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The Museum and Its Cat

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Ship's cat

Late one night, a night not unlike any other, I found myself wandering the streets of my hometown. I had been down these streets numerous times, and I knew my way, even in the darkness.

The town was a small one, with a low crime rate, and so I wasn't afraid of being attacked or mugged. That rarely happened here.

I was doing a bit of soul searching that night, as I had been deeply troubled by the argument my family had gotten into mere hours ago. I never liked it when my family argued like that. It was loud and the emotions of the others crashed over me like waves.

You see, I am an empath. I can feel other people's emotions. I can tell right away if someone is upset, or stressed. Some might call me a psychic, or "astrally aware" as my great grandmother had called me before she passed away...

I was pondering over the argument, and so I barely heard it at first. There was this low humming sound, resonating from...somewhere... When I determined that I wasn't imagining things, I resolved to find the source of the hum.

Eventually it led me down a street I had never seen before. There were only a few street lights on, and most of the buildings were shrouded in darkness. How had I got lost in a town I knew so well?

Perhaps I was just so tired that I didn't recognize this street.. And with that in mind, I continued forward until I was at the door of an older building, with the sign so faded, I couldn't read it.

Suddenly, the door swung open, as if on its own. There was a dimly lit hallway, with nobody in sight. I should have turned back then.

But I didn't. I went forward, curious and eager for something to take my mind off the argument.

The hall was lined with portraits of people, standing serenely, posed, and very well painted. I was halfway down the hall when I realized that these weren't paintings.

They were glass windows, and behind the windows, wax figures. They had to be wax figures of course. What else could they be?

It was just so unnerving how perfectly made they were...

I avoided looking at the other figures as I got to the end of the hall, and because I wasn't paying attention, I was suddenly startled when I found myself in a much larger room, suddenly flooded with light.

The room was lined with doors, and in the center of the room, there was a table with a plate of cookies. The cookies looked delicious, and so I took one as I scanned the room, placing it into the oversized pocket of the pullover I had put on as I left the house.

I didn't know when I'd eat it. For all I knew, it could have been poisoned, but I had this overwhelming urge to take a cookie...

But now that I had a cookie, I wanted to explore the rooms, so I went into the first one. It was dark, and I expected the lights to turn on automatically, but they never did. I fumbled around in the dark, running my hands along the walls to try and find a light switch, but there was none.

This darkness was starting to get to me, though. I suddenly wanted out, and so I turned to the direction in which I thought the door was, and went forward, only to be greeted by nothing but a wall. I turned around and walked forward again, and I met another wall.

I was starting to panic now. I needed to get out! I placed my hand on the wall, trying to keep calm, and started walking along the wall, waiting until I could feel the door.

That feeling never came.

Now I was in even more of a state of panic. There had to be a door somewhere!

I took off into the room, sprinting to the other side, hoping to find a door. I hit the wall with a solid "thunk", and I fell to the floor. I gave out a whine of pain and pulled myself up. I placed my hand on the wall to steady myself, only to find it resting on the handle of the door!

Out I went, heart still pounding, but now laughing at myself for being so afraid, and I was back in that cookie room.

It was time to leave, though, so I headed towards the far side of the room, only to stop halfway and realize that I had walked through a doorway from the hall, and that door was now shut. I had no idea which door would take me home!

I would just have to test each door.

The first one was directly across from the one I exited. When I opened it, I saw what looked like a bedroom from a long time ago, back before plumbing had been invented, as there was a hole in the floor near the back corner.

'That was odd...' I thought to myself, closing the door. I could have sworn that was the way out, too!

The next door I opened was the one right next to the one I had just left. As soon as I entered, I realized just how cramped the room was. There was a bright yellow light that was lighting the room up, and it took a second for my eyes to adjust.

I heard the sound almost as soon as I saw the cause of the sound. A fierce wail pierced my ears. It was the sound of a crying baby!

I was panicked now. Why was there a baby in here? I quickly turned to see a large baby crib, with lots of yellowed lace and a mesh net covering the crib.

The wail got louder, and I quickly tore back the mesh, hoping to calm the baby.

But there was none. The crib was empty. And just like that, the wailing stopped.

I dropped the mesh in shock and quickly grabbed for the door. I was out in a second, now as terrified as I was in the dark room.

I quickly darted to my left, grabbing the handle of a door, any door, wanting to escape.

As I pulled the door open, something large and dark fell on me, pinning me down. It only took a second to realize what it was. A bear! What was a bear doing in this place?

And then a second more, and I realized that it was, in fact, a stuffed bear! I wiggled out from under the bear, marveling at how lifelike it was, when I saw the contents of the room behind it. Every animal imagined was in that room, stuffed, posed in some menacing way. There was a snarling wolf, a growling badger, a panther that looked ready to strike...

I quickly turned and went to a different room, hoping this would lead me to freedom.

As the door clicked shut behind me, I paused, let my eyes adjust. This room looked familiar, somehow...

There was a bed off to one side, and a dresser right next to it. It was so dark that it took me a moment to realize that I was looking at an exact replica of my own bedroom!

I was amazed, and more than a little terrified, and I failed to notice a shift in the shadows.

The shadows shifted again, and this time I noticed it. There was a cat...

I'm allergic to cats, of course, so I didn't have a pet cat, and I had no idea why there would be a cat in my room.

But no, it wasn't my room. I had to remember that this was some creepy replica of my room.

It just felt so warm and inviting...

I was startled by a sudden noise, something that sounded like something was gagging. My eyes darted to where I had seen the cat, or, at least, the shape of a cats head, staring back at me...

But the cat was gone.

And then there was that noise again, louder. This time, it sounded like someone strangling an animal.

I turned around in time to see this oddly shaped creature dart into the shadows once again. I could see the tail this time, as it ran to hide, and the tail was black with... blue stripes? I must have been imagining that... But the tail stuck out straight, with the exception of two places where the tail was bent at a sharp angle, almost like it had been broken twice before, and not set to heal properly...

I could still feel this overwhelming sense of safety and home, trying to drown out the fear, and so I made my way to the bed, sitting on it like I usually do.

There it was again!

This time it was more of a muffled cough, and sure enough, something darted out of the shadows. This time, the cat, or whatever it was, stopped and stood before me, its eyes staring directly into mine.

I noticed now that this was no cat, but some strange nightmarish creature.

The head was black with dark purple stripes, and the eyes were bright green, with one being almost four times as large as the other.

The head was enormous, and looked out of place on the cat thing. It had a huge mouth, with sharp looking teeth poking out in a few places.

The body was small, disproportionately so, and like the tail, it was black with blue stripes.

It gave a cough and a hack, and took a step forward. The cat was making those horrible choking sounds, even though it didn't look like it was in pain.

It took another step forward and I pushed myself off the bed, running as fast as I could, hoping that strange, mismatched creature would not follow me.

But I could hear it. That horrible choking, coughing, gagging mewl. There was an open door now, and it led to the hall, my escape!

I sped towards it, my legs straining with the effort. I was never a runner, and now I was regretting it, as the choking noises got closer.

When would this hallway ever end?

Where was the exit?

I sped by the wax figures, barely registering that each one was now a very familiar face, and each one was posed differently, so as I ran past, it looked like one window, and that face, the one I saw so often in the mirror, transformed into a panicked one as I passed each window, and soon the wax figures were in various stages of panic, banging on the windows.

Another cough. It was getting closer

Looking behind them.

A gag and a retch.

Looking back to me, begging me to help them.

Even louder this time.

And then they fell back, until I was running past empty rooms.

A wheeze and a throaty pant.

How long was this hallway?

A cough and a hiss.

Was there ever going to be an end?

...

I was so startled by the lack of noise, I stopped, turned around.

There was no cat. Instead, a few feet away, there was the door. My way out!

I quickly ran to the door and pulled it open, roughly slamming it close past me, and running as far away as I could.

It took me a few seconds to realize that I had been running in complete darkness.

Then there was a cough.

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