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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Roy

The Dream

The woman I’d just saved reached up and brushed her hand along my cheek.

“Thank you for saving me. Is there anything I can do to repay you?” I could think of some things, but I didn’t save her for payment. That’s what I want to say. She reaches up and brushes her hand along my cheek again.

“Thank you for saving me. Is there anything I can do to repay you?”

“What the hell?!” Did I not respond fast enough? What a weirdo. “No, that’s...”

“Thank you for saving me. Is there anything I can do to repay you?” Her hand finds its way to my face again, except it lands more aggressively this time.

“What the hell lady?!” I try fending the hand off, but she is persistent. It lands three more times in quick succession. It doesn’t seem to matter which way I turn my head. In desperation, I try rolling over. The weight on my chest shifts with me, riding the wave of my body as I turn. She smacks me in the back of the head this time. Her hands are amazingly dainty.

“Wha?” I sat up, and the weight shifts to my lap. I rub my hands and stare into the darkness around me. “For fuck’s sake…” It was a dream. My head aches, and my mouth is dry. I’d had too much to drink tonight. I should’ve had more water. Our wedding anniversary was always a good celebration. That explains the dream. I saved the bikini-clad woman from a house fire by jumping from the second-story roof while carrying her. I used an umbrella to slow our fall… And I thought she was the weirdo.

“Hey.”

Something hit me in the face again. Whose voice was that? It was high-pitched. The weight in my lap. My hands found a soft, furry body planted on me. “I didn’t say you could touch me. Wake the hell up, slave.”

I froze. A paw pushes down on my hand, trying to push it away. Surely not… I take my hand from the small furry body in my lap and reach for my wife beside me. She is there.

“Babe? Hey…” I give her a shake. Nothing. She is out cold. She’d had three drinks herself, and while that wasn’t a lot for most, it was for her. I had to help her into the house, where she’d roughed me up a bit and promptly passed out. She isn’t going to wake until late morning at least.

“What the hell is going on?” My mind is still half asleep, only processing information in fits and starts. Stuttering along in half-formed, disjointed thoughts. Not much different than usual, I guess.

“If you don’t feed me soon, you’ll be sorry. Meow.” I stare down at the dark shape in my lap. Which cat was this? They all had their own texture, and we’d gotten pretty good at telling them apart by touch. Each had a unique body language too. Of the few that usually sat on us, all had different fur textures.

Squeakers had soft fur but not very thick. Mommas had short, luxuriously thick, soft fur. Midge had a coat like Momma’s, but it wasn’t as delicate, and she didn’t enjoy being pet. Danny… fat ass was twenty-three pounds. I didn’t need to pet him to know whether it was him. So, which…

My hand found the soft body in my lap. Claws immediately greeted my hand. “Ow!”

“I warned you once already slave. I’m hungry! You forgot to feed me again. I’ve decided I will not tolerate this any longer.”

“What’s going on?! Is it some elaborate prank my wife has arranged? No. She doesn’t like pranks. Surprises, perhaps the occasional scare, nothing this complicated. A collar with a hidden mic? This had to be my daughter. That made more sense. Damn, no. She was staying at a friend’s for the week.”

My eyes search the dark shape in my lap while my mind races over the possibilities. I already knew it was Squeakers in my lap. She was the oldest of our eleven-strong horde. The matriarch of the bunch. A polite way of saying she is the meanest.

“Food! This is your last warning.”

How many drinks did I have? Seven? Eight? No… It was nine. My wife hadn’t finished a fourth she’d ordered. Had someone slipped something into one of my drinks? Or maybe my wife’s? I was clear-headed when we left the restaurant, though. I remember everything. Why the hell was my cat talking?! An angry growl pierces the darkness, and sharp teeth sink into the back of my hand.

“OW! You asshole!” I grab the tiny body in my hands. My goal is to throw her off the bed. My two fleshy hands are no match for the four clawed paws and mouth full of sharp teeth that meet me with extreme resistance. “AAAGHH!” The shriek sounds decidedly unmasculine to my ears. Both my arms burn furiously, and an angry cat growls in my lap. I’m frozen. Her tail swishes angrily back and forth occasionally thumping my legs. I realize she’s right. We didn’t feed them when we stumbled in late from dinner.

“Okay, okay. Food. Got it.” A hiss and a growl answer me, but the weight leaves my lap, and I can hear the bell on her collar jingle when she hits the floor.

“Hurry slave, before you’re the meal.”

“Fuck, my arms burn. What the hell is going on? I always knew that cat was going to go psycho but this? Probably bleeding all over the covers. I need to check the damage.” I throw the covers off and start to stumble my way into the bathroom in the dark. The menacing growl from behind me stops me.

“My bowl is the other way, slave.” A sleek body rubs along my leg. I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was too big to be Squeakers. Another body rubs against me, followed by a nip on the other leg. “We’re hungry slave…” A little mew answers from the bed beside me as if on cue. My eyes have adjusted to the dark now, and I can see the cat on the bed and several at my feet. Two in the lounge chair and another on the dresser.

“Mrrreow!” A sleek shape zips across the room. “Mrreow!” Another. Two cats were on the bed next to me now. Another soft nip on my calf.

“OKAY!” I change directions and rush toward the kitchen. Small bodies weave through my feet as I fumble in the dark, bumping into furniture and tripping over power cords. My small toe finds the corner of the coffee table. “FUCK!” My head bounces off the table as I fall. It hurts, but not as much as my toe.

“He’s down, get him!!” A body lands on me, followed by another. Something latches onto my foot.

“AAGHH!” I surge to my feet, throwing furry bodies off. Claws rake across my back, trying to hold on. In my panic, the pain doesn’t register. “OKAY, I’M GOING!” I bounce off the corner of the couch and stumble headlong into the island, knocking a barstool over. My hands knock something off the counter and send it clattering across the floor. I barely notice.

My hands fumble for the doorknob to the pantry and jerk it open. There are shelves on the backside of the door. Mostly spices and such. Some of the contents fly off, clattering and rattling across the kitchen floor. Glass shatters, but I don’t care. Small bodies are crowding the floor at my feet. Angry growls and hisses fill the darkness as items rain down on furry heads. I bend to grab the food bowl but slam my head into the shelf.

“GOD DAMNIT!” Honestly, if I’d just slowed down and thought for a moment, I could work things out. Half asleep, partially drunk, in the dark, and in pain. Things weren’t working out. I back out of the pantry bowl in hand. As I step down, pain lances up my leg. I jerk my foot up mid-turn and lose my balance. In desperation, I grab for anything. My hands grip the shelves on the door, and for a moment, they held. Until they didn’t. With a snap, the shelves, all their contents, and myself come raining down. Mixed into the racket of a hundred spice jars hitting the floor and bouncing or breaking, I hear the tale-tell sound of cats scattering. Fluffy feet skittering across the hard tile, trying to gain purchase. A few use my body as a launch pad.

My hand seeks my foot and the source of pain that caused my fall. Glass. A large piece of glass is sticking from the bottom of my foot. It’s big. I need to get it out. Pain pulses from the glass up into my knee.

“He’s seasoned now, get him!!”

“SERIOUSLY?!” a body lands on my head with claws extended for purchase. Two more follow in quick succession.

“Mrreow!” A chorus of answering mews sound off.

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! The food is right there, MOVE!!” I could cross the floor. There is more glass than ever now. The food was in the laundry room on the other side of the kitchen. I grab the shard in my foot and pull it free.

“SON OF A BITCH!” Once again, I find myself shedding cats and skin. I can’t cross the floor, but the counter crosses most of the kitchen. Surely, the glass hadn’t gotten that far. Clumsily, I throw myself onto the counter and crawl on hands and knees across it. A pot, a pan, the fruit bowl, was that the blender? Something else hits the floor and shatters. The wife isn’t going to be happy about that. A cat is still on my back, riding me like an eight-second bronco. At this point, the pain is blending in with everything else.

I reach the end of the counter. A tiny amount of planning would help here. In my defense, I am preoccupied. The good news, the food is two steps away. The bad, there is nothing under the hand I am trying to place my weight on. I fall face first, flipping ass overhead to land flat on my back with my legs slamming into the front of the refrigerator. It rocks back, bumping the wall behind it with a “BOOM!” rattling the bottle on top of it ominously. I lie there in the darkness for a brief second, praying. The sound of little “Mreows!” in-circling me in the dark is interrupted. A glass shatters on the floor beside me, spraying me with liquid. Hissing and skittering claws tell me a few cats got the same. I have a small respite from the feline harassment. I intend to take a moment to gather my thoughts.

I lie in the dark, crammed against the refrigerator, covered in spices. The mixture of cumin, cinnamon, paprika, pepper, mustard powder, salt, oregano, basil, and the fifty other spices sprayed across me smelled strong. The whiskey’s heady oak flavor added something to the mix. Odd, I would notice that through the blinding pain.

“AAAGHHH, FU…GRRRRRR!!” My teeth ach like they were going to shatter. No wonder they always have them bite down on something in the movies. A bottle of alcohol fell from the top of the fridge when I rocked it. The burning liquid covered the cuts and scratches I’d gained in the past few minutes. Worse, my assailants had returned.

“Meow, feed us slave!”

“Grrrrrr! HISS!”

“My bowl is empty!” This one sounded more miserable than angry.

A small weight lands on my chest, and I quickly pitch it off, losing more skin.

“MEEOOWW! HISSSSSS!”

I need to get to the food. Ignoring the next body that lands on me, I roll sideways to my hands and knees. “AAHH!!” I fight through the pain of small shards of glass grinding into my palms and knees. A furry mouth sinks into my calf, and another furry body lands on my head. I crawl as fast as I can around the corner to the laundry room. Three more furry assailants join the first two. The food is right there above my head in its little bin on the wall. The container has a handle that opens a dispenser, allowing the food to fall out. A cat, Chubbs, judging from the long, luxurious fur coat, hangs off my outstretched hand. I can’t reach the handle.

Teeth sink into my right ear. “OW! FUCKER!” Surging to my feet, my hands find the top of the bin, not the handle. In desperation, I do the only thing I can. I rip the entire storage box off the wall. I thought I’d anchored it pretty well when I hung it. I guess not. It pops off the wall easily, sending me backward into the dryer behind me. The box falls from my hands and clatters onto the floor. The sound of dry cat food raining onto the tile floor is music to my ears. The many cats hanging from me quickly release their hold for easier prey on the floor. In mere moments, crunching and purring fill the small space of the laundry room.

“What the hell?” My brain can’t focus through the pain covering my body. I need to get out of here and try to wake my wife. Even in her state, she has to have heard the racket. I carefully move my foot forward, gritting my teeth against the extra pain every movement will cost me. A chorus of hisses and growls greets my ears but ceases when I pull my foot back. I repeat the move with the same results.

“Oh, come on! I need to get out of here!” Angry growls fill the darkness, answering my statement. I’m not going anywhere. Slowly, carefully, I slide down the wall behind me to the floor. In the darkness, I can barely make out the slightly darker shapes of the cats filling the room as they feast. None protest my sitting. “Fine, I guess I’ll wait.” Leaning my head against the wall, I close my eyes and try to ignore the torture my body is enduring. The slow, steady crunching of cat food in the darkness is oddly soothing. Like the world’s weirdest ASMR, the sound lulls me to sleep.

“Hey…” Something brushes my face. “Hey, you need to get up!” Another touch.

“Meow.” It’s a meow that sounds like the cat has been a two-pack-a-day smoker its entire life. That’s Midge. She doesn’t meow unless she wants something. Another touch and a gentle shake for good measure this time. Tiny paws run across my chest.

“AAAGHH!” My hand lashes out as I bolt upright. “GETOFF! GETAWAY!” Panicked, I thrash, trying to get up and get away. The covers are a mess and tangled around my feet. I hit the floor hard.

“What are you doing?! What’s wrong? Hey, stop.” That’s not cats. It’s my wife. Breathing hard, I turn over and stare up at her. She stands over me, holding a hand to her face. The fear and concern I see snaps me back to reality.

“I…” My surroundings come into focus. Midge sits on the corner of the bed, staring curiously, her tail swishing away like normal. Momma sits in her usual spot on the back of the cushy chair, snoozing. Terry and Danny are under the bed next to me, looking ready to bolt. That’s usual for them. Everything is normal. My arms are fine. I run my hands over my face and chest. I’m fine. No scratches or bite marks.

“A dream. Oh, thank god!”

“What?” She starts pulling the covers off my legs. “I’m going to have to wash these now. There completely soaked with sweat. That must have been some dream. You were thrashing around like crazy.”

“Yeah. Think I’ll stay away from the drinks for a while.” It had to be the alcohol. I rarely had dreams that vivid. I massage my forehead with my hand. The dull pounding is annoying but not too bad. “Man.”

“Coffee?” She asks me while she steps over me. Her arms are full with the sheets removed from our bed. The sweat on my body is giving me a chill. A hot shower would help. My exhaustion keeps me lying on the floor with my eyes closed, even though I’m cold.

A scream and a crash sound from the kitchen. More screams quickly follow. My eyes shoot open. I need to go check on her. She sounds hurt, but what greets me as I lay on the floor looking up freezes me. Midge, Danny, Terry, Momma, and Ariel sit above me. Two are on the coffee table directly above my head. The other three sit on the edge of the bed, all five staring down at me. They remind me of vultures on a fence waiting for the cars to pass so they can get to the roadkill. Vultures don’t have tails that swish back and forth angrily.

“We told you we were hungry slave!” All five furry bodies drop on me.

“AAAAGHHHH!!!”


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