By Heather Milne Johnson
The cat stared at the corner of the bedroom. Her eyes were black disks with only a rim of yellow showing. She was stock still and it was creeping me out.
She didn’t respond, not even an ear flicker. As I watched her, goosebumps popping up on my arms, she moved. Rather, her fur moved. Her tail puffed out like a bottle brush and a ridge of fur rose up along her back, unfurling like a hoisted sail.
A low keening noise made my heart jump. A sound of fear, pain, and sadness, it was coming from Shadow. I’d never heard the cat make a noise other than a chirpy sort of meow or a raucous purr.
The keening continued, rising and lowering in pitch in an awful melody. I got out of bed, walked over to Shadow and knelt down. She ignored me, still staring into the corner. The keening got louder and her body vibrated with the effort of producing that ghastly noise. I lowered my head until it was on a level with hers, forcing myself to turn my head and look at the spot hypnotizing the cat.
And I saw what she saw.
It shimmered into view as my eyes reached her level. There was a ragged hole in the corner, like something had taken nibbling bites out of the wall. It reminded me of a cardboard box chewed by a mouse. There was a rough circle perhaps eight inches across, and where I should’ve had a view into my bathroom and closet, there was a cold light. Focusing, I saw narrow walls, and bars.
I was looking into a small cage. There was a tattered blanket wadded up on the floor, and past the cage’s bars an empty space bathed in fluorescent light. Across that space, a wall filled with more cages.
The hole opened into a kennel. From inside a cage. Shadow had been in so many–no wonder she was so upset. But why was it in my bedroom?
The cat continued to wail horribly, and I resisted the urge to touch her. I raised my head slightly, and the rent in the corner disappeared immediately. It was only visible when I was on Shadow’s level. I listened carefully, but could hear no sound coming from the mysterious kennel–though I could smell a curious mix of cedar and dog food.