The young girl had become frightened of coming home. Home wasn't a safe place any longer. Not since Mama had brought home...

She paused outside the front door and shuddered. It was waiting for her. She knew it was. It was always waiting for her.

Emma opened the door slowly, peeking in around its edge, searching the dim hallway for it. As the door creaked open a little more, adding additional light, she saw it. Its eyes reflecting like mirrors. The tiny grey and white cat gave a pathetic meow and crept toward the girl. Emma recoiled, remaining outside the house. The cat never crossed the threshold, but it sat there, watching her with large, hungry eyes.

"Go 'way," the girl hissed, making a shooing motion with her hand. "Go on!"

The cat, who her mother called Damita, tilted its head, and Emma swore the cat smiled. Taunted her. Come inside, it seemed to beckon. Come inside and see if you can outrun me to your room.

She knew she couldn't. The cat always beat her. Emma chewed at her lower lip, staring at the seemingly benign, but very malignant, cat. Finally, she pulled out her cellphone, dialed a number, and closed the door on those knowing gray-green eyes.

"Mama?" she said into the phone. "I'm gonna spend the night at Jeni's house, 'kay?" A pause. "Yes, Mama, I promise. I'll do my homework." Another shudder passed through her as she looked over her shoulder at the door. "No, I didn't feed Damita. I couldn't find her. I love you, too, Mama."

Emma hung up the phone and quickly walked down the stoop steps, looking at the bay window before crossing the street to Jeni's house. Damita sat there on the velvet pillows her mother wouldn't even let her touch, staring at her. The cat licked at its paws, removing something red from their white tips. Emma's eyes filled with tears. Her mother must have opened her door sometime after she'd left for school.

She was sure her little hamster wasn't in his cage anymore...

All works contained here are copyrighted to S.L. Armstrong. No reproduction or usage is permitted without written, express consent by the author.