Monstrous Femme

They were the first to arrive and the last to leave, but that was expected since most pet funerals were only attended by the next of kin. The dreary morning weather didn’t lend itself to a big turnout either. A steady downpour had started around sunrise and showed no signs of relenting anytime soon. The dismal atmosphere suited Dani just fine. She hardly noticed it at all. Besides her sodden black dress and veil, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you it was raining. The whole world could have been on fire and she wouldn’t have known or cared, because her whole world now fit snugly in a two-foot-long, one-foot-wide pine box. Nestled inside was the former vessel of her true love, her cat Wesley.

Brady, her husband, stood stoically beside her, umbrella in hand, shielding her from the deluge. His face showed no signs of how he truly felt. If asked his honest opinion, he would have said it was about time for that cat to die. Not that he hated the cat, or animals in general, just that this particular cat had worn out its welcome. When Brady started dating Dani over a decade ago, one of the stipulations was he had to get along with the feline.

Wesley had been of the jealous variety. Any time Brady and Dani sat together on the couch to watch a movie, there would be Wesley wanting to sit between them. On more intimate occasions, Wesley would cry at the closed bedroom door, scratching and banging until he had sufficiently killed the mood and Dani opened up.

Ten long years with that constant four-legged chaperone. No, Brady couldn’t say he was sorry to see the cat go. In a way, he had adopted the cat’s jealous persona. With Wesley gone, he would now have his wife to himself, something he’d never had the chance to experience for more than a few hours at a time.

Dani let out a dolorous sob, throwing herself against Brady’s chest, weeping into the tuxedo she made him wear as a sign of respect for the truncated life of her dearly departed feline. Brady exchanged a wearisome look with the priest standing on the other side of the freshly dug grave.

The priest looked down into the muddying hole and drummed his fingers against the bible in his hand. His dour face suggested he had underquoted his fee for the event. He coughed softly to help speed the process along.

“Honey,” Brady said, waiting for Dani to look at him. “It’s time.” She shook her head in a violent twist and moaned, not ready for the final goodbye.

Dropping to her knees, she emptied the puddles that had formed around her shoes. Dani cradled the miniature casket in her bosom and repeatedly kissed the top of the box. The priest watched with what little sympathy he had left, then consulted his wristwatch. He tapped it while looking at Brady, who waved his hand to signal he understood.

Brady grabbed his wife by the shoulders and helped her up. He held her close, pulling her toward their car. The priest had already started his own vehicle and taken off down the gravel road. The car coughed out little gray clouds as it puttered away.

Brady assisted Dani into their car and buckled her seatbelt for her. When he closed the door, the window fogged with her continuing exhalations. She wiped a porthole view with a balled hand and peered out at Wesley’s grave.

A man who had been standing at a distance under a tree during the ceremony now approached the grave. He flicked a cigarette away. A flower of sparks bloomed as it struck the soggy ground. When scooping dirt onto the casket, he must have felt Dani’s eyes on him because he stopped shoveling to gaze over at her. He smiled.

Even through the water-spotted window, Dani could see his yellowed teeth and bloodshot eyes, the friendly gesture somehow made menacing by the atmosphere. Dani looked away, Brady started the car, and the man just rested his hands atop the shovel’s handle as he watched the couple drive away.


The next morning, Brady awoke before Dani. He left the room as silently as he could, knowing she had been restless most of the night, calling out Wesley’s name and flipping over every few seconds. Now that she had finally drifted off, he wanted to give her the opportunity to sleep. She must be exhausted.

Brady walked into the kitchen and started the percolator. He couldn’t function in the morning before his first cup of coffee. While he waited for the water to boil, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. His hand drifted across his stubble as he started to notice the amount of cat paraphernalia littering the house.

There were toys, food and water dishes, feather boas, scratching posts, cat towers, and costumes to play dress-up. A dying potted plant of catnip sat on the windowsill. Cans of wet food stacked in the cupboard, bags of dry food in the pantry. There were blankets covered with Wesley’s fur. Brushing utensils. Even cat beds shaped like eggs to give Wesley a dark place to hide and sleep when he wasn’t feeling sociable.

The more Brady looked around, the more he saw. How much money had they spent on that damn cat? Maybe it would have been cheaper to have a child instead. Of course, Wesley had been Dani’s child, and that’s why they had all this junk. Brady couldn’t discount how much that cat had meant to her.

The wafting fragrance of fresh brewed coffee distracted Brady from the cleanup job ahead of him, though not soon enough. His head was swimming, trying to think of how to get rid of it all without upsetting his wife.

He poured the coffee and sipped. While the hot liquid warmed him, Brady came to the conclusion that the cleanup would be his responsibility. Dani may not ever be ready to part with Wesley’s things, but perhaps the sooner it was out of the house, the sooner she could move on.

Brady grabbed the largest trash bag they had and went through the house, accumulating everything that needed to go. The bag filled up fast. He tied a knot in the first bag and reached for a second one. He was about to start filling it when Dani appeared in the doorway.

“Morning,” she said, her voice strained and weak. She noticed the bag in Brady’s hand.

“Morning,” he said, somewhat sheepish. “I thought I’d get a head start on clearing some of this stuff out. Now that Wesley’s . . .” He paused to choose his words carefully. “You know, since we no longer need it.”

Dani had walked into the kitchen to pour herself some coffee. Brady followed after her.

“How are you feeling?” he asked. His tone was the equivalent of using your foot to test a frozen lake for cracks.

“Wesley hasn’t been in the ground twenty-four hours, and you want to completely wipe him out of our lives?” She spun around to face him. Fresh tears had built up.

“No, I just thought . . .” Brady didn’t know how to finish the sentence. He felt trapped in a lie.

Dani held up a hand. “Save it,” she said. “I know you never cared much for him.”

“That’s not true.” He wanted to sound firm, but his voice betrayed him. “I thought it would be easier on you if—”

“What would be easiest on me is to have Wesley back.”

“But that’s not going to happen.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Her lower lip trembled. Brady dropped the trash bag and walked over to her. He took her into his arms. She didn’t fight him.

“I’m sorry, honey,” he said. “Sometimes I forget . . .” He started over: “We never really had pets growing up. I don’t know how to relate.”

She let her tears respond for her.

“Tell me how to help you.”

“I just want my cat back,” she said into his shoulder before bursting into sobs.

“I know,” he said finally. He rubbed her back.

“I would give anything to have Wesley back,” she said, allowing Brady to lead her over to the couch to sit down. “Anything. He was the greatest cat in the world.”

“Yeah,” Brady agreed with a heavy swallow.

She peeled herself off of him, leaving two wet circles on his shirt. She reached for one of Wesley’s toys stuffed in between the couch cushions. A little mouse with pom-pom eyeballs. She smiled looking up from the toy.

“He’s been looking for this one for months,” she said. She laughed at the memory. Brady thought she might be turning around when the smile melted into a frown and a fresh crop of tears.

“Ahhh,” she bellowed. “It’s not fair. I miss him so much.” She fell over on her side and tucked her feet up into a ball. The way she was laying, Brady didn’t know how to comfort her. He consulted a clock on the wall. He had to be off to work within the next half hour—time enough for a shower and a quick shave.

“Are you going to be all right by yourself today?” he asked. Her head made a soft swishing sound against the cushion as she nodded. “You’re sure?” He wanted to stay at home with her, make sure she ate and moved around, but with an important team project at work, he couldn’t afford to take time off right now.

Dani’s tears subsided for the moment and she sat up. She gazed absently around the room, then to the mouse toy in her hand. Her head throbbed and she rubbed her brow.

“What is it? Another one of your headaches?”

“Yeah.” Dani sighed in between grips of pressure.

Brady went into the kitchen and filled a glass of water. He came back with a bottle of aspirin and dished out a couple into her waiting palm.

“Maybe you should go to the doctor when you’re feeling up to it,” Brady said. He had tried broaching the conversation a few times now without much result. “Seems you’re getting headaches more frequently.”

“It’s just stress,” Dani said. She swallowed the pills and handed the glass back to Brady. “Wesley suddenly dying certainly hasn’t helped.”

Brady tapped the bottom of the glass on his palm. Of course, Wesley’s sudden departure would give her more stress. What had he been thinking?

“Look, I have to get ready—”

Dani held up a hand to signal she understood. She laid back down on the couch. Brady looked like he wanted to say more, but already short on time, he deposited the water glass in the sink before continuing on to the bathroom to shower.

Finished, Brady walked back into the living room while adjusting his tie. “I’ll call and check on you at—”

Dani was asleep. She had grabbed Wesley’s collar, the one with the tinkling bell that announced his whereabouts, and held it in her hand, now hanging off the edge of the couch.

Brady draped a blanket over her. He kissed her on the forehead before quietly leaving the house.

When he arrived home at the end of the day, Dani had not moved from the couch—aside from grabbing more of Wesley’s things out of the trash bag he had filled earlier that morning. She cradled the items in her arms. Brady sighed.

He feared this was how he would find her. After she didn’t answer any of the five times he called throughout the day, he knew something was wrong. Her depression had gotten worse by being on her own. If it weren’t for the project and his team counting on him being there at the presentation later in the week, he would have been able to stay at home to support her.

Each day that week he left home with a sour feeling in his stomach. His worry affected his sleep to where neither of them were getting enough at night. The time split between work and helping Dani cope with her loss was draining. Her daily headaches gave him another thing to worry about. She wasn’t taking very good care of herself. He had to force her to eat when he got home, what little he could. She had lost interest in going outside, even for an evening stroll around the block to get some fresh air. They used to go every night after dinner. Now the most Dani walked was between the bed and the couch and back again. Something needed to change.


Friday arrived at last and Brady, a walking zombie from lack of sleep, dressed for the final time that week. It had become routine to help Dani stumble to the couch, too weak to do it on her own, and give her Wesley’s collar to hold, along with two aspirin to help with the headache. Brady would set out a can of soup he would ultimately replace unopened in the cupboard later that night. A peck on the cheek, and then he was out the door for an excruciating nine hours of worrying.

After he left, Dani prepared herself for another miserable day. She lined up a box of tissues next to the photo album of Wesley’s illustrious life dating back to his days as a kitten. Brady had told her how silly it was to print out photos with the advances of technology making it easy to store all those photos online. Dani said she preferred having physical copies to look at and had been glad she’d done so. Now she had a keepsake she could hold and cherish. Plus, it had been a creative endeavor adding little flourishes such as a print of Wesley’s footpad, a couple of his milk teeth he lost in his kitten stage, as well as stickers and other decorative accouterments that made it more than an ordinary photo album. This was a shrine for the greatest cat that ever lived.

Dani flipped back to the beginning to make her second pass of the day when a knock came at the front door. She dismissed the visitor, not wanting to see anyone. Whoever was at the door wouldn’t be turned away so easily, however, and continued to assert their presence, alternating knocking with ringing the doorbell.

She did her best to ignore the noise, but not even the wistful memories of Wesley could fully block out the intrusion. Seeing as the person would not go away, Dani set the photo album aside, using Wesley’s collar to keep her place, and marched over to the front door.

Standing on the porch was a lanky, older gentleman. He wore a threadbare gray suit with dark brown patches on the elbows. The man stood with his back facing Dani, fanning himself with his fedora while gazing out to the sunny surrounding neighborhood. The few wisps of white hair on his head fluttered in the breeze from his hat.

“Can I help you?” Dani said. The man turned around, startled by her sudden appearance at the door.

“Excuse me, ma’am, I’m awfully sorry to bother you,” the man said. He had a slight southern accent. He smiled and held his hat over his heart while he talked. “I request just a moment of your time, if I may be so bold?”

Dani caught a flash of his yellowed teeth before his wrinkled lip covered them again. She’d seen this man somewhere before, but couldn’t quite place it.

“I don’t mean to be rude, sir,” Dani said, “but I was in the middle of something and have to get back to”–

“Oh, dear me, I do have the habit of coming at the worst times,” the man said. He replaced the fedora on top of his head. He held up the battered briefcase in his other hand and gave it a good smack. “What I have here will change your life, I assure you!”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t have—”

The old man’s eyes gleamed, pleading with her to hear him out. Dani sighed. She had started to close the door, but not opened it up to him.

“Would you like to step inside?”

“Thank you, ma’am,” the man said with a bow. “The day has grown quite warm and a short reprieve from the harsh rays would go a long way.”

She stepped aside and let the man pass. Once inside the man doffed his hat and waited to be directed into the living room. Dani offered the man a seat before realizing Wesley’s things dominated every available surface. She grew self-conscious.

“Excuse me,” she said, gathering up cat toys and costumes to create room for the man to sit. “I wasn’t expecting any visitors.”

“Quite all right. Quite all right,” he said, waiting patiently.

The man flashed his yellow teeth again. Dani paused in her cleanup to scrutinize that smile. It felt so familiar.

“Have we met before?” she asked, juggling the toys in her arms. The question seemed to surprise the man.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’d like to think I’d remember a pretty face like yours.”

“You’re too kind,” Dani said. She smoothed down her hair. “You’ve caught me at a terrible time. I’m afraid I look rather haggard at the moment.”

“True beauty shines through,” the man said. He sat down and centered the briefcase on his slender knees.

“Can I offer you something to drink? I’m not sure what we have at the moment – I haven’t been able to get to the store this week.” Dani dropped the cat toys and costumes on the end of the couch.

“I understand,” the man said, gazing off. “A death in the family has a way of disturbing all aspects of life.” He nodded to himself.

“But how did you . . . ?”

The man smiled.

“It’s not hard to tell. It’s plainly written on your face.” He held up a hand. “I don’t mean that in”–

“That noticeable, huh?” Dani wiped the hair from her forehead and fell back onto the couch. “I can’t hide it. Yes, death has visited us recently.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the man said. After a pause, he asked, “Was it someone close?”

“A cat,” she said, abashed. “I know that probably sounds stupid—”

“Not at all. Pets are just as much a part of the family as a parent or sibling.” The man leaned forward. “If I may ask, how old was the cat?”

“Ten,” she said. Tears began to well up. She looked toward the ceiling to stem the flow.

“A full life,” the man said, “though not enough time.”

She nodded at him. It was as if the man could read her thoughts.

“My condolences.” The man stood. “Maybe I should come back another”–

“No, please,” Dani said, standing herself. “Don’t go yet.”

“All right,” the man said. Another flash of yellow. “I think I will take you up on that drink if I may? A glass of water?”

“Of course.” Dani moved toward the kitchen and stopped. “Ice?”

“If you have it,” the man said.

While Dani went to retrieve the glass of water, the man took in the amount of cat things littering the room. The toys, cat tower, dishes, costumes. He smiled up at her as she handed him the glass.

“He must have meant the world to you,” the man said, nodding at the heap of toys. “He was well loved.”

“I would give anything to have him back,” Dani said, absently. She resumed her seat on the couch. The man swiveled in the recliner to face her. The movement made her give him her full attention.

“What if there was a way to bring him back?” the man asked, one finger skyward. Dani gave him a skeptical glare.

“There’s not,” she said.

“Oh, but there is,” the man said. “There are more mysterious things in this world than we know of. I just happen to have one here in my briefcase.” He spun the case on his knees. The latches snapped open. He lifted the lid, hiding the contents from her. A greenish glow underlit his features, giving him a menacing countenance.

The change in the man’s demeanor worried Dani. Out on the porch, he had seemed like a sweet old man, going door to door selling God knows what, but now…well, now she didn’t know what to think of him. She feared she shouldn’t be alone with him. Instinctually she pulled her cell phone closer and slipped it under her thigh.

“Tell me,” the man said. His yellowed teeth looked more putrid under the glow from the briefcase. As if he had the teeth of a recently buried corpse. “What do you know about Anastasis?”

“What is that?” she said. At her side she attempted to unlock her smartphone without looking at it. The phone shuddered when she got the code wrong.

“Anastasis is an aspect of many forms of religion. In essence it is the resurrection of a god.” The man’s smile appeared more like a sneer. “I’m not looking to give you a lecture on religion or anything, don’t misunderstand me, all I want is to help you with your grief.”

Dani tried her passcode again. The phone shuddered.

“And how would you do that?” she asked.

“I propose an exchange of sorts.”

A third attempt failed. She would have to look down to enter the code.

“For the resurrection to work, something must be offered in its place,” the man said. He sipped from his glass. “One must truly believe in the wish for it to work of course, but I have no doubt your heart’s desire would be truthful.”

“Maybe you should tell me what you mean by all this,” Dani said, frustrated. “I’m developing a headache.” She used the excuse to rub her head while she looked down and entered her code. The phone’s menu came up and she selected contacts.

“Why I’m talking about bringing your beloved Wesley back from the grave.” The man sat back waiting for his words to have their effect.

Dani’s finger hovered over calling her husband. She looked up at the man smiling back at her. Slowly her head began to shake back and forth.

“How dare you,” she said.

The man’s smile faded.

“How dare you,” she said again. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“No,” the man said. “I assure you, I meant no harm.” The man licked his thin lips. “I only want to help.”

“Maybe you should just leave,” Dani said. She lowered her head and grabbed at the hair jutting out near her temples. She groaned in agony.

“I fear I have upset you.” The man lowered the lid of the briefcase. The green light weakened his strong features. “Are you alright?”

“I have a migraine is all,” Dani said, lifting her face up. She breathed deeply through the pain.

“Grief will manifest itself in many ways,” the man said, renewing the green glow on his face. “Please, let me show you something.”

The man produced a jar with a small, white mouse inside. He next pulled out a bottle of liquid along with a cotton ball. He unscrewed the bottle and doused the cotton ball with the liquid. Dani couldn’t help but watch.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

The man didn’t respond. Instead, he dropped the cotton ball into the jar and screwed the cap on. The mouse ran to the far end of the jar, away from the cotton. Soon its little legs staggered. The mouse became disoriented. Inside the jar the mouse squealed its muffled appeals. The sound was no more than a slight squeak, easily covered by a passing vehicle outside or the rubbing of fabric inside, yet Dani could have sworn the cries were piercing her brain.

“Stop it!” she screamed. “Stop it right now!”

The room went quiet as the mouse keeled over. Its rear leg twitched, then moved no more. The man unscrewed the jar’s lid and dumped the dead mouse into his palm.

“What did you do?”

“A demonstration of the stone’s power,” the man said, concentrating on the task at hand. He lifted the glowing rock from the briefcase. It bathed the entire room in its unearthly glow. “Now watch,” the man said.

He laid the mouse atop the green stone and whispered some incantation under his breath. Dani found herself sliding to the edge of the couch to get a better look. For the time being the pain in her head took a backseat.

As if by magic, the mouse’s tiny lungs inflated and it began to move. First a flick of the tail. Then the sniffing of the nose. The mouse flipped over and ran up the man’s arm toward his shoulder. The man laughed as if tickled by the mouse’s feet and retrieved the resurrected creature, placing him back in the jar, though this time without the poisoned cotton ball.

“You see,” he said. “The stone has the power to bring back that which is no more.”

“It was dead,” Dani said. Her voice wavered, but she pressed on, saying, “How is that possible?”

The man put the jar containing the mouse and the bottle of poison back in the briefcase. The stone went last. He latched the case and set it down by his feet.

“Now, about your cat Wesley,” he said.

“You can bring him back?” she said.

The man nodded, though he held up a finger of caution.

“I can bring back your beloved,” he said, “but only if you wish it with your heart.”

Without thinking, the words escaped her mouth.

“Yes, do it. Please, do it!”

“Now what are you willing to exchange for his life?” The man’s yellow teeth returned. “It is only fair that an equal exchange be made.”

Dani leaned back, revolted.

“You mean I have to kill someone?”

The man laughed and Dani wished he hadn’t. His cackle was like that of a witch’s out of Grimm’s fairy tales. It bubbled with an unnerving effervescence.

“Not quite what I had in mind,” the man said as his laughter subsided. “I was thinking of something on a much smaller scale.” He looked about the room, adding, “How about the last year of your life transferred to your beloved?”

Dani thought it over. The pain in her brain made it hard to think, but she wouldn’t be using her head to make this decision. This one would be made by her heart. The heart broken into a million pieces.

“You are a relatively young woman,” the man said, cutting into her thoughts. “You must have forty, fifty – nay – sixty years yet to live. What’s one little old year snipped off the end?”

Dani didn’t respond.

“Take it from me,” the man continued. “Speaking from experience, growing older is no fun. Everything hurts. You can’t do the things you used to do so easily. If anything, this is a mercy, saving you from all that disgrace and torture, and giving you another year in your prime with the one you love the most…”

“This is happening so fast,” she said. “I don’t know what to say.”

The man stood up and grabbed his briefcase.

“Well, if you’re having doubts…” He started toward the door.

“Wait,” Dani said, chasing after him. “Ok. I’ll do it. My final year for one more with Wesley.”

The man smiled a crooked smile. He extended his hand.

“A gentleman’s agreement,” he said. “I am a man of my word.”

She glanced down at his gnarled hand and grimaced. She closed her eyes and thrust her own hand into his. They shook.

The man grabbed his hat and positioned it on his head.

“Pleasure doing business with you.”

He moved to the door. Dani reached out and tugged on the back of his suit.

“Wait. That’s it?” she said. “What about Wesley? Aren’t you going to use the stone on him?”

“The stone is purely for effect. To help you grasp the situation.”

“I don’t understand,” Dani said. “Then where is he?”

The man pulled back his sleeve to look at his watch.

“Wesley has been dead these last five days, has he not?” he asked. She nodded. “It takes a moment or two then. Think of it like a check waiting to be cleared before going into your account.” He smiled one last hideous smile and tipped his fedora. “Ma’am.”

He went out the door without another word.

Dani was left speechless. She ran to the door and threw it open, expecting to see the man walking down her footpath.

The street was empty, save for Mrs. Houston across the street watering her garden. The man had disappeared.

Dani closed the door and fell against it. Her head pounded, blurring her vision. She felt a weakness in her knees; too much exertion after mostly laying all week.

She closed her eyes and willed the pain away. A soft tinkling sound made her eyes shoot open. That sound. It was so familiar. A sound she had been used to hearing every day for the last ten years. A small bell like the one on–


Dani’s heart pounded along with her head. Adrenaline coursed through her veins. Her hand flew up to her mouth as she gasped at Wesley sitting before her. The cat licked his paw and scrubbed his head.

She couldn’t believe it. It was Wesley. He looked healthy and youthful, like he’d been in his adolescence. The cat finished its bath and peered back at Dani.

Dani fell to her knees. Tears of joy sprang from her eyes and raced down her face. She blubbered, trying to call out Wesley’s name, but nothing intelligible came out. It didn’t matter. The cat knew what she was trying to say.

Wesley stood up and sauntered over to Dani’s outstretched arms. The cat purred its affections at seeing his friend again.

The cat was within inches of feeling Dani’s caresses when Dani began to fall apart. It started slowly. First the fingernails popped off. Wesley retreated a couple feet before looking back over its shoulder.

After the first nail had scared the cat away, the other nine fingernails fell off in succession. Dani brought her hand closer to investigate. Before her unblinking eyes her skin turned to liquid, peeling away and exposing the muscle, bone, and tendons underneath. Her stomach lurched at the putrid smell of her body decaying at a rapid pace.

“Oh God,” Dani said in a voice she didn’t recognize as her own. “What is happening to me?”

Her arms gave out and she fell face first onto the floor. Her body made a splattering noise as more fluid escaped her body. The skin dissolved and her bright red muscles took on a bland grayness like pork past its sell by date. The loose skin made it hard to prop herself back up. She kept sliding around, finally flipping onto her back.

Wesley watched from a safe distance, unsure what to make of the flaying body.

The excessive pain in Dani’s head increased. She grasped at chunks of hair now falling away. Tips of her distal phalanges protruded through her fingertips and clawed at her scalp. A tear appeared and ripped down the side of her head. More blood and fluid pooled around her, trapping the wisps of hair that had fallen out. She screamed through the pain.

Her face was a mixture of muscle and tendons now that most of the skin had sloughed away. The white of her skull made appearances here and there as the muscles decayed. The brittleness of the skull cracked like an egg on the side of a mixing bowl. Through the separating pieces of bone, a gray tumor expanded until the thin tissues raptured, spewing out a vicious goop of cancer and blood.

She should have listened to Brady and told her doctor about her frequent migraines months ago. Maybe they would have been able to find the tumor in time to operate. Now it was too late.

Dani’s arms fell limp to her sides. Any remaining tissue shriveled to nothingness. The muscles and tendons likewise disappeared leaving behind a pristine skeletal structure – aside from the cracked skull.

Her organs were the last to dissipate. The lungs shrunk to raisins. The intestines to empty sausage casings. The heart, however, beat on.

One pump. Two pumps. Then no more.

The heart gave out, sounding like a tire deflating air, and caved in on itself. A pocket of red jelly was all that remained.

Wesley ventured closer once the body had remained motionless for some minutes. He let out a pitiful cry, and was left without a response.


Brady pulled into the driveway. It had been another day where he hadn’t talked with his wife, but after a full week of not hearing from her while at work, he thought nothing more about it. He had a lightness to his step. The project had come off without a hitch, and his bosses had remarked at what a good job he’d done. To say he was feeling chipper would be an understatement.

The lightness of being evaded him before he entered the house, however. The stench of death permeated through the solid oak door. His blissful countenance changed to one of consternation as he fumbled the key into the lock.

Bursting through the door he was met with the grisly sight of his wife’s body in the entryway. Her smiling skeleton greeted him home.

Brady covered his mouth with his elbow. The smell was horrendous. His eyes darted over the body. From the pool of liquid at her feet to the flapping tissue of the cancerous tumor hanging out of her skull.

“Oh my God,” he exclaimed.

Brady turned to back out of the house when something caught his eye. A furry blob curled up near the pelvic area of the skeleton. The eyelids opened, revealing two piercing green orbs staring back at him. The animal stood up and stretched before wobbling over to where Brady was standing.

“Wesley?” Brady’s voice cracked.

The cat meowed upon hearing his name. He rubbed against Brady’s leg and purred with satisfaction.