And so the ritual begins. Small humans roam the streets, all hyped up on the kinds of treats that big humans typically ration for the purpose of bribery. Humiliating outfits are abound, comprised of old rags, plastic sacks, enormous white sheets, obnoxiously large, wide-brimmed hats, and an array of peculiar masks which make humans look a smidgeon uglier than they already are. Vegetables are carved to look like ghoulish grinning faces and plonked outside doorways and in windows to give us poor felines a fright as we go about our night-time exploits. (Felines other than myself, of course. Nothing frightens me, I can assure you.) Then there’s all the noise—the yells and screams and cries from humans of all sizes, even the ones large enough and old enough to know better. The entire palaver makes my tail itch.
The night belongs to us cats, you see. When the world gets dark and the streets fall quiet, we emerge from our warm beds and comfy hiding places to stretch our legs and soak in the fresh air beneath the cover of the black sky. But tonight, and every night that this bizarre dress-up takes place, we must share our beloved streets with two-legged, opposable-thumbed imbeciles.
In normal circumstances I would avoid this hideous night—resign myself to a comfortable armchair and a good, long, dead-to-the-world kind of snooze—but unfortunately the idiots who provide me with shelter have locked me out. Locked out of my own abode! Can you believe it? My private entranceway is shut tight, all the windows are closed and barred and no amount of meowling and tapping at the human door will force it open.
I’m particularly aghast at this turn of events because only a few minutes before being rudely forced from my abode I had brought home the most generous gift. A lovely fresh kill, it was; flesh still warm and eyes still shiny. I hadn’t even eaten the head (the best part, might I add) because I wanted to deliver the little squeaker as soon as possible to my second in command. It was supposed to be a small token of thanks for her recent shooings and scoldings of the small humans, who have been particularly troublesome as of late in regard to the tugging of my whiskers. And how did my second in command react to my generosity? She screamed. Screamed! Initially I believed it to be a scream of joy, but as the wailing went on and on and on and grew more and more and more high-pitched, I began to realise she wasn’t particularly pleased with my gift. She sounded like a wounded puppy, which is a sound most irritating to sensitive feline ears. And then she bashed her paws together right in front of my face, which gave me a terrible surprise and sent me running back outside.
I hung about outdoors for a few minutes while she calmed down, hoping that if she did come around to the idea of fresh mouse that she would at least save me a morsel of head. But when I tried to return to my abode I found my entrance locked up tight. And now I’m stuck outside with the hyped-up idiots and the ridiculous outfits and the ghoulish faces on the strangest night of the year.
I suppose there is something I could do to while away the time. There’s an ARS meeting kicking off soon and I might go along and listen in, just for the fun of it. I received word about it days ago and naturally I feigned indifference, but I can’t help but feel a smidgeon of curiosity. The Animal Revolution Society is creating a bit of a ruckus in the animal world—humans being oblivious to it, naturally—but it’s all hiss and no bite. A bunch of farmyard animals snorting and squealing about attack strategies and the battle for equality. None of it ever comes to fruition. You should have seen their last siege upon humankind. It all went nipples-up after a mere crack of thunder. A hilariously hopeless failure, it was. It did nothing more than remind humans that animals—all animals other than cats, that is—are unbelievably stupid.
The animal revolution will never truly happen, and I can say that with absolute confidence. Us cats aren’t involved, you see. And if we were to get involved, it would only be to stop it. We’re not convinced that a revolution will benefit us. After all, we’re already the superior species. We only let humans believe they’re above us in order to keep them wrapped around our little toes. A revolution would cause too much disruption. It might lead to some other species—bears or turkeys or, I dread to think, dogs—believing that they were top of the pecking order, and then us cats would have to… well, exert ourselves in order to prove our status as mighty rulers. Exertion simply won’t do. Not unless there’s a mouse head on the cards to make it worthwhile.
But it probably wouldn’t harm to go along and see what the old ARS has up its sleeve next. Get ahead of the game, plant some ideas into the heads of those most vocal. Point them in the wrong direction for a while. Yes, I think I’ll do just that. It ought to fulfil my mischief quota for the night.
Oh… well, would you look at that? Or should I say her. She is exquisite. She is perhaps the most perfect cat I have ever seen. Coat all shiny like black silk, eyes yellower than the sun, and a tail that goes on and on. I shall have to say hello to her and find out if there’s a Tom in her life. And if there is, I’ll soon come up with a plan to chase said Tom out of her life and thrust myself into it.
I’ve been a lone ranger for too long, you know. It’s about time I took myself a female companion. Someone to curl up with in front of the radiator. To roll around with on the gritty patio during the heat of summer. To split a spider with on the rare occasion I manage to catch one of the wily things, because eight legs is far too many for one cat to munch on. And she looks like the most beautiful companion I could ask for. I tire of things easily, you know, and yet I don’t think I would ever tire of looking at her.
Fur fluffed, tail tall, whiskers erect, and I’m ready to impress. Look at me strut, kitten. I’m the best cat in town. Top hunter. Most ruthless fighter. Ultimate snuggler. The whole package, wrapped up in a slick ginger coat. Like what you see?
“Shoo. Get. Go. Get!”
Alright, lady, back off! No need to shake that big stick at me. All I’m doing is a little socialising, what’s it to you?
Oh. You’re her human. You’re her human? But she’s so lovely. And you’re so… gnarled.
Alright, alright! I’m going. Fast as my legs will carry me.
Ugh. She’s sent my hair standing up on end, that human. Something strange about her. A vibe all spiky and vicious. We can feel these things, us cats. We have a sixth sense. Nine lives, eight personalities, seven voices in our heads and six senses. And I promise you, three of my six senses are telling me that the pretty black cat’s human is pure evil.
Oh, bugger it.
Yes, I heard you, stupid mutt.
A tale wag will suffice, thank you. Nice to see you, Three-Legs.
What stimulating conversation you have to offer, dog. I’m so glad to be of your acquaintance.
In all honesty it is rather nice to have a canine acquaintance in this town. He’s a small, feeble thing, you see. Three legs. Fast but wobbly. Certainly not a threat. We get along well enough that I can lounge around in his garden from time to time when I want a change of scenery without fear of being set upon by my adversaries. He also takes it upon himself, so he tells me, to bark at said adversaries should they ever be within his vicinity, which gives me intense pleasure. Plus, he deems me such a valuable pal that he happily protects me against the more rabid, drooling canines of the park when I choose to take a stroll there. Not that any of the said rabid canines could harm me, of course. I can obviously take care of myself. But it’s nice to have someone to do it for me. Remember what I said about exertion?
Now then, Three-Legs. Any meat on the go on the streets tonight? I think I smell something tasty.
Sausages? No, can’t be. You’d be far more excited if there were sausage on the go.
Steak? Surely not. That would be far too wonderful a stroke of luck.
You talk nonsense, hound! Enunciate, would you? I’m beginning to remember why dogs and cats don’t associate.
That’s it, I’m bored of you. Our interaction is over for today. Enjoy the night of madness, canine. And if you do find some meat you had better bury my half in the agreed spot in your garden or so help me I will skin you alive and use your scraggly old fur as a blanket.
On we go, then, towards the ARS meeting, since I’ve nothing better to do. It’s just around the corner, I believe, on a tired-looking square of tarmac beside an abandoned, rat-infested building which, coincidentally, is one of my favourite hunting spots. Goodness knows why the ARS chose such a foul venue for their meeting. It just goes to show how lowly these farmyard beasts are, I suppose.
I wonder if they’ll get a fright to see me there. They’re not used to dealing with cats, methinks. I once spoke with the turkey, the ringleader of the whole sorry show—Chief ARS, you might call him—back in the spring, and he seemed to be utterly terrified of me. His beady eyes darted here, there and everywhere as he garbled and gobbled at me and told me about their so-called revolution. Even the great, hulking bear he had with him seemed nervous, though I must admit I did make a point of flexing my claws during our interaction, just to prove who was boss.
Should I loiter at the back in the shadows, I wonder, or should I make myself known? I’m already late, probably—we cats are far too important to arrive anywhere on time—so I might as well make an entrance. Get all those eyes on me.
Ugh… there’s spikiness in the air. Spikiness and viciousness and… yes, there’s that pair of beautiful bright yellow eyes in the darkness, blinking at me. That lovely black cat is here with her gnarled-looking human. And it seems that the human is… Is she?… She’s in the ARS?
“I must say that I very much admire you all for your bravery and determination in being part of this mission. You deserve a jolly good pat on the back, every single one of you…”
She’s commanding the discussion. A human. A human is speaking at a meeting of the Animal Revolution Society! Isn’t that against the rules?
Unless she isn’t a human at all.
“…ready for a revolution of the animal kind. If you were to rise up against humans and fight for your equality now…”
I don’t think I’ll stick around. She’s already taken a dislike to me and I don’t want to get on the wrong end of her big stick again. The revolution will simply have to go off without me. No matter—I’ll be in charge either way. Superior species, after all.
I wonder if my personal entranceway is open yet. It would be inhumane to keep me out all night, what with all the humans about and behaving as wildly as they are. I’ll take one last look at the hubbub, just to double check that there isn’t any steak around, and then I’ll simply go home and demand to be given entrance to my own residence.
Don’t you dare take another step.
“Daddy, I think kitty’s lost.”
You wish, tiny human. Don’t touch me! I recognise you. You try to grope me every time I see you and I always have to give you a short, sharp SWIPE.
I’ll eat you alive if you’re not careful.
That’s right, drag your offspring away before I really lose it. And don’t let her come near me again or you’ll regret it. I have a dog friend, you know. And he’s vicious!
Yes, that told him. He doesn’t have to know the dog is smaller than me and bereft of one of his legs.
Oh, how I miss my armchair. I’m telling you—this night is a bad one every single time it comes around. There’s something sinister in the air, and it isn’t down to us cats. I’d better be vigilant. Not that I’m frightened, of course. I’m not frightened of anything.
This is an excerpt from my latest short story collection All Hallows’ Hell, which just so happens to launch today. Yes, today! Thanks to all who pre-ordered the book – I hope it reaches you safely and you enjoy it! If you like creepy stories, spooky stories, silly stories and cats, All Hallows’ Hell is the book for you. It’s available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and all the other Amazons all over the world.