He was staring across the restaurant. A hard stare. Eyes wide, looking directly at the woman three tables away. She had not seen him as she was sitting side on to him, but her partner caught the look. Who’s the jerk over there? He said to her. I don’t know, she said, glancing across. The man was still staring and she felt uncomfortable under his gaze.
The couple had their meal in silence. Neither knowing what to say to the other. And both of them kept checking what the wide eyed man was doing. He in turn was drinking a beer, then another one..
I’m going over said the woman’s partner. She grabbed his hand, please don’t, she said. We don’t know who he is but he’s big, he could hurt you! She glanced worriedly at the man.
Then she realised he had signalled the waitress for the bill. He might come over and say something, she said as the man paid for his food. Ignore him said her partner. But she couldn’t, who was he. Did he mean to say or do something?
The man stood up, picked up and put on some sunglasses. Come on Jess he said. His Guide Dog stood up from under the table where she had been sitting, her harness jingling. Home Jess, he said, and the dog led him out of the door.
The woman with green eyes stared at her, there was something intense about the gaze. Powerful, insightful. She seemed to look right through the young girl.
Come here, it was an order not a request.
Timidly she stepped across the carpet. The sides of the big tent bellowed in the breeze. Your hand! The girl placed her hand, palm up in the womans larger one.
I see your future, you will marry, you will be happy. But first, you will have pain and worry.
The girl shrank back. Her eyes averted. The woman cupped the girls chin in her free hand and pulled her face gently upwards. The light caught the girls deep brown eyes.
Your sisters are jealous, they will not let you rest. But one night on the strike of midnight your fate will be sealed, and healed!
The girl shook her hand free, it was too much to think about, too much to dream about. Thank you, she had to say it.
The woman smiled, goodbye Cinderella, she said.
How did she know my name?thought the girl.
When Sam woke he didn’t know where he was. He was lying on a couch with a cushion shaped like a cat, and a knitted owl staring at him. His head felt groggy and he was thirsty.
He stood up and stretched. He quietly looked round the room. There were two plush armchairs and lots of clutter stacked about the place. Mainly books on shelves built into the alcoves on either side of the chimney. There were pictures all over the walls and an easle in one corner.
There was a smell of cooking wafting from the kitchen. It smelt like chicken. Suddenly his taste buds were jumping. He strolled towards the cooker. ‘Well hello boy’ said the woman standing by it stirring the food. ‘you hungry?’ ‘would you like a drink?’ He looked up at her, she was very tall.
‘Miarow’ a strange sound came out of his mouth, boy she was Very Tall. He tried again ‘miaow, murrp’. WHAT THE HELL?
He suddenly realised, his tail swishing from side to side. He was now a cat!
The cat lay on the mat,
Looked up with her big eyes. Feed me she thinks. I want catfood.
The cat stared straight at me, eyes so bright, gazing up lovingly a slight purr issuing from her throat.
Just wait a minute hon. I will be finished with the computer soon.. The purr increased, her eyes narrowed as if she was going to sleep. I turned back to the screen. Then the sharp pain hit me, stabbing through my mind. My ankle, then my leg, cat claws climbing, embedded in my flesh. As she reached my shoulder her mouth snapped shut on my nose! Teeth sinking into soft flesh. Claws striking out at my eyes.
‘I admit it’ , she said, ‘ I am a hoarder’ .
‘We are concerned about your safety’, said the officer. ‘I have to tell you that, unless you clear up, your home is at risk’.
She closed the door as he left, and thought about what he had said. ‘this is my home’ she thought. ‘But everything I have means something, I love all my nic nacks, my ornaments’.
Reluctantly she started to look through her things, ‘this is the glass cat with the fish, nan gave it me, what shall I do?’
The knock on the door a fortnight later jarred her out of her reverie. ‘who is it?’, ‘your housing officer’ came the reply.
‘Go Away!’ she shouted. ‘I don’t want to see you!’
‘I’m afraid you must. I have a notice of seeking possession here if you won’t work with me!’
‘Work with you? All you did was come round and tell me off!’
‘anyway’ she said ‘I’m buying the house’.
The officer was confused. ‘What do you mean?’ he shouted through the letterbox.
‘My nans glass cat! – turns out it belonged to someone famous, priceless, they called it on the antique street show’.
‘I’m rich she said, now Go Away!’
Yet when they looked back, the gods saw the world was beautiful.
They flew on into space, leaving the blue planet, its fascinating surface, watery and dry, cold and hot.
They had seeded it with bacteria and viruses. They had given it a satellite, called Selene. So the water flowed back and forth, and would eventually encourage life to flow onto the land.
They knew billions of years would pass and agreed to return when, and if, a major species grew up and made efforts to fly beyond the world.
They called the planet Earith, home, Gaia, and waited to see if their seed bed grew.
In May 2020 they returned.
They saw the oceans polluted, the mountains denuded of snow. They saw the glaciers melting and the oceans rising. They could see all the problems.
But they were gods, they could will things to change, eradicate the major species, allow the wilderness to return.
They agreed that this was not possible. Man must learn from its mistakes. Let us return in two millenia and see what has happened they said.
They left, wondering what they would find on their return.
We have bookcases, but the books from them are on the floor, on tables, on footstools, in flurries and drifts. So I asked him. Why won’t you put the books back? I will do, he snapped back. He is the one who puts them there, often opened and left unread.
When I change the bedsheets his side of the bed is six inches deep in books. I have to force my way through a tidal wave of them…
I plot now. I think about what to do. I want one of those camouflaged book cases, where you tilt a book back and a door opens. I would like that.
Open the door, fill it with books, or push him in and throw away the key. Oh don’t get me wrong, food would be delivered three times a day. There would be a laundry chute and a bathroom. A comfy chair and a bed. A secret trap door would be there to pass in things, or hook things out when he’s asleep. He would be happy, I would be able to tidy up….
Life goes on in lockdown. Ideas spring to mind. They are not serious.
“Remember Felix?” she said.
“Yes, he was a good cat”, he said.
They sat quietly and remembered their adventurous cat.
“Remember that Saturday, when he came through the cat flap with a sirloin steak?” he asked.
“yes” she replied “I had to take it off him!”
“And a week later he came in with half a chicken?” “yes, I think it was from the neighbours?, I couldn’t tell them, and I think they blamed their own cat!”
“I still miss him, he was cheeky”.
They looked at each other.
“I bet he’s in heaven”, he said.
“You don’t believe in that stuff do you?” she said.
“bet he wangled his way in, and there’s a big ginger cat up their sporting a pair of wings?”
“maybe” she smiled.
The bright green sky shone out beyond the white branches of the treeplynths.
Flinners sang in the plynths, making booming noises and screeches. The star rose above the horizon, deep red in the sky.
Veleno watched the dawn, Earthship Orion would be leaving soon. The journey to Betelguse had been stressful, but they had found this beautiful and bizarre planet circling the red giant star. But now it was time to leave. The return journey to earth would take centuries, but the Red Giant was going to go super nova soon. If they didn’t get a fair distance away from it in the next fifty years they would not survive.
Veleno took a few more images of the dawn. The whole star rise thing took about three Earth hours. He looked at the rising star, moving so slowly, what would it be like to stand here and see it explode? No, he could not imagine its immense effects and size. Time to leave.
As Sara reached out to throw the dice she saw a flicker on the Snakes and ladders board. Something had moved quickly on the surface. She saw it in the corner of her eye.
It’s your go, said her partner Jamie. Are you going to throw the dice?
Sara picked it up and threw a six. Across the board, six spaces. Her partner took the dice and threw a three. Base of a ladder and up to the fifth row. He chuckled.
Beat that he said. She threw again and again, always missing the ladders.
It’s not fair, she said.
He was almost on square one hundred now, top of the board. Sara was getting fed up.
Then she saw a flicker again. She looked at Jamie. Did you see that? No, what? He said.
Next throw, two, oh no! As she placed her counter onto the head of the snake, ready to move it down the body back to the bottom row she saw the Snakes tongue protrude from the board. It flickered against her fingers. She froze, shocked into a paralysis. She felt its fangs pierce her index finger, saw its mouth open into a black void. With impossible speed the snakes mouth raced up her arm, gaping wide it covered her head, with one single swallow her body disappeared into it.
I told you I’d win, said Jamie quietly, as he chuckled.