Phoebe hunkered into the cold bed in the corner of her attic room and pulled the covers up over her eyes as she told herself that there was nothing to fear, that it was simply a thunderstorm. A crack of lightning split the sky outside and illuminated her room for a brief instant, accompanied simultaneously by an earth-shattering roar of thunder which shook the house and made her heart jump within her chest and her breath catch in her throat. She pulled the covers over her head and repeated her hushed mantra, "There's nothing to fear, there's nothing to fear."
But she didn't believe it. She was tempted to put her head to pillow and try to sleep until the safety of morning's light, but she knew full well she would get no sleep this night. At last Phoebe sighed and allowed the covers to fall to her chin, whereupon she looked directly into a pair of the largest, golden eyes she had ever seen, and a little scream escaped her mouth before she realized it was only the damn cat. She pulled him into her bosom and gave Sir Timothy a tight hug for comfort -- either comforting him or her, she didn't know.
More lightning followed, though not as close as the big blast moments ago. In those quick flashes Phoebe could clearly see through the beams of the house into the angry sky outside. How Mrs. Appletree could remain asleep Phoebe would never know. Finally the cat burrowed his way through the top sheets to the foot of the bed and plopped down heavily on the floor; he scurried silently away into the dark corners of the room.
Phoebe pouted and chewed on her lower lip; again she was alone. She listened for a few minutes for the telltale creaking of the floorboards, but all she could hear was the thrumming of the rain on the slate roof just above her head. She got out of bed and paced before the large window which, during the pleasant daytime hours, overlooked a lovely garden once tended by Mrs. Appletree's sons. As Phoebe wrapped her arms around herself as the storm raged on just beyond the panes however, all the window showed was a steady sheet of cascading rain which ran down the length of the house, punctuated only by gusting rain which pelted the side of the building with great force. She placed her hands to the glass and was surprised at the icy cold of its touch. She gently leaned forward and touched her forehead to the glass, feeling its coolness seep into her hair, comfortingly so. She shivered a little, but pleasantly. A dry smile touched the corners of her mouth while she watched the rain run down the window outside.
Then she heard it.
A creek of the floorboards. Subtle, quiet, nearly lost beneath the sound of the thrumming pour against the roof, but there nonetheless.
Phoebe turned to face the darkness, but of course she saw nothing moving. Still, she imagined something there, just out of sight, waiting in the blackness. She pulled her nightclothes tight around her neck as she unconsciously clasped her hands at her throat. She tried to eliminate the quaver in her voice as she called out for the cat, "Sir Timothy?"
In response, Phoebe saw his eyes slowly blink in the darkness from the other side of the room. She reached out and called for him again, softly, but the eyes only regarded her with casual disinterest.
"Please, Sir Timothy, I should greatly appreciate your company right now."
The eyes blinked slowly but did not move. They shone brightly in the shadows.
That damned cat! Phoebe had just about enough with his aloof nature. Why, she had half a mind to --
Something warm and soft brushed against her bare leg and she screamed, then she pushed a hand into her mouth to stifle it. She looked down to see the large form of Sir Timothy circling her feet. His tail was triple its normal size and his ears were pinned back. He seemed to be seeking comfort from her legs. Phoebe reached down to stroke him but instead paused to follow the cat's gaze.
Across the room she met the stare of those eyes again. They were not gold in color, they did not belong to a cat.
Suddenly, Sir Timothy hissed and bolted from Phoebe's side. A scream rose in Phoebe's throat, but was choked off as consciousness slipped from her grasp.