Of all her forms, Serena enjoyed this one the most. Stretched out on top of the couch, sun warming her auburn fur, she purred softly. I will miss this house, she thought with an uncharacteristic feeling of regret. The regret was quickly replaced, however, with eager anticipation.
For tonight was feeding night.
Enjoying the afternoon sun, Serena’s thoughts took her back to previous feedings. Although midway through her fourth century, she remembered every feeding – but most of all her first.
As with all first feedings, it had ended far too quickly and with a great deal of mess. Serena had been well prepared by the elder, but to actually experience the raw power… her tiny heart started to pound with the memory. As she gained experience, subsequent feedings lasted much longer and were more satisfying. But none ever matched the intensity of the first. With a contented feline yawn, Serena curled up for a nap but was suddenly interrupted by a whimper from the floor of the living room. Irritated, Serena raised her head and glared at the golden Labrador Retriever sprawled out in the center of the carpet.
Dreaming of chasing rabbits again, Charlie? Serena thought contemptuously as she regarded the sleeping dog. Charlie whimpered again, this time accompanied by a twitch of his hind leg. Serena waited impatiently for the dog to settle down, then slowly drifted off to sleep.
One by one the humans returned from their daily activities. Serena had followed them out several times to see where they went, but had quickly become bored. Both adults and the younger one all disappeared into large buildings along with other humans, then emerged hours later to return home. Serena however did not care in the least how the humans spent their time — she only cared that they come back. To her.
Meowing softly, Serena greeted the humans as they entered the house. She hated their nicknames for her (very disrespectful) but she did appreciate being scratched behind her ears — the fur had become very itchy, especially now in the heat of the summer. Not for much longer, Serena thought, with growing anticipation. She normally took to the air after a feeding — it seemed appropriate. Perhaps an owl this time…
As the humans retired to their sleeping areas, Serena restlessly paced. When the time was this close she could not keep still.
When the last bedroom light had been turned off, Serena padded quietly to the largest bedroom. Over the years, she had learned to start with the older ones. During one feeding she had carelessly started with a child who had screamed out and awakened the father. The father of course had not been able to stop her, but Serena had been forced to rush the feeding — and of all things, Serena hated to rush.
At the entrance to the master bedroom, Serena paused, closed her eyes, and shifted. The feline form dissolved into a dark mass vaguely human-like, but without discernible features. Gracefully it flowed over to the bed to engulf the human forms.
Intent on her prey, Serena did not even notice the sleeping form of Charlie at the foot of the bed. But Charlie noticed Serena.
As Serena hovered inches away from the sleeping humans, the Labrador Retriever’s body suddenly dissolved and was replaced a shimmering, crimson-colored mist. Too late, Serena sensed the power forming behind her and frantically formed a defensive shield. With mounting panic, she felt her shield casually dismissed.
Held motionless above the bed by a force she had never experienced, Serena could do nothing but watch helplessly as the mist slowly coalesced into a familiar form.
“Elders need to feed too, Serena,” the form chuckled. Spreading its arms in an obscene, welcoming gesture it reached eagerly towards Serena.
At the first cold touch of the elder’s embrace, Serena’s form contorted in soundless agony as she felt her essence torn apart and consumed. Then she felt no more.
Patrick Perkins is currently employed in the telecommunications industry. During long, scenic drives to remote locations in British Columbia, random thoughts sometimes join together and meet later on the page.
This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.