“Gory Details” Published Today at Animal Literary Magazine

"Eyes in the Grass"

Eyes in the Grass by Gretchen Gales; for more information, visit http://www.writinggales.wordpress.com

My new horror story, “Gory Details” is up at Animal Literary Magazine. A short horror piece I wrote and submitted quite a while ago. I’d given it up for dead until Animal’s fiction editor got back to me last month and gave me the thumbs up. Check it out! And keep the page bookmarked, because Animal has some incredible stories, poems, and essays–all exploring the ephemeral divide between human/domestic and animal/wild. I’m stoked to be a part of it.

read Gory Details

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat: “Escape = Hard”

wolf cat

In this week’s episode of wolf-cat-hybrid fiction, Peter, confined to bed in the mysterious Benedict J. Laird Medical Center, attempts to pull off a rather risky and daring escape plan.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid, Part 8: “Escape = Hard” [read part 1!]

Peter tried to writhe, tried to squirm. The Frankenstraps straps held tight and firm.  He tried to twist, tried to nudge. The Frankenstraps just wouldn’t budge. He tried to flex, tried to scoot. The Frankenstraps din’ give a hoot.  -Traditional

Nurse Pitfall dunked the pink sponge in the hot soapy water, gave it a farty bubbly squeeze to drain most of it back into the plastic beach bucket, then pressed it along Peter’s thigh.

Shivers. Peter felt the sponge move up up up towards the crotch region. Ground zero. Did Nurse Pitfall notice the very natural and not-embarrassing process taking place beneath his green Hanes boxer shorts?

If she did, she was damn professional about it. Her patient blue eyes never once—today or during any previous sponge bath—trespassed in that most naughty and inappropriate of directions. She kept her focus strictly on the task at hand, as much to save herself embarrassment than to do same for Peter. She executed her nursley tasks like a champ, never skipping a beat. That’s why it had taken Peter four days of intense scheming to arrive at a workable escape plan.

Now she lifted the sponge, dunked it again, dribble dribble ploop, got to work on Peter’s boney arms, making sure to avoid getting soapy water on the strap associated with Peter’s hands/waist, which she always left in place during the washing.

Peter clucked his tongue, relieved the nurse was finally moving on to his upper body. He felt like a tea kettle about to start whistling. The key here was to keep it together. Pacing, pacing.

“Thatta boy,” Pitfall said, making a face as if he were her very own son. She carefully unstrapped the mega strap responsible for Peter’s upper arms/chest.

As the chest strap fell loose Peter took a deep full breath. Ah! Air! The chest strap was always the tightest of the four straps, tight enough to leave him no possibility of wriggling loose, though not so tight as to crush his healing ribs. This central strap was the real bitch. The key to his imprisonment. Its placement and tightness and sturdiness were enough to hold Peter to the bed all by itself—never mind the ones at his waist and thighs and shins. Pitfall never failed to tighten that sucker to full tightness. She knew how important it was.

“We’re nearly done,” she continued in her breathy voice, and she got to works sponging Peter’s pale, hairless, un-athletic chest. Another area of sensitivity. Her sponge-strokes were clockwise and gentle and warm. The sponge ran along his right nipple, which had assumed the consistency of a brass-tack.

Peter cringed, bit his lips.

Nurse Pitfall paused to give him a look of sympathy. “Listen kid. I know you’re eager to get out of this room. But we can’t risk letting you wander the premises unless you’re 100%. I’m sorry, but this comes from the very top.”

“Believe me, I get it,” said Peter. He flashed her a grateful smile. “I appreciate the Frankenstein straps. They protect me from myself and all that.”

“That’s very mature of you.”

“Well I’m growing.”

But, truth was, after all this conversation Peter’s bulge had reduced in girth a good, say, 11%. Think of a clown-crafted poodle-shaped balloon two whole days after the birthday party. It hadn’t shriveled completely—Nurse Pitfall was an attractive woman with warm hands and a bosom that gleamed hard and shiny inside her crisp white nurse’s outfit which smelled of peach misty neck-spray. But the Hanes bulge was no longer as obvious to an outside observer. And this wouldn’t do at all. Not if Peter’s plan was going to succeed.

He decided he needed to risk a corrective maneuver.

“I think you missed a spot on my inner leg,” he said through a long yawn, as if it were no big deal either way. “Feels crusty there. Unclean.”

Nurse Pitfall pulled back, gave him a doubtful look. Was he kidding? Jeez. No. He wasn’t. Then she readjusted how she was standing so as to alleviated the hardness of her shirt-squeezed breasts. Looked over her shoulder to make sure they were alone in the room. When she turned back to Peter, she briefly flicked her eyes down to his thigh and then back to his face.

“Please, nurse,” Peter said, his tone frustrated, pleading. “I just like to feel as clean as possible. Seeing as how I can’t exactly do it myself, ya know?”

As Peter knew it would, his helpless entreaty appealed to Nurse Pitfall’s maternal instincts. She really wasn’t such a bad person. Far from it. In many ways, over the years, she had become a surrogate mother for him. Made him birthday cakes and helped him with dad-assigned algebra homework and told him he was handsome whenever he put gel in his hair. All of which made Peter’s plan all the more awkward and risqué.

Finally Pitfall gave an uncertain shrug of her narrow shoulders, dunked the sponge once more into the steaming water, squeezed it, dribble dribble dribble, and then she pressed it against Peter’s inner thigh. She moved it up and down and up. The trickling water, still hot, soaked into the bottom rim of his boxers. Soaked towards Peter’s Ground Zero and—

Flooop! His manhood achieved its full potential. His boxers drew taut, all crinkles and wrinkles smoothing out. Even someone over there in the doorway would give a double-take now. Whatchu been feedin’ that kid? Horse oats or what?

Determinedly oblivious to Peter’s crotch developments—so professional was she!—Nurse Pitfall withdrew the sponge, dropped it into the bucket. Plunnk! Some hot water splashed onto Peter’s shin.

He trembled at the micro impacts, his entire body having grown extra sensitive after the sensual sponge bath. His every nerve afire, eager to perform. Nurse Pitfall’s ministrations had whipped his hormones into a bouncy froth.

Ah! Game time. Nurse Pitfall leaned over to refasten the dreaded upper arm/chest belt, intending to lock Peter once more against the bed. She ran the male end through the big square buckle and began to put her full weight into tightening the thing. The timing here, Peter knew, would be everything. He waited. She tightened the strap to the third notch, the fourth, the fifth. He felt it close around him, choke into his chest and upper arms.

But not yet! Not yet! You must wait! But not too long! Tighter. Tighter. Tigh—

And then he could wait no longer. He dropped the bomb.

“Nurse?”

“Yes Peter.”

“How come I’m hard like a nail?”

Nurse Pitfall gave a violent start. Leapt backwards, her eyes big and wide and full of scandal. She just totally wasn’t ready for such a thing, is the thing. It was a real sidewinder. Perfect delivery. Perfect boyish chirpy timbre! She froze her hands, suspended her belt-tightening operation as if afraid to subject Peter to any more sensory stimulation than absolutely necessary. The kid was radioactive. For the fraction of a second her eyes careened off Peter’s crotch region. Yep. It looked like he was wearing a too-large, narrow, scoop-shaped athletic cup beneath his soggy boxers.

“Um. Um. Hmm. Well, I mean, it’s totally nat…” she started. Her lips moved in and out of a kindly, supportive smile. What do you possibly say to something like that? Especially when the kid was already 16? Haha. Not like he was a little kid who didn’t know how the body worked. What do you do with that?

“You know what?” said Peter, who simply couldn’t stand to see Nurse Pitfall under such duress. “I don’t even want to know.”

Nurse Pitfall nodded with fervid agreement. Yes you don’t want to know. Having dodged a major bullet, or perhaps a Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missile, she quickly reached down and fastened Peter’s chest buckle and, grabbing the beach bucket by its plastic strap, stepped away from the bed.

But in her haste she’d buckled the buckle exactly where she’d left it during her initial recoil: two notches below where she typically buckled it! Success! This was more wiggle room than Peter dared hope for while planning his risqué boner escape maneuver.

“Goodnight Peter,” she said, having forgotten even to towel-dry him (a bonus!). She hustled to the door, her low-top nurse shoes squeaking the tiles, the water bucket glugging and spilling all the way. Clearly she just wanted to get the hell out of there. At the doorway she reached over and switched off the lights—it was nearly 11 o’ the clock—and she was out of there, door clonking shut behind her.

Peter wasted no time. A series of aggressive zulu writhing movements advanced him along the bed until his feet pulled clear of his ankle restraints. Squeak squeak went the bed. Then, able to use his feet to push, he shoved himself forward through the waist-strap. With the chest-strap two notches looser than normal, there was really nothing substantial holding him to the bed. The only difficulty came with his overly alert manhood caught for a moment on the chest strap (LOL).

And then—thwump!—he was on the cold hard floor. A free man. Mostly. Over the course of two or so weeks of near-total immobility, his muscles had turned to Jello. He was like a placental newborn Bambi climbing to his feet. Wobbling. Stumbling. Teetering. And much like Bambi, he soon found his balance and stride.

Hyper alert now, his heart racing, he considered searching the room for a proper pair of pants and a shirt. No. Nurse Pitfall could return at any moment, having realized she’d, in her frazzled frame of mind, left Peter strapped to a bed completely wet. So, still in his boxers, he rushed to the door, creaked it out, and snaked quietly into the dark hallway and into the next chapter.

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 7)

wolf cat

Drast! After making a real breakthrough with his new wolf-cat friend, only to see the hybrid cruelly shot down, Peter the Boy must come to terms with an unpleasant new reality.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid, Part 7 (read part 1!)

For Peter, the next chapter careened in and out of focus. Got a little unconventional. Wolfcat = shot. Oh hey, it’s fattie George Sprint, rifle perched on shoulder. Blubbering toward Peter. Then it’s Peter bouncing horizontal to the grass, flying through the upside down woods. “You’re a lucky kid, kid.” That was fattie Sprint. Then Peter’s inside the passenger seat of a new-smelling cargo van—an Amalgamaker service truck, rushing along the gravelly mountain road.

And all of the above had happened like this [author snaps fingers].

“The Crisper boy is alive,”Sprint said into his 1980s walkie talkie. He put an earbud in his ear so Peter couldn’t hear the other side. “Mm hm. Mm hm. No. I haven’t told him. He’s got that shell-shocked look like he’s just escaped a friggin’ Tyrannosaurus Rex that also ate his sister right in front of him. All quiet and serious looking. Yes yes, I’m bringing him there. C’mon, where do you think we’re going, Chuck-e-Cheese?” His voice is husky and full of energy, as if he still couldn’t believe they paid him for this stuff.

Going back? Back where? Peter bopped his head against the glass. Please no. Amalgamaker Labs had blown to bits. That whole part of the mountain had seared itself into a primeval forest of jet black twigs. Thousands of animals of the woods, skeletonized, their babies orphaned and soon to die from not being mouthfed.

Could the med-center have survived? Impossible! Peter’d seen the entire lab literally blow to smithereens. The bricks and the mega blocks of cement thrown into the sky like New Years confetti. Nothing could have survived. Then again, Sprint and his hunters had survived. And the vans. And the copters.

That a single corner, a single flake of paint of Amalgamaker Labs had not as-of-yet been turned to ash sent a shudder through Peter’s slumped body. The shudder ran up through his shoulders, through the tunnel of his neck, and manifested physically as a long streamer of hot drool that dribbled like honey over his sweat-damp shirt. Not only had he thought he’d escaped that dreadful place, but he’d thought it was gone from the earth—extra insurance against ever returning!

Then–poof!–some guys were carrying him via slightly crunchy gurney down a hallway Peter remembered from that time, years earlier, when he’d broken his arm falling from the roof. The ostentatiously named Benedict J. Laird Medical Center (which was really just two rooms and a break lounge). Yes, the center had evidently survived the explosion. And how! Not even any burn signs on the wall or on the pants-asses of the dudes who were carrying the gurney.

This seemed miraculous, but not altogether impossible. The med-center sits adjacent to the proper Amalgamaker building, connected only by a narrow umbilical corridor. From Peter’s angle during the explosion, the explosion itself would have blocked what happened to the med-center.

“Where is the animal?” said a hyper-serious voice just out of view—had to be Dr. Louis Handy, the skinny MD who always looked like he in the process of smiling and pooping and falling asleep all at the same time. Face as smooth as a baby’s recently shaved ass. Receding hairline.

A pause. George Sprint’s voice: “Burt Fitzgerald and some other guy took it to disposal. It’s gone. Destroyed. It cannot hurt this boy anymore.”

Wolfcat! Peter hardened and attempted to lift himself from the gurney.

“Señor!”

Sprint made an oops face. “Crap. Kid’s so drunk he’s talkin’ Mexican. I gave him too much sedative. Hell, I only give the kid just one assfull—”

“Shush,” said Dr. Handy. He pressed Peter back down to the gurney and nodded to buxom Nurse Pitfall—who had been part of Peter’s attentive gurney escort—and she leaned in and injected Peter with some medicine. “Based on the bruising I’d guess you have a broken rib or two. You have to limit your movements, kiddo.”

“Señor?” Peter’s voice sounded low and clumsy and faraway. Strong stuff.

Dr. Handy smiled and took a dump in his pants and fell asleep, which is to say: he didn’t alter his facial expression in the slightest. “Buenas noches mi amigo.”

And the next few days played out like those early morning minutes between snooze-button hits. Waking dreams. Some involving Wolfcat, his dead body stuffed into a slightly too-small cardboard box and pushed along a conveyer belt into a searing furnace. Then the conveyor reverses and a big blue urn come out, labeled, in an official-looking font:

“Señor!”

Some involving Peter’s father. The day Peter found his acceptance letter to Upright Boy’s Prep Academy all torn up and in the kitchen waste basket beneath some soggy brown banana peels and egg shells. “How could you do this, father?” Peter cried. “Boys who go to Upright go out into the world and do great things! They become senators. They become men of influence!” And his father clapped a hand on his shoulder. “But I need you here at Amalgamaker,” he said. “This is where you belong.”

“Señor!”

And sometimes the dream fog would recede and Peter would find himself in the med-center’s small observation room. Heart-rate monitor beeping. Antiseptic smell smelling. Those unfriendly looking vinyl curtains that made you want to wash your body if you touched them.

Ah! Here comes Dr. Handy. Needle in hand! Some time has passed. Today he is auditioning a black, pencil thin mustache. Probably for the benefit of Nurse Pitfall, who only dates men with facial hair, Peter knew. He’d checked her social media once.

“Who is Señor?” said Dr. Handy.

At the mention of the name, Peter started to thrash about on the bed. Ouch. His rib still hadn’t fully healed.

“Calm yourself, son.” He plunged Peter’s buttocks with brainkiller. “Don’t spoil your progress.”

“Release me, knave.”

Fade out.

~

More dreaming. The skeleton of Wolfcat, reconstructed and hung by wires in the cool, echoey, water-fountain-having halls of the Museum of Abomination. In the section reserved for hybrid abominations, right down the hall from the bronze statue of my father, sponge in one hand, Dove soap in the other. A coquettish grin on his face.

Another thrum of partial consciousness. Hehe. Dr. Handy is in the corner of the room making out with Nurse Pitfall, her leg hooked around his rear end, her arms coiled around his neck.

“Señor,” Peter slurred. Warm drool ran down his cheek.

“Oh for crying out…” Dr. Handy turned, his hair all bunched and messy, his lips vertically lipsticked and swollen. He groaned, stalked across the room—either he had a rabbit in his pocket or it was just a chubber—and crouched down into crowd Peter’s field of view, either to block Peter’s view of Nurse Pitfall’s pink floral bra, or to simply keep his own taut crotch out of Peter’s face. An avalanche of Michael Jordan cologne smell. “Tell me, son. Who is Señor? Is he a man?”

When Peter answered with more thrashing, more drooling, Dr. Handy grabbed a needle from a nearby tray and, thwomp, injected Peter in the ass.

~

More dreams. A meet-the-parent date with a pretty girl from the public school. Rebecca Citizen. Long black hair. Big blue cartoon eyes. Peter’s father munching on his gourmet beans, then quietly lifting his leg and farting at the table, then going about eating more beans as if nothing happened. Scandalized, the girl’s eyes flash red. She turns her head to young Peter and says in a suddenly Austrian voice, “I disseminate this event at school. You will be embarrassed. You will be bullied. You will quit Dewey Mountain Middle School in favor of private tutoring at Amalgamaker labs, per your father’s master plan. Your social life? Terminated.”

“Which one is Señor?” said Dr. Handy. This is another day. Another week. Peter’s mind was whirling from yet another injection of ass meds. His heavy, languid eyes settle on the doctor’s face. The man has already abandoned his ill-advised mustache experiment. He must have finally realized it made him look like a twelve-year-old trying to look like a 50-year-old carnival barker who likes boys. Today he is holding up two print-outs from a computer. Printed on fast draft mode. Cheap! One is a picture of a late 19th century Mexican paisano, including sombrero and handlebar and sixshooter and pleasant smile. The other is a digital photograph of Wolfcat sitting upright in a hay-carpeted pen, his eyes bright and tongue lagging.

Dr. Handy wasn’t alone. George Sprint was there. And Nurse Pitfall. They were watching him with great anticipation, as if he was about to give birth to a black child (Peter was white). Peter was still too doped figure out what was going on. Before he could stop himself he reached out for the photo of Wolfcat like a man in the desert reaching for the wavering mirage of a desert oasis. “Señor.”

Dr. Handy drops the papers, exchanges worried looks with Fattie and Nurse Pitfall.

Peter had chosen poorly?

~

Finally, the chapter normalized. For the first time since that day in the backyard, Peter woke up fully restored and sober. The room empty. He could think. Though a great measure of his feelings re: Wolfcat’s fate had been exhausted through weeks of unfocused emotional venting, crying, drooling; there was a bit more in the tank. With a furrow of his brow, a twinkle in his eye, Peter quietly said goodbye. Took his time. Pretended the sprinkler in the ceiling was Wolfcat.

Okay. That felt good. Now…time to get his bearings.

Wha? Peter noticed he has been strapped to the bed. Leather Frankenstein straps around his ankles, thighs, arms/chest. He could’t move. Couldn’t budge. No need to dope him up with drugs; he couldn’t do himself any harm strapped to this bed like a damn mastermind cannibal.

A shudder of frustration worked through his bound arms. If he didn’t need the pain meds anymore, if his rib was mostly healed, then why would Dr. Handy keep him here at all? Did the doctor really believe that Peter, his mind now recovered from the drugs’ deleterious effects, would still go on retardo-thrashing in the bed? Knowingly causing himself all kinds of rib harm?

Vague memories crept into his awareness. Dr. Handy questioning him again and again about Señor. Apparently Peter had been calling out for the hybrid like a bedridden fatman calling out for more butter.

They know, he thought. They know I’d made a connection with Señor. And somehow that matters to them. That’s why they gave me these Frankenstein restraints. But what could that possibly matter at this point?

~

The next few days fit into a neat routine of occasional check-ins by Doctor Handy, who would run his finger across Peter’s bandage, comment on Peter’s steady improvement, reassure him that the immobilizing restraints were in Peter’s own best interests, and then, unsubtly, try and eek out information about Peter’s experience with Wolfcat. Suspicious of his agenda, Peter would pretend to have no memory of the traumatizing affair.

Nurse Pitfall fed him pea soup three times a day, dribbling it into his open mouth via a silver teakettle so as to save themselves the trouble of loosening the straps which fixed him to the bed. She did this nice and slow so as not to choke him. She was quite considerate in this area.

Bathing would be done via soapy sponge. Peter rather enjoyed it. She would work his arms and legs and feet all with the straps still in place, but she’d actually removed the strap around his chest so as to have an easier time cleaning his torso. For Peter, this two or three minutes sans chest-strap were like Alcatraz courtyard time. For that brief time he was relatively free to slide around. And it was in these moments that Peter humored the idea of slipping his ankle and wrist restraints and writhing his way to freedom.

This was, of course, a daydream. Having finished with her duty, Nurse Pitfall would fastidiously replace the primary Frankenstein strap over Peter’s arms and chest. Then, fixing her shoe against the bed’s metal frame, her soft features wrinkling into a rictus of Rosie-the-Riveter effort, she would tighten the strap to its second-tightest notch, thus fixing Peter solidly to the bed. She took this very seriously, and by the time she was done Peter might as well have been a marble statue ratchet-strapped to a wood pallet, ready for delivery to some rich dude’s mansion.

And anytime Peter asked for information about Amalgamaker Labs (ei: its present state of affairs, its surviving staff) Handy and/or Pitfall would give him an affectionate smile and tell him not to worry about any of that. Just you worry about getting healthy again!

So it was the same old pattern. Familiar as the smell of your dad’s aftershave. Clearly the Amalgamakers were up to something, about which they wanted to keep him in the dark. Clearly, more of the laboratory had survived than he originally thought. It was alive, healthy enough for shenanigans. He had sensed this even when he was all doped up and oscillating in and out of feverish dreams.

At the end of his first full week of bed-internment, Peter had had enough. He knew it would be no use to address the situation directly. They would only take greater means to shut him out. The only way to get to the root of the conspiracy was to escape this damn hospital room and find out for himself just what the HELL was going on. And rest assured: it would be tricky, exciting business to escape from the one-room Benedict J. Laird Medical Center. Peter crinkled his nose and got to work planning his great escape.

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 6)

wolf cat

In today’s episode, Peter the Boy learns how difficult it can be to get a wolf-cat to do anything short of napping and licking itself.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid, Part 6 [read part 1!]

Under the backyard’s wide open sky Señor Wolfcat folded himself into the letter C, gave his crotch a furious snouting. At first he didn’t seem to notice the dirty white shoelace suspended in the air above his right ear, bouncing and swinging. Then the lace’s plastic cap touched one of his eyebrow whiskers. He lifted his head. The gold-rimmed pupils dilated to black orbs. The black lips brightened in a show of fangs.

Hopeful, Peter continued to work the string, make it bounce and pop. Sure to keep it always just above where Señor could grab it, he began to back himself towards the woods. “That’s it boy!” he said. “We have to get under cover! It’s not safe!”

Swoosh swoosh! Wolfcat took a series of motion-blurred paw swipes at the dancing string. But when Peter moved just outside the wolfcat’s sphere-of-nap, the animal lost interest and reverted back to the business of cleaning himself ragged.

Peter slumped his shoulders, drew a deep breath. This wasn’t going to work. “Señor!” he said, “We need to get on the same page here or you’re dead! They’re coming!” He turned his head and focused his eyes on the line of pine trees, half expecting to see George Sprint himself perched in the branches, gun at the ready, murder in his close-set eyes.

The sun had crossed its zenith and started its descent into late afternoon. Long purple shadows stretched across the backyard like sinister fingers reaching for Señor, who had settled down near his old friend from the first chapter of our story: the headless garden gnome. The buzz of distant helicopters played against the sound of swishing branches, flapping chirping bluebirds. Sometimes the helicopters—undoubtedly lousy with dangling combat boots, swiveling binoculars, and high-powered rifles—seemed to wane into the distance. Other times, the propellor sounds seemed just over the hedges.

Peter’s heart skipped a beat as he heard one of the helicopters change course and make a pass no more than a few miles off. Loudest yet. No doubt about it. Sprint was executing a methodical, sector-by-sector search, and the choppers had already cleared much of Dewey Mountain—nowhere left to look except here. Each minute brought Sprint and his hunters closer to the Crisper residence. Judging by the search pattern heretofore, Peter gave himself maybe ten minutes tops. Then this bittersweet boy-meets-wolfcat story would come to an abrupt, bloody end.

Peter turned back to Wolfcat. Groaned. At his feet—and elsewhere in the yard—lay sad evidence of his failure to win influence over Wolfcat’s behavior.

A metal laser pointer keychain. A major disappointment. Yes, the cat-side of Wolfcat had gone absolutely berserk over the gleaming red dot zipping in the grass. The eyes dilating, the head pivoting left-right-left like a jammed oscillating sprinkler. But when Peter tried to subtly migrate the laser to the woods, Wolfcat decided there just wasn’t enough actual meat involved in the whole enterprise to warrant pursuit. Wolfcat’s wolf-side had intervened, decided to pull the plug.

Peter’s eyes moved to the half-empty box of beef-jerky dog treats, the cardboard soggy from the grass. Yes, the little pellets of dried meat had riled sedentary Wolfcat to attention. Ears pricked, breath held, eyes mega focused. But when Peter tried to walk backwards using the treat as a lure, Wolfcat merely watched him for a few moments, confused, then lost interest completely. Wolfcat’s cat-side had intervened, decided relaxation > food.

A lonely soccer ball in the woods attested to Peter’s most pathetic attempt of all. See this ball? Go get it! But both the wolf-side and the cat-side seemed in perfect accord on this one—What am I, your little bitch?

The nearest helicopter made another, closer pass. Within a mile now.

A thrill of urgency spiked Peter’s bloodflow, warmed the pain in his ribs. He stomped the grass. Think you fool. Think!

Back at Amalgamaker Labs he’d seen what the wolf-half of Wolfcat could do obedience-wise. Sit. Heel. Roll over. All the classics. But that was for George Sprint, who had the cruel, godlike ability to withhold meat and pillows. There was a begrudging, hateful respect there.

Frustrated, Peter squatted on his haunches to get right up in Wolfcat’s face. “You listened for that tub o’ lard,” he complained. “And he was a jerk to you!”

At last, Señor snapped from his torpor, rose to full height, his large paws squelching into the muddy grass.

Peter’s eyes brightened. His chest swelled.

But Señor was only looking to make himself still more comfortable. Following a slant-eyed, ear-folding yawn, he rotated his body counterclockwise a good 180 degrees, then settled back down into the mud.

The helicopter noises reached a new height. Peter lfited his eyes to the swaying pines. Between gapes in the foliage, a single black dot hung motionless in the blue sky. Rotor noise rose steadily. The chopper was coming straight for the Crisper residence. Minutes.

In despair, Peter lowered his eyes to the grass. Time was running out. He’d already tried all his best ideas. He could feel the helicopter’s motor through the ground, feel it in his wet sneakers, in his bones, in his bruised ribs. Very soon the chopper would emerge from behind the trees. And what do we have here! The hunters would have to be blind and mental not to spot their quarry. Bullets would rain. Mud would patter in vertical columns. Wolfcat, lazing in the open yard, wouldn’t have a chance.

Only one thing left to try, Peter thought. Just to say he tried it.

Peter squatted, fished his arms under Wolfcat’s warm, suddenly purring midsection. He clasped his hands together under the animal’s navel. Gritting his teeth like an olympic deadlifter with eyes on the gold, he attempted to physically shift the animal towards the woods. Yeah right. As expected, his rib injury denied him the ability to exert himself physically. Any attempt to tense those muscles wracked him with unspeakable pain. Wolfcat might as well have weighed two tons.

In heartfelt surrender, Peter transitioned his weightlifter clutch to a sorrowful embrace. He let his chest settle onto Wolfcat’s back. His eyes moistened.

“Why wouldn’t you obey?” he whispered into the thick coat of black fur. It smelled strawlike and pooplike and good. And though Wolfcat increased his purr amplitude by a good 60%, he didn’t even think about budging.

Then this happened.

A chirp. A flapping of wings. A whoosh of wind. Unnerved by the thundering helicopter noises, our old friend, Irksome Bluebird, dove from its tree and landed smack in the middle of the yard.

Boom. Peter felt like he was hit by a car. Wolfcat had launched upright, thrown Peter flailing backwards to the ground in a ploop of muddy grass. Then the animal melted into lupine hunter configuration, commenced its deathly quiet approach toward the center of the yard—more open to the sky than ever. Amazing. The situation had managed to get worse.

Gasping for air, the pain in his side throbbing like a fresh axe wound, Peter tried to climb back to his feet. Nope. He fell back into the damp grass. “No!” he managed, his eyes flicking from Wolfcat’s prowling length to the treeline beyond. “That’s the wrong direction, stupid! Never mind that friggin’ bluebi—“

Wolfcat pounced. And like so many times before, the daredevil bird exploded skyward at the last possible second. But hold on, this time was different. Wolfcat must have clipped the bird’s wing, because its ambitious flight plan quickly leveled out. It was flying horizontal to the yard—directly towards Peter!

Reflexively, he shot his hand upward. He only wanted to protect his aching ribs from possible avian strike. But his splayed fingers lined up just right, he felt an impact like when you catch a baseball without a glove, and the next thing he knew he’d captured the bluebird by the neck. It fluttered desperately in his hand, its wings tickling his face and neck. But he had it nice and tight and it wasn’t going anywhere. And when the initial wing-flutter had settled, he looked down and saw Wolfcat was already sitting at his feet, panting with reverent hunger, the dark eyes electric with expectation.

Give me that delllllightful aerodynamic meat, the eyes seemed to say. Give it here and I will respect your authority henceforth. Oh I promise. I will obey. I will follow you to the ends of the Earth! But the organism. I want it.

The trees at the yard’s south end rustled violently with helicopter turbulence. The sound of the engine thundered in Peter’s ears like lawnmower noise.

He dangled the bird about Wolfcat’s head, squeezed its neck to make it flap some more. Subtly, he began moving sideways to the woods. This time Wolfcat followed. Peter’s first idea was simply to keep going, to lure Señor to the covering of woods, much like he’d wanted to do with the jerky dog treats. Better bait, better results! But then he wondered: what if Wolfcat loses interest like before? There’d be no time for a second attempt.

A better, bolder idea popped into Peter’s head. He needed to use this fleeting moment of maximum cathartic hunger-stimulation to break Wolfcat’s will once and for all. Irksome Bluebird and Wolfcat had some history, after all. It had gotten personal. Peter stopped, turned back to Wolfcat, presented the flapping bluebird as if this were the Home Shopping Network. “So you want this little bird, huh?” he said, teasingly.

Wolfcat’s tail wagged violently. He shuffled his front paws. He made pained whelping noises. Licked his jowls.

Peter’s smile flattened. “Well too bad!” he said, and he clamped other hand to the bluebird’s neck and, cringing in advance, he snapped the bluebird’s neck. It felt very much like snapping a twig wrapped in two socks.The worse part? The broken bird flapped its wings a few additional times before realizing it was dead. Despite what he’d done, Peter played it cool, shrugged his shoulders and even took his time stuffing the entire bird into his pants pocket. “I think I’ll keep it for myself,” he said. “For a snack.”

Wolfcat shimmied with heartbreak, issued a series of squeaky high-pitched sighs that were cleanly audible even above the roar of the helicopter. Incensed though the animal was, Señor’s eyes clung to Peter’s, now afraid of his power. Reverent. Yes. Peter had influence over him now. He now wielded the power of food/no food.

Look to the rustling trees, the blue gaps between. The helicopter had ballooned to the size of a minivan.

His heart blasting in his ribs, Peter shed his sinister persona, returned to frantic reality. He shot his arm, pointed to a particularly dense section of the woods. “Run, damn you,” he screamed. “Run!”

Whoa. Wolfcat bolted into the woods in a mad blur of black and grey and mud. He ran so fast his own head could barely keep up with the rest of his body. And then the helicopter cleared the treetops and blasted by overhead, high-caliber automatic rifles protruding from both openings. Peter’s messy brown hair breakdanced in the vortex as he raised his eyes and forced a big white smile at the blonde-mustached pilot. Nothing to see down here, pal. And then the helicopter was gone over the house.

Success? Terrified that someone in the chopper had caught a glimpse of Wolfcat before the animal disappeared beneath tree cover, Peter shut his eyes and held his breath. Counted to ten. He stood there in the grass and listened as the southbound helicopter flew further and further away. Then it was too far to come back any time soon. The threat had passed—the hunters hadn’t seen him.

Relieved beyond measure, Peter turned to the section of woods to which he’d dispatched Wolfcat. And there the hybrid was, his yellow eyes aglow in the patterned shadows. Señor sat there with damn good posture, waiting for the food/no food dictator to issue his next command. Peter’s lips quirked with affection, then he started toward his friend. Grimacing. The activity of these last few minutes had really tweaked his injury.

Wolfcat grew larger in his view, but slowly, like approaching a distant island in a sailboat. “I’m coming, Señor. Gimme a sec.”

As he limped onward, he watched Wolfcat grow from a puppykitten to a mid-sized, tongue-dangling wolfcat. The coat of uniform black turned to pettable fur. Almost there. A few more yards.

But something seemed off. The world, riotous with noise just minutes before, had settled into a worried silence. Even the faraway chopper-roar seemed to disappear. In the trees the bluebirds quit their nervous flutter.

“Wolfcat…” Peter started.

Then a shot rang out, echoed to infinite feedback through the mountain air, and with a hideously brief whelp, Wolfcat was down.

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 5)

wolf cat

Today Peter the Boy pragmatically considers the pros and cons of aiding and abetting a known human-mauler.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid, Part 5 [read part 1!]

Everything had changed. For Peter, it was no longer a matter of escaping the mountain with all his fingers and toes and organs where they were supposed to be. Turns out the wolfcat meant him no harm! And to flee now would be to doom the animal to certain death. Clever though Señor was, he was living on borrowed time. The bad men were coming.

Discouraged, Peter shifted on the front stoop, where he’d spent the last twenty minutes thinking in circles. He let his heavy head clonk into the front door, made a fist and lightly punched a twirly spindle on the iron railing. What to do? He’d been working the situation from every angle. For every minute he delayed taking action, the situation grew ever less manageable.

Hours had already passed since the explosion at Amalgamaker Labs. This was problem numero uno. The survivors would have long since regrouped, armed themselves with high-powered anti-hybrid carbines, trickled into the grouty mountain roads like dubious poop water creeping in the grooves between the bathroom tiles at your local 7-Elevan. Under the supervision of Animal Response Team Leader George Sprint, the hunters would constitute more than a match for clever Señor. Their intention? Riddle the hybrid with warm pouting holes.

The way Peter figured it, to leave Señor now would be the same as lancing him through the eye with the Bic pen. All of his efforts until now, his bold survival antics, had been informed by the knowledge that Wolfcat meant to catch him, open him, use its snout to probe his insides, fang his business, unspool his hot gummy intestines. But with this threat defunct, Peter reverted to his natural way of thinking. This presented a complication worthy of its own quick chapter.

The complication? Peter loved animals. Cute ones anyway. He loved them more than humans. For many reasons, but for one reason in particular. Animals had never slept next to him in their tighty whities with their mustache sometimes brushing against his exposed shoulder blade. Only humans did that.

What’s more, Peter didn’t subscribe to the accepted view that humans were much more important than other animals. He would rather watch a human get stabbed than a dog or a cat or even a large marsupial. I’m sorry but it was true. And who’s to say he was wrong to feel this way? How do you assign an Earth species value in the cold glare of an indifferent, dark-mattery universe? Is not all life precious as hell? Even extant microbes on Mars?

People were the only ones who said people were intrinsically more valuable than other lifeforms. Peter thought this a real hoot. That’s like the mayor of the city raising the pay for city mayors. Bogus. Lame. Peter didn’t agree with the self-serving, humans-first point of view. Thought it was a crock.

But, more important than all his other reasons—he felt he owed Wolfcat a favor. A big one. For mauling his no-good father.

Thankful, he turned to the yard and watched the wolfcat be a wolfcat. Señor had left Peter behind and spent the last fifteen minutes chasing his old friend, Bluebird, from one side of the muddy yard to the other. The bird had proved to be a level 5 exemplar of its species; had, at each Wolfcat’s every try to snag it, managed to escape the attack by way of a riotous flapping. A worthy foe! And between these skirmishes, Wolfcat attended to his day’s regular business—sniff things, nap, lick things, poop things into a pre-designated rectangular receptacle.

Yet Wolfcat was a deadly, human-hungry hybrid abomination. There was that.

Peter felt burdened with a terrible decision. Wolfcat > Animals > People. Yes. That wasn’t the issue. The formula was very correct. But the ratio was off. Thousands of unsuspecting humans lived in the valley below. Not all of them sponge-bathed their grown sons. With Wolfcat in the neighborhood, how many people would he maul before Peter were able to smuggle him to a deserted island or wherever else?

Peter curled his nose, shook his head. No, he thought. It didn’t matter. Wolfcat was his responsibility now. Peter’s own father, drunk with scientific curiosity and delusions of godhood, had created the animal by splicing together a jaguar and a wolf. In a way, this made Peter and Señor stepbrothers. They shared the same megalomaniacal sire. They needed to stick together. And if some humans died in the process? Well. Too bad for them. Next time be a cat.

The decision half-made, Peter shuddered in fitting despair. The task seemed impossible! You could forget about the car. Peter had already retrieved his car keys from his bedroom. The car wouldn’t start. Battery = dead after all. There was no driving out of here. Peter and the wolfcat would have to flee by foot. And if he was going to help Señor escape into the valley he must first establish a sort of working relationship with the animal. George Sprint and his team were quite adept at tracking and shooting all sorts of predators.

Boy and hybrid-beast would have to learn to work together in perfect synergy, operate as a single stealthy fugitive-from-the-law. And precious little time remained to bring this relationship into being. The odds were shite. Dense, perfectly cylindrical shite. But Peter decided he had to try. He would find a way!

Grimacing from the pain in his ribs, he took hold of the stoop’s railing and lifted himself to his feet. It was time to get busy.

continue

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Trivago Guy Fan Fiction: “The Trials Begin”

trivago-guy-fan-fiction

“Only a master of savings, Darth.” Yes, the Trivago Guy Meme is alive and well here at Practicallyserious!

I refuse to give up my status as the world’s premiere source of quality Trivago Guy fan fiction, and therefore have decided to proceed with my epic story “Trivago Guy Buys A Belt (Or Does He?),” inspired by the Rolling Stone article What’s the Deal with the Trivago Guy?

Trivago Guy Meme Fan Fiction Part 4: The Trials Begin

Trivago Guy cracked his knuckles, cracked his back, sniffed his finger. All good. Then he proceeded with the mission that had been so rudely interrupted by Harry222’s cyber troll attack. Time was of the essence. In no more than a half-an-hour, Trivago Guy’s righteous “go green or go home” neighbors would shut down their energy-suckling Xfinity modem for the night, after which Trivago Guy’s pilfered Wi-Fi lifeline would disperse like a surreptitiously trail-dusted fart. If he was going to buy a belt online, it needed to happen now.

Trivago Guy was more than just a meme. He felt it. He knew it. Acquiring a belt to complement his scruffy, vampiric appearance would silence his critics once and for all. Had to! But where to start?

“A website dedicated to selling belts…for the best price,” Trivago Guy announced to the overlarge cockroach presently darting across the dust-caked wall directly behind his loudly buzzing 1998 Gateway tower. “Because if you go to Target or Walmart or Costco, you find there’s so many prices out there for the same old belt. A website that does the work for you and instantly compares the prices. That’s ideal.”

First Trivago Guy blew five of his remaining thirty minutes visiting Yahoo.com, where he entered the long-tail search term “How too Serch With Google.” Normally he was an America Online kind of guy (he was, in point of fact, one of their 18 remaining subscribers). But today he knew he needed to expand his horizons. Bring out the big guns.

He studied hard and good. Took notes. Made index cards. Quizzed himself on the definitions for terms such as “boolean connector” and “SEO” and “Page rank.” Then, armed with a brand new skill-set, Trivago Guy keeled forward like a forward-yanked marionette and started clacking away on his old grimy QWERTY keyboard, the tip of his tongue clasped between pressed lips.

“Is their a belt store that does them 4 the best price, because I want to know?” was just one of the fifteen search terms he entered into the narrow Google search bar, each phrase separated by a comma, per his recent training. Then, holding his breath, he hit Enter.

As fate had it, Trivago Guy had clicked on Google’s mysterious “I’m Feeling Lucky” tab, as opposed to the more popular “Google Search” tab. He simply didn’t have enough training to know otherwise. This seemingly innocuous divergence would come back to bite him in the enticingly flat ass. But that’s for a little later.

Before the Gateway’s Pentium 2 CPU could finished loading Google’s most relevant search result, a violent rapping jolted his door.

Trivago Guy’s heart seized in his chest. He spun to face the door, eyes squeezed into slits. Was it the North Hollywood Police Department at the door? he wondered. Had they come to bust him for three years of pirating his neighbors’ Wi-Fi?

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Or maybe it was Carlos Sanchez from downstairs? Had Trivago Guy not scratched the alleged gang member’s lowrider with his Huffy bicycle earlier that very day? Yes. Indeed he had.

Trivago’s Guy’s Peptol Bismol-tinted eyes zipped to the analog clock on the wall. “This distraction is not ideal,” he whispered, and in the light thrown on him from the Gateway 17” LCD monitor the bags beneath his eyes deepened into skeletal, raccoon shadows. By the urgency of the knocking, he knew this wouldn’t blow over. To have any chance of getting back on track with his belt buying mission, he needed to address—and survive—this latest distraction.

His decision made, he conducted a comprehensive inventory of all the items in his studio apartment he could use as weapons, in the event that the ensuing confrontation went south.

All he could come up with was the officially endorsed Phantom Menace lightsaber he’d bought himself as a gift for his fortieth birthday. The toy used to be fully retractable—just like how it had been for Qui Gon Jin in the picture—but over the years it has since gotten too clogged with itinerant pubic foliage and was now fixed into an erect configuration. But this was a good thing. The saber was now more of a whiffle-ball bat. Solid. Light. A civilized weapon.

The door thundered against its frame as Trivago Guy lifted himself from his aluminum fold-out computer chair and crept to his closet, from which he produced his pre-extended battery-powered lightsaber. He didn’t mean to, but as he adjusted his anxious grip on the scabbard, his finger activated the toggle switch. The lightsaber Whooshed! into full illumination, washing Trivago Guy’s face aglow in a soft blue effect. He was going to turn it off, but decided the lights and the Whoosh sounds were ideal.

He leered at the thudding door. “One way or another,” he said, “this ends now.”

And he marched forth.

——-

Trivago Guy WILL be back!

Click the links for:

Trivago Guy Fan Fiction Part 3: The Lure of Churritos

Trivago Guy Fan Fiction Part 2: The Internet Troll

Trivago Guy Fan Fiction Part 1

Until next time! Until then, enjoy more funny Trviago Guy content, featuring the man himself, T-Will!:

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 4)

wolf cat hybrid

Today Peter the Boy, armed with an inkless Bic pen, goes head to head with the wolf cat splice-beast.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid, Part 4

Peter’s prevailing emotion–besides abject, piss-pants terror–was exasperation. He simply couldn’t believe that his fate had been determined by something so trivial–so STUPID!–as leaving the house sans car keys. Or maybe he could believe it. Maybe it made perfect sense. Peter always knew his wonky memory would one day bite him in the ass.

Today it would bite him in the ass. And the face. And everywhere else.

One-on-one with the abominable splice-beast, Peter knew it was only a question of how soon he wanted to die. If he threw himself sideways away from the window? Wolfcat leaps into the car. If he clenched a fist and decked Wolfcat in the nose? His fist becomes a meatball orderve. Peter stilled his body to buy himself a few more seconds.

Señor, for that is the name Peter had begun to associate with the beast, glared at the leaky food-humanoid. The fur of his snout was matted with dried blood and streaks of mud. Señor’s dispassionate, unmoving expression shared something in common with that of a king cobra snake risen-per-flute from the gypsy’s basket. The stillness. The failure of empathy. Yet somehow the gold-ringed eyes spoke of complex, active intelligence.

A minute passed. Then two. Three. A Mexican standoff. With Señor. And the seconds dragged like fortnights.

Peter couldn’t figure out why the wolfcat was holding back.

Let alone that Señor was a hunter programed by millions of years of evolution to maul or be mauled. The boy and the wolfcat had already fought each other. Why the hesitation now? Hmm. Could it be that the animal respected Peter’s prey game? Appreciated that he had once—against all odds—managed to escape a direct attack from a master hunter?

In a strange way, Peter felt grateful for the vote of confidence. He unfroze his right hand and it bounced noiselessly onto the carseat, his fingers brushing against a long inkless Bic ballpoint pen. What’s this? A old school classic: no cap, white body, blue cone, bit marks warping the open backend. And just like that, Peter had a weapon.

Señor gave a twitch of his whiskers. For the first time since his arrival, his glassy eyes showed movement, pivoted a good 10 microns. The long nose crumpled into a defensive wolf-snarl. A terrible, terrible growl, low and maddeningly, murderously steady, rose from Señor’s deepest depths. The sound transmitted through the metal of the car door, buzzed into Peter’s kneecap.

He knows I have a Bic-lance. He can smell it in my pheromone exhaust. Peter tightened his lower lip. So why do I still have a face?

Well out of the wolfcat’s view, Peter fixed the pen’s orientation, made a poker of it. His only hope, he believed, was to robo-pivot and execute a direct eye-popping brain jab. Severely retard the creature’s ability to retaliate. No mistakes. Hit the skull and it’s all over.

The wolflike growl rose in intensity while at the same time lowering in pitch. Señor’s shiny nostrils flared as his breathing quickened. He seemed to understand that, despite perfect implementation of its finest dual-species hunter strategies, its mortally wounded prey had somehow gained the upper hand and now controlled the engagement. Behind the growl–a series of high-pitched, desperate whining.

His eyes crinkling with grim, nauseous reluctance, Peter quietly maintained the delicate equilibrium. Even with his life hanging in the balance, he empathized with Señor. Things were about to get nasty for the wolfcat. To have a real chance, Peter would have to out-savage the savage beast. Go medieval. The wolfcat had no idea what was coming.

A shudder ran through Pete’s arm, his hand, the hollow Bic pen. He imagined the physical sensation as the pen-tip burst the eyeball. The pen’s rude plunge through unreceptive textures. The horrid whelp of brain pain! Peter crinkled the bridge of his nose, hoping to wring some courage from the skin of his pale, sunken face.

And still Señor deferred to Peter to make the first move. Very odd. The pupils had dilated, but not so much as to undermine the animal’s curious sweetness–another of its many weapons. A glint in the beast’s trim irises communicated vulnerability, fear. Yet a steady trembling visible beneath the black fur suggested Señor would launch into a raving blur at the slightest change in status quo. The tension had reached an apex.

Yet when he looked back into Señor’s wide glassy eyes, Peter found he didn’t have the courage to draw first blood. Though it would likely mean his own demise, on some level he wished the wolfcat to force the issue, make the first move.

And the animal seemed to understand this. Señor was frozen much like Peter, even the tail unmoving. And with every minute Señor failed to strike, Peter’s “kill or be killed” resolve weakened.

Desperate for stab-courage, Peter closed his eyes and forced himself to relive the bloody scene at the lab. Señor throwing back his head in a spray of blood—much as a supermodel throws her hair in a spray of surf—Peter’s father’s intestines a’twirl in the wolfcat’s clamped snout. Pale, death-dopey Father waggling like a catfish on the tiles.

The gruesome memory which was meant to motivate Peter to action instead paralyzed him with an even purer indecision. Peter’s stomach plunged as images of an even earlier vintage flooded his thoughts. Just really nasty stuff. Things you probably won’t want to read. But must!

Fourteen years old. His father tip-toeing into his bedroom at 2 a.m. sporting a warm pair of yellow-white, suspiciously taut Hanes briefs, a creeper grin on his long ferrety face. Father insisting on sponge-washing Peter in the shower before his 7th grade band recital. Father lifting his leg and intentionally farting at the dinner table, scandalizing pretty Ruth Jenkins and, thusly, torpedoing Peter’s one attempt to normalize a life already caught in a sort of dad-smacks-your-ass death spiral.

Hot tears pooled in Peter’s eyes. His father–genius or no–had deserved to die. Deserved to die by fanged evisceration, even! So good. When the man exploded like steamy soup over the laboratory tiles, had Peter not experienced a rush of relief? Even in that moment of grand terror? He had.

You idiot! Peter told himself. Señor is merely waiting for you to drop into unconsciousness via blood loss. This is the strategy of a duel-species mega-hunter. Soon comes the fiesta! 

Distraught, hopelessly confused about his options, dizzy from the pain in his bruised ribs, Peter loosened his grip on the Bic pen. It dropped, sank once more into the soggy carseat groove. He couldn’t bring himself to destroy that clever, endearingly unemotional face.

Señor’s emerald eyes again shifted. Like fish eyes when you tap against the fishbowl. The snarl eased from his whiskery snout. Surely this was a ruse. Clever wolfcat. The steady growling continued.

“I won’t brain you,” said Peter aloud. Stupid! Shocked at his own boldness, he shrank back into himself expecting a swift claw-swipe to the face for rudely shattering the delicate morning silence. He carbon-froze his body.

Señor’s pupils seemed to shift once more, now aligning perfectly with Peter’s own. Incredibly, all tension in the wolf/cat face  softened away. Señor cracked his muzzle just enough to let his wolf tongue flap over the side. Strangely, the growling persisted. Or did it? No. It didn’t. Sometime over the last few minutes the wolf-growl had nonchalantly morphed into a similarly vigorous  feline purr.

And just like that, Peter and the human-killing wolfcat were friends.

continue…

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 1

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 2

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 3

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 3)

wolf cat hybrid

Today we compare Peter the Boy’s stealth skills with those of an unholy wolf/jaguar hybrid.

Attack of the Wolf-Cat Hybrid, Part 3

Rigid with fear, Peter made his way down the front steps and onto the short walkway. Though he tried to lighten his footsteps, he found he didn’t have the strength to lift his feet as high as necessary. His bloodstained Reeboks scraped along the bluestone pavers hockey-pucking damp twigs and pebbles along the rough concrete surface.

Peter flicked his eyes to the front yard, where the wolfcat lay coiled asleep in the rustling shade of the stocky oak tree. He moved his eyes along the escape route.

A cool, easy breeze played through the wall of cypress that closed the yard from narrow Garlic Road. Somewhere at the base of mountain—so far away—a police siren wailed in the valley like some distant, foggy memory. Otherwise Dewy Mountain stood devoid of human activity. Oh crap. A rustle in the yard’s central tree: a bird exploding into an avian tantrum, promptly sending a pinecone bombing to the grass. It bounced near the sleeping beast.

Peter froze. He could hear the blood thrumming through the veins of his temples. He studied the sleeping splice-beast. It gave a twitch but didn’t wake. The thick damp grass had softened the pinecone’s impact. Peter gulped, then proceeded. It occurred to him that in his present state of unmitigated terror he might pop a brain vessel, though he had little idea of what a brain vessel actually was, or if they were poppable.

The clunker Malibu Classic inched in his direction. The old vehicle had a starring role in Peter’s unlikely escape plan. A mess of caked white bird poop gave relief to its coat of sun-faded black. Here and there dried leaves from last fall had fused with the grime like miniature islands of teenage neglect. And this just in: the drivers side window was completely open.

A bolt of despair rioted on Peter’s face. The car’s cabin would offer him no immediate shelter against attack. Any attempt to roll up the window would produce a characteristic blackboard screeching noise that would undoubtedly summon the wolfcat. Therefore the window must be left open during the pivotal—and noisy!—attempt at ignition.

Start start you’d better start, he thought, his gaze shimmying from the ancient car to the driveway and turnoff behind it. It would be a tight turn to avoid oak at the mouth of the the narrow drive.

Distracted, Peter allowed his sneaker to rake loudly against the damp bluestone.

The wolfcat stirred. It rose from its nap and unfurled into an arcing stretch which briefly doubled its height. Its lean, muscular body generated a sharp motory buzz as the muscle fibers realigned. Its tail drew into a hook between its hind legs.

Peter stopped, his teeth gleaming in a wash of sunlight. Tear ass for the car? The Malibu sat a good twenty feet away. Too far. Nevertheless, he tensed his leg muscles, made himself ready to spring into a sad, wounded hustle.

But the wolfcat’s eyes stayed shut. This was an unconscious sleep stretch, nothing more. After deflating from its task, it yawned, then calmly rotated 45 degrees and screwing back down into a warm, pulsating coil.

Peter exhaled, then resumed his lurch. Never in his 16 years on Earth had he felt so naked, exposed, killable. He knew now how lightly the hybrid science beast slept, and he cursed himself for forgetting to bring along a hefty steak knife from the kitchen. Peter was a forgetful boy. A physical encounter with the violent science animal seemed a matter of course.

The Malibu teased ever closer. Spots of rust on the metal bumper. A miscellaneous beard of fuzz and bug-garbage and caked dirt crusted the radiator, where colonies of ants lived rent-free in multi-tiered 3D luxury. The vehicle was old and dead, a great brick of steel leftover from the time of Peter’s hotrod, spunky grandmother. A bluebird—surely the same one who’d thrown a tantrum earlier, and possibly the same seen in the previous chapter—descended from the heavens and clonked onto the car’s roof.

Peter’s eyes bulged from their sockets. Cringing, he pivoted sideways to assess the wolfcat’s reaction.

Once more Señor Wolfcat stirred. His scooplike ears stiffened to acknowledge receipt of uncharacterized auditory stimulation. His long tail flopped twice into the wet grass. Whoop whoop. Abruptly the creature folded on its side and commenced scratching its neck with a turbo-motorized hind leg. But, quite miraculously, Wolfcat’s eyes remained closed, and soon he settled back to the grass.

Didn’t matter. Anxious about what the heartless bluebird might do next, Peter plunged headlong onto the actual driveway, now dragging his feet behind him as if actively trying to make as much noise as possible. This was it. The car rushed to meet him. He committed to a terminal momentum that would deliver him to the driver side door in a brutal thump, but would at least do so as quickly as possible. Damn that bluebird!

Impact. The Malibu rocked on squeaky decades-old shocks. The bluebird fluttered away. Peter thudded his hand into the door handle and yanked with all his might. The massive door screeched open and the world around him sped into a blur of motion as he threw himself into the driver’s seat. A familiar atmosphere of mothballs and moldy carseat enveloped him like an old relative.

The rebounding car door crashed shut before he could offer his elbow as a noise buffer. Damn. Out of the corner of his eye, through the disastrously open door-window, Peter sensed movement at the center of the lawn.

Señor rises.

His chest thundering, his open wound trickling blood into the car’s velvety red upholstery, Peter clamped one clammy hand onto hand on the rubber-sheathed steering wheel. He jabbed his fingers into the chipped-chrome ignition switch a good two seconds before realizing that, yep, he’d forgotten the car keys inside the house. Lol. So yeah, never mind that whole bit about the dead battery. It didn’t matter. Peter was a very forgetful boy. And soon he would be a very dead boy.

He felt twin shoots of bacterial ass-breath, warm and strong, tickle the skin of his neck. With a gasp he turned and found himself face to face with the wolfcat. It was already there.

Eyes gleaming, ears cupped and hollow, crusted mouth clamped teasingly closed, revealing only the gleaming white canines. An antagonistic purr. The animal had employed every nuance of its dual-species hunter heritage to close the distance between sleep-spot and Malibu as silent as death. Its shiny gray nose inched inside the vehicle while its body settled into a sitting position.

The way it sat there and waited, you’d think it had come to deliver a tray of hamburgers and sodas and was merely waiting for credit card payment. Its large amber eyes shone unblinking and full of empty, cruel predatory assessment. Here’s what it seemed to be thinking:

The geneticist’s pup! My foe! Pre-wounded and contained and ready for mastication. He escaped before, but now he has cornered himself. Charles Darwin doesn’t have anything good to say about this one. Too weak. Too dumb. And now there are no holes in which to ferret. Puurrrfection!

Peter felt weightless. He didn’t scream. Didn’t widen his eyes. His death was too near. On some level it had already occurred. He merely turned his head and traded a calm, dispassionate gaze with the splice-beast, its breath stealing the moisture from his eyeballs.

continue…

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 1

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 2

Posted in Fiction, Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination (Part 2)

wolf cat hybrid

I figured I’d start the new year in style by continuing my wolf/cat hybrid story starring Monsieur Wolfcat and Peter the Boy.

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid (Part 2)

Peter woke on the living room rug, blood-soaked globs of paper towel clumped over his midsection like damp Taco Bell garbage. A distinct smell of ash and blood stung his crusty nostrils. He wracked his brain for some clue as to how he’d ended up inside the house. Shouldn’t he be dead? Like very very dead?

Grainy Super 8 images flickered in his head. The wolfcat leaping at him on the canted roof. The can of tuna rolling unopened into the aluminum gutter tray. A pressurized spray of hot torso blood against a clear blue sky. The bright drag of spoonclaws through his abdomen. The ass smell of the wolfcat’s snarling whiskery maw. A last-second squirrel distraction. A desperate blood-leaky Santa Claus dive into the wide chimney aperture.

So that’s how he’d escaped. But to what end? His thoughtlessness had doomed him to a slow painful death here in the company of an out-of-date DVD player and a non-HD widescreen TV and those two old fashioned speaker units in the corners that were basically glorified magazine tables.

He wretched in pain and for a moment lost himself in a prune-faced spasm of agony. As he adjusted his body, the Turkish weave-rug beneath him squelched with coppery moisture. Baring his teeth, he couldn’t decide which aspect of his recent encounter disgusted him more: that he’d had the cleverness to arm himself with a can of tuna, yet had provided himself no way to open said can; or that he’d taken as a matter of course his general human superiority over Señor Wolfcat.

How could I have underestimated so formidable a splice-beast? he wondered. Its genetic forebears, the wolf and the jaguar from which its DNA was sequenced, had each been earmarked as exceptional representatives of their respective species. Alpha hunters. The two of them sliced together? That’s one science beast you needed to take seriously, boy, no matter where you thought you stood on the food chain.

As it was, the wolfcat had raked him right and good. The injury hadn’t even finished deciding how gurgly it wanted to be. If Peter was going to live to see another sunrise, he was going to need professional medical help. Not even just regular doctors; but, if available, high-tech space doctors from the future with access to regeneration chambers. Yet acquiring medical aid of any kind presented a dilemma, for the following five (5) reasons:

  • The phone lines were out, owing to the recent mega explosion at Amalgamaker Labs.
  • The Internet was out, owing to same.
  • Much of the town had already been evacuated after the wolfcat had first escaped the burning lab, so no helpful neighbors with baseball bats.
  • Any attempt to leave the house would expose Peter to the patrolling wolfcat’s wrath.
  • Peter, himself, clearly had no more than ten minutes of consciousness left before shutting down for good.

To that last bullet point: Peter felt various organs offering protest against all that misdirected bloodflow via claw-frayed veins. He grimaced as a fresh corkscrew of pain worked through his blood-foundering innards. Terrified to face the lacerations directly, he moved his gnarled, numb hand to the site of the wound and prodded around. His fingertips encountered a soggy mess of Brawny paper towels and, beneath those, four warm claw slits.

He gave a shudder. The floorboards squeaked. He passed some gas (he could no longer control such events). While he was no trained paramedic, he knew he didn’t have long before his body clocked out, before he clunked like a dropped Cabbage Patch Kid to the hardwood floor. End of story. Extraordinary action of some sort was necessary. With great effort, he clambered to his lead feet and limped over to the window facing the front yard. Check the scene.

Through the cool glass found his clunker 1977 Malibu Classic in the narrow driveway. Black and wide and tanklike she slumbered. The steel beast. Last of the V-8s. If Peter could somehow make it to the car without getting eaten, he could peel out of here and put some distance between himself and the wolfcat. Sure, he’d eventually black out at the wheel and wrap himself around a light pole, but hopefully the responding rescue workers could protect him against the pursuant hybrid science creature.

“The battery’s dead,” Peter remembered. His bruised shoulders dropped a few inches. His wound throbbed and trickled blood down his thigh. But dead car batteries, he knew, if left to rest in piece for weeks and weeks, could sometimes return from the netherworld for one last feeble ignition. This was the kind of information you picked up when you drove a car from 1977.

Could Peter possibly get within five feet of the vehicle before being unzipped by that beast which featured the very best qualities of the wolf and the jaguar? Probably not. Yet what was the alternative? To remain in the house and hope that by the time help arrived Peter’s body would have only been dead for a handful of minutes? Perhaps the first responders could extract his brain and preserve it in formaldehyde.

This was not an easy decision.

Aha! An new development outside. The dreaded wolfcat pranced like a prince onto the front lawn from around the side of the house, a trail of deep muddy pawprints recording its passage across the damp grass. It spotted and stalked a daredevil bluebird that had chosen that moment to light on the dew-heavy grass. The hunter hybrid crept with the chilling stealth of a determined alpha wolf. When the bird launched away at the last possible second, the wolfcat exploded into a rubbery, perfectly vertical launch.

Zwippp! Peter’s ash-caked Adidas sneaker swished sideways in the blood. He compensated for the imbalance, his avid, bloodshot eyes glued to the acrobatic animal outside. He was certain the twirling wolfcat would crash back to Earth upside down and break its back. He prayed for this.

But no. Somehow the cometing animal landed neatly on all fours. Zoom. It made a beeline for the rectangular bed that once hosted Peter’s late mother’s zinnia garden. It climbed into the boxy bed, popped a squat, and produced a human-sized cylinder of woodsbeast excrement for the soggy dirt. It used its back legs to throw a token layer of dirt/litter over the object’s gleaming fertile curves. Then, not skipping a beat, the wolfcat lifted its leg and hose-urinated on the house’s aqua blue vinyl siding.

Peter hardened with respect for what his father had created. He thought he could hear the pressure drumming through the wall, the smoggy windowpane.“The perfect hybrid organism,” he slurred in a tone of genuine respect.

But this simple proclamation proved costly, a frivolous waste of Peter-energy. He could feel his mind growing weak. His vision wobbled in and out of focus. His skin felt numb and cold. His knees buckled. The hardwood floor rushed up to meet him and at the last second his ribcage caught like an umbrella handle on the window ledge.

When he’d recovered, he saw that the wolfcat lay curled into a large pulsing Princess Leia bun in the middle of the yard, its head inverted and determinedly serene. It was smiling a blessed sleep smile. Peter wondered how much time had passed between the pooping and the nap. Had he lost consciousness just now, dead to the world, his forehead pressed into the foggy glass? Probably.

So he made the tough call. That the creature was presently napping perhaps gave him maybe a 1-in-a-100 chance of making it to the car sans clawswipe to face. So it must be done. In a scene of maximum tension and suspense, he would lurch his way to the car and hope the wolfcat didn’t stir. And hope the car’s deceased battery had regenerated just a tad over the past few weeks. And hope he didn’t simply pass out and die at some point while this was all going on.

His weak heart sputtered into a sad all-or-nothing frenzy. Biting his lip to stave off an energy-wasting groan, he turned and started across the creaking floorboard for the front door, trailing blood with every step.

continue…

(Check out Part 1 here)

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Attack of the Wolf/Cat Abomination

wolf cat hybrid

I figured I’d write some fiction about a killer wolf/cat hybrid. This was just the thing to round out 2016. Enjoy!

Attack of the Wolf/Cat Hybrid

Peter slid on his stomach down the roof’s incline and pressed his palms into the soggy-leafy gutter to keep from toppling over the side. In moments he heard a belligerent scraping noise near his backyard fence. Instinctively he froze his lungs, pressed himself into the damp roof shingles. An earwig tickled with impunity along the back of his neck.

The bushes ruffled at the edge of the yard. Peter saw the golden glare of its binocular eyes before anything else. When the animal emerged, it seemed twice as big as Peter remembered from his dad’s laboratory. He pressed his lips together, made himself still. The creature had a cat’s 200 degree field of view, he knew, and it enjoyed lupine auditory acuity—it could detect a discarded penny twanging off the thump of a boulder six miles away.

Peter meant to watch the creature. Perhaps develop a scheme to brain it.

The abominable wolf/cat hybrid skulked across the sparkling dew-damp grass and then sniffed at the sun-bleached garden gnome. Seeing the animal for the first time in broad daylight, Peter noted the 150-pound animal’s regal gray coat and with ruffled accents of orange cascading along its lean flank. The animal seemed treacherously cuddleable.

Much as a hungry dog might do when sniffing for phantom food residue, the wolfcat jabbed its snout into the gnome’s various nooks and crannies. Even from up on the roof you could hear the no-holds-barred sniffing. The occasional lapping.

Then, apropos of nothing, the wolfcat started batting said garden gnome with its long font-left leg, much as an anxious cat might do when drunk on catnip, which is to say: like a boxer practicing with a speed bag. But the wolfcat was big and strong, and on the third swipe of its paw, the ceramic garden gnome parted company with its own head. Crack! From deep within its throat the wolfcat issued an unholy cross between a whelp and a roar. It sounded very wrong.

The blood froze in Peter’s veins. A muscle in his jaw twitched. When he recovered from the shock of what he’d heard, he retreated backwards from the roof’s edge, and in so doing produced an untimely scraping noise—his metal belt buckle catching on the edge of a shingle and tearing it from the roof.

“Oh no no no,” he said.

The wolfcat perked to attention, its large amber eyes fixing at once on Peter, its blood-flaked snout locking onto his scent and geo-tagging him. Even the crickets fell quiet. The oak tree muted its breezy ruffle.

Through its eery frozen expression the wolfcat seemed to convey the following thoughts: Up there lies the youngling food-humanoid who’d somehow escaped the slippery buffet at the lab corridor. The feeding-game where I opened up his irresponsible geneticist alpha and unspooled his warm innards with my hefty paws. These new smells on the breeze speak of a familial connection. Yonder is the geneticist’s pup! Delightful!

A screw of ice drilled through Peter’s spine. His breath came in fast, frenzied pulses. Abstractly he became aware of the blood thumping in his palms, the smell the tar of the damp black shingles. Get out of its line of sight you fool he thought as he pressed his hands into the roof shingles and weakly lifted himself to his knees. In this moment of terror he was ever grateful of having the high ground. The creature was, after all, way down there in the yard at least thirty feet below. Was Peter any less safe than a boy at the zoo peering down into a concrete-walled wolf habitat? He thought not.

“Watchu gonna do?” he taunted meekly once he got his feet back under him.

But this wasn’t a wolf. It was a wolfcat.

The beast compressed into a spring-loaded squat, and with a single impossible bound it was—WTF?!?—on the roof with Peter, about five wolf-lengths away. Peter had felt the roof quake before he even registered what happened. Then he watched as the creature used its long nimble tail to keep balanced on the slanted surface. Its yellow eyes disappeared into anxious, hyper-reactionary black orbs. It hadn’t yet made the decision to strike, but it made itself ready—front end pressed low tot he roof, hindquarters raised into the air, long striped tail draped low to the roof. The pointy fluffy ears hardened like upraised scoops.

Peter became as motionless as the now-headless garden gnome 30 feet below. To him it seemed the impact of a single twirling leaf shard would ignite the wolfcat. His fingers trembled as he inched them, ever so gently, towards his jeans’ back pocket. Ahead, he could hear the wolfcat making a steady, high pitched sex whine, through which oscillated a canine snarl.

At last Peter’s fingertips pressed into a cool puck of metal. In a single motion he removed and brandished before him the can of White Albacore Tuna (in water) which he’d so brilliantly snatched from the pantry before ascending to the roof. The metal flared in the morning sunlight, throwing a twitch in the wolf cat’s eye.

Didn’t matter. No need to be sneaky now. Peter smiled at his own intellect. Here was a treat the monster’s cat-genes (the majority of its genetic material) could never ignore. The strong secret omega-3 oily smells which travel impossible distances at unheard-of speeds the moment they’re released into the world. Fish > Steak.

“Hunter-beast perfection maybe,” he thought. “But a regular human jerkwad still trumps you in the brains departme—“ He cancelled all further thinking when he realized that he’d, yep, forgotten a can opener.

And then he felt the roof shake and the weight of the beast was on him. Glistening inside a hot spray of blood, the can of tuna wheeled down the roof and plopped down a succession of asphalt tiers—pa-click, pa-click, pa-click— before dropping into the gutter, cushioned by the damp leaves.

continue…

Attack of the Wolf Cat Hybrid Part 2

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