Skid Marks Not Included

Written by Leo N.

I walked from the basement up to the kitchen yesterday, with a song in my heart, and noticed a rather large black and white cat was sitting on one of the kitchen chairs.

"Hi kitty," I said while passing by, in a voice deemed idiotic even by the standards of a four-year-old. The feline just sort of stared at me in that, "I know you're there" type of acknowledgement that cats are known for. I walked through the corridor, headed for the veranda and picked up the mail that had just been dropped off. At this point something odd happened: I was staring at the letters received, but I couldn't read what was written on them.

Mostly because my cat is gray. And tiny.

My cat was sleeping, peacefully, on the orange couch-thingy in the veranda. It's a great spot, because the place is filled with plants and the sun shines right on her. I picked her up, which got me a "what the fuck?" meow, and brought her to the kitchen. The cat's ears went from "scanning area" (straight, facing forward) to "target acquired" (reversed, in that aerodynamic fold) and I let her go much like a Sidewinder. The moment her feet touched the ground, both cats went flying off outside the open window by the entrance. I'm sure she kicked his furry, black and white ass.

This brought to mind one of my most terrifying experiences in my life.

Now, I should explain that with me, fear seems to be rather rare. There are usually other emotions that sweep through me, but none usually at to do with panic. Mostly it's frustration if I am in a situation I can't alter myself. Or confusion, when you just have no idea what the hell is going on. And finally, amusement, when the situation is just so bonkers that there really isn't much else you can do but laugh like a madman. That's temporary insanity, though.

For example, a few years back, when the doctor told me I had cancer, I though it was pretty funny. I wasn't laughing per se, but I did smile in that "isn't the world fucked up" kind of way. Mostly because after spending so much time getting tested, between clinics, I had missed so much time from work and school that one laid me off and the other failed me. On top of that, my girlfriend of the time left me.

When the doctor, all preoccupied, shared the confirmed results of the tests (which contained about 90% of words that made absolutely no sense to me), I raised my eyes to the sky and asked, almost like a challenge, "anything else?" God obviously was busy torturing someone else, because I'm sure had he heard me, he would've struck down on me with some other joke, like explosive diarrhoea.

Even when the doctor told me that if things did not go as planned, I only had prolly until October to live--the last few months more than likely in a semi-comatose state--I still wasn't afraid. For some reason, knowing was almost soothing, and acceptance immediately kicked in. Though I think this event in my life made me more snarly and far more sarcastic than the average human being. I pity those around me.

Things, eventually, didn't go as planned at all and I'm still kicking around, so go figure. The irony is that when things improved, I didn't even feel happy about it. Getting off a bus, or getting out of an hospital, felt pretty much the same. Perhaps this was some form of mental self-defence that had kicked in.

I've been in a variety of car accidents. Most have been the usual hit from behind while waiting at a red light. Nothing major, without a scrape to me or the car. This because the car I used to drive was a horrible chunk of metal with assorted patches of rust, so of course, no matter how hard it got hit, it never got damaged. The new car isn't even a year old and there are about twenty dozen scrapes of different colours all over it. Each time I park the car in a lot, I try to guess which colour will be the new scrape I'll find when I come back.

One accident has remained memorable, for two reasons: the first, I wasn't driving. As I saw the accident happen, my mind was formulating a variety of evading manoeuvres I could've taken to avoid the other vehicle (i.e. step on the brake). Unfortunately there was nothing I could do other than hang on tight, try to encourage the driver that I wasn't raging mad and he should step on the brake pedal and wait for contact to be made.

The other odd thing is that this accident took the better part of the week to happen. Or rather, it didn't take more than a few seconds, but as the facts became clear in my mind (i.e. "we're going to hit that car") to the moment both cars stopped moving, it felt as if days had gone by.

My first reaction when I realized that we were going to hit was to close my eyes, hang on for dear life, casually mention the other car to the driver and wait for the slam. Nothing happened. I opened my eyes. The other driver had a "huh?" look on his face (I probably spoke uber-fast, compressing four sentences into a nanosecond of noise).

Meanwhile, we're still headed for the other car. Close my eyes. Wait. Wait. We should've hit by now. Wait. What's taking so long? Open my eyes. We're still headed for the other car. This is taking so long, I think that fear at this point got bored and left, if any was present. I close my eyes. No, wait, I wanna see this. Open eyes. Yup. We're definitely going to hit. And finally, we hit.

None of these events, no matter how memorable they are, have really been all that scary--if scary at all. Fear is mostly caused by the unknown. That's probably why people are so afraid of dying, because they have no idea what happens afterwards. Unless, of course, your perspectives of life, the universe and beyond are as grim as mine, so life or death, are just as good as a walk in the woods.

One night I was happily sleeping when a strange sound woke me up. It seemed like the sound of a bell. A tiny bell. I waited for a bit, determined I was probably having a case of psychosis, and went back to sleep.

Again, the sound of the bell. This time, though, I had heard it more clearly. It was a 'din-din-din' sound. Very light. Very small bell. The radio was off. Nobody else was home. And it didn't sound like it was coming from the room, anyway. So back to snoozing I went.


Now here is where fear started to kick in. It was gentle at first. Now the sound was clearly coming from somewhere in my room. What the fuck?

I roll from my back unto my stomach and look into the darkness. The din-din-din sound is coming from no more than five or six feet away from me. I'm paralyzed in fear. My mind is trying to think of logical explanations for this and failing that, just gave up.

Suddenly, two bright, yellowish dots appear. Horror swept through my body as I realized they were eyes. Eyes! With a tiny bell that went din-din-din! What demonic creature crawled from out of my toilet and was slowly working its creepy way to eat my soul? And why a bell? A tiny one, at that, on this tiny little demon staring at me from the dark depths of my room?

Naturally, at this point, I envisioned just about every single horror movie I had seen. Little creature from hell stares at our character for a while, then leaps on to him and we're presented with a scene of gratuitous slaughter, where the poor bastard is torn to pieces. All of this happens while he or she screams like a little girl and does nothing more than flap his or her arms around. Because, as we all know, flapping your arms wildly around at an evil demon that's ripping you to shreds, will scare it off.

Now, hopefully because I was half asleep and not a complete retard, my logic determined that I was going to put up a good fight with this spawn of Satan sent to kill me. When the priest came the next morning to send away the eveeel that had been awakened in this house and had sent me to the great beyond, he would clearly see that I had put up a good, worthy fight before going down.

I grabbed my rather large Maglite, which I keep conveniently next to my bed (just in case an evil spawn of Satan crawls from out of my toilet and, armed with little yellow eyes and a tiny bell that goes din-din-din, decides to come after me, don't ya know now) and, despite almost shitting my pants, turned it on.

It was a cat.

With a bell around its neck.

Not my cat.

I love my cat, so there is no way you'd catch me doing cute things like putting a cute ribbon or a bell in the hopes it'll warn the birds that she's coming. I'm quite proud of the slaughter aftermath I find in the garden.

How this bell-toting kittie got in, I'll never know. She crawled up on the bed and started purring and settled in my arms. I petted the little bugger, while feeling pretty stupid and promising never to tell anyone this story (and here I am, writing it online).

It's clear, however, that fear kicks in when stuff happens that we do not know or do not understand. The fear of the unknown. Or perhaps when we're half asleep and not exactly thinking logically. At the very least now I've learned the moral of this story: the next time I'll hear a din-din-din around the house, at night, and two yellow eyes will stare at me, I'll know for sure that it's a cat.

Of course, I could be wrong.