I froze as a girl emerged out from the fake tree. She had her gun trained on another fake tree nearby. A little black creature emerged with a strange, growling noise and the girl fired the gun. I jumped as a bullet dug a little hole in the ground next to the little whatever-it-was. Moving faster than I would have thought possible, the thing scuttled across the floor and launched itself at Madelyn. I quickly moved to intercept it, but the fur ball was too fast, I knew I wasn’t going to get there in time.
Suddenly, Cookie leapt up and grabbed the black puffball out of the air. She wrestled around with it and I trained a pistol on the pair, though I couldn’t shoot for fear of hitting Cookie. A few minutes (and a lot of noise) later, Cookie managed to clamp her jaws around the fur ball and somehow kill it (I guess Cookie had bitten down around the thing’s neck or something). Once the puffball was dead, she dropped it and ran up against my leg.
I picked her up gingerly; this cat was turning out to be quite a helper! As I picked her up though, I realized that Cookie hadn’t come out of the fight unscathed. She had streaks of blood in her fur and her nose was split open slightly. “Oh, you poor thing!” I exclaimed, wishing that there was something I could do to heal her. Sadly, there wasn’t so I just had to settle for petting her and then handing her to Madelyn.
“Ahem,” the girl who had come out of the tree coughed, reminding me of her presence. Faster than they eye could follow, my pistol was in my hands and trained on her. “Drop the gun!” I commanded. She had already kind of shown that she wasn’t here to kill us, but it didn’t hurt to be careful, after all, there were lives on the balance here…and I for one, wanted to see my sisters and mother again.
The girl hesitated for a second, but eventually dropped her gun and held her hands up submissively. “I give up! I give up! Please don’t shoot!” I could see from her expression what was going through her mind. One dead body, one dead body, is he going to?
I holstered my gun and gave her a weak smile, “Sorry, you just can’t be too careful at times like these…” I apologized. The girl nodded, both surprised and relieved. “I’m Tyler, and this is Madelyn,” I offered. “What’s your name?
“Zoey,” she replied. Her stomach growled loudly and she blushed.
Madelyn and I both grinned, “You hungry?” I asked.
Zoey grinned. “You think? Maybe just a little,” she replied sarcastically.
I grinned and rummaged through our food supply. I found a sandwich and threw it to her. “Welcome to our little group,” I said with a big smile, the more people we had, the more chance we stand of survival.
Zoey thanked me and began eating happily. With that problem solved I turned my attention back on Cookie. Madelyn had gotten her some water and Cookie was happily lapping it up. She had licked herself relatively clean and now most of the blood had been removed from her coat. Good that meant that the wounds hadn’t been very deep. However, the blood from Cookie’s split nose had tinged the water pink, the split was pretty deep, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. It wasn’t as if I could just stitch it up like I had done once when one of my sister’s lips had been split during one of Dad’s particularly bad rampages. When Cookie had finished drinking I called her over and fed her another can of tuna. She had more than earned it, who knows what the thing could have done to Madelyn!
Once the kitten had finished eating it curled up in my lap and began to purr away happily. I grinned and began to stroke her soft fur. There was nothing quite like the soft purring of a kitten to lighten your mood, even in a place like this I was almost happy! The two girls came and sat around me and we shared out some of the rest of our food for lunch. After we had eaten I leaned back against a wall (I didn’t want to get up and disturb the kitten) and closed my eyes. My thoughts wandered back home. What were my sisters doing now? Had Dad gotten drunk without me there to stop him or had he actually shown some maturity and held off? I knew that my Mom would know that something was wrong. I was never late getting home from school. I knew that meant risking another beating for the whole family from Dad.
My two beautiful sisters. Audrey and Shana were my life. I lived to keep them safe. Audrey was almost ten now, she was the second oldest. She had blonde hair and the brightest blue eyes that could always disarm you, no matter how mad you were with her. Shana was eight; she had chestnut hair and the cutest little smile. She also had huge brown eyes to go along with the smile—a deadly combination that only Dad could resist, and even then only when he was drunk.
“What are you thinking about?” Madelyn’s voice brought me back to the here and now.
“Family,” I replied with a heavy sigh.
“What is your family like?” she asked.
“It’s a boring story, besides you’ll just throw me a pity party if I told you. It doesn’t matter.” I replied softly.