The Cat's Claws

"Will you stop poking pins into me woman! I'm not a bleeding pincushion!" Taro snapped as for what felt like the hundredth time he felt the sharp stab of a pin piercing his skin.

"I'm sorry sir, I really am trying. If you could please just stand still for a moment..." The woman let her voice tail off.

Taro snorted and rolled his eyes exasperatedly. It had taken three hours for him to find a decent costume-maker, knowing that he'd have to get it specially made for the purpose he had in mind. He'd chosen a black material, mostly because the colour would make him less visible and also because the material was lightweight and wouldn't hamper his movement. The only downside was that it was a particularly slippery material and, as Taro had found out, was easily pierced by the woman's needle.

Eventually the woman stepped back and looked him up and down. Taro turned and examined himself in the mirror. He allowed himself a small smile, for it was an excellent fit. He shifted about experimentally, testing the flexibility of the material. Finding no errror with it, he turned back to the woman.

"Perfect, I'll take it. Can you have it ready by tomorrow?"

The woman smiled, revealing a mouth full of black-stained teeth, "Of course I can master. It will be ready by noon."

With that, Taro swiftly removed the costume, taking care to avoid the pins, and pulled on his own clothes. Nodding briefly to the woman he left the shop and began to make his way towards the market. Better refill the purse before I go mask hunting, he thought. There was a large woman standing by a jewellery stall, admiring the various bangles and trinkets that were on sale. Her embroidered purse tied by a velvet rope from the sash of her dress. Within seconds Taro's knife had slashed through the rope and slipped silently away into the crowd. Too easy, he thought to himself. Now, where to find a mask?

It took him only moments to find a place. At the corner of Willow Street was a small lime-green shop. The words  "Mervin's Masks" were painted onto a sign in large gold letters. Taro walked in and was immediately overwhelmed by what he saw. Masks hung from every surface, even from the windowsills. There were so many dazzling colours that it made Taro's head hurt just to look at them and they came in every shape and size. There were bird masks, cat masks, dog masks, griffins, dragons and even masks made to look like real people. Hunting through the piles, Taro soon found what he was looking for. It was made to resemble the face of a cat, but lacked any of the annoying wire whiskers that many of the other cat-faces had. It was black, with white patterns around the eyes. A large piece of dark ribbon held the mask in place. What was even better was that it was so cheap. Handing two small bronze coins to the clerk, Taro left the shop and walked off down the street. Now he had everything he needed.

The End

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