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The Visitations: Horror Short Story by cam, 3/3

Across the yard, where a footpath enters the woods, a tiger stares at me. My joints lock. I stand motionless. A tiger? Around here? I dare not move. To get back to the house, I'd have to run halfway toward where the beast sits. It stands on all four massive paws. The tiger roars, a deafening sound that would rival the most violent thunder. I am in the eyes of the tiger. It closes the distance, tail twitching one way, then the other.

It stops in front of me, bears its teeth and growls. It roars. Hot breath strikes me in the face. I want to run, but my body will not respond. I want to fall to the ground and hide my face in the grass, but I can't move. It raises its head and engages me eye to eye. It feels like the last second of my life.

It rubs its head against my legs. The black spot on its cheek resembles a dimple, just like ... "Tabby?" He rubs his face against my chest. I raise my hand and gently scratch his head.

He moves around me and steps into the thick growth of amaranth. The big cat begins to dig.

"Tabby, no."

He raises his head and growls.

I back away and slowly walk to the door. Inside, I find my cell phone. Do I call the sheriff's department or do I wait? Wait for what? I watch from the kitchen window.

Tabby steps away from the grave and sits on his haunches.

After several minutes, I know something is happening because Tabby stands and takes a step forward. I hurry outside and position myself next to the big cat. I can hear it too, a gasp for air, scraping of a body against the ground, grunting as effort is expended.

What scrambles out of the hole is beyond any horror I can imagine. Her head is crooked and she seems to be having trouble using her neck to turn it. The eyes appear to be working, but even as we watch, one falls from its socket and dangles. The moment is both disgusting and alarming. On one hand, the eye has fallen out. On the other, the optic nerve has somehow become reattached. But what is most alarming is the fact that the woman's corpse is alive.

She sways while she examines her hands, arms, and body. Far from being the haunting specter that has returned from the grave to terrorize the living, she appears to be in emotional and physical distress. Naked she stands among the amaranth, touches the full seed heads, smells the rich aroma, then disappears beneath the red and magenta foliage.

Tabby and I wait until I wonder if she has died –– again. The amaranth parts, a miniature sea of red, and Tracey rises. She steps out of the flower bed, a healthy, whole, and naked young woman. She walks forward and stands in front of me. The shade of her red hair contrasts with the magenta background.

"Thank you." She reaches out and takes my hand.

I search for my voice and finally manage to stutter. "Let me get you a robe or a blanket."

"I'm fine," she says. "Unless it bothers you. I won't be keeping this shape for long."

I take off my lightweight jacket and drape it over her shoulders. "For me, if not for you."

"I wanted to speak with you before I leave. Your questions deserve answers." She holds out a hand to Tabby, and the cat sits beside her.

"Why did your husband do this?"

"Two reasons. He had found someone else. After that, they discovered that I am a witch. They dismembered me and buried the parts in various places to hinder my activities after death, a myth concerning witches with some basis in fact."

"And who brought you to me?"

"Tabby, that's what you call him. I always called him Rufus."

I scratch the big cat between the ears. "Is he a tiger or house cat?

"Neither. He is what we witches refer to as a familiar spirit which can take the form of an animal. He is very fond of you."

"The feeling is mutual."

"Rufus –– or Tabby if you prefer, and I have business to attend to." Tracey gazes toward the woods. "May we visit you from time to time?"

"I would be honored." Tracey steps forward and kisses me on the lips. The effect is sensual, but not sexual. My senses are more alert to the natural world around me. For example, I know my bird friends are near but waiting.

Tracey retreats to the cover of the amaranth. She immediately springs forth with a roar and lands in front of me, a tigress as impressive in size and beauty as the tiger who now rubs his face against hers. They walk toward the trail that leads into the woods, the path Tabby has taken so many times.

I spend the next hour scouring my yard for any sign that they have been here, all the time knowing that my silence makes me an accessory to what is certainly happening a mile down the road.

I consider going inside to monitor the local news on the radio, but instead, I sit on the deck and wait for the sweet avian chorus to return.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 27, 2017:

jgs, this one is in line to be rewritten and expanded. I'll keep your comments in mind. I always appreciate honest feedback such as you have shared. Thanks for reading this story.

jgshorebird on May 27, 2017:

I had to finish it. Darn it.

And I don't like witches! Zombies are much better. My wife likes vampires.

I started to lose the spell a couple of times, but it (the story) flowed most of time -- for me. Probably the damned witch.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 09, 2017:

Awesome, awesome story, Chris! I love the ending. I'll admit, I didn't see it coming. You've outdone yourself, my friend.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 06, 2017:

Aww man, I wanna know what happened next!

Great story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 17, 2017:

Shyron, The third part to this story seems to have caught everyone by surprise. At this point I am assuming that is a good thing. Thank you for all the valuable feedback.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 16, 2017:

Chris, I sure did not expect this, are you going write about what is done to the husband, he needs some deserts, just deserts.

I hope you have the music back.

Blessings my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 16, 2017:

Thanks, Genna.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 16, 2017:

Not at all, Chris. I loved this story, from beginning to end. You have a wonderful imagination.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 16, 2017:

Genna, thanks for reading and for your helpful comments. I have one beta reader who I am using for stories I'll submit to online magazines, but she has not seen this one yet. It definitely needs some more editing.

Tracey did have unfinished business to attend to regarding her husband and his girlfriend. That's what the POV character meant when he thought "my silence makes me an accessory to what is certainly happening a mile down the road."

Do you feel the third part was too different from one and two. Is it such a drastic twist that it spoils the story in any way? This is something I need to resolve before taking the story forward.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 16, 2017:

Oh my! What a fascinating twist, Chris. Your ending answers questions, while bringing up new ones, such as what "Tracey" has in mind regarding her unfinished business. I really enjoyed this story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 11, 2017:

Gilbert, once again, thank you for your insight. I knew I didn't want to go where the first two segments had led, that someone was attempting to frame him for the murder. I also wanted to twist the ending pretty hard. I think I barely kept it in the horror genre, and that was due to the supernatural element. Otherwise, I think it was more suspense than horror. I know what you mean about writing a SS and feel like you're writing a novel. My longer sci-fi story recently felt that way. It is now a 9000-word short story going off someplace to be considered for publication. This one felt like a SS to me, though, and I'm glad to know you feel it fits as well.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 10, 2017:

Linda, Thank you for reading and for your comments. This is definitely the end at this point. I suppose I could imagine the three characters working together somehow in the future. But for now it is what it is and I'm satisfied.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 10, 2017:

Gypsy Rose Lee, Your response to the story is gratifying. Thanks for taking the time to read and to tell me how it made you feel.

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on April 10, 2017:

Outstanding imagination, Chris. The third part of the story came as a surprise. It seemed very different than the first two installments. But that doesn't mean it wasn't related to your build-up. I think you managed the short story very well. Sometimes, I try to write a short story and feel I'm really writing a novel. But I honestly feel your story stayed within the guidelines of how a short story should work.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on April 10, 2017:

Oh My Goodness! love the whole thing with Tabby and tiger Rufus. This was an amazingly creepy read. Is there more coming or was this the end? I'm sure the husband and lover are not having a good day. Excellent job on this my friend.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 10, 2017:

Thank heavens I was reading this on a sunny afternoon. Give me this at the midnight hour and it would be Stephen King's Pet Cemetery nightmare all over again. Most creative, imaginative and fascinating.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

manatita, I did not know you traveled to do that. That is great. And sing too? If it's anything like what you share with us here, I agree, it is inspirational.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

Larry, I appreciate that very much. Thanks for visiting today.

manatita44 from london on April 09, 2017:

Chris, I'm in NY, Jamaica, Queens. Singing and chanting devotional songs daily with my spiritual brothers and sisters. So inspirational!!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on April 09, 2017:

I always enjoy your stories, friend:-)

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

Eric, "riveting" and "spellbinding" are welcome words on my hubs as long as they are earned. Thanks for reading the story and for the nice compliment.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 09, 2017:

Can we really say "riveting", "spellbinding"? Well this was, thanks.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

Paula, when I found the photos of the white Bengal tiger, I had to go back and change my description of Tabby's stripes to black and white rather than black and yellow. It is a beautiful animal.

This story could have gone off in a completely different direction. Actually, I had trouble keeping it solidly in the horror genre. It borders on suspense. I hope the ending was creepy enough to satisfy most readers.

Thanks for reading, Paula. It's always great to have you visit my hubs.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

Ruby, I agree it was unexpected. But I hope it is still a satisfying story to readers. I'm glad you liked the story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

Thank you, Bill. Actually, I expected a different ending as well. But I'm happy with the result. Thanks for reading.

Suzie from Carson City on April 09, 2017:

It's natural, I know, but so unfair that an animal of such beauty & regal grace, creates paralyzing fear in humans. That cat is amazing. I'm glad I didn't pay attention to you forbidding me to read the final part to this mystery. It's a welcome ending~one that is both astonishing and a bit of relief. Your imagination has brought us a tale we won't soon forget!..Thanks Cam. Great work.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 09, 2017:

Well, what can I say? This was an unexpected ending. Your imagination is soaring. She was very visual with her red hair. I really liked this horror story!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 09, 2017:

The ending was as unexpected as the talent was obvious.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 09, 2017:

manatita and John. Two poets. My imagination is not that of a poet. haha, I appreciate you both reading this tale, and I appreciate your comments as well. Have a good afternoon in London and night in Queensland.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 09, 2017:

Well, that was totally unexpected. I could never have imagined that ending.

manatita44 from london on April 09, 2017:

What an interesting story! You show great imagination! Nice and charming woman.

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