MONDAY: Palacio de Cristal

BY IRENE LOFTHOUSE

Copyright is held by the author.

DUSK DEEPENED. Amber, green, topaz, grey and blue spots of light moved through the park to the far edge of the pool. By mutual consent they split into roving groups, a nightly ritual. Having colonized the area over time, they had few predators and many playthings. Nights were such fun.

Amber spotted them first — a subtle stillness in the air. Her nose twitched, ears tuned into slight sounds, she picked up the soft rusting of dead vegetation. Taking her lead, the troupe flattened their bodies, sinking slowly behind Amber, eyes focussed.

With a sudden sprint, Amber thrust herself forward, claws splayed ready to pierce her prey. She was good. Hit first time. A baby. Not much sport. Too clumsy to fight back. Better to dispatch quickly and search out more interesting specimens. One bite to the throat and it was done.

No sounds of disappointment from the troupe — they would have done the same. They lapped the pooling blood to show support and unity. Leaving the body, they padded as one around the Palacio de Cristal. Moonlight illuminated a silky carpet undulating in an unbroken wave. Milky whites silvery in contrast to the black; ginger and grey stripes snaked amongst block browns and misty beiges. Impossible to count how many as they loped along.

Silently the carpet divided and surrounded a park bench. Its inhabitants, oblivious to the audience, continued their sexual embrace, a fur coat covering their actions. As they lay supine, enwrapped, with communal stealth the troupe slowly replaced the coat with their bodies. It took some minutes before the soft purring penetrated the lovers’ consciousness, before they became aware that the heaviness of their limbs was not of a post-coital nature. The lovers’ eyes met, mirroring their dread. Surely the stories weren’t true? Weren’t they just tales to stop teenagers having a good time?

Purring increased as claws flexed into the youngsters’ flesh. Leaping up, the pair tried to pull the animals from their bodies, screaming as the claws dug deeper, as mouths with sharp teeth bit their nakedness. Some of the furballs wrapped around the couple’s faces, blinding them, whilst others nipped and bit ankles, causing the teenagers to trip.

Falling separately, they were instantly covered with a writhing mass of multi-coloured pelts, soon becoming striped with red. A combination of suffocation and garrotted jugulars quickly silenced the lovers. The troupe enjoyed its evening’s entertainment, toying with the bodies, savouring the sweetmeats, delighted at a double bill of fare so early in the night.

4 comments

  1. Dave Moores

    Ooh, macabre! A troupe of feral cats on the prowl! Great concept.
    Some nitpicks: I couldn’t quite picture the first sentence. Where are these coloured lights coming from? As well, the reference to amber as a colour, then right after as the name of a cat, was confusing. Very careless of somebody to leave their baby in the park at night. Still, I couldn’t stop reading.

  2. Irene Lofthouse

    Thanks for comments. The ‘pin pricks’ are their eyes – useful to know it’s not clear. The story is inspired by a woman feeding strays in Retiro Park, Madrid at dusk. Impossible to tell the numbers, all that could be seen were their eyes, as they devoured the sweetmeats she threw them.
    Several mums left their babies in buggies or on rugs as they bought coffee at the park cafes in the deepening dusk . . .
    Noted about the name.

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