I’ve chosen to write the meeting of two characters from the work of others’: Young Goodman Brown’s traveling companion in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and the cat from Hell in Stephen King’s short story “The Cat from Hell,” which you can find in his collection Just After Sunset.
It was only half past midnight when he slipped away. He could still here the voices of his congregation, the wails of the tortured and the squeals of ecstasy intertwined in a cacophony of praise. He walked at a quick pace, barely using the gnarled staff in his hands. The forest seemed to writhe around him. Branches creaked as they scraped each other in the growing wind. The canopy of dark leaves curved above the rough path creating a tunnel of sorts that stretched and contracted as if with the breath of the man himself.
He walked for a spell listening to the foul voices on the wind, reflecting on his newest convert. A young goodwife. She was an exceptional addition to his collection: A pure soul, prim and proper in the village, a wanton minx amongst the decaying fodder of the forest.
So easily had she turned from the prayer of her husband. So lovingly had she accepted his anointing. When he had touched his thumb to her forehead, she had leaned forward with lips parted, eager to accept him. She had bowed her head and the sticky red substance had slowly dripped onto her heaving chest where it congealed before disappearing into her pale skin. The mass of pious converts had circled her and bathed her in the juice of cinquie-foil and wolf’s-bane mixed with the fat of a new born child and a fine oat. She was his now: goody Faith.
As he came upon a clearing in the path, the moon shone down to light a soft patch of grass, atop which sat a cat slowly cleaning his claws with his rough tongue. The man let out a thunderous laugh and continued to cackle as he made his way over exposed root and the odd stone to the lone patch of grass.
“You wouldst find the one plush seat in the entirety of the forest,” he said.
He propped his staff against an oak, pulled at the thighs of his crisp black slacks, and squatted before the cat. The cat looked up at his face with wide eyes that captured the moonlight. It’s pupils flashed back the bright reflection. Two full moons surrounded by two green-gold rings. The man put out his arms. The cat bent it’s head to lick a spot of matted blood from his front claws.
“Come, old friend, I have a task for thee.”
The cat tilted it’s head. In the strange light one could see the line that marked the center of its face, one side black and the other white. Its expression turned to one of curiosity and it climbed into the man’s suit-clad arms.
“There now. That’s a good pussy.” The man ran his hand over the cat’s head and down the length of its back and the cat nuzzled into the cradle of his arm.
“Surely you haven’t missed the communion? It was just a ways back in the clearing. Many of Salem’s finest were in attendance. The lady of the governor. Old deacon Gookin on the heels of Salem’s minister. Even your old friend, goody Cloyse, with or without her broomstick.”
The cat purred and stretched its head under the man’s familiar hands.
“Never you mind. Your task awaits and I am certain you will not miss my next gathering. Thou run along now to goody Faith and her pious husband young goodman Brown. She will welcome your presence with a warm bowl of cream. A sweet purr and a brush of her skirts will gain you entrance to the happy home. You wilst be her familiar. If any of Salem’s devout residents have chance to give her heartache. You well know how to handle thine situation. Her husband, especially, wilst require a watchful eye. Yes?”
The cat dug its claws into the man’s fine coat, raised up on its four legs, and leapt to the ground. Landing smoothly, it cast a fiery glance at its master and ambled into the darkness of the disappearing path, its tail swishing to the cadence of its dispassionate stroll.