As I turned back towards my cottage, set atop a tiny cliff to protect it from the sea, I wondered who could have screamed. The beach was deserted and there were no neighbours for miles around. Who could have been foolish enough to venture out on to a beach on such an awful day and at such an unearthly hour? Perhaps someone was suicidal. Or maybe someone had been murdered…my imagination was now running wild, as nervousness clawed at my throat. The spy thriller was having its effect. Splash…splash…was that a footstep? I whirled around and beamed the torch towards the direction from which the sound had come. No…whew…it was just another wave hitting against a rock. I was now sure that there was someone around. I could feel the chilling sensation of being watched. I looked towards the jagged rocks and the tiny trail that went up towards the taller cliff. I was sure that the scream had come from that direction. But should I venture up? Should I risk it? The trail was sure to be wet.
I was just debating whether to venture up there or not when EEEEEOOWW…another scream ripped through the air. That does it. I rushed towards the trail and made my way up the wet trail. The path was slippery and my coat caught at the jagged edges of the sharp rocks. But I kept going. I somehow reached level ground halfway to the top and paused. I beamed the torch all around. But there was no sign of anyone. Nothing. Not even a piece of cloth. I beamed my torch upwards, but there was nothing unusual. The heavy black moist laden skies were shedding their load right onto my head. The rain was hurting my eyes and head now.
I went further up the trail and kept beaming my torch at the jagged stones lining the cliff face. I was now worried that the murderer…I was now sure that someone was being killed…would make me the next target. I heard some tiny sound coming from behind the large rock. The person was alive. I must do something about it.
I cautiously made my way towards it. I now wished that I had brought a knife or a tool to defend myself. The murderer could still be around. Maybe I was being watched right at this moment. And I shone the torch upwards and all around, but there was no one around.
I made my way towards the sound, when suddenly the rain stopped. It just stopped. Now the only sound was that of the waves crashing onto the beach in full force. I could hear the painful screeches quite clearly.
I rounded the edge of the trail and came upon it. There it was. A sight that stunned me for a moment and had me laughing the next. It was a cat. It was just the large tomcat, which wandered in and out of my house during the daytime. The victim was a scared cat. A victim of the heavy rains it was still thankfully alive. I was so relieved that I nearly lost my footing on the narrow ledge of the wet cliff. I now decided to adopt it. I picked it up, as it offered no resistance and carried it back to the cottage.
Next morning dawned early. I went for my daily morning walk and breathed in the fresh salty sea breeze. The sands were still wet after last night’s double onslaught by rain and tide. As I reached the sharp cliff where I had found ‘pookie’ as I had named the cat, I looked up and shuddered. The cliff looked even more intimidating against the grey pallor of the sky. But there was something different about it toady. There seemed to be a lot of movement of men up there.
“Hey you”, shouted a voice. A uniformed policeman appeared down on the trail.
He asked me a lot of questions. I learnt that last night a woman had been raped and killed on the cliff. Another jogger had discovered her body. I described what I had heard and even led him to the cat. The policeman took down the details and mentioned that I had had a lucky escape. Had the rapist seen me, perhaps there would have been two bodies. Who knows? I shuddered at the thought.
As I laid out some milk in a little dish, I wondered if the cat had saved my life after all. Or whether I would have been able to help that woman. I wondered.
Two days later an article appeared in the newspaper mentioning that the police had concluded that the woman on the cliff had been raped and killed in her house in the afternoon. Her killer who had been caught had confessed that he threw the body on the cliff in the cover of the rainy night, hoping that it would have been dismissed as an accident.
So it had been the cat after all, and not the woman. I still do not know whether to be relieved at that or worry about any future attacks. Today the cat is still with me…my ‘pookie’ loves to curl up with me in the large armchair and read all the spy thrillers. But when it rains, it still hides under the chair.