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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Pets · #2253633
A bewitching tale about becoming familiar with a bookstore
830 WC entry for the "The Writer's Cramp. Prompt title your work 'The Bookstore Cat'

“Feline Fine.” Samantha Newberry read the name of the second hand bookstore and felt like purring. “So the rumor is true.”

It sent a delicious shiver making the hair raise on the back of her neck. She whipped the end of the tail of her car around, parked, got out and stretched. A pair of tantalizing gem green eyes flashed through the store window at her, blinked and dropped out of sight. “A bewitching greeter, would be my guess.” The lost seen motion pulled Semantha onward.

The door creaked open as she took the steps up to it. “Come in, we’ve been expecting you,” a voice said.

A shadow merged into the shape of a familiar looking black cat pausing its silent journey to share a challenge, like cats do, up into her face. “Well, don’t stand there. Time is ‘awasting.”

“Familiar, indeed. Where is your mistress?” Samantha hissed, fingernails arching into claws. “We have a reckoning on what brought me here, this day.”

“Don’t you remember it is bad luck for a black cat to cross your path? Be careful what you wish for. Follow me.” The cat yawned, revealing long dagger-like teeth, it licked with its tongue.

The isles inside the bookstore were a maze of stacked and leaning books, seemingly balanced in place by what could only be magic. Spider webs clung, stretched tight, where book columns might fall. “Sad. No-one reads anymore. I see you have all the classics.” There was ‘Catacombs of Egypt’, an ancient religious treatise for priests of the time, on why that long ago culture had worshiped cats.

Books on cat legends mixed with long forgotten lore. Hard bound volumes featured the special nature and secret talents of Tabby’s, Tortoise Shell, Siamese and Sphinx unknown to human kind. Other teetering walls held the names of new and old breeds, each with the power of nine lives to learn wisdom beyond understanding.

An old hag rose from within a dusty spear of light. The black cloak fastened around her shoulders and pointed hat revealed just what she was. “Took her long enough,” The cat deposited itself on the open pages of a book on the Witch’s table, tail languidly curling and making itself at home.

“Hello, Dearie. You understand cat talk, mind to mind. It is good you stayed silent instead of demanding your wish. Your dreams brought you here, did they, to play cat and mouse with me?”

“I only hoped,” Samantha Newberry, found herself curtseying, feeling the heat of her blush.

“You’ve studied, become a modern day Witch, a Wicca, they are called. Still, the restless spirit prowls within you for release. I see it in your eyes.”

“I found this. Rather, it found me.” Samantha raised a small journal, unnamed, pages fluttered their wings open to reveal whispering Old English script.

“Your familiar’s paws were batting it around like some cat toy, playing with it on my open bedroom window ledge, one full moon night.”

“. . . and you were as sick of life as it was of you. All the learning of Mother Earth’s herbal remedies failed to cure the curse you’d become.” The hag rested a gnarled hand on her resting pet. “There is a price we pay for whatever we become.”

“My hate for what people are doing to the planet is devouring me.” Samantha coughed out a bloody rosebud flowering upon her palm. “Doctors, specialists say I have bleeding ulcers because of my worries. They say there is nothing more they can do. It has gone too far.”

“She wishes to have nine lives,” the Witch’s cat came to its feet, twitching its ears, raising its chin waiting to be stroked and scratched.

“You want to become a familiar, a servant to one such as I, whom mankind has despised and hunted almost out of existence. Desperation may not be the best motivation for making a choice.” The Witch picked up the black cat, cradling it in her bony arms.

“Do you know the rest of the story? Why familiar’s prize their position with us ancient ones?”

“A familiar is a Witch in training, the final step before becoming one. They watch, observe and do the bidding of their mistress until the fulfillment of time.” Samantha said the memorized words.

“Give me back my journal. It looks like I have another chapter to write and two familiar’s to take care of.” The Witch’s eyes flashed like opel gems, or those of a once worshipped cat, regal and sure of her kingdom ruled often by magic.

“Your curse has ended. There are so few of you willing to learn and listen. Human kind is intent on destroying itself and that of mother earth, if it can. Come, child. I’m loaning you this. Read well.”

The book handed to Samantha Newberry was titled, “How To Become Familiar With Yourself.” She curled up next to the black cat in the pool of light and began reading, hoping the bookstore cat would share some helpful pointers..
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