Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wording Wednesday - a Ferals short story

Dirk stops short at the edge of the alleyway and glances over at Shepherd. "Did you hear that?" His voice is tinny, high despite being almost old enough to get into the agency program. He considers himself an adult now, with his birthday only two months away.

Shepherd takes a long look down the dark alley. No lights, the partial moon covered by clouds, nothing to see by. He cranks the flashlight in his hand and sweeps it across the shadows. Four pairs of eyes light up, staring straight back at them. Shepherd jumps back, fumbling with the flashlight and nearly dropping it.

Dirk stares, brown eyes wide with terror.

"What day is it?" Shepherd whispers, his fingers shaking around the flashlight as he turns the beam back up toward the eyes. The two pairs glow in the light, still looking straight down at the boys from their perch on top of the garbage containers.

"Two days," Dirk states. He shows his watch to prove the point; though, neither boy can see the face of it in the dark.

Dirk got lucky after the Spread. He managed to be one of the few people who came across a watch that wound whenever he took a step. An ongoing, perfect watch for a place without much, if any, electricity or access to batteries. Best yet, his shows the cycles of the moon. A daily reminder of how much danger he is in, or is not. Two days should be plenty of time.

The taller boy lets out a long, slow breath. "Okay, then. We're fine, right?"

"We're fine," Dirk echoes. He can't peel his gaze away from the creatures.

One of them has long fur, off-white with a dark patch on its chest. After a moment of watching at the boys, it licks its paw and rubs it along its face. As if it weren't one of the deadliest creatures in the world, as if it were nothing but a ... "House cat." The thought escapes Dirk's lips on a whisper, almost like a dare. He's an adult now, and he should be able to call them like they are. Cats.

Except they aren't. They haven't been cats for a long time.

"Whatever, man. Let's go." The flashlight turns off for a second, and the sound of the mechanical hand crank fills the silence between them.

"Do you think their inoculated?"

"You want to stay and find out?" The beam comes back on, and Shepherd aims it at Dirk.

"No." Dirk puts his hand up, shielding his eyes from the light. "But if they aren't, then"

"Then the TNR Agents will deal with them."

Dirk stands up straighter. "We could bring them in."

Shepherd aims the light back down the alley. Only one set of eyes gazes at them now, the off-white one missing from the scene. "You want to try to catch it? Be my guest."

Taking one step forward, the boy shakes with nervous, giddy energy. Dirk glances around the opening to the narrow path. He freezes when he sees more eyes appearing out of the darkness, blinking into existence from out of oblivion. He gulps down a breath, stumbling backwards. "A pride."

"Not just a pride." Shepherd's voice dissolves. "A colony."

The boys take three steps back, then four, both almost tripping over their own two feet.

"It's not the full moon," Dirk whispers, voice whimpering with disbelief and fright.

The beam of light winks out again, and with their hearts pounding, the boys turn and run as fast as they can. Their feet launch off the pavement, and they sprint. Faster than they did in survival class, faster than they did during their exams, faster than they ever have run before. They run so fast, they feel like they are flying.

But that's the thing about Ferals; no matter how fast, no human has ever outrun them.

- - - - -

I rarely write in third person, let alone present tense, but I've been writing a few stories in present tense as of late and wanted to try third person. I figure if I'm trying new things, it should probably be during writing prompts. This prompt is curated by Andy Brokaw, a lovely YA writer, and she used "The Cats' Rendezvous" by Édouard Manet to inspire our first piece for Wording Wednesday, a writing group on MeWe.

If anyone else is on MeWe, feel free to add me!


  1. I absolutely adore this! And I haven't read it to them, but I'm betting my cats would approve. :)

    1. Thanks! I started the novel in first person, but I'm thinking about changing it to third, with mostly one MC, but there's seven characters, and they all are going to have their own intense stories. So I think multi-perspective might be good for this one? I'm not sure yet ... I'd want to do third person if I decide to expand it. I can do dual perspective decently, I think, in first person, keeping the voices different, but ... eehhh decisions.