How letting a black cat cross his path changed Tubury's life forever.
|Fantasy Editors pick 10/2/19. Co-win at the Writers Cramp contest 9/14/19. Prompt: a black cat's adventures on Friday the 13th.
Henry Tubury hated cats. They made his skin itch, his nose clog up, and his eyes water. He was allergic to them. Worse yet, he couldn’t stand their sneaky, silent ways.
Birds were Tubury’s thing. It was the best reason to scare off any cat within yelling or throwing distance. There was one he had seen before, now licking its chops hanging around the bird feeder.
Mathias flattened his ears at all of Tubury's yelling. He arched his back, spitting out a word of warning or two.
Tubury threw a bigger tizzy fit, throwing things left and right at Mathias. There was a lot of litter handy and within reach. A pop bottle twisted end over end trying to make a goal between Mathias’ flattened ears. His mistress had sent him on this errand. Mathias did not take his responsibilities lightly.
He had hunted and found his prey. Malevolent green eyes blinked slowly at the evil creature whose path he had just crossed. It would be the man's bad luck before the night was over.
The cat looked familiar. He had seen it prowling around before. Henry Tubury’s attempt to kick the black cat out of the way had an immediate effect. It did not result in turning the cat into a live football soaring aloft. Tubury’s oath barely left his mouth when his booted foot kept going, flying up out from under him. Earth met the sky. Shooting stars exploded in his head. When he shook them clear ‘kitty’ was still there watching.
“I’ll kill that devil.” He swore, rising up on his elbows, looking up to see the creature calmly licking its paws.
Mathias blinked at the dumb human who didn’t know a devil from a Witch’s cat. One turn of bad luck deserved another, on this Friday the thirteenth. The man needed to be taught another lesson.
Familiars pick up a bit of Witch’s lore while hanging for centuries around their mistress’. Mathias loved cat and mouse games and this big rat showed promise of wanting to play win or lose. He stayed put, sitting on his haunches. He was curious as a cat about Henry Tubury’s next move.
As Tubury lumbered into motion he whipped his belt out of his pants, snapping it like a whip. The fool thought he was a lion tamer. The familiar flattened down on all four paws as the metal end whistled over Mathias’ furry head. It threatened in passing to take one of the cat’s nine lives off as it passed.
Playtime was over. Mathias flicked his whiskers, wiggled his nose, and let the light of the full moon striking his eyes shoot laser-like into those of Tubury’s startled gaze. Light and shadow stroked and teased the air around Tubury. Static lightning popped and crackled raising the fur on Mathias but the cat refused to close his eyes. Smoke curled where the fingers of lightning stroked across Tubury, transformed him into a Frankenstein monster of his old self. The man’s hair stuck out almost frightened off the man’s skull.
It was time to cut Tubury down to size. Mathias began working the man over with his claws weaving their magic as only a familiar cat can do. In no time at all Tubury looked like the rat he was. Tubury grew smaller and smaller still until he was almost the size of a mouse. He squeaked as Mathias picked him up with his teeth and carried him off.
“Hello, dearie. What did you bring back?” Witch Hazel stopped preparing a Halloween love potion bubbling over open flames. “Another subject for me to experiment upon? Good. Bring it here.”
A pinch of batwing dust and spider web, a sprinkle of Lungwort leaf and mushroom stem swirled into the mix and she was done. The rat dangling between Mathias’ fangs stopped wiggling as the Witch wove a chant over its beady-eyed head. “Be still. This won’t hurt. In fact, you will love it.”
A fiery teardrop escaped the tip of a mug filled with her brew. Tubury licked it off his snout, closed his eyes, and coughed out a burp. All the evil in him came out in a black cloud mingling with and carried away by the dark shadows of the midnight hour.
“Good. It worked like a charm.” Cackled Witch Hazel while motioning to the ugliest sight she had seen in a fortune of years. “Come in, sweetie, don’t be afraid. I’ve seen and heard the desire of your heart and here it is.”
Mathias recognized the withered old dame who had thirty cats down the lane. He had been raised in one of the ancestor's litters she kept for company. Strays were always welcome at her front door and many a witch’s cat had welcomed a treat or two before finding a new home among Hazel’s Witch’s coven of sisterly friends.
“Here is your reward. I couldn’t turn such an ugly thing as you into a princess but here is your prince to do your beckoning whenever you call.” Witch Alice poured her full cup of love potion over Tubury’s rat shaped head and wove a chant in place as the mouse formed back into the shape of a man.
He stared at the misshapen hag with one leg too long and one too short, with one eye pointed skyward and the other straight down, who smelled like she bathed in cats. Tubury sneezed. Through his watery eyes, she looked transformed into a princess. He worshipped her catty ways.
Tubury sighed. With that breath, his allergy against cats disappeared and his life changed forever.
“Someone to help ease your care for the next batch of cats we’ll be needing. Our coven has grown. Be off with you now. I’ll see you come Halloween when the moon turns to gold and I will have need of your services.”
It does not pay to let a black cat cross your path who looks too familiar.