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For a few months I’ve had a feral cat that comes to my back porch looking for food. I first saw him in October around 6 PM when the sun was just setting and I had walked to the back door to take a smoke outside. I could see him through the double window that looks out onto the swamp beyond. He was sitting patiently as if he had been waiting for me, his black, greasy fur reflecting the colors of the sun. When he saw me approaching he stepped closer to the window and stood on his hind legs to paw wildly at the window. I chuckled and walked back to my fridge, pulling out some left over chicken breast from the night before. Sighing, I grabbed an old plastic dish from the cabinet and tore the chicken apart into bite-sized pieces. Returning to the back door, I opened it only enough for me to squeeze out so that he wouldn’t bolt into the house; I knew I would regret letting him slip inside only to possibly infest my home with blood-sucking fleas and to tear up my already deteriorating furniture. I placed the dish down and he pranced towards it, scarfing it down like it was his first meal in weeks. I looked at him closer, through his long dingy fur, and could see how thin he was. His legs looked literally like skin and bone and his cheeks looked sunken in, causing his eyes to protrude out grossly. It was then that I noticed his tar-colored eyes that had no glint to them, no shine from the setting sun. It reminded me of those nice matte monitors that don’t reflect pesky sunlight glare coming from your window. I felt uneasy, worried now that he may attack me. He looked at me once and blinked slowly before racing down the porch stairs and disappearing into the wooded swamp.

I started to wake up every morning only to see the dead corpse of some poor animal when I would take my routinely first smoke of the day. It started with little animals, birds, mice, and other small rodents. I always figured it was just the way that cat thanked me for feeding him when he came, which was only a couple times a week. Even though I saw him minimally, there was always a dead animal on the porch step every morning. I thought it was silly, that some mangy old cat brought me presents every morning.

After about a month the corpses began to get bigger. I was seeing more large rats, and the occasional opossum. I started to think it was strange that this cat seemed to catch his dinner just fine, but still came to me for scraps. I always brushed it off though, seeing as it wasn’t doing me any harm and I had no room mates who may have been disturbed by it.

On a particularly cold and foggy morning, I walked lazily to the back deck to have my cigarette. I stepped out and instinctively looked down to look for my present. There was nothing there. I could feel my heart flutter as I worried that something may have happened to my little buddy. That feeling quickly dissipated and I felt my stomach drop as I looked over the railing to see my lawn littered with corpses. I placed a hand over my mouth to catch my gasp. The sight was disgusting and a less than pleasant encounter when all I wanted was to enjoy a smoke.

After that occurrence, the dead animals started to appear once again on the back deck. Part of me felt relieved that my kitty was okay, while the other part of me felt like something was terribly off. Some time in January I woke up in the middle of the night, groggy as hell but with a strong craving to have a smoke. I walked down the hall and paused at the window overlooking the back yard and saw a pale figure that reflected the moonlight. I paused and my eyes widened, suddenly I was no longer groggy and the urge to smoke disappeared. The figure looked up at me and I froze, my breathing halting. I could see its sunken-in eyes staring at me and its spine protruding from its leathery, pale skin that had patches of fur peppered about. It looked strangely human, hunched over while standing on two legs. I felt panicked and could feel my body growing hot as my heart beat quickened. After staring at me a little longer, it turned around to crawl over the fence and walked away on its hind legs. I went back to bed, completely terrified.

I woke up the next morning and rubbed my eyes, releasing a big yawn. I thought to myself, what a crazy dream I had had. I got up from bed and walked downstairs to make myself a pot of French press coffee. I grabbed my pack of smokes and my mug and walked out the back door. I walked to the rail with my mug and crossed my arms and leaned over. I instantly dropped my mug and could hear it shatter on the concrete below. Time felt like it had slowed as I looked around to see corpses lacerated and splayed across my yard. The black feral cat was placed strategically in the middle of all the dead bodies. No mercy was spared to any of those animals. I felt my stomach heave and I threw up what was left of my dinner from last night. I felt a chill run down my spine as I remembered what I had seen the night before and I no longer believed it was a dream. I quickly walked back to the door and locked it shut behind me. It felt surreal and I couldn’t imagine that this was happening to me. But to my dismay, it was.

I couldn’t be bothered to clean the corpses; I was too fearful to walk out that door. I stayed inside the house for the rest of the day on my computer, looking for solutions to my problem. Of course, I found nothing but nonsense about beings called Rakes, Wendigoes, and Skinwalkers. I strongly felt that this was some person playing a massive prank on me, and I desperately wanted to believe that was the case.

I fell asleep at the table in front of the back door. Being the light sleeper that I am, I woke up to a gentle, but loud knock at the door, followed by a few more. I instantly sprang up and swiveled around. I pulled the blinds away from the door just enough to peer out of the window. Nothing. I walked to the window beside the door and shrieked at what I saw before me. The creature I had seen just the night before had pressed its hands and face against the window and was breathing heavily with a wicked smile plastered against its face. I ran to the counter and snatched my keys, running out the front door to dash to my car. As I got in and began backing out, I saw the creature come around the side of the house, only to stop when it saw me backing away. It stood up on its hind legs and gave me slow wave, showing off its nasty pointed teeth in its disgusting smile.

I retreated to my sister’s home which was thirty minutes away and busted through the front door with no explanation. She came running down the stairs, with her boyfriend following close behind her. She flicked the lights on and could see how disturbed I looked. Taking me to the guest room downstairs, she told me I was welcome to stay as long as I needed after refusing to tell her what was wrong. I felt crazy after what I’d seen, part of me still believing it wasn’t real, and another afraid she would think I was crazy.

A few days passed and I was beginning to feel more at ease. My sister was making breakfast by the time I’d woken up and I nodded to her and her boyfriend as I sat down at the table. Suddenly there was a ring at the doorbell. I obliged to go see who was there seeing as my sister was busy and her boyfriend was enjoying a little small talk with her. I opened the door and was surprised to see no one there. A putrid smell struck my nostrils abruptly. I looked down to see the half-rotten body of my feral cat.