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My Summer break had finally arrived and was filled with many joys. One of the great thrills it held was a very energetic and lovable kitten, who I enjoyed playing with immensely. Unfortunately, the kitten wasn't mine, and instead he belonged to my roommate, or ex-roommate I should say. He was the one who had offered me a place to stay after the college dorms had kicked all the students out at Spring semester's end.
His name was Hobbes and he was nine months old, although I wouldn't have known at first glance that this monstrous cat was only a mere eight months in age when I first moved in. He had white fur all over with auburn patches that swirled around, and black, innocent babbles for eyes with a curious and dazzled expression on his face. It felt just like there was a small child in the apartment, and when I'd pet him or he'd follow me around, his gaze and body movements resembled a young child's playfulness and shy uncertainty of the world. He hung to my coat tails to be guided, supported, fed, and cared for.
His rightful owner, Andrew, now lived with his girlfriend but Hobbes remained behind. I questioned this move, but each time I pressed my roommate he simply replied, “I'm sorry, I simply have no where else to put him,” and that was the most I could get out of his reasoning. I even recommended that Andrew look into finding some alternative if any existed, like in loving company of other family members that lived far away so that the option of Hobbes remaining at the apartment could be a last resort. Don't get me wrong, I am very attached to Hobbes as he is to me, but as I've mentioned I am not the rightful owner. But alas Hobbes remained behind, and I evidently had been granted full custody.
The end of the month arrived and once again it was time to collect my roommate Luis' money and put it with mine so that rent could be paid. There was an ATM where I could deposit the money on campus and have it in my account to pay rent by the next morning. The ATM machine was a good 25-30 minute walk from my apartment. With the checks in hand, I gathered my belongings and prepared to make a some what lengthy trek.
Hobbes, who I now adored, despite the times he had awoken me early in the morning yearning for human affection, meowed frantically and ran in usual circles around me. He then motioned slowly toward the door and sat with his round, white furry belly bunched up around his hind legs. Hobbes wished to be let outside, which was exactly where I was heading. It was not unusual for me to let the kitten outside for hours at a time, for it was obvious he knew where his home was and never wandered far from the front door, weary of anything else that moved outside the apartment. I cracked the door and the kitten squeezed through, beyond my control to keep him from getting out, not like I wished to restrain such actions. I closed the door behind us and once I had gone more than a few paces beyond the steps, I looked over my shoulder to see the kitten perched by the oak tree, sitting in his usual sturdy, upward posture, observing me fall from sight.
I reached the busy street bordering the University and crossed the curvy road on campus through the luring bike path running adjacent to the Arboretum, which was a warming and comforting sight even in the dark of night. I didn't check the time before I had left the apartment though I knew it was evening; the color from the sky had almost completely faded. Beyond the first few fancy lamp posts, I noticed I was walking into complete darkness, and every light beyond it was off; I found this quite odd. I had walked down this bike path countless times before and often times at night, and before tonight it was always perfectly well lit. I will admit the dark makes me a little uneasy but I have no major phobias for it, so I decided to keep walking on this path as normal, temporarily leaving behind the light of civilization.
The bike path arched around for a little while, and eventually when I looked back I found myself surrounded by darkness, but I could still make out the various overgrowth and tall trees leaning over the fence. I still felt a small level of comfort, but the tense feeling of unease was rising inside of me. I began to feel like someone or... something was approaching me, but when I turned around I could only see blackness and no noticeable movement. A few more paces toward my destination..I heard it, but it was very faint. The sound seemed far away but was certainly coming from behind me. I froze, and without turning around I heard it again; a cat's meow. I felt chills, it was very odd because I had never encountered a single cat on this bike path. Not only that, this particular cat seemed to be following me, coming straight away, and I could not tell for exactly how long it had been doing so. But aside from even that, the main reason I felt so chilled was that it sounded EXACTLY like Hobbes, in that same manner of frantic cry for attention. I heard it again, again... coming closer towards me.
I finally spun around, and squinting in the bleak darkness, I could make out a small silhouette that was drawing nearer, but it wasn't close enough yet. When it finally came within arm length, I could see from its immature bodily and facial features that it was in fact a mere child, a kitten, while also the same size as a full-grown cat. And... there was that same expression on its face; curious and dazzled, with two black innocent babbles for eyes. Its fur was brighter than the colors around it with the same swirly patch shape of darker fur.
I doubted that this could be Hobbes who had followed me all the way from the apartment as I wouldn't deem him possible of such a thing without sooner being hit by a car, but the resemblances were eerily similar. As I looked down on this kitten, I simply stared at its face peering back at mine..those two black babbles acknowledging my gaze. I didn't dare pet it as I didn't know the kitten at all, and I found myself suddenly losing interest and turned away. As I did, the kitten ran in front of me toward a grassy patch of land hardly still within sight by the fence, and clawed and nibbled on a few weeds, beginning to chomp away.
After a lengthy pause, I finally began heading in the same direction as I had been this whole time, still feeling creeped out but decided on the kitten's resemblance as only mere coincidence. I felt curiosity growing on me and finally got the better of me... I just had to go back over by that fence to get a second look at it. To my dismay, I saw no movement, and I was sure I was looking in the general direction of where the kitten was. As I backtracked further, I confirmed that the kitten in fact had entirely disappeared without a trace. It probably had climbed over the fence without me hearing it or sprinted away quickly into the heavy darkness, but I still wished that I would've caught sight of that kitten one last time.
I finally reach the main part of the campus by the book store, student center, and library, where the ATM was waiting for me. Between the main gym area and the path leading to the ATM machines, a few young feminine bodies emerged from behind the corner of the pool area wall and were suddenly right in front of my face.
I was taken aback in surprise, but what made me feel particularly creeped out was that eerie silence as they stepped solemnly one foot in front of the other, with not even a hint of response from the cement when their shoes made contact. A few became many, proving the first women I saw to the mere front-runners of a long line of them... the cement still made no sound. These women were all draped in black dresses, similar to what you'd wear to a funeral, and seemed to all be about high school age. Their expressions were mostly blank and seemed pale, and what I found particularly odd is not a single one of them even acknowledged my presence even though I stood only a few feet away from them.
Even this was distancing myself from the position I had first encountered the figuration of ladies. I suddenly felt quite invisible as I noticed a uniform emotionless expression on them, with those same downward angle eyes staring at the ground as they solemnly trekked on. I took a few more steps back slowly, noticing how I could audibly make out the sound of my steps immediately, while the tens of bodies that had just intersected my path mere seconds ago were, deadly silent. They continued to follow a straight path right past the small gym in the distance now, and I could not make out where the front of the line was anymore from where I was standing. I couldn't imagine what their purpose was being on campus... I mean, from their formation and odd, silent behavior. Any time I had seen groups of people from a high school age group, it was clear they were either attending sports, taking a tour exploring the campus, or celebrating an event. I could only assume by these women that they were rehearsing for some weird act or play, but whatever they were in fact doing, they seemed very serious. And all those steps with the sound turned completely off, like watching a silent movie, I just... I couldn't make any sense of it.
I slapped my face on both cheeks to confirm I was still real and shook off my second spook of the night. At last I arrived at the ATM machine and very quickly sealed the envelope with the deposited amount I needed. The exchange was successful, and my one chore for the night was now complete. I could now turn back and begin my long trek back to the complex. As I made my first crossing past the student center, I was amazed to see a homeless person standing there. My body actually jolted back in shock, for I had not been more than a few steps away from this person before I even knew he existed. The homeless man did not even acknowledge my surprise, and stared blankly in my general direction. I responded by keeping my eyes straight forward and trying my best not to appear alarmed; my heart was still pounding out of my chest. “The cat...” I heard the homeless man mutter under his breath, and I felt my eyes widen a little when I heard it, but I still did my best to not acknowledge the man. “The cat...” I heard faintly again once I had made it a few paces past him, at which point I began to power walk.
I did not take the bike path again, and I decided instead I'd take a different scenic route back to my destination through the on-campus dorms. I realized I had not seen a single rabbit this entire time I've been walking on campus, which was bazaar. I always saw at least a few before tonight, and by these dorms most of all but even here... nothing, totally dead. But of course, nothing this night was occurring as it ordinarily should, so I was beginning to expect the unexpected, and as I did, the unexpected kept happening.
I was on the other end of the arboretum now, on the opposite adjacent fence, and once again there was a cat in the distance. It was well lit this time, and it was clearly an all black cat and its eyes reflected the light of the same fancy lamp posts like glass as it watched my approach. This time, I could not even get near the cat before it fled, and each time it would stop after a short distance and then darted off again and again, peering back at me as I progressed at a normal pace, or perhaps slightly faster than my normal pace. I realized I had not taken my gaze off of it for awhile, and when I did I began to notice that I was..surrounded by more black cats. They were not drawing any closer to me or seemed curious by my presence but they just..watched, as if they had expected to see me. If I tried to even take a few steps towards any of them they would dart away, and I knew I would never catch any of them. Stranger still, each black cat appeared an exact replica of the other, like cat quadruplets..quintuplets..sextuplets. I then saw something that triggered me to panic... a dead rabbit.
It didn't appear that it was eaten because there was no evidence of guts or torn ligaments, or at least from what its backside revealed. The rabbit was just motionless and limp and I couldn't see its face. It didn't appear as if it even struggled before it died. I could smell that grotesque stench from where I was staring at it, trying to understand the hideous sight revealed before my eyes. I know it's silly to say I was afraid of a dead rabbit, but I felt on edge; these black cats, sitting and staring directly at me, it hindered me and made me feel all too vulnerable. I suddenly bolted out of there, and I did not even stop to think about what I was doing, I just ran.
As I did this, I saw another dead rabbit and I focused my eyes straight ahead of me without moving another muscle in my neck another centimeter, refusing to observe any more murdered or deceased animals that were laid before my feet..I was unsure which of the two it was. The black sextuplets dispersed as I ran as if for dear life towards the student parking structure. I felt like a coward and gathered myself together; I refocused my bearings. I remembered to breathe, and suddenly I wanted to get back home so badly now; I was just so creeped out by what I had seen thus far tonight. I wished I could at the very least see just one student walking about in the dorms so I could share my experiences with them and get it off my chest, but there was no one. Suddenly, I squinted through the narrow alleyway between the back of the doubles dorm building and parking structure. “What the hell” I said aloud looking on; my body became a statue.
What I saw were the same configuration of girls in their dark outfits from before; it was unquestionably the same girls I saw when I was near the ATM. A part of me felt curious and wanted to walk through the alleyway to see if they would talk to me. But another side of me, the part I listened to, told me to take the long way around through the parking structure. I hurried before the girls could beat me to the windy road bordering the freeway, and as I crossed the street into the sawdust and elm trees opposite the fence, I could not resist a glance at the face of the one of the girls in the line formation. I could see from this viewpoint that each one of the girls had a cold, lifeless expression on their face, and were staring down at the same level as my feet were. I swallowed my own spit, and realized the fact I was craving a meal was not helping the situation.
Not a single one of the girls... and I mean NO ONE, even glanced up at me ONE TIME, and the overwhelming sense of being invisible I felt from earlier told me that these people would take no notice of me if I just bolted away from them up the curvy path ahead... which is exactly what I did, slipping back into the darkness of the night. I also confirmed what my ears could not tell me earlier when I was mere feet away from them, and from the soft chirping of crickets that were more audible, I could tell that their steps made no echo into the night. But it still was unexplainable, especially for such a large crowd motioning forward ever slowly, their feet would give some hint that they were walking and not floating. And they weren't floating, they were WALKING, and I just- just, didn't want to think about it.
I did not even look back this time, and I began wondering what else could possibly scare me, lurking on ahead and waiting for me in the shadows of obscurity. Even with the mysterious line of female figures not far behind me, I could not shake the images of what I had seen before from my psyche; they were now burned into my memory. Even the encounter with the kitten that appeared to be almost a clone of Hobbes on the bike path... trying to erase these images from my head would prove difficult. I suddenly realized as my mind was racing that there was in fact something else that I found rather unsettling, which was that the freeway that I was right next to seemed eerily quiet.
A wall running along the freeway blocked my view of the passing cars, and each time I progressed about 10-15 steps, the windy sound of cars passing in the opposite direction down the freeway gradually decreased in volume, even though this freeway followed closely to the wall that separated it from the path. I was still practically right next to the freeway before the concave road became more twisted, seemingly more than I remembered. As I progressed, hoping to see the straight away soon enough, the road only became more concave and more twisted still, and it seemed as if the bend in the road was copying itself multiple times over, and I got an alarming sense of déjà vu. I peeked behind me and the girl formation line was covered from view behind the curved fence, as it had been for awhile. It felt as if the path should've taken me in a full circle by now and I felt incredibly uneasy as the only thing I saw behind and in front of me now was a seemingly endless bend... what in the hell was going on? Where was the straight away?
At last, I let out a sigh of relief as the straight away finally appeared in view. Perhaps I had been walking slower than I thought, perhaps out of fear, hunger, and paranoia that was getting the best of me by now. I almost thought I would find myself surrounded by black cats before I saw a straight path again, and the immense relief I felt almost overpowered the eerie feeling I dreaded just a little while before, and I felt a smile etched on my face. Man, what a creepy night this has been! My relief, however, proved to be short lived, as another realization occurred to me... Where were all the cars?
I had not seen a single moving vehicle in at least the last few miles; I had only seen parked cars. The clearing past the oak trees and sawdust trail revealed the same street as before I had made my way onto campus except... what the hell! The road was now completely void of moving vehicles and was dead silent. It was supposed to be a busy street and it couldn't have been much later than 9pm by now, yet the street was clear except for two bodies standing stationary at the turning lane. At this point, not too far from returning to my place of hearth now, my mindset about these seemingly unnatural occurrences radically changed. Could I be dreaming, or had I somehow entered another dimension or parallel Universe? The thought seemed preposterous of course, but just... what the hell was this? I felt like the world was pulling a big prank on me, and it just seemed too realistic to be a dream.
I could feel cold sweat on every inch of my body, especially my back and forehead, and the warm night air felt hot against my cheeks. I felt more sweat trickling down my brow and I could feel my heart pounding, but my sprinting from before probably contributed to this cold sweat more than anything. I shook off these thoughts for but a moment, and I had only taken a few steps up the hill that led to the bridge over the freeway when I decided that the two people standing motionless in the middle of the street were just bothering me too much. Even though there was still a chance of being spooked, I had to assure myself that these people were the first normal people that I would encounter tonight. As it turns out... I was wrong.
I had to shake off the realization that there were no cars coming on either side of the normally busy street as I walked up to these people. I felt a small amount of relief again as I noticed that these two seemed to have a conscious like me, and actually acknowledged my presence. However, one of these two people still had his arm up and was pointing at something off in the distance, and I also noticed that this arm was motionless. Yet, they still did not speak to me, but simply nodded when we exchanged glances. They were two young men and had buzz cuts, and one was a good six inches taller than the other in height. Both men were wearing clean hoodies and jeans, nothing too out of the ordinary here. The shorter man kept his arm up even as he kept his head tilted toward my direction. After a short frame of silence, still neither one spoke a single word to me, only to each other, “Hey man, I think it's still over there, do you see it?” The shorter man was almost whispering, pointing at the opposite end of the street leading into more University apartments, “How can you see it? I don't see anything.” “Don't you see where I'm pointing? They are still over there, I don't know what's happening.” By this time, curiosity got the better of me, and I decided that I must make one final stop before heading back to my apartment, and I braced myself for what lay waiting for me at the opposite end of this street.
One of my friends lived in this complex, so I figured if this little adventure ended at nowhere that I could at least stop by his apartment if he was there. Perhaps we could even hang out then, and I could finally share my tale with someone. The road reached the gate and I saw nothing at all, so I shrugged and decided to let myself through the gate into the university apartment complex. I just needed to speak with somebody about my weird night, and my room mate would certainly be getting ready for bed in order to wake up early for work by the time I got back there; at least I knew my friend would still be awake. I was barely inside of the complex when I caught something moving in my peripherals, in the direction where the short man had been pointing. I caught an image of a shadow slowly vanishing behind the back of one of the apartment buildings, but I was confused that what I saw appeared so dark, considering how well lit it was around that area. Behind me, the road was still silent, and I was fed up trying to discern any logic from earlier events.
I wanted to hurry over and examine the area of my little sighting, but I noticed instead that the tall pole in the center of the courtyard seemed different. I remembered joking to my friend about this tall pole because there were so many cameras attached to it, appearing to hold no purpose but to ruin people's privacy. I noticed the light illuminating it was dimmed and flickering, and I also noticed the cameras attached to the pole, the glass had been..smashed. Every single camera, on every side of the pole was broken, with glass pieces scattered around in the brown and yellow grass. I made a big circle around the pole in case for my own safety, and I suddenly felt concern for my friend's safety as well. I could hear something off in the distance, but very faintly. Perhaps there were people partying and having a good time I could only hope. This complex was, after all, home to mainly the university's foreign exchange students. I hurried over to my friend's apartment on the far end of the courtyard and as I came near the front door, I discovered that it was in fact wide open, with one light in the kitchen illuminating the rest of the apartment. A lot of other doors were open, either with or without the lights on, while others remained closed with the blinds shut and no light laying beyond it. I ran inside his apartment, even though he would have no idea I was coming, and I felt on the verge of insanity. My friend's bedroom door was unlocked with the light and his laptop on, but he was nowhere to be found.
That is when I heard it, faintly off in the distance... the chanting. As I left the courtyard square, the voices drew closer and sounded more evil with every step. I still could not make out what a single person was saying. Just a few moments before, I had thought I'd heard people having a fun event and socializing, but the tone now evidently appeared dark. I had given up, and I ran toward the noise, regardless of what could be waiting for me. I just needed something... someone, to talk to before my head exploded, but through the labyrinth of more and more buildings I was getting lost. My mind began wandering, trying desperately to fill myself with happier thoughts, “I wonder if Hobbes is getting hungry by now” and just imagining lifting the kitten up playfully and squeezing it gently, saying that I missed him. As these thoughts flashed through my mind, I was instantly pulled out of my daydreaming by an agonizing, horrible high-pitched scream, piercing deep into my ear sockets. This terrific nightmarish sound insinuated a direct response to my thoughts, pulling me right back into the madness and taunting me. This cry did not belong to a human but they were instead the distant, wailing shrieks of a single creature... a cat.
I ran in a zigzag around every barrier in my way, drawing closer and closer to the shrieks. The chanting became more haunting and aggressive, and there were no discernible words to be heard, all in some different language. More buildings... more buildings... I could only wince at the shrieking that ripped through my eardrums but I needed to see so badly just what the hell was happening. I could only wonder what was left to the imagination; what could I possibly stumble upon next that was worse than the horrors the bleak night had already presented to me? At last I came to a clearing... and I could not have prepared myself for what I saw.
Those same black gowns... and there were black suits too, with the same emotionless expressions as the girls walking in formation as I had already seen twice before. But they were chanting now, joined with men as well. There was no sign of my friend, not like I would ever expect him to be a part of a cult, but expecting the unexpected had been working for me thus far. I figured out pretty quickly that I was right about the cries, and I covered my eardrums and went into the fetal position. My mind yelled at me, “Why did you have to bring yourself here? You know you didn't want to see this! This will now scar me for life!” Despite my vicious thoughts, another part of me, that... other side to my psyche, forced me to look, and I now felt as a slave to stare at the madness unfolding from a distance.
In the center of the circular formation, by four tiny blood spattered stakes, were three cats lying on the ground as lifeless corpses, drained of life from a single stab wound in the chest and covered in their own blood. There were also four cages with three cats inside, making none of the hissing noises I would expect in attempt to defend themselves. Instead, they appeared to be sleeping next to a single, fluorescent lamp, the type used to light a picnic table when camping out in the woods. One cage stood empty, and a young woman stepped solemnly forward from the darkness to present her token, murmuring her chant pattern as the others near her took their turn to chant the same repeating, unknown phrases. I apparently had a death wish, because at this moment I felt compelled to halt her progress. I would march straight up there without a second thought to get a close look at her face and see what she was holding. But wait, this isn't right... no, it can't possibly be... Hobbes?
“Hobbes,” I nearly shouted, but the kitten did not turn toward me... it could not turn toward me. Like the cat in the cages, it had been evidently drugged and was motionless. The woman or rather teenage girl turned slowly towards me, presenting both her arms, and the present they held. “Does this one belong to you?” her voice sounded surprisingly normal, but was still lacking in a natural speech pattern. “Yes... I mean it has to be, the kitten looks too similar,” but again I could not know if my words held true, but everything about this kitten matched my image of Hobbes with the same uncomfortable expression on its face holding his eyes tightly closed, and at any moment I expected his eyes to open up. He felt the same too as I brushed my arm over him, with soft and fuzzy fur and the matching auburn swirly patterns over a white coat. The same white and auburn colored face with the curious look upon his face, and even the lining of his mouth... it all matched like a photographic copy. And then, after a few more moments... the kitten's eyes opened up and saw me. I expected him to leap out of the girl's arms and dash away before I could catch him. He didn't, and even more surprisingly, the kitten seemed to recognize me and batted my nose as I leaned in to his paw, letting him sniff my face. That face... it was Hobbes, it could not have belonged to any other kitten.
After I saw the kitten in his conscious state, I became overtaken by the thought of how the kitten that belonged to my ex-roommate Andrew could've possibly landed in this mysterious stranger's hands, and I lashed out at her in anger. “Have you lost your mind? You would've killed him while he was wide awake! How could you possibly do this to him?!” The cultist girl had a rather unapologetic expression on her face, even ignoring my anger entirely. “He seems to take a liking to you, are you his owner?” “No I'm not, I take care of him” I said, with the kitten still patting my arms with a bewildered look on his face. I just wanted to snatch the poor soul out of the mysterious girl's arms and rush the hell out of there without turning back, but then suddenly another unexpected move. The girl stepped slowly toward me and then leaned down as I held my arms out, and the kitten quickly scrambled out of her arms into mine. Now that I had him, I couldn't let him fall back into the girl's hands, and I stared into the girl's emotionless face with the exact opposite expression, “No cat deserves to die in your pointless ritual.”
She was stirred by no attempt at reason, and what she said next perhaps shocked me more because of the hint of emotion it carried, “Such a shame, he needs a more deserving owner.” I suddenly felt empowered by her answer, like I could actually rattle what little emotion she felt. “WHY the hell are you killing cats? What the hell is this? You and the rest of your people will answer for this as to why I have to save the owner's kitten from a premature burial?!” I was drained, and began panting from yelling for this brief period of time because I felt so strongly attached to my words. But the problem with these words is the amount of attention they drew from the crowd, to the extent I perhaps had not wished it. I was now surrounded on all sides by at least a dozen curious faces now, blocking my exit like the cats in the ritual circle. Every emotionless face with that same uniform cold expression was just so... infuriating. “Leave now,” one of the boys in a suit bellowed at me. “You are disturbing the cycle, tainted one. We do not require your presence,” a younger girl told me, and this certainly disturbed me most of all. What in the hell was the cycle?! My jaw dropped, and I lost all words that had come to my mind before now. I could only stare between two of the dark figures standing before me at the poor helpless cat in a cage that was about to be slaughtered.
I knew in my mind that these were cats being slaughtered and not humans, but there was just something so incredibly unsettling about knowing that living creatures' lives were being cut short in such an awful way. In a way, I could relate it to myself; what would it look like for me, what would I feel? And with that thought, I could feel the temptation of my next thought, a scheme that was forming in my head, but I tried desperately to fight it. Why did I believe that I could rescue the cats in the cages, at the risk of Hobbes' life? I was responsible for him, and I would be making a terrible risk, and probably I would be cornered by the disturbing figurines in human flesh and they would eat my insides... just like the rabbits. But no, that's not what happened to those rabbits, I never saw any guts I... couldn't possibly know that.
I must be losing my mind I remember telling myself, and I was visibly hitting myself on the head trying to wake up and slapping my cheeks, whatever it was in my power to do. I forgot about the kitten that was between my arms, and I pushed two of the figures in the circle out of the way to chase the sprawling cat. They did not fight me, they simply left me to my duty to chase the kitten down. Try as I might, I could not catch up with Hobbes as he faded into the darkness, and now it was just me and the chanting in the distance... growing louder, more aggressive, more evil. I prepared myself for the exact moment another blade met with cat flesh, and the horrible howling cry as I covered my ears and I listened to the sound of my heartbeat, racing as fast as it possibly could. “Wake up,” I told myself, still no sound of cars off in the distance, “Please... wake up.” There was nothing but the noise of my chattering teeth and the sound of my panting with the screeching cries of dying cats and chanting growing to a roar in the background. It was closing in on me, that terrible sound, sucking me back into their ritual. Why did such a scream have to be so unbearable?! I just couldn't take it that- that horrible noise growing even louder..even louder still... growing louder... it was beyond unbearable... LOUDER!
I finally snapped, and I left Hobbes, or at least the kitten deemed to be his clone, in the shadows to rot in that place. I was running now, and I panicked when I finally realized that there were no cars... there were none, even at the next intersection and beyond off in the distance. When I finally came to the bridge over the freeway... my body became completely paralyzed. I could not move, I have never seen such an empty freeway before in my entire life. I had seen empty busy roads such as these sure, but not for nearly as an extended period of time as this. Just to see the empty lanes as far as the eye could see toward the hills off in the distance... disappearing only over the curvature of the Earth. Even in movies set in the zombie apocalypse, there would be hundreds and thousands of overturned cars in sight and an obvious reason for it known... but this? Complete emptiness? It was just completely unexplainable to describe the emotion, there are simply no words for what it feels like to discover that the impossible appeared to have invaded reality. It made as little sense as anything else I had encountered that night, and from my viewpoint I could see more parked cars over in the University shopping center and on the streets. It was the creepiest feeling that I had ever felt, those parked cars told a different story as what I knew to be true, “Everything is normal, there is nothing wrong.” It defied and twisted logic just like the concave road, appearing as a bend for all of eternity.
As I remained as a solid statue, I knew that someone was standing behind me, but I just could not move. I could not take my eyes off of the barren emptiness that lay beneath my feet, barren far into the distance towards a single vanishing point. “It's too late now, you are trapped in this world” I heard a girl's voice tell me, “You and the kitten will never leave this place.” I struggled to turn and face her but I still found myself in a stun lock... my body's muscles were not responding. I felt a sudden, unexplainable surge of warmth that extended up from my toes toward my head. It felt so... peaceful, a relieving, soothing, powerful calm that enveloped me in such a way that I can only describe it as complete solitude. It felt as though I had accepted my fate with grace... but I was still paralyzed, not a muscle in my body would move on command.
“You must come back,” she urged me, and I was overcome with the need to yell again, but I knew I would not be able to muster a sound, and gave up. I was in dismay; is it possible she didn't know I was in a state of complete paralysis? Suddenly my answer was revealed as I hear a car engine fast approaching and it squealed to a halt behind me. A car door opened up, and I was hurled into the backseat by two of the ritual boys as my joints still did not budge. I was lobbed just like a statue; I had been reduced to an inanimate object. The car engine whirred and my eyes began flooding. I had not cried, albeit joy or sadness, in years... I was mesmerized by the tears, as they had no hot or coldness about them; I could simply not feel the tears.
I could not tell what my emotion was now, it was all just too confusing. Was I really here, was I real, were these ritualists real, was the ritual... real? Was I ever in reality to begin with this night, or if so where did it all go so horribly wrong? I still felt solitude, but at once I felt an incredible force... A piercing headache that clawed into my brain, scrambling my thoughts, squeezing them. It juggled them around, beat them to a pulp, just any act of bullying I can describe inflicted upon my head. It all came at once as quickly as receiving a splinter scraping your hand along wood; it attacked me, from the inside out. It felt as though the car ride was lasting for days, turning seconds into hours, warping the duration of time in ways that are impossible to visualize. I just felt so lost in it all... still none of my joints would move, not even an inch, and I stared out the corner of my frozen eye sockets at a glimpse of the palm of my hand, hoping to give some definitive sign of movement. I could no longer tell how long I had been frozen this way, how long the night had lasted, or what day it was. But they were still in the car, those cultists, the driver and car zooming off into oblivion, I could see them in my peripherals. No one made a sound, and since I couldn't turn my head, I was pinned staring out the side window, watching the passing buildings, props, tree, light posts, trash cans I- I couldn't differentiate them anymore, it was all one big sweeping blur. Because of how oblivious I was to time, I can't tell how long it took exactly, but eventually a non-existent force let me lay down, and for the briefest moment before I drifted to sleep, I swear I could feel something small and fuzzy nestled between the palms of my hands.
We never arrived at our destination, or at least I don't think we did. To be honest I still don't know where I am, or how I am typing this. You might be wondering then: how did you manage to write anything before this then, when did your paralysis leave you, what type of prank are you pulling on us, where are you now? I was always bad at pulling pranks, and I was never the type that dared to dream, doing something stupid instead like steal the pencil away from my classmate's desk and watch them act baffled at its disappearance. But a prank like this... No, I would not imagine. I am so shocked at everything I have told you that I am now convinced it was all real, and not an act of an imagination. I am not crazy, and my reality, my only reality, has been reduced to a blur and shadows. And yes, my paralysis faded off when I awoke, and it faded along with the world I left behind. If I stop for a long while, the kitten still follows me, although I refuse to still call the creature Hobbes. I still hear their chanting, but it is always off in the distance, so taking care of my roommate's cat is proving not to be much of a problem now. I never see the other cats anymore, only when I close my eyes. It often makes me stop and wonder what my roommate would be thinking of what has happened to me and where I am now. In quiet moments, I take a seat on the ground, that... smeared canvas of the Earth.
I can see the convicting eyes of those black cats, staring into me, fading away as I re-open my eyes. I try to keep my eyes open for long lengths of time, but eventually I see them again... and it haunts me.