7 Days in May
The darkness was lifting when the big cat finally made its way into the village. It was hungry, but with a hunger that
threatened no fulfilment.
Its coat was full of sticky seeds, knotted here and there where the fur clumped around them. It wanted to stop and
clean itself, nibble and lick the clumps until they were smooth again, but something darker drove it onwards.
The cat slipped down the quiet lanes, searching for food. It had tried killing a mouse earlier but the little creature had
escaped, adding to its hunger and rage.
The animal had spent most of the night searching for a way out of the compound, finally discovering an old rabbit run
under the fence. It was wary at first, never having been out in the open countryside before. Having been born and raised in
a cage, it was now surrounded by strange scents and frightening sounds, but little by little, with the help of its deep seated
rage, it overcame the fear.
The cat’s nostrils flared when it caught a scent on the night air, recognising the odour from its time in the cage. Setting
off at a fast lope, cutting through the back gardens of some nearby cottages, it jumped the low fences with ease, its hung er
Finding the dish that had been left out for the hedgehogs, it quickly gulped down the moist contents, then crossing to
a small garden pond, took a drink and spent some time flicking out the small goldfish onto the bank, eagerly adding them
to its meal.
Hearing a low hiss the cat turned its head, back raised in an arch.
Three female cats stood side by side on a garden bench, watching with hooded eyes, heads bowed in submission. The
big cat smelt the odour and knew one of them was ready to mate. It turned to face them and one by one they jumped to
the ground, waiting for the big male to come to them.
The mating was quick and savage, the male’s sharp teeth biting into the female’s neck as it mounted, saliva mixing with
blood. Afterwards the male bit the other two females on the neck as well, ensuring its teeth sank deeply.
Then the cat’s split up, the females returning to their own haunts - the houses where the occupants rose to a new
morning, a few wondering why their pet had not yet returned home.
The big cat set a steady pace, working its way across a field, something deep inside it, pumping out its message of rage.
As the first rays of daylight lightened the sky, the cat felt a calmness descend and for the first time since it could
remember, it felt sated, able to concentrate on something other than the rage it had always known.
It found a sheltered bush, curling up under its branches, the tip of its tail covering its sensitive nose.
Dropping into a deep sleep, the cat dreamed of running free across the fields, but always close behind was the
snapping jaw of the dark cage trying to recapture it.
Frank Booker closed the carved wooden doors of his mansion behind him and smiled in pleasure. One of his
gardeners was busy raking the driveway smooth, while another clipped the low hedges bordering it. He had bought the
place seven years ago when he’d gained his position as Director General of Area 7. He and his wife, Helen, had spent
months looking over all the houses for sale on the Isle of Wight and in the end Booker had got so fed up that he’d
threatened to leave the new job and go back to London if she didn’t find somewhere quickly.
Two weeks later Helen had driven him to Bathingbourne. As they topped a low rise, Booker saw a large house - more
a mansion really - set in the most beautiful grounds. The smile on his wife’s face grew wider as she guided the car up the
driveway, stones crunching under its tyres. The sun flickering through the hedges across the windscreen made them screw
up their eyes, so they missed the best views that first day.
Stepping from the car, Booker breathed in the scented air and joined in Helen’s smile. He remained silent as he trailed
his wife around the house but was suitably impressed. It was a magnificent place.
Booker had wanted it and had got it. Two months later he and his family moved in, and after much pleading, his
daughter Carolyn, got her cat.
Helen, unable to conceive, had insisted that they adopt a daughter. That had been twelve years ago and now, after
thirty years of a cold marriage, Booker and his wife had grown so distant that Carolyn was the only thing they had left in
Booker went his way, Helen went hers - she spending most of her time at committees, fêtes, and such like - Booker at
his desk, except for the odd trip to London now and then to visit his lover.
Bracing his shoulders Booker smiled.
Not a bad life really, not bad at all.
Taking a deep breath Booker gazed at the sky. The sun was shining through scattered, broken clouds. He would have
no trouble with his flight this morning. His secretary had submitted his flight plan to London City Airport, so he was ready
to be on his way. With luck it should take him about forty minutes and after his meeting with Sir Craig Holland he’d stop
off at the flat before picking up his daughter and her friend from their school. He should be back in time for his afternoon
weekly meeting with Dr Vasant with time to spare.
The front door opened and Booker’s wife stepped out under the portico.