Entertainingly Evil
8
Sep

THE WOMAN WHO LOVED CATS by Matthew Spence

George Henderson knew that Anna had always liked cats. She never had less than four felines in the house, and she talked to and cared for them as if they were her children, which, in a sense, they were, since their own were all grown and gone. George and Anna were both retired, and like many retired couples spent much of their time alone together. The cats were Anna’s only company when George wasn’t out running errands or doing volunteer work at the senior citizen’s community center. George hadn’t minded the cats when Anna first started getting them some fifteen years ago, but now they were always underfoot, annoying George when he tried to eat, climbing up on him whenever he sat down. To make matters worse, for some reason they never seemed to listen to him, only
Anna.
     “Anna,” George said to her one night, as he shared their bed with the cats, “I think maybe we should do something about these cats. Give them away to a shelter, maybe, or sell them to our neighbors. I’m worried that…”
     “No!” Anna said, with sudden catlike ferocity. George stared at her, startled, and realized that the cats were also watching him, with eyes that suddenly looked ominous in the shadows at the foot of the bed. “I won’t give up my children.”
     “Our real children are all grown up now,” George reminded her. “They’re not people, Anna, they’re pets.” It was exasperating. But he knew from experience that Anna wouldn’t budge. George knew that in the end it was up to him alone to do something, no matter how drastic it was. Otherwise, the cats would drive both of them nuts.
     The next day, George took Anna for her regular physical therapy appointment. While she was in the doctor’s office, he went to a nearby Burger King to grab something to eat, thinking dark thoughts about the cats while he ate his lunch.
     Why can’t you just leave me alone in peace and quiet, he thought. If you were dogs, I bet we’d get along just fine. Then he shook his head. Watch it, son. You’ll wind up even crazier than Anna.
     After they got home, George tried once again to reason with Anna about the cats, but she still wouldn’t listen. George could feel the cats watching him again as they went to bed that night, their sinister eyes staring at him from the darkness. That night, George dreamed that he was being chased down a road in a forest, trying to escape from giant cats that howled at him, reaching out with long, razor-sharp claws. He was sure that one of them was Anna herself, in her true form, as they came down on him in a mass of fur, claws, and teeth…
     The next morning, Anna hummed an old song from her youth as she merrily went through the house, dusting and cleaning without pain like she hadn’t been able to do in ages. The cats that she had always thought of as her own children followed her around. One of them was a tabby that she didn’t remember seeing before. It seemed to desperately want her attention, but when Anna bent down to pet it, the cat only hissed at her.
     Anna shrugged. “Alright, Georgie, if that’s the way you feel.” Anna fed the other cats first, putting the tabby’s bowl down last, away from the others. It stayed there, seemingly afraid of her and the other cats, before finally eating its food. Anna didn’t know why she called the cat Georgie, or even where it had come from, only that it seemed to have been with her for quite some time now, ever since…she couldn’t remember that part. The cat just seemed familiar, as if it reminded her of someone she’d once known long ago.
     Anna sighed. The other cats would get used to Georgie, and he’d have a good home from now on. Anna always knew how to take care of her family.
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Matthew Spence was born in Cleveland, Ohio and lives in Parkersburg, West Virginis. His work has appeared in SQ Mag, Under the Bed, New Realm, and Nebula Rift.




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