Good Friday, Chapter 2: A short, chilling story from Poppy, the video shop cat

She didn’t scream.

There was a low rumple, a muffled guffaw and a metallic squink. She backed away from the body and took solace behind the counter.

I’d started to sweat, through my paws (that’s where cats sweat, in case you didn’t know) so I went back to licking them. It kept my mind busy and that meant that I didn’t have to think about what the human would do to us now that she’d found the body. Meanwhile, she paced back and forth behind the counter, tap-tap-tapping on the small rectangular thing she carries around. She tapped furiously, as if her life depended on it. Maybe it did? All the while, I sat atop the fridge and I licked my paws.

Alf – that’s my brother – he didn’t hide, almost as if he was proud of what he’d done. He sat less than a foot away from the body, like he wanted to get caught, like his actions would somehow please the human. I was disgusted with him. Not only did I have to put up with the headless body in our home that night but it was also causing me much anxiety. The humans aren’t like us; they’re strange and unpredictable. More time passed and the suspense became too much, I had to know, what was she doing out there?

I let a low growl out and Alf hissed back – the human was still tapping on that rectangular object, pacing back and forth.

She paced back and forth. Back and forth; back and forth…

This went on for what might have been days. And you know what? I thought, ‘Forget this, I don’t care about the hideous dismembered corpse on the rug! It’s midday and I’m HUNGRY.’ My paws were salty, which left a dry, sandbox taste in my mouth. Not even a quick lick of my deliciously greasy fur could make it go away. That’s when I decided to speak up.

I knew I had to be careful about what I said and I’ve been studying the humans for a long time now. The most important detail I’ve noticed is that they communicate with their mouths. I think, especially when they want something, they open their mouths wide and release a series of noises – not clear hisses or growls, more like a sequence of up and down varied frequencies. It’s effective because the other humans respond. I see it first thing in the morning when they put the coffee on: one sets up the pot, opens its mouth wide and squeaks at the other, then, the other one squeaks back and the first one brings out a hot, disgusting cup of the stuff. I’ve also noticed that the mouth has to open wide – for example, there was a time when someone from the outside came in (many outsides come in of a day) and they didn’t open their mouth very wide at all. As such, the noises didn’t vary much and the whole thing was very lackluster, kind of like a mumble. My human seemed unimpressed with the mumble and instead of responding with a cup of hot stuff, mumbled back.

So, having deduced that I needed to speak, loudly and with varied timbre, I drew a large breath and cried out with everything I had, hoping I’d get food and not a cup of that hot stuff.

AND IT WORKED. She turned to me and replied with the same noise! She must have understood that I was just an innocent bystander. ‘Success!’, I thought, ‘Soon, soon I will get the puzzle ball with the food.’

Tune in again next week for the next installment of Pops’ story.

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