Cat’s Eye

Diane -

Photo by Diane Nicoll

By Michael Rhodes

It had been raining for three days.  The perfectly manicured lawns were drenched, the flower beds saturated, the drains were overflowing with foaming, bubbling water.  It seemed as if the weather was sad.  The sky was ashen and gray, sheets of water pouring, thunder rumbling.  The suburban streetlights glimmered like powdered light in the darkness.  The light was so weakened and subdued by the darkness and the rain that when Jordan was driving home, it was hard for her to see what was in front of her.  In fact, as she turned into her driveway and pushed the garage door remote control, she never saw the shadows moving.  As she pulled in and unpacked her car, she never saw the dark figure creeping around the garage and into her backyard.  As Jordan was busy drying off and closing the garage door, she was never even aware that a man in black had just slipped into her house through an unlocked patio door.

Accompanied by the loud crack of thunder, the black cat ran through the kitchen to Jordan as she unpacked her groceries.  Jordan stopped and picked up the sleek, black cat, stroking her and staring into her emerald green eyes.  “Oh Isis, it’s okay girl.  Is that storm scaring you?” Jordan asked as she was holding the cat.  Jordan remembered when she found the starving, drenched black kitten, hidden in the ditch by her mailbox.  The frail, black kitten was solid black except for a mysterious gold pendant on her collar, a gold Egyptian ankh.  She was barely old enough to survive when Jordan heard her faint cries just as the weak kitten was almost washed away in the storm drain.  It was on a night much like this one, a night when the police came and knocked on her door. It was the night when her world was completely shattered; that was five years ago and they had been inseparable ever since.  Even though Isis couldn’t speak, she and her mistress seemed to share some unspoken language between them.  The ebony cat seemed to possess a quiet intelligence about her and helped to ease the loneliness that Jordan felt after losing her husband so suddenly.

Against the judgment of her family, the beautiful young widow had chosen to remain in the house that she and her husband had purchased and so lovingly restored.  Her family could not bear the thoughts of her alone in that house, living in his shadow, living in his tomb, but Jordan proved all of them wrong.  She finished graduate school and joined her college mentor in managing a mental health clinic near the campus.  She divided her time between counseling students and hosting a nightly call-in radio advice show for college students.  Of course, she was still lonely sometimes, yet she had a calling to help others and somehow it was enough to help heal her broken heart.

As she bent over and fixed Isis’s bowl of tuna, she never noticed the man in black creeping up the stairs behind her.  After she left a saucer of milk out, she went upstairs and into the bathroom to draw a nice, hot, steamy bath.  As she poured in her bath oils and prepared her towels, she lovingly caressed her late husband’s robe which was still hanging behind the door.  She could still smell his favorite soap, his shaving cream, his masculine musky cologne.  This was one nightly routine of which she never tired.  Even though he was gone, she could still connect, touch a little piece of him, smell him, as she hugged the soft terry cloth robe tightly against her chest.  Lost in her thoughts, she glanced into the large bathroom mirror and saw the dark silhouette standing behind her.

Jordan screamed and dropped everything.  She ran into her bedroom and locked the door.  She was trembling and frantically looking for her phone.  She remembered her iPhone was downstairs in her purse and she had taken the bedroom telephone out because she rarely used it.  She panicked, thinking that she would be killed, alone, in the middle of the night – there was no where to run.  And then suddenly, from nowhere, Isis appeared on her bed.  Jordan was surprised at the cat’s sudden appearance because she specifically remembered leaving her downstairs in the kitchen.  And yet here she was.  She could hear the man’s footsteps walking toward her door.  She could see his shadow outside the bottom of the door.  What could she possibly do?  She was trapped in her bedroom, with a psycho outside her door, no phone, no escape, and only her cat.  What now?

Jordan was now a captive in her own home. She could hear her heart beating rapidly, the blood pumping, her adrenaline rushing.  She was frantically looking around the room for anything that she could possibly use as a weapon against her intruder.  In the meantime she could hear the man walking toward her bedroom door, heavier steps, ominous steps coming toward her room.  As she backed up in the corner of the room, preparing herself, she looked around and noticed that Isis had suddenly disappeared as quickly as she came.  How?  Where was her cat now and how was she doing this?

In the dark hallway he stood outside her door, he could see the warm yellow light under the door frame, see her shadow pacing nervously.  He smiled a wicked and demented smile across his scarred, grizzled face.  The man appeared to be in his thirties, large build, military type.  He was enjoying the hunt.  He could smell her fear and he liked it a lot.  As his black-gloved hand reached for the door, he saw a black blur go racing around his feet.  He felt a brush across his feet, but it was too dark to see anything.  As he took another step forward, he felt it at his feet again and it was circling and spiraling so quickly that he became unbalanced and fell to the floor with a thud.  As he gathered himself after falling on his stomach, he never saw the ankh pendant begin to glow, turn white-hot.

Shrouded in blackness, the cat bellowed and moved, joints popping, bones cracking, her mass shifting, her meows turning into a foreboding low timbre growl.  Gone was the demure cat, in her stead was a gigantic, sleek, muscular leopard, solid black.  The powerful cat stood over the man; her immense size and stature were massive, far larger than any lion or tiger.  With a wild scream and giant black claws, Isis slashed the man’s face, from forehead to chin.  He screamed as her razor-sharp talons sliced through his flesh, tearing and ripping through skin, sinew, and bone.  His vision went pitch black and he reached up with his hand to discover the dually gruesome, bloody sockets where his eyes had once rested.  As he opened his mouth and screamed, it felt as if someone had inserted a hot poker in his mouth.  In an instant, the savage attack was over as Isis viciously ripped out the intruder’s tongue as he tried to scream.  All he could feel was the searing pain and then the hot, salty, coppery taste as blood gushed in his mouth, fresh from where his tongue once rested.  Going into shock, the man now trembled on the floor, losing a copious amount of blood and finally losing consciousness.  Meanwhile, demurely and innocently crouched in the dark corner of the hallway, the small, black cat watched the man, her green eyes sparkling, the ankh pendant still glowing softly.

Jordan crept to the door and opened it just slightly to reveal the bloodied and mauled man, lying still on the floor.  Exasperated and unhinged, she screamed and ran down the spiral stairs to find help.   She ran so fast that she had not even stopped to consider what may have incapacitated her attacker.  All she knew was that somehow she had survived.  As Jordan raced next door to a neighbor for help, Isis remained statuesque in the dark corner.  Like all cats, the darkness was her shroud, the night was her domain.  This house was her territory and she had fiercely protected it this evening.  This unfortunate man had made the misjudgment of underestimating her power.  Behind her deep green eyes, a secret past revealed.

She remembered being worshipped as a goddess in ancient Egypt, a timeless royal companion to the great Queens of the Nile Valley, much later revered as a magical familiar to the witches of Salem, riding the oceans with Blackbeard’s daughter, and sometimes spurned as a devil spawn by others.  Over and over, throughout history, throughout her many incarnations, this noble cat has watched over and protected her humans, most often appearing during great times of tragedy.  Winds that come out of nowhere and sudden changes in the weather – like the night when Jordan lost everything and found the small, black kitten.  Just when she needed her the most, the great cat was reborn once again, always appearing suddenly to balance the fates and lead her charges to their true callings.  She was a nurturer of destinies, able to guide and protect her female charges, all while in the innocent guise of a cat.

Isis jumped up into the window and surveyed her kingdom below. She turned when Jordan came running up to check on her.  “Oh baby girl, are you okay?  Did that awful man scare you?” she asked as she lifted and nuzzled the soft, black cat, oblivious to what her remarkable cat had just done for her.  Purring, she let out a meek meow, the sleek, black cat crouched on her shoulder, licking her paws as the golden ankh amulet around her neck shimmered in the moonlight.  Isis looked upward, toward the pale, white moon; both were keeping their secrets this night.  As constant as the moon in the night sky, as fierce as any Egyptian warrior, this was her calling – through the darkness, through the millennia – she was companion, protector, watcher – always watching with her brilliant green cat’s eyes.

Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student