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Laurel was crawling past me. “Get… out…” he wheezed, blood spilling between his teeth. I looked at him in numb shock. This was the same cat I had planned to bed earlier that night. I felt a pang of guilt, having lusted after Skull in his stead.

I looked back… and Skullscap was gone. I did not see his body. I did not hear him. He was just gone. The beast shook himself, looking around as if to challenge anyone else who might try to take his kill. Then he stooped low to sniff at the bloody mess that was his dinner. I began to weep.

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Chapter 5

I must have lost consciousness… because I woke on my side pressed against cold black marble. I rose with difficulty, feeling stiff and only mostly conscious. My inner eyelids had waxed my peripheral vision, and could not be blinked away.
The monotony of the booming percussion had ended. The beast was gone. Laurel lay a few feet from me. I stumbled over to him, rolling him over. His wounds had not begun to heal. I could feel his feeble pulse, though, and pressed my cheek to his wound.
Our ability to heal quickly is not as supernatural as you would think. Themal gave us her deitous larynx, with which we can purr. The resonance from such feline vibration speeds the healing process exponentially.
I worried, though, that Laurel might have been beyond my power. I shifted so that my throat pressed to the deepest of his punctures, purred so loudly my throat began to hurt. I lay like this for some time, looking over his body at the beast's aftermath.
The corpses of several mice littered my once-pristine ballroom floor. I noticed another body draping the bandstand, tried to convince myself it wasn't Skull's. Though, the longer I stared at it... the more it looked like Columbine.
My night vision was failing through the tears and my stubbornly encroaching nictitating membranes*. I buried my face in Laurel's blood-soaked shirt.
It was at this moment I felt a hot gust at my back. I then felt thunderous reverberation in the air around me. I froze to the spot, eyes now fully wide.
Something broad and damp nudged me in the back. Upon inhaling, I now smelt the unmistakable aroma of big male cat.
Laurel began to stir, and I tried desperately to still him. The booming vibration died instantly. I felt the body under me being tugged, heard Laurel cry out weakly in pain. I turned to see Laurel's head pinched between large frontal teeth. He was conscious. I saw the expression of terminal dead on that fair face. Then the teeth clicked together. It didn't crunch so much as “crumph”. It sounded more like a ripe gourd being crushed than bone and organ.

*Inner eyelids, nictitating membranes, known colloquially as “haws” and scientifically as palpebra tertia