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The Cat Lady

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I don't like cats. I'd even say I downright hate cats, after all that's happened. Okay, you know those urban legends people like to talk about? There's one that's popular where I live, which by the way, is almost the middle of nowhere. The legend has a few different versions and the name is always different, but the creature it focuses on is generally the same in each version. And honestly, the way it's described in the oral versions does no justice for how it looks in real life. I've seen the monster firsthand, as has my twin brother.

Let me tell you my own version of The Cat Lady.

So, my name is Catherine. I'm not really anything amazing, with dark blue eyes and straight blonde hair. The only noticeable thing about me is how many freckles I have on my face and arms, which is probably in the thousands. I don't care too much for appearance so my outfits are lacking in design, but I like it that way. My twin brother, Samuel, looks similar, but his hair is shorter and a bit darker. He's also significantly less speckled. We live in the country with our parents, but we don't really have many animals. We have two pigs, but that's it. We used to have a few horses but they got sold. Anyways, the trouble started on a Wednesday. It was afternoon approaching evening and school was over, my brother and I grateful to be off the cramped bus.

When we came through the house's front door we were greeted by our mother's irritated face. “We have an animal problem.” she said. Samuel exchanged glances with me, shrugging. It was a vague thing for our mom to say.

“What kind of animal problem?” I asked.

“Rats and mice. It would seem our barn cats abandoned us.”

Oh. The barn cats weren't exactly ours, but they did live on our property. They had for the last five years. Why would they leave? “Do you want us to set up traps?” Samuel offered.

Our mom paused, seeming to think about it. “Yes, but only on the upper level.”

I found that weird. Why not the ground floor? Mice were just as likely to hang around there. But I didn't want to argue, so I didn't, and within 10 minutes me and my twin were standing on the second floor of the barn, a fabric bag gripped in my hand. We kept our traps in it. Both of us carefully laid them out, setting them up with bait. The second floor was larger than I remembered, or maybe it just seemed like that because of all the junk piled up. It was like a bad maze of sorts, with crates and chairs and other stuff piled up above my head. I thought I heard the sniffling of a rodent nearby.

I'm not so sure it was a rodent anymore.

By the time we'd finished it was already 5:30 PM and we'd had enough of the cramped barn. When we got to the ground floor we noticed a clump of what looked like grass and cloth in the corner. Bits of hair stuck to it. “What's that?” Samuel asked.

“I dunno. Maybe it's stuff from upstairs. Junk.” I replied. I noticed the hair looked ginger. Funny; nobody here had ginger hair. Neither did any of our ex-barn cats. But then again, who knew how old the thing was?

“Come on, let's go. I don't wanna stand around a mucky barn.” I urged.

“The barn isn't mucky. There's no animals to make it that way.”

I was going to respond but got cut off by the door sliding open heavily. A tall, tanned man strode in, his clothes dirty and showed clear signs of being weather battered. “Sure we do. We got pigs. Pigs are animals, right?” he said with a small smile.

“Hi, dad.”

“What are you two doing here? I thought you guys found it boring.”

“Mom told us to set up traps. Mice.” I said, keeping it brief. I wanted to leave. Like he said, the barn was not only boring but at night it was also a bit creepy. Mice didn't help the situation, as even now I could hear them scuttling about. I wasn't scared of them, I just didn't want them chewing on my shoes or something. Thankfully, we only spoke for a bit longer before we went back inside the house for the evening and left the barn alone.

The next afternoon was similar. Me and my brother went to check the traps, only to find that most were empty. We had caught just one mouse.

“What the heck? Usually half of these would be triggered.” Samuel complained.

“Yea, weird. Maybe they're getting smarter.” I said as I placed a fallen trap back onto the box it fell from. “Whatever, we'll just have to wait. Sooner or later they'll get caught.” And that was that. We didn't even notice the strange, powerful stench wafting up from the ground floor, or think twice about the rapid chewing noise of the mice in the corner. It all seemed normal, just barn stuff. That was the night, however, that I realized something was wrong.

I was having trouble sleeping, so I did what I always do on those nights: sit by my window. My room faces the barn and is on the second floor so I have a clear view of anything that happens in front of the house or barn. This includes things on the second floor of the barn. I pulled up a stool and lazily stared out the window, my eyes drawn upwards to the stars. But I was distracted by movement down below, which came from the barns windows. Curious, I squinted across at them. Mice shouldn't be that big. Nobody should be in the barn at this hour, either. But that was definitely a person moving. Or maybe not. I realized quickly how they were moving, and it was disturbing enough to put off the thought of 'why has someone broken into our barn?”. They didn't walk upright, instead they awkwardly moved on all fours, stretching their limbs out far in front of them. I couldn't tell if it was a man or women. I wanted to call for my parents, have them handle the situation, but I was scared. It was like that's what the intruder wanted.

They jumped up on a box in front of the barn window, and I only just had time to duck out of sight. I don't know if they saw me or not. Stealing a quick peek, I saw that they seemed to wear a skirt. That implied female. The barn windows were too dirty and clouded to make out colours through, though. I stayed there the rest of the night, too scared to move in case they saw me. When my mom found me there the next morning I just said I had dozed off by the window and fallen off the chair. A poor lie, considering the chair was upright and I wasn't even laying down but rather sat with my back to the wall. I don't know why I didn't tell her the truth. Maybe she could have called the police or something. But at the time I was worried about who or what was in our barn last night. What if it was dangerous?

So instead I kept quiet, and acted like nothing happened. Go to school, come home, check the traps, pass time, go to bed. A basic routine. But of course I couldn't keep my mouth shut; I was a teenager who had seen something strange. I had to talk about it and nothing like a diary would fulfill my need to tell. I had finally put together a theory about what I'd seen but it seemed crazy, unbelievable. So I went with the person least likely to admit me to an asylum: Samuel. It was during school that I brought it up, despite waiting until afterwards being a better opportunity. First break was my moment to share it with him, no interruptions. “Samuel, come here.” I said, grabbing his arm and pulling him away from the main hall of the school.

“What? Why?” he protested, yanking at his arm. But I kept a firm grip. I'm not weak.

“I want to tell you something. But you have to not, you know, laugh. Or tell everybody in the darn school.” I said.

“Uh, okay. What is it? You have a boyfriend or something?”

Typical.

“No. You know that legend? The one about the cat girl?”

“What, the one with the spirit or whatever and the ginger cat?”

Good, he was still familiar with it. That saved some explaining.

“Yes! I saw it. A few nights back, it was in our barn. I think. I could be wrong.”

He just stared back dumbly, so I kept talking. “At first I wasn't sure what it was but after a while I remembered the story and it seems a lot like the monster in it. Humanish, cat like movements, just overall creepy.”

“You think we have a freaking monster in our barn, Catherine,”

I could tell what he was thinking. He thought I was crazy, lying, stupid, mistaken, take your pick of unpleasant words, he thought it. But even though he almost always thought that right now was the time it mattered to me. I wanted him to believe me because he was the only one I could tell. “Well, yeah, but don't you think it's possible?”

“Not really! It's a story. A fictional creature. It never happened. There isn't any human-cat hybrid monster wandering the country,”

The bell rang.

“And now we have to go to class.” he finished.

I let out an angry huff. Samuel was usually polite and proper until it came to me. Then he was “stop it, Catherine. You're wrong, Catherine. You have too big an imagination, Catherine.” And with my luck he would go home today and tell our parents all about what I'd said unless I could convince him it was true. Or at least a possibility. I tossed around possible lines as I sat in class. He liked logical things with evidence and proof. So if I could prove that there was just something in the barn he might believe me.

So I ended up sitting in front of my window with a camera in my hands that night.

My window was rubbed clean as could be although the barn windows were still grimy. I just needed a silhouette. One photo or video would do. It wasn't long before I saw the frisky movements again. Up, down, bound across the junk, knock something over, pick up something. In its mouth. Gross. I just kept snapping photos, hoping for the best. I didn't even check them until dawn. Most were blurry messes, but two came out alright. You could kinda see a human body. I just had to hope they were enough.

So that morning, when my brother and I sat at the table eating breakfast, I slapped the camera down in front of him like it was something he said I'd never find. Which, in a way, it kinda was.

“What's that?” he asked.

“My proof.”

“Of what?”

He took just a moment to figure it out himself. “Oh boy, okay, let's see your proof.” I showed him the two pictures on the camera. He wasn't too impressed. “What am I looking at?”

“See the person? There.” I traced it with my finger.

“You sure? Looks like a chair.”

“It's the best I could get, Sam.”

“It's not very good.”

“But-”

“If there's something living up there, why haven't we seen it? We check the traps. It would be hard to miss a human sized creature.”

I wanted to make a clever response but came up dry. He had a point. It wasn't like we had encountered it when we were setting and checking traps. “Maybe it hides.” I said. But he rolled his eyes, sighed, and shook his head in that 'just drop it' kind of way. Desperate to have him believe me, I threw out a new approach. “Come spy on the barn with me tonight. You can see firsthand that there really is a creature up there!” I thought it sounded like a good plan, but his look told me he thought otherwise.

“You want me to skip sleeping to stare at a barn with you?”

“Just for a little while, not all night.”

Now he seemed slightly persuaded. “So, how long? Twenty minutes?”

“Not even. It will take seconds to see it, honest.”

He shrugged, and looked away from me. “Okay, fine. Just a little while. I'll show you there's nothing there, and you can pretend there is.”

“Jerk.”

And that was how he ended up in my room that night, staring out at the barn. For awhile I was scared the creature wasn't going to show as the minutes ticked by. But finally we saw something scurry through the barns upper floor. “See it?” I shouted, pointing out the window.

Samuel grabbed my arm, pushing it back down. “Be quit! Mom and dad are sleeping!” he hissed. I nodded sheepishly, feeling a bit foolish for forgetting such a simple thing. “But you did see that, right?” I asked in a hushed voice. He stared out the glass without answering, a look of concentration across his face. After a few more minutes of movement from the creature he sighed, leaned back, and said, “Okay, yeah, I see something. But what makes you think it's a monster? What if it's just one of our old barn cats come back?” “Because one night it came up super close to the window. I saw human shapes. I know I did.”

“And you think it's The Cat Lady?” his tone of voice was questioning, as though he thought I were stupid.

“Well, maybe. It was the first conclusion I came to.”

We had an awkward pause, neither of us saying anything as we stared out at the barn, eerie in the dark of night. “Right, well, I'm going to bed! I don't feel like worrying about monsters tonight.” he finally said, turning away and striding across the room. It was as though he didn't care at all about what could be a horrific monster living in our barn. I watched dumbfounded as he left, shutting the door behind him.

The next morning was similar to our previous breakfast, but a bit more focused on my theory. “So, what do you think?” I asked.

“Think?”

“Of the creature.”

“I think there's some logical explanation. It isn't a fictional creature, Catherine.”

“Maybe not, but it is scary.”

“I guess so.”

“We should go examine the barn for clues.”

He raised an eyebrow at that, frowning. “What for?”

“Just to see, you know? I think it's gone during the day. We'd be safe.”

“Sounds like a bad idea.”

I leaned close to him, a smug smile on my face. “You are scared, aren't you?”

“No, I just don't like poking around a mouse infested barn! That's gross.”

I grabbed his shoulders, giving him a playful shake. “Pleeease? I don't want to go alone. Protect your little sister!”

“We're twins.”

“I'm younger by a few minutes though.”

He gave another heavy sigh, resting his head on his hand. “If I say 'yes', will you drop the subject from now on?”

“Probably. Unless the creature kills you, then I'll never stop talking about it.”

“Can you not joke about that?”

“Scared?”

“Yea, actually. So stop it.”

So we were going with my plan. Nothing could go wrong it seemed. We investigate, find clues about what we had on our hands, we get out. We really should have told our parents what we were planning.

But instead we ventured in by ourselves later that day as soon as school was out. We didn't even bother going in the house, we just ditched our bags inside the barn. Everything was quiet and still. “Well, this is exciting.” Samuel said sarcastically. I elbowed him in response. The barn wasn't big, and the ground floor wasn't as cluttered as the upper floor. Just a few horse stalls down the sides and the stairs. A few minutes later we discovered nothing on the ground floor so we decided to check upstairs. “We should have brought a weapon or something. You know, just in case.” he said. Oh, so it would seem I was right now. Nice.

Upstairs was a bit more interesting. We found some disturbed furniture, a few mice that seemed to be broken in multiple places as though mauled. There was also a bit of ginger hair on the floor. This made me remember something from earlier that we had missed. “Hey, Sam. Com'ere.” I said, walking towards the stairs. He followed obediently, probably interested in getting out of the place. But things didn't go quite so smoothly as we had planned. I had remembered those few days ago when we'd set up the traps and had seen a clump of cloth and hair. Hair the same ginger shade we saw up there. My boots clumped down the stairs heavily, my brother's running shoes making quieter thuds behind me. I hit the ground floor and strode over to the corner with the pile quickly.

Too quickly.

I was practically touching it when the bundle shifted. A long, ginger tail slid out from it, flicking once before unfurling to its large length, a length no cat had. I froze, my breath still. I think Samuel did the same because I couldn't hear him anymore. I watched as it rose upwards, the sheet sliding off it's body. It had been curled up tight in a strange position, limbs tucked under it. Now I had a clearer view of it although the barn was dark. It looked much like a human, but there was differences. It had a long, thick ginger tail, and a pair of feline ears sprouted from it's head. Its hair was the same colour, and hanged in tangled clumps to it's shoulders. It had yellow eyes that bore no human emotion. I saw its mouth twitch slightly at the sight of us as though we were intruders in its home. The clothes it wore were shredded and filthy, a turtleneck shirt having a giant rip down one side and the seemingly once ankle length skirt now filled with holes and tattered around the bottom.

I didn't know what to do or how to react. I was disgusted and horrified at what this creature was. A horrible monster with no human intelligence or emotion. It bared its fangs at me, hissing. I noticed it crouched like a cat and had claws in place of nails on both its hands and dusty bare feet. I tried to call for our parents but instead let out a loud scream, the noise carrying throughout the barn. I remembered how to move just in time, spinning around and running past my brother like the wind. I could hear him next to me panting. I could also hear the creature. I glanced behind me to find it moving at a fast pace on all fours, it's limbs moving awkwardly in front and behind it. But that didn't slow it in the slightest.

Me and my twin burst through the house's front door, slamming it behind us and locking it. “Mom! Dad!” my brother screamed. No response. I noticed a note on the table and picked it up, skimming the words. Typical stuff: do your chores, take care of the pigs, yadda yadda yadda. The ending had a single explanatory line: “Went into town. Be back tonight. Love, mum.”

I fumbled with the paper, screwing it up into a ball. Did dad go with her? He must have, nobody was here. “They're in town.” I muttered. I could hear the creature dragging its claws down the door outside. “So call the police then!” he cried, running for the phone. But as he spoke on it I could tell it wasn't working. 'No, Samuel,' I thought 'stop telling the police there's a monster outside the house. They won't believe you.'

I think I was right. He slammed the phone down angrily, glaring at it as though it was to blame. “They said they will see about sending someone down. So we might get an officer or we might die.”

“They won't come. They'll think we are just joking. Or crazy.”

“Hey, if they think we're crazy maybe they will send someone to take us to an asylum. Then they'd see.”

Our situation was bad. And a single heavy noise made me realize it was suddenly worse.

“Window...” I whispered, wanting to warp out of there right that second.

“What?”

“We didn't close... never mind, come here! Hurry!”

I pulled him through the kitchen to the pantry. It was big and I didn't think the cat-human-hybrid thing could use doors. I shoved him inside, slamming the door behind us. “I can't see!” he complained.

“Be quiet.” I hissed. I could hear it bounding around, knocking things over. I wondered if it could tell where we were. It was smart enough to go through an open window, but not use doors. So it was assumable it had a cats intelligence. I thought I heard the sound of gravel shifting outside. “Catherine. Catherine, where are you?” Samuel asked. I felt around me, not able to touch him. “Where did you go?” I said, unable to locate him in the dark.

“I was trying to find the light!”

“I'm by the door. Hang on, I think the light is...”

I pulled the chain and a dull light bulb flickered to life. He was standing in the center of the room, arms spread out. He hurried back to the door and me. As he reached me we heard the loud crashing sounds die outside as a soft jingle replaced them. Like keys. And then I realized they were keys. Samuel came to the same conclusion I had and he threw the pantry door open, rushing into the kitchen. “Mom!” he shrieked. The front door opened and sure enough our mom was there, holding a bag of groceries.

“Close. The. Door!” my brother said desperately. But before she could even comprehend the situation a ginger blur skidded down the hall towards her, pouncing like a hungry animal. I stepped towards them, wanting to help, but hesitated. I could hear my mother screaming, I could see blood, but I was paralyzed, similar to how I was in the barn.

Shortly the screams died away. Me and my brother were left standing there, horrified. We knew what that meant. The creature stepped away from our dead mother, still on all fours. It looked towards us with it's now bloodied mouth. This time I saw one emotion: blood lust. It wasn't willing to see us go free alive. Now, as it turns out, Samuel wasn't quite as frozen as I was. He could still move. And in a kitchen that can be handy for multiple reasons. In our case it meant he was able to grab a knife to wield. He held it in front of him like a sword, stepping in between me and the beast. A line of drool rolled down its face, splattering against the floor. I could tell he was scared, his hands shook, and I'm sure if it wasn't for me he would have ran away long ago.

But he stepped towards it, breathing heavily and locking eyes with the monster. It lashed its tail, baring its teeth and letting out a feline hiss. I didn't notice before, but it stank. It was like it had been living in a dumpster its whole life, raw fish carrying on its breath. Before me or Samuel could do anything else it sprang through the gap between us, claws lashing out. I heard my brother let out a high pitched shriek, falling onto his back as it landed on top of him. He lashed out with the knife, striking the beasts neck on the side. But it wasn't deep and it barely did anything. As he grappled with it I grabbed my own weapon. Slightly less effective, I was able to get a meat fork. I aimed the two long spikes at the monster, but hesitated. Samuel was practically right against it. If they moved, I would surely hit him instead. A few spots of blood fell to the hard floor but I couldn't tell from which one of them.

Finally I decided to act, and struck downwards towards the creatures back. It let out a horrible screech as I slid the sharp item into it as far as I could. It moved away from us, tearing out the front door. Samuel was quick to follow with his knife and I chased after. But by the time we even reached the fields it was already vanishing, leaving just a small trail of blood. I think we both had a feeling it wasn't coming back. Part of me wanted to be happy, to hug my brother because we survived. But that was before I remembered the one we had lost in the process. So instead we just looked at each other, went inside, and made another call.

It's been about a month since then. When we called the police to report a murder they showed up and went through the whole long process. When they asked if we had seen the killer we'd done our best to explain to them what it had been. But of course they didn't believe it. They wrote it off as our imaginations, saying that we were just confused and panicked. So now everyone's on the lookout for a human murderer they'll never find. We had made a few mistakes at the time. Telling the police about the monster was a mistake both times, not killing it was a mistake, and poking around the barn was a mistake. Only one mistake was good and that was the mistake of thinking dad had been with mom. If he had been he surely would have be killed, too. What he'd actually been doing was something at the river. Fishing, apparently. So that was at least one victory. Now it's the three of us. Dad didn't believe the story, either. “Stop it,” he had said “this is serious!”. But maybe it's better he doesn't believe us. We never tried telling anyone else at school. As far as they're concerned The Cat Lady is just a silly legend used to frighten children. A story about a human-cat hybrid created by evil spirits after a girls accidental death.

My brother and I know better, though. But what we don't know is whether or not that crawling creature we see some nights is actually real, or maybe just our imagination. Urban legends aren't real, right?



Written by Renatan
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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