Page 22

A. S. Coomer

Darksome “Here, Rufus. I have a present for you.” The pale light of the fading fall afternoon came in scattered beams of hazy illumination under the rickety porch. The smell of last fall’s dried and crumpling leaves permeated the darkness. That and something else. Something more animalistic, a strong spore of something wild, something dangerous. “Rufus, come on now.” From the corner, where the light never reached, came a rustling. Dried leaves and what sounded like the snapping of twigs but was more likely the light and brittle bones of previous dinners. The feline cleared its throat. “Good kitty.” Rufus rose, a darker shadow, and stretched. Glenn, on hands and knees, dust clinging to his sweaty forehead, balanced himself on one hand so he could offer Rufus his latest catch. Rufus moved smoothly, languidly towards the small creature, still breathing but paralyzed with a broken neck, in Glenn’s shaking hand. The cat’s grace was unearthly. Glenn shivered. Rufus sniffed the bird, twice, then looked up at Glenn. A faint purring sounded from the thing. “I love you, Rufus.” Glenn set the bird onto the bed of dried leaves. Rufus rubbed up against Glenn’s anchored arm. “Good kitty.” Rufus bit Glenn, sinking long, crooked teeth deep into his forearm. Glenn, in turn, bit his lip but did not flinch away. This was the animal’s way. Glenn felt the blood trickle down his arm, soaking into his flannel shirtsleeve. He tasted the copper and felt the blood pool in his mouth, spilling between the gaps of his teeth. Rufus disengaged his mouth and turned towards the bird. In the last moment before Rufus and the offering disappeared back into the blackness of the deep pocket underside of the porch, a place so small and close that Glenn could not follow, Glenn saw the twin black pools of the bird’s eyes find his own. They were alight with

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