Tuesday, 07 March 2023 01:00

Cat and Mouse: Part 2

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This is a rather violent story, you've been warned.

A Second Generation Whateley Academy Story

Cat and Mouse




Part Two


Whitman Community Room
Late September

"Jesus Christ," Silvertongue swore at the TV, where a spokesman for Defense of Humanity, one of the many splinter groups of H1 was busy explaining why mutants needed to be locked away. "Is there anyone stupider than an H1'er wannabe?"

While the other girls nodded in agreement Shisha looked up from her text book. "They are scared," she said slowly, still unused to the clip she'd been given to help her speak.

"Yeah right. They're just idiots who are too inbred to have a clue."

"If stupid, they would be ig-nored," Shisa said.

The girl snorted. "I bet your parents were with H1. That's why you got thrown out like the mangy cat you are."

Shisa's mouth opened as she let out a series of squeaks that was her version of laughing. "Yes. I real-ly H1 youth group pre-sss-dent. They love me."

"Stupid animal," the girl said contemptuously.

Shisa reached out with her hand. Flicking her wrist, it was like an invisible knife was slicing through the plaster wall in front of her, leaving a long gouge from one side of the room to the other. "I kill-ed front row of class."

Another flick and another line appeared. "Se-cond row."

Motioning with a finger, an invisible spike drove into the wall beside the door. "Kill-ed a runner."

Stretching out her fingers she brought them down at an angle, leaving five perfect furrows in the wall just missing the TV. "Class all dead."

Sliding out of her chair, Shisa looked at the shocked girls, her tail flicking in contempt. "Fear is smart."

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August 16th, 2014, Late evening

Jeanette's very bones ached.

She tried to hug herself, hoping the pressure would make the pain ease a little, but her muscles had almost no strength. Sweat dripped down her face while her body shook with cold. Huddled in an old sweatshirt she'd put on just after lunch when she started to feel sick, she wished she could go to sleep in her bed.

Shaking her head, she shoved that thought away. She couldn't go home again. Even if her mother hadn't sent the H1 hit squad after her, and Doug hadn't betrayed her by telling someone where she was hiding, too many people back there would want to see her dead. Either because she was a mutant, or because she'd been the youth president of H1! and a minor celebrity for the cause. Her only chance was to reach Seattle. Get there and go to the police with her story of being a runaway fearing for her life.

They may arrest her for what happened back in Cheyenne, but she was pretty sure she could handle that. They had come after her while she'd been hiding in what was supposed to be a safe house, after all. And a prison cell waiting for trial was better than living on the street, she didn't want to think about what would happen to a fourteen year old homeless girl.

“How are you feeling?” John asked. He'd been driving all day, stopping every two to three hours to stretch, take a bathroom break and to fill up the car. He'd also been talking almost non-stop since she woke up from her nap that morning until an hour or two ago when he said his voice was about to give out. She'd been riding with him since around dawn and somehow he seemed to have even more energy than before.

“Terrible. I think I've come down with something,” she said.

“I told you, you should have eaten more at lunch and supper. Gotta keep the body fed if you want it to fight off bugs,” he said.

“Maybe. Can you drop me off at a hospital, I really don't feel good and I don't want to make you sick.” She'd prefer getting to Seattle where they were known to be somewhat mutant friendly, but if she was dying, she'd rather be in a hospital than a car.

“Sorry, no can do.”

“Why not?”

“We're in the mountains now, there's no towns for hours. Get some sleep, it will do you a world of good, and if you still feel bad when you wake up, we'll at least be closer to civilization.”

Looking out the window, she only saw wilderness, and the rapidly oncoming night. He was right, she'd never been so far from anywhere before. There was no one to help her except for John, a man she barely knew.

Closing her eyes, she didn't go to sleep, instead she thought back to the previous night. When she'd been attacked by her former H1 friends, she'd gotten injured jumping down several flights of stairs. Somehow her power had popped her dislocated shoulder back into place and gotten rid of her concussion. It had only worked once though, her chest was still badly bruised from a baseball bat.

Mutants who could regenerate were supposed to be able to do it automatically, so why couldn't she?

Nothing about her powers seemed to be working right. They seemed to work when they wanted to, and that was fairly random. Get pushed into a fountain or yanked down a flight of stairs, she could stop her fall and get to her feet with no problem. Jump three stories straight down and she nearly killed herself. A hit to the chest knocked her flat, but she stopped a bullet that was about to take her head off. It didn't make sense.

“I can't be sick. I need to get to Seattle,” she whispered.

She reached for the sensation of healing. The memory wasn't very strong, she'd been almost unconscious from pain, and frantic with fear. It didn't help that immediately after healing, someone had tried to shoot her. None of that was great for memorizing how to do something, but she remembered the heat and rush of power.

“I can't be sick. Gotta be healthy. Can't be sick, gotta be healthy,” she muttered, almost chanting the words to herself. Imagining the heat and power, she willed it to come back.

Something flickered to life in her chest. It was warm, like a crackling fire on a cool night. The feeling slowly spread along her veins, becoming a warm blanket wrapping her up, keeping her safe. The pain began to fade away. It didn't disappear completely, but it became bearable. An annoyance that could be ignored.

Her body began to tingle, her shoulder that had been giving her problem since she woke up that morning started to itch. She ignored it all, the pleasure of the heat was overwhelming. Looking out the window, she saw that the moon was high in the sky. When had that happened?

Exhaustion weighed her down. Putting the lost time out of her mind, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

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Waking up it was still dark. The moon was high and there were more stars in the sky than Jeanette had ever seen before. It had to be past midnight, but she didn't know how late it was. Somehow John was still driving, didn't he ever get tired? It looked like he was still fresh, and he had a big grin on his face, as if he was the happiest man in the world.

As for her, she still felt awful.

The warmth in her chest flickered fitfully, like embers from an almost extinguished fire. Her stomach roared with hunger, she bent over, clutching it as hard as she could, trying to make the cramps go away.

“You hungry?” John asked.

“Yeah,” she groaned.

“Here you go, take as many as you'd like,” he said, handing her a large pack of jerky.

She practically inhaled the entire package, her teeth slicing through the tough meat as if it was bread. The pain in her stomach eased a bit, and the heat in her chest increased a little, giving her an overall feeling of relief.

Why was she so sick?

If she really was using a healing factor, she should be over it by now. It had been working for hours, regeneration was supposed to be a wonder that could even regrow limbs. The flu or a cold should be an easy fix.

What was wrong with her?

The thought wore away at her mind. She ran through all the things she knew about illnesses and injuries, nothing seemed to fit. Maybe it was part of her mutation? But why would it only start hurting now? And why did her shoulder tingle so much.

She couldn't be sick, she had to make it to Seattle.

Rubbing her head she went over everything that had happened to her, trying to figure out the problem.

The warmth in her chest disappeared.

The exhaustion, pain and weakness hit her like an anvil. Groaning, she swallowed the bile rising in her throat to keep from throwing up. Tears leaked from her eyes. She could hear her heart beat in her head. Every boom sending fresh waves of agony through her skull. Why was this happening now?

“Hey now, girl. You'll feel better soon,” John said, reaching out to pat her on the back. A more intense wave of pain and nausea filled her. “We're close to a town, just gotta hang on a little bit longer.”

Turning to look at him, she saw the backseat of the car, horror and disgust paralyzed her. There was something sitting there, a shifting, amorphous thing of sickly hands and limbs, bloody torsos, and screaming, crying faces. There were dozens of them all fused together in a torturous, agonizing existence. She could feel their emotions washing over her. Pain, exhaustion, fear, an overwhelming need for it all to end.

John was saying something. She couldn't make it out over the crying of the thing that had once been human.

She forced herself to look up at him.

He wasn't human.

A monstrous, insect head watched her from the corner of its enormous eye. A sharp, needle like mouth stretched from it's face almost to it's waist. A tendril dripping with gore, ran from the needle straight to her stomach. As she watched, it pulsed, sucking blood, warmth, and light from her, bringing it into John.

Every pulse made him shine brighter, glittering with life and health. Her own skin was dull, cracked, leaking tiny motes of light.

She screamed in terror.

The image vanished and she was filled with strength.

Instinctively Jeanette shoved herself away from him as hard as she could. The seat belt snapped as if it were string. Her shoulder hit the door and with a screech of metal, it gave way. She found herself flying out of the car and falling down a cliff. She should have been terrified, but she only felt relief at escaping whatever John was.

She curled into a ball, willing her power to protect her.

Slamming into a tree, her spine seemed to bend around it, making her scream in pain, but it didn't break. The tree snapped before she did and she kept falling. More trees buffeted her, bashing and scratching her. Then she hit the ground and began rolling, bouncing over rocks and smashing through bushes until she lay sprawled beneath an enormous tree, bruised, winded, but unbroken.

Unthinking fear forced her to her feet. Blindly she fled downhill, instinct forcing her as far away from the road and John as she could get.

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John pulled to a stop on the side of the road, cursing loudly.

Strength he'd never felt before ran through his veins. He'd only tasted something like it once before when he'd eaten a young man who had turned out to be a mutant. That had been an exquisite meal, one of his finest, yet it had been nothing like the girl. She was delicious and the feast had seemed to be unending. Every time he'd been afraid she was about to die, she'd found some new source of strength and filled herself with a warmth like the sun.

And now the girl who called herself Vicki was gone, leaving him with a busted car. She'd lied about her name. She was probably the girl who had attacked a group of concerned citizens the night before in Cheyenne. He'd heard about that on the radio, but they hadn't given the girls name, just a description that matched his meal to a T.

Now what was he to do?

She might be dead, falling down the cliff from a moving car couldn't be healthy. But she was a mutant, if it hadn't killed her right away, she could heal from it. What if she survived and talked to the cops?

He didn't keep souvenirs of his past meals, but if they really looked over his car they'd find signs of them. She was a mutant, so they might not believe her, but so was he, and he didn't have an MID. A close investigation and he could be in real trouble.

Sitting there, thinking about his problem, he felt a glimmer of warmth inside of his stomach. Looking up, he realized he was still feeding from the girl. It wasn't the bounty of energy he'd had before, but he was still attached to her.

Closing his eyes he could feel a faint tug coming from behind him towards where the girl had jumped. It was moving slightly, like someone running while letting out a string as she ran.

Getting out of his car the door bent slightly. John stared at the damage, that had never happened before. Placing his hand on the roof, he pushed down making a hand print on the metal.

“That's new,” he said to himself.

He'd never eaten a powerful mutant. Had he always been capable of this?

Grinning, filled with strength he'd never felt before, it felt like he was high. Going to his trunk, he pulled out his backpack and methodically emptied his car of any identification, including throwing the license plates deep into the woods. It wasn't registered under his name, but he couldn't make it too easy on the police. All his snacks and drinks went into his bag, along with his GPS, map and compass, while his flashlight was snapped onto his belt.

Closing his eyes he felt the tug of energy.

Jumping down the cliff, John laughed at how easy everything was, he hadn't felt this good in decades. He began to whistle, not caring if the girl heard him. If it extended the chase, so much the better.

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Jeanette stumbled along, tripping over rocks, roots, and bushes, getting stabbed and whipped by pine branches. Blood smeared her face and arms from the small cuts she was gaining with every step. The forest was almost pitch black, and she was a city girl. She was so far out of her depth she couldn't even see the bottom.

The ground disappeared under her feet. She screamed as she fell down a cliff, rocks tore at her clothes, tearing gashes into her skin. She hit the bottom with a bone jarring thud. Curling up into the fetal position, she began to cry, overwhelmed by pain, exhaustion and shock.

Over a week of worry about manifesting, running away from home, getting attacked and nearly murdered by her friends, having to hurt people, slowly being eaten alive, seeing John's real face, and now running through the woods at night, all alone with nothing to help her. It was too much.

“Please god,” she sobbed, “I don't want to die. Please, let me get out of this.”

She reached for the warmth that she'd learned meant healing. It came to her more easily than before. With the warm energy flooding her body, she fell asleep.

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Shivering and feeling damp, Jeanette groaned at the sound of birds chirping. Light pierced through her eyelids. She grabbed the blanket that covered her, wrapping it more tightly around herself. The warmth she'd felt the night before was gone, and she was stiff, sore, and starving, but she didn't feel sick.

Something tickled her cheek.

Unwillingly she scratched it, trying to brush the thing away.

Nerves flared around her nose. Sensations she'd never felt before exploded in her brain. Touching the thin, wiry thing, it felt like a cat whisker. Jerking upright, she realized that she had whiskers coming out of her face just above her upper lip.

The next surprise was the thin blanket that covered her. Where had that come from?

Looking around, she saw John leaning against a tree, sitting on a backpack grinning at her. She jumped to her feet, terrified but too confused to know what she should do.

“Good morning girl,” he said. “You really are full of surprises.”

The sickness she'd felt the day before came back, forcing her to her knees. “No! Please, just go away!” she sobbed.

“Oh no. I'm not going away anytime soon. I gave you a break so you could sleep, you needed it. But a tasty thing like you, letting you go would be like giving up the greatest meal ever. I'm going to enjoy every second of this.”

She called up the warmth, it came fitfully, making her stomach roar. But she was able to get to her feet. “I'm not that easy to kill,” she said.

His grin grew larger as he took a deep breath, seeming to grow bigger as he did. “That's the stuff. I have no idea how powerful you are, but my god girl do you taste good.”

Letting the anger and desperation she felt rise up, she punched the air, trying to send out the force she felt inside of her. Hoping it would break John like she'd shattered the H1 members arm the day before.

Nothing happened.

John cocked his head and chuckled. “Well that was not impressive. Still don't know how to use your powers?”

She backed away, staggering as he stole her life.

He just watched her from his seat, killing her without lifting a finger.

Spinning around she had only one thought, get away. An invisible hand seemed to grab her, she jumped soaring high into the sky.

Jeanette wasn't flying, it felt more like she'd been shot out of a catapult. Looking down at the trees flying by below her, she started to scream as she began to descend.

She didn't know how she had jumped so far, and worse she didn't know how she was going to land. She tried to call the shield, it seemed to flicker, appearing and disappearing as she crashed through the branches, the cracking of wood filling her ears as the pain enveloped her. The ground broke her fall, nearly knocking her unconscious as she landed.

Knowing John would be following she rolled to her hands and knees. Her right arm wouldn't hold her up. She shrieked as her forearm bent and bone peeked through her skin.

She felt the warm rush of healing surge to life and could almost hear the roar of energy. The bone snapped back making her scream again. She could feel the bone grating against the muscle as it slowly began to knit itself back together, the bleeding stopped clotting into an ugly wound.

Staggering upwards she took off at a run, not noticing the healing skin was getting furry under the drying blood and her arm was growing thinner Diving through the bushes and between trees, one thing drove her onwards, she wasn't going to die, not here, not like this.

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Jeanette didn't know how long she'd run for. She'd kept going even when she wanted to drop from exhaustion and hunger. John was still eating away at her. She could feel him sapping her of energy. It was only a trickle, whether it was because he was trying to make her last or the distance slowed him down, she didn't know. It was enough to know he was still there, she wouldn't be safe until he was dead or had given up.

Eventually she had to take a break before she fell over from exhaustion and hunger. She could feel her fat being used up, her clothes hung from her body and her ribs stuck out like a famine victim. Stopping by a slow moving river, she drank the cool water, not caring if she got sick. She needed the water, and she hoped her healing power would deal with anything that could hurt her.

There were some cattails growing along the sandy bank. She vaguely recalled that the roots were edible. Digging one up, she washed it in the water and began gnawing on the starchy tuber. It was hard and tasted a little like bitter cucumber, making her gag. But it was food. Grabbing another, she forced it down.

When her stomach was finally full, she realized she'd eaten dozens of the bitter things. Her stomach roiled unpleasantly, and began to cramp up. Once again Jeanette summoned her healing power, easing the pain and giving her renewed energy, replacing what John was stealing.

Feeling a bit better, she knelt at the edge of the river and began to wash away the blood that stained her arms, face and neck. The cuts were all healed, not even leaving a scar. Instead strips and patches of velvety greyish fur grew out of her skin. Touching the whiskers, which were sending weird signals to her brain as the wind blew on them, she looked up at the sky.

“So it looks like I'm becoming a cat girl, right? Well I guess it could be worse. So god, how about throwing me a bone? You've given me this power, can you maybe have it work in a consistent way. I can sometimes shatter a persons bones. I can sometimes make a shield that protects me. I can sometimes make some kind of TK force or make myself stronger. The only thing I seem to be able to do all the time is heal myself. Regeneration is nice, don't get me wrong, but not needing it in the first place would be appreciated.”

She waited for an answer, a sign, something. Nothing happened.

“All right. You help people who help themselves, I understand. But if you could maybe have me head in the direction of civilization I'd really appreciate it. I know I haven't been the most religious person in the world, but I swear if I get out of this, I'll change my ways. Church every Sunday, midnight mass, praying regularly, whatever you want, I'll do it. Deal?”

She heard whistling in the air.

Whimpering, she got to her feet and took off at a jog, following the river as best she could.

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The sun had almost set, Jeanette lay under a pine tree, too tired to move, her stomach roaring for food. She'd had to leave the river a while ago when the rocks and trees had become too thick to travel through. She wished she knew which way the highway was. But in her unthinking dash through the darkness and all the running she'd done that day, she was hopelessly lost.

Crying, she just wanted to go home.

But she couldn't do that. Her mom had betrayed her. So had Doug. She was on her own.

“Hi Dad,” she whispered. “So I know we don't talk. You died when I was a baby, so I never got to know you, not really. But you're the only one I can talk to right now. Did you feel like this when you were facing that rager? All alone, hopeless, knowing you were going to die?

“Mom says you were a hero, so did the newspapers. You distracted the rager long enough for Calamity to kill it. You probably saved a lot of people by doing that. But I wish you were here. If you hadn't died, Mom probably wouldn't have joined H1. I don't know if she'd like mutants, but I've been told she only got like she did after you died.”

Wiping her eyes, she wished she had some food.

“I could be at home now, talking with both of you. Getting help to learn what my powers are. Safe, warm and full. Why did you have to go? Why didn't you love me enough to survive?”

“You must be hungry?” John said.

Jeanette jumped to her feet, fists raised. “Get the fuck away from me!”

He grinned at her, biting into a delicious looking apple. “You don't look so good. You're practically nothing but skin, bones and fur.”

“I'd be fine if you went and died.”

“That's not very nice. But I understand why you're upset.” He held out his other hand which had an orange in it, and tossed it towards her. “Here's a peace offering, can't have you dying too soon.”

Unable to help herself she lunged for the food.

John moved forward like greased lightning, his foot lashed out catching her cheek. Jeanette fell to the ground, stunned, clutching her broken cheekbone, whimpering like a wounded animal.

“You've led me on quite the hike, it's going to take all day to get back to the highway. Lugging you along with me is going to take even longer. So I'm going to want you nice and trussed up, then I can take my time enjoying you. If I'm careful you'll last until I'm almost home free, and they'll never find your body in these woods so far from the car.”

She screamed as John flipped her onto her back, straddled her hips and got to his knees, using his weight to keep her firmly pinned in place. Grabbing her hands, he pushed them together and began wrapping a rope around her wrists.

Fighting against the pain in her face, she made a fist. Squeezing her fingers together, her safety ring sprayed a fine mist of pepper spray straight into the monsters face.

John lurched back, cursing and swearing, wiping at his eyes. He didn't get up however, and no matter how Jeanette kicked, punched, and struggled she couldn't get out from under him. She saw him raise his fist.

Pushing with her hands, she felt something surge through her arms and leave her body. John was flung backwards, his scream came to an abrupt halt as he hit a tree, cracking the trunk.

Standing up, Jeanette grabbed the orange, summoning her regeneration as she did. Hesitantly she started walking towards John, not sure if he was alive or just unconscious. She couldn't just leave him, he needed to die if she was going to have any chance of surviving.

“Ow, damn,” he said, groaning and rubbing his neck. “You really are something. That should have killed me, but with your power running through me, it just hurts like hell.”

He did something and the sick feeling that had become her constant companion increase. Her knees buckled for a moment, then she willed her regeneration to become stronger. Her skin became hot and she desperately needed a drink, but she was able to stay on her feet.

Raising her hands she tried to hit him again.

Nothing happened.

Cursing she spun on her heels and ran as fast as she could.

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Jeannette staggered through the dark forest fighting against the nausea that roiled her stomach and the cramping of muscles that seemed ready to snap her bones in two.

She'd eaten the orange hours ago, along with some berries she'd found, and drank as much water as she could from a small pool. Her skin was still too hot, and her body felt like it was breaking down despite her regeneration.

"Hey god, if you're listening I'm really sorry for whatever I did to deserve this. I know I was pretty nasty to some people and I said some evil things about mutants, but hey I mostly just exaggerated what some of them really do. All of this seems a little drastic and heavy handed. Wasn't turning me into an obvious mutant enough?"

She had to stop for a few minutes, her eyes were burning. Crying, she rubbed them, feeling a little relief from the pressure when the pain stopped she looked around. It was still dark but she could see a little better. Everything had a bluish-silver hue to it. Moving on she found it a bit easier to avoid stumbling and hurting herself.

“So is John some demon you sent to punish me? Is there a guardian angel waiting to help me once I've been purged of my sins?”

Her fingers ached, it felt like knives were digging into her fingertips.

“I just want to survive. Don't let me die and join those ghosts around John. No one deserves that. I'm just a kid, I can do better. I can change.”

She wailed as her skin split and her nails fell off. Staring at the blood she could see ivory white claws growing under the flayed skin.

"Please," she gasped, "I don't wanna die."

Pushing back the pain she kept walking, seeking safety.

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Hunched over a stream, Jeanette used her claw to gut the small fish she'd caught. Her reflexes were so fast now she could snatch them out of the water with her claws just like a cat. This was the third one she'd caught for breakfast.

“It's just like eating sushi,” she said to herself, rinsing the blood off the fish. Closing her eyes, she bit into the cold flesh, forcing back the urge to vomit. Picking out the bones she swallowed the meat and took another bite.

She desperately needed the food. She'd lost more weight and possibly some of her height. It looked and felt like her body was eating itself alive. And she could feel John stealing her life away, it was barely noticeable, but now that she knew what it felt like, she couldn't ignore it.

And she was still uncomfortably hot, even with the morning chill.

Finishing the last of the fish, she started walking again, keeping an eye on the water for anymore food. She didn't know which way to go, all she knew was that as long as she was moving she'd be able to keep ahead of John. She'd barely slept during the night, too afraid she'd wake up to find John looming over her. Or worse, she wouldn't wake up at all and end up as another one of his ghosts.

Walking along the water, and frequently in it when the trees and rocks became too thick, she kept an eye out for any sign of danger in the forest. If she was watching a documentary, she'd appreciate the beautiful forest. It was so far off the beaten path, it had probably been years or even decades since a human had walked through the area. Unfortunately she was all alone, and being chased by a murderer, it took the beauty out of it.

Her stomach growled. She ignored it as best she could.

Suddenly she felt the energy John was pulling from her increase. She bent over, clutching her stomach as her muscles cramped up. Her hands and feet grew numb and her vision became blurry. She forced her regeneration to keep up with the damage. Slowly she began feeling a little normal, but her organs still seemed to be knotted up.

Gutting the pain, she forced herself to keep going. Stopping meant death.

“Hey god,” she said. “I'm still alive. No thanks to you. So I guess the karma is still kicking my ass, because I'm pretty sure I'm dying right now. I think I have been since getting into the assholes car. But this mutation you gave me is keeping me alive. I must be pretty high up there. Probably a four or five, if the H1 field handbook is right.'

She stumbled in the water and dug her claws into a handy tree to keep her balance. Sweat started beading up on the grey fur that covered her face.

“So yeah, this regeneration you gave me is definitely turning me into a cat girl. Can you get anymore cliched? If I have to be a freak why not a grizzly bear or a snake or something? I've seen videos of mutants like that, they ripped things apart.” Her stomach growled and cramped, it felt like she was eating herself alive.

“Cat girls have that whole exotic look, but I've seen the perverts who like GSD mutants, not exactly dating material. So I'd really have preferred something that could rip out John's heart over looks. But you in your infinite wisdom seem to think that making me smaller and furrier is a good idea. Thanks for that, really appreciated. What next make it so I can't run? That would be good for a laugh.” She managed to smile bitterly at the words.

Jeanette groaned as her organs seemed to shift, it was worse than any period or stomachache she'd ever had.

"I'm not going to die," she gasped. "Screw you god, and the horse you rode in on."

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Getting up from her squat, Jeanette moved away from the mess she'd left beside the tree, her pants threatening to trip her as she walked.

The track pants had been tightened as much as they possibly could and they were still falling off her now non-existent hips. The legs were too long as well, falling over her shoes making it hard to walk. And the tail she was growing pushed painfully against her underwear.

Sighing, she blushed under her fur as she stripped out of the pants and underwear. Looking down she still had some decency thanks to her shirt. As shredded as it was, it still hung from her body almost reaching her knees, like a nightshirt.

Taking off her shoes, which were threatening to fall off as well, she took handfuls of leaves and shoved them into the wet footwear. Putting them back on, they were uncomfortable but were wearable. And uncomfortable shoes were better than no shoes.

“Well isn't this something,” John said.

She screamed. Working on instinct she shoved her hands at John, willing the energy to fly from her hands. He jumped to the side, and the tree behind him toppled over, part of its trunk shattered into splinters.

She jerked around, her hands raised ready to hit him, but he was moving too fast. His palm slammed into her chest, sending her flying.

“You don't just look like an animal now, you're turning into one,” the monster said, moving between the trees, keeping her from getting a clear look at him. “Losing your humanity. Becoming a savage. If you somehow survive, no one is going to think you were ever a human. Just a monster to be hunted down and killed.”

Keeping her hand raised, she awkwardly got to her feet. Breathing hurt, she willed the regeneration to kick in. Relief swept through her.

“You could make this easy. I can give you some medicine. You'll go to sleep, and never wake up. Nice peaceful way to die. No more pain, no more fear.”

“Go to hell!” she shouted, willing the energy to blast him.

Nothing happened.

He ran at her, fist raised, a sadistic grin plastered on his face.

She bolted, putting everything into fleeing. It felt like she was practically flying, each step sent her bounding along the ground. The trees were a blur around her, she ducked and dodged branches, not entirely sure how she was doing it, just acting on instinct.

Her toe slammed into a rock making her fall headlong to the forest floor. Gritting her teeth, ignoring the new cuts and bruises that covered her body she lunged back up and began running again. Her broken toes began to heal, curling and shrinking with every step.

In the distance she heard John laughing.

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Her shoes had fallen off somewhere in the last few miles, her feet didn't look human anymore. They were rounded, with thick pads protecting them. Grey fur sprouted from the top of her feet. She'd kept walking on them even as bone snapped and shifted, and claws had torn through her toes. Adrenalin and terror kept her moving while her insides roiled, her body cried out for sleep and pain made her weep.

A bird with grey and black feathers pecked at the ground under a pine tree.

Jeanette's stomach roared, letting her know how hungry she was.

Pushing energy into her legs, she jumped at the bird, moving impossibly fast. It didn't even have time to realize it was caught as she snapped its neck.

Her claws gutted it and peeled the skin off. She bit into the meat, disgusted at the tough, slimy texture even as her mouth watered and the delicious flavour coated her tongue. She ate as she walked, forcing her mind to go blank until she was done.

Gnawing on the last of the bird breast, licking the delicious blood from her lips she looked up at the sky.

"Is this what you wanted, god?” she asked. “Seeing me turn into an animal. For my sins I lose my humanity? Was it the fact that I was a member of H1 or that I tried to leave? I'd really like to know just where I fucked up, so that if I make it out of your sick little game alive I don't do it again. I sure as hell don't want to know what you can do for an encore."

She jumped, her ears, that had become longer and pointed, twitched as she heard John whistling that same damn tune somewhere close by. At least she thought he was close, the trees and rocks were playing with the sound making it hard to judge.

"FUCK YOU!" she shrieked. Screaming with rage, sounding more like an enraged cat then anything she punched a tree, snapping it in two. "Why? Why couldn't I do that before?! Are you such a raging sadist you give me powers and then take them away when I need them? You sadistic, bullshit, omnipotent torture obsessed piece of shit! Go to HELL! I AM NOT DYING HERE!

"Do you hear me John?!" She shouted as loud as she could. "I am not dying! I've taken your worst and I'm still standing! I'm going to rip your throat out and piss on your corpse."

Taking a few deep breathes she glared at the sky. "The same goes for you. Stay out of my way from now on because anything you throw at me is going to die."

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John listened to the girl scream, savouring the power he was draining from her. She was the finest thing he had ever tasted. Nothing in his life could top this feeling, not the finest wine or the occasional hits he'd taken in his youth. Even sex paled to insignificance compared to this, and he'd done some very wild things in his time.

He hadn't been able to stop smiling since the hunt started. Sure he was dirty, scratched up, and risking his life, it just made the feeling sweeter.

Breathing in, he opened himself up to the energy, draining her a little faster. His body shuddered in ecstasy. Falling to his knees he laughed from pure joy, unable to stop.

When this hunt was done he had to find a superhero and latch onto them. If a mere child felt this good, what would a truly powerful mutant feel like?

Closing his link to a trickle once more, he gave himself a few minutes to recover. He was in no hurry. The longer the girl survived the longer the pleasure would last.

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Jeanette tore into the squirrel. Blood streaked her lips and dripped down her chin. She hadn't ripped out the organs this time. She was too hungry, She would have eaten the skin as well, but her teeth couldn't tear through the fur and hide.

Her nose wrinkled, filling her sinuses with the smell of blood. Rather than being disgusting, her body and mind craved it. She sucked it up along with the organs, feeling revived with every bite. Then she began gnawing on the meat and bones. This wasn't the first squirrel she'd eaten. Over the last few hours she'd killed and eaten any small animal she came across. Anything she could eat on the run was food.

Everything felt distant, even the pain. If it wasn't for one thing it would be nice and peaceful. Brad was yelling at her, calling her a freak, banging his baseball bat against a tree. She ignored him. He'd tried to kill her once and failed. If he came at her again she'd rip his throat out and eat his heart.

“Hey Jeanette! I love your new hairstyle,” Vicki said.

“Thanks. I wanted to try something really wild. Wasn't sure about the cat ears. But hey, we only live once right?” she replied, giggling as she made her new ears twitch.

“What will your mom say when she sees it?”

“Who cares! She's already tried to kill me once. She doesn't get to tell me how to live my life.”

Her mother appeared beside her. “How dare you say that! After all I did to try to keep you safe, you betrayed me like this!”

Vicki looked nervously at her feet, then waved goodbye and faded away.

“Hey mom,” Jeanette said, grinning broadly. “Like the new look?”

Her mom snorted in disgust. “How could I like it? You should be in Alaska far from civilized people.”

She raised her hand and mimed it speaking, while rolling her eyes. “Blah, blah, blah. Don't you have an H to burn or something?”

“You could at least wear some clothes. It's bad enough you're a mutant, but did you lose all sense of shame and dignity too?”

“You show me a clothes store and I'll go see about buying some new clothes. I will need to borrow some cash though. Not sure if you noticed, but I lost my wallet and bag while escaping from a freak that is currently trying to KILL ME!”

There was no answer, her mother had vanished.

The sun started to go down. Jeanette wondered how long she'd been walking for. How many days had it been since she escaped from John's car? Everything had gotten fuzzy and dreamlike. Maybe she was in hell, or purgatory. Did her church believe in purgatory? She knew the Catholics did, but she'd never been the most devout kid. There had been plenty of sermons about heaven and hell, doing good things on Earth, avoiding sin, and things like that, but she couldn't recall anything specific about purgatory.

“Still alive, that's a shame,” Doug said.

She looked up at the man she'd thought was a friend. He was sitting on a large rock, reading a comic. “Hey Doug. Thanks for sending the H1 guys after me. Appreciate it.”

“I wish I could have sent someone competent, but they were the best I could find on short notice. Should have known they'd fuck things up. You bastards can't do anything right, not even die.”

Grinning, making sure to show off her bloodstained teeth and fur, Jeanette said, “I'm too much of a bitch to die. You should know that by now. Hit me as hard as you want, I'll come back swinging.”

“You won't be able to do that much longer. You're dying. John is going to kill you,” Doug said, turning the words into a childlike sing song.

“Not if I kill him first.”

“You're gonna die. You're gonna die. You're gonna die.”

Brad who was still banging his bat against the trees joined in with Doug.

“You're gonna die. You're gonna die. You're gonna die.”

Gritting her teeth, Jeanette kept walking, refusing to let them get to her.

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The sun had nearly set and Jeanette was walking in blissful silence. Brad and Doug had finally gotten bored and left a while ago. Her mouth was bone dry, her stomach roared for food again, and she was still hot, despite the chill in the air.

At some point she realized that someone was walking beside her. She'd only seen him in pictures and a few old videos. But she knew him well. “Hey Dad, nice to see you finally.”

“It's good to see you too, Jeanette.”

“Didn't think I'd see you so soon. Are you here to take me up to heaven or hell?”

“Where do you think?”

She looked around, taking in the dark woods, her twisted body, and the pain that had become her constant companion. “I think I'm already in hell.”

“Nah, just a rough patch. Just keep fighting and you'll eventually get past it.”

“I hope so. Got any advice?”

“Go for the throat, don't hold back.”

They walked in silence for a while. Her dad seemed happy enough to just be beside her, and she didn't really know what to say, her brain felt all fuzzy.

“What's it like being dead?” she finally asked.

“Sorry, can't tell ya. It's a big secret and I'd get in trouble if I told you,” he said, reaching out to scratch her head.

She purred in pleasure.

Brad was back, banging his bat. She scowled and hissed at him. Turning to her dad, who she realized was wearing his police uniform, Jeanette asked, “Think you can get rid of him? I can't seem to catch him and he's getting annoying.”

“Brad! Get out of here, and stop annoying my daughter unless you want a ride to the station where you'll have to convince me why I shouldn't charge you with harassment!” he shouted.

Her former friend scowled, banged his bat against a tree one last time and disappeared into the woods.

“Thanks Dad. I'd ask if want to get a bite to eat, so we can sit and talk, but I haven't seen any restaurants or even a grocery store for a while. If you want I could catch a squirrel for you, they're pretty tasty.”

“No thanks. Not hungry.”

“Oh yeah. Being dead must ruin your appetite.” She started laughing, finding her sentence hilarious.

Then she found she couldn't stop laughing. She bent over double as loud squeaks forced their way out of her throat. At some point she realized that tears were falling and the laughter had become painful, wracking sobs. Gasping for air, she looked around and found herself alone. Her cry died down a little, but didn't go away. Once she was back in control, Jeanette forced herself to keep going, refusing to die.

Brad followed her, banging his bat against the trees with every step.

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It was dark, with only the stars and a full moon to light her way, when she came to a river. It was big, fast moving and full of rocks. The colours were odd, but her new eyes could see everything clearly, like it was a cloudy day.

Tossing the leg bone of a rabbit away, she made her way down the rocks towards a small ledge where the water had formed a pool. It was slippery and slow going with her new body, her center of gravity was off and her limbs were the wrong length. Worse still Brad was still banging his bat against the rocks, yelling curses at her. And she now had an audience of faceless robed figures watching her.

“Is she going to fall and break her neck?” one of them asked.

“No. She'll fall and drown. The rocks are slippery,” came a reply.

“I want to see her crack her skull, the blood will be pretty.”

“I hope it breaks a leg, watching her crawl will be hilarious.”

While their voices filled her ears, Jeanette did her best to ignore all of them.

She made it safely much to the annoyance and disappointment of her audience. Going to her knees, she plunged her face into the bitterly cold water, drinking deeply for the first time all day. The fresh water felt wonderful on her parched throat and eased the pain in her stomach. It was so good she didn't want to come up for air.

When she finally raised her head everything was clearer, brighter, less fuzzy around the edges. Brad was gone, hopefully forever. And the faceless people had vanished.

Climbing back up the rocks, she found a spot under a pine tree that wasn't too rocky or bumpy. Curling up into a ball, she fell into an exhausted sleep, her fur keeping her warm.

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In the early dawn light a twig snapped.

The girl who had once been Jeanette Shepard came awake to find herself jumping through the air, hissing angrily, her hands raised and claws out. John was there, looking startled, raising his hands to defend himself.

Her claws raked his arm, shredding his sleeves, drawing blood.

He tried to hit her, but she was already past him, rolling under the branches of a pine tree. Her senses seemed to be in overdrive, she moved through the branches and around the tree trunks with an inhuman ease. Her claws dug into the dirt and roots, helping her spin on a dime.

John was trying to follow her movements, staying on the game trail, unable to make his way through the thick forest. She heard him cursing, clutching his arm.

Pushing the energy inside of her to her legs, she somehow became even faster. One of them was going to die on this mountain, and it wasn't going to be her. Pouncing, she surprised John again, slashing his stomach. She kept going. He was a better fighter than her, but she was faster and she had claws.

She got out of sight and scurried up a tree, her small, flexible body twisting around the branches until she was near the top of the pine. She watched John, he was looking scared, arms raised like a boxer, twisting and turning to find her.

Growling, the girl jumped from the tree, claws outstretched. She was going to rip his throat out. She didn't know what would happen after that. Jeanette was dead and gone, there was no going back. But the future wasn't important. The only thing that mattered was killing John. He'd killed Jeanette, now it was time to kill him.

He spotted her at the very last second and spun impossibly fast.

Pain blossomed as his fist hit her jaw.

She flipped in the air, landing with a crash on her back. Yowling in pain, she lay there stunned and paralyzed.

John loomed over her, his face twisted with rage and pain. There were no words, no threats, he simply raised his leg and stomped down on her stomach.

A garbled, gasping scream and a spray of blood forced its way out of her. It felt like he'd hit her spine.

He brought his foot down again.

She was going to die. Broken, inhuman, never to be found. Another ghost to add to John's collection. The silently screaming, pale faces of his victims appeared staring down at her. Welcoming her into their cold embrace of never ending pain.

Rage and hatred erupted inside of her. She felt it grab the energy that she could barely control and cast it outwards. John was caught in the blast, sent flying backwards with a panicked shriek. The trees swayed and cracked, the weaker ones snapping under the force.

Shaking with pain, she forced herself to her knees. The world spun around her. She couldn't see straight, everything was doubled. John had gotten to his feet, clutching his side, he staggered away.

Vomit rose in her throat, falling to the ground she threw up. It looked like blood.

Her mouth didn't want to close properly. It hung open, blood, drool and vomit dripped out, forming a small puddle that soaked her fur.

Reaching for her power, she willed it to heal her as everything started to fade away.

Through her tears of pain she saw a man in a police uniform walking away from her, his arm wrapped protectively around a stylishly dressed young woman with long, light brown hair. They disappeared into a cloud of golden light. Crying, the girl allowed the darkness to drag her down.

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The girl moved awkwardly through the forest. She wasn't human anymore. Hunched down, her limbs twisted, covered in grey fur, with only muscle and bone left, she was a monster that refused to die.

'Hey God, I'm still alive,' she thought unable to speak properly anymore. Spitting, a cracked human tooth hit the ground, a dull red film of blood covered the white enamel. Sharp animal like teeth were rising in her gums to replace it.

'Last one gone, guess getting my jaw broken was good for something. Now I can really rip his throat out with my teeth.' Walking more like an ape than a human she kept going even as her body cried out in pain.

'So God, do you have anything else to throw at me? I've taken the worst of it. Broken arm, jaw, teeth, toes, probably a couple of fractures, who knows how many bruises. And no one would believe I was human anymore. You bastard. Making me have to run from my family, my home wasn't enough? Are you hoping I'll just roll over and die? One less little bitch to worry about? Is that it?'

She waited for some kind of response, the only sound in the forest was her harsh breathing. 'Fine don't tell me. Not like you could say much anyways. I just want you to know that I'm not dying. If I have to kill everything on this whole damn mountain I'm going to survive. You've put me through hell for days and I'm still standing. I'm the most stubborn, hardheaded bitch around, this is just pissing me off. You think some pain will make me beg for mercy? That taking away my looks will break me? That a little bit of hunger and lack of sleep will slow me down?'

She snorted in disgust. 'You don't know a thing about me.'

Walking onwards, the girl tried to put more distance between herself and John. She was going to kill him, but she needed to heal more first.

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The grizzly bear looked up from the bush, where it was contentedly munching on the abundant blackberries. Sniffing the air it smelled blood and an odd scent. Getting to it's feet, it tried to place the smell. It was something like a human and a wildcat. Curious it headed towards the creature.

It didn't take long to find the creature. It was small, with thick grey fur and a tiny tail. It had arms like a human, but was sitting on its haunches like a cat, scooping water from a stream with its clawed hands to drink. The large pointed ears on its head twitched and the creature turned to look at it with cat-like green eyes. It hissed, revealing sharp canines. Whiskers hung from it's small muzzle.

Getting closer, the grizzly cocked its head, trying to place the weird cat creature that had wandered into it's territory.

The creature moved back, raising its arms to show its claws.

Seeing the challenge, the grizzly stood on its hind legs. Towering over the creature, it began to sway its head back and forth, blowing out hot air as it clacked its teeth together.

The creature slashed the air.

For a moment the grizzly just stood there, annoyed at the challenger. Then it felt pain and dampness coming from its belly. Looking down it saw it's stomach had been torn open. Roaring in pain, anger, and confusion, it took a few steps towards the creature.

It's killer clawed the air again.

The grizzly fell forward, unable to feel it's body. With its neck torn open all the way to the spine, it was quickly bleeding out.

The last thing the grizzly saw was the creature coming towards it, hungrily licking it's lips.

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Stalking through the woods, the girl knew John was still alive, still trying to kill her. The sensation of being drained was still there, possibly stronger than before. Her stomach felt empty despite having eaten the grizzly until she'd been about to vomit. Her body was burning through food at an impossibly fast pace.

Her cat paws and cat-like hands were nearly silent on the forest floor. Whiskers helped her move through the dim underbrush. Grey fur blended into shadows, making her nearly invisible. Opening her mouth, she breathed in trying to smell anything out of place.

On all fours, the girl shouldn't have been able to move so easily. Her body plan was all wrong, her center of gravity was radically different, and she was using different muscles in new ways. It didn't matter, she knew instinctively how to move, with an agility far beyond a baseline human. It was one good thing about her new body, she'd need the agility and powers to get her revenge.

Birds sang in the trees and rodents scurried through the bushes, not realizing there was a predator in their midst. They were safe from her. She'd happily eat them later, but at the moment all of her attention was focused on her target, who was a predator and prey.

The world was different, and she was trying to learn it all. The scratching of animals digging for food drew her attention. A twig falling from a bird landing on a branch almost made her jump. The scent of so many plants and animals was dizzying. The wind blowing on her whiskers sent new sensations to her brain. If she thought too hard about them, they'd overwhelm her.

So she cleared her mind, letting her body and instincts direct her.

It was in this trance-like state that she smelled something metallic.

Stopping dead in her tracks, barely breathing for fear of giving away her hiding spot, she listened. Heavy footsteps were coming towards her. Branches and leaves were crushed by the walker, a man cursed in irritation, and a branch snapped.

Her tail twitched, a growl rumbled deep in her throat. It was John.

Moving as quietly as she could, she crawled under a thick pine tree using its low branches to hide herself. Patiently she waited, there couldn't be any mistakes. She needed to kill him this time.

She could hear him coming, just a few more steps and he'd be in sight.

The draining sensation which had been a trickle for hours became a waterfall. Her muscles turned to soft clay, and she fell to her stomach. She shivered, bitterly cold as every bit of heat was pulled out of her. Dots appeared in her vision, her eyelids became too heavy to hold up.

“I know you're there bitch,” John said. It sounded like he was holding back a laugh. “Never tried to drain someone this fast before. Didn't know it was possible. Wow, this is a rush. You've taught me a lot. I should thank you for it, but I won't. Instead I'm going to kill you, skin you and turn you into a fur blanket.”

The girl reached for her own power, forcing every bit of it to heal herself. A bonfire erupted in her chest, pushing back the numbing cold. Her heart raced, it felt like it was going to burst. Her skin grew hot enough she wondered if she was going to catch fire.

Then the heat was being pulled away almost as quickly as it came. Shivering, she charged out teeth and claws bared. John saw her coming and grinned. His skin was a brilliant red, his eyes bloodshot. He started to laugh, it was deep and booming.

She ran straight at him. He lashed out with his fist, moving faster than before, stolen energy fuelling his strength. Ducking beneath the blow, she drove her claws into his side, shredding his coat and flesh.

Hissing in pain, John spun on his heels trying to grab her. His fingers brushed her tail, ripping out some of the fur, then she was past him and jumping into a tree. She took a second to catch her breath, glaring at her tormentor.

Bounding from her perch, she hit another tree and bounced to a third, using every bit of her newfound agility. She hit the ground behind John, who turned to face her. She kept moving, leaping to the side so she was once more at his back, and pounced on him.

John shrieked as her claws pierced his back and shoulders, her fangs dug into his neck.

She felt a moment of hope that he was going to die, then he grabbed her hand and squeezed. Bones snapped like brittle twigs and it was her turn to scream. He tossed himself down, landing on top of her, trying to crush her with his weight.

Letting go of his shoulder, her good hand reached for his face. Her fingers dug into his cheek and she wrenched her claws to the side, slicing through skin and bone.

He brought his head up and back, slamming his skull into her muzzle, breaking her nose. His elbow drove into her ribs with the crack of bones.

Using her legs she lifted him up just enough to free herself. They glared at each other, his face was ruined, but his eyes still worked. He saw her trying to get away and grabbed her arm before she could escape. There was a snap and her arm felt like it had shattered.

Yowling, she grabbed hold of his shirt with her undamaged hand, brought her legs up and shoved her claws deep into his stomach. Raking her feet down, she gutted him. Wrenching herself free of his now loose grip, the girl stepped back, clutching her arm, smiling as John tried to push his intestines back in.

He crumpled to his knees and then onto his face. He moaned in pain, his blood soaking into the soil as he slowly died.

When she was sure John was dead, the girl collapsed into unconsciousness.

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The girl didn't know how long she slept for. All she knew was that her wounds were mostly healed. She tried to stand up, but fell down with a groan. Looking at her arms and legs she was no long bipedal.

Sitting up, she felt her misshapen face. Her muzzle was too small and her forehead was too large. She had to look like a monster, not cat, not human, something in between and ill-formed. Her spine felt looser, and she was even smaller than before, not much bigger than a toddler.

Looking over at John, birds and insects had gotten to him, picking at his wounds and blood. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

The girl stared defiantly up at the sky. 'Still alive, asshole!' she silently shouted. 'I told you, you couldn't kill me. I don't know what you're turning me into and I don't care, I'm going to live, just so that everyday I can look up at you with a shit eating grin and piss on whatever new sadistic challenge you throw at me. I am the hardest person you've ever met and I am not letting you win. Make sure the next reject you send my way understands that. Now if you'll excuse me I have another promise to keep.'

Limping on all fours, her hand and arm still weak and badly bruised, she made her way to John's corpse and squatted over him. Her tiny tail slashed through the air in victory as she relieved herself.

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Outside Seattle
July, 2015

The west bound train made its slow but steady way into Seattle, with cars full of goods for the city and the ships waiting in port. It had come through the Rockies without any trouble, and no one knew it had picked up a passenger.

A grey cat, it's fur a little matted but otherwise looking to be in good condition, sat regally in a freight car near the back watching the world pass by. From a distance she looked like a regular cat with a collar, on the large side, at least as big as a Maine Coon cat if not a little bigger, but otherwise just a cat.

Looking closer ,someone paying attention would notice her eyes and comb. The green eyes looked more intelligent than a regular cats. The crude wooden comb tied around her neck with a braid made of roots was rather odd, but could be a gift from it's former owner. A truly observant person would see the loneliness in her eyes, and the tears that were blinked away before they could fall.

As the train entered the city, the cat jumped off and disappeared into an alley.


Coming Soon - Alley Cat: Part 1

Read 713 times Last modified on Monday, 06 March 2023 08:59
Dan Formerly Domoviye

Find out what I'm working on in and out of Whately, by checking me out on Twitter.


1 week ago
SO good! I always wondered why Shisa was such a bad tempered character. Her GSD could only explain so much. But her abuse by her mother, betrayal of supposed friends, and encounter with this monster has been enlightening.
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Dan Formerly Domoviye
Dan Formerly Domoviye
6 days ago
She has had a rough life. Fortunately in Alley Cat, we'll start seeing her softer side, which we've only gotten glimpses of so far.
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