I took a walk when the sun set. Only the owl and crickets made their presence known. I didn’t mind their company. I looked up frequently, because I liked the way trees looked at night in autumn. I briefly wished for snow, so that I could see them sparkle. As I walked, I thought I grew taller. Or was it that the trees were growing smaller?
I raised my hand to brush the top of the trees. The bare branches were even more claw-like up close. I used one finger touch the tip of one branch. Was it my imagination, or did the branch evade my touch? I blinked. In that instant, it seemed all the trees were suddenly furry. Confused, I reached out to touch a patch of fur, and it recoiled. I jumped back. It wasn’t my imagination after all. The trees really were furry. Or rather, covered with little gray cats, all identical.
“Mew,” I said, jokingly. At the sound, all the cats slid off their perches and flocked behind me.
I walked towards the next group of trees. “Mew,” I said, and all the cats took their position on my right. The next group took their position on my left. The next in front of me. I was surrounded by little gray cats.
“Miaow,” I tried. They paired off and merged. Half the cats remained. “Miaow,” I said again, and again they paired off and merged. One fourth the original number remained. These cats were now normal sized. “Miaow,” I repeated, until only four cats about my size remained, one on each side.
I wondered what else I could do. I clapped. Nothing happened. They sat, tails swishing, staring at me. Staring without blinking for several minutes. The same icy gray eyes staring fixedly at me from four directions. I stood still, not daring to move. Frankly, i was feeling rather creeped out.
I took a step forward. They moved with me, in a motion so fluid that I could not discern when they stood to take a step and when they sat back down. I took a step to the side. Again, they moved with me and remained staring.
“Let me go,” I commanded. Their tails stopped swishing. Their heads moved down, slowly, slowly, as they crouched in a position I hoped was not as feral as it seemed.
“Mew? Miaow?” I tried in vain. They looked ready to pounce. Their eyes were fixed on me again, and their tails swished in sync.
They pounced together. They were now a whisker away from me. And in sync, they moved back a step. They used their front right paw to back me to one another. I staggered forwards, to the left, backwards, to the right. They played with me like that for a while before they each took one appendage – an arm or a leg, and pulled me in four equal pieces. They removed my organs and at my body first. Then they divided each organ in four and at those. Then they split my eyes. One eye among two. Then my tongue in four, and my brain in in four pieces.
When they were done, they washed themselves in sync, purring and swishing their tails happily. And merged as one. One that became me. And I finished my walk, admiring how claw-like bare branches looked at night.