Chapter 5 – The Wetcats
A rumbling stomach from hunger and a stiff chill reminded Fatboy that morning had crept into their makeshift living room campsite and it wanted its share of time in their lives. He reeled slowly from the smoldering wood in the center of the floor and opened his sleepy eyes just enough to notice that the room was lighter than normal.
He rose to his feet and staggered into the kitchen to grab more wood for the fire stopping at the window to peek outside.
“It’s drizzling.” He whispered.
“It’s drizzling.” He said loudly causing Rayn to stir from her sleep.
“Mmm… can I sleep a little longer, Fatboy? I’m still tired.”
Fatboy’s face beamed with a smile, “It’s gonna be a light gray-day! YES!!” He vanished into the kitchen for less than a minute and returned with wood to add to the fire. He then remembered to answer her question, “Yea, go ahead and sleep, Rayn.” But it really didn’t matter because she was already snoring while snuggled up with her backpack.
For Fatboy, this was an opportunity to check out the rest of the house. He knew they were desperate to replace the critical supplies that they had used the night before as well as he had lost when his backpack got away from him in the storm.
The kitchen yielded food that had become decayed muck over time and a few small cans of soup; with the tastiest being the ham-and-potatoes. Utensils were corroded and all of the appliances were dank within. He decided that he needed to increase his search.
Gripping his pocket knife, he eased past Rayn without disturbing her sleep and stepped over the couch at the bottom of the stairs. He ascended slowly with his knife at the ready and his nerves on edge.
“I hate this crap!” he thought to himself as he instinctively poked his bottom lip out and stumbled slightly. He reached the top to the stairs and entered the closest room. Inside, everything was decayed and damp. He could barely tell what was in the room, that was, until he saw a collection of baseball bats in the corner along with unwound dingy baseballs.
“They had a son.” He said softly while swallowing. He pulled his dry shirt up above his nose because he began to have trouble breathing with the black mold all over the ceiling and walls. He eased over to the bats and grabbed one only to feel the soft wood tear away in moist pieces. Behind the wooden ones, there was a final bat the reflected the dim gray brightness presented in the room.
“ALUMINUM.” Fatboy said as his heart jumped. “Oh… my… goodness… an aluminum bat!!” he repeated while screaming in a whisper. The bat was near perfect. The head of the bat was perfectly balanced and the weight of it was inviting. Fatboy’s hand twitched before grasping it. It felt natural to him as he inspected it closer and waved it around.
The other objects in the corner fell to the ground, but once the sound of their impact ceased… other sounds behind him did not. They were different.
His body tensed and a spike of fear drove through him. The room behind him on the far end of the shortened hallway came to life with muffled movements. Fatboy eased towards the doorway in an attempt to get back down the stairs as quietly as possible…
Terror would not allow this.
The room on the far end stared at him as a homeowner violated by a thief. The closed door to the room shuddered as the scratches and thumps upon it became louder. Suddenly the house felt angry to the youth.
Just then, the door slammed open and a flood of large bestial cats poured into the hallway with their eyes glaring in the dust light. Their whining was as feral as their appearance. Starvation was their language and death their conversation.
“Crap!” shouted the teenager instinctively, “WETCATS!!”
The beasts began to spread slowly to the sides of one-another making their pack appear larger, as if it was needed. Their hair was matted in soiled black spikes, it was sticky and smelled of rotting meat and trash. Their size was twice that of a fully grown house cat and their claws durable enough to shred flesh like a razor.
Fatboy peered down the stairs at Rayn sleeping, turned towards the pack and raised his bat. “What in the hell are you waiting for?!?”
The wetcats charged the lone youth from all directions focused on his throat and face. It was not unusual for them to take down human prey for food… but today was different.
Fatboy closed his eyes and swung his bat with all of his might ignoring the soggy crunching sounds at the end of each of his strikes. He hollered out at the top of his lungs and pushed into the pack forcing them away from the stairs. The wetcats piled on top of him scratching into his jacket and shirt searching for flesh.
He slammed his body into the wall crushing the felines to his rear and continued to swing as tears flowed from his eyes and fatigue set in.
“You ain’t getting pass me!!!” He screamed out. “Rayn!!! Run for it!! Get out the house!!”
Rayn jumped up from her sleep only to catch the brief sight of Fatboy upstairs covered with wetcats falling into the bathroom shouting.
“FATBOY!!” she cried. His answer was a muffle ending with the word, ‘out’.
Rayn started to shake and scream, “FATBOY!!!” The little girl couldn’t move, but his final command forced her to go. Grabbing her backpack and charging into the front door with tears in her eyes, she burst into the drizzling rain of what would normally be a beautiful light-gray day.
She ran from the house wavering from puddle to puddle and breath to breath as her tears became one with the weather.
She would only whisper between gasps, “Fatboy.”
She was now alone.
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