Large raindrops pounded the windshield as the wipers struggled to fend them off. The moon hid behind the storm clouds and refused to shed any light on the lonely road. I sat forward in my seat, peering cautiously out the window. It was late and I was tired and all I wanted was to get home to my little apartment and fall into bed. Sunday dinner at my parents' farm was usually a long, drawn out affair and tonight hadn't been much different. Well, except that Mom dragged me to the study and droned on and on about redecorating plans for the dining room.
I turned up the volume on the radio as the rain slackened. I sped up a little, in anticipation of reaching my bathtub by eleven, and turned on my brights. The long, deserted county roads were plenty dark and plenty pot-holed but my mind was only on getting home.
I settled back and hummed along with the radio as the rain eased a little more. I stepped on the gas, longing to see the lights of the tiny downtown area. I bobbed in time with the music and reached for the volume knob when the deer darted in front of me. My tires screamed on the wet pavement as the front of my car collided with the hindquarters of the doe. She bounced off the hood and slammed into the windshield, causing me to duck, before sliding down to the ground. The engine rumbled, shook the car, then died.
Trembling from head to toe and heart pounding in my chest, I eased the door open and stepped out of the car. The doe was huge and miraculously, still alive. Her breath came in gasps and by the headlights, I could see the glazed panic in her eyes. I dug my cell phone out of my pocket and hit the first number on my speed dial. Daddy, in an effort at continuing to protect me when I decided to move out of his house, forced me to program the sheriff's office in my phone.
"Maple Grove Sheriff Department," a lazy voice answered.
"Hi, Deputy Barnes. This is Mya Kendrick and I just hit a deer," I said, watching the poor thing struggle to keep from lapsing into shock. "I'm out on State Road 4, about a mile east of town."
"You okay, Mya?" the deputy asked.
"I'm fine, sir, but the deer is in bad shape."
"Okay. I'll get Logan on the radio and send him out your way. Stay in the car, hon, and lock the doors," he ordered.
I thanked him and closed my phone. The doe scrambled, attempting to roll off her side, as her front legs kicked the air, anxious to hit solid ground. A tear escaped my eye as I knelt near the front tire, keeping a safe distance from her hooves.
"Easy, darling," I cooed, wanting to do nothing but comfort her. I was pretty sure she'd have to be destroyed and I wished I could do something to make her last couple of minutes peaceful. Life and death was a daily thing growing up on Daddy's farm. Too many lame horses or sick cows had had to be put down while brand new calves emerged every spring. It was a hard truth but one I'd face plenty of times before.
She lifted her elegant head, ears pricked forward, and her frantic struggles increased. She bleated loudly and the words I'd been muttering were drowned out by her urgent calls.
The tiny hairs on the back of my neck – the ones underneath my pony tail – stood erect as I froze on the pavement. I heard nothing apart from the struggles of the doe but I felt something. The doe did, too, as fear chased all shock and pain from her big brown eyes.
I straightened and peered at the trees lining the road. The rain had started again in a slow drizzle and the slight breeze teased the leaves. If something was lurking in the woods, I couldn't see it. I planted my hand on the fender, my heart kicking into high gear again, and bit my lip as the doe continued to kick the air and bleat in pain or fear. Maybe both.
Then I spotted the dark shadow creeping low to the ground along the tree line. I squinted through the rain, trying to identify the shape. Too large to be a coyote, the figure continued toward the road, perhaps smelling an easy meal in the incapacitated doe. I was torn between wanting to protect her even though her life was nearly over and wanting to protect myself.
My eyes followed the predator's progress as it leapt nimbly over the shallow ditch running the length of the road. A swish of a tail attracted my attention. It was a long, thin tail – like that of a cat.
"A cat?" I murmured. "Too big."
Although it avoided the rays of light emitting from my head lights, I could tell it was indeed a cat. A large cat. My brain scrambled to make sense. Large cats weren't native to the area. What would a large cat like that be doing prowling the woods of Central Indiana?
A low, guttural growl rumbled in the big cat's throat and shook my core. I pressed my back against the car as it slunk toward the terrified doe. I edged slowly toward the door, desperate to keep my fear at bay, but I was sure the cat could hear my heart thudding against my ribs. My trembling hands searched for the door handle, nails scratching the paint. The cat continued forward, lifting its nose in the air, whiskers quivering.
My stomach twisted into several knots not even the most accomplished captain could tie and I just knew I'd lose the majority of the huge supper I'd shared with my parents. The cat stepped into the beam of light and tensed, its tawny body coiled and ready to pounce.
My trembling hands found the door handle and yanked, the door pushing my body out of the way. I jumped in the car and slammed the door just as the cat leapt. He landed lithely on the hood of the car, rattling the windows and causing the front end to sink. Deep brown eyes bored into mine – far too intelligent for any animal. Its large paws inched toward the windshield and its face –its mouth – pulled into a grin that squeezed the base of my spine and sent a shudder scurrying up to my brain. A scream crept up my throat and made every attempt at escape as a new set of headlights swept the area. The cat glanced over its shoulder, leapt off the car and charged into the trees.
David Logan stepped out of his cruiser and knelt before the still struggling doe. My hand hovered over the door lock button as I grappled with oxygen. My eyes shot to the trees but the cat was gone. I sprang to life, afraid it might return and launch its great body at David.
"Dave," I said as I bolted out the door, eyes darting to the woods again. I grabbed his arm as he gently shoved me aside and away from the flailing legs.
"She's in bad shape, Mya," he said. He ran a free hand over his face. "I'm not sure if Doc Brown is still awake at this hour. Might be better if I just put her out of her misery." He looked at my face and something in my eyes must have alarmed him. "You okay?"
"Dave," I gushed, my breath still unsteady. "There was a cat – a big one. It jumped on my car a second ago but ran off when you showed up. Did you see it?"
He frowned and took my shoulders. "A cat? What are you talking about?"
I sucked in a deep gulp of air. "Like a cougar or something. It was huge."
"There ain't any cougars in these parts, Mya. Are you sure?"
I nodded and trembled. I glanced over my shoulder, afraid to keep my back on the woods. "I saw it up close."
He frowned and slipped an arm over my shoulders. He walked me to the cruiser and opened the passenger door. "I'll get your keys and your bag from the car." He glanced uneasily at the tree line then back at the deer. "I'm going to have to shoot her – her hip is broke. Better if you don't watch."
I nodded and he slammed the door. I watched the trees, waiting for the shot but jumping just the same when it crackled in the night air. He returned a short moment later and handed me my things. He flipped a u-turn and headed toward town, barking orders on his radio.
"I'll get you home now. Someone will tow your car and pick up the deer. Just call the service station in the morning and I'm sure Carl will let you know the extent of the damage."
"Thanks, Dave," I said as he drove through the drizzle. "What about the cat?"
"Well," he said as streetlamps cast a soft glow on the sleeping town. "I'll talk to the sheriff about it in the morning and see what he thinks. My guess is someone had it as a pet and it got too big and too hard to care for. Some idiot set it loose in the woods."
His words made sense and provided a blanket of comfort to my frazzled mind. Perhaps I wasn't crazy. "I'll talk to Sheriff Newbury tomorrow, if it helps."
"He'll probably want to talk to you," Dave agreed. He stopped in front of the dark hardware store and turned to smile. "Get some rest, Mya. Are you sure you're not hurt?"
"Yes, I'm sure," I said as I tried to return his smile. "Thanks for the ride." I slipped out of the car and unlocked the door next to the store entrance. I flipped a switch and bathed the stairway in light as I ran up the stairs. At the top, I unlocked another door and stepped into my apartment. I shut the door and locked both locks.
I leaned against the door and admired my tiny apartment. It was only four rooms – living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath – but it was all mine. I paid for it myself with my earnings at Manny's, the bar I managed. And I furnished it with a rather unusual array of furniture that I'd either salvaged from the Goodwill Store or inherited from my mother. And I kept the décor simple – a few pictures on the walls, plain, pretty curtains, a flower vase here or there. I was desperate to keep from becoming my mother who constantly redecorating and refurbishing her grand home.
I started as something brushed my legs. I looked down and found Simon, my furry roommate winding his slim, gray body around my feet, meowing at me in greeting. I bent to scratch behind his ears and earned a loud purr. Although I loved the little guy with all my heart, I was a little off cats at the moment.
I dropped my bag and keys on the cute little table near the door. I headed to the bathroom, now in more need of a shower than ever, and turned on the taps. I stripped and hopped under the spray, turning my face to the water, and groaned as the fear and tension seeped out of my body.
The water turned cold and I wrapped up in a fluffy towel. I wiped the condensation off the mirror and gazed at my tired, green eyes. A trace of fear still lingered inside them. I shook my head and sprayed the mirror with drops of water. I padded to my room and dressed in shorts and a t-shirt before climbing in the sheets.
As my weary eyes fluttered shut, another pair of eyes haunted my mind. A blazing set of deep brown that bored into mine.
A/N: Okay, so since my last rant on the epi of Vicious Circles, I decided to post this story that I wrote last summer just for myself and never, ever intended to post. I have not finished this story though I do have 15 chapters done and I hope that this will help tide you over till I get over my hump. I originally wrote this for myself because I had an urge to do something 'supernatural' and I thought 'what the hell?' So, I'm posting it and hopefully it will spur my creative juices and I'll finish it then be inspired for something new.
Please, tell me honestly what you think because I don't usually do stuff like this.