I sat up quickly, my body covered in a cold sweat, as I realized that it had all been a dream. The cat, the school yard, the little girl… everything had been one big dream. At least that is what I thought until noticed the dark shape curled up on the end of my bed. I watched with a sinking feeling of disappointment as Man turned around slowly to face me, with an evil mischievous grin spread over his face. His words held the same impish glee that was plastered on his face, “Well your half right on that anyway my dear boy.” With those words the cat laughed at me, “Now then Charles. There is no reason to be lying in bed, time to get up and get moving. You have a breakfast to eat, and a school to get to.”
I stared at the cat in complete disbelief of the words I had heard. Had he really said what I thought he had, or was I just mistaken? Of everything that Man had done up until now, it was this that had caught me the most off guard. I expected nothing, but more torture and tricks form the creature. Yet now it sounded like he was trying to be kind to me, though it was not only what he said, but the way in which he had said it. Still I could not forget what he had done, so it left me wary of his intentions, “What games are you playing at now Man? You killed my parents and now you just want to make nice… I am not falling for it.” I watched him closely slightly anxious about his reaction to my mistrust and disobedience. His reactions to such things yesterday had not exactly been the most positive.
Man stared at me, his large black eyes looking deep into mine, his face was completely expressionless. The only sound in the room was the ticking of the clock on the wall, as it recorded the moments that passed. Nothing happened for what felt like an eternity, and I began to wonder if I had signed my death warrant. Then suddenly without warning, he began laughing. It started small and slowly grew into a very hearty and amused laugh that I was not accustomed to hearing form the cat. I hesitantly began to chuckle along with Man, who seemed obviously more amused than annoyed by my defiance, “My boy you need to realize that you are dealing with things that are far beyond your mere human understanding.” Standing up he moved down the bed towards me as he continued speaking, “Now I know you had a rough day yesterday Charles, so I am going to provide you with a kindness. I am sure that you must be quite confused and indeed I fear I have not been very forthcoming with answers. So if there is anything that you want to know… then please ask?” The curiosity in the cat’s voice in that moment reflected my own inner turmoil almost exactly.
My brain whirled with confusion about exactly what question to possibly ask, and there were indeed quite a few. Yet I took a moment and brought myself under control… I had learned my lessons when it came to this creature. When dealing with Man things were never that simple. I was pretty sure that he was only going to answer one question and one question only. So I had to make that the first question which spilled form my lips was the one I wanted to ask. It didn’t take me long though to finally realize the question I wanted to ask, and it was the one that had plagued me since the first moment I the beast entered my life, “Man tell me… what are you?” He looked at me curiously and tilted his head, “Charles my boy you…” I cut him off in mid-sentence saying, “No Man, I don’t want to hear one of your silly little jokes. I want to know what you are; I mean what you really are.” There was only a slight pause, but the words were not what I expected, “Are you sure you want to know that Charles? Remember once you cross over that threshold there will be no going back.”
“Yes of course I want to know now please tell me.” With a quickness which visibly startled me Man suddenly moved up the bed and halted his face inches form mine. That grin of his was spread fully across his face, “Alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” With those words he leaped backwards and landed at the center of the bed. Looking at me his eyes turned blood red, though this time there wasn’t an ominous presence, and the feeling of danger about what the cat was up to was completely nonexistence. There was a squirt of blood on both sides of the cat as his the skin covering his shoulder blades suddenly ripped open. It was form the wounds that sprouted four jet black bird like wings, There were two wings coming from either shoulder, giving the cat the wing formation of a fly. Man’s chest puffed out in what was an obvious show of pride in his admission, “Well then Charles in that case the answer is indeed quite simple. I am… well how should I put this? I believe the human’s term would be a ‘Guardian Angel’. Though frankly I do find the label to be so… unimaginative, but I guess it is the best that we could expect form your kind. ”
The answer he gave only left me with more questions, though for the first time something the cat said did put me at ease. I had a feeling that he was not going to kill me, well at least not yet anyway. Wondering how much information could be collected form this line of questioning I continued, “How are you my Guardian Angel? That doesn’t even make sense Man… you have killed my parents and I am sure will eventually leave me homeless.” The creature just shook his head in annoyance at my apparent confusion, “Have you listened to nothing that have told you Charles, I never said I was ‘a Guardian Angel’. You asked me what I was, and I gave you the label that humans have assigned me so that you would have an answer to satisfy your curiosity. If you want to know the truth, then there is no answer… I cannot give you what doesn’t exist…” There was a moment’s pause as his words sunk in, before the cat nodded towards the open door to my bedroom, “Now then enough with the questions for the moment, it is time for breakfast which I prepared for you while you slept. I will explain more while you are eating.”
I had to admit that all of this at once was starting to become a little too much. Hopefully if this wasn’t another one of Man’s tricks, then a good breakfast would be able to help. Plus I had to admit, I was a little hungry. So without another word I hopped right out of bed and headed down the hall way toward the kitchen. The sound of the cat’s wings fluttering behind me gave away the fact that he was following, and soft feeling of wind on the back of my neck told me how close. As I closed the distance between me and the entrance to the kitchen, my mind flashed back to the day before. The image of my step father’s mangled body laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood was burned into my mind... making me hesitant to continue. The flashback caused me to stop dead in my tracks, as an overwhelming desire to avoid the sight of the dead body held me in place. As I stood there I could feel Man’s hot breath on the back of my neck as he moved closer… waiting for me to continue. It didn’t take long before I could feel him breathing directly into my ear as he whispered softly, “Tell me my dear Charles what is wrong? Is it that you are afraid? Please go forward I am telling you that you might be surprised what you find.” In that moment I felt one of his paws press against my back and push me forward with that surprising amount of strength I was starting to come to expect from the beast.
Hesitantly I continued forward, until I rounded the corner that was the entrance to the kitchen. It was the sight before me that again caused me to halt my forward motion. I stared at the completely clean kitchen, caught off guard at the idea of the sadistic creature cleaning up the blood bath it created. This pause lasted only for a moment as I instantly moved forward and began to look around through the cupboards and under sink, before turning back and asking, “Alright Man where is it? What did you do with the body?” The animal sank down form where he was hovering and landed on the counter, all the while he was softly laughing, “Why Charles do you want it back?” At this point his jokes where starting to get on my nerves, “No, but I want to know what happened to it.” As usual Man didn’t pay any attention to my annoyance with his actions, “Charles does this really surprise you at this point? Think of what you have seen since your step father put a bullet in my brain. Let’s just say I have my ways of getting things done, so I think we can just leave it at that.” The manner in which the beast licked his lips after saying those words made me gulp with fright, as my imagination ran wild with the possibilities.
“Now Charles, we are getting a little off task aren’t we? Remember we came down here to eat breakfast, and well here it is.” As he said those last words Man made a sweeping motion with one of his front paws facing upwards in the direction of the table, as he presented the large amount of food that covered it, in the style of a most eloquent showman. I stared at the cornucopia of breakfast food that rested on the table, and began to question were it all might have come from, the very idea not helping my destroyed. At the same time though, the feeling of hunger in the pit of my stomach grew. Realizing for the first time it had been almost 2 days since I had anything to eat or drink I decided that really it didn’t matter anymore. So I sat down at the table and began to dig into the food, much to the delight of my companion. Who settled down at the other end of the table, directly across from me, and just stared at me with that unsettling grin. The first thing I grabbed was a plate of scrambled eggs, and it didn’t take me long to down them with a couple of biscuits. Moving on I began to eat the sausage patties, as well as the steak which sat among them. Never before had I tasted anything so good, and it seemed like whatever I grabbed and sunk my teeth into was the best I had tasted.
The cat sat there waiting for me, his tail wagging back and forth as he watched me eat. There were no words spoken and the only sounds that filled the room were the soft noise of me chewing and the occasional soft rustling of Man’s feathers. That silence though was eventually broken by Man clearing his throat, which caused me to stop eating and look up. “Charles my boy, I am glad that you are enjoying your meal, but I believe that I promised I would finish settling your confusion. That is if you still desire?” The only reply I gave to his question was a simple nod, to which he replied simply with a grin. “Good though I do believe that my past actions when combined with my current revelation have only served to create more confusion. So instead I shall try to address the anxieties underlying your misperception, rather than try to answer every possible question you may have left unvoiced.” He paused for moment before continuing, allowing me time to realize this was going to be a very one sided conversation. “Now then my dear Charles as I have said before what I am has no label. So you need to throw away those silly notions of what you think a ‘Guardian Angel’ is.”
He moved up the table get closer to me as he continued, “That image you hold of a benevolent protector is far from the truth and is only a legend that you pathetic humans have built around the label to which you gave me. I am sure that you have certain expectations on the way you think I should act, but as you have seen my methods are far from those which your silly human tale would bring to mind. Now I am not going to tell you why I choose you because that is not your affair. Though I can say that I will be here until you die or until I feel my needs are no longer being met.” Interrupting him I quickly blurted out, “What about if I no longer feel I need you?” The cat was quick to answer, as though expecting the interrupting, “Trust me my dear Charles you will always need me, I will do whatever I have to in order to make certain of that. You will find that a well-placed Dues ex Machina can always have a profound effect on one’s life.” The cat spoke with a coldness that held such deep contrast to the benign expression on his face that the combination only made the words even more chilling. I watched him as he stared at me as though daring me to say another word, after a few moments past; the cat took my silence as a license to continue.
“Now then where was I...?” Pausing in obvious mock thought Man then suddenly continued, “Oh yeah… This I will say about what you believe about the image that label brings to mind… yes indeed I will protect you, form anyone who even dares to harm a hair on your head. Indeed I quite looking forward to the meals which will be provided. Though I can tell you this that you yourself are not immune to my anger, and I will not hesitate to kill you if you make me mad.” Settling down right in front of my plate he looked up at me and asked in what was certainly an impish tone “Well Charles does all that answer your questions?” Sitting there staring at the cat I wasn’t exactly sure what to say, because just by being itself the creature seemed to make things foreboding, with his very tone. In that moment despite this fact I actually felt somewhat at ease. Not exactly all of my questions were answered, but for now my curiosity was settled, plus there certainly a lot of details that I could read between the lines.
“Yeah I guess so at least for the moment the anyway, though I can promise you that this is not the end of it because I have a whole lot more. You have basically taken my life and torn it to pieces, so you owe me more than just what you have given. There are still plenty of things you have to answer for.” Nodding his head Man agreed, “I guess that seems fair. Beside I get the feeling we are going to be together for a very long time. So I am sure that we will have plenty of time for ‘interesting conversations’.” He emphasized the last two words in a chilling fashion as he grinned in his typically expansive fashion, “Oh and speaking of ‘interesting conversations’ I have been curious to ask you Charles. How is it eating your mothers tongue?” Looking at him my face began to grow pale as I realized what he was saying, “Man…” Though my words just simply faded off as I began to feel faint, while Man’s laughter filled the room around me, “Do you always cannibalize your parents so eagerly Charles?” The combination of his taunts along with the realization of what I had done was all that was needed to send me crashing to the ground. Unlike before though… I didn’t black out.
As I lay there on the kitchen floor in my dazed state suddenly a noise came floating through the air growing louder by the moment. Eventually becoming enough of a nuisance to draw the ire of the demonic feline, who began to look around to try and find the source? It didn’t take long though as we both turned our heads, to rest our eyes on the small radio which was sitting on the kitchen counter. The coming from it was nothing but the sound of static, though mixed it was the faint noise of a voice. Man and I were silenced as the room grew dead quite except for the radio. While over time the voice became clearer and clearer, until we could finally understand what was being said. The voice sounded like that of a man who seemed slightly frantic, but then suddenly turned excited in mid sentence, “CQ this is CQ… I know you can hear me. I know your listening, because I have found your frequency you evil imp. You will not escape this time, because I have something of yours. You won’t run form me now… no not this time.” The man on the radio started to laugh with an almost maniacal joy… “I finally have it. You hear me… I finally have it!... I finally have your Ark!”
The voice on the radio continued to laugh in an uncontrolled manner, as it started to fade into static again. In that moment the noise of the static began to mix with a high pitch ring that remained constant. It grew louder and louder, until I felt like my eardrums were going to burst. I just wanted to scream. At the moment that the high pitch volume reached its crescendo was the same moment when suddenly it feel completely silent. My eyes looked at the counter were Man now sat with his paw pressed against the off button of the radio. I stared at him for a few moments, before he titled his head and asked in a voice that was eerily cheerful, “Well now let’s be on our way, wouldn’t want to miss the bus now would we?” In that moment I began to finally realize the weight of the creatures warning that he had given me earlier. I had crossed the threshold and could never go back.