Short Story
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                                  Eventually
                                         
By Rick McQuiston


 The last time Holly had driven down Bradner Street she regretted it.  She
was late for work so she didn't have the luxury of her usual route.  Lenore to
Schoennor and straight through to Southfield Highway was so much easier,
but that particular morning her alarm clock decided to break, allowing her to
sneak in some extra romantic moments with the tall, handsome man in her
dreams.  But it also made her oversleep.

 So she was forced to find an alternative route.

 That was last Friday; one week ago.  And now here Holly was on the same
street where the barrier between reality and madness became blurred.  Part
of her wanted to drive down Bradner again.  Before, she'd seen something
that didn't quite seem right, something that belonged in a horror movie, not
on a typical suburban road lined with nearly identical houses and normal
people going about their business on a summer morning.

 People.

 Holly caught herself in mid-thought as the word played itself out in her mind.

 People.  Or more accurately, the lack of people.

 At first, she realized that most weekday mornings people were either still
asleep or already gone for work.  Few would be out and about so early in the
day.  But the fact that she noticed only one little girl playfully rolling down the
sidewalk on her pink tricycle emphasized the stark lack of any other people
around.

 And then she saw it.

 While Holly’s mind raced between the uneasy feeling she was getting from
the street and the small mountain of paperwork on her desk that would surely
be waiting for her in her office, something gripped her attention like a ripe
melon in a trash compactor, and squeezed.

 The cat.

 It was a beautiful, striped American shorthair with alternating lines of soft
gray and silky black.  Its large elliptical eyes were bright green, conveying a
sense of depth and understanding beyond what an ordinary house cat
should be capable of.  It was perched on a windowsill in an expansive colonial.

 And it watched Holly roll by.

 Feeling an instant chill sweep over her, Holly resisted the urge to slam the
accelerator to the floor.  She found it difficult to pull her gaze away from the
cat.  There was something about it that bothered her, unsettled her, cast a
ripple in the calm pond of her mind.

 Would the cat be in the window again?

 Holly could only guess.  But she found herself wishing that it wouldn't be.  
She felt she had to drive down Bradner Street again and getting to work on
time was just the excuse she used to justify the excursion.  In truth, she
needed to drive down that road.  If she didn't, she’d go crazy wondering
about it.

 Holly took a deep breath, switched off the radio, and gripped the steering
wheel tightly in her sweaty hands.  She braced herself for what she was
about to do.

 Slipping the gear shift back into Drive, Holly feathered the gas pedal.  The
car inched forward.  She nudged the pedal more.  The car responded in kind,
gradually rolling down the street.  Houses passed by.  Trees lined either side
of the road, bending their sinewy branches over the asphalt like huge
probing fingers.  A little girl rolled her pink tricycle down the sidewalk.

 Holly brought the car to an abrupt halt.  There was something about the girl
that didn't sit well with her.  For a moment she entertained the wild notion that
the child wasn't real, that she was just a two dimensional fabrication designed
to fool unsuspecting passerby.  But why?  And who would do such a thing?
 
 The little girl stopped her bike and swung a hard look at the woman in the
car who was watching her.  A glint of mischief flickered in her eyes.  She
smiled.  She spoke.

 "Eventually, everyone will travel to our street."

 Holly felt numb.  Her foot pressed the gas pedal, gently at first, and then
with more force.  The car continued down the street.  When she glanced in
the rearview mirror she saw something that underscored what she'd been
thinking:
 the girl stood up, and turning sideways, vanished into thin air.

 A hologram? A projected image used to lure people in?

 Lure?  Just the thought of the word sent a sharp chill downs Holly’s spine.

 Feeling the need to get away from Bradner Street as fast as she could,
Holly smashed the gas pedal down to the floor.  The car shot forward, kicking
rocks and dirt up from its tires.

 "Thank God!" Holly said as she checked the mirrors to make sure she
wasn't being followed.

 "God has nothing to do with it."

 The words cut through any hope of escape Holly still clung to like a rusty
meat cleaver through rice paper.  She turned.
 
 The little girl was staring at her from the passenger seat.  She wore a coy
smile.  But even worse was what she held on her lap:  a cat.  The cat.  The
same striped cat that Holly had seen in the window of the big house.  The
same one.

 The cat hissed.  Holly felt fear paralyzing her mind as well as her body, but
she fought it.  She was a strong woman, and being faced with something
supernatural wasn't going to break her.

 "What do you want?" Her voice sounded strong despite being quite scared.

 The cat hissed again, this time revealing sinewy feelers inside its mouth.  
They slithered between its sharp yellow teeth.

 "Leave me alone!  I didn't do anything.  Get out of my car!"

 The little girl began to fade.  The cat, which had been sitting on the car seat
all along-not the girl’s lap-straightened up.  A dry cracking sound filled the
car.

 Holly felt dizzy as a strange, distant voice, guttural and confident, spoke in
her head.

 Eventually, everyone will travel to our street.
 
 The car veered to the left, running up the curb and chewing up strips of
grass.  Holly did her best to maintain control but couldn’t keep it on the road.  
The pull was just too powerful.  The cat continued to stare at her.

 This is where we decided to start, but eventually...

 "Stop it!  Get out of my head!  Get out of my…"

 Then the car was gone, vanishing into thin air, and the only sounds on
Bradner Street were from a little girl riding her pink tricycle down the sidewalk.

 Pausing in front of a large colonial house, the girl smiled.  Looking around
at the neighboring homes on the street, she nodded in turn to each one.

 The cats nodded back.
        
About Rick McQuiston

I’m a forty-five year
old father of two who
loves anything horror-
related.  I’ve had over
300 publications so
far, written three
novels, six anthology
books, one book of
novellas, and edited
an anthology of
Michigan authors. I’m
also a guest author
each year at Memphis
Junior High School,
and am currently
working on my fourth
novel.