It was just getting dark as we made our way down the hole that led outside. Mom would have preferred we stay in tonight, but she knew the score. There was hunting to do and we were the ones to do it.
BAAAD LITTLE KITTIES
Mom had told us early on about the expectations we would have to live up to. We'd come from a long line of hunters, some famous and some unknown to all but a very few. We, Mom had told us back then, were three who would make a difference in the world, even as young as we were, kittens maybe five or six months old. We didn't know and neither did Mom. We weren't full grown yet because we weren't as big as she was.
We popped up from under the house in to the failing light of the day. We'd all taken longer than usual naps today since we knew we'd be up most of the night. Mom stood watch over us while we slept. If any of the humans came around she'd distract them by rubbing against their legs and mewling. The things she did for us.
We stopped once we'd come up from under the house and sniffed the air. The town was filled with scents. Some familiar (the boy across the street, his dog, the old jalopy that raced up and down the street on weekends) and others were new. It was these new ones, or ones them that grabbed our attention. We headed off across the yard and climbed up the fence. Then we made our way to the front of the house and the town beyond.
"Smell that?" Boots asked, her whiskers twitching excitedly.
"Yeah!" and excited Patches said, eyes bright. "Let's get 'em, Bear!"
Not just rats, though. Those were easy, unless they got to you with numbers. These were zombie rats. Dead, desiccated, rotting rats. The only good thing about them was the literal lack of brains.
I'm Bear. (I hate that name.) Where Patches is a calico and Boots has the white paw markings on her otherwise gray coat, I'm a sort of nondescript off-white color. I'm not that big, but my fur is long and fluffy and reminded somebody of a bear. So, it stuck. I want to puke every time I hear it. Not the time for lamenting, I remind myself.
We prowl along the street in the direction of the scent, whiskers flicking, tails tall and straight, following the rats. We had time. They weren't too fast. We were quicker.
Patches ran ahead of Boots and me, excited for the hunt and the kill. He really should stick with us, but he could handle himself. Patches had been in more than a few scraps he knew what the stakes were. Us or them.
He waited at the entrance to the alley the scent had led us to, looking back, teeth bared. We caught up a few moments later and the three of us looked around the corner as one.
It was rats. Half a dozen of them. They'd cornered a human girl. It was hard to guess her age, but she was young, probably shouldn't have been out at night without her parents. The rats her close to her, starting to climb up her shoes. She smelled of fear and sweat. The rats smelled worse. We quickly looked at each other, nodding. In a flash we were in action.
I moved in on two of the zombie rats. Did I mention they didn't have much of a brain left? It didn't register with these rats that we weren't also rats come to joining the party. SLASH! SLASH! My claws ripped through the first one cutting it in to bloody pieces. Two more slashes and the zombie was dispatched. I had a few seconds so I glanced at my siblings. Patches had already shredded one of the rats in to tiny bloody pieces and was stalking the other one. Boots was likewise finishing off the first of her rats and eyeing the second one hungrily.
Assured that my brother and sister had things in paw, I launched myself at my other rat. This one had a bit more brains than usual, and wasn't going to go down easy. He dodged my first two attacks, so I decided on another tactic, leaping in to the air and landing on his back, slashing with my front claws and then raking him with my rear claws as I lept off the rat, spinning in midair to land just in front of my adversary. He launched himself at me but was too sluggish. I dodged to my left and then launched myself in to the air again, coming down on the rat's back and wrapping my front paws around his neck and flipping on to my back to rake him with my rear claws again. One, two, three rakes and the rat let out a pained squeal with each, the last one dying away quickly. I raked him twice more to be sure he was dead then I rolled over, dropped him to the ground and took a look at the other two.
Patches has his second rat in his mouth and was worrying it vigorously. I could hear bones and tendons snapping as he went. A second later he let the rat go and it flew across the alley, dead.
Boots liked to torment her prey and this rat was no exception. She was batting it between her front paws, teeth bared as the dazed creature squeaked with each hit. Tired of this game, she took the rat in her mouth and bit down hard, snapping its neck. As Patches had done, Boots flung the rat across the alley.
As one we turned to the young girl who had been the rat's victim. Her fear was still apparent, but amazement had joined it, the emotions warring across her face. We strode up to her and began to rub against her legs. Humans liked that.
"Good kitties", she said, reaching down to pet us. Her fear was nearly gone. She glanced at her watch and gasped. "I gotta get home." She ran out of the alley and down the street. We followed her, keeping our distance. Once she reached her door and was greeted by her distraught parents, we settled in to cleaning ourselves, getting the stench of zombie from our fur and bits of flesh from our claws.
Then we set out on our way. The night was young and there was still good hunting to be had.