That’s Not a Stray Cat

“I don’t know, honey. The landlord doesn’t allow pets.”

Suze and Dana stood at the kitchen window, staring at the thing mewling at their front door. Well, mewling was the wrong wrong; Dana thought it sounded more like a caterwaul.

“It’s so sad.” Suze hadn’t yet opened the curtains, so all she could really make out through the window were the throbbing limbs, the odd numbered collection of membranous wings slowly flapping in the sun like a mutant dragonfly.

Dana said, “It’s going to ruin the carpet if we let it in. Look at what it’s doing to the porch.”

Black scorch marks had begun to form on the wood, spreading like puddles whenever it set down its twisted black toes. Those toes reminded Dana of a tarantula’s feet, but each one was a different size, different color, with some colors she’d never seen before. (The strange hues had begun to worm their way into her mind, nibbling at her sanity.) “I need a drink,” she said.

“I’m giving it some tuna,” Suze said.

Dana stood between her and the cabinet. “If you feed it, it won’t go away.”

“But it’s so sad.” Outside the yowls it made sounded somewhere between a sick rhinoceros and the squeaking of a rusted band-saw. “If you were lost in a weird dimension, you’d want some tuna, wouldn’t you?”

Dana looked at the stray’s teeth, those rows of needles placed awkwardly around while might have been a mouth, or an anus, or a gaping wound. The depths of darkness that trailed down its gullet into the depths of its being was a darkness unlike anything she’d ever seen. As she stared at it, she had the impression of going out rather than in, like her consciousness just dove down some deep space black hole that threatened to suck up all light-loving creatures…

The door opened, and Dana blinked out of her trance to see on the counter an open can of tuna. “Suze–!”

Suze dropped the plate on the porch and shut the door, quickly. Then she rejoined Dana at the kitchen window. They watched as the thing wandered up to the plate, leaving little trails of smoke and slime. A lurid purple appendage stretched out of its mouth, rolling like an alien tuber towards the tuna, sucking it up and catching the ceramic plate on fire. The ceramic cracked and shattered. Patches of flame scattered over the porch.

“Oh wow,” Suze said softly. “Maybe I should’ve left milk.”

Moments afterward, in another unfathomable chemical reaction, the thing retched, bulged in several places, and then exploded. It’s bizarre appendages flew everywhere. Strange, smoking innards covered the porch, along with twitching mounds of smouldering flesh and greenish brown blood.

Dana had the sense that tuna had just saved the world. She didn’t say anything. Suze started to cry.

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