Written By Abdun Nur
Twenty One – Electrical Extrication
Twenty Two – Soulless Larrikins Roam Wanton Upon Their Stomping Ground
Twenty Three – Shangri-La
The Cat Lady
“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” Augustine of Hippo
The old woman sat quietly in her chair by the fire, with a nice hot cup of tea, she felt cosy, almost serene, the tea was enchanting, and it seemed a heavenly pleasure as she relaxed contently, the only sound the gentle noise of coal burning in the hearth, and the relaxing purr of the cat, which she was absentmindedly stroking on her lap.
She lived alone, and almost never had visitors, except for deliveries. Her disposition had slowly ended any family contact, as she sometimes gave a cold spirited, even arrogant impression, generally on initial meetings, because she held a well founded cynical view towards others, formed over a lifetime of bitter experience. So her reserved and blunt attitude created this common perception, and for it, she was treated contemptuously by her neighbours, avoided and judged harshly, reinforcing her own perception of isolation. And in response she was defensive, which was taken as rude and abusive. This had, over the years, caused a vicious cycle of continued negativity whenever she ventured out, making her more and more reclusive; so she lived an isolated life.
She’d lived alone for decades, a spinster with a dozen cats for company, in an old house, a house far too big for the needs of one old woman, at least, for your average old woman. The house had the sort of proportions that would suit a small hotel or nursing home, more than a residence; with most of the rooms neglected, and a badly over grown garden. This very large house was set far from the beaten path; an isolated Victorian building of granite and slate, the closest neighbour was a two-mile walk and the local village three miles. She owned much of the land around the house, including a fairly large wood, which had a beautiful stream running through it.
Her neighbours ignored her mostly; she was seen as a mad old cat lady. The local children stayed well away from her, thinking her a witch, due mainly to her scruffy dress and unkempt hair. For the children, her mysteriousness needed explaining, and her being a witch achieved this.
She was not a lazy woman, although that’d be hard to determine superficially, she was a preoccupied woman. She invested her time in the pursuit of one thing, she was an artist, she wasn’t interested in selling her art, or having anyone see her art, but within her, a powerful passion and creativity drove her immense talent, for she wasn’t an ordinary artist, but an artist without equal, her creations were stunning, her subject matter infinite in scope, she’d dedicated her life to this endeavour, her work was her great love, for this love she’d shut out all other distractions.
She was old now, although she didn’t look her age. Her talent had only matured over the years, her skills were now greater than ever, in every room of her large house paintings were stacked floor to ceiling, carefully wrapped and protected, because her paintings were her children, her love, her family.
When she painted she was happy, the pleasure of completing a masterpiece to her gave a natural high, she’d been fortunate to have inherited the house and a small fortune from her parents, which had sustained her and her driving passion throughout her life. Her only; she still believed; surviving close family, was her brother, who’d vanished without trace over forty years ago; with never a word, sighting or sign of him. She still missed her brother, his genius had enhanced her talents beyond reckoning, for which she remained daily grateful.
The talent to paint, draw and create had always been with her, in her youth her parents encouraged her passion, and were proud of her abilities and skills, she was dearly loved. Her brother’s talents out shone even hers, he wasn’t a painter, but still an artist of sorts, his talent was unique and caused their parents no end of difficulties, he saw reality without filter or obstruction; he helped his older sister, using his perception of raw reality to expand her natural abilities, and that legacy continued to that very day.
After her brother’s disappearance her parents took the loss hard and never recovered; death had soon taken them, then the activities of life left the house, only her sorrow and loss had been left. Forty years is a long time, and as time passed the memory of her brother faded as a distant and diminishing recollection, she’d slowly grown into solitude, soon only the painting remained, the only light in the darkness.
In her passions she was pure, uncompromising and steadfast, and this preoccupied her every waking moment.
It happened that, on this day a letter arrived at the cat lady’s house, not the usual bill or circular, but an actual letter, it was from her cousin’s granddaughter, she remembered her Aunt Deirdre’s daughter Hilda from her childhood, a life time ago, her granddaughter was writing to tell her Hilda had died and the funeral was the following day at 12pm, and the family would like her to attend as Hilda had always spoken fondly of her. She thought about it a little while, and then decided not to go.
Later that morning, after her mind had been dwelling on her memories of Hilda as a girl, she decided to make the arduous trek into the village and order flowers to send to the funeral, “with a nice card” she said to herself, “it’s half nine already.” She realised. “Time flies. Peoples oldest ritual, the sacrifice of flowers to add colour and beauty to the passing of the dead.” She said out loud to her favourite cat Jasper, with a smile.
She had decided, as the rain looked to be only threatening, and not as it usually did endlessly pour at this time of year, she’d walk, she enjoyed the blustery autumn, to her it was the build up to Christmas, she’d enjoyed such magical Christmases when she was a girl, and the memory was enough to rekindle the feelings, childhood magic never dies, just as childhood horror, but she’d had no horror as a girl.
She put on a thick coat, woolly hat and scarf and locked the large heavy front door after it closed solidly. The garden was so over grown she struggled to navigate her own garden path to the road. “I’ll break my bloody neck. This garden’s so overgrown it more like African bush.” She muttered to herself.
It was a cold grey day, a little blustery as she walked along the roadside to the shops, but the air smelt fresh and bracing, she liked the autumn air, but she never liked venturing out to mingle with the multitude, that was always a chore. She walked often into the wilds of Scotland that surrounded her home, it was a rugged hard place with a majesty replete with endless fascination.
When she arrived at the village and looked through the colourful window of the florist’s, she thought about what she’d put in the card.
She went inside. The florist glanced up from an arrangement she was creating, and recognized the old woman. “Can I help you?” she asked with a cold tone without looking up from her work.
“No need to be rude woman.” The old cat lady responded sharply with a scowl.
“What? I asked if you needed help?” The florist said defensively, a little knocked off balance.
“Anyway, I need a wreath for a funeral to be delivered at Saint John’s church, in the city, tomorrow morning before 11.” The old woman said looking around.
The florist put down her pruning shears and walked over to the counter. “If you look through this book you can select which wreath you would like, or I can make a special wreath with words in flowers, whatever you decide on.” The florist said opening a book on the counter next to her till.
The old woman flicked through. “They’re very pricey! Are these priced, based on the cost of tulip bulbs of the seventeenth century?” She commented in a distracted way as she concentrated on her selection.
“I don’t understand?
The delivery is also extra.” The florist replied.
“This one will do.” She jabbed her finger on a picture in the book.
After writing out the card, and paying she left.
She decided as she was in the village, she’d get a little shopping.
When she approached the village’s general store she saw small cards displayed in the front window advertising jobs, second hand items and businesses etcetera, this gave her an idea. “Could I place a card in your window?” She asked the woman behind the counter of the shop.
“It’s six pounds a month, or two pounds a week.” The woman told her, as she handed her a card and pen.
“A month should do.” Gwen replied.
Gwen wrote an ad for someone to do her garden and odd jobs, then got her shopping before heading home in a taxi.
Once she’d arrived home and put away the shopping, and made herself some food, she settled down again at her painting ready to indulge her passion, but at that moment of contentment there was an unexpected knock at her door, at which she tutted loudly.
When she opened the door a young woman stood before her, well dressed and quite beautiful. She smiled at the cat lady, who was frowning. “Yes girl what do you want?” She asked curtly.
“Hello. I’m Hilda’s granddaughter, Cathy, I wrote to you about the funeral?
But knowing you’re reclusive, I was afraid you’d decide not to attend the funeral tomorrow, so I thought I’d come and try to convince you in person.” The Young girl replied.
“I haven’t seen Hilda since we were girls.” The old woman was silent a second or two.
“She was my best friend growing up.
We’d many good adventures.” The old woman said sadly. She sighed. “OK. I suppose you can come in…And I suppose you’d like a cup of tea?” She asked the girl as she wandered away from the open door.
Cathy closed the door and replied. “That would be lovely. Thanks” As she walked inside.
But she stopped dead after a few steps. What she saw was unbelievable, the walls were covered in paintings, she looked at them as she moved slowly along the passageway, hypnotised by the incredible detail, the depth, the skill, the subject matter, the quality and beauty of these painting was simply amazing. She’d normally ignore paintings having no real interest in them, but these paintings startled her, like seeing a truly beautiful soul startles, transforming a fleeting glance into a stare.
“This way girl.” The old woman gestured.
She invited her into the living room, a coal fire was burning in the hearth, the cats were dotted around sleeping, and a row of partly completed canvases were lined up on easels facing the large window overlooking her wild garden and the magnificent rugged landscape beyond.
The girl was dumbstruck; all she could do was to marvel at each new masterpiece she came across. “I’ll be right back with the tea, take a seat.” The old woman told her as she left the room.
The girl toured the living room, examining some of the paintings, and drawings, not just hung on the walls, but also stacked up, in that room alone there must have been several dozen paintings. And each one was simply amazing.
A few minutes later she returned. “Here’s the tea. You’re fortunate I went to the shops this morning, so we’ve biscuits.” The old woman said walking into the living room with a tray of tea and biscuits.
“Thank you.” The girl said as she took a seat near the fire. “I was just admiring your art work; you have amazing talent.” The girl told her.
“At every moment you choose yourself.” The old woman said cryptically. “I have a photo album of me and your grandmother, from when we were girls, would you like to see it?” The old woman asked.
“Please.” The girl replied, they drank tea and chatted, the old woman reminisced about her youth as they examined the photo album.
“Why did you and my grandmother lose touch?” The girl pried.
“She wanted the world, I wanted the adventure. She chose a path that didn’t interest me, and over the years my disinterest drove her away I suppose.” The old woman replied.
Have you traveled widely?” The girl asked.
“I’ve never traveled beyond relatively short distances; except after my brother disappeared for a few short years. Why would I leave my true love?” Replied the old woman.
“How could you create the images you’ve painted, there isn’t even a television here?” The girl puzzled.
“My paintings are the stories I create from my imaginings and perceptions, I take the images from those imaginings and perceptions and make them manifest on canvas.” The old woman answered.
“Stories?” She replied looking puzzled.
“Yes.” The old woman answered unhelpfully.
“Could you explain?
What is the story of this amazing painting over your fire place?” She asked.
“The death of the unknown solider?” The old woman said.
“Yes, is that what the painting’s called; what story did you imagine for that, it’s quite a macabre, brutal image?”
Gwen stood and walked over to a bookcase built against a wall filled with rows of the same book, but each with a different number on the spine, Gwen selected a book and returned to her seat, she made herself comfortable then opened the book, flicking through the pages until she found the story she was looking for.
“Well.” Replied the old woman earnestly. “What’s a life?
Is it simply a random chance of circumstance without purpose or point, a life lived simply for the living, where death is the conclusion leading only to a black oblivion, a conclusion of utter nothingness?
Or, is it our own free will that transforms the potentials of life into a purposeless grey monotone of inanity, so generating the fear of an end leading to the same black oblivion as the life so painfully squandered?
In this story the boy in the painting is laying still, his wounds are beyond the skill of those around him to give aid, it’s at this point he’s considering life’s end with great focus, he can taste his fear and desperation.
Each breath now is a gift, the foul, stagnant air being the sweetest air he could possibly imagine, he looks around through his pain, and his terror grows as he sees the death and suffering that surrounded him in a gloomy room of horrors, its blood covered floor decorated with gruesome discarded remains, and the air alive with the agonies of the vanquished. A poorly lit room filled with the dead and dying, attended by the incompetent or the eager sadist, who indulge their respective capacities with enthusiastic exuberance.
He lays ignored, his body in tatters upon this table of death, his pain overwhelming his mind to a point of endurance he feels he couldn’t bear much longer. His eyes are wide, his face tormented in a grimace of total focus, he breaths in stunted breaths. A man stands over him, lifting the blood soaked cloth that covered his decimated body, then dropping it back; he walks away disinterested.
He would die alone surrounded by people, what a place to die in denigration, what had he done to deserve such contempt and irrelevance in this cold, cold world. He now begins to realise no one was going to help him, and from this realisation pragmatism washes upon his mind. His panic calms as he sets himself upon the inevitable end he now faces.
His pain begins to dissipate as his body slowly fails, and his thoughts wander inexorably back to the single decision that’d brought him to this sorry situation.
How’d he arrived at this desperate point?
He’d volunteered! He couldn’t believe his actions; he was now in total amazement at how stupid, gullible and xenophobic he’d been. Then of course he’d no idea of what he was asking for, he’d eagerly queued up believing the lies that filled the newspapers, the media whores had tricked him, he signed away his limited freedoms, giving his very soul to the soulless of the military machine, to be murdered for the amusement of his imposed masters. “If I knew then what I know now I’d have fought against the very people I’d fervently supported”, he thinks, his pain easing further as the life drains slowly from his body.
He’d quickly realized soon after arriving, it didn’t matter to the soulless masters which side you fought upon, only that death and carnage reigned supreme. Death was the objective, nothing more, the agenda was to murder, to murder as many souls as possible in the most efficient way imaginable, he’d seen so much murder since he arrived in the land of death and carnage, so much pain, so much suffering, so much horror.
He manages a small ironic laugh as he thinks how bellicose his outlook was as he stood in that queue, all those souls lined up to defend their country from the enemy, he wondered how many from that long, long queue still lived only a few months on.
He understood the contempt for his life in this theater of death, he was here to die, to suffer, to awaken, he’d been asleep to all reality before he arrived here, he’d been so easy to control and manipulate, so naive and childish, and how, how trusting of authority, that was the bitter pill, how trusting of those who were not fit to breath clean air or live in the community of others, those who plotted his demise and the demise of all empathic souls.
There were many soulless vampires in this place, those creatures who loved to murder, that relished the destruction and suffering, those that had no conscience or empathy, the cold blooded murderers of war. These psychopathic creatures maintained the conflict, without them, all war would be impossible, they were the driving force, the willing slaughterers of their comrades, or their adversaries.
He’d always avoided the vampire heroes of hierarchy; they were the ones the brass revered, the glorified and decorated.
The heroes of the media, the glorified patriots, the soulless creatures that people idolized, the greater the number murdered by these creatures, the greater the accolade; as propaganda ruled in war, murder was the goal, and murder was the business, the greater a hero the more proficient a mass murderer. Only a soulless man could do the barbarous ‘heroic’ deeds of war, and the more heroic the deed, the more death, the more destruction, the more suffering imposed, and so the more reverence and worship the media invested in that soulless hero.
His pain had lifted as death stood over him, he smiled at the irony of his family who would think he’d died for a noble purpose, he knew that lie was invested deeply, and used as a way to give justification to his murder, a murder no one would ever be answerable for, no one would ever investigate, or take any interest in determining who caused his injuries and death, his entire life washed away simply for the amusement of the vilest of all forms, the elite who subjugate and deceive the masses.
His mind drifts back to the root of his death, the queue to sign into war, that queue, flag waving, patriotic queue, that king and country lie, that long queue of fools, how he wishes he’d been better informed; but he knows deep down even if someone had explained the realities of war to him, he would have aggressively denied their truth and abused them for their honesty.
It was a good trick, one they began from a small child, filling the head with an ocean of lies, people were made drunk on the lies, but it’s so hard to see the lies until you’re exposed to bare truth.
He now realizes the true form of slavery was hierarchy, it gave status and through that fictional perception allowed some to dominate, and act free of all accountability, and others to have no value or protection. He was not of a valued status; he was simply a foolish soul who’d willingly jumped with both feet into a meat grinder; a meat grinder that was dressed up as a great adventure. But it was no adventure any sane soul would entertain; it was a perpetual moment of horror that had no escape, created through the violence and fear of the fictional construct of hierarchy, and hierarchies are always dominated by the hellish minds of the walking corpses of the soulless.
He thought about his short life, eighteen years, now his time had come to die, his heart filled with a terrible fear of death, but he does not weep nor pray for a little more time to live.
His pain has stopped, the light is dimming in his eyes slowly, he thinks about the great lies, dying for your country as a hero, giving your life to something bigger than oneself, what a lie, could any lie be bigger, he was murdered for the advantages of the masters of a hierarchy that cared less than nothing for him. These were bitter thoughts.
He would’ve left that free range slaughter house of death the first day he’d arrived, but the heroes prevented him, the vampire heroes would eagerly shoot you for even thinking of walking away, and they murdered many for doing so. Fear of certain murder by the soulless heroes of your employer, then motivated facing only probable murder at the hands of the invented enemy of your employer.
The whores of Fleet Street had conned him onto that table, and they would lie about him when he was tipped off the table into a muddy grave.
He remembered the headlines. “The soldiers that don’t come back are the heroes.” Yes, death is such a heroic act he thinks, death is not heroic it’s gruesome, he’d witnessed so much hero death in the few weeks he’d endured this horror show, compelled to witness thousands of good souls torn apart simply for the sport of their owners.
He remembered another. “If a bullet has your name on it, you’re a hero.” Propaganda of the most criminal kind, no wonder alcoholism was so rife in journalism, to write such lies and hide such truths simply for the wages of a whore.
A priest stood at his side, he was speaking Latin and reciting some religious mumbo-jumbo over him, but this dying boy wasn’t a religious man, and if he had of been, the experiences he’d had, made certain in his mind no God could exist. Then he feels the priest trying to remove the gold ring his father had given him before he left for war, it was a tight fit, he was pulling hard but it wouldn’t budge. He walked a few feet away then returned with a pair of shears, he lifted his hand and put his finger between the blades then snip; off comes his finger, the pain seems minor to him now, so close to death. Taking the ring, the priest throws the finger on the floor, discarded like rubbish, he puts the ring in his pocket and wandered off. Robbed by a priest, the final act of lunacy in the lunatic asylum he thinks.
He’d be buried in the mud, no marker to show he’d ever lived, no place for a flower to mark his remains, no soul to morn, no tear to drop. He would be unsung, and soon forgotten, he’d had such great dreams, he’d wanted to do so many things, to see so many places, to kiss so many girls. But all he had, and all he would ever have, had been stolen with contempt by his employer, for the meager wages of war, but he’d taken those wages eagerly, although he’d never even had a chance to spend those meager wages, his life in the end had cost his employer, the ink he used to sign away his own life.
As the light dims in his eyes, and the air releases from his lungs for the final time, his heart stops.
The suffering and horror of his short life finally finished, no one had noticed his death, and in that place of sardonic healing, no one cared about a lonely frightened boy slowly dying in agony, any more than they would have cared about a cockroach in a drain.
A once strong young body ripped apart and motionless, his eyes now staring cold and dead as his soul releases the shell of perception.
Wars are no longer started by Kings and Queens, who had installed themselves through genocides to form the feudal fiefdoms, all organised by agents of the Vatican, aided by the Ashkenazi, always they’d acted without any concern for the feelings or lives of their slaves. Now, since the birth of the Vatican’s fraud of democracy, created to maintain slavery as the monarchy model of feudal slavery was falling apart; wars are now started by propaganda. At first the lies of the agents of the State were used to mask reality, who simply announced the lies publicly, but as the printing press took over, it became the lies of journalists, instituted and enforced by the slave owners.” The old woman finished speaking, and only the gentle sounds of the fire remained as the girl stared at the painting.
“Do you sell your work?” Cathy asked, breaking the silence.
“No! I’ve never sold a painting.” The old woman said.
“You don’t want to sell your work?” Persisted the girl.
“Why would I sell the product of my soul for money girl, I’ve enough money, but I can never replace a child, these painting are my great love, each to me is a child, I give birth to them, and they in return give me pleasure, I’ve so many children now I’m neglecting them, they fill this house. Some I haven’t seen in 60 years or more.” The old woman said a little sadly.
“Are you planning on attending my grandmother’s funeral tomorrow?” Cathy asked sensing the old woman’s growing tension.
“Well I wasn’t intending to. But yes, I’ll attend.” Replied the old woman, “I’ll get a taxi and be there around eleven forty-five.” She replied.
“If you like I can pick you up, I only live about fifteen miles away, I can collect you around eleven, if that’s OK?” Cathy offered.
“That would be very kind of you, thank you.
You seem young to be Hilda’s granddaughter?” The old woman said after realizing the age didn’t seem quite right, as she considered Hilda’s age, and Hilda’s daughters age in relation to Cathy.
“I was an accident, my Mum got pregnant at forty-seven, so I’ve a mature family, my brother is twenty years older than me, and my elder sister is twenty-five years older.” She told her. They chatted about this a little more before the young girl left.
Click Here for: Chapter Two
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