I knew this couple who had this very large and very friendly cat, a Maine Coon cross and he was always very gentle and affectionate, always cuddling in your lap. One day after they brought their newborn baby home from the hospital, they found the cat in the basinet with her, laying beside her and very intently watching the infant sleep.
They thought it was adorable, as couples do, and took a picture and posted it on facebook and then gently removed the cat from the basinet. A few days later, however, they found him in there again, sitting beside the child, watching it very intently.
At first they thought to leave him alone as he was evidently content to guard their new baby but the man’s mother was visiting one evening and immediately began to make a fuss. She warned them that cats should never be left around babies and that he would steal her breath as she slept.
The more they tried to calm the old lady down, the louder and more insistent she became until they feared her superstitious ramblings would wake the baby. Certain that the cat meant no harm, they nonetheless gave in and ushered him out of the nursery while the grandmother muttered bible verses in Latin and made the sign of the cross over the basinet.
Finally stepping outside the nursery door, she stood at the top of the stairs and pointed a gnarled, bony, old finger down at both of them and warned, “Watch the cat!” They relented and agreed, if only to avoid further conflict and eventually the old woman left the young family to chuckle over her backward, old world beliefs.
Several nights later, however, they were jolted awake by the agonizing screams of the child and burst through the nursery door to find the cat sitting astride the baby, viciously scratching and digging into her chest. The baby’s blood soaked her little frilly gown, which was shredded almost as much as the skin on her chest.
The man tore the cat out of the basinet a final time and raced it downstairs where he placed it into a carrier and returned to find his young wife cradling their crying newborn. They raced to the hospital where they waited anxiously for hours as the staff tended to her deep, multiple lacerations. Almost immediately, however, the doctor noticed signs of infection setting in and started the little girl on a strong regimen of antibiotics.
Two days later, the baby returned home and the cat was given to an elderly neighbour two houses down. The crying never seemed to cease however and the parents soon found her injuries swollen and encrusted with a green scaly discharge. Fearing her infection might be getting worse, they returned to the hospital where the lab report came back with unusual findings of cellulose and plant fibers contaminating the wounds. A nurse removed the bandages and debrided the wound, a painful procedure, and redressed the infant’s cuts.
After giving her a mild sedative to take the edge off the pain and let the child and subsequently, the parents, get some rest, their doctor discharged the young family to return home. All was peaceful through the night as the baby slept silently in her mother’s arms.
Sometime shortly before dawn, the man was awakened by what he remembered as the smooth contented gurgles of a happy and healthy baby girl. As he opened his eyes in the predawn twilight, he could see that the gurgling was not coming from his firstborn child, but his wife, who was immobilized and being strangled by roots and tendrils of some kind which seemed to have grown out of the child’s chest during the night and completely enveloped half the room.
The child had expired and what had risen from its tiny body was dark green and scaly and spreading up the walls and across the ceiling and had begun to entwine itself around the bed frame and even his own legs. He could see now, by the glow of the muted TV, that his wife was covered in vines that continued to bind and enshroud her and her face was now blue, her eyes bulging, with vomit bubbling in choking spurts from the sides of her mouth.
Panicking, he tore at the roots tangling his own legs, with little success. They were tough and woody, and what few he broke off sprouted new tendrils which wrapped themselves further around his ankles and wrists. Tearing his hands loose, he frantically cast about the bedside, as far as he could reach in every direction for something, anything that he could use to free himself, but came up with merely a lamp.
After a few futile minutes of bludgeoning the growing roots with its brass base, he gave up and threw the lamp through the window, screaming for help on the off chance someone might be passing by at 4 in the morning and hear his plea. What answered his cries was not what he had hoped.
As the tendrils continued to spread up his thighs and entomb him, he heard a scratching sound and looked towards the broken window. There, silhouetted by the glow of the street lights, was a tiny head with large green eyes shining in the glow of the TV. Slowly it raised itself upward through the frame and leapt over the jagged row of glass shards, landing on the bed next to the terrified man.
The cat had returned.
He looked around the room and then down at the man’s lower half, encased in the still-growing plant, and then he lept back to the broken window and gave three loud, trilling calls. In seconds, two more cats appeared, climbing through the window, and then three more, and in minutes the room was full of cats.
Immediately, as each cat appeared in the room, they set about biting and scratching at the tendrils and urinating everywhere they found an open wound in the plant. The vines and roots writhed as if in agony and swung about the room, throwing the man into the closet and tearing down ceiling panels.
The cats, a small of army of which had now formed, suffered few casualties. They attacked the invading plant and bit off its tendrils as they appeared, spraying them with foul, stinking piss that seemed to cauterize and stop new shoots from growing. The leader, the family’s giant Maine Coon, led a small contingent of Siamese and Scottish folds which clawed and dug into the heart of the plant, tearing into its trunk as it swung wildly in maddening pain, breaking rafters and joists and threatening to bring the whole house down in its defeat.
Despite the danger, the cats advanced with the ferocity of their forebears, attacking every root and vine and tearing up every inch with tooth and claw. The man watched in horror from where he fell in the broken wall of the closet, as a legion of cats attacked and drove back the green menace until finally, with one sagging heft, the last giant vine fell, taking with it the whole of the east wall just as the first rays of the new sun were cast over the horizon.
As the cats filtered out and disappeared back from wherever they had come, the man stumbled across the broken rubble of his house, over the destroyed bed where he collapsed into great choking sobs, cradling the body of his dead wife and the remains of their child as the Maine Coon cross sat next to him, exhausted, looking on and sitting askew with a broken leg.
Slowly rising, the sun illuminated an old Asian man in a fedora who had crawled up the brick remains of the east wall to peer inside.
“Goddamn Wi-zhu vine… my niece had that. Terrible thing to lose a child to…” the man said.
He carefully climbed back down through the rubble and turned once more from the lawn to point a shaking, gnarled, bony old finger.
“Watch that cat! A cat will tell you….. Cats know.”