There was a cat in the park in the middle of the city.
There were always cats in the park – in all the parks, but in this one, crossed by two paths and so thick with spirits and ghosts, history and legend one could barely move for it, the cats congregated.
There were little buildings – follies, Whitney had learned they were called, in her research towards restoring the park – which made perfect cat homes if a little too small for your average hobo. There were plenty of people who fed the cats and plenty who left cream and bread out for the fairies, and the fairies were known to share with those that could see them and those that knew the ways.
Nobody, Whitney had heard more than once, knew the ways better than the cats (and they were also good at keeping the chipmunks and rabbits from digging where she didn’t want them to) – so she, too, fed them when she could and petted them when they’d allow, and on three separate occasions since she began her long work of restoration, she’d taken half an hour to help a cat with a mat in its fur or a bad wound from a fight. Now she carried a first-aid kit safe for cats in her gardening pack, and the cats followed her down the rows as she told her tales, sometimes singing in counterpoint.
Today, all of “her” cats – the old fluffy black one and the Siamese barely past kittenhood and all the rest in between – were there, waiting for her – or for her food, she reminded herself.
But there, too, there was…a giant cat. The biggest cat she’d ever seen. The biggest house-cat anyone had ever seen, easily taller than Whitney at the shoulder, one paw on the sidewalk and the other front paw 8 feet away on a fountain. It was slightly translucent, but that didn’t seem to have stopped it from catching some prey.
It had a man in its mouth, held carefully, the person holding a can of spray-paint in one hand, a pickax on the ground at his feet. “This place is haunted! Haunted! And cursed! Nobody should be trying to make it pretty, we should be tearing it down! Tearing it down, I tell you.”
The cat carefully set the man down and put a paw on him while he continued to rant. Whitney, feeling more surreal than normal, offered the giant cat her sandwich on a flat-palmed hand. “No onions,” she told it, “Mostly just turkey.”
She called the police while the cat ate and wondered exactly how much kibble one would need for a spirit-of-the-feline big enough to treat a vandal as a cat toy.