by E. E. King
Gerald was a sculptor, gifted with the fires of creation, cursed with fathomless canyons of despair. Unable to extricate himself from a lightless, twisting passage somewhere in his frontal cortex, he shot himself.
He’d come back as a graceful tortoiseshell cat. The thing was… it was after all, the Island of the Damned …he knew he still had it in him – the ability to mold a hunk of clay into something beautiful, something alive …if only he’d had opposable thumbs.
Many were trapped on the island. The furry and the damned – thumbless painters, caterwauling sopranos. Dogs and cats searching the island for inspiration and other prey. There was danger in every bite. There was no way to be certain who a rat might be. What undiscovered Milton lay behind sharp, yellow incisors? What Michelangelo peered from small rodent eyes? It was bad enough not to be able to create…but to destroy by dinner was both horrible and banal.
Once, after picnicking on a particularly feisty, russet mouse, Gerald remembered that the mouse had been missing its left ear. What if he had just eaten Van Gogh? Gerald had always worshipped Van Gogh’s mad, vibrant brush strokes, his almost sculptural dimensionality, his vibrant hews. He recollected a crazy, starry look in the mouse’s eyes.
Gerald lay awake on the cold gritty sand, stomach, and heart aching. The next day he was a wreak. He needed at least fifteen hours of sleep a day just to feel feline.
He became a vegan, dining on sea grass and kelp. But his stomach growled and his vision dimmed. Gerald recalled reading, when he was still able to read, that cats lacking the taurine found in meat and fish go blind. Gerald’s whole world was form and light and color. Blindness was worse than death, worse than murder. Also, the sea grass made him vomit.
That very night he went hunting. Limping on cooling sands at twilight in search of sustenance, Gerald did not hear the soft padded footsteps behind him. He was grabbed so quickly, and was by then so weak, that at the first pierce of needle teeth, this heart gave out. He did not even have time to notice, before final darkness descended, that the hungry, red furred, coyote who snatched him was missing its left ear.
E.E. King is a painter, performer, writer, and biologist. She’ll do anything that won’t pay the bills, especially if it involves animals. Check out paintings, writing, musings and books at: ww.elizabetheveking.com and amazon.com/author/eeking