We hadn’t noticed the dark red stain in the middle of the living room carpet when we moved in. We didn’t notice it, because it wasn’t there. A lot of the strange events that happened in that apartment went unseen or unnoticed, at least at first. Life was good back then, Amber and I were two young lovers and the world was ours. We enjoyed having someone to come home to after long days at work. We were still getting used to each other when the little oddities began to happen. Occasionally a kitchen cabinet or the refrigerator would be left open. Full gallons of milk could sometimes be found warm and spoiling, left open in the pantry. At first I believed it was Amber being absent minded, or forgetful, or even lazy. Amber had a condition. The side effects of her medication often left her confused and sometimes incoherent. It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination by any means to believe she would confuse a pantry for a refrigerator, especially when she was on her meds. There were other times when I must have gotten a little too drunk or she must have gotten a little too stoned. We would usually laugh it off. These odd occurrences always seemed odd but not necessarily unexplainable. In hindsight, the open fridge and cabinet doors were not laughable misguided or misplaced happenstance, but rather, warnings. It wasn’t until the apparition of the cat that we finally began to take the warnings for what they truly were.
The dimming light of the evening was filtered through the partially open vertical blinds hung over the arcadia door to the balcony. The dinette was set for a quiet dinner of spaghetti noodles and pasta sauce. We worked opposite schedules but we made an attempt to have dinner together a few times each week. We had just began to eat when we heard a soft mew coming from the bathroom. We looked at each other with our forks loaded with noodles. I watched her eyes shift from me to the hallway behind me. Her eyes widened and the color drained from her face. The fork in her hand, suspended mid-bite, began to tremble uncontrollably. My heart leapt into a rhythm I had never felt before. I slowly turned my head toward the hallway. She and I watched as cat peaked its head out from inside the bathroom. It looked at us. Its skull was exposed on the right half of its head. It was bloody and what fur remained was matted and wet looking. It let out another soft mew before arching its back, rubbing its body along the doorjamb and slinking into full view. We watched as it strolled across the hall and into our bedroom out of sight. The cat’s movements were unmistakable. We didn’t own a pet and a cat had no business in our apartment, let alone a one with a bloody skull. I turned to Amber. Her face was white and her eye were wide and dilated. I asked if she had seen what I had seen. She slowly and silently nodded yes. I stood up and hurried to the room.