The cat just showed up one day. You hadn’t seen it around before, but hey, you don’t know all the neighborhood strays. It starts to follow you around, which is kind of cute. Its large green eyes follow your movements as you grab some cat food that you keep specifically for the stray cats. You don’t have a cat, but you like to help out where you can. The cat continues to watch you as it eats. Is it weird that it hasn’t blinked?
It follows you inside your house. Whatever. You don’t want it to stay out in the cold, anyway. Winter can be harsh. You reach down to pat its head, and it leans away, avoiding your touch.
You let it stay the night. When you wake up the next morning, it’s sitting in the doorway, staring at you. You get up, get ready for the day, and grab it some food. After it’s eaten, while staring at you the whole time, you open the door to let it out. Surely it doesn’t want to stay here? It stares at you until you close the door.
You decide to name it. It’s been here for a couple days now, and you think it deserves to be called something. You choose the name Muffin. You think it’s adorable.
Muffin continues to follow you around. You’ve never had a cat before, so having an animal follow you around all day is a little weird, maybe even unnerving, but it’s probably a normal cat thing. It reminds you of the video games you’ve played where there’s a companion or familiar and that helps you adjust.
You open the door to your bedroom, and Muffin raises his paw, batting it through the air. It’s such a similar motion to the one you just made when you pushed down on the door knob that it almost seems like Muffin is mimicking you. You push the door open and Muffin pushes his paw forward slightly. What a smart cat!
You begin to notice Muffin mimicking you more after the door situation. You stir your tea; Muffin makes a spinning motion with his paw. You run across your kitchen to catch a plate before it falls to the ground, Muffin uses a chair to prop himself up and tries to run on two legs like a person. He even starts making vaguely human-like noises. When you call your sister to tell her about going to visit your parents’ house, Muffin makes a sound that at first sounds like he’s coughing up a hairball, but the more he does it, the more you realize it sounds kind of like the word “house”.
Muffin is pretty easy to take care of. He doesn’t seem to want to play much, just stare at you, so he’s pretty low maintenance. He has stopped eating the cat food, though, so you’ve resorted to giving him human food, which he’ll also only eat at the table with you. You ruffle the fur on the top of his head and tell him how smart he is, and he only barely lets you touch him this time.
You’ve become so used to Muffin that you don’t even notice when you walk into your house one day and Muffin is covered in blood. It takes you several minutes to look over and see the red staining the carpet. Muffin is sitting there, looking unaffected. There are several dead mice and birds littering your floor.
You rush to clean them and Muffin up, wondering where Muffin got the birds, as you had closed Muffin in your house when you left for work earlier. Once you manage to get Muffin clean and dispose of the dead animals, you scold Muffin for killing them. Muffin tilts his head as he stares at you, unbothered by your scolding.
You wake up in the middle of the night a few days later and Muffin is smelling your neck, his paw resting on your chest. You look over at him, staring blearily into his large black eyes. Black with no green. You gasp and try to scramble away, but his claws dig into your chest and quicker than you can react, Muffin sinks his teeth into your neck. You cry out, the pain in your neck is unimaginable, way worse than it should be. You begin to twitch all over as the pain spreads throughout your whole body.
Your body feels like it’s vibrating. You let out one last gasp and everything goes black for a few seconds. When you open your eyes again, you assume you must be dreaming. You’re staring at yourself in bed. Your body is right in front of you, somehow. You take a step back and promptly fall off the bed.
As you try to get up, you notice you can’t lift your arms up. You’re on all fours, and you look down to see paws. Very familiar paws. You panic and look up at the bed, which is much taller than it should be, and see your own face staring down at you.
into a terrifying grin with entirely too many teeth showing. The person stands up, wobbling slightly on their feet, and before you can run away, your former body grabs you and picks you up, bringing you to the front of your house, opening the door, and tossing you out into the cold.
You spend the next few days watching who you presume to be Muffin as he pilots your body. Every attempt to confront him is crushed, he seems to be anticipating you at every turn. Eventually, after many, many failed encounters, you leave the neighborhood for an adjacent one. There’s a decently sized house in this new neighborhood where a single man lives. You watch him for days. After a week or two, he lets you into his house. He comments on how weird it is that you will only eat human food, how you try to make the same motions as he does, how it almost sounded like you said “rice” after he did. He doesn’t kick you out of his house, and you wait. He really is so trusting.
Madeleine Carberry is a creative writing student at the University of Mary Washington. They love to write spooky and magical stories, and their favorite genre is fantasy. When they’re not writing, they like to draw or bake or hang out with their cat, Baz.