Short Story – Home Alone

Home Alone

My patrol pattern is pretty flexible. I know I can go almost anywhere I need to, or even like but I do try and keep it rather random. They can’t track me that way. Plus there’s always a chance that one of them will slip up and make an attempt to get through just after I’ve passed by.

I’m sometimes not quite sure what it is that I’m actually walking past, some of them are obvious, there’s food in various strange and unnecessarily complex containers, some of them are huge, much taller than me. When I need to check on the top of them for intruders I get a great view all the way round. That’s one f my favourite places, close to the food, just waiting and hoping they’ll think I’m not paying attention and try to sneak in. Most of this food I can’t eat of course, its locked up and I don’t have access. But sometimes there’s some lying around and I get an extra meal. Jessica gets upset about that when she notices so I’m careful to try and not leave any behind.

At the moment though it’s all quiet around here. The sun’s gone away for the night and I’m going outside. You have to be careful out there, they take all sorts of shapes and they can move fast. Maybe not as fast as I can, but fast enough to be a problem. Plus of course there are flyers. I hate the flyers. They’re usually way out of reach and sometimes they can get behind you. I’m not frightened of them mind you. I’ve had some injuries but I can always defend myself. My weapons are sharp, ready and always with me. I got two yesterday, it was a bit of a special day. They were careless, they never saw me coming, it was more of a tidying up exercise than anything, just keeping my reflexes snappy and practicing my infiltration techniques. I used all the cover just like I’d been shown. Slow and silent until the last instant and then POW, total aggression.

Out here is where they come from especially in the dark, like now. Thieves and robbers, they’re cowards as well; their first instinct is to scatter, to run and hide. They can hide even better than I can, not that I have any need to hide, not when I’m not on patrol at least. I’ll check under the wall in the shadows. Wait. I can see something moving. Not just the grass in the wind it’s too regular, just rustles but each one moving in the same direction. I drop to my belly and wait. Confirmation that’s what I need. I know I’m on my own, there’s no backup out here. The grass moves again, away to my right. I’m as still as a statue, desperate not to make a sound. I know they can hear as well as me. Just a little farther, the grass moves again and through the undergrowth I catch a glimpse of the cause of the rustling. Close to the ground, it looks like an adult and a big one at that.

I know what to do, I watch the rustling and time my movements with it so any sound I make has a chance of being covered. At least I can move faster than they can so I’m getting closer with each step. Just a bit farther now. There’s no cover over the last few feet and nowhere to hide either so that’s going to be the killing ground. It just stopped, right at the edge. I freeze, hugging the earth, flattening myself. So close; if it looks in my direction I’ll have to risk a charge. It stands up. Trying to look along the path seeing if I’m waiting over there, but I’m not. I’m over here. I can see in the dark, much better than they can, and I can see the shape of its head, it looks one way and then the other. I can feel its hesitation, taste its indecision. It doesn’t know I’m here it doesn’t know that even if it changes its mind it’ll just come back towards me. I wait. It drops back to the ground, takes a step, then another. I creep closer, the closer I can get before the charge the better the chance of success. Just a foot more, maybe two at the most, I dig my feet into the ground getting purchase. Building up the power in my legs. One last deep but silent breath.

As I pounce, there’s a dark shadow an almost silent breath of air above me. It’s too late for me to change my attack and I land on empty space and see it swept up in claws even sharper than mine. It didn’t even squeak as it’s life is ended and it soars up out of reach.

Did I say I hate flyers? Well I do.