As Brian crept closer to the ramshackle two story he began to think better of this little escapade. But his thoughts kept going back to late morning, when he had stopped here to get water for his overheated radiator, and of Amanda, the woman who had so kindly obliged. Brian had never seen anyone so beautiful in his life, and now he could not get her out of his mind.

“She bewitched you,” the waitress at the diner told him over lunch. He could not help but talk about her. Tall, slim but well built, dark eyes to match that long silky black hair. And a smile that could enchant a stone. He could not believe anyone so beautiful lived in such a dump. He had expected a vagrant – or no one at all. The place looked abandoned.

But she had answered his tentative knock right away, and invited him in. The inside of the house belied the crumbling exterior. The kitchen was well appointed and spotless. Copper kettles gleamed on their hooks. Silverware shone as if buffed for hours. There was not a spot of dust anywhere. Amanda, for that is how she introduced herself, bade him sit while she made tea, then they talked and laughed for over an hour. The only thing odd about the inside of the house was all the cats. There were dozens of them. But not a stray cat hair to be seen.

“She’s a witch,” Mable, the waitress told him. “Best stay away from the cat house, mister. You’re lucky she didn’t put a hex on you. Folks have disappeared up there. Mark my words.”

He laughed it off, paid for his lunch, and headed back to the garage to see if they had fixed his car yet. Fortunately it was just a hose clamp, maybe a new hose. Thankfully, there was nothing wrong with the radiator. That was good. Sales so far on this trip were dismal. He had every intention to pick up his car and hit the road for his next destination.

But something held him back.

He kept seeing Amanda, sitting at the oak kitchen table, her bright smile and quick wit making him laugh. He laughed now, at the insanity of this. Here he was, acting like a common prowler, creeping about in the night. He looked back down the long winding drive towards the county road where he parked his car, and resolved to give this madness up. He had to go.

Then Brian saw her up in the second floor window. Just a silhouette, behind a thin film of curtains, but enough to make his heart leap. He imagined her naked, himself wrapped in her arms. Then, with a pang of loss, she was gone. She stepped out of view. He actually whimpered.

Despite all reason, Brian crept closer still, past the two dead trees that stood like silent sentinels on either side of the walk. Now there was nothing to conceal him in the bright light of the full moon, so he dashed across the open yard and stopped, panting, plastered against the wall next to the door.

He did not even consider trying the door. He was not a criminal, he told himself. He just needed to see her one more time before hitting the road. He darted past the door and pulled up next to the kitchen window. He took a deep breath and peered inside.

A crack in the curtains allowed him to do a quick survey of the room. Alas, she was not there. He slipped around the corner and tried from the other window, and was again disappointed. Just a cat, slipping out of the kitchen into another room.

Brian worked his away around the house, systematically checking each window as he went. But these rooms were dark, the curtains well drawn. He began to sweat, the palms of his hands grew clammy. He wiped them repeatedly on his jeans. The place began to give him the creeps. He remembered Mable’s warning to stay away.

Dark forms seemed to be moving about in the yard. He saw motion out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned to look there was nothing, only shadows. He felt he was being watched. “She’s probably called the cops,” he muttered, disgusted with himself.

He finally made the full circuit and came up to the last window. It was lit, and therefore held out hope. He held his breath as he leaned to peek in. His foot came down on something alive and he and it gave out a wild scream. Damned cat!

Brian plastered himself against the wall, breathing hard. He expected the porch lights to come on, Amanda to come out with a gun to shoot him. Something. But nothing happened. Slowly, his heart rate came back down to somewhere close to normal. “I’ve got to get out of here,” he said to himself. He searched the yard for the cat, wary not to step on it again, and saw not only it, but others flitting from here to there, shadows within shadows. There must have been dozens of them. They seemed to be drawn towards him, watching him, as if in expectation.

“You’re just spooking yourself, Brian. Quit it. Just go.” He took a deep breath, resolved to leave. But something made him take one last look into the house. Instead of running for the gate he turned and peered into the window.

He let out a yowl and leaped back, landing on all fours. Amanda was there, peering out the window as if expecting him. His heart thumped as he scurried for cover, any cover. The door opened. A bright beam of light pierced the night. It framed a shadow, the silhouette of a female form. Brian cowered, trying to hide, but the cats led her right to him.

He looked up at the beautiful face and his heart melted. This is what he had come for. She bent down and scooped him up, scratching him under the chin. “Nice kitty,” Amanda cooed as she carried him into the house. “I’ll take you to the vet tomorrow and get you fixed.”


©2009 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.

  37 Responses to “Cat House”

  1. Hehehe. Nice twist there – now we know why she has so many cats :)

  2. I usually post new stories for #fridayflash, but this been out before. It’s one of my favorite Halloween stories, and since tomorrow is pumpkin day, I resurrected it for the occasion. Happy Halloween!
    ~jon

  3. Reminds me of joke about the old lady that gets wishes and wishes for her cat to be a handsome suitor, but she had him fixed :P

    Saw the twist coming, but then again, I’ve always had a small fascination with witches. Good writing and description too. Very much like how I see horror stories paced.

    Starting a new trend too. Posting my link in my comment. Bread crumbs!
    http://bit.ly/B52zh

  4. There is a reason she bewitched him, great write Jon. Per Usual!

  5. A very good Halloween piece! I did guess that he would become a cat but the transition was so smooth! He’s a man looking into the window, he jumps back as a cat…very well done!

    Happy Halloween to you, Jon!

  6. I was going to just take a peak, but I kept reading. Great ending, big surprise that really made me laugh out loud!

  7. That last line is priceless! I enjoyed it with a nice cup of laughter-and-smile. Way to go, Jon. Now we know where all the people went.

  8. This was fun! From the bewitching Amanda, Brian’s creeping, and all the way to the surprise ending. Loved it!

  9. Great story Jon! I love the twist at end… I didn’t see it coming – thought she was going to eat him or something… But hey, look at the bright side – he gets to see her all the time AND doesn’t have to worry about selling things!

    Jim

    http://www.writersnwriters.blogspot.com

  10. Hope this isn’t too racy a comment, but I liked how the whole thing kinda came full circle…started with a busted hose……

    Happy Halloween!

    Karen :0)

  11. That is some last line there, Jon. I exploded in laughter. He might have had the balls to be a peeping Tom, but not for long. Very nicely done piece for the season.

    Good luck on NaNoWriMo. I’ll be right in there with you.

    Jeff Posey

  12. Great twist, Jon. I didn’t see it coming but it fit the story. :)

  13. Heh, heh. I thought she was going to turn into a cat, not him. Nice! Too bad he’s being fixed…

  14. I liked how the scene was set – as vividly as his emotions in being torn about being there.

  15. Nice telling of a familiar theme (bewitched traveler turned into pet/animal.) I like the final line sending the piece home.

  16. I didn’t see it coming. Like Jim, I thought he would be eaten – by the cats. Great twist, and great last line. Love it Jon!

  17. I thought for sure she was some kind of werecat. At least he doesn’t have to sell things anymore.
    ~chris

  18. I can see why it’s one of your favorites. Well done!

  19. Nice. I was expecting a trick and instead got a treat. You just get better and better! Peace, Linda

  20. LOL! Now that gives a new meaning to the phrase “cat lady”! Well done & happy halloween!

  21. Excellent twist! Obviously *something* bad had to happen to poor Brian, but that’s not at all what I was expecting.

  22. I kept thinking, “wait for it, wait for it” and as soon as he let out his yowl, I discovered a wonderfully crafted twist.

    Great story!

  23. I enjoyed the transformation, and I love cats. Good stories are made to be retold

  24. Great internal tension and foreshadowing throughout! I’m glad he’ll be happy now.

    Cecilia
    http://tinyurl.com/ydfp2wc

  25. Great story! Loved the description of how he got himself into trouble by being attracted to Amanda and will get fixed the next day :)
    (Wondering if my cats understood what they lost) :P

    Happy Halloween!

  26. Thanks, everyone. I’m glad you liked it.

    You are right, Cecilia. It does have a happy ending, in an odd sort of way.
    ~jon

  27. Good Heavens. Fixed? Yikes.

  28. This is a fine addition to the Halloween storylist. Well done, Jon. I remember this from EU – enjoyed it then. At least twice as good the second time around.

    Happy Halloween.

  29. That ending is the unkindest cut of all! I like this story though.

  30. Good job! You got me. I was about to stop reading when the World Series game started (delayed due to rain) but I had to finish your story. Glad I did. I never saw it coming.

  31. Hey, if I can compete with the World Series I must be doing something right! :)

    Thank you all for the kind comments. This is one of my favorites of all time.
    ~jon

  32. Haha, the last line is priceless!
    Very sensible of her though – imagine all those tomcats getting all hormonal at the same time, otherwise :)

    Fun story, Jon!

  33. Jon,
    I really enjoyed the re-read, too.
    Susan

  34. Thanks, Susan.
    ~jon

  35. I thought Amanda was going to turn into a cat, not him, but it serves him right for being a peeping tom. Although, she might have considered turning him into a house painter – just a thought…

  36. Good story. What a double whammy. Not only a cat, but a fixed cat at that. Poor guy.

  37. But he’ll be happy.
    ~jon

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