the odd one

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https://darknessprevails.org/the-odd-one/

To keep the introduction short, I’m Joanna. I am a (now) twenty year old woman striving to become a vet assistant and possibly a vet myself someday. What can I say? I love animals. However.. they have made for some of the most unsettling encounters that I have ever had in my entire life and these are just a handful of them.

I’m going to start this off with one of the stories I remember the most fondly because it is also the one of how I got my beloved cat, Liv. She did not have the best start into life but I believe she is now off rather well with me. I digress.

I live in the country side, a good two hours away from most big cities. Even for a small town we are pretty far out and don’t have a lot going for us, we can speak of luck that we’ve got a big grocery store at all. My cat was a pretty much feral barn cat on a farm not more than fifteen minutes away from my flat – as I said, a very small country side town. Pretty much surrounded by barnyards.

It was a disgustingly hot day, I was drenched in sweat and the blinding sun was beginning to annoy the crap out of me but still.. my excitement was not dying down any time. Hell, I was sixteen years old and this was my first-ever cat! Now you can picture how much more excited I was when we arrived at the first barn that actually had cats- no, not just cats but kittens. Not older than a few months. I immediately saw them too, but nothing that I saw peaked my interest quite as much as a tiny, black cat. Frail and sickly looking, sitting off to the far left. More dirty than all of the other cats I saw strolling about and much, much smaller. My poor Liv, she was the same age as all the other cats but because of how sick she was they all looked double her size. I was told I shouldn’t take her because of that- because she would probably die anyway- but I was smitten. Besides, I would never leave behind a sick kitten if I have the chance to rescue one, much less for selfish reasons. After some pleas and a brief moment of giving my mother my most convincing puppy dog eyes it was decided, I was allowed to take my baby home with me. Naturally, with a bit of help of the land owner’s employees, I went to catch her or.. well, participate in catching her.

I say this because immediately as soon as I walked closer, as close as I could without scaring her off anyway, I was caught off guard when I saw the first adult cat around. The first thing that I immediately thought was how oddly focused the cat was on Liv, not even looking my way once. And then there was the fact that.. while all cats had some form of physical response to me, be it running away or towards me, this one did not. Almost as if I was not there at all. And it was by far not the only weird thing about this animal. I practically grew up with animals, knowing them like the back of my hand, *especially* cats and I did not like what I saw. From the disproportionate body to the fully-revealed, way too large and crooked claws on it’s front paws, everything about this cat screamed of red flags. It’s fur looked like nothing I had ever seen on a cat, a short hair cat anyway. It looked so dry, almost like straw. My animal loving self has never not wanted to touch an animal up until that very moment.

As the cat continued to fixate Liv and completely ignore me, I had already spent enough time on observing it for me to miss the moment that Liv was caught. And I noticed this because Liv let out a hiss so ferocious and a scream so loud that the odd cat jumped off of the fence it had been perched on, so unlike a cat.. there was no graceful leap, no movement at all alike a cat jumping off a high place. Imagine picking up a cat and dropping it to your feet, how it would land on all fours with an awkward thud because that’s pretty much what this looked like. Don’t get me started on the way it trudged after the person carrying off Liv, God.

I almost felt like an asshole for judging the damn thing, especially when I finally stopped doing so for a moment and took note of the absolute absence of a tail on this thing. It was.. as if there had never been anything there. No stub-tail, hell there wasn’t even a visible tail bone. Not a single odd hair that could have indicated a tail had ever been there. I wanted to feel bad, desperately so, but the way it was at a perfect balance and did not seem to have any troubles in spite of everything.. it just seemed so unreal that for a moment I was willing to make myself believe that the heat was getting to me.

My mother called me over when they finally managed to put Liv into the transport box that we had brought but I was so fascinated with this hideous cat that I slow-walked my way over alongside it. It’s attention was still entirely on Liv, even as she was long out of sight. Sitting barely a meter away from the box, the odd cat meowed. No facial changes as it did. No twitch of it’s terribly bent whiskers, no movement whatsoever. Just the noise that sounded more like a human being pronouncing the word meow than a cat actually meowing. I crouched down to it in an attempt to get it to meow again for me, making various kitty-attracting-noises, but the one time it finally looked at me it did so with what can only be described as a full on scowl. This was the first time I saw it’s face move and the last time I ever wanted to see it but unfortunately it did not stop there. The cat.. fucking bared it’s teeth at me. I’m not messing around, it was like a goddamn dog. And the teeth.. I have never seen a cat with such thick, dog-like teeth from the placement in it’s jaws all the way to the shape of each individual tooth. They were stained yellow. I vividly remember thinking ‘Is there even one fucking thing that isn’t fucked up about this cat?’ and what could have caused it to look and behave like this.

Looking back at it, I should probably feel bad for doing what I did but I don’t- at all. Because I took a nearby bucket and tossed it towards the cat just enough to scare it off, intentionally attempting not to hit it. The employee that caught Liv glanced over once she heard the noise and.. entirely to my surprise, she pulled a disgusted face instead of scolding me like I thought she would as the cat trotted away just the way it came. All of us must have heard the noise of bones cracking as it walked, it’s legs visibly bending in ways they shouldn’t every couple steps. I recall my mother looking embarrassed on my behalf, ‘Watch what you’re doing, you could have hit the poor thing!’ she said. The lady just shook her head, looking absolutely not fazed by what I did. ‘It’s not one of ours. For all I care, kick it in the gut if it gets too close. It’s aggressive, even unprovoked.’ As she spoke, she took off one of her working gloves to show us a set off barely healed over, improperly stitched wounds. Needless to say, I did not go anywhere near that thing again and looking back.. it scared me how close it had been to Liv.

The worst thing about this encounter, though, happened when we were at the gates and I looked back, instinctively glancing towards where I’d previously seen Liv and the odd one. I saw something, almost shadow-like, crawl towards a spot in the sun. For a short moment it was oddly elongated, and when I say oddly I mean it did not look like a cat stretching at all. Before long, there was a cat sitting in the sun. It was way too small to have been whatever the hell that shadow was, but one thought will never leave me.. It looked like a one on one copy of Liv, down to how sickly it was.

But where she had a long, thin tail that flicked erratically as if it had been broken before, this thing had absolutely nothing.

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