamous in my neighborhood. They all slept at Crowley's house, but she let them out during the day. Everyone hated them. They killed birds and brought them to people's doorsteps, they stared in through people's windows with their yellow eyes, and they sometimes found their way into people's houses and shed fur everywhere.
When I was about fourteen, I was looking for a job. The only real job back then was at the grocery store, but they didn't have any open spaces. My mother happened to come into my room one evening while I was looking through the classifieds.
"I just spoke with Mrs. Crowley at the grocery store."
"She'll be out of town this weekend and she needs someone to house sit."
"Cool." I said. "How much is she going to pay me?"
"You ask her. She said the price was negotiable."
The following morning I walked to Mrs. Crowley's house. She was letting all of her cats out the front door. All of them eyed me suspiciously.
"Why, hello there, Edmund." She cooed.
"Hi, Mrs. Crowley."
"I suppose you're here on account of that job I offered you."
"Yes ma'am. How much are you willing to pay me?"
Crowley raised a white eyebrow and then smiled toothlessly.
"Straight to the point, are we? I can respect that. For two nights, I'll give you 40 dollars. I just need you to let out my cats and fill their bowls every morning. Make sure they all get home by 9:00, and make sure they all get to bed by 12:00. Understand?"
She went inside her house and came back out with a notebook.
"Here's a list of all the cat's names. "
There were about fifty names in the notebook, all of them with a Polaroid picture of a different cat pasted beside them. There were names like Oliver and there were names like Constantinople.
Behind Mrs. Crowley was an old cat with graying fur that wasn't in the notebook.
"What's that cat's name?" I asked.
"Oh, him? Honey, you don't need to worry about Abiectio. He can take care of himself."
Abiectio sat up and stared at me. He perked up his ears and swished his tail. Mrs. Crowley picked him up and threw him into the yard with the other cats, who apparently didn't like him. The other cats had found a dead bird and were sharing it together, and when Abiectio came anywhere close, they would hiss and snap at him.
The day had come when Mrs. Crowley left, so I walked out to her house and let her cats. They seemed to ignore me, which was fine, because I was checking them all off of the list. They all seemed to be gone, so I was about to close the door when I remembered Abiectio. I opened the door and looked into the house, where I saw Abiectio shivering in the corner of the living room. His eyes darted around the room, terrified of demons that simply weren't there.
He saw me and ran over to the front door frantically. He scratched at my legs, as if trying to tell me something. I picked him up and placed him in the front yard. He ran away and i yelled after him "Be back by nine!" As if that did anything.
9:00 came around and all of Crowley's cats came back into the house one by one. I checked them all off of the list. Crowley had trained them well. But once again, Abiectio was absent. I knew Crowley told me to not worry about him, but I didn't want to lock him out for the night. Deciding to follow Crowley's advice out of laziness, I closed the door and locked it.
The next day, I went back to the house and opened the door. The cats filed out one by one, yawning and scratching their ears. I didn't bother using the checklist and just closed the door when it seemed all of them had left. Abiectio was nowhere to be seen.
At nine, the cats were waiting for me at Crowley's house. They were all crowded in a circle on the front lawn, looking at something. They disbanded when I approached, revealing Abiectio.
He was bleeding badly, with cuts all over his body and a gash on his stomach. He was making a sound that I could only distinguish as screaming. With what energy he had left, his eyes were darting around. He was having a bad case of hyperesthesia and was twitching horribly. I ran over and bent down, trying to comfort him or do something. He only looked scared of me.
He died shortly after that.
I knew immediately that the other cats had done this to him. I opened the door for them, and they walked into the house, as happy as could be. I didn't know what to do with Abiectio, so eventually I ended up finding a shoebox and put him in it. I left it on Crowley's porch, planning on explaining what happened the next morning.
When I woke up, I went to Crowley's house. She hadn't made it home yet, so I just sat on the front porch next to the shoebox. After thirty minutes, she pulled into the driveway.
"Why, hello Edmund. Why are you here so early?"
"Mrs. Crowley, I'm so sorry. The other cats killed Abiectio." I handed her the shoebox.
Tears welled in her eyes.
"The bastard had it coming to him."
With that, she went inside her house without another word. I was in such shock I left without asking for my money.
Days passed and summer ended, and I was actually kind of excited to go back to school. I met my friends Chad and Michael in between classes and told them I house sat for Crowley.
"I heard she's, like, a witch or something."
"What makes you say that?" I asked.
"I heard her husband accidentally killed their kid and that's why he disappeared. She killed him."
"Oh, yeah I heard that. The guy had a funny name, too. What was it?"
Written by Ameagle