The cave was home, warmth, safety, security–and a sepulchre growing impatient for its last residents to take up permanent occupancy. As Kisstru looked around her belly rumbled loud and low. Beside her, Sayfair stretched his full length on the floor, too weak to move, his once glistening golden coat now a dull matt ochre, but not yet the lifeless lacklustre grey of the twenty-three other Emoteons whose dessicated bodies littered their surroundings. She nuzzled her head in his neck fur and then gently licked his muzzle one last time before advancing to the edge of the opening in the sheer rock face. If she didn’t get food for them both today, the end would only be a matter of time.
Kisstru summoned all her courage, spreading her wings wide and beating the air with them as she pushed off into the world beyond. She hugged the face of the cliff as she descended to the lush canopy of the forest below, her silver fur mottled with dusty grey patches providing the perfect camouflage against the mountainous backdrop. She reached the sheltering trees with relief as her dominant feeling, alighting in a small clearing close to the edge of a well-used watering hole. Surveying her surroundings there appeared to be no obvious danger, so she focussed her senses and cast around until she found that which she sought so urgently. A young buck was lapping noisily at the water, circling stealthily she moved to position herself directly downwind of her intended prey and began to close the distance between them.
The snapping of a twig arrested her motion just as she was about to spring, and startled her potential dinner into instant flight. She became aware of a dull throbbing ache in her temples, which rapidly blossomed into an agony of pain overwhelming her from the inside out. She was conscious of a prickling sensation in the fibres of her fur coat as it turned to a vivid blue colouration and the pain continued to intensify. A violent commotion in the undergrowth to Kisstru’s left betokened the cause of her malaise, as a wildly panicking human emerged into the space between the vegetation and froze in astonishment at the sight of a bright blue cat, eight feet long from tail to muzzle, with wings folded along both flanks. His static posture endured no more than a handful of heartbeats before he fled back into the brush even faster than he had emerged from it and in a completely different direction.
With his departure, the pain in her head began to dull, and the coruscating brilliance of her coat began to fade. Before she could fully regain her natural hue, the intensity of the pain began to ratchet up once more, and her fur underwent a second transformation, but this time to the deep vermillion of a tightly controlled rage. The source of this fresh manifestation emerged into the glade on her opposite side. He did not turn and run however, he did stop quite still, and watched as tears of pain and frustration rolled down her face, the inner turmoil too great to permit the voluntary muscle control which she would have required to make good her escape.
Once again she felt the now horribly familiar prickling sensation as the colouration of her hide careened into the regal purple of delight reflecting his newly acquired mood.
“Well, well, my beauty. It must be my lucky day, you’ll fetch far more than that piece of worthless scum ever would have done.”
He chuckled to himself, and his face bearing a lascivious smile, he raised his rifle for the killing shot. Adrenalin flooded his system on a rising tide of exultation as he aimed, and Kisstru’s hide flared brighter and brighter. His finger began to tighten on the trigger, but before he reached the critical pressure she collapsed in a heap, her teardrops giving way to gleaming red rivers of blood as she expired without aid from a bullet, his ecstasy too potent for her to handle.
In the cavern above the scene of Kisstru’s demise, as day turned into night, Sayfair exhaled his final breath and closed his eyes one last time on a world which had never quite come to terms with the reality of Emoteons.
Dave Troman is a fifty-year-old mechanical engineer by trade, who enjoys writing and reading. He lives with his wife and youngest child, with the two older offspring not too far away in their own houses. He also has one lovely granddaughter.