The light swung in the centre of the room. A trio of candle bulbs danced with the shadows, creating a whirlwind of moving darkness that slid this way and that around the lounge.
The creature cursed the wind that had chanced through the open window to rouse the small chandelier from its slumber. It cursed the window for allowing entrance to the breeze and it cursed the human for opening the window in the first place.
Then it cursed the shadows for not clinging to its scaly skin as they were meant to do. As they had promised to do.
“But we are slaves to the light,” the shadows protested. “We go where we must!”
The creature cursed the light, but it was ignorant of the stream of guttural abuse, content to be blown in the breeze and to cast its rays about the room.
The creature scurried along the skirting, taking cover behind the sofa. Its claws, each as long as its arms, made tiny tapping sounds as it ran across the wooden floor. It licked thin, pale lips with a tongue impossibly long for a body so small and the large round eyes stared, unblinking at the feet of the human seated on the chair opposite.
Not that the creature knew what feet were. Nor did it know, mind nor care what a chair or sofa where.
Furniture was simply concealment. Places were the shadows cloaked as they were meant to. Where the creature could watch and wait and hunger.
It hungered constantly. No amount of food could sate its appetite. A perpetual growl emitted from its stomach as if it had another, equally hungry creature, sitting inside, longing to be fed.
But it did not. The craving was all its own. It shared nothing, selfish in yearning as well as in provision. Its claws were sharp, fine slivers of pain. Its tongue an abrasive snake that could strip skin. Its teeth were double rows of barbs with points honed on flesh and bone.
The creature’s mouth was wide, almost splitting the skull in two. It was designed to eat. To consume. To devour. Evolution had excelled in the development of such a being. Or it had erred. Creating something so precise in function. So defined in desire.
It required neither comfort nor companionship. It did not feel or need the harmonious beat of a pack’s heart. It was solitary.
Its skin began to redden. Its breath to quicken. The heat of an imminent kill flowed through its body, as if on the pull of some ravenous moon. The pupils narrowed from ebony discs to pricks of night as the head lowered.
It darted forward, jaw dislocating in readiness for the impending feast.
The paw swatted the creature back, hard against the skirting. It lay for a few seconds, not for recovery but for reckoning. Its eyes darting around the room, searching.
It sprang back up and darted forward once again.
And again, the paw swiped, throwing the creature back. This time it landed on its feet, twisting in mid air, a sinuous swirl of grey.
It raised its nose, little more than a pair of flat slits in the face and sniffed.
An odour it did not recognise. Not human. Something else.
Musky. Sweet. Dusty.
Its gaze fell on the feet of the human. The hunger became dominant. It lunged.
There was a crunch as a paw came down upon the creature’s head, snapping the neck and driving the legs up into the torso.
Teeth tore and a mouth swallowed as the creature was itself devoured.
“What’s the cat got now?”
“Dunno. A spider or something.”
“What’s on the tele?”
“Cool. Want a beer?”
“Sure. And some crisps.”
© Copyright Shaun Allan 2012