To say this right up front, the central conflict of this story is the question of whether or not cat people exist. I’ve learned that readers like to know what a story is about. Readers are female readers, male readers, and all other readers when they read this. Even reading machines should feel addressed.
If readers don’t find out what the story is about for too long, they will bail out and prefer to watch movies or read comics. Studies have shown that. So as an author, I have to clarify the topic quickly before readers get bored. The attention span is very short these days. Now that I have clarified the central conflict, I can take my time. I can now afford longish descriptions. A reader definitely wants to do some work while reading, that’s perfectly ok.
Descriptions should create images in the mind. I’ll try that now. It’s about a bar, a hotel bar. The hotel is highly priced, exclusive, you can’t find it on Booking.com. It lives on the glamor of bygone days, when the president himself stayed here. The accessories of the digital age are rejected, there are only one or two power sockets in each room, you don’t need to bring more power supplies if you intend to stay here. There is no buffet either, breakfast is brought to you by an old man in uniform. A copy of the printed hotel newspaper waits for you next to the plate.
So it’s not a hotel for Millennials, rather something for leading scientists or medical professionals of mature age. Now it’s early evening, the sun set a few minutes ago. Twilight Time. A leading scientist of mature age sits at the counter in the hotel bar. A long day is behind him, so he has a whiskey on ice in a crystal glass in front of him. The bartender is also wearing a black uniform, rubbing glasses dry with a white tea towel. Soft piano sounds strum from a loudspeaker.
That’s the moment when a young woman enters the bar. She is the kind everyone has to look at. She also sits down at the counter. I don’t know if something like this happens in real life, but it’s a literary convention for people to meet in hotel bars. The only time I’ve experienced something similar was at a convention for sales representatives in the plumbing industry. At that time, the woman had asked rather quickly if we wanted to make ourselves comfortable. I answered truthfully that I didn’t have enough money for such a thing.
Anyway, the woman is sitting there now, and somehow she gets into conversation with the scientist. It’s quite dark, the man can’t take his eyes off the woman’s face. It’s something with the eyes, but he can’t tell what actually. The conversation is pure small talk, it’s about whether so few sockets in the rooms are still acceptable. Meanwhile, she watches him the whole time like a predator watches a victim. He notices this. and it surprises him that he likes it. He knows so many women who smile when they see him, and this one doesn’t smile. It’s amazing what men find attractive in women.
The conversation unfolds, meanwhile various alcoholic beverages are being consumed. Finally, the two go to his room to exchange bodily fluids. This, too, is a literary convention, and I’ve never experienced that either.
When the man wakes up the next morning, the woman has disappeared. Of course, by now readers will be wondering what all this has to do with cat people, but now everyone needs patience.
The man can’t get the woman out of his head. He walks through the city and looks at the most important sights. Why? Because he has never been to that city before and because he has nothing better to do. He has a day off. Now, as he visits sight after sight, taking breaks in between at various cafés to drink espresso, he suddenly thinks he sees her across the street.
Quickly he pays for his espresso and follows her. To increase the tension, the way of the two should be described here, I’ll add that later. For now, it’s enough to know that they are moving from the city center towards a simple residential area, where buildings are old, the facades unrenovated, and everything looks quite run-down. Oh yes, the man also notices that the woman is wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses that cover half of her face. Although the sun is not shining at all. He notices it, but it’s not that unusual, so he doesn’t think about it.
The readers know, of course, this will become significant later. Suddenly the woman is no longer to be seen. The man tries to find her, then he sits down in front of a small café at a table on the sidewalk. There he watches the people passing by. Then the woman appears again, comes directly to his table and sits down with him.
She stares at him without moving her head. He again has the thought that she is staring at him like a predator at its prey. After the successful night, that stare really turns him on. She orders an espresso, and they sit across from each other in silence. After a while, the woman takes off her sunglasses, and he sees her eyes in daylight for the first time. Her eyes are cat’s eyes. The pupils are vertical and her stare seems completely emotionless and alert.
After watching him for a while, she stands up and waves at him. He can’t help it, he has to follow her. They walk a bit through different streets, which will be described in more detail as I revise this story. At an apartment building that has seen better days, she stops and unlocks the front door. On the second floor, she opens the door of an apartment on the left. He follows her, she shows him the way to the kitchen, where he sits down on a chair.
Now as he stares at her, he gets hot. What is this adventure all about? Just as he is about to lose himself in her watchful eyes, two black cats sneak into the kitchen and nestle against the woman’s legs. The man looks at the cats. They turn their heads toward him. He looks into human eyes, the eyes of two young children.