She understood him, but his words made no sense. His voice was soft, licking the fur on the inside of her ears as he spoke again, "Forgotten before my people walked, all your kind are dead and gone. Only shaman hear whispers in spirit dreams of the before peoples. This is no time for you. Still, let us spare a moment more for you to share my joy." Shaman took a small gourd rattle out of the back pocket of his faded blue jeans.
Then, he shook the rattle.
Such a tiny sound to be so dreadful! Jangjangajangajanga. The gourd devoured her ears, plugged them up with its tiny seeds. Back and forth, back and forth waved the rattle. It captured her eyes, as she would drag down a bull with her teeth locked on its neck. She could not think, could not feel her paws against the ground. She was in the air before she knew it, feral instinct supplanting reason.
She missed the shaman and dreamed, dreamed she had a vertical body like his, but feminine and darkly furred. Terrible gourd rattles hung about her chest. She was still, too fearful to jostle the seeds in the countless gourds covering her body. He stood in front of her; dark fur sprouted on his body. They were in a jungle of dead trees, brown ivy; and hard tar paths covered the ground.
Shaman sadly whispered, "This is your home. I see you are distressed, poor shade. Let us not delay. Your pain is great, and you are a terrible omen for my house."
"No!" She roared. This could not be her home! The gourds rattled at her sudden intake of breath, making her wince, detaching her from her beloved, oh so keen senses. Nausea slopped across her belly. The gourd necklaces pulled at her heavy teats. Her milk dripped down and burned the twine.
The furred shaman gaped and stepped back in shock.
The gourds fell from her body.
Free! The brown leaves dropped from the trees and burned against the ground. Asphalt cracked as grass and moss and ivy forced its way above the stone to drink in the sky. Green invaded the jungle ’till it was as she had always known it, as it had always been, always will be–verdant food for her prey. But Shaman was here, now.
She smelled his acrid shock, saw him bend down to grab a fallen rattle, but she would not endure that sound again. She leapt with four legs, no longer in a vertical body. Forepaws raked his shoulder. She felt the soft slide of her powerful hind claws raking open his furred belly. She clamped her fangs upon his neck and tasted the salt of his fear sweat. She bit down harder, crushing his windpipe to asphyxiate him.
His body went limp long before she had expected death. She shook him, delighting in her power over her tormentor. He was not faking. Now he was only food. The fur, so similar to hers, was distasteful to her aesthetics, but she needed her strength and feasted. She dragged the remains up a tree; then, Cat leapt down to find her den. She could not remember when she had last been home, but knew she was needed. She looked back at her kill, just to be sure. Tears of motor oil dripped down his face. Vertical people were strange, and anyway, the night was cool; the ground, soft and vibrant under her paws. It was time to go home.
They were quiet until they caught her scent; then, they mewled for her milk. Cat remembered now: Her kits were still blind and helpless; they needed her. She was gentle with them, her rough tongue softly cleaning her placenta from their fragile bodies. She curled down onto the damp earth and nudged them with her nose, pushing them gently to her teats. She savored the scent of her new born kits. A wave of warm joy splashed over her when she felt the mild scraping of their tiny teeth against her flesh; they were hungry, healthy.
Her kits yowled their distress: a frantic, high pitched pain. They scrambled, pumping their tiny legs, waddling away from her. Their mouths were stained black. She sniffed them. Her kits were covered with man smell, the smell of their machines–motor oil. Shaman had tricked her, had poisoned her milk. She left her den after cleaning her kits.