Well, I’m back and a ton of shit has happened.
After we’d made our way back from the warehouse, I still couldn’t believe that headquarters had sent a freaking mentalist to keep me in check. Even worse though, I was entirely out of booze.
Sure, Sandra had told me to keep my shit together and was still sending headquarters periodic reports about my performance, but I wouldn’t give a shit about that.
What I gave a shit about was that she was a freaking mentalist. I’d heard all the horror stories about what those freaks can do to you. They can restrain you with the wave of a hand, scramble up your mind and even implant fake memories right into your brain. To be honest, I was fucking scared of the bitch.
Still, after what had happened during our little encounter with that beast type, and the fact she’d used me as bait, I needed a drink, desperately.
While Sandra was tinkering with her new toys and computers, I set out to one of my favorite little corner stores and got myself a bottle of cheap bourbon.
Once I’d made it back, I did my best to keep it hidden from her. Shit, I felt like I was a freaking teenager again, but what else could I do?
Sandra was all about peak performance, the right type of food, getting enough rest, basically all things I couldn’t give a shit about. If she hadn’t been a freaking mentalist, you’d think she’d be a fitness guru.
When she’d gone to bed, I popped open my old friend Mr. Bourbon and got myself some well-earned relief.
The next day started with pain. Not so much the pain in my head, but the pain of a kick to the stomach.
“Ouch, what the fuck are you-?”
Sandra gave me a cold, hard stare and I could see her holding up the empty bottle of bourbon.
“Exterminator 7D11087, I thought I was clear when I said no substance abuse. If you should continue to-“
“Jesus Christ,” I cursed, rubbing my temples. “Will you give me a fucking break? How about you let me have one goddamn drink?”
She pushed the empty bottle into my face.
“This is not a single drink.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I miscounted,” I mumbled.
That landed me another kick.
“Get up, we’ve got work to do.”
“Jesus, how late is it?”
“It’s eight in the morning. The signature data was transferred a few minutes ago. I’m analyzing it as we speak.”
“For fuck’s sake, how are there incidents popping up every single day now?”
Sandra looked at me for a moment, and I could see her thinking, but she didn’t answer my question.
“Get ready,” she said instead, and left the room.
I cursed under my breath as I made my way to our big, new equipment room. The neatly packed shelves with their little labels, lists and write-ups made me even angrier. What the hell was this, a freaking convenience store? Who the fuck needed any of this? Freaking OCD-riddled bitch.
Once I’d stocked up on my usual equipment, I joined Sandra in the living room, or, as she referred to it, our base of operations.
“So what have we got today? Anything fun?”
“We’re losing time as we speak, let’s get going already,” she said with a sigh and stormed from the apartment.
“How about you tell me what the fuck we’re up against today first?”
“Today’s signature is located in the western outskirts. The signature’s of medium size and it’s assumed to be C-class, however, headquarters couldn’t get a clear reading of it and neither could my analysis software. So it’s unclear what type it is. From the looks of it, though, it’s most likely a swarm or a vermin type.”
“Isn’t that great, so we’re going on in blind, aren’t we? Why the hell did you bother to set up all that shit in our living room if it’s useless?”
Sandra glared at me and for a moment I could feel the slightest hint of her powers brushing over my body. I cringed back and a slight grin appeared on her face.
We arrived at the location ten minutes later. The area we were in might have been nice once, but it had aged badly. Time hadn’t been kind to my city, and many of the outer areas had gone to shit over the past decades.
The street was lined with run-down and abandoned buildings. Most of the people that had lived here had moved on. It was the perfect breeding ground for anything nasty.
The signature, however, originated from one of the few lonely buildings that hadn’t been abandoned. When I saw the small house with its well-kept flower garden and the colorful curtains, I couldn’t help but curse.
“The data says the house is registered under one Annelies Krueger, seventy-two years of age.”
“Well, what are we waiting for?”
With that, I went toward the door. While Sandra was busy re-scanning the signature, I rang the doorbell. Sure, we could barge right in, but it often paid to play nice.
“We’ve got one signal from inside, but it’s a weird one. Can’t seem to get a clear reading.”
“Maybe that new scanner of yours is busted,” I said as I rang a second time.
“No, there’s something wrong about this signature. It’s not a vermin or a swarm type, it’s something… different.”
“Shit,” I cursed as I rang once more. There was still nothing, no one opening the door, no movement from inside, no sounds, nothing at all.
Finally, I got enough and threw myself against the door. There was a loud groan and I could tell that the door was barely holding.
“Exterminator 7D11087, what are you-?” Sandra started, but I cut her right off.
“I don’t know what’s going on with your scanner or that signature, but that old lady might still be alive!”
Another thud, the wood splintered, and the door sprang open.
The smell hit me right away. It was a mixture of the typical old person smell and cat piss, lots of fucking cat piss. I cursed and covered my mouth. Sandra next to me did the same.
“Freaking great, I hate cats. Why the fuck did it have to be some old cat lady’s place, of all things?”
“How do you know she’s-?”
“The smell? The freaking food bowls everywhere, the freaking climbing tree over there? What else you need?”
I looked at her and cursed. “You don’t think it’s the cats, do you?”
“I don’t know, the scanner is still acting up.”
As we continued on through the house, I began calling out.
“Mrs. Krueger? We’re here to talk to you about an important issue. Are you there?”
Again we got no answer, and my hopes of finding her alive had already diminished. Sandra was still trying to get her radar to work, but I could see her frown deepen.
“There’s something wrong with this signature, I’ve seen nothing like it.”
“Well, if we’re up against a pack of crazed cat-things, can’t that fuck with the scanner? You know, signal overlap or something?”
Sandra shook her head.
We’d soon finished the entire first floor, but had found nothing. No hint of the old lady, and no hint of her cats.
“Here kitty, kitty, meow mow,” I started as we made our way upstairs.
“Exterminator 7D11087, what are you doing?”
“No clue, don’t cats react to shit like that?”
Sandra sighed and rolled her eyes.
I didn’t care. If we were up against a pack of cats that had devoured their owner, I wanted this shit to be over with. Calling the beasts out was way better than stumbling into a room full of them.
“Meow meow,” I continued as we stepped into the first room upstairs. I frowned when I saw more food bowls and yet another climbing tree.
“Jesus, how many cats was she keeping in here?”
My attention soon shifted from the climbing tree to the cracked door ahead.
“Here kitty, kitty, come on,” I called out and closed my hand around my gun.
“Come on, you furry fuck,” I mumbled to myself as I waited.
Moments later the door was pushed open and something came forward. I saw a small furry body, then the head of a cat, and then I saw more fur. My eyes grew wide when a mountain of twisted, furred bodies pushed itself from the room.
At first I’d thought it was a pack of cats, but then the true horror sunk in.
It wasn’t a pack, it was an amalgamation of cats, a fused together mess of small furred bodies. Half a dozen mouths hissed, claws scratched over the carpet.
When it came for us, it was as if a wave of cats came crashing for us. I jumped back, bringing as much distance between me and whatever that thing was.
I could see Sandra, could see her eyes widen and heard the air crackle around her. There was a wave of her hand and a second later the creature’s attack was stopped. Furred bodies tried to push forward, but could not. Screeches and hisses cut through the air, coalesced bodies twisted themselves as they desperately tried moving.
Sandra closed her hand and the mass of cats was shoved back further.
Right at that moment, I felt something. It was as if something was reaching out to me, no, reaching into my mind. My head jerked towards Sandra but she was frozen, not doing anything.
Then the mass of cats erupted forward once more. Dozens of wide-open mouths hissed in anticipation, and countless paws with extended claws scratched over the floor.
I ripped out my gun and unloaded on the thing.
I’d expected the bullets to hit, for blood to pour out and for the painful screeching of cats. Instead, the bullets were stopped mere inches before they hit and fell to the floor harmlessly.
“What the hell are you-?” I screamed at Sandra, but broke up when I saw the terror in her eyes.
“It can’t be,” she brought out.
Once more I felt something reaching into my mind, this time it was stronger, more powerful and I stumbled back a step, was almost pushed back.
Sandra too took a step back, almost as if stunted. Then I felt pressure all around her, felt her powers pushing forward, but there was no effect.
The word futile echoed inside my head.
Then the cats had reached Sandra. She was thrown to the floor, tried to crawl back, but within seconds, she was half swallowed up by the avalanche of fur, claws and mouths. I saw her wide eyes, saw the concentration on her face, and for a moment the encroaching mass was pushed back. After mere inches, however, all resistance was broken.
Sandra screamed, closed her eyes, opened them again, but it seemed useless. Her powers weren’t working, or, I realized, were negated, overpowered even.
I was with her in moments, shot at the creature, but my bullets didn’t do a thing. If they hit, they peeled away, leaving nothing but bruises behind. The combat knife was in my hand a moment later and I went down on the cat-thing with all the strength I could muster, pushing my entire body against it.
This time, I made contact, and this time, the thing screeched and blood poured forward. I started pushing the knife in deeper and deeper, inch by inch, before I tore it sideways. It did little, but enough for the thing to let go of Sandra. I could see her legs, could see the scratches and bite marks and the strain she’d been under trying her best to push back the assault she’d been under.
The cat-thing, however, had focused on me. In an instant I was surrounded by furred bodies, covered by them. I didn’t have the same ability Sandra had, and there was nothing I could do against the assault.
I was thrown to the floor, tried to stab, to slash, but it was futile, every attack I tried was pushed back, negated. Soon my protective gear was torn apart, peeled off my body before claws dug deep into my flesh. I screamed in pain, got out the gun and shot blindly at the mass on top of me.
Then I felt them being pushed back, felt Sandra’s powers all around, and I could finally escape.
I was covered in blood, my hands were shaking, and for a moment I almost dropped the gun. Then I shot again and again. This time fur and flesh exploded, but even that wasn’t enough. Whenever a cat was gone, bloated, furred flesh took its place.
Once more the thing came for us, once more I felt claws and teeth digging into my body. Then I heard Sandra scream. When I looked over, I found her levitating. Her eyes were bloodshot and wide, her face covered with sweat.
And then an invisible force exploded outwards from her. The furred thing was hurled back, thrown against the wall. Sandra fell to the floor, panting, shaking, and I knew she’d just use all of her powers. I had to make this moment count.
I fought myself up, clenched my teeth, pushed the pain back and threw my tethered body forward. The combat knife was still in my hand. I raised it high before I drove it into deep into the still stunted mass of furred bodies in front of me. I tore at it, creating a huge, bloody gash. Yet, the wound was already beginning to heal. New flesh was already pushed forward.
That’s when I ripped out a grenade. I activated it and pushed it deep into the fleshy crevice I’d created. Then I threw myself back, right on top of Sandra.
The explosion rattled my body to the core. My ears were ringing and my head was throbbing. I rolled off Sandra and stared back to where the damned thing had been. All that remained was burned fur, burned flesh and blood.
I lay there, panting. Sandra stared at me, but then her eyes went wide again.
I fought myself to my knees, then my feet, almost passing out under the effort, but I saw it wasn’t over. Not all the cats were gone, some were still alive or part of them. I could see bits and pieces converging, crawling back together, sinking into one another.
“Oh no, you won’t, fucker!”
I stumbled forward, got my gun and shot anything that was still moving. I had to reload twice before I was done.
By then Sandra had gotten up as well. She came to my side and together we made our way into what we discovered to be the bedroom.
I gagged when I saw the remains of the old lady. Her body had been torn apart, twisted and made into some sort of ghastly idol. Before Sandra could do anything, I rushed forward and destroyed the twisted creation.
“What are you-?”
“Fuck this,” I pressed out. “No one deserves to be turned into something like that!”
I was about to turn back, to make my way out of this disgusting room when I noticed a small glowing orb on the floor. It had been below the idol. I reached out, hesitating for a moment before I picked it up.
“You got any idea what this is?” I asked Sandra.
She stared at it, but shock her head. “No, but I can analyze it back at base and see if it’s of any importance.”
All I could do was nod. For a moment I scanned the walls, saw the cryptic markings all over the wallpaper, but then my vision grew blurry.
I staggered and would’ve fallen to the floor if not for Sandra.
“It’s the same,” was all I could bring out. Sandra who’d looked around as well nodded.
“Yes, it’s just like the ones in that urban development area. More importantly, we’ve got to get you out of here. You’re bleeding. Badly.”
With that, she led me from the room. The moment we’d reached the stairs, I made her stop.
Staring at the remains of the cats, some still twitching, I reached into my pocket. I got out a flamer. For a second I looked up at Sandra, but she said nothing.
I activated it and threw it behind us. The bedroom went up in flames. As Sandra led me down the stairs, the flames slowly spread through the entire second floor.
I didn’t care. Burn it all to the ground, just to be sure.
When we were outside, I felt my legs getting weak. They cramped up and for a moment I fell to my knees. Sandra stood next to me, staring at me, her face a mixture of worry and anger.
“Always so reckless. If you hadn’t,” but her voice trailed off.
“Sorry, that’s not fair.”
I would’ve looked up if I still had the energy for that. Instead, all I managed was to stay conscious.
“Thanks for saving me, exterm… no, Dylan. I didn’t expect to encounter something like that here and without your help, I would’ve been dead.”
As she got into contact with headquarters, requesting immediate help, I saw a stray cat nearby.
It eyed me curiously for a moment before it hissed and hurried away. As I looked after it, I felt my consciousness fading. There was one last thing, I thought as my eyes followed the damned cat down the road.
Fuck monsters and fuck cats.