‘Misty,’ I hiss. There’s no response from her. I try again: ‘Misty!’
I curse her under my breath, but I’m really just afraid. It’s 3am. There’s no traffic on the road outside the field and if I cried for help, I doubt my sleeping parents would hear me. I cast a covetous look back at the house and my own bedroom lit by a low light. I should be safe in there, not out here in my pyjamas and boots, looking for an errant cat that doesn’t realise it’s in serious danger.
‘Misty!’ I whisper urgently, ’the blob is going to get you!’
When I say blob, I mean a literal blob. I’ve only caught glimpses of it from my bedroom window when I’ve dared to look at the field late at night, and sometimes it’s very big, sometimes about my height, but it’s always an indefinable thing, a ball of malice. I hate it and I fear it and nobody would understand, because they can’t see it.
So people would probably call me a witch, though I don’t like that at all because to me a witch casts spells and probably has a green face and all. I do have a cat (that would be Misty) but she’s a lazy moggy who can’t be told what to do, so she’d be the worst familiar.
I don’t like the term psychic, either. It reminds me of screwy types fleecing bereaved people out of £20 to pretend Paul — or is it Pat — anyone? is totally sending you a message about something irrelevant from the other side. Honestly, if I die young, I’m going to give them messages like I always knew you were made of fail and someone delete my internet history, please!
I’m just being silly. The fact is, the dead don’t do an awful lot. They’re a solemn lot, unable to speak even to me, unless I’m dreaming. People dream of the dead and they say it was just something stupid their mind made up, and I don’t know, maybe it is sometimes. It’s not always your mind playing tricks, though. Sometimes I see flashes of them, and the best way I can think to describe it to you is like those trails aeroplanes leave behind. They’re dead and gone, but some element of them remains, atoms or particles, I dunno. I’m not a scientist.
I see other things, and they’re not aeroplane trails: they’re sentient. They watch, they listen. They don’t really mean harm, these creatures. Honestly, the worst ones are no more awful than people you know in school and like school bullies, they’re afraid and jealous.
Only one of these creatures has ever scared me, and that’s because I never knew there could be so much hate in the world. This creature doesn’t just envy us our bodies, our imperfect world – it hates life itself. I can feel the waves of malice coming off it. Sometimes I have to wrap my pillow around my head, stick my ipod on and try to drown out any sense of it when I’m trying to sleep. It’s that powerful. It’s that angry.
I’ve scoured history books and the internet, and I’m no wiser about who it is or what it is. I don’t know why it lives in the field opposite my house, much less where it came from. Our village is old, but there’s barely anything about it in the history books and I don’t know how to search for a horrible black blob that sucks souls and stares at me from the field.
There’s nothing special about the field during the daytime. It’s usually ploughed for crops, but this year it’s been left to its own devices and it’s all overgrown with tall grass. It’s romantic and sometimes the local kids hang out there. I never do: it terrifies me. There are so many dead things there; I’ve seen the blob working at night, heard the scream of rabbits, the alarm from an owl. There was a car crash outside our house one night a year or so ago. The young man in the Ford, he died. I saw him wandering confused along the lane, and then that bloody thing called him into the field and every last trace of him vanished.
So yeah, I’m scared to death right now and I wonder why Misty is doing this to me. Has it called her tonight? I watched her run across the road and straight into the field just a few minutes ago, after she’d been yowling to be let out. I don’t want her to die. I don’t want it to win yet again. What does it do with all those souls, anyway?
‘Misty!’ I snap, really very afraid right now. I love her, and she’s my little cat, but I’m this close to running back to the house. The night feels heavy with malice; I know it’s somewhere here, watching me.
There’s a rustling in the grass, and I freeze. An unpleasant shock jolts through my spine. Oh, God. It’s here. I need to get out of this field!
I shriek in panic when the grass parts and Misty, her fur standing on end, runs towards me. She practically leaps at me, and I gather her in my arms. She’s growling, low, her eyes wide. I follow her gaze and squint into the darkness. The shadows seem to collapse in on themselves, and there’s something heavy and dark, blacker than the night itself, nestling in the grass.
I just about think I’m going to die when it speaks. It speaks! It has a low voice that sounds human, ancient. There’s a strange inflection to it. ‘I bade you come here,’ it says.
‘Leave me alone,’ I say. ‘I’m just leaving. I just wanted my cat.’
I can barely see the glimmer of its black eyes as it looks at the cat. Misty tenses in my arms, her claws digging into me. I gasp at the pain, but I daren’t tear my own gaze from the blob. It doesn’t like people to see what it does. It always creeps up on them from behind.
‘You saw,’ it says.
‘What do you do with the souls?’ I say, nonsensically. Why that question bursts from me, I don’t know.
It doesn’t like it. It lets out a low, angry moan.
Misty scrambles to get away from me, panicking. I drop her to the floor, unable to contain her dumb animal fear any longer.
‘Turn around,’ it says with barely-restrained fury.
‘Why?’ I whisper.
‘You know why. You know what happens.’ Amusement in its voice. ‘You know I win.’
Misty’s a lazy cat, a moggy, the worst familiar. But she throws herself right at that hideous thing, scratching and yowling to wake the dead. I don’t know if it’ll work, or if I’m playing into what it wants, but I turn and run.
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Photograph © Copyright, Rebecca Lowry 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.