Tattle-Tails

Prompt Day #142: Write a creepy yarn involving an amputated tail

 

Tattle-Tails

 

Just because I didn’t like the damn cat, doesn’t mean I killed it on purpose. I don’t like dead animals, which is why I didn’t like the cat. Nemo made it his life’s mission to bring me dead mice and other rodents on a daily basis. He only ever left them at my feet, in my shoes or on my side of the bed. No one understood my feelings and no one would have understood that I accidentally backed over him in the driveway. I knew it as soon as I felt the bump. I went around the back and all I could see was his tail sticking out from under the tire. I pulled forward enough to release the flattened thing from under the tire but I couldn’t pry the tail out of the tread. I threw Nemo into a garbage bag and left his tail as is. It would come off somewhere along the way to work, I thought.

I told the kids I hadn’t seen Nemo lately when they worried about him. I even drove them to the shelter to make sure he hadn’t got picked up and taken there accidentally. I reassured them that he would be back. He did come back—or at least part of him came back. One week after the accident, I slipped my feet into my slippers and felt something long and fuzzy. I pulled my foot out quickly and dumped the intruder out. It was Nemo’s tail. How the hell had it gotten in my slipper? He had a habit of putting mice or shrews in my shoes but I couldn’t blame him for this. I grabbed it up with a hand towel, wrapped it up inside and hid it in the bottom of the trash can.

The next day, it was back, lying on the floor of the walk-in shower, some of its hair had fallen off and the edge that had once connected it to Nemo was getting a little gamey. At this point, I suspected Neil, my husband had found it and was taunting me. Well, two could play at that game. I would just get rid of it once again and pretend nothing ever happened. But then, I found a rat’s tail in my toothbrush holder and a raccoon’s tail under my wiper blades.

By the end of the week, I had taken to carrying a garbage bag with me everywhere I went. There were torn-off tails in the most unlikely places. No one else ever seemed to notice them, but they were there; sticking out of my pillow case, in the pocket of my favorite hoodie, and worst of all the handful of mice tails shoved into my lunchbox life packing peanuts. But no matter how many other creatures’ tails showed up in the course of my day, there was always Nemo’s tail somewhere among the rest. Each time, it looked more ragged than the last and the smell, ugh. I could not believe that Neil and the kids didn’t notice. Especially when the kids still went out on daily missions to find Nemo.

Today, while they were gone (even Neil had gone this time, promising to drive them around town to post flyers), I started a fire and burned todays cache of tails, including the now almost bald and mostly slimy Nemo tail. I didn’t even mind the smell of charred flesh. It was freeing actually. I should have burnt the thing when it first happened. I found myself hypnotized by the flames as one tail after another curled up under the heat. I didn’t hear the kids come running around the side of the house. I didn’t see the monstrosity my daughter cradled in her arms until she was holding it up and out to my triumphantly.

Nemo. Mangy, crippled and tailless dangled from my daughter’s hands. I screamed and swung at it, hoping to knock it out of her grasp.

“Mommy! No. See? It’s Nemo!” She said, hugging him

“I think he got hit by a car. We found him alongside the road.” Neil said, stroking Nemo’s head.

What could I say? Announce that not only was this impossible because I saw the thing dead just two weeks ago but I was the one that hit him.

“Do you want to hold him? Poor baby. He lost his tail.” My son said and my daughter held him out again but kept a wary eye on me. Nemo mewled from the back of his throat and looked up at me. I didn’t want to touch him, but I had to keep up the charade so I held my arms out for him.

He was in my arms when I saw the red glow in his eyes and felt the deep growl in the back of his throat. I held him up closer to my face, thinking surely I had just caught the reflection of the fire in his eyes, not that his eyes were glowing red. I turned so his back was to the fire, just to be sure. They were red alright and the volume of his growling was escalating. I had a split second decision to make and without giving the aftermath any thought; I snapped his neck and threw him in the fire.

I guess I better tell the kids that I ran over the cat a couple weeks ago.

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