by Mark E. Schrull
Was it the voice of Grey I heard? Or was it simply the howling wind whistling through the pines? The camera doesn’t lie. The picture, though blurred, was definitely a grey cat. I knew who I’d have to ask.
In days to come winter set in. Always a trying time on the farm. The brutal cold and snow turns even the nicest animals desperate. It’s survival of the fittest when it comes to the barn cat community. I knew I could use this to gain information. Lil’ Grey needed a ride into town. It was a bright, cold day and the sun was shinning.
After we returned, I paused when our shadows defined our night-time sides. Every cat I’ve ever known had to speak the truth when asked in front of their own shadow. I think it’s some kind of natural law. I think because they are night creatures by nature, they must speak the truth while in front of their own shadow made by the sun. I used this to my advantage.
“Who is she and why is she coming?” I asked Lil’ Grey.
He froze, his shadow cast on the ground before him. “I’m not sure,” he replied.
“But you’ve heard of her.”
“I have,” he answered.
“Tell me what you know,” I insisted. He was in front of his shadow; he had to speak truthfully. He lowered his head, mesmerized. “Graver, the Grey has been saying this –
When wind blows snow o’er harvested field,
and the full moon shines blood-red.
The lady with the lantern shall walk about,
and take what the road will yield.
With that he bolted and it was two days before I caught up with him. I found him holed up in his barn box condo. My hidden collar-cam caught it all. He was looking out the box entrance tracking some small prey when he noticed me. He wasn’t near his shadow any more and it was clear he wasn’t happy. His eyes reddened immediately and he hissed. I stood my ground.
Before I knew it we were entangled. His sharp claws dug into my thick fur. I twirled and caught him across his jaw with a right hook. He sprung up after somersaulting and tried to leap away but I pounced on his tail stopping him in mid jump. He landed on his back and rolled over. I knew I had him.
“You dare you attack me you dark, evil cat?” I screamed into his face. “Now tell me all you know about what Graver says or you won’t swallow easily for a month.” I held him down by a throat hold.
“I can’t talk,” he uttered with a garbled voice. “Let go of my throat and I’ll tell you everything.”
I removed my jaws but kept on the ready. “Now spill.”
He pressed against the ground like a coward. “I only know what I’ve heard. I never actually talked to Graver. The rats say she haunts each year. She was killed near here while trying to visit her husband at the Mansfield prison and she was shot by the guards. They say she hitch hikes the road looking for a ride back. One that she’ll never find. Everyone fears her. They say she’s the Ghost of 545.”
“So why does she walk?” I pressed.
“I don’t know,” he answered and then jumped up and ran.
Mark E. Schrull
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