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by Gary Darkness 

Posted: 25 April 2005
Word Count: 850

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Rex awoke at 4am covered head to toe in a sweaty goo. He realised instantly that it was butter and sobbed gently as he drifted back into sleep. When he eventually arose it was 1pm and the moon was glistening in its cage by the window. Rex shook his fist at it as he stumbled out of his sleeping cloak and onto the balcony. Below he saw a series of words, rearranged so that the sentence no longer made sense. In fact he preferred the words in their new order.

Rex’s appointment was at half past one, so he made haste to the bathroom and began banging against the wall. He heard a groan from the other side.

“What time is it?” enquired the voice.

“Twenty past one, hurry up!” replied Rex, before crouching over the toilet bowl and emitting a steady hail of dried fruit. He flushed the chain without looking down and walked downstairs. The house was as he remembered it, except for the presence of a creature he had not seen before. It was a cat, sitting nonchalantly on the settee. It looked at Rex as he emerged in his uncouth state but batted not an eyelid. Rex was perturbed.

“You! Cat!” he bellowed. The cat pretended not to hear and continued staring at the television, which was switched off. Impressed by the cat’s stoic defiance, Rex applauded sarcastically as neared the bottom of the stairs. He was distracted from this banter when he noticed that something else was amiss - something more significant. The floor beside the letterbox was grey and bare. It had not come. He felt an anger slowly rising through his body, making his fingers tingle and his chest tighten. It surged towards a howling eruption when, suddenly, the doorbell rang.

It was Tyrone, of course. Rex, his rage suppressed and replaced by resignation, ignored him and sat down on the sofa next to the cat, who seemed to have become taller.

Tyrone rang the bell again and then began banging on the door. Rex could barely hear a thing as he stared straight ahead, lost in his own thoughts. Before he knew it his face was chewing away ravenously at a sausage pie, 18 inches in diameter. Flaky pastry dribbled down his front and stuck to the butter still covering his skin. He was in turmoil, yet he laughed heartily like a Russian bear.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Rex! We have to go!” Tyrone, who in his panic had battered down the front door, was standing beside him, a manic glare in his eye. “We have to leave now you bloody thing! The meeting is for half past one.”

“It did not come,” replied Rex quietly. The moment Rex’s lips had begun to part, Tyrone heard. He walked solemnly back through the hole where the door had been and uttered no more words.

Rex sat in his vegetative state for hours, although he could not say how many. When he decided to rejoin his painfully real existence he saw that the stars had moved closer and the wind was beginning to set.

Something was shuffling around above him. He heard voices, followed by the rustling of bags and the heavy thud of blue crayons. He eyed the stairs suspiciously and saw that a shadow was standing at their head. It was the cat. Its expression gave nothing away. But it was certainly taller than before. It began trotting gently down the stairs.

“What were you doing up there?” asked Rex. “What are you planning?” The cat walked silently back to the sofa and hopped up. It sat beside Rex in a casual manner.

Rex was still suspicious, but he was also impressed. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the cat is here, he thought. Although he was certain that the cat was up to no good.

“You are an interesting character,” he remarked as he stood up, although not necessarily to the cat. He noticed that the door, broken by Tyrone, had been fixed. It had been an awful day but, for the first time, Rex felt a glimmer of optimism flickering in his soul.

He was hungry and went into the kitchen. But no sooner had he set foot on its varnished wooden floor than a fierce flash of yellow light propelled him backwards. A piercing, high-pitched hum rang through his brain and sent him crashing to the floor in terror. He crawled back to the sofa.

The cat sat unmoved. “Will you help me?” Rex pleaded. The cat looked at him with pity. With compassion. It was finally showing some kind of emotion. Some kind of window into its soul. Rex knew its soul was not pure, like that of an unhatched egg, but he knew it was not evil. He reached out to touch the cat. He put his hand on its soft face, but he felt nothing. His hand lay palm-down on the sofa where the cat had been. Rex’s oily knees slid backwards along the floor and he drifted back into the bright night.

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