The Corpus Cat
Chapter Thirteen of Thirteen
“He's nowhere, he's run away,” Barry tells his wife at dawn. The man wandered the neighborhood all night looking for their pet cat. The couple meets on their front porch when he comes home.
“You threw him out,” Dana rightly accuses her husband. Whereas Barry is fully clothed, she is outside in her dressing gown, furry boots and a heavy overcoat. She holds a hot mug of coffee, and despite the charge she's made against her husband, she hands him the beverage.
“Thanks,” he is courteous to say.
While he warms his un-gloved hands against the ceramic, Dana describes her evening alone. “Dodgie stopped crying after you went outside.”
Barry corrects her. “I know. That was about an hour after I left the house.”
“I thought you found him and you were coming back. I fell asleep waiting for you.”
After an overdue sip of warm caffeine, he tells his wife bad news. “I have to stop looking for Dodgie and go to work.”
“Oh, me too. What are we going to do?”
“I can't stay home,” answers Barry. He knows his wife and she would expect his sacrifice.
Without options, she tells him, “I know.”
“Too bad the moon doesn't just fall on us,” Barry wishes and he points at the huge pedigree orb plainly visible in daylight. Science says the celestial body goes the wrong way and gets closer everyday. Today, it practically dents the earth's atmosphere. The thing is Brobdingnagian.
Unconcerned with radical predictions and assumptions of astrologers and astronomers, the Corpus couple, like the whole world, are not terrified. This day is another day filled with personal worries. And already burdened, Dana rephrases the lunar event in a positive light.
“I like to think it's heaven coming down for our son.”
“Dodgie is a cat,” Barry reminds his wife, although his voice is not strong and fades into a whisper.
“What did he mean?” she asks him and makes her husband tardy at work. “He doesn't hate us. I think it's something we did.”
“Our unpaid guest did,” Barry replies more forceful than everything he's said this morning. “I tried telling him we were sorry when I started walking around the same blocks the second time. I don't think he heard me.”
“We are sorry, Charlie,” Dana shouts into the chilly air.
Come from the side the house, a patently feline voice cries, “Meow-mee.”
Both Corpus hear the sound. They move off the front steps and investigate. Dana does not say, but she feels Dodgie tried saying her name – not her name, Dana, but what she wants her child to call her.
Barry disturbs her illusion and states, “Dodgie is hurt. He's over here.”
Dana follows her husband and already asks obvious questions. “I wonder if he was hit by a car.”
The Corpus couple find their cat lying on his side against the foundation of his home. His hip is mangled and all the attached leg is broken into parts yet miraculously intact. He purr but his voice is ragged and staggered.
“Call the ambulance,” Dana shouts at Barry. She then specifies, “Doctor Peters!”
“It's too late,” her husband states.
The news is true, Dodgie stopped breathing when the Corpus couple came around the corner. The last sounds he made had come from a dead, precious pelt expelling gas. Dana immediately mourns.
“Our child died of suffocation.”
“That's not the case here,” Barry reminds her. He stays respectful and grows glum. He tells his passed cat, “Good bye, chum.”
Cat howls draw the attention of the Corpus away from their deceased pet and the couple scan the neighborhood for the terrible sounds. And the long, low screeches are everywhere. The noises come especially from above their heads.
When they look up, Barry and Dana see domestic cats atop the peeks and points of rooftops. The animals are above them everywhere. Every cat looks toward the enormous face of the moon and they all screech absent of harmony. The cats scream for the falling pagan goddess.
“They want to go home,” sobs Dana adrift in a walking dream.
Barry scowls at the little beasts. He tells the cats, “You're the wrong species, stop doing that...”
Another memory stops his partially birthed thought. “Wait, I've heard about this before.”
The revelation makes Barry Corpus feel positively psychic. Before he might enlighten his wife, Dodgie appears atop the Corpus house. When both Barry and Dana check back, they see his body is no longer beside them on the hard ground.
“Charlie's alive!” Dana screeches.
Her husband insists, “Dodgie.”
His voice trails when he says, “Our son.”
The cat leaps into the air and vanishes. Barry and Dana saw Dodgie jump toward the moon, he ascended a foot or so, then he was gone. Dana panics, “Did he fall?”
The Corpus then watch all the other cats jump off houses and disappear into the crisp sky. Their howls stop one-by-one and twice as fast, the animals, too, are gone. Soon, the morning is quiet except for early traffic and the moon appears larger than ever before.
“This happened before in a town called Ulthar,” Barry tells his wife. His vocalization isn't meant for her ears but she overhears.
Dana also listens to her husband say, “That's just a fairytale.”
She believes him.
Seven weeks after this surreal incident in Lovespark, Illinois, and when the Corpus stopped blaming each other for anything they could not understand and they still have no cat, Dana tells her husband, “Barry, I'm pregnant.”
Almost every woman in town becomes pregnant that same month. Barry knew Joel's girlfriend was already expecting, but after that morning in winter, he learned she had lost their baby. Joel once told him, “We know it's going to be boy. We'll call him Charles and think about you.”
Barry thinks about that name now and decides whatever he and Dana name their child, the kid's nickname will be, “Dodger.”
Do you want more? Read the strange fiction of Mr. Binger at Smashwords...