“The Stalker” ~ title by ediz12, subject by theSeraph, kitten by Sinapi
Just a simple normal day, that’s all he ever asked for; one simple, normal, nothing out of the ordinary day. Mind you, he got pieces of it here and there, and to be terribly honest, he had NO IDEA what a normal day was. He read books you see, and in those books, he got this idea. If he could have one normal day then maybe things would get better, and if they got better then there was no stopping him.
His cat wound her way around his ankles. She did this when he started stressing. It really wasn’t his cat, but the ‘library cat’ that lived at the old town library he worked at. She caught the mice, lizards, and bats that got into the ancient building. She also had a way with bugs, and she was cheaper than the local exterminators so they let her stay. She was good with the children, and most of the adults who came in liked her too. She avoided those who were allergic or afraid (so unlike normal cat behavior) so even they couldn’t really complain about her. All she asked for was some fresh water, her litter box to be changed, and one cup of food a day, that and his ankles to wind around when he started getting agitated.
“Cat, things have to change,” he told her one morning. “I’ve not had a normal day yet! Lunch yesterday there was a mugging behind me in the line at the fast food restaurant. You remember the day before, that loon with the screwdriver attacking someone in the stacks.”
The cat looked up at him unimpressed and sat on one of his feet. She stared at him for a moment longer before beginning her morning bath. She seemed nonplussed, and he figured it was because he hadn’t thanked her yet for the bat, two mice, and fifteen cockroaches that were deposited on his desk.
“Thank you for the presents Cat,” he said, reaching down and ruffling the hair behind her ears. She glowered at him, stood up and huffed before hopping up on the edge of his desk and finishing her bath. “Would you be offended if I put them all in my special box? It’s a magic box you know,” he told her, lifting the trash can and moving it to the desk. “You watch me put all your prizes in, but they’re gone by nightfall.” She looked in the empty bin, then watched as he used a piece of cardboard to scrape all the prizes away. She leaned over and looked into the bin and seemed quite pleased with herself. When he put the bin back where it sat, she resumed cleaning.
“I got a new tattoo last night Cat,” he said. She looked at him for a moment, then began washing her whiskers. He unbuttoned his shirt a little and showed the cat his new tattoo on his chest. She sniffed at it and leaned in as if she was going to try and take care of his wound but he leaned back. “No, no licking it yet. It still hurts. Give it a week, and I’ll show you again.”
He stood up as he buttoned his shirt back closed and shook his head. He could hear the ladies at the checkout desk laughing.
“Ediz, you are so cute with that cat,” one of the ladies exclaimed. Ediz smiled and gathered the books that they finished checking in to re-shelve them. He listened to them chattering on as he moved back into the stacks, and he heard one of them just before she was out of earshot. “I’ve been working here for 30 years now, and I never remember seeing that cat until he was hired. But at the same time, I remember it always being here. Strange, isn’t it Ella?”
Ediz remembered the cat from when he was a kid. She was only a kitten then, but she lived here and she made the library one of his favorite places to be. When he turned fifteen and could get his first part time job, he started working at the library. After school, he’d come in, do his work and then work on shelving, cleaning, weeding old books out, repairing damaged books, and every other odd job that needed to be done. She watched him, followed him, and tried to trip him when it would be most comedic in her little cat brain.
“You know Cat,” he said from the quiet stacks. “Tomorrow I turn 21! We should go out for my birthday. I could order Chinese, you could have the night off… then back to work like normal Joes tomorrow, what do you say?”
The cat wound her way out of the stacks and looked up at him, her large eyes glowing slightly in the strange gloom of the place.
“Sounds wonderful Ediz,” he heard a quiet voice say, but when he looked around there was no one.
“It’s a date then,” he said, but with less exuberance than before. As he pushed the last book home, he headed back into the light of the library’s atrium, leaving the cat sitting in the stocks. If only he would have turned around to look at her.
When work was over, Ediz was excited. Today had been almost perfectly normal, all except for the answer in the stacks first thing in the morning. He took out the vermin filled bag and came back in to find the cat sitting on his jacket and shoulder bag. He smiled at the cat and shooed her away. She looked injured by the gesture, but didn’t budge.
“Come on now Cat, closing time.”
She stared at him mournfully.
“Oh, yeah… I said you could come home with me tonight, right? Can I change it for tomorrow? I might have a date tonight. Someone I’ve been watching actually asked me if I could help her with her English paper,” Ediz smiled, but the Cat didn’t budge. “Why am I asking you,” he said suddenly sharply. “You’re a cat and you don’t even understand English!” With that, Ediz grabbed the jacket and pushed the cat to the floor. When his bag was on his shoulder he stormed out the back door, locking it behind him. For the second time in that one day, he should have turned around to look back at the cat.
The next day when Ediz came in, there were no gifts on his desk. She didn’t come greet him, and as he looked around, he couldn’t find her at all. He was a little worried, but he figured she’d be back around lunch time, or when he put out her bowl of food. He was still excited from his study date the night before. The girl who asked for help was someone Ediz was crushing on since middle school. It was a dream come true for him to finally get to spend time with her, and when he mentioned that it was his birthday, she offered to take him out for drinks tonight as a thanks for helping on her paper. Today couldn’t go fast enough for Ediz, and when the Cat didn’t show up for her lunch, he never noticed.
When closing time came around, Ediz stuffed his jacket in his bag and dashed toward the door, but as he was getting there, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. In one of the little used back rooms, cat was laying, half pinned under some books. He dropped his bag and ran to her. He carefully lifted the books from her small frame and touched her face. Her eyes opened and looked at him.
“Oh! Cat, you’re ok,” he said. “No more playing around now. I have to go.”
The cat’s eye rolled back in her head and the lid closed slowly. Her breathing was fast, but labored and he realized then she wasn’t ok. He looked outside to where the girl of his dreams had pulled up in her car to get him and back at the cat. He sighed and began to stroke the cat gently, trying to see if he could feel any damage. When he stopped on her ribcage to feel her heart, he could hear that soft voice from the morning before. “I’m dying Ediz. You broke my heart.”
He looked around, but no one was near him but the cat. He looked down at her and saw her vibrant eyes watching him. He stroked her face and smiled at her.
“You can’t be dying, and I can’t hear you, and this is all crazy,” Ediz said quietly, then his face darkened and he shouted. “Why am I talking to a stupid cat anyway?!”
The cat flinched, and its expression became even sadder. As he watched, the small form on the floor twisted and changed into a young woman. Her hair was the same mottled color of the cats. Streaks of color here and there in it, her eyes were the same bright hue and shape that the cat’s eyes were. He stared down at the woman, his mouth open.
“I love you Ediz,” she mumbled between labored breaths. “I’ve been watching you all your life.”
“This is crazy,” Ediz stammered, backing away from the once cat, now girl. “This isn’t real. You’re just some cat, you’re not a person.”
“Please,” she whimpered, weakly extending her hand. “I love you, don’t leave me to die alone.”
Ediz stood, shaking his head. He backed away from her prone body on the floor. His back hit the wall and he jumped.
“Ediz, I thought you loved me. You always spoke kindly to me, took care of me. Always. Until yesterday. You asked me to come over, and then you abandoned me,” she looked at him, tears spilling down her cheeks. “Why did you abandon me,” she cried.
“This is all some kind of dream, maybe I’m having a mental breakdown, this isn’t real, I’m hallucinating,” he began to babble to himself. Outside, he could hear a horn honking impatiently. He turned and looked out the doorway, to the glass beside the exit, and could see the girl of his dreams pounding on her horn, looking angry. “You’re just a cat, just some old stray cat that the library keeps to help keep pests down.”
“I love you Ediz. I’ve been watching over you for your whole life. Why do you think your parents knew where to find you when you fell out of the tree? Why do you think an ambulance got to the accident site when the drunk man hit the car you were driving home in? Why do you think that in each situation you should have died or gotten really hurt, you could walk away,” her voice was trembling. The horn seemed louder, as if the car was pressed against the back door. “I used up each of my own lives to save yours. You don’t have to lose your life to save mine Ediz.”
Ediz stared at the once-cat-now-woman in disbelief. The horns loud and insistent honking was making it hard to think. He turned to look out at the car, but instead he saw the girl standing at the door, while the horn was still honking. She was peering inside, her face was pressed against the glass. She wasn’t pretty now, but frightening. The urge to go to her was still there, but something in him thought better of it.
“How do I save your life,” Ediz asked, unable to look away from the face at the door.
“Accept me, lift me up, love me,” Cat said quietly. “Kiss me.”
“Kiss you, but you’re a cat! I mean, but… You see,” Ediz stammered. He looked back at Cat and when his eyes met hers he understood. He pushed away from the wall, but the sound of the horn brought him to his knees. He reached out and his hand grasped hers. She shuddered and he could feel her growing stronger. The horn sound faded but it was still there. Ediz could hear the girl who he was supposed to go out with that night screaming at the back door. She sounded scared, but when he tried to move, he saw Cat struggling to her knees and he struggled to help her up. When they were both sitting, he stood and helped her to standing. There was sobbing at the back door, and he turned away, but his face was turned back by Cat’s soft hand.
“One last thing Ediz,” she said quietly and simply.
Ediz looked at her and froze up. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her in toward him. At the back door, the pitiful sobbing turned back into screams. Screams that made nightmares seem tame and happy. He could feel his hands trembling as he pulled her close and pressed his lips to hers.
Her lips were soft, and when his lips met hers the world went quiet. He could feel her life pouring back into her, the weakness when he found her, the weakness when he helped her to her feet; it was all gone and now she stood strong. When he pulled back from the kiss, he looked into her eyes.
“And now, I protect you again,” Cat whispered, a smile on her face.