Jake had no love for cats. Especially the one in his home.
Of course, it wasn’t explicitly his cat. It was his roommate’s cat: a black and white stray that he’d adopted a number of years ago. But since his roommate was away for a few weeks, the cat was Jake’s responsibility.
Each day, he fed her, changed her water, cleaned out her litter box (with far more frequency than his roommate ever did). Small additions to his daily routine that didn’t actually require a lot of effort.
No, the real effort came at night, when the cat would get lonely.
It happened almost like clockwork. Around 3am, he’d hear her outside his bedroom door.
Mee-yow… mee-Yow… mee-YOW…
This plaintive, mewling cry that would grow more insistent the longer she was ignored. Occasionally interrupted by the sound of her scratching — the sadly beseeching
of her tiny claws scraping along the bottom edge of his door.
Jake was allergic to cats and preferred to keep his bedroom door closed but whenever her cries became unbearable to listen to, he’d open the door a crack. Just enough to allow her to nose her way through. He’d see her eyes glow green in the darkness right before she’d leap up onto his bed and curl up beside him. This purring lump of teeth and claws and hair. He’d wake up sneezing or covered in hives and no amount of over-the-counter antihistamines seemed to temper the aftermath, but it was often better than hearing her cry all night.
And so it went like this. Night after night, week after week.
Until one morning, the cat simply vanished.
Jake opened a can of cat food, assuming the sound would serve as her Pavlovian cue to creep out of hiding, but there was no response. Shrugging it off, he changed her water, cleaned out her litter box and headed off to work.
When he returned that evening, there was still no sign of her. Her food and water and litter box remained untouched. Slightly more alarmed (but not too alarmed because he understood that cats could be complete assholes sometimes) he poked around the small apartment. There weren’t many places she could hide and yet she still managed to find ways to disappear completely for stretches.
There was no sign of her, anywhere.
What would he tell his roommate when he returned?
That night was largely sleepless as he kept waiting to hear her plaintive cries and pleading scratching outside his bedroom door. But it was quiet all through the night.
The next morning, he changed her food and water and went off to work. She had to come out eventually, he reasoned.
At work, he searched the internet for advice on “hiding cats”. He learned that some cats hide when they’re hurt or scared or dying. (In a few forums, people half-jokingly posited that their cats could open portals to alternate dimensions.) The larger take-away seemed to be that this is just something that most cats do sometimes. They disappear and they return when it’s convenient for them. He tried to put it out of his mind.
When he returned home that night, the cat’s food bowl was empty. Her water dish was bone dry. He breathed a sigh of relief and looked around expectantly… but still couldn’t see her anywhere. He didn’t bother poking around for her. He’d lost enough sleep over her. In just a few more days, she’d be his roommate’s problem again.
That night, around 3am, he woke up to that familiar sound…
He tuned it out as he allowed himself to drift off again. A small act of defiance: refusing to cater to the fickle whims of his roommate’s cat for one measly night.
Tonight, her mewling cries were almost like white noise, lulling him to sleep. He turned away from the door and found a cooler spot on his pillow to lay his head.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The entire door suddenly shuddered against the pounding force of whatever stood on the other side.
Jake was no longer asleep.
He sat up and stared at his bedroom door. For a while, it remained silent and he began to wonder if he had just imagin—
BANG! BANG! BANG!
He approached the door and opened it…
… just a crack…
… and retreated to his bed with grim anticipation.
For a small eternity, nothing happened.
And then the door creaked open…
… and a pair of nocturnal eyes glowed through the darkness…
… much larger than the ones he was accustomed to seeing…
The familiar purring sound was replaced with something that sounded more like growling.
The creature stood up on scaly hind-legs and looked down upon him.
The cat had brought something back with it… from whatever unknowable dimension it had visited.
The creature leaped into his bed and curled up beside him. A heartbeat before long, exotic teeth sank into his throat, Jake imagined it was from Hell.