Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Free Cat

Sometimes dark humor can come from real life.  I got the idea for the following story after a friend of mine sent me a picture of a dead cat in her yard with a sign next to it that read FREE CAT.  The fact that I found it funny shouldn't surprise anyone, but then I started thinking, what does the cat think of this.  And so the following story was born.

Free Cat
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

"Eww, how long do you think it's been here?"

"I dunno, at least a couple of days. I was out of town. It was here when I got back."

"You woulda thought someone would got rid of it."

"You woulda thought" Tom agreed, then, swinging his hammer, pounded a sign into the ground.

"You're going to hell." Zack said.

"Prolly, but I'm gonna have a lot of fun getting there."

Zack looked at the sign and shook his head. "I don't know, this shows a lack of taste."

The sign in question was made out of a standard size porter board stapled to a stick. Written on it in bold letters were the words FREE CAT. Lying next to the sign, it's side caved in where it had been hit by a car, was the cat. A huge gash revealed not only blood and gore, but maggots crawling in and out of the carcass. Flies swarmed around the cat, laying more eggs and feeding off of the animal. The smell coming off the creature was foul and Zack gagged as a breeze carried the stench to his nostrils.

“You’re not just going to leave it there are you?” Zack asked, following his friend into the house.

“Of course I am.” Tom answered, heading into the kitchen to get a beer from the fridge. “What good would it do to advertise a free cat, if there’s no cat to give away?”

“It’s disgusting,” Zack said, “besides, Liz will kill you when she sees that.”

“It was her idea,” Tom said, popping open the tab on his Old Milwaukee Light. “She made the sign.”

“She made the sign? You two are just perfect for each other. At least you won’t be lonely when you get to hell. Where is she anyway?”

“She went into town to get some groceries and a few other things. She should be back soon.”

“A few other things?”

“I don’t know.” Tom said, shrugging, “She was being kinda mysterious. Said she had a surprise for me tonight. Didn’t want me to come along. Just told me to stay here and make sure the sign stayed in the ground.”

“She thought it might not?”

“Someone took the sign down twice already. This time I pounded it in nice and good. It will take quite a bit of effort on someone’s part to get it out of the ground now.” Tom moved the curtain back to view his handy work. A car passing by beeped, while some kids hanging out the window yelled their approval.

“See,” Tom said, popping open another beer, “I’m not the only one who appreciates dark humor.”

Tom groaned, his head swimming from all the alcohol he had consumed. He closed his eyes, waiting for the room to stop spinning, or at least for his stomach to stop churning, then opened them again. The room was dark. Tom lay there, waiting for his eyes to adjust. Something had woke him and he listened, waiting for the sound again.

“Mrrrow.” The sound of a cat yowling echoed around the room.

“What the hell?!?” Tom yelped. “Liz, did you hear that? Liz?”

Tom reached over to the other side of the bed , intending to shake Liz awake, but instead of feeling the warmth of Liz’s sleeping body, he felt something cold, stiff and sticky.
“Mrrrrrrowww.” The sound came again, low and threatening. The cat’s cry sounded as though it were right next to him and, his hand shaking, Tom pulled it away from the sticky lump and turned on the light.

“Oh my God!” Tom screamed, falling backwards out of bed as he tried to get away from what he saw. The cat, which had previously been in his yard, was now in his bed. Maggots still feeding off the cat, were dropping onto the sheet, along with other bugs that had come to join the feast. Tom’s hand, which had touched the corpse, was covered with blood and writhing insects.

“Liz!” Tom screamed, wiping his hand across the carpet, trying to remove the crawling creatures. When his hand failed to come clean, he shook it, trying to fling the bugs from them, but somehow they remained attached, as though they were now a part of him.

“Liz!” Tom screamed, stumbling from the room.

“Mrrrroowww.” The sound echoed in the hallway, following Tom as he left the bedroom.

“Liz!” Where the hell was she? “Liz!” The hallway was dark and the sound of the cat breathing seemed to fill the hall. Breathing? Tom wondered. How could he be hearing the cat breathe? The damn thing was dead! “Liz! Answer me! What the…” Tom stumbled over something, landing face first on the hardwood floor.

Reaching out to see what he had tripped over, Tom felt the familiar curves of Liz’s body. Unfamiliar was the way she felt, limp and unmoving. “Liz?” Tom pulled her up, holding her body in his arms, his eyes beginning to make out the shape of her face. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he began to notice that her face was covered in blood and that deep scratches covered her face. Tom felt a warmth spreading across his stomach and rolling Liz back a bit discovered that she had a deep gash in her side. Crimson blood was oozing out, covering his midsection with the dark, sticky substance. The horror of what he was seeing suddenly sunk in. Moaning, Tom pushed himself away from Liz and stumbling down the hall.


The damn cat continued to yowl, the insistent cry echoing in his head.


Tom stumbled into the living room, where the remains of his and Liz’s ’Death Celebration’ lay scattered across the coffee table. An empty bottle of champagne was knocked on it’s side while what was left of the steak sat decomposing next to a wilting salad. Maggots and worms covered the steak, as though it had been left there to sit for days, rather than the few hours he had been sleeping in bed.

“What is going on?” Tom screamed, clutching at his hair with his hands.


The cat, now in the living room, lay unmoving, next to a book on the floor. Tom gagged at the smell emanating from the corpse. The book was one Liz had brought home that night.
“It’s called Waking the Dead, Raising the Spirit.”

“What are you planning on doing?”

What Liz planned on doing became apparent when she took his hand and led him outside to where the cat was.

“We’re going to release it’s spirit.”

 Then she began reading from the book.

Beneath the moon of Niya’s light
We call upon the dead tonight,
We beg you Mother, Maiden, Crone
Releasing spirit from skin and bone,
Come forth we call, the spirits free
Join us now and hear our plea.

Of course nothing had happened and the two of them, intoxicated from champagne and beer had fallen to the ground in a fit of laughter.

They’d made love after that, right there next to the road. They hadn’t cared if anyone saw them, although it was doubtful anyone would see them at that time of night. Their road was a dead end so there was little traffic that time of night and their neighbors, mostly elderly, had been in bed for hours. But even if one of them had glanced out the window and seen the two, Tom wouldn’t have cared. Liz had that affect on him from the moment he’d met her.

Later, drunk from the champaigne and love making, the two of them had stumbled to bed. But not before Tom had relieved himself, pissing all over the corpse. What did it matter? The cat was dead. And in his drunken state he had thought it was funny, aiming for the various creatures that were feeding off of their smorgusboard.

Tom didn't think it was so funny now, staring at the dead/not so dead cat, as it lay there next to the book.

"What the hell?!? It was just a joke!" Tom's voice echoing in the room was joined by the yowling of the cat. Stumbling, Tom headed for the door, anxious to get out of the house. He must still be drunk. Maybe alcohol poisoning. Some fresh air, his head would clear and if it didn't, well he'd run to a neighbors for help.

Flinging open the door he staggered outside, took a deep breath and gagged. The air was putrid, the smell of rotten flesh assaulting his nose. It took a moment for his brain to process what his eyes were seeing. Cluttering the street and his yard were corpses of all kind, Men, women. . . children, with their skin falling off, animals in various states of decomposition, all headed for his door.

Across the street a door opened and he saw Old Mrs. Wilson's silhouette against the light. At first he thought she too must be dead and heading his way. But she stopped inside the door and stared. Shaking her head she stepped outside and headed across the street, very much alive, muttering the whole way. Tom couldn't hear what she was saying at first, but as she got closer he could make out bits and pieces. "Stupid, adolescent. . . . amateurish….oh, excuse me Hank. Not looking to good I see.” She said that as she made her was past one of the corpses standing in his lawn. “Oh for pete’s sake! Gladys, I can’t believe you let them bury you in that dress! What were your daughters thinking? Now all of you, just stay calm. I’m going to talk to young Tom over here and get everything straightened out. Stay where you are. Can’t you see he’s frightened almost to death? If he joins you all before he can fix it you’ll never get back to your rest.”

“Mrs. Wilson,” Tom stammered, “what’s going on?”

“What’s going on?!? You don’t know? Of all the idiotic things to do. I tried to warn Liz. Stupid girl, thinking she knows everything there is about witchcraft. She has no respect for the supernatural.”

“Tried to warn her?”

“When she bought that book! Wouldn’t listen to me though, not even when I told her she should bury that cat. Shameful, disrespecting the dead like that. How would you like it Tom if I pissed on you?” Mrs. Wilson cackled at the shocked look on his face. “Didn’t think anyone saw? Does that make it easier to act like an ass, if you think no one is watching? Well? Don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open. We have to make things right. Get inside and get the book. What are you waiting for? They aren’t going to wait forever.”

“The cat….” Tom said.

“Yes, well I suppose he is pissed. I would be too if I’d been left lying outside with a for sale sign and then peed on by a drunken idiot. After the drunken idiot had sex right next to me! Honestly Tom! Men can be pigs but you took things to a whole new level. Now get inside and get that book!”

“Liz is dead.” Tom said, as he turned and headed into the house.

“Not for long.” Mrs. Wilson said. “If we don’t fix this she’ll be up and moving around too. If we do fix it, she’ll never have died.”

“I don’t understand? The incantation said to release them from skin and bone? Why are they still in their bodies.”

“Because you and your girl don’t know what you are doing.” Picking up the book the old woman turned a stern eye to the cat. The cat, still on its side blinked at her. “A little extreme, don’t you think?”


“Yes, I know. Very humiliating. But I think he’s learned his lesson. Now be a good cat and let us fix this.”

The cat continued to lay there, but made no more sounds. He just gave Tom a cold look, then closed his eyes.

“How can you talk to them? Their all dead. Why would they listen to you?”

“Because I know enough to show them the proper respect. Unlike you. Honestly! Calling forth the dead with a graveyard right down the road. What did you think would happen? No come on, we have a spell to cast.”

Outside Mrs. Wilson opened the book, then told Tom, just say the spell as it’s worded and say it clearly. We don’t want any misunderstandings. Then together they began chanting.
Goddess of time, we call on you….

"Eww, how long do you think it's been here?"

"I dunno, at least a couple of days. I was out of town. It was here when I got back."

"You woulda thought someone would got rid of it."

"You woulda thought" Tom agreed, then pushing his shovel into the ground he scooped up dirt, preparing to bury the dead cat in his yard.

He thought about telling his friend about what had happened in the previous hours, but knew his friend would think he was nuts. After all, he and Mrs. Wilson were the only ones with any memory of what had happened before they had cast the spell reversing time. Not even Liz, who was quite upset with him for refusing to go along with her game. She’d tried putting the sign in the yard herself, but he’d pulled it out and told her to grow up. He knew she’d get over it though. Since she had such an interest in witchcraft and magic he’d invited Mrs. Wilson over for dinner. Maybe with a little instruction Liz would learn the proper use of spells and develop a healthy respect for the supernatural.

Tom had. He finished digging the grave, then placed the cat inside, covering him up with dirt

copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar

1 comment:

  1. Weird what sparks our inspiration, huh? A fun story certainly grew out of it. :) I shuddered at the thought of the maggotty cat on the bed. Yuck! :)