I take a few minutes to take in the fact that this woman has enough cats to call her house a pet store. There are, what, like 5… 10… 15… 20… 23? Do pet stores even sell that many cats? Eventually, I bring myself to sit down on the couch. It's at least somewhat less awkward than if I had just stayed standing in the middle of nowhere between the living room and the entrance.
A while goes by since the woman left for, presumably, her money. It takes me several minutes to realize how strange it was for her to just invite me into her house. For all she knows, I could be a serial killer dressed up as a pizza boy. But then again, old people tend to let their guard down like that — they’ve seen too much shit to care. Speaking of pizza, she must have ordered it for her grandchildren. Although, this house sounds unnervingly peaceful and way too quiet to have any children in it. Maybe she ordered pizza for herself after all.
I hear steps from upstairs and notice a few cats shift from their position, now facing the staircase. I awkwardly shift my gaze towards what the cats are finding so interesting and that’s when I practically jump off the couch. Sitting on the staircase is a little girl dressed in white. Her hair dark as night and her skin pale as snow, but she is definitely not Snow White. She’s more like a ghost brought back from the dead. I figure she might just be one of the old woman’s very quiet grandchildren, so I smile at her to not freak her out. She doesn’t move an inch and stays crouching on the top of the stairs, tilting her head ever so slightly to catch a glimpse of me. If anything, she’s the one freaking me out.
“Oh, dear. Why aren’t you drinking the milk, young man? It’s going to get cold.” the old woman appears in front of me out of nowhere and pushes the cup of milk towards me, urging me to drink it.
I stutter awkwardly but manage to ask, “Did you go to get your money?”
“Ah, yes, the money. I put my bills into the money counter. It will only take a while, dear.”
The money counter? The pizza’s 10 bucks, why would she need the money counter?
“It’s 10 dollars, ma’am.” I remind her, in case she got confused.
“Drink the milk, dear.” she says as if she didn’t hear a single thing I just said.
I look at the cup of milk sitting on the coffee table and for a moment, I feel this inexplicable force that’s compelling me to drink the milk. I immediately stood up once I got out of the trance. My guts are telling me to get out of here, and quick.
“10 dollars, ma’am. I have other deliveries to make, so I have to leave shortly.” I say, walking towards the door.
“You didn’t have any other pizzas on you, and your working hours are over soon.” the woman says coldly behind me.
I hesitate for a moment, shocked at the truth in her words. I need to get out of here. I think the only way I can do that easily is if I played along.
I walk back to the couch and sit down. Some of the cats walk over and settle down beside me. They kind of make me feel safer.
The old woman smiles at me and I smile back, careful not to provoke her. I reach over to grab the cup of milk and slowly bring it up to my mouth. How do I make her think I’m drinking it?
I let the milk touch my lips for a brief second before lowering the cup.
“May I have a piece of tissue?” I ask.
She grunts a little but brings the tissue box over. Before I even have the time to process what she’s doing, she snatches the the cup from my grasp and practically dumps it onto my face. Of course, I wasn’t quick enough to react and inevitably gulp down the milk.
Dizziness takes over immediately and I eventually feel myself losing conscious, falling onto the ground.
“Goodnight” was the last thing I remember hearing the old woman say before my eyes shut.
I wake up some time later, still on the ground. I keep my eyes closed in case the old woman might be waiting for me to be awake, though I have no choice but to take a bet after several minutes and take a look at my surroundings.
To my horror, there are naked people lying everywhere around me, some unawake, but most staring at me. What’s most unsettling about this entire scene is that they have these collars around their necks.
Like, how pets have collars?
Then, it hit me. Collars. Pets. The cats. No. No. Just, no. That’s not possible. Right? Is this some kind of sick joke? Am I on a prank show?
I awkwardly look around, avoiding all eye contact with any one of these people. That’s when I hear footsteps from the staircase. In my mind, I know the best thing to do is to close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. But I just feel paralyzed all the way down and all I can do is sit here and wait for whatever’s about to happen.
The footsteps travel down the steps and I watch as the old woman stands at the bottom of the staircase with a disturbingly wide smile, and she’s hiding something behind her back.
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