Lezly dashed through the pounding rain, with her broken umbrella tucked into her armpit and her shoes soggy from the puddles she fruitlessly tried to avoid. She found herself having to park her car in the other block again. Annoyed, Lezly yanked at her hoodie jacket and sprinted faster.
Through the distorted sheet of rain, she could see her apartment coming into view. Her plan for the rest of the day was to make a cup of tea, grab a paperback and when she felt hungry call for some Chinese food. Lezly was immersed in her dream of a perfect evening that when the cat ran out from the nearby alley; it took her off guard.
At first she thought it was a black garbage bag rolling towards her, but when she looked again; it turned out to be a stray cat. It wasn’t the first time that Lezly had seen this cat, in fact it was a regular around the area. It belonged to someone since it did wear a collar, but it strutted about as if it was its own individual.
Lezly hopped over the cat, shakily gliding over and that’s when the lightning struck. Brilliant light engulfed her and her surroundings; thunder trailed the flash causing her ears to ring. Lezly landed with a skid that caused her to trip and fall forward. Her arms and knees caught most of the fall, yet it didn’t keep her from bumping her forehead. Light gradually turned to dark as Lezly rolled over onto her back, her eyes fluttered shut.
Something scraped along Lezly’s cheek, she woke to find that she was on her back, the rain pummeling her, and the cat was licking her face. The cat’s tag glittered dully, it read Scarlet. Lezly shooed her away and got up. Her clothes sagged on her body and her arms and knees ached. She examined them and noticed that the pads of her palms and knees were bleeding, they intermingled with the rain causing streams of blood to pour.
Scarlet stared at her. Lezly found it odd that the cat stuck by her instead of hiding from the downpour, she also thought it was creepy. She grabbed her broken umbrella and began limping towards her home. Lezly sensed someone was following her, she glanced back to see the cat slinking behind. She shook the umbrella at it and surprisingly Scarlet didn’t scatter away. Lezly decided to keep going, she was exhausted and in pain to bother trying harder.
Once inside, Lezly peeled off her purse and clothes in the bathroom. She took a hot shower, her wounds stinging sharply. After feeling like her body temperature was back to normal, she dressed her wounds and made her way to the kitchen where she was confronted with her new guest sitting on the kitchen counter.
“Alright, let’s see who you belong to.” Lezly said as she reached for the tag.
There was a name, Allan Kenzie, and an address not too far from where she resided. She peered at Scarlet. The cat placed her paw on Lezly’s bandaged hand. Lezly jerked her head back as an image burst into her mind. She saw a man standing in a living room, he wore a t-shirt with denim over ebony skin. It appeared that she was looking at him from the floor of the room. The image changed to focus on the same man sleeping on his bed, again from the ground. Lezly could see that it was dim; yet she could make out his bedroom.
Scarlet slipped her paw off of Lezly’s hand and the images disappeared. Lezly jumped back away from the cat. What just happened? Who was that and why was I looking at him from the floor? She stared at Scarlet not wanting to loose her from sight and it dawned on her. Those were memories from the cat, she was seeing what Scarlet saw in her owner’s home. How is that possible?
Lezly glanced about and came across her bookshelf full of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Her eyes landed on “Lightning” by Dean Koontz. She stiffened. Was there something strange and different about the lightning? Scarlet licked her paws as she stood on the dining table. I think I’m reading too much fiction. Lezly rubbed her face and made herself a cup of tea.
That night Scarlet snuggled up against Lezly while she slept. Rain continued to fall, pitter-pattering on the window, as she dreamt of Scarlet stalking. Glimpses from under a table or from behind a sofa or on top of the fridge, all focused on Allan. Lezly tossed and turned most of the night.
The next day, she woke up with a headache; at first she couldn’t remember what she dreamt about. With a steamy mug in hand, Lezly caught sight of Scarlet perched up on the windowsill. The cat gradually turned its head and stared at her. A drifting image came to Lezly, the strange dreams about Allan. This cat has got to go. Lezly opened the door to her apartment. She didn’t care where it went as long as it wasn’t in her home. Placing her mug back on the counter, she confronted Scarlet with waving arms trying to guide the cat towards the door. It didn’t budge.
Lezly was afraid to touch the cat. She glanced at the tag, remembering the address. Maybe I can take Scarlet to Allan… but I don’t want to touch her. She sighed not knowing what to do. Lezly raised her hand towards Scarlet, the cat stared out the window; disinterested. Slowly, her fingers reached the ends of Scarlet’s black fur. The cat whipped her head towards her. Lezly jumped. She peered at Scarlet, who simply looked at her, Lezly began to giggle, nervously.
Then it pounced. Scarlet launched herself onto Lezly, yowling and hissing. Lezly cried out as teeth sunk into her flesh. First on her arm, then her back, then her neck. Lezly frantically grabbed at the feral animal. Taking hold of Scarlet’s body, Lezly yanked, feeling its claws tearing off of her. It landed on the sofa, hissing. Scarlet glanced at the door, hopped off and sauntered out. Lezly dashed to the door and slammed it shut. Her pain ranged from pin prickling stings to searing sharp aches.
In front of the bathroom mirror, Lezly examined her body. Most of it was riddled with slashes and gouge marks, some bled freely. She entered the shower, whimpering. Standing under the hot water, she saw the water pooling red near the drain. Her vision blurred and she slumped down onto the tiles. Lezly’s body shuddered and her eyes flitted. Images flashed in her mind as if she was viewing in fast forward mode. Lezly’s eyes snapped open.
Allan’s bungalow stood in a corner of a lane six streets down from where Lezly lived. His yard was covered in lawn ornaments and bushes of varying flowers. She adjusted the strap to her heels, which matched the color of her fitted dress. Lezly sauntered up the short steps and rang the door bell. Allan didn’t answer the door right away. She was tempted to scratch the door; when it abruptly opened.
“Hello?” Allan spoke first, his voice a husky timber.
“Hi, I’m Lezly. I live in the neighborhood. Your cat, Scarlet, I was taking care of her yesterday. We were caught in the rain and I took her home.” Lezly paused and licked her lips. “She had run out earlier today and I was wondering if she made it back to you?”
“Um… I haven’t seen her. It’s been a few days. You say you were taking care of her?”
“She doesn’t really get along with other people. I’m surprised.” Allan said, studying Lezly.
“Well, Scarlet actually followed me home.” Lezly said, glancing inside his home.
“Would you like to come in?” Allan asked.
“Thank you.” Lezly stepped in.
His space was neat and clean, uncommon for a person who owns a cat. Lezly stood in the open area in front of the door and Allan walked around her.
“Please, have a seat. Would you like something to drink. Water, soda?” Allan said.
“Beer? Do you have any beer?” Lezly asked.
Allan’s eyes widened and he nodded. Lezly sat languidly on the sofa and peered at the decor. The living room was overly masculine with sports memorabilia either hanging on a wall or covering a piece of furniture. She spied a cat bed lumped into a corner of the room. Sniffing the air, she noticed there was no cat smell, another uncommon thing for a cat owner. Allan placed the glass of foaming beer on the coffee table in front of Lezly. He held onto his.
“Thank you for taking care of Scarlet.” Allan said as he took a quick sip.
“Of course. I just wish I knew where she had headed off to.”
“I’m sure she’ll show up here.”
Lezly took a long swig of her beer, she stared at Allan over the rim of the cup. It made Allan squirm. He took a long gulp of his. After placing her cup down, Lezly leaned towards Allan.
“So, have you been taking care of Scarlet long?” She asked.
“Um, It’s been almost a year. She showed up on my yard and I took her in. Well, if you can call it taking her in cause she goes in and out as she please.” Allan said.
“Does it bother you?”
“No, I don’t care.”
“You, don’t care?” Lezly said with a tone.
“I mean, I do. She can do whatever she wants.” Allan said, he adjusted his collar.
“Um, I don’t know what this is about. Are you checking to see if I’m taking care of Scarlet? Are you from the Humane Society or something?”
“Scarlet is a special cat and deserves special treatment.” Lezly said as she got closer to Allan.
“Right… well I have things to do here. Kinda busy. So, I’m afraid I have to cut this short. Whatever this is.” Allan stood up.
Lezly pulled Allan back down by the arm and swung her body on top of his. Allan stiffened under her. She spotted a pillow next to him covered in cat hair. So there is something that indicates he has a cat. Lezly grabbed it and pushed it onto Allan’s face. He tried to toss her off as he buckled underneath; the pillow shaking in her hands. She placed one hand on the side of his face, his expression froze and his eyes flitted. He stopped bucking like a bronco as Lezly continued to push the pillow down on his face with the other hand. Eventually, Allan stopped moving and Lezly removed the pillow. She leaned into his face, sniffing and realized that he was dead.
After shoving Allan in the basement’s crawlspace and placing everything as it was before she was invited in, Lezly walked out of the bungalow. Standing on top of the short steps was Scarlet; licking her paw. Lezly paused in front of her and the cat peered up. As quick as a lightning strike, the feline jumped up onto Lezly’s shoulder while she walked away from the house.