23 Mar What Would You Do if Your Mother Asked You? (The Cat in the Hat Horror Parody)
“What Would You Do if Your Mother Asked You? (The Cat in the Hat Horror Parody)”Written by T.G. Westman Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 14 minutes
Lightning struck as Mom opened the door, silhouetting her in her finest evening dress and briefly hiding the scowl she threw at her little Janet and Tom, and their babysitter, Lance Fisher, the guy from next door.
“Their dinners are in the freezer. You know how the microwave works.”
Janet hid slightly behind Tom and shook, while Tom simply gave her a smirk. “And when are you coming back?”
He asked the question, but silently mouthed her response; it was the same one she always gave:
“I’ll be back when I’m done. Don’t beat on your sister.”
The door slammed shut. They heard the hurried click of high heels running to the car in the driveway, some mild swearing as she fumbled to get the keys in the car in the pouring rain, and finally, the engine starting a moment before the car backed away.
Janet let go of Tom and watched the headlight beams as they rolled through the front door window and then away into the night. “I can’t believe she’s going out on a night like this.”
Tom, on the other hand, pulled open the curtain and smiled. “Do you even care anymore, Janey? Do you even think she cares?”
He was the only one who called her Janey, which was fine by her. It was a terrible nickname anyway. It wasn’t any shorter or easier to say, after all.
“I just wish Dad would come back.”
Janet wished it, but Tom suspected their father was getting along just fine wherever he was. The divorce had been ugly, and their mom had been successful in painting their dad as an absolute monster and got sole custody of the kids. And, thanks to his well-paying job as a scientist, he was court-ordered to provide a tremendous amount of child support – but then one day he didn’t come home from work. A call to the lab revealed that he never showed up that day. That was over a year ago, with no sign of him since.
Janet was convinced he was on a super-secret government mission and he was just trapped by bad guys, fighting them and their armies of evil henchman and cyborg sharks, trying to get back home. Tom figured their dad just changed his name and run off so that he wouldn’t have to deal with life anymore…or he was dead. Either way, life sucked since then. Without their father’s income, their mother had spent less time with them and more time hanging around in bars trying to land a rich guy who could solve all their problems. At least, that is, until another, richer guy came around.
Lance, on the other hand…
Tom didn’t have much experience of the world, but he knew Lance was what most would call an ‘absolute doormat’. He was the kind of guy who you always expected to see wearing a self-knitted sweater, even if he wasn’t. Tom could tell Lance liked their mom, even though Tom wondered why anyone would, but Lance’s job as a social worker didn’t have him rolling in dough, and while she always was willing to accept his help around the house and with Tom and Janet, she ignored him the rest of the time. Even now, here he was, watching her kids, trying to prove he was just the right kind of guy to manage a household, and she was off trying to make out with somebody else.
Lance clapped his hands together, having allowed everything that was said to go in one ear and out the other. “Okay! Who wants… What are you having for dinner, anyway?”
Tom shook his head. “Probably Hot Pockets again. That’s all we ever have.”
Lance waved his hands in the air in fake excitement. “Yay! Hot Pockets! I’ll go get them started!”
Janet jumped up and down. “Ooh, ooh! Can I have breakfast for dinner? We just bought a new kind of cereal and I wanted to try it!”
Lance put his hands on his hips and affected a John Wayne drawl. “For you, little missy, whatever you want.”
Tom rolled his eyes as Lance went into the kitchen. “Come on, Janey, let’s go watch TV. At least it’s better than doing nothing.”
From the kitchen, Lance leaned his head out of the doorframe, holding the box of Hot Pockets. “Oh, no you don’t! No TV! Why watch something when you can do something? I brought board games for us to play!”
“Oh, that isn’t necessary, Lance. Really. We will be fine with the TV.”
“Just wait, after dinner you’ll be singing a different tune!” Lance dug around in the pantry. “Janet, is this it? Halloween Choco-Blasts?”
Thunder boomed, causing the entire house to shake. The lights flickered for a moment, but stayed on.
“Whoa, that was close! You almost had to have a ‘Cold’ Pocket, Tom!” Lance chuckled amidst a clattering of plates.
Janet tugged on Tom’s shirt. “If the power goes out, can I sit next to you?”
“Ugh. If you really have to.”
“Okay. I promise I won’t annoy you.”
“You already do.” Tom had to admit to himself his sister didn’t annoy him as much as he let on, but it was easier to do that than it would be to be hurt again. After Dad vanished, he never wanted to be vulnerable again, so he actively worked hard on being as distant as he could to anyone and everyone.
She pouted. “I know I do. But I’ll try really hard not to.”
Lance called them both into the kitchen, where Tom’s little pepperoni pizza sandwiches stared back at him, steam rising from the holes in the side where the cheese exploded out of them, and Janet’s bowl of Halloween Choco-Blasts (“Now with spooky, scary cats!”) sat quietly, the milk sloshing slightly from where the bowl had been put down. They sat down as Lance busily scrubbed the cheesy mess out of their microwave.
“So, kids…and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to…but what exactly did your dad used to do?”
Janet beamed. “He was a scientist!”
Lance held up the washcloth he was using to the light, added a little more dish detergent to it, and kept scrubbing. “Yeah, but what exactly? Was it something that would be easy for, say, a social worker to take courses on at the community college? Research? Computers? Geology?”
Tom took a bite of his Hot Pocket and winced at the heat. “He was a geneticist. He worked with GMO crops, mostly grains, to make them more resistant to heat and drought. There was some government stuff, too, but he never talked about it.”
“So…not community college stuff.”
“He’s a secret agent, too!” Janet added. “That’s why he can’t talk about the government stuff!” She stuck her spoon into the bowl, pulling out a big bite of cereal. “Ooh, Tom, look at the kitties!”
Lightning flashed again, and the lights shut off…and this time, they stayed off. Janet screamed, dropping her silverware, and in the faint light from outside Tom could see his sister coming over to huddle beside him.
Lance bumped his head trying to get it out of the microwave, rubbing it and sighing, “Ah, nuts!” He pulled out his phone, shook it, and shined a light around the kitchen. “Do you know where you keep candles around here? I don’t think I have any at ho–”
Lance was interrupted by a horrifying screech at the front of the house. It sounded almost like a dump truck smashing into a window, and then there was a loud thump.
All three ran to the front door, but Lance, unfamiliar with the layout of the house, repeatedly banged his shins into the furniture along the way.
Out in the road, a van lay overturned, its driver’s-side door bent open. There was text on the side, but from where they stood on the front porch it was virtually illegible.
Perhaps on account of the outage and the resulting darkness, few people came out to investigate the crash. The only other person to show any interest was old Mr. Thomason, from a house away. He was out in the road looking at the van, and holding his phone up in the air. Thomason, wearing nothing but a ratty pair of shorts, a stained white tank top and an old pork pie-style hat (he bought it when Mad Men was popular and kept it on to conceal how bald he really was), saw the three come out and waved to them.
“Hey, any of you getting reception? Damned storm must have knocked out a tower or some–”
Lightning flashed, and though there was no thunder, not yet, the light illuminated something stalking, coming from around the side of the van. Something long, lanky and jet black, crawling on all fours. Tom, Janet and Lance didn’t see much else before it pounced on Mr. Thomason, the thunder thankfully drowning out his screams.
Lance pulled Tom and Janet by their shirts. “Back in the house! Back in the house!” They all went back in, and Lance shut the door, leaning against it.
Janet shook, clutching Tom tightly. “Lance? What was that?”
“I…I don’t know. But we’re staying right here. Whatever that was out there, we will be safe in here until help arrives.” He pulled out his phone, then held it up as he looked for a signal. “What? Battery 20%? I only ran the flashlight for five sec–”
Lance yelped as, with one solid push, the door was knocked off its hinges and smashed him to the ground, trapping him beneath it.
The creature lumbered through the doorway on all fours, its feet pressing hard against the ruined door with immense strength. Its features were hard to make out in the darkness, mostly because it was black as night from head to toe. It resembled a cat, its dark fur resembling that of a panther, but it was considerably larger, closer in size to a lion, with a gangly upper body and a shaggy head. In its jaws, it clutched Mr. Thomason’s porkpie hat. Its head whipped around, glaring at both Tom and Janet in turn, prompting them to fall down and retreat, crawling toward the nearest wall.
Those eyes. Its yellow eyes.
It climbed off the door, leading Lance to wheeze heavily, at which point the creature arched its back and rose to its feet.
It stood on its hind legs, and remained in that position, measuring well over seven feet tall. With its front paws, it retrieved the hat from its mouth and placed it atop its head. Its face, now more visible without the hat hanging from its teeth, was a strange mixture of features: cat-like, but with a humanoid jawline and cheeks. It snorted, sniffing the air, then leaned in close to the children.
In a gravelly, growling voice, it spoke.
“Why do you sit there like that? I know it is wet and the sun is…” It sniffed, twisting its head as if struggling to find the words. It grimaced as if the thought itself hurt, straining to emerge from its mouth. “Not…sunny.” Then it smiled, revealing several rows of needle-sharp teeth. “But we can have good fun.”
Lance crawled out from under the door, coughing and wheezing, in search of a weapon. The large cat turned and looked at him, its grin disappearing, and pointed in his direction. “That is funny.”
Lance looked at his phone, which had been smashed into bits by the door, and whipped it aside. “What the hell are you doing here?! Get away from them!”
The cat snorted and turned back to the children, again looking like its own thoughts were trying to murder it. But then its head cleared, and it smiled at them once more. “I know some good games we can play. I know some new tricks. A lot of good tricks. I’ll show them to you.” A dark looked spread across its face. “Your mother will not mind at all if I do.”
Something made of glass smashed next to its head. Lance had thrown a vase at the creature, and was looking to grab something else. “Get out of here! I don’t know what games you’re thinking of, but you leave them alone!”
Faster than anyone could imagine, the cat pounced at Lance, and in a moment, in a show of unexpected strength, lifted him up over its head. “Why, we can have lots of good fun, if you wish!”
Lance screamed. “Put me down! Put me down!” He looked around, but saw nothing but broken glass and wood below him. “Wait, wait! Don’t put me down here!”
The cat thing smiled again, and seemed to get an idea. Still holding Lance, it began to bounce up and down, its grin growing impossibly wide. It jumped over to the staircase and began hopping up it, step by step, until it reached the top, then dangled Lance over the railing, at least ten feet above the floor. It turned him so that he was forced to look up into its eyes. Its smile faded, and an angry, sinister look crossed its face.
“Look at me. Look at me. LOOK AT ME NOW!” Then it shook its head again, and the grin returned. “It is fun to have fun, but you have to know…”
The creature then let out a huge roar and dropped Lance, who fell with a horrible crunch upon the hallway table he had stubbed his toe on only a few minutes earlier. Meanwhile, the cat clutched at its head, swinging back and forth, as if was fighting off some invisible force. Then, it too fell forward, crashing into the railing and breaking through, landing in a heap next to Lance.
The only sounds were the slight, muffled growls coming from the still-breathing beast, as well as a pathetic moan coming from Lance.
The creature’s hat had fallen off. Now that it wasn’t moving, it was easy to see… There was some kind of contraption on its head. Wires and lights appeared to be woven practically into its skull, some of them covered by dirty, matted fur. Others remained visible, buzzing, as if short-circuiting, and blinked rapidly.
Tom and Janet looked at each other, and then Tom grabbed his sister’s hand, leading her to the hole where the front door used to be. “Come on, let’s get out of here!” he cried.
“But we can’t leave Lance!” Janet protested, tugging him in the opposite direction. “It’ll hurt him!”
Tom pulled again. “How can we help him, Janey? We’re not big enough to carry him out of the house, and I don’t think he’s going anywhere on his own. We need to go get help, and we’ll come back for him as soon as we can!”
Janet, tears in her eyes, nodded. “Okay. But promise?”
Tom tried his best to remain calm. “Yes, I promise.”
They ran out into the rain and onto the road, and tried their best not to stare at what was left of Mr. Thomason.
They hadn’t gone far when the van on the side of the road…shook. They both stopped, and Janet hugged Tom. “Do you think someone in there needs help?”
Tom shook his head. “No way. If that thing came out of the van, there’s nobody alive in there.”
“Then what’s making it move? It could be someone.”
Tom looked down at his little sister, who gave him ‘the look’. It was the look she gave when she really, really, really wanted him to do something, even if he didn’t want to.
Tom gulped, then went to the back of the van. It shook once more, just before he took the handle and opened it.
The door fell open. Inside the back of the van, there was little that could be seen in the dark, but when lightning flashed again, Tom recoiled.
Two men, viciously torn to shreds, lay on the floor. A large dented cage, bashed apart from the inside, lay jammed in the corner, beside a red chest labeled with a biohazard sticker. The divider intended to separate the van’s passengers from their cargo had been torn asunder. Blood soaked the seats, and the mangled steering wheel bore the scars from having been on the receiving end of a set of thick claws.
Suddenly, it occurred to Tom that the inhuman intruder had driven the van here. But how? And why?
And what was causing the movement? There was nothing that…
The van shook again.
When the lightning flashed again, Tom saw that the red chest was rocking back and forth, as if something was shaking it from the inside.
He’d seen enough.
“It’s nothing, Janey,” Tom lied. “We need to go.”
He turned to grab his sister, only to see her mouth covered by a long, black paw and unnaturally long, nimble fingers, each of them tipped with razor-sharp claws. The cat grabbed Tom as well, and held them both tightly. Tom noticed a strange, musky smell as its fur-covered hand pressed against his nose.
The box shook again, and with the back door now open, the final violent twitch sent it tumbling out of the vehicle and onto the concrete, where the latch broke against the ground.
Tom tried to run, but the cat held him tight. He looked up at it, and it looked back at him. It had that grin again, and the pork pie hat back in place.
“In this box are two things I will show to you now. You will like these two things.”
The lid flew open. And, for a moment, nothing happened. Then, two hands gripped the top of the box and pulled something large and ungainly out of the box and onto the ground.
It looked like it had been a person at one time. Or really, two people. But the heads, both now growing from a single lump of meat, were twisted, bent and rubbery, with sallow, drooping features. It had no legs, but with its hands, attached to long, impossibly-thin arms, it reached across the ground and slowly dragged itself towards the children.
Tom and Janet squirmed, but the cat did not let go. “These things will not bite you. They want to have fun!”
As the mass on the ground crawled closer, it seemed to be ripping its body open on the concrete, leaving a bloody trail behind. As it pulled itself into a “sitting” position, however, the wound on its belly pulsed, and the skin began to close up.
The things on the sidewalk wailed in unison, then reached for Tom, putrefied skin dripping from their fingertips.
Although it nearly made him gag to do it, Tom bit down hard on the cat’s hand. The creature clutched its head and howled, shaking with rage, and released its grip on both of them. Meanwhile, the crawling two-headed abomination’s gooey finger touched Tom’s shirt, but nothing else, as they sprinted back and away.
From behind them, they heard a voice calling. Lance, limping, wheezing, and covered head-to-toe in cuts, waved to them from the front door.
Tom and Janet ran to him, and he held up a set of keys. “My car… We can get out of here…before they can do any more to…”
Lance was interrupted by an animalistic shriek. Turning, Tom saw the cat staring at them angrily, lifting the blob and preparing to throw it. Lance pulled Tom and Janet behind him, into the front hall.
Lance stopped the blob from hitting them, but it landed square on him. No sooner had he hit the ground than the monstrous duo reached for him. He screamed and thrashed wildly as their hands enveloped his arms.
The cat came closer and peered at Lance, a lunatic expression of malice ever-present on its face. “These things are good things. They are tame. Oh, so tame!”
Tom and Janet watched in horror as something seemed to happen to Lance as the blob squeezed him. They weren’t quite sure, but it looked like the ominous mass was… joining with him. Janet turned away from the sight, while Tom looked on, unable to believe his eyes.
As the mound of flesh grew, Lance’s car keys disappeared inside it.
Where could he and Janet go? They knew they couldn’t outrun the cat, and they certainly couldn’t go past the front door. What could they do?
She would have to be home at some point. Maybe she wouldn’t know exactly what to do, but she would have the car. They just had to hide or fight back until then.
The cat snickered and advanced toward them. As it reached for Tom, its hands began to shake, and for the umpteenth time this evening, it seemed to be fighting itself. It pulled its hands back and smashed them against the wall, then went past the amorphous entity, and into the kitchen.
And there it stayed. They could hear something going on in there, but they weren’t violent noises.
A moment later, the cat returned. It looked…sad. Once more its hat was gone, and its light was blinking. In its hands, it held two objects. In one, a pen; in the other, a box of cereal.
It went to the wall, and, with its hands still shaking, it wrote on the wallpaper with the pen.
CAN’T FIGHT LONG. PROGRAMMING BROKEN. WRONG BATCH. COVER-UP.
It held up the box of cereal to Tom, who took it. A section has been scratched with an underline.
“Contains partially genetically modified foods.”
Tom looked up at the cat, still clutching its pen, all of its vitriol seemingly replaced by grief and regret. As he watched, it raised its shaky hands one final time and messily scrawled:
Abruptly, the blinking on its head ceased, and snapped back into a solid pattern. The cat dropped the pen again. It smiled at the two of them. It also took the cereal back.
“You did not like our game. Oh, dear. What a shame!” It picked them both up again, and slung them onto its shoulders. “I will show you another good trick that I know!”
* * * * * *
It was roughly one in the morning when Mom finally came home, just barely missing the van in the middle of the street as she drunkenly swerved into the driveway.
She walked up to the front door and fumbled with her keys, until she realized there was no door to put them into.
“What the hell happened here? Tom! Janet!” She stepped across the ravaged threshold and saw a pile of thick, wet goo on the floor. “Lance?”
There was no answer, except for a rattling from the kitchen. Mom stumbled over and around the remnants of broken furniture, and cautiously made her way toward the source of the sound.
It was dark, and flicking the light switch did nothing.
“Lance!” she shouted. “I don’t know what you and the kids are up to, but this isn’t funny! You should’ve called! I didn’t get that drunk!” She sneered at the cold Hot Pocket left out on the table and picked up the empty box of Halloween Choco-Blasts on the table, shaking what little dust remained out of it. “Goddammit, this is my house! Somebody answer me! I demand an explanation!”
Then, a large shape pushed open the pantry door.
Mom recoiled as the lanky seven-foot-tall figure stalked towards her, grinning maniacally.
She turned to run, but in the hall behind her, a monstrous, gelatinous form approached. Two of its sagging, misshapen heads wailed as they drew closer. Its third head, smiling brightly, waved a fairly normal hand at her.
“Hey, there!” Lance flashed white teeth at her. “Guess I don’t need to impress you anymore! I’ve found someone new! Two new people, actually!”
She turned and saw something at the edge of the table: two pairs of black, fur-covered hands, and four small yellow eyes staring back.
The monstrous feline adjusted his hat.
Mom grabbed her hair and screamed. “Oh, my God! What the hell is going on here?!”
The four little eyes looked at each other, and then flashed devilish grins.
Well, what would you do…if your mother asked you?
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableCraig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A