Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Historical Fiction


Howling Meow Cats and Other Creatures of the Night

by Sam


(Sorry in advance for the weird line spacing...I BLAME IT ON YAHOO! :P)

1903

The third day of each December could be considered a

miniature Apocalypse for the shop-keepers with the

misfortune enough to own a store within the confines

of the Lincoln Haymarket, a nice-enough place to be

most of the time, but on that specific day, it was

Hell on Earth. The clerks hired to work on that day

would grip the edge of their counter with white

knuckles and close their eyes, breathing slowly, or

would simply flip the sign around to ‘Closed’, run out

the door, and hide in the dark corners of their

houses, awaiting the news that they’d lost their jobs

and would not be expected to return to work the next

morning.

December 3rd, it is recorded, was the day the

McLaughlins, a quite respectable couple living on a

quite respectable farm, emptied the old tin coffee can

on the highest kitchen shelf onto their mattress,

divided the bills and coins into sets of eight,

pressed the money into each of their children’s hands

and shooed them out the door, telling them to have a

nice time and be back by dark.

The children, armed with around two or three dollars

each- depending on how old they were- ran down the

mile-long stretch of dust road toward Lincoln, feet

pounding and hearts thumping until they reached their

destination. Once arrived in the Haymarket, the

children would ravage every shelf in every shop,

searching for the right molded-lead soldier, the right

knot of licorice or the right doll with perfect blonde

tresses and eyes that opened and closed. Once they had

found the right item, they would slap the bills onto

the counter, take their purchase by the fist and

sprint to the next shop, trying to get to as many

different stores as they could before the others got

there and found even better things to buy.

There was one girl, however, who lagged quite a bit

behind the others in the rush toward the city, holding

the pages of a book open with a few fingers in front

of her face, humming a little and walking slowly so

she could read as she traveled.

She was a girl of thirteen, with curly brown hair that

could be stylish if she glossed it and a small waist

that could be considered enviable if she wore a

corset, but as you can imagine, a small city in the

middle of no-where with only an abandoned salt mine to

claim as its own, fashion was not at the top of the

list of concerns for its people.

Nonetheless, the girl remained unnoticed, nose

seemingly glued to the inner binding of her book,

trudging toward the shops, sometimes stumbling on

rocks and things that appeared in the middle of the

road and once trodding over an especially stupid

rabbit that had opted to remain on the path and had

not noticed the girl coming along.

Nearly an hour and a half later, when the girl arrived

in the Haymarket, she slipped the novel under her arm

and walked toward the bookstore, where she usually

spent most of her money except for a dime she kept

saved for an ice-cream cone from Suzanne’s Frosty

Parlor at the end of her shopping.

The bell tinkled ominously through the place as she

stepped quietly through the door, letting the musty

smell of paper and dust fill her nostrils and make her

smile just a little bit.

She combed the shelves, running her fingers over the

spines so she could pick out titles she knew or

sounded interesting to her.

At the very last spot on the very bottom rack on the

very last shelf she searched through, she came upon a

book that had obviously not been touched for a very,

very long time, so long that a layer of dust about a

centimeter thick coated the top of its pages.

Sneezing a few times, she blew the dust away from the

book and watched it float in a cloud toward the floor, then wet

her thumb in her mouth and wiped the grime away from the cover.

She slowly read the title aloud under her breath: Blood-Sucking Lemur-gons, Howling Meow-Cats, and Other Creatures of the Night.

She flipped through the pages at a furious pace, just enough to catch the titles at the top of the page, including How To Protect Against Yetis, How To Cure an Eccentric Coughing Pig Bite, and How To Lure Your Aye-Aye Into a Carriage.

Except for the headings, the pages were entirely blank.

She smiled a little more broadly as she propped the books up on the counter and paid the boy behind the desk, inwardly plotting ways to put to use her new book.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
493 Reviews


Points: 1040
Reviews: 493

Donate
Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:56 am
Misty wrote a review...



This is quite clever, again it's an easy read, but humorous and well put-together. Funny, too. the 'tripping over an expecially stupid rabbit' was rather humorous, and it does leave the reader desiring for more, however, since you wrote it so long ago, one would doubt the status of continuation...or...something.




User avatar
1258 Reviews


Points: 6090
Reviews: 1258

Donate
Sat Dec 23, 2006 3:43 am
Sam says...



Pff, this was a looong time ago...that's okay, though. I may do something with it yet still- mainly because I like the setting.

Hooray for peripatetic readers!




User avatar
820 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 820

Donate
Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:33 am
Myth wrote a review...



Sam, why didn’t you continue this?

The titles from the book are craving to be explained, I especially like How To Cure an Eccentric Coughing Pig Bite ;)

I like how the girl reminds me of myself, I always walked and read a book at the same time (and falling over went quickly out of mind when I was too absorbed in the book).

And, like El, I’d like to know why she bought the book if it was blank but you mentioned she had plans to put the book to some use.




User avatar
241 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 241

Donate
Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:11 am
zelithon wrote a review...



The book, the title, suspence, and I like the way you said "the children armed" and described how they rumaged through stores. I like the description of the girl too. Oh can a book really obtain a centimeter of dust? And without the book being left open how does the dust get in the pages? This is just me but you might want to set back the date a tiny bit.




User avatar
221 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 221

Donate
Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:07 am
Elelel wrote a review...



That's pretty interesting. So the shopkeepers were all terrified of these children? That makes sense, but there's something that won't click right in my mind about it ... probably just me. I like all the creatures! Blood-sucking lemur-gons ... hehe.

Nonetheless, the girl remained unnoticed, nose
seemingly glued to the inner binding of her book,
trudging toward the shops, sometimes stumbling on
rocks and things that appeared in the middle of the
road and once trodding over an especially stupid
rabbit that had opted to remain on the path and had
not noticed the girl coming along.

In here you used "trodding" which is wrong. Probably just an itty bitty typo.

Your sentences are really long. I don't actually know if this is bad, it's just I seemed to forget what happened at the beginning of each one before I reached the end. So, if that happens to everyone and not just me that may not be bad, but it's probably not good either.

And I don't know why she bought the book. I mean it doesn't have any writing but the headings, right? And, sure, these headings are pretty interesting, but I just don't know why she bought it.

One last thing ... TELL ME WHAT THE LEMUR-GONS ARE!!!




User avatar
1258 Reviews


Points: 6090
Reviews: 1258

Donate
Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:04 am
Sam says...



Nah, but I keep meaning to...

I have to ask, what did you like about it? Did anything particularly strike you? (Working on stuff from a previous critique...)

Btw, nice Death Cab for Cutie lyrics. :D




User avatar
241 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 241

Donate
Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:00 am
zelithon says...



You are going to continue. Or else. Remindes me of another book I read.
Have you read Inkheart?





Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
— William S. Burroughs