Gary jolted upright in his bed. He could feel his mind crashing back into its proper place. His heart pounded. “What were you thinking?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.

A few weeks ago, Gary found a thick, leather-bound book left abandoned at his doorstep. He called out, “Hello?” and glanced down at the pages before him. “Of course,” Gary said over a breathless laugh as he stared back into his home. A white cat happily wandered into the doorway. Gary bent down to pet the cat, giggling. He returned his gaze back toward the book before leaning over to grab it. “Hey, Aggie. Don’t you think this seems strange?” Gary asked. He carefully grabbed the book and hoisted it into his arms while Aggie followed him back inside, scuffling between his legs. At once, smoke shot up from his fingertips. He dropped the book onto the ground with a resounding thud. Aggie leapt beneath the couch while Gary glanced down at his scorched fingertips. His eyes widened. “Hey! That’s not funny!” He screamed out. “Why was it so hot?!”

While Gary frantically ran into the kitchen, Aggie pounced out from beneath the couch, landing just beside the book. Slowly, the cat inched closer to the text, stopping just on top of its cover. She peeked beneath her paws at its title: “El Infierno Godfrey.” The cat’s eyes widened. Her grin widened. She pushed open the front cover with her nose and turned to look at the text. Her eyes darted wildly about the first page. Upon closer inspection, she noticed a lump in the book. She trotted around the outside of the text and flipped the pages with her nose once more, revealing the object wedged inside the book. It was a toe — a human toe, covered in a thin layer of dry blood. She dropped against the page, rolling over onto her back, inching her face closer to the toe. She sniffed it for a moment before ultimately turning up her nose, rolling down the side of the page, and back onto her feet. Again, she stared down at the page, rubbing her paw against the coarse material. Suddenly, the booming sound of footsteps approached the room. For a moment, Aggie panicked. She sprawled down against the floor, glancing about the room, settling her gaze beneath the couch. She wandered around the outside of the book, pushed it shut with her nose, and pressed the top of her head against the spine of the book, pushing it beneath the couch.

At that moment, Gary returned to the room with an excessive number of bandages draped over his fingers. His eyes darted about the room before settling on Aggie. “Where’d the book go?” he asked. Aggie meowed. “There it was,” Gary said. “It was right there, and now it’s gone...” Gary gestured toward the floor, while Aggie strutted up to him, brushing against his leg. “You know what? I’m alright with the cursed book being gone. Maybe it saw how tough I was and left to bother someone else.” Aggie meowed at him once more. Gary smiled down at her and said, “I’m glad you agree.”

Days came and went. Aggie became more demanding, jumping up onto Gary’s bed in the middle of the night, meowing incessantly until he agreed to feed her. Whenever he would open the fridge, she climbed inside, refusing to leave until she could snatch up ingredients, which she then dragged underneath the couch. Gary was already on edge. Even when he shut his door at night, Aggie always found a way in, and she always jumped up onto his bed, begging for food. At a certain point, she started leaving the house. Aggie had always been an inside cat, so it was a shock to Gary whenever he looked up and down through his home, only to find that nobody was there. Even on those days when Aggie was nowhere to be found from dusk until dawn, she would still wake him in the middle of the night without fail.

One night, Gary investigated the situation. He brewed himself a pot of coffee, sat up in his bed all night binging soap operas, and he waited. He waited and waited and waited. Midnight came and went. Hours went by. Thud. Something fell over just beside his bed. Thud. Gary grabbed the remote from the nightstand beside his bed, paused the show, and glanced down at the floor beside his bed. It was too dark to see anything. Thud. He grabbed his phone from off the nightstand beside him. He turned on its flashlight and shone it beside him once more. There was truly nothing there. Outside his home, the wind picked up. The rain crashed down harder. He glanced back up toward his television. Out of the corner of his eye, there appeared to be a white splotch above his television. He grabbed his phone once more, and he shone its light up toward his TV. Aggie — she was standing on top of the television. She was staring down at him, motionless, as if she were dead. Gary covered his mouth with his other hand while he gasped, still staring up toward her. Thud.

Something fell beside Gary’s bed. He did not dare to look, for he was too busy staring at Aggie. It was her — she was standing over the television, and she was staring back down at him. Thud. He did not dare to call for help. That would require him to use his phone. He wouldn’t be able to monitor Aggie. Hours passed, and they blended together as Gary’s brain grew numb. Gary jolted upright in his bed. He could feel his mind crashing back into its proper place. His heart pounded.“What were you thinking?”

He asked, his voice barely a whisper. He glanced down at the foot of his bed, where Aggie lay licking her paws. She stared up toward him, and he stared down at her, while she inched up the length of the bed and settled her head in his lap, purring. “I’m sorry,” he said, slowly. He reached down to scratch her head. The cat leaned into his hand. After some time, his hand migrated around to the other side of her head. Her fur was coarse and knotted, probably from spending so much time outside. He scratched her back. He felt a piece of paper where there was a note taped to her back. Gary leaned over toward the nightstand, reaching for his phone. Thud. He fumbled with the phone, knocking it onto the floor. Gary brushed Aggie off of his lap, onto his bed, where she settled back into a napping position. He leaned over his bed, staring down at the floor.

There was nothing there. He stepped onto the hardwood floor, and he glanced around his bedroom, to no avail. “Did you fall under the bed?” He asked. Gary got down on his hands and knees, and he stared underneath his bed. He did not see his phone. He saw Aggie sleeping beside a thick, leather-bound book. Gary’s eyes widened. He jumped back up, gazing at the top of his bed, on top of which rested one slip of paper. He picked it up and read it aloud: Thank you for letting me in ~ Your man, Godfrey. Gary stood in awe for a moment. He ran out of his bedroom, down the hall, and into the living room, where he tossed open the front door and ran outside. It was dark out. There was no sign of a car. He walked down the sidewalk. No one was there. He heard a faint meow.

Gary jolted upright in his bed. He could feel his mind crashing back into its proper place. His heart pounded. He jumped out of his bed, onto the hardwood floor of his bedroom. Aggie remained laying down at the foot of his bed, sleeping as a little white ball of fur. Gary stumbled out of his bedroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen. He threw open the refrigerator door. There were various foods and drinks and condiments resting inside, nothing out of the ordinary. He reached inside, scattering a few jars, plates, and styrofoam containers of food around. Gary reached further inside, toward the back of the fridge, where he snatched out a gun into his hands. He slammed the refrigerator door behind him as he stepped back out into the living room. He glanced beside him, down the hall leading toward his bedroom. The bedroom door creaked open slowly. The white cat brushed through the cracked open door, and she paced down the hall. Gary’s eyes widened. He ran over toward the couch, jumped on top of it, and glanced about the room, his hands shaking as he grasped the pistol.

Aggie slowly paced down the end of the hall, making her way into the living room. Gary sweat profusely. The cat jumped up onto the couch. Slowly, Gary directed the gun down toward his feet. She rubbed her head against his leg, glanced up toward him, and settled down at his feet, purring.

A tear rolled down Gary’s cheek. Minutes passed. Aggie did not move. Gary dropped the gun behind the couch onto the floor. He dropped onto his knees, grabbed Aggie by her arms, and placed her on his stomach as he laid down along the length of the couch. “I’m so sorry, Aggie. You wouldn't hurt me. I love you!” Gary paused. “I know stupid magic bullshit when I see it, Aggie. It’s the stupid book’s fault — I know you did nothing. I’ll call my sister up here, and she’ll come fix this shit. She’s like a pro with magical bullshit…”

A few seconds passed. Aggie looked up at Gary. They met eye to eye for a moment. She meowed and jumped off the couch. Gary followed her as they scampered toward the fridge. “Oh, you want food.” Gary said. He walked back over toward the fridge, and he tossed its door open once more. He reached for a slice of him while he looked through the window, into his driveway. There was no sign of a car. Gary turned around. There was no sign of Aggie. There was no sign of a pistol behind the couch. Gary jolted upright in his bed. He could feel his mind crashing back into its proper place. His heart pounded. There was no sign of Aggie at the foot of the bed.


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