I first saw the Cat on the back of a shelf, in the back of a little curio shop whose name I have forgotten, in the back of a little strip-mall in back of the dim sum place where I used to like to eat. I almost passed it by, but a glint of something green caught my eye and I turned to see where it came from. There was the Cat, half hidden behind a box of incense holders and a little jade elephant. I was instantly drawn to it.
It was, like many of it’s kind, one of those little statues depicting a cat sitting upright, with one paw raised. Sort of a Buddha like pose, again typical of the sort. Most of the Lucky Cats I had seen before had been white with some black markings, but this one was was different. This one was entirely black, entirely black except for the eyes which looked like emerald. I assumed, at the time, that they were actually green glass. I know better now. I assumed, at the time, that since it was in a Chinatown curio shop, that it was made by the Chinese. I know better now. I assumed, at the time, that my wife would think it was really cute. I…
… was right about that one.
She squeed when I showed her the Cat. On the chance you’re unaware of Internet culture, to ‘squee’ is to squeal in delight, preferably while making tiny little clapping motions with your hands in the ‘prayer’ position. I have to explain this sort of thing for obvious reasons.
I wanted to put the Cat in the living room where it could be admired by visitors and relatives. She wanted it in the bedroom where it would give us Luck in our endeavors there. No, I won’t explain what I mean by that other than to say we had recently begun to wonder if we had wasted all the money we spent redecorating the spare room as a nursery, and leave it at that.
She always got what she wanted in the end. We set up the Cat on the dresser on her side of the bed. Every night, it looked over us with that one paw upraised in benediction.
Every night, it watched us with those cold, green eyes.
A few weeks after I brought the Cat home, my wife began to have nightmares. At first I thought it was just a reaction to the spicy Thai green curry we had for take-out that night. But then they happened again the next night, and again the next. Stress, we figured. We were both working full time or more, and what with the economy the way it had been recently, things were still tight, financially.
We tried all manner of things; acupuncture, white noise, sleeping pills, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, just plain therapy. Nothing seemed to work. She became more and more short tempered, and the bags under her eyes became more and more difficult to conceal, even with cosmetics.
At first, she said, the dreams had been fairly random, but always involved some sort of sense of loss. As time went on, however, some of her dreams began to repeat. In particular, there was one about a young woman in some sort of eastern European country who was running, running away from something she could never quite see. In the dream, she told me, she wore a white dress, like a bridal gown only less elaborate than the one she wore in the real world. Her feet were bare, and as she ran she cut them on stones and sticks. She could never see what it was that pursued her, although she had a vague feeling of a sense of ‘green-ness.’ It didn’t make sense, of course, but dreams seldom do.
The day finally came when she lost her job. Yelling at the boss in the middle of a meeting with all of his bosses is a fairly strong career-limiting move. She spent more and more time in bed despite the nightmares. She was exhausted all the time, and she began to lose weight swiftly. One day she tried to joke around about how I finally had a Supermodel-thin wife. I gave her the best smile I could fake. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I preferred Jennifer Connelly pre-anorexia to post-.
My own sleep was disturbed too, of course. Her sobs and screams would wake me up in the middle of the night, my heart racing if it was a shriek rather than a whimper. Either way, it would be difficult to get back to sleep afterwards. It got to the point where I had to harden my heart and take sleeping pills myself. If I lost my job also, there would be no way we could pay bills and rent.
This turned out to be the worst decision I made in my life, other than bringing the Cat into our house in the first place. On the fifth night I began taking the sleeping pills, I had the dream also. Only in my case, I wasn’t seeing it from the point of view of the woman, I was seeing it from the point of view of the one chasing her.
Her clothing was just as my wife described. What she had failed to describe, what she probably could not tell because the running woman never happened to dash past a conveniently-placed mirror, was that the woman was beautiful. Black hair, skin like porcelain, big brown eyes a man could lose himself in all day long. The dress she wore gave tantalizing hints about the shape of her body, and in the dream I wanted her with a hunger that was almost palpable. And not in a nice way either: her tears and panting sobs were nectar to me as I pursued her. I could have caught her easily, but I toyed with her instead.
But all good games must come to an end, and at some point, dream-me decided it was time to end it. I put on a burst of speed and caught up to her, grabbing her by the hair and pulling her head back to expose her ivory throat. Her eyes were filled with tears, her face flushed from her exertions. She had never been more beautiful as she pleaded for her life.
I raised the knife I hadn’t realized I was holding, a long, wicked looking dagger with two matching emeralds in the pommel, and I slashed her throat with it. As her life-blood burbled forth and turned her dress crimson in the moonlight, dream-me quickly chanted something that even in the dream I could not understand. One of the two emeralds began to glow as it absorbed her spirit.
Before dream-me had a chance to fully savor my victory, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I looked down, and emerging from my heart was the business end of a sword. A voice I barely recognized as belonging to the dead girl’s fiancee said “I’m sorry, my love.”
Have you ever had one of those moments where you transition from dreams to reality in such a way that you aren’t entirely sure where one ends and the next begins? I had that. The pain in my chest, the words whispered by a voice I barely recognized as my wife’s… no wait, I mean the fiancee… only it was my wife’s…
I opened my eyes all the way, fighting the drugs in my system. There, above me, knelt my wife. In her hand was the kitchen knife she had just pulled out of my chest, and in her eyes there was not a single spark of love, or recognition, or sanity. Behind her I could see the Cat, its emerald eye glowing faintly in the dark. I have no idea when the emeralds were removed from the dagger, or how they ended up in a Chinese Lucky Cat. It doesn’t matter, really.
My wife began to chant words I did not understood, but did recognize.
My world began to turn black, and there was a distant light. Only it wasn’t white, it was green. Unable to stop myself, I rushed headlong towards the light and the figure standing there within it; a figure of a young woman with dark hair and porcelain skin, wearing a white dress soaked in blood. Her lips were moving as she spoke, as she gave the words to my wife. Words she had only heard once before herself. Words that wrested her soul from her already-dying body. Words that were doing the same now to me. Words that pulled me into this green hell so that she could have company, so that she could have someone to talk to after all those long, lonely years trapped here by herself.