I was walking through wasteground one evening
when I heard a detestable howl
like a ghoul giving voice to its grieving
in a language of slithering vowels
an unbearable whine like a nail in the spine
or a sliver of glass in the bowel.
By a leaning and rusted old railing
sat the source of the terrible sound:
there a coven of cats joined in wailing
round a moggy-sized hole in the ground
with a dark wooden box that was piled up with rocks
and on top sat a small golden crown.
So I ran to a friend’s, all unwilling
to believe that I’d seen what I saw:
that those green, diamond eyes had been spilling
bitter tears to be wiped by a paw
that I’d wandered on ground that was outside the bounds
of all knowledge and natural law.
There I sat at the dining-room table
and my friend poured me gallons of tea
while I poured out what seemed like a fable
to my friend (and, I must say, to me)
and my friend had a kitten that languidly listened
as still as the moss on a tree.
And she sat as if carved from a mountain
with a weary and pitying frown
but she yowled like she fell in a fountain
when I mentioned the small golden crown
and she sat up and said “If old Set-Ra is dead
I’m the queen of the cats in this town!”
Then she ran out the door and we’ve seen her no more
and I’ve got nothing left to write down.
Based on the folk story ‘The King of the Cats’
James Hutchings lives in Melbourne, Australia. He specializes in short fantasy fiction. His work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, fiction365, and Enchanted Conversation among other markets. His ebook collection ‘The New Death and others’ is now available from Amazon.com. He maintains a blog concerning his fantasy stories, found at apolitical.info/teleleli.Ann Sheng is a self-taught artist living in Vancouver, Canada. Her favorite medium is watercolor, but she also loves experimenting with different mediums and styles. She enjoys nature, painting, reading and sports. To see more of her art, visit her webpage at annsquare.deviantart.com.
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