The floor was grey.
The walls were grey.
The roof was grey.
The cot was grey.
On the cot a man sat. In a grey suit. He was curled up in the corner of that small grey room and he was shaking.
He did not look up at the grey room. He did not move. He merely sat in the corner of that small grey room, on the edge of that small grey cot with his knees drawn to his chin and those knees were covered by thin grey trousers that went all the way down from his thin waist to his thin ankles.
On the other side of the cot, in the other corner, a grey tabby cat sat and watched him.
The cat was grey, but not thin. And the grey was a strange grey. The colour shimmered like silver in the dim light. The colour was translucent.
This cat had substance, and yet did not have substance. He was there, and yet did not seem quite to be. To look directly at him one might think he was a silver smudge against the grey wall, or a trick of light.
At last the man spoke, his voice was hoarse and raspy from disuse. His words seemed difficult to articulate.
"I turned myself- in. You wanted me to. You wouldn't- leave. I tried to make you go but you wouldn't- leave. Garfield- I'm- I killed you. I couldn't- take it- not anymore. Not after- Nermal and- Odie. Odie was my friend. You- were- my friend.
I killed them. I killed- both- of them. Nermal- Odie. After you- it seemed - easy."
The grey cat sat and listened.
"The police found- him. In the cellar. Lyman. I - I'm glad. He - he was dying. I would've- let him die."
The man lifted his head and stared at the cat. The cat stared back at him silently.
"Garfield- I'm- I'm-
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm- so- so- I killed you. Garfield. I killed you. I- I'm- ... monster. A monster. That's what Mother said. Mother- came- to see me. Here. She said- I tortured- Lyman. I-"
His raving slowed and came to a halt. He seemed to muse for a moment.
Again he looked at the cat.
"You- came back. You- came back. I thought- I'd- you were gone. But you- returned to me. Garfield- you- returned - to me. I- knew then. Knew- I'd- done wrong. So- wrong...
I was lonely- I - everyone laughed at me- Jon- dork- they said. I thought I'd show them- show him. So I did- I caught him- tied him up- I didn't think you-
You found him. I was scared. I was- so scared. I thought you'd- tell someone. So I- I-"
His voice rose and fell in a thin, insistant wailing. Words, incoherent and jumbled, blurred together from the tormented man's lips. They made no sense to a rational listener.
The cat rose from where it'd been sitting and stretched itself. It seemed to pause as if in thought and flicked a contemplative tongue once or twice over an uplifted paw.
Its ears twitched. And then it padded softly over and sat directly in front of the distraught prisoner. The cat tilted its head to one side as it looked at him.
And then, amazingly, it leaned forward and began to rub its head gently back and forth against the lower part of the man's leg.
Slowly the thin wailing sound died down. The man became quite still.
The man's head lifted and he stared down at the cat, a look of incredulity and disbelief etched across his features.
His voice was hesitant and uncertain, broken by remorse and intense suffering.
The cat looked up at him and opened its mouth. Faint and yet discernable in that room a single sound was heard.
Jon Arbuckle's eyes never left those of his pet, but the tension in his face was fading to be replaced by something softer, gentler, and more real than had ever been there before.