The Collection

A girl with a messy, loosely tied up bun and slightly smudged dark eyeliner, this is Cassie, she’s grating some cheddar cheese in the kitchen.
Cassie is making her boyfriend’s favourite tuna pasta again, it’s the third time she’s prepared such a big amount of food this week. The small loaf pan is for their dinner tonight and the bigger, deeper cake pan is for her boyfriend’s lunch tomorrow. Of course, she constantly asks herself why he needs so much food for lunch, but if there’s anything she’s learnt about her boyfriend, it’s that he doesn’t like nosy people.
“Cheese?” Cassie grabs a small handful of the grated cheese from the bench and bends over to tease a little cat on the floor before eventually dropping it in front of her. Cat quickly picks it up with her mouth then looks back up, begging for more.
This dark intruder has been staying here a lot lately, and every night Cassie leaves some food and water for her. Like her boyfriend, this little thing is also a big fan of Cassie’s cheesy homemade pasta, she purrs extra loud when she sees it.
The front door opens, Cassie’s boyfriend, Tom, just came back from work. Cassie quickly takes off her apron and skips towards him for a big kiss.
“Look who’s here again!” Cassie turns to Cat, smiling.
Tom walks up to Cat and lifts her up, snuggling the meowing furball to his cheeks .
“Careful with it, Tom, what if Cat carries virus?” Cassie looks serious.
Cat meows and licks his fingers. “See, she likes me.”
“How did she leave so much cat hair on you? You’ve only been holding her for a minute.” Cassie shows a slight confused look.
Cat gets off from Tom and hops on the purple velvet couch, starting to scratch herself rapidly.
“Ohhh, not again, I just cleaned it this morning.” Cassie rolls her eyes.
“I’ll clean it.” Tom lays his arm on Cassie’s shoulder.
“Three weeks, I’ve moved in for three weeks, why is she here everyday? How come I’ve never seen this cat for the past ten months?” Cassie stares wide-eyed at Tom.
“But don’t you want to help her? She’s homeless.”
Cassie suddenly starts talking really fast.
“I just don’t wanna be that type of crazy cat lady. I’m still young and I want to go out and socialise, not like this, staying at home and cleaning some random cat’s hair everyday.”
“It’s late now, but if Cat still comes here tomorrow morning, we’ll talk about it after I finish work. Now, I’m starving, can we please eat?” Tom says in a cheeky voice.

For people like Cassie, working at a car wash means they can have an unexpected day off when the rain starts pouring heavily like today.
Windows in the kitchen are blown open by the wild wind, but the backdoor is tightly shut. Cassie deliberately locked it this morning so Cat won’t be able to get in anymore.
Cassie walks towards the window and she is shocked by Cat curling up at the corner, covered in blood, looking right at her. The blood is so fresh that it is still running down her whiskers. Cassie gasps and takes a step back.
Astounded, Cassie slowly walks up, carefully rubbing Cat along the underside of her chin, seeing Cat is not backing down Cassie gently picks her up, putting her in her arms, “You poor thing, let me just check how bad the wounds are.”
She takes her to the bathtub and holds the shower hose from a little distance then gently washes the blood off her body while Cat is keeping her eyes shut the whole time. As Cassie is slowly blotting the water from the bloody fur, she is carefully looking for any possible wounds on Cat’s body but finds nothing.
Cat is absolutely intact.
“Didn’t know you won the fight. ” Cassie rubs her chin back and forth then she brings the cat back to the kitchen.
Just when she is placing the bowl on the floor, Cat quickly turns towards the door and breaks away, running outside. Cassie doesn’t have much time to think, her first response is to chase Cat.
She ends up following her to a house down the street and watches Cat run inside. Seeing that the poor thing now has somewhere else to stay, Cassie is ready to turn around and head back, but instead she spots Tom walking this way.
Frozen, Cassie’s eyebrows rise a notch, then she shows a surprising smile, ready to walk up to him. But Tom turns left and walks straight in that house following Cat – he’s got the keys to that place.
Left in shock, Cassie inhales sharply. But she can’t stick around, the windows and doors are still left open in her house.
The whole afternoon, she’s been pacing in the house. Can’t stop biting her nails, her lips are trembling as if to let out a sob, but it never happened.
Around six, Tom calls to let her know that he’ll be working till late tonight. Hearing this, Cassie tosses the burning cigarette and heads out even before he hangs up.
She grabs the keys and puts the navy hoodie over her head then quickly walks out, slamming the back door.
Back at the house where Tom and Cat have visited earlier today, Cassie finds the backyard. She lifts the latch and kicks the gate open, storming into this stark strange house. Her wet sneakers are making a really loud squelch noise on the old red oak floor.
In this dank lounge, a few photos are hanging on a wall where the paint has all but peeled off. Cassie slowly walks up to it to get a closer look at the photos. Tom is in every one of them, pictured with different blonde women. A photo of Tom kissing a young lady with nose ring aboard a plane, is decorated with some warm fairy lights. Clearly, this photo was taken a while ago. Tom still had his long hair yet not long enough to tie a bun, and his beard, there is barely any in this photo.
Looking around, she spots some clothes draped over the back of an armchair. Toms red jumper that went missing months ago is on top, with rips all up the sleeves.
Eyes wide open, Cassie suddenly throws up on the floor and her gray sneakers. Without even trying to cover her mouth, she bends over and lets it out completely.
She then rolls her glassy eyes, roughly wipes her mouth then takes off her shoes, looking disgusted.
Tears are rolling down her face. Cassie leaves the shoes in the bin outside the house.
Back to her home, Cat is waiting.
Cassie walks up to Cat, bending over, “So which one of those bombshells do you belong to? The one with a nose ring?”
Cat stares back at Cassie, licking her lips and growling.
Without any hesitation, Cassie grabs Cat and takes her outside but she keeps running back in.
The rage that overtakes Cassie is so intense that she drags Cat towards the door, her hiss becomes louder and her nails scratch the wet floor.
A huge bolt of lightning suddenly strikes, shutting down the power in her house.
“Ahhhh!” A loud scream rings out in the dark and echoes through the rooms, painful, desperate and terrified.

Later that night, Tom comes back.
He calls Cassie’s name, no one answers.
The guttural moan catches Tom’s attention, leading him to the kitchen.
Two cats are fighting, with one’s fur standing on end and the other‘s body hunching close to the ground with her cheeks bleeding. She’s wearing the necklace Tom bought for Cassie, hanging with a letter C pendant.
Seeing Tom is here, both of the cats have gone quiet, staring at him.
Meanwhile, Tom’s unmoving gaze is accompanied by a slow and deep breathing, rubbing his hands on that slight sweaty forehead. He looks at Cat with strained muscles on his face then turns her around, looking through her hair to check any wounds.
“Grrr, you naughty munchkin.” He rubs Cat’s head tenderly then picks up them both and heads out.
“Lena, I told you I need more time on this, I actually quite like this one. Now I have to looks for someone else! But I’m glad you didn’t get hurt this time.” Tom looks at Cat while making his way to the other house.
Cat meows and looks back at him.
Tom shakes his head, “I really thought that you’d changed. But oh well, I guess this is just fate,” raising his eyebrow.
He walks down the stairs, opening the door to the basement, switching on the dim light. Under the glimmering light bulb, six other cats come up to Tom, staring at him and purring for attention. Each cat is wearing a pendant necklace, like Cassie’s, only with different initials.
Tom puts down these two, looking down at all the cats, “Alright ladies, dinner is on the way. Oh, also, meet your new friend, Cassie!” pointing at the new bleeding cat.
He then walks to the fridge and takes out the tuna pasta…….


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