The Travelor

If there are others out there like me, I know them not.

I know, though, that they do not do what I do. They do not hunt the way that I hunt. There is no need greater than mine, and I take it to every doorstep.

In every town, there exists a certain merchant who chooses to sell their wares door to door. Some beast such as myself will always find a home in the employ of these sellers for they are in constant want of something with my particular skills. Of the things I can do, there is a countless wonder of marvels within me.

When I want, I can make certain will-some individuals come to my begging. They become puppets in my theater of hunger. This trick of the trade allows me the fortune of being able to sell bread to the peddler. Another wonder I can whip up at the call of a crow is a slippery little bit of transformation. It is not all creatures I can become, but certain felines and aviary animals are known to me. That allows me to gain ground with certain clients who would normally shut the door in my face.

Like this woman here lying face first in her own drool and blood, her throat open, spewing what blood I did not want. The upturn of her nose and the pickled green dress told me she slammed her hate on strangers quicker than the sunrise.

But animals, especially, calico black cats like myself, were her weakness. She let me in, shut the door, locking the world out and trapping herself inside with me and my hunger. She tasted as sour as she looked.

Her house is empty. Smells of mothballs and mint from the empty bottles of booze under her sink. There was also an empty, but unclean litter box.

 No cat.

No cat to speak of, but beneath all the mint, blood,  and mothballs there is something else. Something rotten.

The sun will be up in a few moments. No better place to hide than the home of your victim. If anyone was to come, it’d be free lunch and dinner. No complaints.

I start by searching the cabinets, then the closets, the drawers in the bedrooms—there must have been kids at one point, but no longer; the sugar had turned to caramel in their sheets—moved on to the attic and the basement, then the crawlspaces and floorboards, and that is where I find the creatures.

Their bones are broken, distorting their carcasses. I count at least twelve cats and kittens. All long dead except for one whose eyes and fur still remain. Buckets of litter and lye surround them.

A murderer, being one who takes the life of another, is a beast gone wild. A murderer who targets the creatures of the wild as their prey are a vile lot with no regard for what is good or evil. They only want power, to feel powerful.

When the sun set, I’ll bury them in the yard and leave her to rot. In the meantime, I will use her purchasing card to place several orders of the knives I am currently selling. I also use her email to send a charming letter to my manager about how well I handle the delicate art of selling. She/I sign it with a kiss.

That will get me more free reign to roam from home to home without much interference from the home office. After that, I go to sleep in the spot where the dead lay.

I rise with the stars and the setting sun.

My blood runs black in the night, you see; there is no other beast quite like me.

In the dark of the woman’s backyard, I dig a grave for the murdered animals hidden in her floorboards. I leave the door to her home open, letting the night air and creatures in to feast on her remains.

Hopefully, when they find her, there’ll be nothing left but tooth and claw marks on her bones.

On to the next one.

Most people would not answer a stranger’s call in the middle of the night, but there were a select few so lonely, they welcome my knock at any hour. I can always tell who they are by the ones who, though living alone, leave their shutters and blinds drawn, showing their supple, empty lives to the world.

Take this as a warning: shut your blinds, you never know what will come knocking.  

“Are you the resident of this lovely home?” I ask, bowing my head at the frail woman on the other side of the threshold.

She blinks up at me in the light of her porch.

“Who’s calling?”

“It’s Sharpe’s Cookware. My name is Shay Moore. May I come in and talk about what we can do for you and your home?”

“Well,” she says, glancing back inside. “It’s late for this sort of thing, isn’t it?”

I smile. My fangs as small as I can make them this close to a fresh, ready meal.

“You’re with Sharpe’s? I’ve bought from them before, but never this late. Aren’t you afraid? A young thing like you walking around in the dark. You could get eaten up.” She grins, showing her missing teeth.

“I’m not afraid of anything but the fear of giving my life to those in the shadows.”

This makes her laugh. She turns her back on me, leaving the door open. “Come in, dear, don’t spend your life in the porchlight.”

“Thank you,” I say, crossing into her home. “You’re far too kind.”

The entryway opens up to a living room, decorated in stitched thread and patchwork, needlepoint and fine quilting. There are gardens on pillows and mountainside cottages along the threaded embroidery of the couch. Each picture frame along the walls holds a capture of a young child on a warm sunny day.

“My babies,” she says, taking a seat in the wooden rocking chair by the fire. “I have tea on the stove if you’d like a cup to warm your bones.”

“None for me. Is it alright if I show you what I have?” I ask, settling in on the couch with my bag of knives at my feet.

“Please, we haven’t got all the time in the world, have we?” She picks up the needles in the pocket on the side of her chair and begins to weave her thread together.

“As a loyal customer, you are aware of the array of products Sharpe’s has to offer, but have you been made aware of the new line of kitchen knives that were designed by our team of corporate scientists to meet every need of the kitchen in this century and the next.”

“Oohh,” she coos excitedly. “I have not been told about these.”

“If you’d allow me a demonstration. Please, go get your knife—your most trusted utensil.”

The kettle in the kitchen screams for attention.

“Just in time.”

The woman scurries out of the room and into the next. I open my bag of knives and pull out each one, setting them out on the table. I place the two largest knives on the end of the line and place the smaller ones inside.

A sharp smile splayed on her table.

The woman comes back in, smiling at the steam coming from the cups.

“I know you said you didn’t want any, but everyone needs a nice cup of tea every once in a while.”

“Thank you.”

As soon as the cup hits the table, I drink it up. Slurping down the hot liquid.

“My, my,” she says. “You are a thirsty one.”

“Your knife, please,” I said, reaching my dark hand toward her.

Her toothless grin returns. “My most prized utensil is not a knife or any piece of silver in my kitchen. It is what I have lost and miss the most.”

I lean back against the couch cushions, inexplicably tired. “You don’t say.”

“I do. I do say. My teeth have all but rotted out of my head, but yours are just the same likeness as the once I used to own. Not nearly as sharp, but I can make do.”

The woman stands up from the chair. Her needles gripped tight in her hands. Smiling with malice intent, she moves to me across the room.

I try to raise my hand, to stand and fend her off, but am hopeless and immobile. Any attempt to transform into a cat or a bat or some other creature that could escape her terror dome left me drained.

She was on me, straddling my hips with the needles pressed against my neck, pinpricks asking for entrance. Without an invite, she pushed the wooden tips into me. My blood bursts out, a well spring. She places her mouth against the tiny holes and laps the blood up. I can feel the slippery slug of her tongue against my skin.

We fall to the floor, her body on top of me. With each grunt and thrust, she sucks the life out of me until I am left an empty pot with teeth in her living room.

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