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 His thoughtlessness had doomed him to a slow painful death here in the company of an out-of-date DVD player and a non-HD widescreen TV and those two old fashioned speaker units in the corners that were basically glorified magazine tables.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.
(Check out Part 1 here)