The Monster Next Door
The Cat and the Moon (Esteban's Tale)
It was a few hours before The Date Night. While Esteban set up a CPAP for Robin, he told Lilim, Wayne Bruce and Kent this story.
Long ago, in the Land of Wa, a cat came to the court of the Shaman Queen Himiko.
“Great Queen of the spirits,” the cat said. “I ask a great boon.”
“What do you offer in return for this boon?” asked the Shaman Queen, who strangely resembled Lilim.
“I have nothing to offer, I am but the humble cat of a humble man in a humble village.” replied the cat.
“Then you have nothing to expect.” said the Shaman Queen.
“But two lives hang in the balance,” said the cat, “mine and my mistress, and we have little time.”
“It is beyond even my power to change the time allotted to us on this earth.” said Queen Himiko.
“I am a cat, and I see much of what others cannot,” said the Cat. “and your magic could save us both.”
“There is much I would know of my magic.” said the Queen of Wa. She nodded to the cat.
“I approach my eighth year and my master would surely have killed me, rather than risk my becoming a cat spirit; had it not been for the strange leprosy of the breath which has befallen my mistress,” said the cat
“So you hope that in saving your mistress you might save your own skin?” asked the Shaman Queen
“It is exceedingly precious to me, O Queen,” said the cat. “my master seeks a cure, but I know he will not find one.”
“I will look to your mistress, O cat.” said the Queen and she summoned her two greatest warriors
At the village of the cat’s master, the Queen saw that his mistress was sick with a terrible curse: a curse that was soon to consume the entire village.
For the mistress had stopped to pray at the moon temple. The cat agreed to show her the way to the abandoned shrine and the Queen set forth at once with her two mightiest protectors.
Alas, while they traveled up the mountain, the cat’s master returned home. The village was all but deserted. But a wise-man attended on his wife.
It was too late for the cat’s mistress, and as she died darkness seeped into her eyes and awoke her as something far worse than a corpse. She called her husband into her embrace and bade him slay the remaining survivors of the curse on the village, starting with the wise-man who had not saved her.
On the way to the temple, the cat and the Shaman Queen came upon the remains of four dogs that had been buried in the ground and tortured for weeks. These dogs had become Inugami, terrible demon protectors who slew the Queen’s brave retinue. Only the cat and the Queen survived, so the Queen picked the warrior who had been her lover and resurrected him, leaving his brave companion, who resembled Jason Wright, to rot.
One of the Inugami escaped the battle and they followed the demonic dog-headed man to the abandoned shrine, where a traveler from the west greeted them.
In order to battle the approaching darkness, Queen Himiko transformed the cat into a human one night before his eighth birthday. Then she used her vast magics to summon the darkness to her.
While the traveler instructed the cat in the secret ways of humans, the darkness arrived in the form of the cat’s master and his mistress.
The cat’s master carried the slain wise-man over his shoulder in an old, bloody sack and when he learned the man who barred his way to the moon temple was none other than his over-aged cat, he drew his knife and cut the transformed cat’s throat.
The Shaman Queen’s resurrected guard, who it should be said looked a great deal like Zed, slew the cat’s old master on the spot.
As the possessed mistress bent down to lap up the cat’s seeping blood, he used the last drop of his strength to seal the dark thing inside her into a bottle.
The Shaman Queen drove the last of the dark entity out of the abandoned shrine.
“That was the dumbest, grossest story I ever heard,” cried Kent.
“Well the cat survived and went on to oppose the dark entity many, many times,” said Esteban.
“But he never vanquished it,” said Lilim, with a wry smile.
“Eventually the cat came to realize that the Shaman Queen had made a mistake,” said Esteban. “She resurrected her lover instead of the warrior who could have contained it.
Fortunately, that warrior had many descendants with the same powers.”
Here, Esteban fixed Lilim with a steady green-eyed gaze. “Those descendants married into an American family named Wright.”
“Oh crap,” said Lilim.
“I know you’re under contract,” said Esteban, “but have you ever considered taking on side jobs? Fielding offers from some other… powerful interests.”