Today had started peculiarly for Dr. Chang – he had arisen from his bed at the usual time, about 5:45 – a time he liked because it often allowed him to stand on the porch and sip his steaming tea as he caught the glimmering lights of dawn as it rose over the ravine lot in front of his house.
Dr. Chang usually slept on his back and he turned in bed, as he liked to do in the morning, to fold his arm over his sleeping wife Petra’s right shoulder, as she liked to sleep on her side, and rest his hand under her chin. This way he would not disturb her sleep, but could still feel the moist warmth of her deep breaths as she exhaled. He liked how she’s hunch her shoulders a little and pull him an inch or two closer, without waking. That was his favourite moment of the day – wordless, unconscious, but so intimate.
Today, he reached over and didn’t feel Petra’s shoulder. Rather, he felt what he thought was a fluffy pillow, or perhaps a stuffed toy. For a second, he felt a wave of nostalgia wash over him as he was reminded of the fateful day of Petra’s leaving, but his reverie was quickly cancelled by a searing pain in his hand and the strangest spitting sound he had ever heard! In terror, Dr. Chang pulled himself so that he was sitting up and flung his arm upwards, only to see a frantic ball of flying fur attached to it. He heard yeowling and crying and spitting and felt little claws dig deep into his forearm just tiny fangs bit deeper into his hand.
It was then that Dr Chang realised that he was under attack. But by what? What creature could have crawled into bed beside him and slept so peacefully, only to go on a terrible offensive the moment Dr. Chang moved! What conspiracy was this?
After taking a second or two to regain his composure, he pushed his arm down on the bed and confronted a terrifying sight: two glowering yellow and green-flecked eyes staring up at him in defiance and indignation. The eyes were part of a tiny triangular grey furry face whose expression, upon closer inspection betrayed more fear and alarm than angry and reprieve. Dr. Chang’s fear subsided when he realised that he was locked in mortal combat with a cat – barely out of adolescence, and not so sure of itself.
He relaxed his hand gently, and as he did so, his grey-black tabby aggressor relinquished her grip – first with her hind paws, then her forepaws and finally loosened her jaws, letting him pull his hand away as she slowly sidled to the baseboard of his sleigh bed. They stared at each other in a silent face-off of mutual distrust and bemusement.
Dr. Chang then, in a quick movement, slid out of bed and bounded across the room, slamming the double-doors behind him, imprisoning his feline foe in the master bedroom. He heard scratching at the door and alarmed yeowling as he hurried to the middle upstairs bathroom and vigourously washed his hands and arms with soap and water several times – concentrating on the bite and scratch marks that were already swelling up. Satisfied he had removed most of the poison, he went back to the now quiet bedroom and opened the door, hoping that his interloper had settled down and was ready for civil intercourse, but when he open the door, he saw that the room was empty. No cat. He looked under the bed and behind the night-table. Dr Chang even opened his closet doors, which he knew that the errant kitty could not have entered as they were sealed closed.
It was then that he noticed the window. The lacey drapes fluttered gently in the window that he had opened the night before, seeking relief from the terrible humidity and heat. He walked over to the drapes, and, pulling them aside saw that the screen had a gaping cat-sized hole in it. He had found both the point of entry and egress. He peered out of the window for a spell, trying to see if the mysterious invader was hanging about, perhaps walking the length of the fence along its top. That was something that cats liked to do, wasn’t it? But no – the grey and black tabby was gone.
A little disappointed, Dr Chang went about his morning ablutions, then had breakfast as the day broke, listening to the news on CBC Radio 1 and thought about his angry, frightened visitor. After breakfast, and still a little bemused, he set off into town for the clinic, looking forward to talking to his patients and hearing of the goings-on in the village.
CHAPTER 6 COMING SOON!
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