Story taken from the City of Bones Newsletter
The Talking Cats of Downsell Wharf
Finally, through interviews, leaked documents and eye-witness accounts, the true story of what occurred at Ramsey’s Dried Fish warehouse can now be revealed.
On the evening of the 15th, Guards were summoned to investigate a disturbance at the warehouse, 76 Downsel Wharf. When they arrived they heard what one guard described as ‘two spitting demons fighting each other’. The guards gained entry to the building and discovered, not demons, but two cats shrieking and insulting each other in perfect English.
Suspecting sorcery, the guards withdrew, called reinforcements and cordoned off the building. A mage from the city zoo was sent for.
While talking animals are rare, and talking cats even rarer, it was the cats’ vocabulary that raised eyebrows. They were arguing over how best to make a wedding dress, and were using words like chiffon, brocade, stays and all manner of other dressmaking words no ordinary person, not to mention cat, would be aware of.
The mage entered the building. She emerged minutes later, scratched, shaken and covered in scraps of dried fish. She told the guards that the city council would have to pay for two trap nets instead of one because, if both cats were kept together, they’d murder each other.
‘Fighting cats don’t behave like fighting people,’ the mage reported. ‘They’re utterly unreasonable.’
While council representatives argued over the cost of the nets, the cats continued fighting, destroying valuable fish stock in the process. Eventually, the warehouse manager arrived and authorised immediate payment. Once the zoo sent extra help, the cats were cornered, caught and placed into the back of a prison wagon, where a verbal clash soon flared up again.
Following the arrival of a City Guard Captain, an argument started between the zoo and the Guards over who had the right to hold and investigate the cats. While the zoo claimed they had the best facilities for holding the cats, the guards were concerned over what kind of crime had been committed, and who was ultimately responsible for the destruction of two warehouse drying rooms.
At this point, a nurse passed on his way to start a morning shift at the North Hill Asylum. He immediately compared the cat fighting to a similar behaviour shown by asylum inmates known as ‘Fighting Duos’.
These ‘Duos’ routinely argued among themselves for no apparent reason. “It was as if,” the nurse said, “There were two people in the one body who didn’t understand each other.”
Although labelled for centuries as ‘possessed’, physicians studying these unfortunates have long suspected a mental imbalance and not demonic possession as the cause. An over-physician expert in ‘Fighting Duos’ condition was called. As a result, the cats were taken to North Hill for examination.
An anonymous asylum source related what occurred next.
After administrating a calming drug, the cats settled, and demanded a plate of steamed fish before they’d talk. They began to speak as one, claiming they had lived at the home of a dressmaker called Doris Draysey, less than half a kilometre from the warehouse. They also claimed that when she died, two spirits seeped out of her, and one went into each of them.
The cats are named as Mr Biggs and Cancan.
Actual portion of interview transcript:
“It wasn’t our fault she died,” Mr Biggs said. “She just fell over.”
“And it wasn’t our fault we were hungry,” Cancan said.
Interviewer: “So you ate her?”
“We were trapped in the house,” Mr Biggs replied. “And starving.”
“It was truly weird,” Cancan said. “The more we ate, the more a part of her seeped into us. It was like there were two sides to her. We got a side each, and we’ve been arguing ever since. You must help us.”
Mr Biggs said, ‘We want to be cats again, not part human. I don’t want images of dress and shawl designs filling my head.’
(Interviewer note: ‘At this point, Mr Biggs actually shed tears.’)
“The only good thing about having a human spirit with us,” Cancan continued, “Was the ability to find a way out of the house.”
Following this interview, Guards were immediately dispatched to Doris’s house, where they discovered her partially decomposed and partially eaten corpse slumped over a partially constructed wedding dress. She’d been 92, and had lived there all her life. No next-of-kin have been found. Neighbours commented that she’d been odd and suffered abrupt mood swings.
One said, ‘One moment she’d be offering you roses from her garden, the next she’d be whacking you over the head with them.’
The City Council have taken responsibility for her remains.
The warehouse owner, Savid Ramsey, has indicated he will not seek compensation from Doris’s estate.
And, following news that the cats are willingly assisting staff at North Hill to better understand Doris’s condition and finally classify ‘Fighting Duos’ as a mental illness instead of a demonic possession, Ramsey announced he will rename his warehouse after Doris.
The illness will be reclassified as ‘Split Personality Disorder.’