I am what you would call an animal person. I have, in my short life thus far, had several pets. I have acquired fish, cats, hamsters, and a guinea pig. The hamster, a favorite of mine, was a Christmas present from my grandmother. He bore a striking resemblance to a cotton ball, with long whiskers and infinitesimal ears.
This endearing ball of fluff was affectionately dubbed “Elliot”, after the late Jim Elliot, a martyred missionary who served in Ecuador.
This is probably an appropriate time to say a word about the house’s other inhabitants.
Also living in this house were my parents, my two siblings, my great
uncle, two guinea pigs, and a cat. The latter was a lean, hardened orange cat, with amber eyes and a mean disposition. It is with him our tragic story lies, him, and the aforementioned hamster.
Now, every night, Elliot liked to run in his wheel and make so much of a clanking ruckus that it is impossible to get to sleep or stay asleep. Many nights, I stared up at the dark, dark ceiling, waiting for slumber’s sweet solace to take me. But this noise was permissible, because he was a delightful companion.
After awhile, this nightly noise became routine. That, of course, is not to say that I enjoyed this noise, quite the contrary, actually. Do you mark me well? This seemingly useless bit of information turns out to be pivotal in the tale to come.
One night, a Thursday, I believe, I heard a loud thump, and then silence. The thump, I had supposed, was the creature on his nightly run. After this thump, however, silence reigned in my quarters. For a fleeting moment, I considered arising and seeing what the noise was, but I, being tired, decided not to. This, alas, would prove to be a mistake, as you will later find out.
I noticed then, that the nightly noise had ceased. My chamber was in silence. It was a silent as a graveyard on a dark night. This silence struck a dead fear into my heart, as if the icy had of death gripped it.
Why was not my little pet at his play? Why did he sit so still, as if stupefied? Any answer I could conjure chilled my bones to the very marrow. Somehow, through some blessed gift of Providence, I slipped into a feverish slumber.
I awoke in the morning, as usual, and stumbled downstairs blearily, the terror of the night forgotten. After a quick breakfast, I sunk into a chair and began to read. Dickens, I believe, although what I was reading has no bearing on my tale whatsoever. Soon enough though, my mother came downstairs, followed by my dear sister, Erin.
As the both sat on the couch, I engaged in conversation with my mother. As we were pleasantly chatting, my sister interjected with the phrase,
“I noticed some strange gross stuff upstairs,” I wondered to what nature this “stuff” was.
I thought perhaps the feline had vomited upstairs. My curiosity peaked; I conceded to follow my young sister upstairs.
“It’s right there!” Erin pointed.
In front of the bookcase there was what appeared to be a cotton ball, soaked in blood, lying in a pile of some sort of grotesque rubble.
“Elliot!” the cry escaped from my lips. I rushed into my chamber and peered into the cage. Wrenching open the door I poked the nest where my hamster slept.
It fell to nothing: the nest was empty.
I felt a shriek rising in my throat. I tore back to the place where the bloody cotton ball resided. Then I peered closely at it. I drew back
in surprise, in disgust. My eyes grew wide, and my throat tightened. My terror was complete! The fiendish cat had been prowling in the night!
The bloody cotton ball was Elliot’s head, and the grotesque rubble was his scattered innards!