Matt slept soundly on most nights, impossibly tangled in his blankets with his head buried under his pillow like some sort of animal. The past few nights though, he hadn’t been sleeping as he usually did, not when his waking moments had been filled with helping arrange a funeral and dealing with mourning family member while coming to terms with his own grief at the loss of his grandmother.
And now, there was a corpse downstairs that had made it even harder to sleep. It was so strange seeing his lively Nana in such a peaceful state. As cliché as it sounded, she looked like she could have been sleeping if not for the lack of her high-pitched snoring.
Even worse was his superstitious grandfather who had demanded that he and his other cousins spent the whole night away to keep some kind of soul stealing cat away from the body. More than two hours were spent calming the old man down and telling him that they’d make sure that no kitty was going to take their Nana’s soul before he went to bed and they could follow suit.
None of them put any stock in the old Scottish legend that had made them fear cats as children. It had just faded from memory and they were all more focused on the loss they were suffering from instead of fairy tales. This made it all the more frustrating when a loud, aggravated yell woke Matt from his fitful sleep.
Tripping over his tangled blankets, he was barely quick enough to catch himself from hitting his nose on the floor. Snarling obscenities under his breath, he unwound the blanket from his legs before dragging himself downstairs. Of all nights to be woken at ungodly hours, it had to be the night before the funeral.
“Her soul! My Greta’s soul has been stolen!” Matt could hear his Grandfather’s shouts clearly from the top of the stairs and they only got louder and louder as he made his way to the living room. He was going on and on about Nana’s soul being gone and how she’d never know peace in the afterlife. “The Cat Sìth has been in here! Boys! Boys! It was as big as a dog!”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he shared a suffering look with his cousins, Nate and Donnie. The three of them had been left to deal with it by the others in the house once the situation was figured out as it had been them who had humored the old man and said they’d keep the Cat Sìth from getting to their grandmother.
“We left the light on and shut the door, Pops,” Nate argued, sinking down into a chair and leaning his head back. The lax attitude only earned them angry sputtering about how that wasn’t going to keep out the king of cats.
“Pops,” Matt narrowed his eyes at Nate for the lack of understanding while Donnie smacked him upside the head. “We don’t even own a cat and the house has been locked. There was no fire in here to attract the cat to its warmth and Nana is wearing her protective charm you made her. See?”
Though it still gave him the chills to be that close to the body, he put a hand on his grandfather’s shoulder and turned him so that the old man could see him pick up the necklace that their grandmother had never taken off.
“My Greta loved that necklace,” there was a deep sadness in his tone that resonated with all of them; “You’re right Mattie. It protected her from the dark spirits for all these years, it wouldn’t stop now.”
Looking over his shoulder, Matt motioned his cousins over with his head. Once they understood, they both moved forward to help their grandfather to the kitchen for something to help him sleep. It was difficult for him to be without his wife for the first time in sixty years.
Turning his attention back to his Nana’s still body, Matt gently laid the charm back in place. He had never seen her without it and she had often told stories about how it had been a wedding present from her beloved before they immigrated to America. She had even made him one but he had stopped wearing it when he started middle school
“It won’t be the same without you Nana,” He whispered, trying to focus on the happiest memories. Looking up and out the window so that he could force back the tears, he jumped back with shock as his eyes connected with a glowing pair right at the window.
His heart pounded as he stared into the eyes of a cat. It was far too much of a coincidence for his liking and he stepped around the casket for a better look. As he did, the splotch of white on the feline’s chest caught his attention and his heart nearly stopped in his chest as he realized that the legends could be true.
There was still a part of his mind that was denying what he was seeing and passing it off as a mixture of grief and lack of sleep playing tricks on him. A cat as large as a dog was impossible unless they were a Big Cat. But this one was that big but looked like a domestic house cat.
Rubbing his eyes, it wasn’t until the cat opened its mouth that Matt believed the legends. A soft glow of green was in the Cat’s mouth and when Matt pressed his hand against the glass; he could feel familiar warmth and almost heard his Nana’s voice again.
Not only were the legends true, but the damn creature was taunting him with her soul.
“Give it back,” he muttered as he backed away. As if the Cat Sìth heard him, the glow disappeared and its ancient eyes glittered with amusement before it disappeared into the darkness. Spinning on his heel, Matt ran to the office where his grandparents kept their books on the old legends. There had to be something in there about returning a lost soul so that he didn’t have to worry his grandfather again.
All the while, he could hear his Nana scolding him again for not paying attention to her stories.
Don’t take light of the old world, boys, it often comes back to bite you in the rear.
I know I’m over a week late but you try to focus on writing, Finals and getting ready to go home for winter break all at the same time. Isn’t easy but I’ll get caught up, promise!
Next Creature: Banshee