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July 23, 2003: I met a man who wasn't there

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Before you do anything else, go here and read Richard's story (Ten Foot Tall He Was...). It was accepted months and months ago and now it's finally published (he got paid for it and everything). He's finally a published author. Woo!

It was still hot last night but there was enough of a breeze so that I could open the windows and let in the night air. Still, I slept fitfully, and woke suddenly this morning, yanked out of a dream where all I recall is that I had just discovered a letter, quite distinctly in my mother's handwriting, written to me because she thought I was dead. What woke me was the absolute certainty that I had heard a voice - a one-side conversation as if someone was talking quietly into a phone. I looked outside, expecting to see someone there (the elderly neighbors to our right have required late-night visits by paramedics before so it wouldn't have been all that unusual), but there was no one in view. And then all seven cats stopped whatever they were doing in the bedroom and as one turned their heads toward the door and stared at it very intently.

Naturally, as only someone who is home alone in her house - and who has watched and read far too many horror stories than is probably good for her - can do, I panicked. I tiptoed toward the door and peered cautiously around the edge to look down the stairs but of course it was too dark to see anything, and I didn't hear anything at all except a distant train, followed by the sound of the Littermaid running through its cycle.

I tried to tell myself it was nothing and I went back and sat in bed but I couldn't sleep. So I finally made myself go downstairs, where I turned on all the lights like the big chicken I apparently am. After that there was no way I was going back to sleep so I sat in the computer room and deleted a whole lot of uninteresting email and then I heard the long, low crying of a cat and when I went downstairs to investigate Rosemary was hissing at the back door, and the big fluffy black cat who lives in the area was outside, singing to her. When he saw me he nonchalantly wandered toward the middle of the back porch and proceeded to clean his back paws, but Rosie wasn't going to be deterred until he had disappeared, so I finally opened the door and that scared him off.

Only after all of that did I finally manage to get back to sleep (with all the lights on downstairs still) for the remaining twenty minutes until my alarm clock went off and I had to wake back up.

Looking back on it now it seems foolish to have been so scared. After all, this is not the first time the cats have played "Made You Look" (although to give them credit, they've never been quite this successful before - possibly because the seven of them have never done it to me as one group!), and even more importantly Zuchinni - the cat who is terrified of everything (including me) - was clearly visible in the bedroom the entire time and if there had been a stranger in the house he would have bolted under the bed and quite possibly to another dimension entirely to avoid actually being *seen*. But perhaps tonight I will sleep with my dagger under my pillow, just to make myself feel better. I'm not sure what I would do with it if something actually happened, except that maybe the burglar would be so taken aback by the sight of a slightly crazed woman with bed hair and bleary eyes leaping about at him in a Garfield (the cat) nightshirt, brandishing a dagger that is long enough and sharp enough to do some serious damage, that he might decide to rethink his actions and go away. Or at the very least he'll be laughing so hard I'll be able to get in a few good shots first.

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