Since we are entering the time of year when certain emotionally and mentally stunted morons decide that Halloween is time to do bad things to cat’s it is time to remind you that there are things to be feared in the dark, and those watching whose attention you do not want to draw; not at this time of year.
Lisa was a bright and studious girl, who was just established in her own apartment for the first time. A junior at University of Victoria (UVic), she rented a room at an old house just off campus that was subdivided to make six mini apartments for students. They shared a kitchen and untidy communal living room, but her room had space enough for a desk, bed, bookshelf, mini-fridge, and litter-box for Amber.
Amber was Lisa’s cat, while she was the families cat in theory, he had lived in Lisa’s room, been cared for, and walked (you can walk a cat if you are determined enough), by Lisa every day, and when Lisa left home, Amber and Lisa simply accepted it as a fact that they would leave together, and so it was.
On the corner of Lisa’s desk was a small alter and offering bowl, every day she would pour out a measure from her first coffee to Freya, goddess of magic, passion, and she had decided the patron of those seeking degrees in education (teaching=herding cats). She also left offerings at the battered garden gnome at the front door, for the house wights. She was pretty sure that Aiko (the Japanese girl) was doing the same.
Friday morning she got dressed, threw on a hoodie (UVic Vikings) against the fall chill, and snapped on Amber’s leash. Off to the local Bolshevik-Bean, with its tattered red star and fading Che Guevara poster, she ordered her week end treat of breakfast wrap and Pumpkin spice latte with extra whip. Amber patiently awaited her share of the whip cream, while rumbling a happy approval at the all-organic actual whipped cream the hippy owners insisted on. Across the café, one brooding boy observed the girl and cat with a smile that had much more cat-cruelty than anything human.
He was not young, unlike the bulk of the clientele being neither student nor staff of UVic, but a local worker at the video game store. He wore a Satanic T-shirt and inverted pentacle, bore a sloppy mixture of tattoos of various arcana, from Celtic to Egyptian, wearing a short goatee and fierce glare that clearly intended to shock or challenge. This effect was clearly lost on a crowd of busy college students who hailed from a number of faiths and ideologies whose happy clash was the norm for the University and faded into the background, unnoticed.
His name was Greg, but he had begun to go by Stavros, because he felt that was far cooler, and was truer to his own nature which he felt was dark and powerful. Through years of social rejection from peers that didn’t get his interests he had decided he was deeper than other people, and when his fascination with the dark, with atrocities and need to continually shock others caused those in the gaming communities to reject him, he turned to magic. He had tried the local pagan communities, and even the local Satanists, and all had rejected him. They were afraid, all of them, like that little bourgeois feeding her cat across the way. She was pretty, but wouldn’t look at him twice. He sneered, he decided he had a use for her, and her cat would help him get it. Laughing, he finished his coffee and waited for her to leave. He would follow to see where she lived.
Leaving a small piece of her morning wrap at the garden gnome, for the house wights, Lisa traded cat for laptop and binder, scratched Amber behind the ears, and asked her to guard the place for her until she returned. As she left Amber bathing herself in the window, she noted the “creepy guy” from the game store was on the sidewalk out front. Funny, she had never come this way before. Thinking little of it, she ran to catch the bus into campus.
Stavros waited until the little student bourgeois all left for the drone academy, and went to the old window that the cat was in. Knowing the old houses, he used his belt knife to push the lock on the window open, then forced it open. The cat hissed and backed away. Having heavy work gloves on, he grabbed the cat, and stuffed him into the gym bag, and zipped it quickly up. Now he had what he needed for the full moon tonight. A little bit of blood, and he would get for himself the fear and respect he deserved! These bourgeois children knew nothing about real power…..
When Lisa got home it was almost dark, and her room was bitterly cold. Her room had been robbed! Her iPod and charger will still there, her electronics were all there, only her alter had been disturbed, as if Amber had retreated to it, and been taken from it. Her Freya statue was broken, and her offering bowl was chipped. Amber was gone! Who would steal a cat, when the SPCA had so many? Anyone who would give a good home to a cat could get one, so why break in and steal it?
The police were little help, with nothing stolen, and with no known enemies to question, the only thing they could do was give her a complaint number, and add to her fears. Before they left, the police told her that some “sick freaks” like to kill cats as part of that “black magic and shit” they said while pointing at her little alter. Too shocked to be insulted by the police implications that her Freya alter was black magic, she suddenly had the fear that someone might have taken Amber for the purpose of hurting him. There were, after all, people the SPCA would NOT give a cat to after all.
The whole house having searched the neighborhood, and put posters up of Amber on the nearby telephone poles, Lisa returned home dejected and scared. Amber was gone, and there was nothing she could do. She stopped at Bolshevik bean to get her nightly pumpkin spice, but hadn’t the heart to drink it without Amber. She stopped at the garden gnome on the way into the house, and poured the whole coffee and whip onto the stones. She looked up into the night sky, at the rising full moon and asked Manni the moon to watch over her cat, Amber, then she begged Freya to see Amber got home safely. Normally Lisa was careful not to do magic, or curses, or to ask the gods for anything that could harm another person, as she was very uncomfortable with how her father and his army friends were so quick to see violence as an answer; but the thought of Amber being taken to be hurt angered her. She concluded her prayer thus: “Great Freya, if anyone sheds one drop of my Amber’s blood, I hope they frigging die!”
Lisa went inside to cry herself to sleep. Outside in the night, three neighborhood cats came to lick the foam from the gnomes offering bowl, and the moon shone down white and cold above the now empty bowl.
Stavros didn’t like research, it was way too much work pawing through boring book after book either by archeologists who didn’t believe anything, or by fuzzy brained pagans or stoned loser Satanists who believed everything. He watched a couple of horror movies that really struck him though, and through his gaming had found gods that promised power, the kind of power that would make him feared by all the little people who thought it was safe to laugh at him.
There was a big mausoleum in the cemetery. He knew that the graveyard was the right place to do the spell at full moon because that’s the way they did it in the film. There was one mausoleum that looked like a great granite table, supported by four carved stone pillars. Inside were the remains of a few generations of families, but in the moonlight it looked like a black stone alter. He set his candles at four corners, and spray painted his pentagram on the alter. He had written out the spells from the movie; three hieroglyphs that were supposed to inspire fear in men that saw him, lust in women that saw him, and bring him victory over his enemies. According to the movie, you had to draw them in the blood of your victim first, then kill them to make it happen. Of course in the movie, the heroes stopped the priest while he was doing some stupid chanting and praying, so Stavros was just going to do this fast, and get out before a security guard or cop showed up.
Pulling the cat out of the bag, Stavros almost lost the little thing, as it clawed and scratched at him, even through the gloves. Slamming it down against the alter so hard it was stunned, he cut it with the knife he lay beside the alter and started to paint the symbols on the surface of the stone. It was hard with the cat writhing, and the candle and moonlight shifting, and the need to speak his spell at the same time.
“Set god of darkness, by this blood—-stop it you stupid cat— I summon you. Fear in men, lust in women, victory and power I call”
A woman’s laughter seemed to come from all around, and the little cat went very still. The moon light burned clear of the clouds, and Stavros stood in a pool of white fire as the shadows drew back from him. Blinded by the light, the knife gleaming wetly in his gloved hand, Stavros paused as he heard the woman’s laughter getting closer. Set wasn’t a chick, was he?
Four glowing gold eyes gleamed in the darkness. Alternating between high and low as they seemed to flow seamlessly and soundlessly over the coffins and headstones, they were wide set, like large dogs, but slit like snakes or cats eyes. A deep rumbling joined the night, like the growl of jungle cats.
“Fear, little man, I give to you. Lust, little man, I will share with you. Victory, little man, I will work on you.”
A woman strode through the graves with languid prowl, as much like a cat as a dancer. A necklace of amber and gold flashed from her amble cleavage, and her hair caught the moonlight like sunsets own fire. On her hands were gloves of soft fur, like catskin.
Left and right, on the headstones leaped great golden cougars. Their ears flat, their fangs gleaming wide and white in the moonlight, their throaty growls now turned his blood to water, and loosed his bladder down his leather pants.
“That is fear, little man. That is first. This cat is not yours, little man. He is mine, and another’s. Tree-Gold and Bee-Gold here are mine as well, she gestured languidly at the mountain lions whose tails lashed in blood hunger and hunt-lust. One who also owns this cat had offered me your life’s blood, should you draw Amber’s blood. Your knife is as stained as your pants little man”
She laughed again with the casual cruelty of a cat, and with a throaty purr continued
“Your life is Freya’s”
“Run swift, sweetling, my children like to play with their food. If they don’t get a good run first, they take their time with the finish”
Stavros ran screaming, but in the darkness, the graves themselves tripped him up, and he fell again and again, each time being savaged by one or the other cat, until at last he was slow to rise, and Bee-gold took the killing neck bite.
Cooing softly, the golden woman took up the wounded cat.
“Little Amber, let mother see to you.” Moonlight flashed like so much fire upon her necklace, calling sun-colour to moon dark, until it seemed that gold ran down the woman’s arms onto the bruised and bloodied cat.
As Stavros screams turned to broken moans, the cooing of the woman began to be answered by purrs of the little cat, as if his wounds themselves burned away in her light. Setting him down, they walked together to the broken man upon whom the two mountain lions were feeding. With the aplomb of any cat, he shouldered his way between their two great heads, and lapped delicately at the life-wine spilling from his throat. Sharing an amused look the twin lions returned to their mistress to leave their cousin to his revenge repast.
The woman looked up at the bright moon in the sky and said
“I expect you to see him home again. My little friends are less welcome on the streets”
Lisa woke the next morning shivering in the cold. In the night her window opened again, and her beloved Amber was curled up on the bed spread behind her knees. As she took up her beloved pet in wonder, her eyes caught her alter, where her broken Freya statue was somehow restored. Looking upon the blood her cat was happily and smugly licking off himself, and remembering her evening prayer, she wondered….