“No my lady, a real boat. One that rocks to the waves and heels to under sail. A boat that I have to steer. A boat that if I wasn’t careful, might sink.”
“Sink? But then what would you do?”
“Come back here to pole this pile of nightmares and dreams across the river once more, I guess.”
Evil Cat was not here to eavesdrop on the pair. This was a launch pad, and he rocketed up with bowel churning acceleration. He was on the Earth and rising. Evil Cat was above the sky and among the stars. Floating upon water that had no substance. Lost in a panorama of brilliant suns that gave no warmth. Seizured by the vibrations of those starry globes that whispered not a sound.
He sat. Running before his eyes, in real-time, Evil Cat’s entire life displayed every moment of his nine former manifestations. A clock ticked off a second. Returning to the beginning, the show replayed itself slowly. He had time to observe his every action and thought; understand all the meanings of how he felt and why he did what he did. A clock ticked off an hour. Evil Cat was left alone, drifting in the twilight of the universe while the marrow of his soul was raked by the cosmic winds—watching the dance of stars and galaxies form and explode to create anew.
A calendar ticked ten million years. As soon as he resigned himself to accept this hell, abandoning his hopes that something might change, learning to be with the shivering cold, he began to move once again. He fell. Accelerating with a constant unrelenting pull, he fell. Landing back into himself on the river bottom, the impact crushed him. Again he was whole.
Being dragged once more along the bottom of the river, Evil Cat spied the glinting of millions of coins tossed into the current by the Ferryman who took as payment what he had no need to covet. Overlaid with the shining round disc was the memory of where he had just come from. He knew his time was short; ten million years of existence imparted a kind of wisdom.
Twisted monsters held no more fear—after a glimpse of an infinite universe there was no terror greater than just being alone in a place where nowhen is a place. Sauntering away, the scaled behemoths recognized in him his approaching doom; they shied away from the fate Evil Cat would soon embrace, knowing he possessed the courage to face what they feared more than their own lesser hell of existence. The shore drew closer. Above, on the ferry, the old woman held out her hand. Evil Cat rose through the water, and then through the air to once again be clutched in her grasp by the scruff of his neck.
“Come along cat,” she said as she stepped off the end of the boat. “I have someone to introduce you to.”
Walking up the slope of the shore, the cat lady carried the beast clutched in her hand and it swung to and fro. There was a drumming sound, like a soft mallet striking the earth. It grew in volume thumping faster. Soon the ground shook with each muffled boom of the beat. Evil Cat was turned around to see what created the whump-whump that hammered his ears all the way down to his chest. If horrors he had survived before ached him to his core, this was impossibly worse than any penance he bore in the vast nothing of disembodiment.
Before him stood the great beast of Hades, Cerberus, the three-headed dog that stood guard at the gate. Six eyes fixed a stare at the cat. Its horrid breath blew across him as it growled a bass note in three parts, making the air thrum. More swiftly than imaginable, Cerberus hunched down in an attack crouch. Terrifying huge fangs bared with violent intent; muscles tensed and claws splayed for traction. The dog was wound to lunge.
These were Evil Cats last moments. His hatred flamed and he was glad that the Cat Lady would meet her doom as well; even after being shrived for a metaphorical eternity in the void, Evil Cat could not repent his nature. Had he found the least glimmer of compassion, he may have begun a new journey in the river with the other grotesqueries. But now his fate was determined and bonded for all time. Cerberus leapt. Cat Lady raised her weathered hand in front of her but she was so small, no defense would surmount the onslaught of the beast.
“Ooo’s a good little doggie? Is oo a good little doggie, hmm? Mummy wuvs her good little doggie.”
As she scratched the ear of each monstrous head, she spoke to them with the imbecilic baby talk humans reserve for their pets. Evil Cat was horrified at the sight of this and disgusted at the stupidity of the woman entreating her dog. As she found the sweet spot of each ear, the beast’s tail would throb faster. A hind leg would rise in a convulsive motion that flicked horrifying mutant fleas, the size of the cat, into the air to be snapped up by one of the other heads whereupon it would be crunched.
She took a step back. The Cat Lady flung Evil Cat toward the dog; he yowled a shrill cry and raked his claws and snapped his teeth uselessly while he flew to the waiting hounds. Flailing his legs, thrashing the empty air, the ground rose to meet him. A paw of the giant beast slammed down on the cat’s tail like the weight of some mighty anvil, pinning Evil Cat to the floor of Hades. Dog breath parted his fur with hot moist warmth. He was trapped.
“Mummy brought her little doggie a treat. Don’t eat it all at once now.”
With those words the indignation started. Evil Cat was tasted to death. Each lick of one of Cerberus’s three mouths was like an oily sandpaper wearing his flesh thin. Drawn out to feel like it took a millennium. Perhaps the punishment was unnecessary, for when the deed was done, after the last morsel of tail was broken into three democratic pieces, evil Cat felt no more.
On earth, the Cat Lady watched as the last stain of Evil Cat was washed away in a rainstorm.
In Hades, Evil Cat didn’t hear her proclaim the terror was finished. He had earned his final payment for his misdeeds.
About The Author
Paul Block lives in a small town about an hour and a half west of Chicago. In 2010, he was a transport driver (gasoline hauler), but lost his job due to chronic glaucoma. By the end of 2011, he admitted he could no longer drive a car. In 2012 he even had to give up his bicycle.
Fortunately, he can still read and see a computer screen, but life became a living nightmare of home imprisonment. As his world shrank, he decided to try writing. Now his world is as vast as time and space itself in books and story telling.