It was raining when the murder happened. Numerous heavy drops fell from the sky, masking the blood that dripped from the cat corpse’s open belly. The said feline was still in the hands of its killer, a human whose recognizable features were hidden from view with their thick, long clothing and wide hat.
The human, who seemed to be satisfied with the state of the corpse after examining it, dropped it and left, disappearing into the darkness of the alley. It took the passing of a rumble and crash of thunder before two other cats came out from under a dumpster nearby.
They went near the deceased cat and tried moving it, in hopes of waking it up.
Or at least the younger cat did. The older cat stood by, observing the corpse.
“Hey, you can wake up now, Theema. The scary human is gone…” said the younger cat. He was mostly white, with an orange tail and ears, and looked like he was in between kittenhood and full-grown cathood.
The older cat, a calico with expressive eyes who seemed to be the younger cat’s mother, observed the corpse further. It might not be too obvious to a human, but she had a growing look of worry.
This… This shouldn’t be happening… she muttered to herself.
She turned to the younger cat. “Fonmi, dear…”
Fonmi, as the younger cat was called, turned his head towards the older cat and asked, “What is it, Mummy?”
She felt hesitant, but she needed to say something. “I… I don’t think she will be waking up, dear.”
“Why is that?” came the quick reply.
“She…” the older cat was about to say something, but soon paused as she felt like she was at a loss for words.
How will I even explain it to him?
Fonmi kept his sights on his mother and waited for her to continue her answer.
“Well…” The mother was careful at this point. She wanted to tell the truth, but she wasn’t sure whether her son could handle it. “There comes a time when we will sleep and never wake up. It just so happened that this is her time.”
“Oh…” noted the son in wonder. “Will that time come for us too, Mummy?”
It was the truth, even for the cats. They may have nine lives each, but that did not make them any less finite.
“When will it come for us?”
“That I don’t know.”
“Ah…” Fonmi was a little disappointed at his mother’s lack of answers, but easily recovered. “Well, I’m happy for her because she’ll be able to dream longer. I hope she has a good dream.”
“Yes, I hope she does, too. Let’s go back home, shall we?”
I hope you do have a good dream. Goodbye, the mother thought as she took one last look at their deceased fellow feline.
The two made their way to an old storage shed that they, and some other cats, called home. Some others were there, either sleeping, conversing or simply doing nothing. The group included a slightly messy-looking orange tomcat who started coming near them.
“I see you’re finally back. Nini, Fonmi,” the tomcat said, nodding at the two as he mentioned their names. He then looked behind them, trying to look for something. “Where’s Theema? Wasn’t she with you?”
“About that… I would have to speak with you in private, Hugma,” answered Nini.
Nini left Fonmi under the care of one of the other mother cats of the group and went with Hugma to talk in a more private part of the shed.
“She’s dead,” started Nini as soon as they reached their conversation spot.
Hugma, in his disbelief, gave a nervous laugh. “No way…”
However, he saw that Nini was serious, so he asked, “What manner of accident did she get into that took all nine of her lives?” He tried to be hopeful about the situation. He thought that maybe it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Maybe fate simply played a trick on them.
“It was no accident,” answered Nini. “A human killed her, and all it took was one deep wound.”
“A human? But how?” Hugma felt even more disbelief coming in. “And why? We have done nothing to them, and none of them have done anything like this before.”
“That’s what I would like to know.”
The two fell silent as they tried to take in the situation. After a while, Nini broke the silence.
“We need to know. We need to stop this, Hugma,” she said. “Anyone else could get killed. That action was deliberate.”
“And how do you think we could? As you said, that human just killed one of us. If we so much as meet them, we would probably get killed as well,” said the tomcat. “I could just tell people to hide away, just so we could be safe.”
“But what if they find us all in one place? Are we really just going to… wait for our death in that way?”
“Well, I’m not hearing any ideas from you.”
Nini paused for a bit to think of what to say, then resumed the conversation.
“We’ll have to ask the humans to help us and handle it for us, then,” was her answer.
“Look, Nini, we’ve lost our way of speaking with the humans long ago. What are you planning to do, meow at them? The only thing that’s done is have them pet or feed us. Or if they’re in a foul mood, shoo us away.”
By this time, Nini has become tired of Hugma’s negativity, which had gone to shoot her down on several occasions before this one. She would’ve liked to get back at him, and thankfully, at that point, she had come up with a potential solution.
“No. There is one possible way…” she muttered mostly to herself. “I’m going to ask Ryne to come back.”
Hugma was taken aback. “Ryne? The one who was cursed to become human?”
“Yes, that Ryne.”
Nini thought that since the person they were talking about was a cat and now a human, he could become their representative and help them solve the mystery. But she knew Hugma would protest, and not just because of the said curse…
She’s known that Hugma had been envious of Ryne because she and the other cats in the colony liked the latter more despite being weaker. The curse incident, however it came about, simply gave the former a reason to kick him out and an advantage to leverage.
She could have joined Ryne in his exile, but at the time, she still had no intention to socially rock the boat. Now she regretted it, but at least Fonmi had been giving her some happiness in the meantime.
“He’s part of the humans now,” Hugma said dismissively, confirming Nini’s thoughts. “There’s no way he’ll understand us.”
“But he was a cat before, and you can’t deny that,” Nini quickly snapped back. “There has to be some way for us to understand each other somehow. It happened then, it can happen again, right?”
“I still say it’s a bad idea,” replied Hugma, who was running out of options. He just could not keep up with Nini’s retorts. Just where was she getting this strength all of a sudden? To him, she had always been easy to talk sense into.
“You know what? I am taking the chance,” said Nini as she started to walk away from Hugma. “I haven’t heard any good ideas from you in this entire conversation.”
Hugma was left behind in confusion as Nini went to prepare for her quest that was beginning the next day.
Meanwhile, the human in the cloak, soaked as a result of the hard pouring rain, made their way to a mid-rise condominium somewhere in the city. They observed the building from top to bottom and then at the entrance. Next, considered going through it, but decided instead to go into the alleyway beside it.
They looked up again for a moment, as if finding the path of least resistance up the face made of windows, ledges, and the fire exit. After doing so, they climbed and leaped the whole way up, as if it was all just a large ladder. There was no hesitation in their movement, so it only took moments for them to reach their destination, a unit that had an open window.
They rolled in and took their cloak off in nearly one swift movement. And even though it was dark, they easily found the switch to the light and turned it on. The resulting illumination revealed a white-haired man in possibly his late 20s or early 30s, lean, toned muscles, and wore a black undershirt and pants.
He had paused a bit after the lights came on. Then, looked down on the ground, breathing heavily, but not because of the feat he had achieved just earlier. His face, even though it had a hardened look about it, showed minute signs of disturbance.
Shortly after, he decided to get rid of the feeling, and quickly shook his head and headed for the bathroom where he had a warm shower.
But not before setting up some water to boil and taking out a box of catmint tea.