"A Magical Encounter" - A riveting short story from the perspective of a cat by Nathan (12th grade)
A Magical Encounter
My eyes closed, I tried to ignore my stabbing hunger. The warmth of the setting sun on my face reminded me it was almost time to leave. I shut my eyes closer as a familiar stench filled the room. The slow, stomping strides of the old man filled me with dread. What was he going to do to me now? Will he ignore me or will he kick me around? The stomping stopped so I peeked with one eye trying to still look asleep. The old man was standing still in the room, staring at a picture on the mantle. He had to stand far away since he couldn’t see well and because there was a mound of garbage situated on top of a crooked table in front of the newspaper-filled fireplace. He stared and stared. I didn’t know why he always stared at that picture. Every time he came into the room, he had to stare at it. I had no idea why. It was just a picture of some old woman. As he continued to stare the silence grew to a stifling level, bearing down on the room like a heavy cloth. He finally turned to face me. I flashed my eyes shut and heard the slow, steady footsteps. They grew louder and louder until I felt a smack on my stomach. I immediately leapt up and sped to the nearest shelf.
“You lazy fool!” he cried “stop sleeping in’er chair, she’ll need it if she gets back!” With the last word he jabbed at me with his cane, but I leapt off the shelf before the blow connected. I hurdled over a swing as I rushed to the door. I pounced against the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Realizing my fate, I winced as the old man kicked me in the gut. I cried out in pain but before I realized, the door opened. I leapt over the steps and onto the street, running as fast as I could. I heard the old man scream, “You darn cat!” Then the rest faded in the distance.
My hunger pained me with every step I took. I searched my memory for places to find food but couldn’t come up with anything. I leapt onto a fence, wanting to get a better view. I shuddered as a cold autumn gust passed through the street. The old man lived in a decrepit house on the edge of the suburbs. The back door opened up to a small sidewalk bordering a busy street. Across the road of bustling cars, downtown began. The area mainly consisted of two-story buildings sprinkled with a few multilevel apartments. I decided to head towards that direction as there were plenty of rats and trash I could find. Crossing the street was always a challenge since I couldn’t reach the crosswalk button so I had to wait for a passing human. I followed the fence as far as it went down the sidewalk, no pedestrians. As I began making my way to the crosswalk, I glimpsed a human turning the corner. He took one look at me, and turned back around, retracing his steps. I wondered why so many humans did that. The moment they see me, they turn around and run the other way. I had thought that they were repulsed by my appearance but I’m extremely handsome so it couldn’t possibly be that. I thought it might be the stench of the old man but he doesn’t pet me anymore. It remained a mystery. Having arrived at the corner, I looked around, trying to distract myself from the stabbing pain in my stomach. I couldn’t tell if it was my hunger or the bruises from the old man.
As I waited on the corner, the constant buzz of passing cars became antagonizing to my ears. My abdominal pain felt like I had a gash in my stomach. I was in so much pain that I didn’t realize someone was next to me. I screamed and fled in surprise. I soon realized that it was the girl. She was crouched down, staring at me with a sorrowful expression. I quickly brushed up against her. She was the only human with whom I did this. She was always gentle with me and calm. Her touch was relaxed, I could feel no bad intent or hesitation. She was wearing a long, dark green skirt with black boots and a cream sweatshirt as she usually did. She always carried a large canvas bag filled with pencils, paints, and paper. I looked up at her and I could see myself in her glasses, a small black cat with green eyes. Behind the glasses she had kind brown eyes that were speckled with light. She wore a multitude of rings on her hands. Her ears sparkled in the evening light because of all the earrings she wore. As she was petting me, I felt her warmth and I realized how cold it was outside. She continued petting me gently saying, “You’re so skinny, boy! Let's get you something to eat.” She stood up and looked at me then surveyed her surroundings. As if she read my mind, she pressed the button to cross the street. I meowed in excitement. She smiled at me and motioned for me to wait with her. I brushed up against her warm legs and tried to ignore my pain. We sat waiting, the golden light of the October sun dwindling in the distance.
Once the little white man appeared, we began walking across the white lines. As we continued to walk I heard a car revving loudly. I looked up at the girl to see if she noticed but her eyes were fixed on the white lines of the crosswalk like a little child. She continued to walk as I noticed the loud car approaching the signal. Why is she so oblivious to her surroundings, I wondered. She’ll have to walk into a post one day to finally pay attention, I continued. Horrified at my thoughts, I watched as the car came straight toward the girl, its noise increasing to a deafening level. “Watch out!” I meowed but she didn’t pay any attention. I closed my eyes and hoped the car would stop. I heard a screech and then I heard the girl’s body drop next to me. I opened my eyes and saw no trace of the car. I checked the girl to make sure she was alright. Laying on the street I noticed a faint glow coming from one of her necklaces. It seemed familiar somehow. As the glow disappeared she woke up unharmed. She gazed at me in shock and quickly got up. Someone in a car asked “Hey, are you okay miss?” She nodded and made her way to the sidewalk.
I followed her. She walked heavily, as if trying to ground herself after what had transpired. She continued walking, glancing occasionally at me. We finally stopped at a café where she plopped herself on an outdoor chair and scratched behind my ears. After taking her eyes off the street, she fixed them on me with a questioning look. “What just happened?” she whispered in amazement, “I was walking then heard a car screech and all of a sudden, I felt my shirt get tugged from behind. Before I realized it, I woke up lying on the ground.”
“Well duh!” I meowed, trying to show her that repeating the obvious doesn’t get anyone anywhere, but she didn’t seem to understand. As she sat there, I wondered if she had forgotten that I was in pain. I meowed loudly to get her attention.
She sat up and said “I’m so sorry, I forgot!” We began walking to find food. As we winded down the streets of downtown, I had to fight my thoughts of fish, shrimp, and chicken. As I started slowing down with fatigue, the girl stopped in front of a pet store. She looked around at the scratches on the red pieces of paper. Frustrated, she grunted and continued walking. As the night grew colder, street lights came on and suffocated the sidewalk with orange light. My hunger stabbed me more and more with each step I took. I couldn’t bear it any longer so I crumbled on the side of the street, I couldn’t take another step. Luckily the girl had the brains to pick me up and carry me. Finally, she’s using that big head, I thought. We continued on with no luck, all the stores closed. Suddenly I noticed a change in the air. Something briny. Something fishy. Something delicious.
I leapt out of the girl's arms and followed the scent. It grew more fishy until I reached a large metal door. The smell was intoxicating, my hunger unbearable. I scratched at the door, trying to get in but it was no use. I looked at the girl, hoping she would do something. Almost immediately after she said “No, we can’t get in there.” She tugged on the door handle, locked. She knocked on the door, nothing. I stared at her even more. “Fine,” she groaned, “Let me try something.” Crouched down in the dark alley, the girl began to draw inscriptions on a piece of paper. They were nothing like I had seen before but for some reason they felt familiar. It looked like a circle with a bunch of lines connecting to the sides of it. Once she was finished, she stuck it onto the door and stood back. Raising an arm towards the door she began whispering something. Suddenly I knew what she was doing and began to help her. I had no idea how I knew but it came to me like a flash. As we concentrated on the door, the girl’s necklace began to glow again. We concentrated harder, her whispers growing to a chant. Suddenly the inscription on the paper lit up as if in a fire and vanished. The girl’s necklace stopped shimmering. The alleyway darkened once more. Slowly, the girl approached the door and tugged on it. The door flew open. “IT WORKED!”
I rushed into the market. The smell of fish overpowered me. I couldn't see a thing but it didn’t matter. Horrified, I realized that the fish was trapped behind a glass display case. I meowed for the girl. “I’m coming!” Blinded by the girl’s phone light, I meowed in despair. “I know, I know.” The girl looked around the room. The light revealed a large fish cleaning table, shelves of aquariums, and a wall of refrigerators. It was heaven. She opened the display case as quietly as possible. I leapt in and ravaged the delicious fish. The supple meat dropped into my stomach like sand filling a jar. My hunger vanished. But as I was about to bite into a delicious salmon filet, the lights flickered on. Jumping out of the display case, I found the girl crouching behind one of the refrigerators. I hustled over to see what she was trying to do. As she raised her finger to her mouth, I heard the voices of men somewhere in the market. I jumped on top of the counter to see where the voices were coming from when I heard the girl whisper “no!” I didn’t see a problem until my eyes locked with a large man carrying a gun in his hand.
“Hey!” He screams. “Get over here.”
I hurried my way to the girl when she whispered “Get away!” “What was that?” The men questioned in unison.
“It’s just me.” The girl uttered in a sudden burst of courage.
She rose up slowly and held her hands up in the air.
“I’m not trying to rob you. I work here,” she explained “Then why are you here after hours?” the man asked. “I was just cleaning up after a spill.”.
“Oh alright. So sorry for the trouble.” He apologized, putting his gun away. “Just one thing.” He said as he turned to leave. “Did you see a black cat get back there?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“Because I saw one go back there right before you showed up. WITCH!” As he shouted these final words, he pointed his gun at her.
“Please no! I just wanted to feed the cat. He was starving. I didn’t have any other options! I’ll pay you back!” The girl’s words fell on deaf ears.
“How did you get in? ALL the doors were locked. There’s no way you’d be smart enough to pick them. Unless…” He said with a fearful shudder.
“Ok, I used a spell!” She admitted, staring fearfully at the pointed gun.
“How…how did you manage to…”
It was at that moment that I realized what was about to happen. I searched my mind for any way we could get out of this. Nothing. We were trapped with a scared man holding a gun. The girl rushed to find a hiding place as the man slowly approached the display case. Behind the fridge she gave me a terrified, searching look. She was desperate. But the girl was smart. She drew some runes and symbols on the wall and whispered a spell. We focused our energies and presently the lights went out. “What kind of…” The man uttered, approaching us slowly. The girl scrambled silently towards the door. Perched on top of the fridge I could see them both. Although the man’s sight was lost, his fear and hatred of the girl kept him approaching. About to pull the door open, the girl slipped on fish juice and lost her intention. The spell was broken. The lights came on. The man aimed. “THERE YOU ARE DEMON!” Our intentions united. A gunshot. A scream.
Left on the floor was the girl’s necklace. Her body was nowhere to be found. I hurdled down and picked it up with my teeth. The man, in shock, aimed again. I growled but I did not feel the bullet. The necklace flashed white. Recovering my sight, I saw the night sky, shimmering with stars.
I felt cold grass underneath me and a warm hand caressing me. I got up and saw the girl standing in a park, unharmed. She picked me up and whispered in my ear, “You saved me.” At that moment I understood, I was her familiar, she was my witch.