By lisa h
The weatherman forecast rain and meteor showers for Guy Fawkes Night. But Suzie wasn’t interested in either of those events, and chose to curl up under a blanket with the latest Jackie Collins romance propped up on her lap. Her two cats, Sam and Alex, filled the other half of the sofa. The brothers lay in a heap on a cushion, legs and tails intertwined. Both moggies were black with white blotches, but somehow, Alex had inherited long fur while his brother had short, the boys perhaps a production of two matings.
“Your mother was a hussy,” she whispered, and scratched them in turn behind the ear. Their purrs resonated in the quiet room. Suzie took a sip from the wineglass at her side, and watched the cats settle back into sleep. With a deep sigh, she returned to the pages of her novel, where Lucy was about to give in and accept John as the love of her life.
Half an hour later, she snapped the book shut and drained the last of the wine. “Right. Bedtime,” she said to the cats.
Both perked up at the sound of her voice, and jumped off the sofa to follow as she placed her empty glass in the sink, and then through to her bathroom. Sometimes, Sam sat on the bathmat as she brushed her teeth, and performed her nighttime rituals. Gargle and spit, then chuck the day’s clothes in the laundry basket. But Sam must have been tired from his daily romps around the neighbourhood, and had gone straight to her bed. She’d discovered another scratch on him today, not on the hind legs like his brother, Alex. That chicken ran from danger and preferred to leave the fights to his brother. Sam’s cuts could usually be found on his face and ears. Once he came home with blood on his paws, but had no obvious injury. Suzie pitied the cat that crossed him.
She adjusted the amount of bed the brothers took up so she had enough space to stretch out, and lay down. The last thing she did before snuggling under the duvet was to turn off the alarm. Saturday tomorrow, the day she could sleep as long as she desired. She threw one arm across the pillow beside her. For a moment, she ran her fingers over the indent on the pillow. With a prolonged sigh, she rolled over.
A yellow light flashed past the gap between the curtains, and as she plumped up her pillow, a second one streaked by.
“Hey, you two. Shooting stars.” Suzie rolled out of bed and peered out the window in time to see three more wiz by. “I can make a wish.” The cats waited on the bed, regarding her with their yellow eyes. Suzie whispered something under her breath. “There. Done.” She smiled at the felines, and tugged the curtains closed. “Sleep time.”
Suzie woke slowly. The sun streamed in the crack between the curtains, bathing her in warm light.
“I’m so hungry.”
The dream hung on. The hero from her dream rolled up against her side. After a moments pause, he placed a kiss on her neck.
“Please feed us.”
Only when the second voice spoke, did Suzie jump up. A jolt of adrenaline shot into her blood. She grabbed the duvet around her, and tumbled off the bed. Above her, leaning over the edge of the mattress, were the concerned faces of two young men.
“Can you feed us?” The one on the left said. He was dark skinned, his black hair falling long and glossy on either side of his face. His facial features reminded of American Indians, the angles softened with rounder European eyes.
“It’s late, and my stomach’s rumbling,” the other one said. His hair was also black, but worn short and spiky. This second man was white skinned.
“What the fuck!” Suzie backed away, still rolled up in her duvet, until she slammed into the wall. “My jewellery’s in the cabinet over there and my bag’s in the hall. Take the wallet, and go!”
The young men glanced at each other, the expressions on their faces soft and curious.
“Jewellery? We’re hungry. We just want food.” The darker skinned man slid off the bed, and approached her on all fours.
Suzie cowered into the corner, unable to take her eyes off the man’s odd approach. When close enough, he rubbed her leg with the side of his jaw before flopping on the carpet at her feet, his stomach exposed.
“Oh God, you’re naked!” she shrieked. Unable to help herself, she took note of his firm torso. And very small penis. His balls were almost none existent.
“Sam, tell her we’re hungry,” he said, winking and blinking at her.
At the mention of hat name, Suzie sucked in a long breath, and turned to the other man.
“Suzie, feed us.” He climbed off the bed, in the same fashion of the first intruder, and sat cross-legged beside her. Then, he leaned over, as if to kiss. She thumped the back of her head on the wall as she tried to get away, but as his lips came closer, he veered up to touch his nose to hers and withdrew, winking both his eyes at the same time.
“Sam?” she asked, uncurling slightly from her protective position.
“Hello,” the lighter skinned man said. And then, she was very sure, a grumble came from the back of his throat that sounded distinctly like a purr.
The man lying prostrate on the carpet turned his face towards hers. “Hungry,” he said, and nuzzled up against Sam.
“Jesus!” Suzie sat up, and glanced from one to the other. “But you’re cats…” Suzie sank down, and held her head between her hands for a few seconds. “I’m asleep. Have to be.” She pinched her arm hard. Did that work? Would hurting herself really make her conscious? Or would she be pretend pinching? She peered back up. Both men were still on the carpet beside her, naked and grinning.
“Hungry?” the one called Sam asked.
Suzie reached out to him, touching his cheek with her fingertips. He responded by rubbing against her hand. From deep down inside his throat, he started making the grumbling purr again.
“Okay,” Suzie said, not necessarily to Sam and Alex, and stood up. “You seem real,” she said, and paced the length of her bedroom. “Regardless of how you changed, or why, I can’t have you knocking around the flat in your birthday suits.” She opened the wardrobe door, and pulled out some men’s clothes. “Here,” she said. “John left these. He’s about the same size as you two.”
The brothers glanced at each other, and back at Suzie.
“Like this.” She pulled a t-shirt over Sam’s head. “Feed your arms through here.” She grabbed one of his hands, and yanked it through the sleeve. “Now the other.” She tugged the shirt down over his stomach, and stood back to check. “A little big, but not so bad. Now for some undies. Step in.”
Sam stared at her, his eyes vaguely blank.
“Like this.” She lifted one foot, and placed it in one leg of the boxers, then lifted it out again. “Now you.” She guided him into the underwear.
She got him to dress a pair of sweatpants, and turned her attention to helping Alex into his clothes.
“Hungry?” Alex asked as she pulled up tracksuit bottoms and snapped the waistband home.
“Come on, you two.” She rubbed at her temples, and then the worry lines between her eyes.
The brothers bounded ahead. She found them sat on the tiles next to their food bowls as she entered the kitchen. “There’s not enough milk for both of you to have cereal.” She searched through the cabinets. “I guess you’ll have to eat what you’re used to, for now.”
Suzie popped the lid on a new can of Whiskers, and divided the contents between two plates. “Eat here,” she said, and placed the bowls on the breakfast bar. “Sit and eat.”
She thought the brothers might have difficulty balancing on the stools, but they had no trouble sitting, and dropped their heads to the counter, mouths wide.
“Urg.” Suzie grimaced. “You boys stay here,” she waved vaguely about the kitchen. “I’ve got to get dressed.” At that moment, the doorbell sounded. Suzie glanced up at the clock on the wall, wrapped her dressing gown around her and tightened the belt. She’d expected the postman. Instead, John waited on the doorstep.
“What are you doing here,” she asked, and closed the door a little, half hiding from him.
“I couldn’t sleep. Every morning, I wake up, wishing I’d not walked out on you.” John spoke with his head bowed, orating to his hands.
“John, you know we can’t go back. There’s nothing left to save.” She pushed the door a little more closed. “It’s early John, can we talk about this another time – I’ve not even dressed yet.”
He put his hand out to stop the front door closing completely. “I can wait, in the kitchen. I’ll make you some of that brewed coffee you used to like to wake up to.”
“I don’t think so.” She pushed against him. “John, move your hand.”
“No. Let me in. We need to talk.”
“It’s not a good time, please. I could meet you later – at the Starbucks next to Sainsbury’s?”
The pressure from John’s side of the door eased a little.
“When?” he asked, and pushed enough to see her face properly.
Suzie sensed a movement behind her. She glanced to the right, catching quick movements. Moments later, she felt a breath on the back of her neck as Sam whispered, “Trouble?” Then he growled softly.
“You got someone in there?” The hurt in John’s voice was palpable. “You already got someone new?” John shoved the door out of her grasp, and sent her flying across the hall. “And he’s wearing my bloody clothes! What did you do, move him in the night I left?” John circled Sam. He rolled up his shirtsleeves as he moved, flexing his muscles and sneering. “You’re really scrapping the barrel. How old is he – nineteen? Twenty?”
“I-I-I don’t know,” Suzie mumbled from the floor.
“You don’t know, you don’t know,” he repeated, his voice high and whiney. “Well I know something. He’ll not get to vote.” John lunged.
Suzie was never quite sure what happened next. Sam was so quick, her eyes couldn’t keep up. The vase disappeared from the little hall table and the contents splashed onto the wall, then the rim smashed off in one smooth movement. John fell to the ground, shards of porcelain embedded in his chest, his screams filling the flat. Sam held the remains of the vase in one hand, and jabbed with it, as John crawled away, and towards the door. Alex had appeared. He stood watching in the doorway to the kitchen, liking his lips in wide sweeps, and growling.
“You’ve got two?” John shrieked. “Keep them off me!” He manoeuvred himself onto the path outside, climbing to his feet as he crossed the threshold, and for a moment, there was silence in the flat. Then Sam strode once, twice, and broke into a run, chasing after John.
“Holy shit!” Suzie stared up at Alex. But he’d lost interest, and returned to the kitchen.
Suzie ran to her bedroom, and threw on some clothes. She wavered at the front door for a few minutes, listening for a struggle, shouts, yells, anything to hint where they might have gone. But the street remained quiet. Mr Collins strolled by, a newspaper under one arm, his little Labrador puppy straining at the leash.
“Good morning,” he said, and tipped his hat at her before turning into the path next door.
“Morning,” she replied, and retreated inside. Maybe if Mr Collins had not seen or heard a fight, everything might be okay. John was not so injured, or he’d have bled all over her carpet – and certainly not run off down the street.
She turned to the mess in the hallway, and collected up the remains of the shattered vase. A dirty water stain streaked across one wall. After she’d rubbed that dry with a tea towel, she gathered the flowers for sorting, and returned to the kitchen. Alex had left both plates licked clean. No doubt gone to his favourite spot on the sofa, where the sun flooded in throughout the morning.
Something scratched at the cat flap.
“Sam,” Suzie ran over, her hands trembling as she fiddled with the lock, and opened the door wide for him. The smile fell from her face, her pallor swapping for a sickly green.
Sam strode in and dropped a head on the tiles. He sat down next to his offering and looked up at her. “You like?” he asked, and smiled.