Cat

I wrote this for a short story competition. I used Macbeth as inspiration.

He strides through the dark alleys of the city.  The warm rain that soothed him at first, an ally giving purpose to his eager steps, now brings him to his senses.  Each droplet stings like a needle as he nears his destination, reminding him of his true purpose.

The sign appears at the intersection of three streets, rocking gently in a non-existent breeze on hinges that rasp painfully against the silence. His eyes make contact and it stops abruptly, words and images take form. “The Weyward Sisters” look out from the sign, three profiles of aged hags straight from a Fuseli painting. Bony fingers point in unison at a door.

Through the door is a room dominated by a huge stone fireplace in which a fire burns, the only light in the room.  A small wooden table and chair are set before it and he sits and waits.

A child with hollow sunken eyes and skin the colour of a storm stands before him.  “I’m here for Cat” he tells her, she nods and leads him away.

She takes him down steps worn smooth by the passage of uncountable footsteps. As he reaches the bottom they seem to melt so that it is impossible to tell where the steps end and the ground begins. It is cold and damp, a strange coquettish mist swirls around his feet, curling and caressing his ankles with promise.

And then the one named Cat appears.  Through the ages they have sought her out. They come for guidance, enlightenment and wisdom. They come for a vision.

She offers him the drink, it smells like death but he drinks it willingly and falls to the floor retching, pinpricks of sweat appear on his brow.  The mists that teased him on arrival become all enveloping and he is transported.

He is flying so fast that he cannot breathe, creating a terrible storm as he flies up and up a huge tower to a room at the top. He glides in through a huge glassless window that takes up the entire side of the tower and locates the man sitting at a desk.  Old, unshaven,  his hands palm down on the desk,  steadying himself against the howling wind that has free reign to rampage throughout  the room, disturbing papers that are stacked on his desk so that they spin and twist about him, a maelstrom of typeset.

He stands facing the old man. He holds something heavy in his hands but he cannot make out what it is. He holds it up and shows it to the old man who slowly gets up from the desk and walks to the window and, without backward glance, steps out.

He sits at the desk and sees that what he holds in his hands is a crown; he places the crown on his head. He notices his hands are covered in blood.

He awakes from the trance and knows what he must do.

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