by Iris Carden

It was a moonless night, and the power was out. No lights in the street, and definitely none at my front door. 

As I fumbled with the key, a black velvet shadow slinked past, brushing my leg. I dropped the key.

“Meow,” the shadow said.

“Shadow,” I answered, “you scared the daylights out of me.”

“Meow,” Shadow answered.  He might have been saying sorry.  Or he might have been saying he didn’t care less.  It’s kind of hard to tell with Shadow.

“Well, where’s the key?”  I asked, as I squatted down in an undignified manner, and started to feel around the doorstep.

“Meow,” said Shadow, and smooched my arm. 

“Don’t think you’re being forgiven that easily,” I said, as I located the lost item, and stood up.

Shadow smooched my leg. “Purr,” he said.

“I don’t believe that, either,” I said.  “I know you too well.”

I opened the door and stepped in… something.  Something moist and semi-firm.  Something like cream cheese, but with something brittle inside that went “crunch”.

“What have you done?”  I asked.

“Purr” said Shadow.

“Did you knock something over?”


What was near the doorway that he could have knocked over?  I couldn’t think of anything.

As I felt my way along the wall, toward the kitchen, I realised something squelchy and sticky was still on my shoe.  What could that cat have knocked over? 

The third drawer down beside the sink in the kitchen should have, it did have, candles and matches. 

In flickering candle light, I investigated my feet.

Was that blood?  Blood and bits of?  Of what?

I walked back towards the front door, noticing my sticky, bloody footprints.  I passed a black wing; what might have been a beak; another black wing; a pile of bloody feathers; all leading back to the main attraction right in the doorway.  Most of the carcass of a crow.

“Well, Shadow, I suppose I’m meant to be impressed that you caught something so big and tough.”


“And you left it right here as a gift to me?”


“And now I have to clean this up.”


“In the dark.”


“And I probably have to pay to have the carpets cleaned.”


“I suppose you’re quite proud of yourself.”

“Purrrrrrrrooowwwwwww.”  I thought that meant he was very proud of himself.  Of course it may have meant something completely different.  Shadow was that kind of cat, he liked to be obscure.