Author : Leanne A. Styles
“You’re insane, Estella,” my sister said, peering out the window to catch a glimpse of my new pet.
“Stop being so dramatic, Maia,” I said. “The breeder said if you care for them correctly they’re the perfect pet. Besides, I wanted something rare, and nobody else we know has one.”
“There’s a good reason for that. Anyway, that’s not true. Leda’s friend had one, remember? It escaped and nearly killed her. It’s still on the loose now.”
“Well, then, she must have been careless. She probably didn’t take the time to bond with hers. Trust me, they’re harmless. Come and see for yourself ‒ if you’re brave enough,” I added with a smirk.
She glowered at me. “Let’s do this.”
Outside, in my compound, Maia cowered behind me as we watched my pet pacing in its enclosure.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” I said, admiring her golden blonde mane and the lines of her slender body.
“Weird looking, more like. It doesn’t look very happy.”
My pet had come to a stand and was staring at us through the bars. Looking into her deep brown eyes ‒ so hard, so much raw animal simmering under the surface ‒ made my stomach fizz with an addictive blend of fear and excitement.
She hissed something at us in a language we didn’t understand, then, faster than I’d imaged her capable of, she lunged at the bars. Stretching her limbs through the gaps, she clawed wildly for us. She screeched and growled and spat, slamming her body against the titanium.
Maia staggered back, and I couldn’t help laughing.
“Harmless?” she said.
“She’ll be fine once I’ve tamed her.”
“Where did you get it, anyway?”
She rolled her eyes. “Where did you get her?”
“The galactic market on Quiari.”
“That hellhole?! It’s a wonder you made it out alive. Didn’t they have something less terrifying for you to bring home? Even one of those giant acid-spitting centipedes would have been safer than this.”
“It’s not the same.”
My pet grew tired and dropped to the floor. She scratched at the dirt, and a strange sound started to emanate from her throat ‒ an awful wailing. Water was trickling from her eyes. I’d never seen anything like it.
“What’s wrong with her?” Maia asked.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“Maybe she’s… sad.”
I shot her a mocking look. “Don’t be silly. They don’t have feelings ‒ not like we do, anyway. She’s probably just hungry.”
I mixed a bowl of oats and water (a good staple for my pet, apparently), walked around to the wall at the side of the enclosure, and placed it in the serving hatch before shoving it through to the other side. I made my way back to the front. My pet used the bars to pull herself to her feet and shuffled over to the bowl. I grinned as she picked it up.
With frightening force, she hurled the bowl at the bars, lumps of oats flying across the compound.
“Not hungry, then,” I said, wiping the sludge from my face.
My pet retreated to the back of her enclosure and crouched down in the corner, fixing her gaze on me.
Maia came to stand beside me again.
“I’m keeping her,” I said, smiling warmly at my new possession.
Maia sighed. “Obviously. You’ve wanted your own pet for as long as I can remember, and I’m happy for you ‒ I really am. But of all the pets you could have chosen, did it really have to be a human?”