The Something



Fifth Estate # 400, Spring, 2018

In a town with no law, in a far away land, there lived people without protection. In square, boxed houses, they made sections out of walls to shield them from something unknown. It was the something that drove them to worry.

“Do you think it will happen tomorrow?” One asked.

“What do you think it could be?”

Although there was no tangible reason for concern, the town longed for a leader. If Someone could defeat the Something, then nothing would come from terror.

Deep into the night, when blue sky passed black, one of the townspeople saw it: a slender body with muscular grace. The most beautiful leader of all.

It was flexible and refined, yet fuller than all other cats. This was a beast that could protect. Gray fur extended down its long tail, blocking any chance of vulnerability. Its eyes, as bright as mirrors, projected nothing of its intention. This was a cat with power.

“I can be your leader.” The cat curled against a tree in the townsman’s backyard. Its low voice vibrated.

“But I’ve never seen you before,” the townsman said, “How do I know you can lead?”

“I am the most beautiful,” the cat smiled. “I am the best.” The townsman glanced at the cat’s perfectly pointed ears. It was purring. Not vibrating.

“I’ve never seen a cat as beautiful as you.”

A line of drool formed just below the cat’s mouth. It was happy. Eager to please.

“If you let me lead, I’ll be yours forever,” the cat said. “The Something will never come close.”

The townsman thought of the cat walking closely by his side. The shock and awe of his friends would make him popular. If someone like him could own something like that, the town would admire him forever.

“No one will challenge you. There will be nothing to fear. You can be free from all things troubling.” The cat beamed, baring a jagged set of teeth. Unique teeth. Teeth of a beast who has destroyed evil horrors.

“I’ve never seen a cat with teeth like yours.” The townsman squinted his eyes.

“Un-orthodontic, but with a humbling charm, they remind me to always stay modest.” The cat bowed its head and the townsman looked away. It was sensitive. It was shy. It was beautiful.

“I can tell you would lead with ease and power, but how would you conquer The Something?” The townsman asked. “First, I must have your trust.”

“Yes, of course,” the townsman said. “You’ll do the right thing.”

“Second,” the cat continued, “I must enter your home.”

The townsman rubbed his jaw. “Why would you need to do that?”

“I must know that you trust me.”

“This is the only way?”

The cat nodded.

“I don’t know if I want anyone in my house.” The townsman said.

The cat stalked closer. “But I will protect you.

Even in darkness, the house looked shabby. Paint peeled from the edges of each windowpane. The steps were made of concrete. The townsman approached his front stoop with caution and paused for just a moment.

There was no wind. There was no sun. Although he thought he could feel something, his surroundings were exactly the same. It was chilly. It was late. It was probably nothing.

Rebecca Lee lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has published in newspapers, university journals and magazines around the world. Some of her publications include: Adbusters, The Virginian Pilot, and The British Medical Journal.