Sapphire

There are many stories about the cat, some good, some bad. They have held pride of place in mythology for centuries. But what is it that makes them so mysterious?

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1. Sapphire

From an early age I considered that cats were different from other animals. There was always something about the way they held themselves that set them apart; I never fell into the train of thought that cats were secretly ruling the world but somehow I just knew they were special. The effortless grace with which they move, the untroubled looks they give you…there’s something almost unnerving about it. Not to say that cats are perfection incarnate; one has only to observe them as they fall into boxes or slip into a bathtub to know they are not all-powerful creatures, yet there is still a mystery to them.

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have entered a room to find a cat waiting for me there, despite every assurance made to make sure there were none in the room upon my departure and that all possible entrances were closed. Too many times have I been at rest in a room, enjoying a book, when suddenly I find that a cat has fallen asleep upon my lap – though an excuse could be made that, perchance, I was lost in my book.

One event stands out to me beyond the rest, however. I invited a stray into my home, seeing that she was dreadfully underfed and had been on the losing end of a few fights. The unfortunate feline lacked one eye and her ears were punctured and torn, yet the good eye that remained shone bright blue and never seemed to miss a thing. On the day I took her in she was lying by the side of the road; I feared her dead, knocked down by a careless driver, but she appeared intact and was alive so I carried her home, gave her a bowl of food and set up a bed for her in my living room before going to bed.

When I woke I found her standing on my chest, looking down at me curiously. How she came to be in my room I did not know, but in my tired state I did not even notice that neither my door nor my windows were open. Instead I gently picked her up and carried her through to my kitchen, placing her on the floor as I made my morning coffee. She watched me the entire time, sitting, curious. She followed me about the house as I completed my morning routine: sat on the toilet seat as I brushed my teeth, curled herself up on my bed as I dressed, sat at my side as I ate my cereal and drank the cooled coffee.

Leaving for work I made certain she was still in the house, and as I drove away I saw her sitting in the window, watching me go, offering a silent meow as I disappeared down the driveway, stroking the window with her paw. All day at work I thought of the stray I had adopted, wondering if she was okay, if I had left her with enough food for the day, thinking of the way she had been watching me. As I returned home I found her still at the window, watching, waiting. When she saw me her ears pricked up and she meowed in greeting. As I opened the door she was sat on the floor, looking at me intently. I leant down and stroked her head; heading for the kitchen I went to fill her food bowl but found it seemingly untouched. Curiously her bed also seemed unused.

I spent the evening relaxing with some TV, waiting for dinner to cook, when I noticed her circling the room, her blue eye almost glowing as she scanned everything in it, ears twitching from time to time. My focus went from the TV to her as she repeated her patrol, until she jumped down and headed for the door. Instead of heading through to the next room, however, she slipped behind the door; curious, I got up and looked behind the door only to find that she had completely disappeared. I was momentarily shaken, but considered that I had not been paying attention and she had gone through to the hallway. Searching every open room did not reveal her to me, though, and I found myself wondering just where she could have gone. Eventually I concluded that she must have found a gap to hide in and resolved to wait until she emerged. Until then I would enjoy my dinner and watch more TV.

Eventually sleep called me to bed, so I switched off my show and shuffled through the darkened hallways towards my bedroom. As I opened my door, however, I heard a quiet meow from within; flicking on the light I saw the little stray curled up on my pillow, her eye watching me enter. In my sleepy state I could almost imagine a small smile on her feline features, and had I been more awake I would perhaps have wondered more about how she was in my room, but I simply ushered her out and went to bed.

I woke again to find her on my chest, and just as she had done the day before she followed me about the house, watching me go about my routine. I found her food bowl was still full, yet the bag felt lighter when first I went to pick it up. Leaving for work she again sat at the window to watch me go, pawing the glass again and offering me a futile meow. As the day went on I started to wonder how she had found her way into my bedroom three times when the door was closed and why she followed me so intently. In regards to the latter I decided she was probably just a very affectionate animal, but the former continued to perplex me.

She was still in the window when I got home, and again was at the door when I came into the house. That evening, as dinner was cooking, she did not repeat her patrol of the room. Nor did she repeat her vanishing act behind the door. Instead she curled up on the headrest of my chair to sleep, or so I assumed. As the evening wore on, though, I chanced to glance back to notice she was staring intently across the room, her eye bright, focused. I could not see what had gained her attention but she was loath to look away from it. When I went to retrieve my dinner she followed, yet her eye did not leave that spot in the room, and upon our return she instantly focused on it again. As bedtime drew near she jumped down to the floor, somewhere between me and the mysterious thing that had gained her attention, and as I walked through the hallway to my room she followed behind. Curiously she walked backwards, and only then did I find myself questioning what was happening. She did not enter the bedroom with me, and I shut her out, sure that she would not be on my chest come morning.

That night I had the most terrible of nightmares; I sensed something dark and cruel in the blackness of my sleep, yet could see nothing. Slowly the black faded to white, and before me stood a strange silhouette, tall and slender, unnatural arms reaching down at its side, fingers like talons and a head more alike to a dog than a man. As the whiteness reached a blinding level the silhouette shifted, its arms rising towards me. Try as I might I could not back away, my body refusing to respond; I felt my chest tighten, heart beating faster than I could believe. Sweat crept over my skin, a cold trail running down my back. A talon brushed against my arm and I tried to recoil, yet could not.

My heart was beating so fast I thought it would burst when, as the shadow’s talons began to wrap around me, a bright blue light appeared between us, throwing the entity, whatever it was, away from me, disappearing into the white. The blue light drifted towards me and pressed against my chest; I found myself suddenly awake, looking into the eye of the stray. Gasping I gripped her and held her close, not caring how she had come to stand upon me, simply thankful I had some comfort. In my frightened state I finally found a name for her: Sapphire.

The rest of the night passed slowly, as I fell into short fitful sleeps that Sapphire drew me out of with nudges to my face. Each time I felt thankful to her, as though I owed her in some way. Morning came and I forced myself out of bed, though I was not particularly interested in being awake after such restlessness. Sapphire remained in my arms for much of that morning, only set down as I took a refreshing shower; it struck me that she did not watch me then, though her blue eye never left me for the rest of the morning. I stroked her before leaving for work, and saw her at the window yet again when I drove away.

It was a slow day. My sleepless night and fragile state meant that everything felt like too much to bear. I did not speak much to my colleagues, and felt the beginnings of a dreadful headache. I was thankful, then, that the weekend began as my day ended; I was ready to spend two days at home and perhaps read some of a book. It would give me time to recover from the terror I had experienced and, I hoped, leave me ready to face a new week of challenges. Coming home to see Sapphire once more awaiting me brought a smile to my tired face, and upon entering the house I picked her up and cuddled her, carrying her through to the kitchen with me. I noticed that, once again, the food had gone untouched, and started to consider that maybe she was a very fussy feline, despite her status as a stray. Inspecting the bag, however, I noted that it had grown lighter once again. Quickly I concluded that Sapphire was of the habit of eating direct from the bag instead of from her bowl, and decided that over the weekend I would procure a lock for the cupboard so as to keep her from doing so.

The remainder of my evening passed by quite uneventfully, and Sapphire appeared particularly relaxed. For the first time since taking her in she slept, curled up at my side, unbothered by the quiet sound of the TV; it was so relaxed that evening that I took a book from the shelf and sat down to begin reading. Time passed by in an unusual blur as I found myself absorbed by the story, and it was only when Sapphire’s paw pulled the book down and, with a curious meow, she grabbed my attention that I noticed it was approaching midnight. I stroked her scarred little head as I pushed myself up; the book returned to its place on the shelf and together we walked from the living room through to the bedroom, switching of the lights as we went. The darkness of my room appeared threatening at first, the atmosphere of my nightmare still hanging over it like crows above roadkill, but when Sapphire entered and jumped onto the bed the cloud of fear dispelled itself; I did not feel the need to switch on a light and simply changed into my bedclothes and climbed into bed. I decided that Sapphire’s company as I slept was pleasant, so allowed her to remain with me; she made for herself a small bed on the empty pillow and I could happily believe we fell asleep in the same instant.

There were no nightmares nor dreams that night, and morning came quickly. Indeed the weekend passed by without any notable happenings. I found a lock for the cupboard and the food levels in the bowl began to change, and Sapphire appeared quite content, continuing her habit of following me about the house but taking the time to sleep whenever I was still. It was not until late Sunday evening approached that things took an unusual, almost chilling turn. Sapphire was, as usual, asleep by my side whilst I read my book when, without warning, she started hissing and yowling, her sleek fur standing on end, ears pinned back; her eye shone with a frightening intensity as she protested, yet what had disturbed her so I could not fathom. As she had done that dreadful night her focus was fixed pointedly on one spot of the room. I attempted to soothe her, stroking her gently for fear she may turn on me, yet she appeared not to notice my presence. This went on for some minutes, as she nervously shredded my chair with restless claws; a strange chill spread about the room as some invisible fog before suddenly going away. As the room warmed Sapphire relaxed, looking tentatively about the room before curling up again. She did not sleep though, and instead watched me intently with the bright blue eye.

The whole event had successfully set me on edge, causing me to recall the nightmare and the blue light that had come to my aid. Tales of animals reacting to impending disasters came to my mind, as did stories of household pets reacting oddly to paranormal occurrences, yet reason suggested to me that some noise outside of human hearing had come from outside, causing in the cat an unusually aggressive reaction. Still I could not quite settle myself, though Sapphire had made herself quite content again and looked up at me with a settled expression on her face.

I was less relaxed that night, and found myself struggling to sleep for an hour or so before finally the blackness took me. There was no nightmare, only a queer feeling in my mind that left me uncomfortable when morning came. Never before had I jumped out of bed so quickly, and Sapphire appeared perplexed at my sudden movement. My mind remained full of questions about the occurrence in the living room, and the act of going to work became my only focus. I brushed my teeth hastily and neglected to eat breakfast, simply downing my coffee and leaving the house. I barely even noticed Sapphire as I left.

Work itself proved therapeutic, and took my mind away from the strangeness that had settled in my home. So much so, in fact, that when the end of the day came and I embarked upon my journey home I had almost forgotten what had happened. That was until I returned to notice that Sapphire was not waiting for me at the window; confused, I entered my home to find it in disarray: my books were spread across the floors, cupboards thrown open, cushions turned inside out and ripped apart. Sapphire was nowhere to be seen until, searching through the house, I found her locked inside the cupboard in which I kept the cat food. She appeared terrified, her fur ruffled horribly and every muscle shaking uncontrollably. When first I found her she leapt at me in a fury and ran about the house until, calming, she jumped into my chest. I was forced to hold her before she fell, and could feel the terror in her tiny body.

My first assumption was that I had been burgled, and quickly called the police. They did what they could but said there did not appear to be any evidence of an intruder; it struck both them and myself alike as strange that Sapphire had been locked in the food cupboard when the key for its lock was on the same chain as the keys for my car. The evening was an uneasy one. I feared that, for whatever reason, the culprit may return, and Sapphire was so horribly afraid that she would not leave my side for a moment.

Then came the most terrible moment of all. As I sat with my book, reading to distract myself from the series of unusual events that had come before, I heard a loud thud on the floor. Looking up I saw that a book had fallen from the shelf and, as I stared, another fell from its place as if removed by an invisible hand. A chill ran through my body, and Sapphire was once again alert, standing on my lap with ears pinned back. Another book fell out of place, and then another, until within seconds the entire contents of that shelf had been deposited on the floor. For an unknown reason I felt compelled to speak, to ask who was there and what they wanted; it was not a good decision. Over the books there slowly appeared a faint shadow that turned to face me, and though indistinct I quickly came to recognise its form as that from my nightmare. I pressed myself back in my seat and felt my body begin to shudder as it raised one taloned arm and pointed at me. From somewhere deep within my mind came a hissing voice, unlike anything I had ever heard: “Yyoouu…

I cried out in terror, feeling helplessness flood through my body. I feared not only for myself but for Sapphire; slowly I pieced together the strange happenings of the last few days. Of Sapphire’s strange patrol, of her fixation on that spot in the room. The nightmare, the supposed burglary, it all made a strange sort of sense in my mind, and that realisation made it even more terrifying. I tried to grab Sapphire and pull her close to me, away from the apparition, but my fearful state left me frozen in place, unable to move and save my companion.

Sapphire, meanwhile, was the very image of ferocity, fur wild, claws almost shining, sharp as daggers. Her eye seemed to glow, as bright as the light that saved me from my nightmare. For a moment I dared believe this was another like it, and I had fallen asleep as I read my book, yet the feeling that ran through my bones and paralysed my muscles told me this could not possibly be true. For the first time in years I heard myself praying, begging a God I had never given my time to for salvation; when I ran out of pleas to make I started screaming to every other deity my mind could fathom to save me from this sinister entity. In my state of hysteria I barely noticed Sapphire’s actions. To say she became a tiger would sound like madness, and perhaps it was, but in those moments she seemed larger than life, a creature of such raw power I could only consider them hallucinations of a maddened mind, for she clashed with the form of shadow, her eye blindingly bright. To this day I wish I had not been so terrified, for truly I must have missed a divine display or unnatural power that night.

My fear subsided as the entity was vanquished with one great swipe from the now gargantuan form of Sapphire; a whiteness filled the room and suddenly she was gone, leaving me alone in the room. Aside from the books on the floor there was nothing to suggest that the supernatural battle had even taken place, but as I stood up on shaking legs I noticed a shape on the floor: a small ring in the shape of a cat sat there, embedded in the carpet, one eye marked by a pristine sapphire. I picked it up, and found it warm to the touch. Somehow it calmed me, and filled me with relief. Holding that ring I felt safe again.

I never saw Sapphire again. Whatever happened that evening either destroyed her or took her far away from me, but that ring has remained with me every moment since that terrifying event. I often wonder what would become of me were I to lose it; would Sapphire return to me, or would that dark apparition reappear in my home and finish what it had started? I have no doubt that Sapphire was a special breed of cat indeed and came to me for a reason, and it has become my compulsion to always offer a home to a cat in need. None of those I have adopted have been like Sapphire, but having them with me, as well as the ring, bring me a sense of security and strength, reinforcing my belief that cats hold in them a power beyond our comprehension.

Wherever Sapphire is now, I hope she is bringing that feeling to someone else who needs her, for she is, without doubt, the most special of all cats.

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