"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" The World of Concrete Beach "

Submitted by Joseph Hartman (

A cat sat next to a boy at the bus stop. Much to the surprise of the cat, the boy spoke.

"What kind of cat needs a bus?" The boy said.

"What kind of boy talks to a cat?" The cat said.

"What kind of cat talks at all?" He said.

"A cat with something to say, clearly." It replied, a little indignant.

"Say what you want, then. Then leave." He said back, having none of it.

They were silent for a time. The boy's eyes saw nothing. The cat lacked a mouth. The city bustled around them, paying them no mind.

"…Most humans would be a bit more surprised about a talking cat."

"I'm not in the mood."

"You're not curious? About how something like me exists?"

"I don't care."

"Oh, I think you do care, Joshua."


The cat smiled. "Was it what you saw in your basement? Where have your parents gone, Joshua? Did they get too close? Did you only see... what they reached out and…"

The cat sank a claw into Joshua's thigh. "…touched?"

"Gargh!" Joshua yelled. He lashed out with his cane, but he never touched the cat. Its paw remained on his leg, entirely immobile.

"When you see something like that, Joshua… it's not so easy to see again." It said, quietly, satisfaction dripping from every word.

"That's why I'm here…" Joshua said, breathing in deeply. "There's an eye surgeon, in Concrete Beach-"

"Let me tell you a story, child," The cat interrupted, laying on Joshua's lap, stretching and yawning. "A story about cats and men. Once upon a time, there was only one Cat, and one Man. Then, Man saw something that scared it. So it went crazy. It cut itself into pieces, and put each piece into a box, and buried each box behind a wall. The end."

"So what happened to the cat?"

"Nothing, really. It laughed at man. And there's still one Cat. Many bodies, but just one Cat."

It laughed at Joshua. Laughed at mankind. But nobody else heard.

"So then, what's the point? Are you telling me I'm stupid? I'm crazy? For wanting my eyes fixed?"

"No, not at all? I think it's all so very funny… and so very sad." The Cat said. "It's been so long. We all miss you so much."

Something changed. Light flared in Joshua's blind eyes. But they weren't his eyes.

"What-" He started to say. "What did you do?"

His words echoed back at him. From another voice, another self.

"What cats do best, of course," It said, smiling with its luminous eyes. "I found a hole in the wall."

"Stop it!" Everyone said. Everyone. Every man, woman, child, pilot, clerk, teacher, artist, construction worker, singer, dancer, philanthropist, scientist, bus driver, policeman, criminal, murderer, rapist, victim, corpse, dreamer, screamer, lover, breather. Joshua screamed, and humanity answered with an echo. "Take it away!"

And in an instant, it was all gone. Joshua could hear the bus approaching.

"What you saw, Joshua…" The Cat said, not a hint of levity remaining in its voice. "You must do your best to unsee."

He couldn't stop crying.

"It does not take much to break a mind. And in your insanity, you grew strong, but stupid. So stupid, and so lonely."

"We're all waiting for you to come home."

The cat was gone, and Joshua got on the bus.