Carl’s feet smelled like their owner up and died ten years ago; an overwhelming aroma of soft cheese and farts.
When you live at foot height, it can be a cruel existence.
I retch, cough up a furball, and twine my legs, making figure eights around this hooman, all the while hoping he’ll mess up the spell.
I hate the man-things on a good day, but when the feet smell this bad, it’s time to intervene.
This idiot—a middle aged white guy with spinach stuck in his crooked teeth—wouldn’t know true magic if it bit him on the arse. Which is the reason I’m here. I spend my nights looking for hoomans trying out magic and I out a stop to it. It’s dangerous stuff. Gets you into all sorts of trouble. I should know.
So, I adopted this guy to put him straight and warn him off ever attempting to use magic again.
But does he listen? No!
He’s still trying to bargain for power, summon a demon, or maybe transform himself into a hot stud.
I meow like it’s the end of the world; which it very might well be if he runs out of Dreamies – the best cat treat this side of the veil – but my hooman, Carl, does not listen.
He’s digging his own grave.
Time to play hardball.
I stroll to the door that leads from the living room to the kitchen, stare at a random spot on the wall, and start to yowl.
“Mr Fluffybum, stop that!”
Fluffybum! I hate that moniker.
I lick my paw, giving him my most condescending stare, and yowl even louder, all the while staring at the non-existent ‘ghost’ in his house. I let my hair stand on end then dart to my ‘owner’ demanding to be picked up.
I think my hooman is bricking it now. I don’t exactly smell of daisies – cat, hello – but Carl suddenly smells really foul. He’s sweating buckets and wringing his hands, his t-shirt damp and rank.
Crap on toast. He’s genuinely scared.
We cats literally lap this shit up, thriving on fear. And Dreamies, did I mention the Dreamies yet?
We magicked cats are the most evil species, rated third after demons and politicians. But it’s a good life, most of the time, until you get to the ninth one – then it’s all pain, and wobbly legs, and cars that go too fast.
Carl relents, lifting me up and cuddling me, stroking my fur the wrong way, which makes me yowl even more.
Hell, maybe he doesn’t deserve what’s coming. After all, he has enough common sense to be afraid.
I sigh inwardly sigh then struggle, scratching his arms until blood wells.
“Fluffybum!” Carl yells, offended that his widdle kitty cat has hurt him.
The truth is, I’m saving his life. It’s Halloween and here he is, yet another idiot conjuring the spirits of the dead. If hoomans knew anything, they’d know November 1st has more dead on this side of the veil. Carl has little natural talent, but performing the incantation is like is putting together IKEA flat pack furniture—he’ll get there eventually. I have to stop him.
If I was still hooman , I’d have punched his lights out. I’d have outweighed him by about fifty pounds—Carl is a lightweight.
Scratching his arms appears to have done it: I’ve distracted him enough that he blows out the black candle—he’s been watching way too much Charmed—packs away his paraphernalia and leaves the house, nursing his sore arm.
I leave through the cat-flap—Carl won’t remember me; they never do—heading into darkened streets decorated with deformed pumpkins, black and orange garlands, and rickety skeletons. The night smells of autumn: crisp cool air, with hint of garden fires and toasted marshmallows. Costumed kids yowl, letting out irritating squeals of joy. They’re hunting sweeties. They smell of milk, chocolate.
Except for that one child.
Child? It doesn’t feel like a child.
I look up and up at the delicate, Elfin features on the sprightly girl dressed as Snow White. She’s carrying a basket of apples. They’re red, shiny, glowing in the lights of Jack O’ Lanterns lounging on doorsteps. Little Snow’s feet are reflected in the polished fruit.
Gah!!I feel another furball coming on.
The feet are gnarled, twisted, grey-green things, a murky light inside them trying to escape. Veins that shine, luminescent. If that’s a little girl, I’ll eat my own tail. Changeling. I’d bet my ninth life on it. I don’t know what annoys me more: the fact I have to tell the Baba Yaga, who fell out with me a century ago, turning me into this cat, or the fact I won’t be getting my candy tonight.
I meow, my wide-eyed cute fur face on, twine myself round the thing’s legs, begging for attention.
Come on ya little shit. Take me home. Take me to your leader!
I sneeze, a cat version of a snort at my hooman joke. I miss being a man-thing, with a man-thing. Still, I can get tail if I want it.
But the truth is, I miss—her. My beloved.
If one more bloomin’ hoo-man calls me Fluffybum, I’ll claw my way up their legs, scratch their ghoulies, then shit in their shoes. I turn away.
“Hey handsome,” she says, voice sultry and low, “I’ve got this from here.”
Holy meow! It’s Babs. What the furry-loving hell is she doing here?
Instantly, I think, “I’ve missed you.”
“Missed you too. Fluffy Er, – Devlin.”
My hooman name, from before—before that curse me to a hundred years as a fat, contented house cat with delusions of becoming a familiar.
I should hate her. I really should, but damnit she’s still gorgeous. She’s like my catnip: an itch I just gotta scratch…
She weaves her magic and the creepy kid collapses into a pile of inanimate twigs.
A fetch, then.
“Where’s the real kid?” I ask.
She smiles. “At home. Safe”
I nod and saunter slowly towards her. I can almost taste the tension between us tingling in the air.
That’s when I realise something is – different.
Wait! I look at my feet. The large, size eleven feet that got me into this mess in the first place. – Don’t get caught using the Baba Yaga’s potions to turn her ‘boyfriend A’ into a purple cow. No matter how tempting.
There they are. My hooman—strike that—my naked, human feet.
“Babs?” I call.
“Dev.” Her voice is sultry, intoxicating- just like I remember.
“Babs, I’m nude.”
She laughs, clears her throat, then conjures me up a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and boots. Fashion sure has changed in a hundred years.
I glance up, and smile at her, meeting those electric blue eyes of hers. Her delicate cheeks. Suddenly, she’s next to me, her midnight-blue hair so close, I inhale her delicious scent; pumpkin spice.
“Sorry Babs,” I mumble.
“So you should be! Now gimme a kiss.”
I grin, and claim my treat, kissing her soft, edible lips. No more Dreamies for me Yep. She’s my catnip and my candy.