The black cat

Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Mount Pleasant Elementary School, a young, beautiful teacher named Miss Bridges gave her third grade class an assignment: write a Short Story. The story could be about anything we wanted, as long as it was written in the English language. Once our stories had been graded and returned to us, we would spend one class period making covers for our little “books,” with the help of cardboard, fabric, glue and a very Creative Parent.

I was terribly excited about this assignment. I had always loved coming up with detailed adventures on which to send my Barbie dolls, My Little Ponies and stuffed animals. Now I had the chance to actually write one of them down! I was determined to write the best and, since Halloween was approaching, scariest story Miss Bridges had ever read. It would be so scary that Miss Bridges would come back after reading it and say to me with a pale face, “Megan, that was the scariest story I have ever read! I’ll never be able to sleep again!”

I was fully aware of all of the essential elements of a Short Story, such as Plot, Setting and Characters. Ready to incorporate them all, I set to work thinking of the scariest things imaginable.

The first thing I needed was a Setting. I immediately thought of the story of Dracula, which I had heard only a few months before. The setting of a Lonely Castle in the dark, dreary land of Transylvania unsettled me much more than the vampire himself. I decided that such a Lonely Castle sitting atop a stony, lifeless hill would be perfect. Below the Lonely Castle sat a Happy Village.

Now that I had a setting, I needed a Protagonist. I honestly cannot remember if there was a single protagonist or not, but I do know that the Happy Village was populated with good and kind villagers. That’s all I can tell you about that. Give me a break, it was fifteen years ago.

Next, I needed an Antagonist, someone or something so scary that Miss Bridges would be trembling with fright as she turned the pages. I thought for a while, trying to decide between a Zombie and a Mad Scientist. Suddenly, it hit me: what is the most evil creature on the planet? A Cat! A wicked, nasty, evil, soulless Cat! But wait…it gets better: the Cat was Black. Everyone in the village knew about and feared the Black Cat. That may have been in part because the Black Cat lived alone in the Lonely Castle, which no living thing would come near, and so the villagers wondered how it stayed alive with nothing to eat. The answer is simple: it was an evil Black Cat!

Finally, I needed a Plot. Well, that part was simple. On the most evil night of the year, which happened to be the night before Halloween, when the moon was full and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the Black Cat would come down to the Happy Village and scare people. I don’t think the Black Cat killed anyone; he just scared people. There may have been a vampiristic element of blood-sucking in there, but, again, it was fifteen years ago, and without the original manuscript I can’t be sure of anything but my own faulty memory.

Looking back, I have to admit that it wasn’t the best plot ever written. Keep in mind, however, that I was under a serious deadline, and wasn’t as concerned with plot as I was with ambiance. After all, my story was truly in the spirit of the really awful horror movies from the 1950s and 60s. Look at Gognothing happened in that film. A couple of robots gone wrong terrorized a couple of scientists amongst an hour and a half of boring. My evil Black Cat scaring a village of good people was much more interesting than that.

Most important of all, I needed a Title. I decided not to do anything too fancy, lest I make the other kids in the class jealous, so I stuck with a simple and to-the-point title: The Black Cat.

The Black Cat was about four pages long. These pages were only about six inches square, in order to fit into the Small Book Cover provided by the Creative Parent. On the first page, the Title was written in Large Letters. The inside of the Back Cover was covered with my own Colorful Illustration of the Black Cat skulking down to the Happy Village. I was incredibly pleased with that Colorful Illustration, as I made sure that the path from the Lonely Castle to the Happy Village was smaller in the distance, so as to show depth. The Short Story itself was handwritten on those six-inch-square pages, complete with my own lines to keep the print straight. I chose a Fabric of shiny purple-silver to complete the Small Book. Miss Bridges was quite pleased.

Unfortunately, the Small Book about the Black Cat is now missing in action. It was either thrown out years ago, or is lost amongst the boxes of Megan Masterpieces that my mother has stored in the attic. I’ll look for it when I’m home for Thanksgiving. If it does resurface, I’ll be sure to post it here in all its original glory.


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