The dreams all started in the summer of 1988. I had just turned 10 years old, my birthday party, even now, a vivid memory in my mind. It was filled with friends, family and around the edges of the grouping, cats. Dozens of them surrounded the area. I could hear them, now that I think about it. Chattering, the sounds they make when hunting moths or butterflies that are on the breeze.
It was that night that I began to dream of them. Terrible dreams filled my nights. Running from those horrible shining eyes, seeing them everywhere. Never finding solace from those cold stares. I would wake up in sweat soaked sheets, my screams relentless as my mother cradled me. I tried to explain, OH GOD how I tried, but I never could.
Now keep in mind, many children want animals as pets. Every Christmas my friends would ask for puppies, or a pony. But I was not an animal lover. Not in the slightest. I disliked them immensely. The fur bothered me, the rubbing they did would make me gag. I would see one coming down the street and would frown in disgust. My mother thought it was a phase, but it stayed with me even through my teen years. It went so far as me disliking even stuffed animals. Yes, seems strange for a girl doesn't it?
As for the dreams, my growth didn't make them any better. They became, to me, more dire, more foreboding. The eyes of those demonic creatures would glow with such menace becoming red in their anger. "WHY?!" I would scream out, only to be answered with yowling and hissing.
At the age of 25, I finally found a psychiatrist that was willing to help me with my night terrors. Extensive therapy, pills and a brief stay within a psych ward finally made the dreams stop.
Oh the relief I felt! I was a kid again, it seemed. I regained a part of me that I had lost, and how amazing it was! I started making friends, even started dating. I found that I liked the arts, and was a proficient painter. One review of my work stated, "Her work, almost child-like in nature, pulls at ones heart in such a delicate way. You will see great things out of this new rising artist."
In 2005, at the age of 27, I had the biggest showing of my career. The paintings filled a Gallery in the very heart of New York City. I had slaved for months getting the pieces ready for viewing, painting new ones to add to the collection. This was to be my greatest moment. I stood in the middle of the room, listening to my guests. Some of the biggest names in the business was there. I could hear the whispers, "Do you see that in the corner?" or "Wow, what an unexpected addition to her paintings!" I couldn't understand what they were meaning. I knew what I had painted.
It wasn't until I heard a gasp at the end of the large room, that I turned and saw what they were all speaking of. A large, HUGE painting was sitting on the back wall. One that I didn't see when I came into the gallery. Upon the corner, where my normal signature would be was a simple, perfectly made paw-print. The picture itself was stunning. It depicted a woman with long, flowing black hair crouching upon a downed tree. The background was perfectly done, looking so real that it was like a photograph. But what terrified me most was the woman. It was me, but not me. She had the eyes that I dreamed of so often, looking right out of the painting. Her body was lithe and lean, with markings upon her flesh, like stripes upon a tiger. At her feet, looking up in awe of her was cats. Dozens of them. "Oh my God," is all I could say before everything went dark and I passed out.
I woke up sometime later, the gallery empty of people except a few of my friends. I could hear them talking as I came to. "What do you think happened Stephan?" Didi asked. I could hear the movement of fabric as he shrugged. I finally opened my eyes, to see them all standing over the chaise I was placed on.
"Where did that painting come from?" I asked, pointing to it slowly. I couldn't look at it, I just couldn't.
"What do you mean, Leah? It came from your studio. You told the movers to bring all the finished ones and that was with them." Eric replied.
Didi looked down at me, her eyes filled with worry as she said, "It got great reviews, Leah. Even the gallery owner wants to buy it! It's amazing!"
"I... I didn't paint that."
"But, Leah," Eric said, "You did. I was there while you painted. We were lying in bed," his face turned red when the others looked at him shocked, "and you just got up and started painting. Didn't say a word. I fell asleep after a few minutes but when I woke up, it was done and you were asleep again with me."
I couldn't believe it. My mind was reeling from from what I had heard. We left the studio a few minutes later. I sold the picture to the gallery owner the next day for an outrageous sum that he suggested. I just wanted rid of it. I would have given it to him if he asked. I didn't care. What would have made me create that monstrosity? What could have pushed itself into my mind and possessed me? I had no idea, but I was scared.
It wasn't long before the event fogged in my mind thankfully, and life went on as normal. Eric and I became closer and finally got engaged in February of 2007. He pulled the old, Valentine Proposal and I loved it. Our wedding was a beautiful engagement, only with family and a small grouping of friends. But as I said "I do," I heard an all to familiar chattering. I thought it was nerves, but now I know the truth.
It was 2009 when we got our first disappointment. I got pregnant early in April, the joys of motherhood! However, by the third month, I lost the baby. Nothing we did help. We spoke to specialists, fertility doctors, even midwives. They all found... nothing. By 2011, I had given up. I just couldn't go through another heart-break. More pain.
Eric and I were growing apart. I could feel that he was thinking it was me. We would fight constantly. And he started throwing it up in my face how I couldn't give him children. In December of 2011, we got a divorce. I was devastated.
In April of 2012, I had some free time. I was in between gallery showings, and decided to take a week of from painting. I needed a break. I had found two more paintings in my studio with the paw print on them, and I was growing worried. I was also getting moles on my stomach which was to be removed the following month.
I had thrown on a comfortable pair of jeans, a long sleeve shirt (it was a bit chilly to me), my favorite Birkenstock and headed out to wander around the small town where I lived. Pulaski, GA had under 300 people living in within it, which is why I chose it. There isn't much to it, but I still loved it.
As I was walking, I saw a woman on the side of the road next to her mailbox. She had a basket she was placing in the garbage. I heard the chattering close to me, I could feel my heart race as I got closer to her. The chattering got louder. I wanted to run, yet I couldn't. Something was urging me on, like I could understand what it was saying to me.
I got close enough to see in the basket, it was a small body. A tiny little fur covered body. I looked up, fury welling up in me. I snatched the little being in my hands and hissed at her. Her eyes grew large as I dropped to my knees. I could feel my body screaming out to help him, SAVE HIM! And I let out a yowl as loud as any I could have ever heard in my dreams. I wanted to rip her eyes out, as I looked upon my son.
He was my son. I knew it! I just knew it! He was dying, I could feel his little body, cold and lifeless in my hands and I yowled again.
I heard her footsteps retreating from me. I placed him in my shirt, close to my skin. I HAD TO GET HIM WARM! I could hear his little heart trying to let go, I could hear myself chattering, like I had heard so many times before. "Please don't go, baby,", my howls called out, "Don't leave me."
I ran. I had to get home. I could hear THEM following me, I didn't care. "HELP ME!" I cried out to them. And they would answer, their chatters now understood. "You must feed him." Yet, I didn't know how.
I burst through my door, leaving it open for anyone who would enter. I needed help, and only THEY could do it. I put him on the bed, his little body limp and yowled in panic. It was then that I noticed a beautiful grey cat at the door of my room, in her mouth was a kitten. She jumped up on the bed, her eyes looking at me warily as she laid the little one on the bed next to mine. She reached her paw up and motioned at me and I looked down, not understanding. She moved over to me, and pawed at my shirt and chattered, "Take off." I nodded and removed the fabric from my skin. The chill from the air made me shiver as I watched her.
She laid next to her baby, and looked down at her abdomen, her claw pointing at her tits that lined her stomach. I looked down realizing my moles mirrored hers. I could see her kitten moving closer, inching towards and start to feed. My baby, wasn't. I picked him up and placed him closer, unable to hold back a whimper afraid that he was gone. I then felt movement against my belly, his little nose nuzzling to find a spot. He was doing it! As he latched on, and started to nurse, I could feel myself becoming more. I looked up at the mother cat and I swear she was smiling. I looked around the room, there were more cats coming in. All of them nodding in approval.
It has now been a year since the birth of my son. My stripes have come in nicely. I will have to get used to the tail though and it is pretty hard to hide. Logain has grown up big and strong. He is such a gorgeous animal, and I am proud of him. My fur friends all tell me that they have a surprise for me. Someone for me to meet they said. This should be interesting.