Author : Ping Sharoda
The small man with the strange hands passed thru the smashed opening and moved into the large room. It was dimly lit from the holes in the roof and there was a door at the other end. He retracted his claws and clenched his fists.
â€œBe careful Puppyâ€, said the large man with the faceted eyes. He moved slowly, more cautiously, behind the small man. â€œYou canâ€™t tell where it might be and I donâ€™t want you to get hurt again.â€
The steel wire muscles of the smaller man quivered slightly, his head bent forward. He opened his hands and his claws extended their full inch. â€œI smell it Johnny. Itâ€™s here, I can smell it,â€ he said and moved to the door.
The large man with the facetted eyes hung the rusty wire strung with rats on his belt. He put one hand to his temple and scanned the room for anything, any sign, any clue that would help them. There was only the disturbed dust trail and it headed to the door. He couldnâ€™t smell anything.
Iâ€™m so hungry Johnny, and I can smell it.â€ There was a frayed edge to his voice. â€œIâ€™m tired of rats and it hurt meâ€¦I want to get itâ€¦and kill itâ€¦and eat it.â€
Overhead, in the shadows, in the rafters, Becky giggled quietly to her self. Todayâ€™s game was to get some of the rats that the large speckle-eyed man had on the wire. She generally trapped her own food but she was hungry right now and so was her father; and today was her birthday. She could have anything she wanted on her birthday. Today she was ten.
Behind the door was Beckyâ€™s dog; a small metal military surplus monster that hovered a couple of feet off the ground. Its blades were extended and spinning and its static discharge pod was fully charged. It sounded like a purring cat as it waited in the dark.
â€œOpen the door, Puppy,â€ said the large man with the faceted eyes.
Becky mouthed the words to Happy Birthday and her smile broadened as she watched the small man reach for the handle of the door. She was quiet and still as she sang soundlessly. She didnâ€™t want to spoil the surprise.
The small man with the clawed hands turned the handle and pulled open the door.
When the commotion stopped she climbed down from the rafters and picked up the wire. Carrying the string of rats, she followed the trail of blood to the hole in the wall where the 2 men had first come in. She looked outside for the men and for her dog but saw neither. She shrugged her shoulders and thought,â€The dog will find his way home, he always doesâ€. Then she headed out, toward the trees, toward home, to show her father her birthday present.