Smoke in the Trees
Edge of grass and trees, short clear space behind, tall dark ahead. Scent of green and squirrel and a familiar musk, not smelled for seasons. The mist cat pushed into the shadows, following the trail. Brother, here? After so long?
But no — his scent faded. Had touched these shadows, yes, in the underspace, had been so close, hunting the chitters, but gone now. Chitters not gone; chitters spread through trees, hid in spaces only Smoke and other mist cats would see. Even the winged one would not see them unless they came out into the sun.
This was Smoke’s job, one the girl didn’t even know of. Best to keep it so.
Smoke faded into patchy sapling shade, faded out near big rock at center of trees. First chitter there, water clear and cicada-song between the oak branches. The mist cat crouched, haunches tensed, sprang. Teeth closed, bitter black and yellow taste mouth filling as song screeched high into nothingness.
Pain plunged sharp into Smoke’s back, mandible and claw. She spun, fluid cat twist, to sink her teeth into attacker, and two more gouged at her flanks. She slid sideways, shadow to shadow, escape, attack, evade, bite. More of them, always more, until there weren’t.
She held still on thick branch, pads resting on rough bark, tang of tree in her head. Nothing. Chitters gone. Gone, too, all trace of brother, any hope of fading and following him home. Smoke licked fur, washing clean ichor crusting wounds. These had come close.
Back to grass’s edge, fade in, fade out, nip at flowers tickling whiskers. More might come, but girl safe for now. Smoke would stay, keep her safe. When girl had grown, time enough then to find brother, return to family, seek home.
Now, evening shadows. Slip to blankets in cool room. One thought, in grass, next with girl. Now was good.
— The End —
Better late than never, right? I discovered last week’s cat has a voice of her own. I imagine that means Drake is going to want his say as well. I hope you enjoyed it.
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.