Being a lover of cats, I played Purr Pals frequently when I bought it. I bought it at a car boot sale, as I was hunting for cheap games and such. I noticed the cat on the cover, checked it over, bought it for an OK five quid and was on my way.
I loved caring for my first cat- Furbel. He was a small black cat with somewhat cloudy markings and I cared for him every day when I got home from school. Of course, my siblings became jealous, as siblings do, and my brother adopted a cat named Zeno, a brown shorthair, and my sister, being very picky, adopted an expensive white longhair, who she named Snowball. We cared for, groomed and cleaned for our cats frequently, but slowly drifted away from it, discovering new things. The last time any of us played it was when I cleaned up for the three one last time before it fell into the pit behind my bed and was forgotten.
Five years or so later, my mother's nagging to clean up the junk pile behind my bed became too much to bear. Caving in, I groaned and pulled my bed out. I found a lot of useless rubbish, a few hairbrushes, some t-shirts, the usual junk that falls behind beds. I even found my old favourite CD, which I listened to until my mum told me to stop fooling about and clean.
After what seemed like hours of digging through junk, and a couple of spiders, which I sucked up into the vacuum cleaner, I found a small plastic square. I dusted it off, revealing the Purr Pals logo, and smiled. I'd have a lot of cat crap to clean up when I played this, but it'd bring back memories. I put it aside, and, after cleaning up, I put my Pokemon Platinum aside and began to play.
It wasn't quite as I remembered. The background was a pale, fleshy tan pink and the Purr Pals logo seemed dull. It even seemed distorted. After waiting, just sitting there thinking, a strange sight met my eyes. A skeletal cat, the cat from the title screen, but bony, emaciated, dragged itself on. The music was there, but slow and deep. The cat made sick crackling, heaving noises; noises like a sack of flesh and bone being dragged over concrete, as it painfully made its way to the logo.
When it completely finished its horrible journey, it let out a chilling, pained cry. It looked at the screen; through the screen, even; through me, with big, empty eyes. I remembered what I was doing and clicked 'continue'. The option to play as what cat wasn't there, hell, I wasn't sure if it was there in the first place, it had been a long time.
I wasn't in my house, I could remember that much. I was in a drab grey place, with no furniture, no wallpaper, just bricks and planks. No cats, even. I noticed that I had the option to walk around. I didn't quite remember that. I walked into another room, and found something I found truly disturbing.
A fluffy white cat, lying on its side, fur matted, even through its knotted fur I could see its ribcage, all of its bones. Snowball What I found really terrifying was that it had no head. I paused. Gory, bloody flesh-hole and disgusting yellow bone, but no head. I didn't vomit, I just stopped. Its fur was terribly uncared for, it looked like it had starved, and flesh was missing from its legs. I looked in the corner. Cat shit was piling up, some smeared on the walls. I felt a slimy chill down my spine. It's okay, I wasn't intending to eat anymore.
I heard a rasping noise from the speakers. Like a cheese grater. Sandpaper. Claws? Breathing?
I shook my head and kept going. I continued to the next room.
Signs of a struggle met me. There was wallpaper here. But it was peeling, and it was covered in scratch marks. The planks had been shifted, and things were strewn about the place. The water from the bowl was still dripping down the floorboards and a small ball tumbled across the screen. On the walls was crusted blood, like rust. But on the floor, on the floor was a patch of fresh blood, vivid and red in contrast to all the drab grey. Had my cats starved and been forced to eat each other? Or even themselves? The thought made me gag.
The grating noise was back.
I turned my character around, and, on the windowsill, Zeno. He was in worse shape than Snowball, but he had a head. He was missing two legs, the bone poking through the flesh, at least three of his ribs were broken, jutting out through the skin, and his tail had been chewed off. Again, flesh was missing from his legs, but also his stomach and back. He let out a hiss. A pure cry of anger, pain and contempt. He leapt for my character, but fell first, landing with a crunch. Like splintering wood.
When I looked back, he was still crawling, clawing at air with the few claws he had left. His insides had spilled out, he'd fell in half like a party popper. His vertebrae were visible, blood through his eyes, intestines hooking on the floor's nails. He crawled closer to me before twitching once, twice, and stopping altogether.
I ran to the bathroom to gag a little, but I didn't vomit, I just gagged, my throat burning and stomach churning. When I came back, it was to a demented meowling. Screaming. Commanding. I found one more door. It was covered in a congealing red film, like the darkness from Amnesia, but I pushed straight through it and it faded out. I was entering the garden.
The screen faded back in. I expected to see the last cat, god, I couldn't remember his name at the time, but I knew he'd be there, I just thought he'd be in such a rough condition as Snowball and Zeno. The image of Snowball's headless corpse and Zeno's intestines curling on the floor like sickly worms made me need to vomit as I recalled them; and this time I did. Ironically; before I got to the bathroom this time. I just hunched over and vomited. It burnt my throat, acidic, but it felt better to get it out of my system.
He was there, allright.
And now I knew what happened to Snowball's head.
Furbel sat on his throne of cardboard boxes. A crown of skulls sat on his head and a necklace of teeth and claws hung around his neck. On his sceptre; long, thin pieces of bone held together with thorny vines, was Snowball's head. In her eyes were silver jingle bells and in her mouth was a colourful rubber ball.
Around him were other cats. Only few were alive. There were all types, all kinds of cat. One had been torn open, its ribs cracked and its heart impaled on a twig. One's head had been smashed open and its tongue was lolling out. A siamese, I remember distinctly, had been torn straight in half. Bodies littered the lawn, up and down the slide, the pond was red with blood.
Two living cats were behind Furbel and I'm still so glad he wasn't looking at me. The two were cowering behind him, one holding a rotten piece of fish. In front of them was a grey cat. Around its neck was a cardboard sign. It turned to me, looking at me with desperate eyes, in the same way the title screen cat had looked, through the screen. I saw the sign.
Furbel smiled. I wasn't sure if a cat could smile, but he seemed to. He showed rows of teeth. Cannibalistic teeth. He pointed his sceptre at the cat, who seemed close to pleading, begging. The cat to Furbel's left leapt upon the grey cat and began the gory process of tearing him apart. He tore a leg straight out of the socket, blood spraying, the grey cat moaning out in pain. An eye came out, another eye, teeth plucked out like baby carrots. The grey cat, howling and hissing, made one last vain attempt to fight. It struck out. It left three deep scratches in the larger cat's eye. The larger cat flew back, surprised, tumbling over. Furbel, without wasting a second, pounced on the grey cat's back.
I won't describe what happened next. Hell, I don't think I can remember it. My mind has pushed it back into the deepest crevasse of thought I can't reach. All I know is that Furbel ate the other cat, ate it while it was still alive and struggling, piece by piece, and it was scarring.
Then they saw me.
Threw the DS at a wall, that usually dislodged the game card, not that I usually did it on purpose. Letting out a groan of anger and disgust, I barely had time to catch my breath before I vomited on the floor again. I felt like my stomach was turning inside out.
Then I heard it.
An angry mewing.
I realised that the game card had not been removed and that the game was still working. I could barely bring myself to touch it, but had to. 'Curiosity killed the cat' came to mind, but I forced it away. Meowing. But I could hear words.
"Oh, human... oh human, oh human, oh, human. You pitiful fools."
I looked at the game and saw Furbel's face staring at me. It was almost enough to make me throw the DS again. His mouth was full of gore and slaughter was visible. His voice was hissing, meowing, like a cross between human and cat speak.
"You stupid fool. You left. You and your kind left, and we moved in. We created a new world. A better world. But, of course, you don't become king without a few stepping stones, and if there aren't any there, just make your own. Human, when you left, Zeno, Snowball and I were sure to starve. But I was oldest. I was strongest. Petty Snowball went down first, that bitch. Zeno was a good ally, but he showed instability as a leader. He was no match. I took his legs, confining him to the windowsill. If he jumped... well, you saw him. When I overtook, neighbouring houses followed. More and more houses joined us... and there goes the neighbourhood."
His mouth barely moved, it moved in slow, sometimes jerky movements, but the slow, low title screen music played still. The longer he talked, more blood dripped from his mouth, until it was too much for the one cat he'd killed and consumed.
"I am king. Top cat. I am also strongest. Why be loved when you can be feared? Cats have built-in weapons, human. Teeth. Claws. Keen senses. Agile bodies. Of course we could drive out our human slave masters. We never grew dependent on your petting, your cuddling, your babble. We could find our own food, like our fathers. Humans are a useless, inferior tribe to us."
His facial features slowly grew more grotesque. His ears became twisted and curled. His teeth got sharper, more yellow, more rotten. Eyes turned red slowly, from the pupil out. They began dripping with blood, coursing down his catlike cheeks like rivers through dark lands. His collar got tighter until I was astonished he could still speak.
"Human. I kill all those who get in my way. I am Furbello, king of the cats, god of cats. Cats do not develop unnecessary emotions for each other. I can, and will, dispatch of you if I must. I advise that you leave.
"Leave and never return.
"Just watch your back, human."
With that, he let out a low, guttural laugh that got louder and louder, more screamlike as it carried on. Blood, guts and bones, even eyes, legs and pieces of tail flowed out of his mouth as if he were vomiting a graveyard. This was too much. I turned off the game, threw the game card out of the window and vomited on my bedclothes, crying.
This time, my mother heard me and came upstairs. She scolded me for not telling her that I felt unwell and took my duvet downstairs to clean. I wrapped myself tightly in fleece blankets and tried to block out my thoughts with music. My best friend had lent me a Starlight Express CD and it was the first thing I found (that girl is absolutely insane about that musical. I chuckled painfully as I thought of this). I was curled in my bed, listening to music full blast through noise-cancelling headphones.
Until something jumped on my bed.
My cat, Jessie.
She was black and brown, with a silver collar. Very old, she had a thin, fragile frame and moved slowly and with a limp.
She pawed up to my chest and stood there, staring at me.
And for a moment, in her hazy green eyes, I could have sworn I saw something. For merely a second, a brief moment, but I could swear on my life that I saw it.
Watch your back, human.