Little Cats
Adam Tavernier

As you gather your crumpled clothes from between the bucket seats, you wonder why Silvia is curled up between the seatback and the door, sucking three fingers as she sleeps. She is naked, pale, peaceful, small. On her arm, cheaply tattooed, are a twelve pointed star and a serpent. You pull on your clothes, slide across the back seat, open the door, step out into a field of cut grass. Sheep graze nearby. It is midmorning. A breeze sweeps silently over the pastureland and the surrounding trees.

You see a barn and walk toward it. The sun, rising through a fluffy nimbus, looks like a yolk fried in its whites. As you draw closer to the red roof of the barn, a cat begins to follow you and sniff at your tracks. The animal is not unpleasant. You reach down and pet it once or twice. Its fur is wiry.

A farmer appears as you near the barn. He wears a strange, thick cape that fluctuates around him. Why such a thick garment? Why not overalls? But you step closer and see that the cape is really a sculpture, like a fountain. A man wearing a piece of art -- what a nut!

But now you are beginning to doubt your eyes, beginning to see a system of connected heads shifting within the sculpture. Heads that scream, heads that laugh. Veins connect one to another: when a vein pops, blood shoots up through the air. Shocked, you turn and run. Behind you, something is howling like metal ripping through cork.

The wiry cat keeps pace beside you, tufts of fur tumbling from its back like crumbs. The crumbs are tiny cats -- not kittens, cats -- and they well up around you, scattering like seeds in a warm current. You see yourself taking a shower, the little cats with you in the tub, looking up at you with their wet, almost microscopic heads. When you stamp on them, they shrink and die, but there are always more -- they're in your lungs, in your blood, your heart, your brain.

You rush back to the car, open the door -- itching at yourself now, coughing, choking, drowning in cats -- but you don't see Silvia. "Where the hell are you?" you shout, but your words are swallowed by a looming haze. Gradually, your eyes fill with tufty darkness, yet you continued to scream for Silvia, Silvia.

Then she appears, cross-legged in the front seat. "Wonderful experiment, don't you think?" she says.

The cats are gone. The man and his sculpture are gone. Your vision is clear. As your car rolls out of the pasture, you run the air conditioning until your ears, toes and fingers are numb.

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