…written from a prison cell…
This is the wildest, yet basic
story which I am about to tell
you. I don’t expect you to
believe me. I would be crazy to
expect you to believe me
because I am not sure I believe
it myself.
Yet, I am not mad – and I am
not dreaming.
But tomorrow I die, and today I
need to unburden my soul. I
want to tell the world simply
and quickly about what
The consequences of what
happened have terrified – have
tortured – have destroyed me.
Perhaps someday, someone
wiser than me will understand
how my feelings about this
event are exaggerated – that
the details I share are nothing
more than…
…an ordinary sequence of very
natural causes and effects.
From birth I was known for
being peaceful and nice. My
tenderness of heart stood out
so much that my friends used
to make fun of me.
I loved animals and was spoiled by my
parents with a lot of cool pets. I spent most
of my time with them and was never so
happy as when feeding and petting them..
This love of animals continued
into my adulthood. Those who
have loved a faithful and
intelligent dog, will understand
the pleasure I got from my
There is something in the
unselfish and self-sacrificing
love of an animal which goes
directly to the heart of its
Men don’t show each other
that kind of loyalty.
I married
young and
was happy
that my wife
felt the same
way about
pets, and
she brought
home many
We had birds, gold fish, a fine
dog, rabbits, a small monkey,
and a cat.
This cat was a
special animal,
large and
beautiful, all black
and smart to an
amazing degree.
In speaking of his
intelligence, my
wife (who was not
superstitious at
all) would joke
about the popular
ideas, which
regarded all black
cats as witches in
disguise. She was
never really
serious about this.
Pluto, the cat’s
name, was my
favorite pet. I
alone fed him,
and he followed
me wherever I
went around the
house. I even
had trouble
preventing him
from following
me through the
streets when I
left the house.
My friendship with the cat lasted
for several years, during which
my general attitude and character
experienced a radical, extreme
change for the worse.
I grew, day by day, more
moody, more irritable, more
unfeeling to the feelings of
I suffered myself to use foul
language to my loving wife,
going as far as threatening her
with violence.
My pets felt the change in my
behavior. I not only neglected,
but mistreated them.
For Pluto, however, I still
retained enough respect and
love to keep myself from
maltreating him, but I made no
attempt to stop mistreating the
rabbits, the monkey, or even
the dog if they got in my way.
But my disease grew (as alcoholism usually
does), and eventually even Pluto, who was
now getting old and irritable, began to
experience the bad effects of my ill temper.
One night,
returning home,
drunk from one of
my haunts
around town, I
believed that the
cat avoided me. I
grabbed him;
when, in his fright
at my violence,
he bit me on my
The fury of a demon instantly
possessed me. I knew myself
no longer. My original soul
seemed to leave my body; and
a fiendish, gin-nurtured
malevolence [madness] filled
I took a pocket knife , opened
it, grabbed the poor beast by
the throat, and deliberately cut
one of its eyes from its socket!
I blush, I burn, I shudder to tell
you about this terrible event.
When reason
returned in the
morning – when I
had slept off my
alcoholic stupor – I
experienced the
feelings of regret
for the crime I had
committed the
night before; but it
was a weak feeling,
and my soul
Again I plunged into excess
and soon drowned in wine all
memory of the deed.
In the meantime the
cat slowly
recovered. The
socket of the lost
eye looked frightful,
but he no longer
appeared to suffer
any pain. He went
about the house as
usual, but, as might
be expected, fled in
extreme terror at my
At first, I felt bad that this cat,
who once loved me, now hated
me. But this feeling soon
turned to irritation, then
strange rebellion – one of
Man’s most primitive, basic
sentiments or feelings.
Indeed, who among us has not,
a hundred times, found himself
committing a terrible or a silly
act for no other reason than
because he knows he should
Don’t humans have a constant
desire to do that which is
This strange, perverse feeling
finally overtook me.
I had an unbelievable desire of
the soul to vex or annoy itself –
to offer violence to its own
nature – to do wrong for
wrong’s sake.
This feeling is what urged me
to finish the injury I had
inflicted upon the unoffending,
innocent animal, my cat Pluto.
morning, in
cool blood, I
slipped a
noose around
the cat’s neck
and hung it to
the limb of a
-- hung it with tears streaming
from my eyes, and with the
bitterest remorse at my heart;
-- hung it because I knew that it
had loved me, and because I
felt it had given me no trouble;
-- hung it because I knew that in
so doing I was committing a sin
– a deadly sin that would so
threaten my immortal soul as to
place it – if such a thing were
possible – even beyond the
reach of the infinite mercy of
the Most Merciful and Most
Terrible God.
I have a hard time establishing
a sequence of cause and
effect, between the disaster
and the atrocity. But I am
telling a chain of facts – and
hope I don’t leave out any
On the day of the fire (after the
cat was hung), I visited the
ruins [what was left over from
the fire].
All but one inner wall had fallen.
This remaining wall was the
wall by my headboard of my
bed in my bedroom.
Surprisingly, the fire hadn’t
damaged this wall very much.
There were a lot of people
standing around staring at a
spot on this wall. I heard them
say, “Strange!” and
“Amazing!” and many other
Their comments made me
curious so I wandered over to
I saw as I approached, as
engraved upon the wall’s white
surface, the picture of a
gigantic cat with a rope around
its neck
When I saw this, I thought it
was a ghost – for what else
could it be since my wonder
and terror were extreme.
But after thinking about it for
awhile, I remembered that the
cat had been hung in a garden
next to the house.
When the fire alarm rang, this
garden had immediately filled
with people who wanted to
watch the excitement.
Someone in this crowd must
have cut the cat down and
thrown the dead cat into my
bedroom’s open window to
wake me up.
The falling of other walls must
have smashed the victim of my
cruelty (Pluto) into the freshlyspread plaster on the wall by
my bed. I assume the lime from
the plaster had mixed with the
heat and ammonia from the
dead animal to create the
ghastly image on the wall.
Although I tried
to reason
through this
scary event, it
did not fail to
make a deep
impression upon
my imagination.
For months I
could not delete
the image from
my mind, and
during this time,
I seemed to feel
a bit of guilt.
In fact, I went
so far as to
regret the loss
of the animal
and to look
around town
for another cat
similar to
One night as I sat in
a bar, half stupefied
by liquor, I saw a
black object, resting
on the head of a
large barrel of Gin
or Rum. After
staring at this
image for a long
time, I got up and
walked over to it
and touched it.
It was a black cat – a very large
one – as big as Pluto.
This cat looked similar to Pluto
in every way but one. This cat
had a large white splotch or
mark of white on its chest.
Liking my attention, this cat
arose, purred loudly, rubbed
against my hand, and appeared
delighted. This, then, was the
very creature that I had been
looking for. I offered to buy it
from the pub’s owner, but he
didn’t know to whom the cat
As I was leaving, the cat
followed me home. At once, it
became a favorite part of the
family, especially for my wife.
For me, I soon found myself
disliking the cat which was the
opposite of what I had
It became obvious later that
the reason for my disgust, and
annoyance came from the fact
that the cat liked me.
Slowly, these feelings grew
into a bitter hatred.
I avoided the creature.
A feeling of shame and the
memory of my former cruel
deed, prevented me from
physically abusing the cat.
I did not, for some weeks,
strike, or otherwise violently
abuse it; but gradually – very
gradually – I came to look
upon this animal with an
unspeakable hatred, and to run
silently from its hateful
presence, as if from a terrible
What added to my hatred of
the beast, was the discovery,
on the morning after I brought
it home, that, like Pluto, it was
also missing an eye.
My wife, being a sympathetic
person, loved the cat all the
more because of this fact. She
had a humanity of feeling
which had once been my
special trait, and the source of
many of my simplest and
purest pleasures.
As I grew to hate this cat more,
its love for me seemed to grow.
It constantly followed me
everywhere. Whenever I sat, it
would sit beneath my chair, or
jump into my knees, rubbing
me with its terrible caresses.
If I got up to walk it would get
between my feet and nearly
trip me, or, use its long, sharp
claws to climb up to my
At such times, although I
wanted to kill it, the memory of
Pluto’s murder and especially
my dread and fear of this new
beast stopped me from doing
I don’t know how to describe
my feelings of dread and fear. I
am almost ashamed to tell that
the terror and horror the cat
inspired in me had increased
because of something so small
it’s hard to believe.
My wife had called my
attention, more than once, to
the white spot on this cat’s
chest. This white spot had at
first been unrecognizable; but,
despite my denial, by slow
degrees, it had taken on shape,
like an outline.
This white spot had become a
shape I fear to say – and for this,
above all, I loathed, and dreaded,
and would have rid myself of the
monster had I dared – it was now, I
say, the image of a hideous – of a
ghastly think – of the GALLOWS! –
oh, mournful and terrible
instrument of Horror and of Crime
– of Agony and of Death!
– oh, mournful and terrible instrument
of Horror and of Crime – of Agony and
of Death
And now I was stretched
beyond the wickedness of
mere Humanity.
God! I could not rest or sleep,
day or night! I awoke, every
hour, from fearful nightmares,
to find the hot breath of the
thing [the cat] upon my face,
and its heavy weight upon my
With this terror, what was
left of the good within me
vanished. Most evil, dark
thoughts became my only
friends. The moodiness of my
usual temper increased to
hatred of all things and of all
I suddenly and frequently had
uncontrollable outbursts of
anger and fury.
My uncomplaining wife was
the most usual and the most
patient of sufferers.
One day, my wife went with me
to our cellar to do some
household chores.
The cat followed us down the
stairs, and nearly tripped me,
sending me into a madness.
Lifting my axe, I swung it
toward the cat..
The blow would have been
fatal, but my wife grabbed my
My wife’s interference threw
me into an even more furious
I pulled my arm away from her
grip and buried the axe into
her brain.
She fell dead upon the spot
without making a sound.
This hideous murder
completed, I started the task of
concealing the body.
I knew that I could not remove
it from the house without the
risk of being seen by the
Many ideas entered my mind.
I thought of cutting the corpse
into small pieces, and
destroying them by fire.
Another idea, I decided to dig a
grave for the corpse in the
floor of the cellar.
I thought about throwing the
corpse into the well in the yard
– about packing it in a box and
mailing it.
Finally, I decided my best bet
was to wall it up in the cellar.
The cellar was well built for
such a purpose. Its walls were
loosely made, and had recently
been plastered with a rough
plaster that was still wet.
In fact, in one of the walls there
was a part that stuck out that
could easily be used for my
purpose. I could easily put the
body in this space and wall it
in, so that no eye could detect
anything suspicious.
My thinking was right. Using a
crow-bar, I easily dislodged the
bricks, and propped the body
into the space. Then I re-laid all
the brick so the wall was once
again complete. I prepared a
plaster that could not be
distinguished from the old, and
with this very carefully went over
the new brick-work.
When finished, I felt satisfied
everything would be alright.
The new cellar wall didn’t look
like it had been changed at all. I
cleaned up, picking up the
trash. I looked around and said
triumphantly to myself, “Here at
least, then, my labor has not
been in vain.”
My next step was to find the
cat, the beast that had been
the cause of so much
I had firmly decided to kill it.
If I had been able to find it at
that moment, there would have
been no doubt as to its fate.
It appeared, however, that the
smart animal had been scared
of my violence and had run
It is impossible to describe, or
to imagine, the deep happy
sense of relief which the
disappearance of the hated
creature caused in my mind.
The cat didn’t show up that
night – and for one night I slept
soundly – even with the burden
of murder upon my soul!
The second and third day
passed, and still my tormentor,
the cat, did not show up.
Once again I breathed as a
free-man. The monster, in
fright and terror, had fled my
home forever! I should look at
it no more! My happiness was
The guilt of my dark deed
disturbed me only a little.
asked, but I answered them
with ease. A search for my
wife had been started, but of
course nothing was
I looked upon my future as
Upon the fourth day of the
murder, a group of police came
to the house unexpectedly and
began searching the house.
I was sure of myself and
positive my wife’s body would
not be found. I felt no
embarrassment whatever.
The officers asked me to go
with them as they searched.
The looked everywhere, leaving
no nook or corner unexplored.
At length, for the third or
fourth time, they went into the
I was not scared at all, not a
muscle quivered. My heart
beat calmly as that of one who
sleeps in innocence.
I walked the cellar from end to
end. I folded my arms upon
my chest and moved easily to
and fro.
The police were thoroughly
satisfied and prepared to
My happiness was too strong to
hold back and I burned to say if
but one word, by way of
triumph, to make the police
doubly sure of my innocence.
“Gentlemen,” I said at last, as
the policemen were walking up
the steps, “I am glad I’ve
convinced you of my
innocence. I wish you all
health, and a little more
courtesy. By the way,
gentlemen, this – this is a very
well constructed house.”
(In my crazy desire to say
something easily, I hardly
knew what I said at all.)
I continued, “I may say an
excellently well constructed
house. These walls –-- are you
going, gentleman? ---- these
wall are solidly build and here,
through my bravado, I tapped
heavily, with a cane which I
held in my hand, upon the very
place on the brick-work behind
which stood the corpse of my
But by God! No sooner had
the echo of my blows sunk
into silence than I was
answered by a voice from
within the wall!
– by a voice – a cry, at first
muffled and loud, and
continuous scream, utterly
anomalous and inhuman – a
– a wailing shriek, half of
horror and half of triumph,
such as might have come from
hell, from the throats of the
damned in their agony.
Of my own thoughts it is crazy
to speak. Swooning, swaying, I
staggered to the opposite wall.
For one instant the party upon
the stairs remained
motionless, still, in terror and
In the next instant, a dozen
strong arms were pulling at the
It fell.
The dead body, already greatly
decayed and clotted with gore,
stood erect before the eyes of
the spectators.
Upon my dead wife’s head, with
red extended mouth and
solitary eye of fire, sat the
hideous beast whose craft had
seduced me into murder, and
whose traitorous, informing,
earsplitting voice had screamed
of my deed to the police --
-- and forced me to the
I had walled the monster up
within my wife’s tomb!
The End