Chapter 1: The Window

My window is a murderer and is trying to kill again. The window targets cats and is attempting another slow, painful ending. Set in a moderately sized, rectangular, ivory painted room, the window is deep enough to lure its prey to the nice napping station it provides with its sills. The window box is large enough to possess two functioning windows joined side by side, and an inner ledge long and deep enough for a human to sit across comfortably with legs only slightly bent. But I’m not falling for that trap.

The daily view is that of a tangle of streets, apartment buildings, occupied and abandoned, a few confused, malnourished trees, and many, many people exercising various forms of inhumanity upon one another. The sounds are a constant din of sirens, horns, screams, smashed glass, bent metal, revved engines, trash trucks, arguments, parties, gunshots, and the occasional lost seagull. It is no wonder that the window’s light-filled days have faded along with its youth and it has slowly fallen from sadness to dismay to disgust, and now completed its decent into pure evil and hatred.

I have always been wary of this window. When I first moved in about a year ago, a few bubbling boils appeared at the top of the outset box. The stains surrounding the grotesque bulges looked like a color diagram illustrating various types of dried mustards. I knew this to be water damage and I knew that this would eventually be a big deal. Yet, the window had a power and used its inescapable, dark charm to draw my bed close for its light and breezes.

Determined to make my new lodgings as comfortable as possible for my two cats, I padded many soft, woolen blankets along the sill for their napping comfort and viewing entertainment, all the while nervously watching the brooding malice above. My feline companions took to their new, large sunny daybed with great enthusiasm, while the window slowly seethed and waited.

As the summer months progressed, the cracks and boils and stains slowly spread and the paint began to peel in large, thick sheets, curling and twisting. Calls to the landlord, Grayson, a man I had never actually seen, went unreturned and eventually the window slowly mounted its first attack by silently dropping a few, lead-filled paint chips onto and around the cat bed. With the focused anger of a starved spider, the window continued to lower its poisonous flakes like carefully laid strands of web. The sweet morsels, dusted about the bed, would eventually be too much for the curiosity of the smaller of the two, Lois, and unnoticed by me, she began to eat.

While summer burned itself out into fall, the corrupting effects began to take hold of the innocent cat and the window’s evil amusement ever grew as a huge lip of soiled paint curled and hissed from its roof. As the lead began to dig its claws into Lois, the window could no longer contain its blackened joy and began to foam and drool warm, rusty liquid onto the blankets.

Lois’ demise was quick and painful. Throughout the autumn all senses began to fail her, betray her, and eventually wither altogether. With browning leaves and growing frosts, she lost her sight, her balance, her appetite and eventually her legs. It was a gruesome, excruciating experience to behold, and when she eventually had to be put down out of mercy, the window erupted in the throws of its own ecstasy and fuming bile poured forth upon the bed, forever staining the blankets.

The following months of grieving were met with a constant shower of triumph from the window box’s ceiling. The paint was completely devoured and the exposed rusted steel and cold brick gave a glance into the twisted soul of the window. The sill was now only a place of drenched, stained towels, buckets and murder. I began to withhold my rent and leave threatening messages until the landlord had no choice but to try and seal up this evil. I had little hope that he would effectively snuff out this horror, for he had been a knowing accomplice to the murder, but it was the least I could do for some small sense of justice for Lois.

The fixing of the roof and the resealing of the window began in early spring and was a slow, uncomfortable process. No notice was ever given as to when these men would be coming and going, often times leaving exposed work and filthy rags for weeks before returning. I realized that I was up against not only an evil spirit, but also its minions. I began to wonder if the window did not in fact turn to evil from its surroundings, but rather always was evil and sat in this unassuming chamber watching over its ruinous realm. The innocence of my cats and me were welcomed in as sport and prey, where the cats, unfortunately, were the mice.

The window was all but finished a few days ago, and despite a few cosmetic oversights, Barry (my remaining cat) and I were happy to try and put this waking nightmare behind us. New blankets were assembled and laid upon the base of the window, Lois’ ashes were silently placed in an urn by the bed, and we tried to begin the desperately slow healing process. Spring was now in full display, and although we were heavy of heart that Lois will never share another spring with us, there was a feeling of relief that we had seemingly made it to the other side. And then a man came back on Thursday to finish the window.

I stayed in my room while the seemingly shrunken man put the final touches on the window. He had short, dark hair, a wide mouth, and one of those faces where you could not tell if he was very old and looked young or very young and looked old. He worked in silence while I typed away, not paying much attention to the scraping, sanding and painting. Before I could protest, I saw my fingers begin to leave traces of smoke along the keyboard and my entire room was covered in a thick, chalky dust and my eyes burned. With no warning and with windows closed, the man, with no mask, power-sanded the excess mud from the drywall and blanketed the room with an irrevocable mess. By the time I expressed my frustration at his methods, he was done sanding and was getting ready to paint. His face stretched a reluctant, awkward, wide smile and muttered a distant, diminutive, “Sorry,” in an unidentifiable accent. He quickly painted the work areas, informed it would be dry in fifteen minutes and speedily exited.

Annoyed and perplexed as to what to do with this layer of irritant consuming my room, I put the curtain rod back up, stretching and tearing the new paint, and I thought I heard a hiss. I set up a series of fans in my room and spent the rest of the day elsewhere. When it came time for sleep, I attempted to clean my bed and hoped that in the morning all of the mist would have vanished and the final gasp of the window would be exhaled. But I did not wake up to a sigh, I woke up to a sneeze.

Barry began sneezing at 6:00 am on Friday morning and did not stop until around 11:30 am. For those who are unaccustomed to cats, a cat sneeze is a cute, precious little thing that is as infrequent as seeing a butterfly. When a cat sneezes, usually the result of getting into something dusty or sticking their face too deep into the water bowl, it is met with a strange enjoyment from seeing a recognizable human response in a species we so often hope for similarities with, but rarely find. Barry was now sneezing with the shared human reaction of a full-blown allergy attack.

The sneezes came in bunches of four to six with about a thirty-second pause in between bouts. He was confused and uncomfortable and his green eyes dilated and become swollen with tears. Each shock of sneezing was met with a futile licking of the nose and moistened paw to the eyes and bridge. Despite his struggles with anger and anxiety in his youth, Barry has always been a strong, healthy cat – the brick house of the three little pigs. Now the window, after months of victory and slow planning, had found another way into the blood stream of his next feline victim. I cleaned my room furiously, desperately trying to eradicate the insidious particles. The explosion of dust had found its way into unreachable places and broken itself down into millions of invisible, invasive irritants.

It is now Sunday morning and the same sneezing has persisted and begun its third day. My eyes burn as I type. I continue to beat blankets and couches, sweep, vacuum, wash, repeat, and nothing has eased the evil that continues to plague Barry, and I fear it is crawling ever deeper into his body and tightening its grasp. If I can get him through one more night, I will take Barry to the vet tomorrow but also follow that visit with one to a voodoo healer. I am little versed in the demonic possession of buildings or seemingly inanimate objects, but fear that the devilry in the window runs through the entire building down to its foundations and is linked with sinewy fibers to every structure in this heathen city.

I am angry, overwhelmed and tired. I vow to fight the window as long as I can, but I am ever lured by his inescapable seduction. I am surrounded by the evil of this city and I can feel its love and hate for me in every stolen car, crack-riddled prostitute and shattered night’s sleep. The true art of his malice and skill is revealed to me, as the sight of Lois’ ashes inspired him to exercise his craft and use just such a similar substance to infect poor Barry. His evil is terrible yet perfect and strives to sap my will of good, honor and vengeance.

One man verses a possessed city may seem too great an undertaking, but I believe that I am exactly who they feared would one day come. In the memory of Lois, I will heal Barry and we will take on this shadowed city and either restore it to its original light and promise or destroy it one brick at a time.

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