The Alley Cat Experience

When I first opened my eyes, I beheld a vast sea of wrappers and rotten banana peels. Now those eyes darted nervously as I walked along the rim of the dumpster. I hated these days. Days that Akito used to remind me of my inferior, monster blood. How she did it, does it, I'm still not sure. All I know is that one minute, I'm sleeping fitfully- completely and totally human- and the next, I'm a tuft of orange fur laying around in some abandoned alley.

I'm never in the same alley as before, so it's not like once I find my way back home I can remember it for the future. No. Every time I wake like this, to the putrid scent of garbage, I have to endure the same helpless feeling of being truly lost.

Not that home is much better. Heck, sometimes I wonder why I bother going back at all. But then, there's nowhere else to go. The outside world is never safe. Not for a Sohma.

I rolled my shoulder muscles back and tensed my legs- meticulously streamlined myself as I prepared to jump- only for the purpose of wasting time. I knew I'd regret it later, when I'd be hungry. But then, why did that matter?

Why does it matter: if I starve? I thought to myself. Nobody cares about me. Most actually wish that I never existed. If I die, they'll probably have a party rather than mourn. Starving will cure my boredom, anyway.

The thudding of running feet interrupted my thoughts, and a young girl shot past the dumpster I was standing on. The wind she created stirred my fur, and almost knocked me over. She probably would have made the next state over if she had continued at that pace, but she tripped- over what, I don't know- and fell headlong to the ground.

I stared at her from atop the great green mountain of waste. She was a brunette- with innocent eyes and a kind mouth, which, even in a grimace of pain, was easily discerned to be the type to smile.

She looked up at me in a daze, and I felt my heart skip a beat. She was beautiful, and looked to be about my age. Sixteen, that is. Without loosing eye contact, she started to pull herself up. But as she did this she let out a sharp cry of pain, and clutched at her ankle.

When her shaking hand came away, it was crimson with blood.

I finally jumped down then, landing gracefully on the cracked concrete. I looked around for something she could use to bind the wound- clothes, rags, even a plastic bag could work. But there was nothing.

I nosed her skirt pockets; she had no phone, no money, nothing.

I walked over to her head then, giving her the sternest look I could manage. Stay put, I thought-spoke to her, I'll find help.

Of course, she couldn't understand me, but she wasn't moving anywhere with an ankle like that anyway.

I propelled myself out of the alley with a ferocity I didn't know I had, and weaved between people on the sidewalk. From the sheer number, I figured I must be in the city. Good, I thought, that will work out perfectly. I made my way to the nearest bench I could find. Those were the only people my plan would work on: the ones sitting down and not paying the world any real attention.

The man on that bench reeked of beer, old cologne, and cigarettes. His mouth was fixed, his eyes beady. I didn't need an animal's sixth sense to tell me that he was trouble.

I continued on, finding the next man a bit more average. He was balding under his obviously fake toupee, but his crow's feet pointed toward a mellower attitude. Besides, he seemed sincere. He would be my victim. I didn't have any more time.

Before I pounced, I inspected each of the man's pants pockets for any visible bulges. If I picked the wrong pocket, I would risk injury and confinement for nothing.

There! I mentally shouted, The right pocket!

I nimbly landed right next to the man's side, and shoved my face into the dark, stuffy space. It was incredibly awkward, but I knew it had to be done.

My muzzle banged into something, and I snatched up with my teeth, pulling out so quickly that I careened over the bench. Pulling my limbs under me, I got back up just in time to see the man to jump up and try to snatch me. Perfect. I turned tail and raced back toward my alley.

I couldn't tell the man to follow, or why it was so incredibly important that he did. I had to create different incentive. And I had, hadn't I?

Even when the walk wasn't far, I had to stop periodically so the man didn't loose sight of me. I took one of these brief moments to inspect what I was holding.

It was a phone- the best thing I could have hoped for! If the man didn't make it back, then I could dial 911 on my own. I didn't have to talk- they could track me.

Even so, the man's footfalls still resonated behind me, when I made it back to the girl. She looked as though she was unconscious. I sat by her injured foot, careful of it, and set the phone down. Using the claw that was ordinarily my index finger, I dialed clumsily.

9. 1. 41. Agh! End. Okay, I got this. 9. 214. Agh! End. 9. 1-

The man skirted into view, taking in the scene with shocked eyes.

"Dear God, cat," he said, "I'm no doctor."