The room was getting dark in the later afternoon, as the sun’s last rays shone into it. Emily lay on the floor, looking at the cat hiding under the dresser. His black fur absorbing the light, making his outline fade into the shadows. His eyes were aglow, bright green as he stared back. Emily reached out her hand slowly toward him, reaching under the dresser to where he currently hide. He watched, his eyes unblinking as her hand drew closer to him. She stopped as she saw him move his head away from her fingers.
“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.” Emily spoke out to him. “Come here kitty.” Her 12 year old voice soft and cooing, like her grandmother Rose had taught her. Emily could hear Rose saying, “You have to be gentle, calm and slow. Earning an animal’s trust is no quick matter.” It made Emily smile a bit to think back to that time when her grandmother would place her on her lap and they would talk about the animals.
Emily was brought back to the moment at hand when she felt the soft tickle of a whisker on one of her fingers. She looked at the cat and saw him slowly start moving toward her outstretched hand, taking cursory sniffs at her. “That’s right. Come here kitty, I won’t hurt you.”
The cat stopped moving altogether, tilted his head at her then said, “I know.”
Emily froze in shock as she heard the cat speak, his voice like a long purr, gruff but soft. She pulled her hand back from under the dresser and scurried back as quick as she could, only stopping when she hit the bed behind her, causing her to sit up and pull her legs back, wrapping her arms around them and hugging them.
The cat moved forward, poking his head out from under the dresser. “Don’t be alarmed. I won’t hurt you either.” His green eyes staring at her.
“You.. you..you can talk?” Emily’s mind was beyond confused. Even at 12, she knew animals couldn’t talk.
“As can you.” the cat replied, fully emerging from under the dresser and sitting down next to it.
“But… but cats can’t talk.” Emily pulled her legs tighter to her.
“True. However, I am no ordinary cat. Well, I am, but I’m not. It’s all a bit confusing and quite a long story. I’d be happy to share with you at some later time.” He paused for a moment, stood on all four legs and walked toward the door. “But, for now, I need you to follow me. It soon won’t be safe in here and I won’t be able to protect you from what is coming.”
Emily blinked, her mind not sure of what was going on. She reached up and began to fiddle with her necklace and the golden heart pendant on it. “I.. I.. I just…” She froze again, this time as she noticed a long shadow cast on the floor from the window that moved toward her.
“Emily, I need you to move to the door, now!” The cat’s voice was higher, almost like it was screeching as it leapt between Emily and the growing shadow. “You can’t have her.” The cat raised it’s back hair, flattened his ears and got low on the floor, ready to pounce.
“Scout.” A sinister voice sounded from the shadow, as the leading edge took on an almost corporeal form of a disembodied wolf. “You can’t save her from me.” Scout started to move backwards a bit, still remaining between Emily and the shadow.
“I won’t let you hurt her.” Scout hissed out, his teeth barred. Just then, the wolf head snapped toward Scout as the cat leapt backwards, landing against Emily’s leg. “Emily, go to the door. Now!” Emily looked around the room, saw the wolf head moving toward her, heard Scout’s voice and, mustering her wit and strength, scrambled toward the door.
“You will lose.” Scout started to back up toward the door, the bed on his left, the dresser on his right. He quickly looked around, assessed the situation and his current position and told Emily, “Open it. Get out. I will take care of this.”
The shadow slithered further into the room, “Oh, Scout, what will you do to stop me from having her? Without your friends, you are just a weak, pathetic cat. What chance do you stand against us?” Out of the shadow three more heads formed, followed by front legs as the shadows took form into full fledged gray wolves. Teeth showing, low growls, tongues licking at the prospect of feeding their hunger. “Time for you to die, Scout.”
The space between the bed and dresser only allowed two of the wolves to come at him at a time, and Scout noticed a third had gotten up on the bed, their growls growing in intensity. Scout, not waiting for them to attack, mustered his strength, pounced onto the side of the dresser, using it as a spring board to leap over the closest wolf and bringing his claws down on the second’s face, scratching across its eye. The wolf let out a cry as the first one snapped toward Scout, barely missing him as he slid under the bed.
The wolf on the bed looked at Emily. Fear had frozen her in place, her hand on the doorknob, unable to move. The wolf moved toward her, growls emitting from his throat.
“Emily! GO!” It was Scout’s voice. Emily pulled on the door, in her fear not remembering to turn the knob. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the oncoming wolf as it bent low then took a leap at her. Emily thrashed around to cover her head, as she did, hitting the light switch in the room and turning on lamp on the overhead ceiling fan. She heard a loud howl, almost in pain, and then she shrieked out in fear, waiting for the wolf to hit her.
After several seconds of nothing happening, she dared to look from between her arms.
“There gone.” Scout said, more out of shock and surprise then as a statement. He moved over toward her, coming out from the bed. Emily lost her feet, and slowly slide down to the floor, tears starting to flow from her eyes.
“What was that?” Emily said through soft sobs.
“That was the shadows. They are why I am here.” Scout moved next to Emily, running his body against her leg, attempting to comfort her.
“I don’t understand. Any of this.” Her mind still racing to catch up to everything that had just happened, causing her tears to flow even more.
Scout stopped, placed his front paws on her knee and looked at her. “My name is Scout and I am a Protector. It’s my job to keep you safe.”