THE WORLD OF DREAD
The cats were having a really wonderful time, doing what they loved best, which was running. Sammy and Freddy could hardly contain themselves, as they darted this way and that in crisscross lines, completely phasing Bushy and Tommy, who were older, and slower; Tommy had a lame hind leg, which meant he could not jump, but he still could climb trees. Lizzie and Molly followed up in the rear with Dolly and Lily running a few yards and then stopping to sniff anything that might be interesting. The cats were having such a marvellous time, that they were quite oblivious to what was happening about them.
Suddenly Freddie, who was very sensitive, suddenly noticed that something was wrong, pricked up his ears and shouted back to the others “Where are the saints?”. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Lily let out a scream, and said, “it’s getting so dark”. Bushy, his voiced sounding very concerned, said darkly “Not only is it getting darker, it is changing”. Dolly looking behind her saw that where Pope Benedict’s residence had been there was instead a huge moving wall of blackness. “Heavens” she said “What’s that?” Turning around slowly (In fact all the cats had stood still, and all were now looking around). Dolly saw that they were surrounded by a continuous wall of blackness. It was like tar, but it was transparent, and then the horror of what it could be, began to dawn on them. Looking up, the cats, who were now huddled together and crouched down, their eyes wide-eyed with terror, gazed all around them and up into what had been a beautiful noon day sky in Rome, and was now a dome of fire. It was a dark fire, which could never be seen or imagined in this world.
Molly spoke up in a very determined voice, which was scarcely disguising her great fear. “This is Hell where humans go, who refuse to love God, or do his will!” “Yes I know.” said Lizzie, “as soon as I saw that the dome of St. Peter’s had gone dark, and St. Francis had expressed his concern, I knew something demonic was afoot. Molly, I’ve never asked you this before", she said to her sister ( Molly and Lizzie were sisters. Lily and Dolly were another pair of sisters; they were in fact the oldest of the girls, though they looked like the youngest. Sammy and Freddie were brothers, whereas Bushy and Tommy were cats who came to visit the hermits, and decided what a nice place it was, and had decided to stay.) have you ever seen the Devil?” “No” said Molly, “but I think I’m beginning to see him now”. In fact all the cats were beginning to see him. “Quick” said Bushy “All you girls come and place yourselves behind Tommy and me. And you Freddie and Sammy protect them from the back.
The moving wall of utter blackness was beginning to change into a gigantic form. The blackness was now looking like a massive coil of crude oil. “It’s a an absolutely huge serpent” gasped Freddie. “It’s worse than that Freddie. There’s no ground. We are suspended in thin air.” said Sammy. Thin air was quite the wrong description. The air was acrid, and foul smelling; there was nothing thin about it. The huge serpent was truly massive, and it’s head could not be seen. It looked rather like the funnel of a tornado. The colour of the serpent began to change to a dreadful dark red. The skin kept giving off sparks and a terrible smell adding to the already stifling atmosphere. The cats were still suspended in air, but now they began to fall all together, rather like being in lift, which is plummeting from the top floor of a skyscraper to the ground floor. As they fell, the body of the serpent, which was very close to them, began to taper down to its tail.
Looking up the cats at last saw the serpent’s head hundreds of feet above them, and were horrified to see that it was not a serpent’s head, nor was it a dragon’s head, but a human head, and it was not ugly, it was beautiful, and absolutely terrible. Dolly gasped, and said “What a terrible look in his eyes”. “It’s a look of total despair” said Lizzie. “Oh I can’t stand it.” cried Molly. “Look” said Tommy, “He’s bending down to us”. “Ahh! What’s that” shrieked Lily. All the cats looked around them, and to their amazement they were standing on firm ground, but moving all around them were little snakes, scorpions, spiders, and cockroaches, and every conceivable insect. By this time the cats hair was standing on end. They were absolutely frozen with fear, and Satan’s head was coming nearer and nearer. They began to feel great drops of hot water on their coats, and wondered what it was. Molly, in a barely audible voice, forced the words out of her mouth. “It’s blood.” A majestic voice dispelled the cats' terrible suspense. “That is the blood of Satan’s despair. His tears are of blood, the bitterest of tears, for they are the tears of blackest despair.” Satan’s head which was about the size of railway engine, was about 50 yards away from the cats. The expression of despair, and hatred was so awful that the cats would have died if they could, but the voice gave them great courage, and turning quickly around they saw the most magnificent of angels standing before them. He must have been about the size of the statue of Liberty. He was gleaming with a golden fire, flecked with great silver lights. His wings were silver, and like lightening. “Stay Satan. You cannot hurt these little servants of God. They have not sinned.” And with that, the great archangel, scooped up all the cats in his great left hand, and held them to his chest. The relief was wonderful. The angel said “I am Michael”. With that there was a terrific explosion, and the Devil’s great serpentine body hurled itself at Michael, but to no avail. The cats felt transfixed by the terrible eyes, which were streaming torrents of blood. The lips of the Devil seemed to smile, sneer, and pucker as if he was about to weep, which he was doing, but it evoked from the cats a mixture of terror, pity, and something that felt like saying “What a terrible waste' what a tragedy!” However the cats were not allowed enough time to think about the Devil’s great tragedy, for around Michael’s feet flowed a tremendous whirlpool of liquid fire, and the creatures that were drowning in this torrent of fire, were gruesome in the extreme. The bodies of the damned were a mixture of animal limbs, and human heads in the wrong place. Some were growing out of a foot, or an elbow. Some heads were attached to stomachs, chests, and other parts of bodies, which could be human, reptilian, or gigantic insects. Many had the bodies of of spiders, and oddly of crabs, and even giant squids. All of the faces were human, hate filled, and like Satan’s were filled with total despair. All were weeping blood, and blood was flowing out of their noses, ears, and mouths as well. It was dark red, and often black, but some of it was a very dark and evil looking green. All the time there was a terrific noise of screeching, roaring, weeping, and blaspheming; absolutely ear spitting.
The cats could stand it no longer, and all began to weep tears of compassion at the utter hopelessness of it all. They all turned their little furry faces into the breast of the Archangel, and wept until they felt as if they had no more tears to weep. Very gently Michael said to them, “You dear little ones must look once more at this abyss of desolation, and then I will take you away from this disastrous and dread place.”
The cats turned again, and though the great whirlpool of fire was still there, it was now a dark fire, and there were simply millions of heads bobbing on this ocean of immense pain. The faces were now a whitish grey, and they knew instinctively what kind of people they were, and what sins had condemned them to Hell. “Oh this is truly dreadful” said Dolly, “So many priests and religious”, “And cardinals and bishops” said Bushy in a voice drained of all emotion. “Oh” said Tommy “look how many children there.” “And the hate in their eyes...”cried Lily, and she literally was crying. “Oh what a waste, or what a betrayal of Christ.” “Look up!” said Michael “And behold your Lord”.
At first the cats could only see the body of Satan coiling up into what looked like a great cloud, which on closer inspection was a gathering of whirling devils, wings and all, but then this gathering dispersed, and the great serpent coiled backwards, and fell into the flaming sea, with only his head bobbing above the gyrating fire. The darkness had dispersed, and there was Jesus smiling down at them. Great beams of light were issuing from his face, and his eyes looked upon the cats with inexpressible tenderness. “Oh Jesus, you are smiling and weeping” exclaimed Dolly. “Yes, I am” he said “ because you have all been so loving and brave. You show more mercy in your tears than many men, and sadly many Christians. You have braved the greatest test.”Suddenly the cats were no longer in the hand of Michael, but were on the breast of Jesus. The light and heat were comfort and repose beyond anything that they had felt ever in their lives. Contentment overwhelmed them. They then saw deep into his breast, which was pulsating with flashes of light, that whirled around them. These flashes were both warming and refreshing, and then they saw the heart of Jesus. It was like a great pulsating ruby, which was closer to a carnelian in its redness. “My dearest children, enter my heart” said Jesus in such a tender voice. “Dare we?” said Freddie. “Of course dear hearts, of course.” said Jesus.
With that the cats entered the glittering entrance to Jesus’ most sacred heart. And in that heart they tasted Divine Love, and slept for what seemed like an age. When they awoke, they were sitting on a grass lawn. The dome of St. Peter’s was gleaming golden in the Sun. In front of them the grass shimmered like an emerald, and rising up from it was a statue of St. Michael. “Oh, there’s the new statue of St. Michael” said Sammy. “It’s not very good, is it ?” said a voice. The cats turned round and there they saw St. Michael laughing and her winked at them with one of his great sparkling eyes, and then was gone. “Did we dream it all?” asked Molly. “No my dear, we most certainly did not” replied Lizzie. “I think that there is something rather suspicious over there.” Said Tommy. “Yes” said Bushy “It looks like conspiracy.”
Near the trees and behind the statue, there were some cardinals, bishops and priests talking in a rather worrying manner. To the human observer they would have looked like a genial group of clerics enjoying a joke. “I think I know why we were allowed to see Hell.” Said Molly. “Yes I know, so that we would could help people not to go there.” Lizzie replied. At this Lily, who was still somewhat overaught, burst into floods of tears. “Oh Lily don’t dry. Here’s my hanky” and with that Dolly dabbed her sister’s eyes with her handkerchief. The cats all sighed at the prospect of yet another challenge and then made their way over to the grey looking group of clerics. “Their faces” said Sammy to his brother “remind me of...” “Hell” Freddie said, finishing his brother’s sentence.