Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Zombie Kitten (short story)
Love broadens your identity and expands who you are. Empathy is the ability to feel as one, but compassion is the choice to do so with Love.
- Dreamer's Handbook
Elise put her hands on the cage. "Oh no, what has he done to you?"
The kitten inside meowed pleadingly. Decay marred deep into its flesh, and fur has fallen off around the patches of diseased skin.
Elise wanted to cradle and console the kitten, but a sense of caution overruled the protective impulse. Vampires had great natural resistance to disease, but it was drilled into her mind to stay away from zombies - be they human or animal.
She examined the large table upon which the small cage stood: rusty knives and dirty spoons, bottles, vials, and several disemboweled rat corpses.
So, Bron, this is what you do in your spare time... She poked one of the rat cadavers with a stick.
They all autopsied rats in class - after all, knowledge of anatomy is important for young vampires - but all the splattered blood suggested the rats were still alive during the dissection. The thought crossed Elise's mind that Bron was actually a budding genius dedicated to learning and scientific exploration, but the crude, jagged nature of the cuts suggested torture as a motive. You're not just a fat bully, but a deranged psycho.
A cockroach ran across the table. The kitten didn't stop meowing.
A grey, metallic canister stood apart from the other bottles and containers: Elise looked for a not-too-dirty piece of cloth and grabbed the canister with it. BIOHAZARD. Experimental agent 2711, Midflower. Handle with EXTREME CAUTION! She put it back down as soon as she read the markings.
"Where the hell did you steal that from? Your father? You sure as hell didn't stumble upon it by exploring the outer city," she mumbled aloud.
The vampire enclave they all belonged to, the 'City', was established within an abandoned, but not completely ruined district of a pre-apocalyptic megalopolis. The vampires of the City took care of the young ones belonging to their clans, but the orphans - those who were transformed into vampires at a young age instead of being born as one - were under less supervision, and they often explored the abandoned buildings beyond enclave territory.
The kitten's desperate meowing demanded attention.
"What should I do with you, hmm?" Elise said affectionately.
The obvious option, and probably the most merciful, would have been to end the kitten's suffering outright - as fast and clean as possible. This option didn't sit well with Elise and she couldn't bring herself to do it. Besides, what if he finds out it was me?
Elise examined several knives and grabbed one that wasn't rusted or damaged. This'll do. She spotted a lighter, picked it up, and tested if it works. Long flame, excellent! She steadily moved the knife back and forth over the flame. I hope it's just regular nasty stuff he poked around with and none of that biohazard stuff.
She held out her open palm over the cage... She took a deep breath, grit her teeth, and slid the knife's edge across it. Blood bubbled from the wide gash and dripped down into the cage.
Elise clenched her wounded fist to make it pour. That's it... drink up.
The kitten eagerly licked the blood as it ran down its nose and whiskers, and started lapping up from the puddle that formed on the bottom of the cage.
She's hungry; he didn't even think to feed her.
Despite Elise clenching her fist, soon the gush of blood slowed to a trickle. She tore off a piece of cloth and wrapped it around her hand. It's healing already.
The kitten licked the bottom of the cage clean and waited contently.
Elise inspected the animal: the patches of decaying flesh had a coarse, orangish film formed on top. The eye-whites were turning red, but the kitten's demeanor was calm. You poor thing. I hope my blood gives you strength to battle whatever disease he inflicted upon you.
Elise deliberated whether to set the kitten free: If Bron figures out it was me who found his hideout and ruined his experiment-slash-torture... Ah, so what. I don't care.
She was about to open the cage when she heard noise from outside the window. No! He can't be back already!
Elise quickly scanned the room for potential hiding places: lots of trash, but nothing big enough to reliably hide behind. One big broken window, two doorways - one of which was completely blocked.
Climbing up those ancient cars to reach the window was easy for Elise, but not so easy for Bron due to his extra weight. Strength is one thing, but handling yourself with grace is another.
With only seconds to spare, Elise ducked through the unused, half-barricaded doorway. Rats scurried out, and she tried not to breathe too much of the dust in.
When Bron finally scaled the ledge, huffing, the kitten started hissing. "What? You missed me? I brought some new toys for you."
Elise watched Bron retrieve another grey canister from his backpack and place it on the table.
"Maybe you'll like this more- Hey, what's that?" He leaned closer to the cage and the kitten bristled up. "Red eyes! That's a neat side-effect!"
Bron opened the cage and reached inside. The kitten hissed and clawed, but he managed to grab it while incurring only a few scratches. "Feisty, aren't ya? Don't worry, this won't hurt. Well, hopefully not so much to kill you outright..."
He struggled to open the canister with one hand while holding the kitten in the other, but his juggling act failed when, just for a moment, he inadvertently lifted the kitten too close to his face.
The kitten attacked with the strength of a vampire and the ferocity of a tiger. By the time the pain registered in Bron's brain and instructed his hand to drop the savage beast, half his face has already turned into finely minced meat. Too bad it'll heal.
After a few attempts at letting go, the kitten ended up flying against the wall, while Bron scampered for the exit screaming "Mom! Mo-oooom!"
A wicked grin snuck up on Elise's face almost by itself, and it only broadened when she saw the kitten shrug off the blow and charge after its tormentor. She heard vengeful hissing mixed with inarticulate yells and the sound of boots bouncing off metallic boxes.
He isn't tough at all... Now I just feel silly for putting up with all his bullying. Elise crawled back through the half-barricaded door and dusted off her clothes.
If I tell, the kids will laugh and the adults will surely punish him. But, they'll reprimand me for sneaking out and vampirifying the kitten - vampire zombie cats are not their preferred solution to the rat problem.
Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and blackmail Bron instead, so he stops bullying everyone. She grinned again. On the other hand, it'd be fun to watch him explain to his father how those canisters went missing... Enclave security and all.
Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Zombie Kitten