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***

The world was quiet, even the TV. The colors flashing on the screen signified nothing, a blur of meaninglessness. Molli, though, watched her favorite show–curled up in her lap, more distinct and vivid than anything the TV might show her, was Shadow, flexing her paws so that her hidden claws gently tugged at Molli’s sweater. Molli stroked the cat’s head, listening to the content purr.

Then he was there. In the entryway that led to the hallway and the front door, the quickest escape from the house. He had no weapons, but he didn’t need any. He had at least 100 pounds on her. She froze.

From the way he flexed his hands and grinned, she knew his damned intentions.

Wits returning, Molli scooped Shadow into her arms, leapt from the couch and ran into the dining room. Reverberating through the house she heard his footsteps following—he somehow knew the layout of the house. Shadow struggled and hissed in her arms. Forced to drop her, Molli watched helplessly as Shadow fled deeper into the house. Every woman and cat for themselves, apparently. She slid into the corner, far away from the man, trying to decide on a next step.

There was no exit from the dining room except the way she had come. Molli moved back toward the living room (if she was quick enough she could get to the front door and, maybe, to some sort of safety), but before she made it to the single step demarcating dining room from living room, he had her by the hair and was yanking her backward. This was it. She was caught. Her only hope now was to wake from this nightmare. She screamed.

A screeching hiss flew over her head and onto her attacker’s shoulder. A flurry of dark fur and red claw, the man was forced to let go of her. She crawled into the living room, turning around to see him flail.

Shadow, her savior, had her back claws buried into his shoulder and her front claws furiously tearing flesh from the side of his face. He screamed, blood gushing from the lacerations.

Then, with one sweeping motion, he flung Shadow across the room. She slammed into the wall, fell to the ground, and lay still.

A new emotion rose in Molli. She stood, glaring from poor Shadow’s prone body to her bleeding tormentor. If he would have cowered, or ran away, she would have grieved. Instead, he grinned.

She reached for the nearest weapon—a lit candle—and whipped it at him with all her strength. It slammed into his chest, the hot wax spilling onto his neck. He cried out, pushing the candle away from him. Molli charged, a furious primal scream announcing her intentions, and grabbed onto his hair. She pulled his head down, dragging him toward the step. He lost his balance, falling forward onto his knees in the living room.

With a fury she’d never felt in life, let alone a nightmare, she swung her fists and legs at him. He cowered beneath her, unable to deflect all the blows or grab her to subdue the attack. She thought she heard him whimper. The blood from his wounds flowed quicker.

And then it was over. Molli woke up, her heart beating against her chest. Shadow slept soundly at her legs.

***

The world outside her house was quiet. The multi-colored glow of the television softly lit the girl he watched through the front window. She looked content. Soon she would make him content. Removing his tools from his jacket, Luke picked the front door’s lock as quietly as he could. Confident she didn’t hear him, he entered her home, the familiar feeling of power warming his blood.

Of course she was surprised to see him. They always were. If they weren’t, would it be a good dream? She was tiny. Or maybe it was her baggy pajamas and the fat cat laying in her lap that made her look small.

He smiled at her, hoping she would have as much fun as he planned to have himself.

The girl lifted her cat and sprinted into the next room. A chase was always welcome. His dream providing him familiarity with the house, he pivoted into the hallway to cut her off at the dining room entryway. When he rounded the corner, cutting through the kitchen, the girl stood near the corner of the room, panting. The cat was gone. He wanted to tell her not to fight. He’d be gentle. He was a nice guy. If she just let it happen the way he wanted everything would end soon.

But she ran, anyway. That was fine. The longer this went on, the more satisfying it would be when he caught her. She had to cross the entire room to get back into the living room and, he figured, nearer the front door. Plenty of time to take the three steps needed to grab her hair. The way her head snapped back, like a puppet in his control, nearly gave him an erection. How much longer to play this out? Not much, he decided.

A screech came from somewhere next to him. Before he could fully turn his head, a dark mass of fur and claw launched itself onto his shoulder, digging knives into his face. He let go of the girl’s hair.

Luke stumbled backward. Despite the setback, that was fine. A minor hurdle. In fact, he liked the fight. Blood didn’t scare him. Even his own blood. This was still his dream.

With a sweep of his arm, the infernal cat was thrown across the room and made prone at the foot of the wall. He turned back to the girl.

She had changed. No longer looked frightened. Instead, her face had contorted into something that scared him. No, this wasn’t how these things went. He had to take back control. He smiled.

That set her off. She grabbed a lit candle off the coffee table and threw it as his chest. The flame and hot wax poured onto his neck, burning his skin. He screamed a vulgarity at her, but she was already rushing him. Unexpected. She grabbed at his hair as he had grabbed at hers and pulled him forward. Unprepared for the attack, he lost his balance and fell forward into the living room. This wasn’t going as he had hoped.

Before he could right himself, he felt a series of blows to the sides of his head and body. The wounds from the cat opened more and he was helpless, only able to cry and throw up his hands to deflect the girl’s fists. He watched his own blood pool around him.

And then it was over. Barry woke, heart beating fast and urine soaking the sheets wrapped around his legs.

For insight into my process behind this idea, check out this blog post.