at midnight i followed a cat, for he seemed to know where he was going. we tiptoed spry and sprightly, this curious fellow and i; bathed in steam from sewer grates, smelt the baking mulch in bottoms of hot bins. we careened down corridors of cloistered starlight, between the bricks and blocks we became the mortar of this mortal world. as my eyes adjusted i saw us winding through a gallery, on every side a portrait hung — me and not me, eye but not i. my features waxing waning, face smudged by carbon ribbons, blurry and suffocating. mouth dripping lies onto wipe clean canvas — a cycle forever repeating itself, infinitely sterile. as we wandered further down char-stained alleyways we peeped in all the windows at all the little people who were living and had lived there. every window was a door, and every door was a screen and on every screen there were players — ghosts of an aperture, spectral in framing. we saw a cruel father with his family at the dinner table — together yet quite apart — the air between them dank and febrile, thick enough to chew on. a boy shivering in wet pyjamas, scared to cry out. knees tucked up to chest, waiting for all the ghouls of nighttime to find him again. we saw a man, still afraid to sleep in the dark, alone but for a furry sack of old bones in his lap — a cat, whose watch had ended, ready to leave but not just yet. and at once i heard a scream, which sounded like all the sadness of the world, and the scream became a shriek, one cat became many, they pounced from dark tunnels clawing and wailing. the pitch grew higher and more intense until my ears burst and bled, and then there was no sound — only a great and terrible silence. a million pairs of yellow eyes studded [studied?] the blackened firmament, then disappeared one by one, little candles snuffed from the world, until the only eyes left were my own, and the only light came from the sallow, watchful moon — shining a pathway, into the endless, hopeless night.
Rick White is a fiction writer from Manchester, UK whose work has been published in Milk Candy Review, Trampset, X-ray Lit Mag and many other fine lit-journals. Rick’s debut story collection ‘Talking to Ghosts at Parties’ will be published later this year by Storgy Books. You can find Rick on Twitter @ricketywhite.