Writer's group monthly flash fiction contest and magazine

Twin Lights In The Dark

February 2022: volume 1 issue: 1

Twin Lights In The Dark

Where am I? It’s dark - not completely, but there isn’t enough light to actually see anything. … Only … twin spots of light dotting the darkness here and there. “Meow.” Oh no, no, no! Damned cats all around. Just like in my childhood nightmares. 

Some of the lights are approaching. I try to get up - and discover that my legs are stuck. I wave my arms and shout to shoo the cats away. The eyes stop getting closer but don’t go away, either. They are waiting. All the stories of lonely women’s dead bodies, discovered half-eaten by their cats, come to mind. … How many of the things are all around me? … What if they don’t wait till I’m dead?!

I need light. My phone! I feel around as far as I can reach, but can’t find it anywhere. … What happened, actually? I remember walking up the stairs with the shopping … Then a cat dashed past me. I recoiled … and a chunk of a wall? - or was it roof? - plunged down where my head had been a moment before. What was it? A rocket? An earthquake? I don’t recall hearing any sirens. Or did the building just collapse, like that one on the news? 

I can’t remember what happened after that. I must have fallen. Did I hit my head? How long was I out? I feel a sort of dull ache all over, but no pain in any specific place. I should probably check my head for injuries. But … what if I discover blood … or broken bone? It’s too scary, and it’s not as if I can do anything about that. Never mind the head. I can’t feel my legs; does it mean they aren’t injured, just stuck? Or have I … lost them? I push gingerly at whatever keeps my legs pinned - and hear something above shifting. I leave it be. Better not bring the rubble crashing down on my head, especially if I can’t see what I’m doing. So: I’m stuck and helpless. The cats are keeping their distance so far; the spots of light that are their eyes hang in the darkness, only sometimes a pair blinks, or moves around a little. But it’s only a matter of time till they move in. How long can I keep them off me?

They are so quiet. The cats make no sound in the dark, apart from the occasional soft “meow”. I can’t hear any people, either. I finish work earlier than most, so the neighbours were mostly still at work when I came home … What about the pensioners? Like the old woman from downstairs who feeds all the street cats on the block. We never saw eye to eye about that. She must have put out the food today - I had to get through a throng of cats of all colours and sizes to get to the front door; they kept rubbing against my legs and meowing at me … I wonder if the cat feeder was home when … whatever it was happened. Did she get out? Or is she trapped under here somewhere, too? Is she … dead? Where are rescue services, for that matter? Are they coming at all? Is it still too dangerous to search the rubble? Have they … given up and left?

The eyes are so creepy. This is why I’m scared of cats, not because they ever scratched or bit me. I remember seeing pairs of eyes shining in the dark when I came home from school, especially in winter when night fell early. I had to walk up the stairs to the fifth floor - ours was an old building, with high ceilings, so the stairs seemed endless - in the dark. There never was a light bulb in the stairwell: whenever the janitor put a new one in, it was either stolen or broken by delinquent kids right away. So I had to feel my way through darkness reeking of stale alcohol, cigarettes and piss, and hope I didn’t step into anything; and then climb the endless stairs to our flat. There were always cats in there, and I’d see those twin lights shining in the dark and wonder if the cat would pounce on me. Imagine how scary that was, especially for a little primary-school kid! I had nightmares for years.

I wonder what time it is. Is it already night, or is the rubble blocking all the light? It’s getting uncomfortably chilly. At least I’m lucky it’s not winter, or I could die of hypothermia. Can I get hypothermia even in this weather, if I’m stuck here long enough? I must have lost my shopping in the fall, along with my handbag; so I have no food or drink. How long before someone finds me?

Something soft brushes against me. A pair of lights is right next to my side. No, no, no! I should push the cat away, hit it … but I freeze. Just like I froze every time my daughter’s cats came up to me - or worse, jumped on my lap. They always did it, even as little, “adorable” kittens. That made visiting my daughter all the harder, much as I wanted to see her and the grandkids. … The cat climbs onto me - triumphantly, I imagine. It’s quite heavy. It seemingly walks on the spot, pressing its paws into my stomach. It still doesn’t bite. What is it waiting for? I want to scream, but can’t find my voice. The cat … lies down. And starts purring. I feel the vibrations and hear the sound at the same time. More twin lights approach. More cats climb onto me. Others settle down on the floor next to me. Some start purring; others sit quietly.

I don’t know how much time has passed. I feel warm and, amazingly, comfortable. The cats are purring like little engines all around me; the sound is hypnotic. Their eyes shine in the dark like stars; I feel like I’m flying through space, or perhaps lying on the grass on a summer night and staring at the sky. I don’t really mind if the cats eat me after I’m dead. I’m just glad they are here, keeping me company as I wait for the end.




A voice. “Where’s that cat going?” Wait, a voice? The harshest, brightest light hits me straight in the eyes. Who dared interrupt my pleasant dream?! Then the penny drops, and I start yelling at the top of my voice.





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