The Cat that Saved the World
By Douglas E Gogerty
I could not believe she was gone. The world seemed so empty without her. Every spare moment was taken with thoughts of her. It was if she was haunting me. I felt so alone. It was at its worst at night. I just laid there awake. No matter how tired I became, sleep would not visit me. As the days went past, the world seemed to become a darker and darker place.
After several days of reclining on the bed without sleep visiting once, I took to wandering the streets. I thought that a walk would distract me enough to get some slumber. I had hoped that I would be relaxed and distracted enough to find sleep. I was wrong.
I would pass a person sleeping under a bridge and feel envy. With their troubles, they still managed to put it aside for sleep. I thought that perhaps I should drink until I passed out. Only then would I get some rest. However, the morning would come and I would have to function. I could not bare a hangover. Thus, I did not take that route. I just walked through the night awake -- envious of the sleeping world.
Night after night I wandered. I felt like the cat I came across nightly. For several nights the furry black creature avoided me. She was suspicious of anyone stalking though the streets at night.
However, after numerous encounters, we became friends. We were two strangers passing in the night. We had no plans to harm one another. We would just rendezvous on a bench. After a few strokes of her black fur, we would be on our separate ways.
I could feel her bones underneath that black coat. So, prepared to bring my friend some food. I think she appreciated the treats I provided. These encounters were not enough to forget, but it gave me a respite from my ever-present thoughts of the departed.
After a nights sojourn, I would arrive at home at dawn. Sometimes I would think she was there, but of course, she was not. Despite my attempts to forget, she was forever in my thoughts. I showered and headed off to work. Work was another escape. It was mind numbing work, but it kept me distracted.
Naturally, I thought of her on breaks. There was no escape from images of her. When working, my mind was somewhat freed from thoughts of her. However, when I got home the haunting thoughts returned.
I could not rid myself of of her laugh, her smell, her touch. On one particular occasion, I glanced at the calendar. It was Friday the 13th of February. The pangs of loss struck me hard with the upcoming holiday -- the holiday for lovers. This pending occasion was not the day for those of us who were alone. All of the memories of my time with her flooded my thoughts. I remember the previous Valentines Days. An enormous wave of emotions overcame me, and I became more restless than ever before. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of her. I knew that I could not stay in the house. I had to get out.
Being a Friday night, I did not have to work the next day. I could drink until I passed out. However, I would have to brave the couples enjoying themselves out on the town. If I were to drink, I would avoid the popular night spots. I would have to go a little farther afield.
Happy people was something that I thought would break me. I had to avoid those fortunate couples who had each other. Straying from my normal route, I would miss the encounter with the cat. In this mood I was in, I did not want any company. The cat would be find for a day without me.
I did not even want to encounter the sleeping homeless. I was filled with envy of the entire world. They lived in such a happy place, that I could not stand to join them. I would make a turn whenever I would encounter a sound of joy. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.
After many twists and turns I ended up down by the river. Perhaps the sound of water would clear my head. Perhaps it would be enough to relax me. Being February, the river was frozen solid. There was no sound of rushing water. It was just a cold harsh reality of winter. A cold breeze chilled me to the bone. I gave a brief thought of shelter to protect me from the cold. However, I pressed on.
While down by the river, I discovered a series of caves. I guess I had always known they were there, but I did not give them much thought. These dark places were mostly ignored by the city. They were boarded up to prevent people from entering, but it was never enough. There were occasional reports of some kid was lost in them. There was no chance of that on this frigid winter night.
With every step, my despondence grew. My despair became so great that I did not care what happened to me. All the the fear and apprehension vanished from my normal self. The blackness of my heart matched the blackness of the caves. Thus, I entered.
The darkness of the cave was enhanced by the darkness of the night. I had a small flashlight from my phone. It did not offer much light, but it allowed me to look where I stepped. While I was dressed for the cold winter's walk, I was not prepared for the journey into the caves. Nevertheless, I did not care. I climbed through the dilapidated barricade and wandered the caves.
I had heard that the caves where a catacomb of passages. Because of this, it was easy to get lost in them. Further, you could walk for hours and get deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. These thoughts did not push through my thoughts of her. I was undaunted in my journey. In these dark caves, I would unlikely run into anyone. I would have the entire weekend to myself. The idea of being alone with my thoughts drove me deeper into the caverns.
A person of sound mind would have turned back long before I did. The spot I found myself was dark. My phone complained about its failing battery. I shut it off, and the spot must have been as black as any spot on earth. The cool dank air hung heavy in my nose. There was a distinct smell of sulfur. Despite that smell becoming more pronounced, I pressed on. I spared the phone battery as much as I could.
Suddenly, the cool dampness turned to a dry heat. The dark fog lifted and a strange light illuminated the cavern. My phone was no longer needed. I could see enough to avoid tripping. I wondered how the cool air became so strangely warm.
Where was I? I did not know, but I had entered someplace strange. This particular cavern had a strange red-yellow glow that emanated from some mysterious place. I glanced around as the hellish smell washed over me. I looked back and noticed that I had crossed a rune on the ground.
I was at the entrance of large cavern with no other apparent exits. It appeared that I was at a dead end. It did not look like I could go any further. I would have to turn back. However, this place caught my eye.
Where was I going to go? There was no sense in turning back immediately. I decided to explore this strange place. As I looked around, I noticed some strange glowing marks upon the walls. I studied these glowing red runes. Whatever they meant to indicate was completely lost upon me. They simply did not mean anything to me. I had no idea what language it was, or who had placed them there. It seemed strange that anyone came in this deep.
I began to appreciate the warmth as I explored the cavern closely. The more I looked the larger this cavern became. It was as if the cavern held a small city. No, it was a large city. It seemed to expand as I looked around. Every corner led to another part of the cavern -- and more city. As I wandered around, I felt that this city was enormous. I did not know there could be such a city below the one in which I lived. This city's streets were as numerous as the caverns I just traversed.
Everywhere I looked, there were strange runes. However, not unexpectedly, there were no people walking about these streets. At least, I did not see any people. On occasion, I did hear disembodied voices. I could not quite make out what they were saying. I tried to follow where they came from, but they would vanish and come from another direction.
Welcome to Riley? I thought to myself. Is this town called Riley?
I kept trying to find where the voice was coming from, but I seemed to simply chase shadows. I did not see any people in this city. I could not locate where these voices came from and which direction I should travel. I just heard the voices saying things that barely entered my consciousness.
Bring the Necrinomicon to the temple, I thought I heard in a raspy wispy voice.
Were these voices in my head? It seemed strange for them to be in English when the runes clearly were not. Where had I heard the name Necrinomicon before? Why did this voice want it? I wondered where the temple was. I continued to walk and look about the city. I turned a corner, and somehow knew that the temple was on this high spot in the cave. I had never been in this place. How would I know where the temple was? My fragile mind led me on.
Kahlua awaits! I thought I heard.
I began to doubt the shadowy voice. It did not make any sense to me. What was it saying? Was it just my mind playing trick on me? Was it just echoes from the city above? It was saying such strange things.
Nevertheless, I entered the temple. Visions of a great evil flashed through my head. This was a temple for one of the great old ones. I do not know how I knew this, but I found myself in a temple of the elder gods! The pieces began to take shape.
I was not in Riley, I was in R'lyeh. Chthulu awaits -- not Kahlua. I needed to chant from the Necrinomicon in order to summon the great god. I felt my sorrow wash over me. My great adventure came to an end. It was time to turn back. I did not know how long it had been since I thought of her. The search of the city completely distracted me. Suddenly, the lonely restless nights washed over me. I nearly toppled over in grief.
At that moment the earth shook. One of the elder gods could feel my pain. It reached out to me. It grabbed at me and shook me. I knew the words! I did not need the book.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted.
Without her, I wanted the world to burn. A tsunami of pain and anger rushed back to me.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted again.
The sorrow I felt for the homeless people living under the bridge. It was not fair. The world deserves better.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted a third time.
The earth began to tremble. The roar was deafening. I could feel my mind slipping into the madness of power. I looked forward to the world burning. There was not a single thing on this earth worth saving. I could think was let it crumble into dust.
However, the cat that I had befriended came to my mind. The innocent creature had comforted me on several of my walks.
"Go away pitiful creature!" I shouted.
The madness continued to grow. The insane power grew within me. I could feel the entire world shake beneath my feet. I could feel the emense power flow through my entire being. Despite my concentration on the destruction of the world, the cat kept breaking into my thoughts.
The words, which once came easily, they would not come. It was a struggle to speak. The kindness of the cat fought against the spell.
The world was not fair. The innocent always suffer for the sins of the evil. The world deserved destruction. The world deserved destruction. The world deserved destruction.
My resolve wained. Sure, humanity has its problems. There is pain and suffering in the world. However, it is a much gentler place than it was just 50 years ago. Where were these thoughts coming from? I could feel the madness and my razor-thin sanity fight.
"She was gone!" I shouted.
I felt that the world should pay simply because of that fact.
"Not everything is about you!" I retorted. "The world should not pay because you are alone!"
"The pain and suffering can end tonight," I said as my resolve began to break down.
"What about the good things?" I asked.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu..." I shouted but caught myself as I looked down.
The cat had followed me into the caves. Rubbing against my leg, it seemed to say, "What are you doing? Where is my treat?"
I realized that I was taking my pain and transferring it to the world. Should I take my pain out on the world? What of all the happy people? Perhaps, happiness will come to me again. The world should not suffer because of one coincidental day. Good thoughts of her flooded my brain. I almost saw myself walking hand-in-hand with her.
I could not bear to see all of the happy lovers in a mangled heap because of me. With the summoning one of the old ones, I could destroy the good with the bad. My anger, fear, and all my negative emotions drained from me. I felt at peace for the first time in weeks. I grabbed the cat and began stroking her.
"Good kitty," I whispered and the cat purred.
I heard a bell chime midnight. It was Valentine's Day. I smiled. I collapsed on the steps of the temple. I slept. For the first time in a long time I slept. I do not know if I moved. I just slept. It was a long hard sleep. Nothing could disturb me from it.