Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

  • 0

A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Whitney turned so we stood back-to-back on the stairs. I faced Jason, and she faced Amy. I should have been feeling something, like maybe searing pain my forearm from Amy’s teeth, but I think I was in shock.

“She’s coming,” Whitney said. She pushed against me as if to force me up the stairs.

“He’s coming to,” I said. Jason was a lot bigger than Amy, and he had the high ground. I had no idea how to stop him. My eyes drifted to his knees. I adjusted my hold on my pack again and as he descended a step I swung my bag as hard as I could at his legs.

Too late I realized I should have swung the other way. Instead of falling against the railing and going into the pit, he slammed against the wall. The thunk could probably have been heard from the back of the auditorium if people hadn’t been yelling. Jason, however, didn’t seem to notice it. He shook his head once and continued toward me.

Echo had taken up position in front of me. His back had remained arched like a Halloween cat decoration.

Whitney let out a yell and I felt her step away from me.

At the same time someone grabbed Jason from behind and threw him over the railing into the pit. The clatter of metal chairs and music stands was deafening.

My heart galloped as my eyes returned to the person on the stairs. Would it be another monster? Relief flooded through me as I saw Wyatt’s familiar face.

A single scratch ran down the side of his cheek and dripped blood onto his shirt. I expected Echo to hiss at him, as he had done Jason and Amy, but instead Echo relaxed.

A yell of pain sounded behind me. I jerked around and found Amy stumbling back gripping her eye. Like before, Whitney held her flute like some sort of spear.

“Did you just stab someone in the face with your flute?” Wyatt asked.

Whitney turned fast and pulled her arm back as if to strike. I held up my hands. “It’s just me!”

Wide-eyed and breathing hard, Whitney blinked. It seemed to take her a moment to recognize us, but when she did she lowered her flute which dripped blood and other things out the end of it. Her eyes darted to where Jason sprawled in the pit. I was shocked to see he was trying to get up despite an obvious broken arm.

“Come on guys, we have to get out of here.” Wyatt jogged down the stairs and grabbed my hand. He held up my wounded arm. “You let one of them bite you?”

He was holding my hand.

We were about to be eaten by friends.

Little tingles ran from Wyatt’s fingers up my arm.

My brain shorted out, and instead of a snappy comeback, I muttered something about not having much of a choice.

Wyatt looked down at Echo. “That’s a failure on your part buddy.” Echo gave him a snort, then started up the stairs.

“Echo’s got the right idea, we need to go.” Whitney said.

Wyatt and Echo led us up the stairs and into the auditorium. I’d expected to find people staring at us, but instead the place was mostly empty. Yells came from half a dozen clumps of people who seemed to be holding someone down. Everyone else was either running for the exits or already gone.

A voice came over the speakers. “Please calmly make your way to the nearest exit and leave the parking lot in an orderly manner.”

“It’s a little late for that,” Wyatt said. He dragged me up the far aisle toward the door that led to the band room. No one took note of us. I heard one woman screaming, “He bit me in the neck.” Another man kept yelling that he was bleeding. Sounds similar to those Matthew had been making came from the two nearest clumps of people.

“Hold his arms.”

“Do we have anything to tie him up yet?”

“They’re working on it don’t let him bite you.”

It wasn’t just Jason? And Mathew? And Amy? My already addled brain tried to process the implications. If I had to categorize it this looked like the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. I glanced down at my arm and wondered if my fate had been sealed the moment Amy had bitten me. Or maybe the man in the parking lot.

The side doors of the auditorium clanged open as we joined a few stragglers running toward the exit.

For some reason I didn’t think we’d ever get to the outside doors. They weren’t that far away, but each step made me feel as if we were going the wrong direction. Wyatt pulled on my arm and Echo strained at his leash.

“Come on Everly,” Wyatt said. “We have to get to the van. Can you do that with me?”

We’d stopped walking. When had we stopped walking? I jumped as Whitney grabbed me by the shoulders and propelled me forward. “Keep moving Everly.”

I did as she said. I didn’t know what else to do. I could feel blood trickling down my hand and dripping into Wyatt’s grasp.

The hallway by the band room had been relatively quiet. That ended as soon as we emerged from the building.

Instead of the confined space of the auditorium, the outside brought the honking of horns, the blast of the sunset right in our faces, and more loud voices.

I threw my hand in front of my eyes and blinked.

“Keep going,” Whitney said. My feet did not want to cooperate, but I forced them to move. We got down the stairs to the curb. Wyatt held out his arm to stop us from crossing. A red sports car zoomed by, but had to screech to a stop as a truck pulled in front of them.

“Okay, go.” Wyatt’s hand tightened around mine and he pulled me forward.

Lines of cars pressed at the exits, practically crawling over one another to get out. People honked in an attempt to persuade others to move out of their way.

“Where did you park?” Whitney asked.

“Way down at the end.” Wyatt wound us through the cars toward the far corner of the lot. Despite the open sky above, it felt as if everything was pressing in on me. I couldn’t pull enough air into my lungs to keep my body going.

We finally broke free from the crush of vehicles, and started running down an open row. None of us noticed the truck before it started moving.

Time slowed again. Or maybe it had never sped back up. Wyatt’s eyes went wide as the truck lurched forward at him. The blue surface gleamed in the light of the setting sun. Wyatt tried to stop it with one hand while he held onto me with the other. Whitney grabbed us both and pulled us back. Echo scampered out of the way just in time to avoid being flattened by a tire.

The owner of the truck glared at us and honked. He was probably swearing up a storm, but Whitney maneuvered us around him and pushed us all toward the van.

I could feel Wyatt shaking. I didn’t even know he could be afraid. He licked his lips and kept his gaze firm wandering back and forth, looking for more threats. I tried to do the same, but when I turned my head a wave of dizziness threatened to pull me to the ground.

Ten cars away.

The crash of two cars colliding came from near the school.

Five cars away.

Our shoes slapped on the asphalt and my own breathing filled my ears.

Three cars. I felt my knees begin to wobble.

Two cars.

Then one.

Then we were standing at the back of the van. Wyatt dragged me around to the passenger side, but Echo darted in front of him and hissed.

Wyatt stopped in his tracks. My heart dropped into my stomach. Was Echo hissing at Wyatt?

“Don’t let him hurt me!” A shrill voice shrieked.

Wyatt let go of my hand and patted the air to indicate I should stay where I was. It was a good thing Whitney still had a hold of my shoulders or else I may have collapsed. I leaned against the van and tried to catch my breath.

“Anne?” Wyatt asked.

“Please. Please don’t let the cat hurt me. Please don’t let me hurt anyone else. Please, please, please.”

Wyatt inched forward with his hands in front of him and disappeared around the side of the van. “Anne, what are you doing here?”

“I…I wanted to hurt people.” I heard a sob, then another. Anne spoke again but I could barely understand her through the tears. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I might’ve killed someone.”

Whitney and I exchanged a glance and then followed Wyatt. I wasn’t going to let her do anything to him.

Wyatt stood a few free feet from Anne with his hands still out in front of him. Anne sat by the tire, with her arms wrapped around her legs and her forehead pressed to her knees.

“Anne, what happened?” Wyatt asked.

“I was so hungry. I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted something to eat. Nobody had any food, so I think I tried to eat someone.”

Wyatt glanced over his shoulder waved us back, but we stepped forward.

Echo had stayed beside me. His ears lay flat on his head and his gaze never wavered from Anne.

“How do you feel right now?” Wyatt asked.

Anne raised her head. Just like Jason and Amy, blood ran from her mouth and dribbled down her chin. Tears streamed from her blood-shot eyes. When she opened her mouth to speak I had to look away.

“I don’t want to eat anyone right now.” She reached out for Wyatt who jumped back. Her tears grew thicker. “Please don’t let me hurt anyone else.”

“You want us to kill you?” Whitney asked.

Wyatt shot his sister a glare. “Were not killing anyone.”

I wasn’t sure I agreed with him, he hadn’t just been bitten, but Wyatt was probably thinking more clearly than I was.

Wyatt pulled the van keys from his pocket and hit the button that opened the back. “I have some rope in there. Grab it work in a tie her up.”

Whitney didn’t move. “Why? Just leave her.”

I hadn’t expected Whitney to be so hard core during the apocalypse.

Wyatt turned and looked hard at both of us. “She still thinking rationally. We need to get her to the hospital.”

I nodded. Some part of my brain was still working. Unfortunately it was the part that had watched way too many apocalypse movies. If this was a plague, the medical guys would need infected people to figure out what was going on. That could be Anne. If it wasn’t a plague, then maybe they could cure her.

Wyatt looked me in the eye. “Grab the rope, Everly.”

I nodded. I willed my legs to take me to the back of the van where I did as he asked.

Whitney stepped up next to me and muttered in my ear. “If she attacks any of us we throw her out.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I tossed the rope to Wyatt who had Anne put her hands behind her back.

A howl sounded from our right. Then another one from our left.

Wyatt handed Whitney the keys. “Get the van started. I’ll get her inside.”

Whitney waved me into the passenger seat. Echo jumped up on my lap. We gazed at one another, and something clicked in my brain.

He’d growled at everyone who attacked us. Some of them well before they attacked us.

I narrowed my eyes at him. “You sly dog, you can tell who has this thing.”

He gave me a blink.

I patted him on the head. “Good boy.”

Wyatt shoved a sobbing Anne in to the back seat and slammed the door behind him. “Go!” he said.

“I only have my permit!” Whitney said.

Something hit the side of the van. I turned and saw Jason clawing at the door handle.

I hit the button to lock the doors.

“Drive!” Wyatt bellowed.

The van lurched backward, throwing me against my seatbelt as Whitney slammed on the gas. Another crazed teenager appeared. Then an adult.

Whitney slammed on the brakes just in time to merely tap the car parked behind us. “I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.” She put the van into drive.

Jason stood in front of us, his broken arm dangling at a strange angle.

“Sorry.” Whitney closed one eye, screwed up her face, and launched us forward.

***

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1

Catch the thrilling finale of the story HERE!


  • 0

A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Time slowed just like it did in the movies when something terrible was happening. I watched helplessly as Matthew attempted to sink his teeth into Echo’s belly.

Echo had much better reflexes than I did. He twisted and clawed and used his whole body to get away. Mathew tried to hold his front paws.

Cats rake with their back legs. Matthew must not have understood that. The look of shock on his twisted face when lines of blood emerged from the claw marks was almost comical. I giggled. Then wondered what was wrong with me.

Oh yes, he’d hit me in the head. No wonder the room seemed to be breathing in and out and people’s faces were twisting like they were being reflected in a fun house mirror.

Echo finally jerked hard enough that Matthew had to let go of him. As soon as he was free he scampered onto my lap and sunk his claws into my legs. I barely noticed. My heart was beating fast and fear pumped through my veins.

Matthew absently wiped away the blood that trickled into his eye. He opened his mouth to say something, but a scream from above interrupted him.

“That came from the audience,” Whitney said.

Everything was still going slower than it should have. I was having a hard time making connections in my brain. I didn’t know why screams would be coming from the audience. Or why it should matter to me.

Snapping filled the air, somehow overpowering the noise as Mr. Stark whacked his stand with his baton again. “Don’t go up the stairs. Everyone out the door that leads under the stage. Now!”

No one had to be told twice. Those around Matthew and I had shied back from Echo. Everyone that is except for Matthew. His green eyes burned at me. Then flicked to Echo. “Give me your cat.”

I gathered Echo in my arms and shook my head.

Whitney jumped over her chair and stood between Matthew and myself. “Back off buddy.”

Matthew started to shake. His face twisted into a horrible grimace as he doubled over and groaned.

“What’s wrong with you?” Whitney asked.

Matthews grown turned into a growl. He straightened and lurched to his feet, knocking his stand to the ground. Sheet music fluttered around us. Someone else in the pit screamed.

“I said give me your cat.” Matthew’s gravely voice no longer sounded human.

I stood and backed away.

The saxophone player that sat behind me reached out and put a hand on Matthew’s chest. “Chill, man.”

Matthew shoved his hand away and stepped toward me. “I’m hungry. Give me your cat.”

My mind was finally starting to catch up with the world around me. I glared at Matthew. “No.”

“I’m starving. I feel like I’m going to die. Give me your cat.”

I squeezed Echo to my chest and ignored his squirming to get away. I had him by the harness. He wasn’t going anywhere.

All the anger since the man had attacked me outside the diner coupled with animal control trying to take Echo away from me poured out into my next two words. “Get back,” I said. At that moment I knew I would do anything to keep Echo safe.

Matthew let out a frustrated snarl and pushed Whitney away before he lunged at me.

Unlike the man outside the diner, Matthew was in the perfect position to kick in the groin. My foot connected, and Matthew fell to his knees. I expected him to stay down, but he let out another guttural sound and begin to rise.

A couple of other students grabbed him and tackled him back into his chair.

“What are you doing Matthew?”

“Stay in the chair man.”

Matthew fought against them and for the moment he couldn’t get free.

The saxophone player jerked his head toward the exit. “Get going.”

Whitney, who had gone sprawling over her chair, somehow still had her flute in her hand. She snatched up her bag and followed the guy’s directions. I kept Echo in my arms and clumsily threw my backpack over my shoulder. I hadn’t been holding my clarinet and it now lay on the ground broken.

As my focus expanded I noticed students clambering toward the door Mr. Stark had indicated. It didn’t look like many had gotten through, and there seemed to be a bottleneck.

“What’s going on down there?” Mr. Stark bellowed.

“He won’t let us pass,” someone yelled.

I glanced toward the stairs that led up to the auditorium, then back at Matthew. Matthew was now foaming at the mouth and fighting to get away from the three guys holding him down. I  pointed and spoke to Whitney. “Let’s go that way.”

Whitney nodded and jerked her head indicating for me to go first. We skirted the outside of the pit trying to stay away from those attempting to get to the door. I couldn’t see who or what was blocking their way, but it looked like some sort of fight had broken out at the front of the line.

Right before Whitney and I got to the base of the stairs someone grabbed my arm.

I tried to jerk away, but the grip was like a vice. I looked down and found a small hand wrapped around my wrist. I should have been able to get away. Especially when I saw who was holding me. A girl named Amy who couldn’t weigh more than ninety pounds. I figured she was scared, so tried to pull her along with this.

The braces on her teeth glittered in the light as they fastened themselves around my forearm.

What was with the biting?

It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I was surprised that my skin gave way to flesh so easily, and even more surprised when muscle came with it. It seriously looked like something from the movies.

Echo had been clinging to me, but now he turned and launched himself at Amy’s face in a flurry of claws and teeth. She stumbled back, which broke her grip on my wrist. I could hear Echo howling and Amy crying out in anger. Not pain. Amy managed to throw Echo toward the stairs. I heard a hollow thump as he landed.

Shock and anger combined as I swung my backpack from my shoulder and hit Amy in the side of the head. She stumbled but didn’t go down.

Whitney ran forward, her flute held like a spear, and drove it into Amy’s eye. That moment seared itself into my brain. The smell of lavender, beef jerky, and blood. The sound of Amy’s shriek. Whitney’s wide eyes as she stumbled back with her mouth agape.

Wyatt and I had been joking about the apocalypse. A part of me wanted this to be an elaborate hoax, worked up by Wyatt to distract me from Echo leaving, but I knew better.

We had to get out of here. I didn’t know what was going on, but it was bad. I’d watched enough of Wyatt’s post-apocalyptic movies to know this. I grabbed Whitney’s hand, found Echo’s leash, and started up the stairs.

Echo ran ahead. I was grateful to see he could still move.

We were halfway up before Echo arched his back and let out a loud hiss.

Jason stood at the top of the stairs. Blood trickled from his chin down the front of his costume.

“Jason!” Whitney cried. “We have to…”

He smiled at us, revealing blood smeared in his teeth.

Whitney screamed.

I did too.

I looked over my shoulder and found Amy getting to her feet.

A monster ahead and another behind. I tightened the grip on the strap of my pack.

***

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1

Check out Chapter 14 HERE!


  • 0

A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The one time I wanted the government to tell me I had to stay home, and they came out and said the soda recalls weren’t a big deal. Anyone affected should be getting better, which meant that the last night I had with my cat I either had to leave him behind or sneak him out of the house in my backpack.

Ever since Echo had hissed at my dad I’d been keeping him away from my parents. They thought he was safely locked in my room. Which is why I’d had Wyatt and Whitney pick me up for the musical.

My parents were coming the next night in a show of support. If all went well, they would never know he was here tonight.

I realized it was probably a bad move to take him with me, but the thought of leaving him alone on our last night together broke my heart in ways I couldn’t comprehend. Whitney and Wyatt seemed to understand and said nothing when Echo jumped out of my backpack.

I had a chat with Echo right before we made our way into the pit.

“Listen Echo, I know you don’t understand this, but I need you to behave tonight.”

He stared into my eyes and gave me one of his signature slow blinks. Which meant he didn’t give a crap about what I was saying.

One of the training methods I’d been taught was to grab by him the scruff of the neck when I needed him to pay attention. It didn’t hurt him, and I did it so rarely that it always came as a great shock to him. When I did it I got a strangled meow. “No hissing. No growling. Can you handle that?” Of course he had no idea what I was saying, but now he understood that he was to be on his best behavior.

Whitney, who had run off to see Jason, appeared at my side.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I think we’re good.”

No one batted an eye as the three of us descended the stairs into the pit and wound our way to our seats. Someone must have either recently put on lotion or had sprayed an air freshener. The usual funk of the pit had been replaced by the scent of vanilla and lavender. Echo, who preferred the stench, wrinkled his nose and shook his head. I knew lavender specifically messed up his sense of smell. Good thing he wasn’t going to have to test any food for me tonight.

Mr. Stark waived his hands to get our attention. “Take your seats everyone, we’re going to practice a few things before we start.”

A unanimous grown came from the orchestra members, but we all hurried to put her instruments together.

Echo gave Matthew, who had apparently recovered from his ailment, a dirty look before he curled up underneath my chair. Just to be on the safe side I tugged Echo’s leash until he occupied the space between me and the person on the other side of me. I wanted him as far away from Matthew as possible, just in case he decided to get mouthy.

Whitney turned around and gave me a sad smile. “You going to be okay?”

I shook my head. Nothing but Echo had been on my mind for the past few days. That didn’t mean I wanted to dwell on it. I just couldn’t help myself.

The crack of Mr. Stark wrapping the music stand with his baton drew everyone’s eyes. A few moments later I got pulled into the music and for a time forgot my troubles.

Mr. Stark gave us a break right before we had to play the overture so we could use the facilities and get a drink. Matthew opened his bag and drew out a piece of beef jerky.

Whitney made a face. “You know you’re not supposed to have snacks in here, right?”

Matthew grunted.

“Besides, it smells disgusting.”

“Better than whatever flowery smell is in here right now.” Matthew took a huge bite of jerky and began to chew. His open-mouthed style reminded me of Anne and her celery in the band room. I exchanged a look with Whitney that clearly stated we were both grossed out and went to get a drink.

By the time we got back, Matthew was eating his third piece of jerky. When Echo flattened his ears I gave him a stern look along with a tug on his leash. My cat moved as far away from Matthew as he could and sat.

“You’re okay,” I muttered. Echo lowered his head to his paws but kept his eyes on Matthew.

I’d never played in a school musical before. To be honest I’d expected it to be more fun and less grueling. Although it was hard to judge considering everything I’d been through in the last week. We only had three performances, and I was already counting down the time until it was over.

The auditorium dimmed, leaving only the lights on our stands to illuminate the small dark space. Mr. Stark raised his arms. Everyone sat up straighter. Watching. Waiting.

I wasn’t prepared for the power of the first chord of the overture. The note came from my clarinet unbidden, as if it had been waiting to reveal itself. For once we were in perfect tune. The grin that tugged at Mr. Stark’s lips told me that we’d done a good job. I couldn’t help grinning in return, which almost pulled me out of tune as we continue to play.

A third of the way through the first act the clarinets got a long break. I reached down and scratched Echo’s head. I thought he’d been asleep, but he immediately opened his eyes which were still fixed on Matthew. The rustle of plastic told me Matthew was eating another stick of beef jerky. I frowned. “That’s going to get in your instrument you know.”

He shrugged. “I get angry if I don’t eat.”

I’d never noticed. Wyatt had taught me that growing boys did need a lot of food.

By the time we got to the intermission Matthew was out of snacks.

“Does anyone have a dollar I can borrow?” he asked.

A chorus of “no” answered.

“Take a break,” someone said. “You’re stinking the place up.”

Glad it wasn’t just me.

After Whitney and I went to the bathroom, we chatted with those around us about the music and the actors and how we were all looking forward to the cast party in a few days.

Through all of this my eyes continued to drift to Echo. Not even the excitement of a great opening night could stop the ache in my chest.

The second half started out just as well as the first half had. For once Mr. Stark seemed to be enjoying himself. Most of us in the pit smiled and nudged one another as we listened to the play above.

This is the feeling I had expected from participating in the musical. From being in an orchestra. Not the long practices and irritability that we’ve been having. Maybe the payoff is what made it worth it.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the words of the musical. But I knew there shouldn’t be a scream in the middle of it. Mr. Stark’s eyes went wide, and he cut us off fast. I heard the curtains pulling into place as the screaming continued. It sounded like a girl in a great deal of pain. Mr. Stark ducked his head so he could talk to us. “No one move. No one speak.”

I’d never heard him so serious before. I think everyone was shocked, because normally pack of high school students wouldn’t have complied, but something in the air, probably the screaming, kept us silent for a few seconds.

The saxophone player behind me broke the silence first. “Did someone get hurt?”

Someone answered him. “That sounded like the lead actress.”

Whitney tapped me on the knee, and slipped her phone into my hand. Wyatt had sent her a message

Holy crap, Jason just attacked the lead actress!

Other people must’ve gotten texts as well, because the rumor spread fast. Mr. Stark tried to quiet us but when someone told him what they knew he shrugged and said they were working it out.

A murmur rose from the audience, getting louder and louder until the speakers crackled to life.

“Everyone please remain calm. There has been a small accident. No one is seriously injured.  We’re taking care of it. Please stay in your seats until this is resolved.”

Mr. Stark glared at us. “That means you too.”

We all nodded, and waited,

Within a minute almost everyone had their phones in their hands. Wyatt had sent a message to Whitney and I.

Do you know anything?

I answered.

No. Did you see anything?

Jason totally grabbed a hold of the lead actress and instead of kissing her bit her on the neck.

I frowned and replied.

You’re joking. I bet he slipped or something.

Wyatt answered immediately.

It didn’t look like it to me.

Whitney turned around in her seat and so we could look at each other as we sent messages.

Whitney started.

This sounds like your stupid apocalypse stuff.

I smiled.

Wyatt answered.

There wasn’t nearly enough blood for that. Besides that he wasn’t going for her brains so it’s not a zombie thing. He didn’t have spots on his skin, so no plague.

Surprisingly Whitney beat me to the punch.

I feel like your repertoire of apocalypse options is pretty shallow.

I tossed a comment in.

Did you just really use the word repertoire?

Whitney grinned at me.

I hadn’t been paying attention to Matthew. Not until he groaned and bent in half. “So hungry.”

“After all those snacks?” I asked him.

He spoke louder than he should have. “Does anybody have any food?”

That got a glare from Mr. Stark and head shakes from everyone else. For the first time since intermission, Echo stood. His eyes riveted on Matthew.

I held my breath. “Don’t do it,” I whispered.

Matthew’s eyes snapped to Echo. They narrowed. I thought he’d say something. Maybe he was upset that my cat was looking at him. I opened my mouth to tell him to relax, but before I got the words out Matthew pushed me aside and grabbed Echo’s leash.

“What are you doing?” I demanded.

Matthew ignored me and tugged Echo toward him.

Echo hissed in protest and tried to dig into the ground, but the carpet was too thin for him to get a grip.

I took a hold of the leash and tried to get it away from Matthew. He let out a growl that was even more menacing and Echo’s.

“Stop it!” I said.

Matthew snarled, then swung his arm at my face. I tried to back up, but didn’t get out of range.

Stars exploded in my vision as his elbow connected with my temple. Darkness gathered at the edges of my vision. My fingers went limp, and the leash slid through them. I heard Echo hissing.

“I so hungry,” Matthew said again. He grabbed Echo’s harness and lifted my hissing, spitting cat off the ground. “So hungry.”

To my utter horror, he pulled Echo toward his face. Toward his mouth. Toward his teeth that were ready to bit into my cat.

***

Check out Chapter 13 HERE!

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1


  • 0

A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 11

Chapter 11

My dad joined my mom and gave me a one-armed hug.

“Don’t worry Everly, you’re strong. You can get through this.”

All I could do was shake my head. A sob pushed its way up my throat and I barely held it in with my teeth.

My dad reached down to give Echo a playful bop on the head. In a flash Echo darted away. If he hadn’t still been on the leash he may have ran from the room. Instead he turned around and hissed at my dad.

Both of my parents slowly rose to their feet.

I knew I should do something. Say something. Assure them that everything was fine. But how could I? Tears gathered in my eyes and slid down my cheeks as I blinked. I looked at my cat and for the very first time wondered if he really was a growing accustomed to attacking people.

An eerie silence fell in the room as my dad and Echo stared at one another. Echo growled, and my dad stepped away from him.

“You should probably take him upstairs,” my mom said.

“Yeah.” I grabbed my bag, leaving the sodas behind, and lead Echo through the kitchen and up the stairs.

Just as it had when I entered my house, my attention was drawn to fine details. The spot on the third stair where Echo had thrown up and my mother had found it in the middle of the night. The top banister that Echo scratched no matter what we did that now had a blanket wrapped around it. The drawing my four-year-old cousin had made of Echo on my door.

Echo practically pulled me inside, and I shut us in.

Any strength left in my legs fled. Gravity pulled me to my knees and I buried my hands my face in my hands.

Never one to be sentimental, Echo meowed a couple of times, insisting I let him off his leash now that he was home. It took me three tries to get the latch unhooked. I didn’t take the harness off. This was usually his safe space where he could do whatever he wanted. However, he’d hissed at my dad. He’d need to be on the leash, even in the house.

Was he to be repressed here as well as outside? Is that why he was rebelling? Is that why… I didn’t want to think about it.

But it was the only thing I could think about.

I sat cross-legged and curled in on myself. I let the tears come. Little memories of Echo came back to me.

He’d been trained to meow when he smelled corn. He’d done so until a week after we brought him home. I could never figure out if he thought he was the funniest cat on the planet, or if he just had a sick sense of humor. We’d been in the grocery store, and I’d wanted something from the deli. My mother thought it was as good a time as any to test Echo out, so she asked for one item with corn and one item without corn. The moment Echo had smelled the one with corn he’d looked at me and did that half cough half throwing thing cats did once, and then twice.

My mother was mortified. She’d shrieked, and to make sure he didn’t throw up on anything she’d dragged us from the store. Echo had seemed pretty proud of himself that day. And pretty much every day since then when he got to embarrass my mother in public.

On the other hand my dad thought it was pretty funny. It must be a guy thing.

I felt Echo’s sleek body slide along my side as he rubbed up against me. I glanced over at him barely able to see through the tears and said, “Why did you growl at him. Why did you hissed at him? Why not the soda? There’s corn in it. What else is in there?”

He didn’t answer, but walked over to his food dish and started to eat.

I crawled over to my desk and pulled a picture book out of my bottom drawer. The old-fashioned kind with real photos and plastic covers. My mother had made it for Echo and I after we’d been together for a year. That had been two years ago. I started flipping through the pages, each memory coming to life as my eyes beheld it.

Echo chomped on his food for a few minutes before he wandered over.

It wasn’t often that he laid so close to me. Bengal cats weren’t known for being cuddly. But every once in a while when he knew I was hurting he would sit close and pressed up against my leg.

The temptation to ruffle his soft fur was almost overwhelming. The tears which had almost subsided came forth again as I realized it could be one of our last nights together.

A knock sounded at my door. I jumped.

“Everly, are you in there?”

I gazed at the door and wonder. Wyatt stood on the other side of it.

“Eve, let us in.” Whitney said.

Only then did I notice how far the sun had shifted. I checked my phone and saw that I had missed eight messages and two phone calls from Whitney.

Echo gave me a disapproving look as I wiped my cheeks and stood. There was no way to hide that I been crying, so I took a couple of breaths and opened the door.

Whitney and I had been friends for long enough that she didn’t have to say anything. She saw my face, she glanced at Echo, and then she ran in and squeezed me in a big hug.

“I’m so sorry.”

I hugged Whitney back. I didn’t know what else to do.

There wasn’t anything else to do.

Wyatt came in and shut the door behind him. He moved to Echo and gave him a little push with his hand. “Why do you have to be causing so much trouble?”

Echo took a few steps and sat. His ears came forward as Wyatt pulled his keys out of his pocket and dangled them in front of the cat.

When Whitney finally let me go we sat on the bed and watched Wyatt and Echo play. If I didn’t know Wyatt so well I might’ve missed the regret in his eyes.

“Your mom told us what happened,” Whitney said.

All I could do was shrug.

“He really hissed at your dad? I thought they were like best friends.”

“Me too,” I said.

“Your mom said she’d bring us some pizza.”

There’s no way I could eat anything, but feeding people is what my mother did.

Wyatt rose to his feet. Echo attacked his shoelaces as he gently shuffled toward me. He settled at my side and put a hand on my back.

I thought my grief for Echo was all-consuming. However, a little something sparked inside of me when Wyatt rubbed my back.

“I’m really sorry Everly,” he said in a thick voice. He had to clear his throat before he could continue. “Echo is my favoritest cat ever.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. Even Whitney laughed. Echo continued to put Wyatt’s shoelaces in their place.

“We need to do something fun.” Wyatt said.

“I sure hope that doesn’t mean more cannibal stories on the Internet,” Whitney said.

“No. How about that stupid Rock Band  game you guys like so much?”

“You hate Rock Band.” Whitney glared at her brother.

“I figured it will make Everly feel better if she has a chance of winning.” He patted me on the shoulder. “And I don’t even have to let you win with Rock Band.”

“You’re a real jerk sometimes,” Whitney said.

Once again the familiar banter drew me back into the safety of normal life.

Wyatt stood and offered me his hand. “What do you say Eve, you up for a rematch?”

I looked from him to his hand and back to his face. His wicked grin always brought out the competitive side in me. I slid my fingers into his hand let him pull me to my feet. “I suppose we can completely destroy you again. If it won’t damage your fragile ego too much.”

“I can take it.”

Rock Band was my dad’s game. Every time Wyatt called it a classic my dad told him he wouldn’t know a classic video game if it slapped him in the face.

The three of us and Echo wandered into the game room and set it up to play. Whitney took the piano, I chose guitar, and Wyatt manned the drums.

“Are you sure you can coordinate four limbs of your body at once?” Whitney asked.

Wyatt twirled the drumstick in his fingers and gave me a wink. “Pretty sure I can handle it.”

We played for a couple of hours. As usual, Whitney complained that the delay from the time she hit the note to the time the computer picked it up was too slow, and that she would be getting a lot more points if it was a real piano.

On the other hand, Wyatt had either been practicing he’d become more coordinated. He didn’t totally suck, which I let slip once. He seemed to like that.

At some point my mom came upstairs and told me that Harold and Jackie would be back on Saturday evening to take Echo away. They’d found a dog for me. Supposedly hypoallergenic. They said he would be a perfect fit.

I got to choose the next song. I found the angriest one and we played it as loud as we could. Every few minutes my eyes would stray to where Echo had curled up on his favorite spot on the couch. What would I do when he wasn’t here anymore? Why couldn’t I have saved him?

***

Check out Chapter 12 HERE!

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 30 other subscribers