To begin with, I thought it was my imagination but as I peered into the darkness I realised I was wrong. It was real!
On the far wall of my room is a mirror. Reflected in it, looking out from the vent, two bright green eyes shone!
I felt myself heave in a breath and cursed myself for not having re-secured the grill. I saw the eyes blink, stare a moment longer into my room and then go out.
For a moment, I thought it had gone, but then I heard the dull thud as it dropped from the vent onto the table beneath. I was frozen with fear. The Beast was here... in MY room!
I felt a movement on the end of my bed. It had leapt from the table, and then there was another thud as it hit the floor.
Where was it going? Had it seen me?
And then I saw something sticking up into the air, moving towards me. It was snakelike and swept through the air gracefully as it approached. My heart was pounding in my chest. My eyes were wide with fear. It was level with my knees now, and I couldn't breathe.
Nearer it came and then it stopped.
I stared at it, a long thin creature, flicking the air as though tasting it.
Suddenly, it dropped from sight. Where was it now?
Then I heard it. It... pirruped.
The noise was so soft and it sounded so sad and lost, I felt myself relax a little and slowly, I let my breath go.
It chirruped again.
Curiosity driving me on, I decided to investigate. I eased myself very slowly forward to the edge of the bed and peered over the side.
There in the darkness, a shadow sat. It was about the size of a small dog and its huge, brilliant green eyes gazed up at me. Then it said... miaow.
Miaow? I thought and sat up in bed, staring at the Beast before me.
"Computer... lights," I said softly and the room illuminated.
There, sat on the floor before me, blinking against the light, was the biggest tabby cat I'd ever seen: a common or garden cat.
I stared at it and it stared at me.
"Hello," I said and the cat miaowed again but encouraged by my response, it stood up. Its bottom quivered and then it leapt up onto the bed. There it stopped in front of my face and stared into my eyes. Then it stretched its head out towards me and sniffed my nose.
The Beast... this was the Beast that had haunted me for so long. I reached out my hand to touch it and the Beast... the cat... pushed its head hard into my palm and dropped onto its side in a fit of purrs. I happily gave it the attention it yearned for; I was just so pleased to have finally found the truth. I knew I should report the cat straight away, but I was too tired, so I got up, reaffixed the grill to the vent so the cat couldn't get away again and went back to sleep.
With the relief of knowing the Beast was just a cat, sleep came easily to me now and it wasn't long before I, and the Beast, were slumbering peacefully.