A story excerpt from the anthology Deliver Us From Evil written by Kody Boye.
There’s both scientific and supernatural claims that animals have powers that surpass our own. Dogs and wolves howl before an earthquake hits, birds migrate north and south for the winter and summer months, and animals seem to be able to instill both hope and fear into a human being.
Donna Jones--a seventy-five-year-old woman--was one of those people who believed that animals had ‘supernatural’ or ‘not so normal’ powers. She had experienced this several times with many different breeds of animals in her life.
When she was five, she had been able to tell the different types of croaks between toads and frogs, when she was eight, she had heard the true whispers that horses tell their masters, and at thirteen, she had discovered that--if she concentrated--she could hear what the animals had to say.
She, in terms of other people, was considered a ‘Pet Psychic,’ somebody who could speak and understand the animals. But Donna didn’t believe she was psychic. She thought psychics were full of gibberish.
Her gift was naturally given, given from God or whatever other form had given it to her.
She smiled as her two cats ran across the room.
Lightning was the little black cat with blond streaks on his sides, named both for them and the fact that he was almost constantly moving around. Gabriel was the much larger gray cat, whose fur looked like an entire forest.
She intended to go into town today and have them both groomed and checked at the same time. Some people wondered how she could get around so well at her age, but she knew that it was because her cats encouraged her to stay healthy and such.
“Well, kitties,” she said as she looked up from her knitting, watching as both cats stopped what they were doing and turned their attention on her. “Looks like we’re going into town today.”
Her cats--unlike many of the other animals--didn’t talk much. Most the animals couldn’t say anything. The horses spoke like poets, while elephants were loud and noisy in their voices, but she had yet to meet a cat whom she could fully have a conversation with.
Still, Lightning and Gabriel had stopped running around when she had spoken to them, so she knew that they understood her.
She watched as both cats sat there for a moment, waiting for their master to say something else.
“Go play,” she said, gesturing them off with her hand, “you still have a few minutes.”
The cats ran off, chasing each other as they had been doing before.
She laughed as she stood, walking into the kitchen to grab her money and make sure that the carriers were in proper order. Two bright pink ones, one that said ‘Lightning’ on top, the other having ‘Gabriel.’
“Maybe...Maybe I’ll find something interesting today,” she said to herself, false hope making her voice crack. For a long time, she felt as though there was something missing in her life, that she had been longing to find it. She wasn’t like the old women who wanted to climb Mt. Everest, or dance with a young man in France. No, she was the type that wanted to find the thing that she desired most.
She shook her head, grabbed the carriers and her cats, and drove off to town.
She was able to successfully get an appointment for her cats grooming and veterinarian appointments, and she was very satisfied with that because it was almost murder to get such a thing done. Now, she walked down the row of animals in their holding cages, stopping and looking at each one of them.
The dogs had little going on in their minds, and the parrots were the same, except the fact that they said (both physically and mentally) ‘Polly want a cracker?’
No, Polly didn’t want a cracker. Crackers weren’t all that good for birds anyway.
Now, as she came to the cat aisle, she looked at them. Male and female cats from strange, exotic places, like the Egyptian Mau, the hairless cat, and the Norwegian forest cats, which she all enjoyed, even if they were different from the ordinary ones.
As she walked by the cats, she took notice of them, smiling at each and every one of them and saying hello. The kittens crowded to the end of their cages as she approached, wanting this woman to acknowledge them.
“My, you’re quite the pretty young things,” she smiled at them, tickling the end of a tabby’s nose. “You all have fun now, all right?”
The kittens protested her leaving in meows, but she ignored them, about to walk out of the store.
But that was when something caught her eye.
A cage had been placed in a dark corner of the pet shop and she probably wouldn’t have even noticed it if she hadn’t seen the soft gleam of eyes in the dark.
She felt a magnetic drawing to the creature, and with this, it lured her closer.
As she approached, she could see the outline of the animal. A male cat, from what his mind was telling her. He was a dark black cat with strange patterns on his face. It looked like a Yin-shaped teardrop on one side, and a Yang-shaped one on the other. His eyes were equally strange, with one being red, in albinism, and the other blue, possibly because he was blind.
“You don’t want that animal, miss,” the store clerk said as he came up beside her. “That cat’s mean, and there’s something wrong with it, the way it just sits there like that.”
“What happened to his eyes?” She asked, turning her attention away from the man and back to the cat, who was just sitting there, as if it was a soulless being. The man had been right about the strange posture that the cat seemed to stay in, but she shook it off, waiting for his reply.
“He’s not blind, if that’s what you’re asking,” the man said, tapping the cage. The cat merely turned its head and looked at him, as if it was reaching inside his soul and ripping it out. He appeared pained by what the kid did, but he continued speaking. “He’s got some kind of albino thing. The doctor said that he lost the pigments in his left eye, which made it red. The bright blue one is just because of the albinism.”
The man seemed frightened by the cat, but who wouldn’t be? It just sat there, its head drooped, its shoulders sagging, and it looked at people--like the man--as if they were inferior beings.
“What’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have one,” the man said, shrinking away from the cage.
“Some oddball people who come in here and look at it call it Voodoo, Precious Voodoo.”
She nodded, and as she looked at the cat, his eyes turned toward her. He was peering into her soul, and she knew it.
You are a smarter human being, no?
She blinked as she heard the message come into her mind, clear as day. The animals that had spoke with her before had never come in that clear. There was always some kind of sound the animal made mixed in with it. But the cat--Voodoo, Precious Voodoo, as the man had called him--could speak as if it were human.
Yes, she said, using her own mind-speak gift, I can hear you. Is that what they really call you, Voodoo?
That is true , among with the alias that they have given me: Precious, and, or, Precious Voodoo. Why do you just stand here and look at me, human? Are you ... Fascinated, or just ... Afraid?
“Neither,” she said, this time out loud.
“What, ma’am?” The owner asked, looking up from the counter “Did you say something?”
“I’ll take him. How much do you want?”
“You can take him for free,” the man said with a smile, coming over to the cage and taking it off the shelf. He set the cat on the shelf and put it into another carrier, handing her several papers to fill out.
“Just fill out the forms.”
She nodded, and after accepting a pen from the man, began to scratch down the information that the pet store, ‘Clark’s Clarion.’ The store name didn’t make any sense, but she had bought Lightning and Gabriel here, so she knew her way around with Clark, who was now gone and replaced with a new employee.
After she finished filling out the forms, she smiled at the man, allowed him to carry Voodoo’s cage out to the car, and went back in to retrieve her own animals.
She paid the woman who groomed them a good sum, along with a fair tip, and took Gabriel and Lightning and placed them in the back seat of her Buick.
She smiled, started the car, and drove on home, for she had just obtained something very Precious.
When she had let Gabriel and Lightning loose, they both jumped up onto her recliner and watched as she carried the new, foreign cat into the house. They knew that he was different. They could smell it on him.
As she placed the cage on the floor and opened it, she watched as Voodoo sat there for several minutes before finally taking his first few steps. She could feel the power emanating off of the animal, the intimidation that she felt toward it.
“Gabriel, Lightning, this is Voodoo,” she said, bending down to tap the new cat between the ears. “You all go run along and play, all right?”
The two former cats of the household looked at Voodoo, then at each other, but carefully and cautiously walked toward Voodoo. As the cat had done before, he just sat there, staring at Gabriel and Lightning.
After looking over the cat, the two of them ran off, Voodoo quietly pursuing after them in a short walk.
Satisfied, she sat in her chair and returned to her knitting.
She had fallen asleep when she had started knitting, and now, as she woke again, she noticed that Voodoo was sitting in the opposite side of the room, watching her.
“Voodoo,” she said, looking over at the cat. “What’s wrong, kitty?”
The cat only stared at her, stared he did, with those two orbs that signified two completely different things. They were good and evil, life and death, and several other things that she could not, or would not, name.
She watched the cat for several long minutes before she walked into the kitchen to take her medication and to get something to eat.
Always take your medication with food, Donna. That acid reflux is a nasty bugger.
“That it is,” she muttered and prepared herself a small bowl of salad, grabbing her little rectangular box of pills, the bowl, and the glass of water and walking into the living room.
Before she could make it fully across the kitchen and to the door, Voodoo appeared from the shadows on the side of the cupboard, causing her to drop her glass of water.
It shattered into a thousand pieces.
All she could do was stare at the cat while she regained her breath. If that had been Lightning or Gabriel, she would have never reacted like that. Voodoo was different than her two other cats, and she wasn’t the least bit surprised that she had been so frightened at his sudden appearance.
“You scared me,” she laughed as she placed the salad and pill container on the counter. “I guess I’ll just have to clean this up then.”
As she got the broom and wiped the glass up, she occasionally looked up at Voodoo, watching the cat stare and watch her with an inhuman curiosity. She had never had an animal look at her like that before.
She turned her eyes away from the strange cat and continued to sweep up the glass, sweeping it into the trash before looking back up.
Did I frighten you terribly?
“Yes,” she said as she watched the cat blink three times, as if confused. “You startled me, that was all.”
Yes, wise mistress. I am sorry for the intrusion.
With that, Voodoo jumped off of the microwave and sauntered back into the living room, going back to wherever he had been hiding.
“That was strange,” she muttered to herself as she grabbed the salad and pills, walking back into the living room, “that cat’s strange though.”
Now that she thought back on it, she didn’t know why she had taken it from the shop. Maybe it was because she had felt bad for it, because it had never gotten a chance at a normal family.
Or maybe ... Maybe it was because she had been able to speak to it.
She shook her head and sat in her chair, giving a light sigh at the absence of her family here. Her children were gone, grown up and now with husbands and wives, and her husband had passed away twenty years ago. She rarely thought of him any more, mostly because he had faded in her mind.
It broke her heart to not be able to remember what her husband’s laugh once sounded life.
By pushing the thought to the back of her mind and sticking a fork’s worth of salad into her mouth, she was able to keep the old, sad memory at bay.
Whatever worked, for now, anyway.
That was Donna Jones’ motto.
She continued to eat the salad, watching as Lightning and Gabriel chased each other around the living room, climbing up their ‘Cat Jungle’ toy, a large array of scratch posts and platforms, and as they jumped on top of each other and growled playfully.
Voodoo--on the other hand--was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t worried, but she was slightly nervous. The cat would get used to the house, it had to get used to it.
She sighed, put the bowl of salad beside her and took her medication with water, as her doctor had always told her.
Your acid reflux is bad, Donna, but your heart is even in more danger. You don’t want to die a painful death because of a heart attack.
She didn’t want to die, not anytime soon. Who would be left to watch Gabriel and Lightning? Especially Voodoo, now that he was in the house. Who would take that cat after she passed on? The store clerk had given him to her for free because Voodoo had not been able to be sold, and--in most part--because the cat creeped him out too.
He was happy to be rid of the creature.
It was something that made her shiver, in the back of her mind. She wasn’t sure why the man wanted to get rid of the cat, or why he was afraid of it, for that matter.
Maybe--just maybe--it was Voodoo’s eyes, the eyes that could look into a soul, and rip it out.
“Stop it, quit making things up,” she said with a small laugh, grabbing her knitting needles and starting to knit her next cat sweater. This one would be for Voodoo, a little red one. Gabriel had a bright green one, and Lightning had a blue one. So, when winter came, she would be able to keep her kitties warm.
As she was knitting, she felt like she was being watched. At first she discounted it, mostly because it was probably just one of her cats watching her hands, especially the knitting needles. They loved to play with them.
But, after five minutes of this, she looked up and saw something move in the shadows.
“Voodoo?” She asked, squinting her poor, old eyes to try and see if the cat was in the shadows. “Are you there?"
Ah Yes, mistress. The cat walked out of the shadows, the two different colored eyes flashing. I’m here, was there something that you...Needed?
The way the cat had said that was so strange. Strange enough to send shivers down her eyes.
“No...No, no, I don’t need anything. I was just wondering if you were there, kitty.”
Kitty? The cat’s mouth opened and showed a slight grin. Is that what you think I am, human?
She stared at the cat for several minutes before shying her eyes away.
“I don’t know what you are.”
Look into my eyes, Donna Jones. Look into them, and be lost in them.
She could only do as the cat commanded, and when she looked into them, some part of her was ripped from her body.
“Hi, Mom,” Charlotte, her youngest daughter, said as she came up and hugged Donna. “I’m so glad I could come out and see you.”
“There’s nothing good about seeing me,” she snapped. “What do you want?”
Charlotte was shocked by her mother’s words.
“Mother, what’s gotten ...”
“I’m an old and bitchy woman!” She snapped, her eyes darting from the shadows. “Voodoo! Here, Voodoo!”
“Who’s Voodoo,” Charlotte asked a bit nervously. “Some friend?”
As the cat walked out of the shadows and to her feet, she lifted the cat up and showed him to her daughter. When the cat opened its eyes, Charlotte screamed.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry,” Charlotte said, trying to make a smile come across her face, “the cat’s eyes startled me.”
“Charlotte, thank you for the...Salad,” she said as she looked over at the bowl. “I think you should leave, now.”
Charlotte gave her mother a weird look, but after another glance at the cat, she nodded, turned, and left the house.
“She’s gone,” she said with a sigh.
Yes. The cat gave another one of its irregular smiles. Now I can deal with you.
Before her eyes, she started to see images. Images of Hell, of fire, of men and women with red skin, of devils.
“What. . .What is this?”
It’s what will become of you, Donna. You will burn and die in those fires and Satan will make you his slave and you will be His Mistress. You will be the most beautiful being down there in those fires, and he will demand you, Donna. You will be condemned as his slave forever!
She screamed and turned, watching as Gabriel and Lightning ran into her bedroom from her sudden outburst, the door slamming shut as they fully entered the room.
“You leave them alone!” She screamed at the cat.
The animals don’t interest me, Donna, the cat said, its mouth contorted in a grin. Only you do.
She screamed and as the cat advanced upon her she feared for her life. This animal was not normal, and with this power Voodoo had he would be able to manipulate her.
She did not look into his eyes, though. She knew that his eyes were the portals that had locked her up before, and the part of her soul that was still locked up.
She knew that she had to do something about this animal. It would be now, or never.
She ran to the kitchen, trying to find something to throw at the cat. Something, anything, to make it go away.
As she opened the drawers and began to throw cups at Voodoo, they broke before they could fully hit him. She gasped as the cat glared at her, his eyes flickering in the light.
Like when a mirror cracked, her face did, and she fell. She had died. But, before Voodoo retreated to the back of the room, the cat used his powers to knock the phone over, and to push in the number:
When the police arrived at the scene, they found Voodoo laying on the couch, watching the men. But when the men turned to the wall inside the kitchen, they saw a message, written in blood, Donna Jones’ middle finger dripping with it, her own blood.
Take care of my Precious Voodoo.