I felt the fire pulse through my back immediately. The claws sinking down; claw touching sinew, touching bone; and in an instant, ripped back out; taking parts of me with. I wonder which parts had left me. The parts responsible for my emotions? Because it seemed as though I had no more. I couldn’t cry. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t even scared. Just, separated. As if astrally outside my flesh, peering over what the cougar had decided to claim as brunch. I was attempting to think back to what I had been doing just before, but all I could remember was grocery shopping. It seems quite fitting actually. That I had been scouring Safeway for my next few meals, much the same as the cougar does in the woods. But I know I couldn’t have been attacked by the cougar in Safeway. Perhaps we had already gotten home. We. Oh, my children…where are they now? The football game will be on later. Must make nachos. Perhaps a hotdog will satisfy me till the couch takes a nap with the light pole. It’s so dark. Bacon-wrapped socks and ficus trees. Beaches. Tent. Black.
“Mmmmmmmmmooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!” screamed the little boy. The girl had run inside, too much in shock to bear witness any longer. But the boy, he was solid. Nerves of steel. Adventurous, curious, and strong-willed; but, even his shell was cracking. “Moooommmm?” He had seen the entire event. Whenever they were outside, they always had a whistle to ward off any possible animal attacks in case any should come into the yard. Today they had forgotten the whistle because it had been attached to one of the play coats, and whenever they went into the neighboring town, they always wore their nicer things.
The mom drove up the mountain. Safeway had yielded some interesting new ideas for meals. Mom always talked about safety. Safety up here, on top of Mount Usk. Ladies in town had scared Mom quite fiercely with talk of animal attacks. Don’t do this. Be sure you do that. So every day Mom gave the boy and the girl tips on how to remain uneaten. Mom was the most precautionary individual that those children had ever known. Always preparing for the worst, so much so that perhaps she didn’t give proper attentiveness to living life and having fun.
When they approached their house, mom pulled underneath the street light at the bottom of their driveway. It was quite curious to see a streetlight on the top of a mountain in a national forest, but that didn’t matter. As much as they always tried to make it home before dark, just knowing that the entire area would be illuminated gave some semblance of courage to this tiny family of three. “Stay in the car guys. I’m going to run up, unlock the house, and grab the cart to lug this stuff up okay?” The boy and the girl minded their mom, just like they always did. They weren’t really afraid of anything. They knew their mom to be the strongest person ever, and they knew that as long as she was around she would never let anything happen to them.
Mom came back with the cart and started loading the day’s shopping items in it to make it back up to the house in one trip. The sun had just begin to set, so though it was getting dusky, they could still see without their flashlights. Not all of the groceries would fit inside the cart, so both the boy and the girl took a bag apiece and began the trek up the driveway. Mom was right behind. Lugging the cart up at that steep of an incline, however, meant that they would make it to the house far before she would. About halfway up the drive, the boy’s bag broke and a couple of cans fell and went rolling back down the hill. He turned around to chase after them and that is when he saw it. The dim light from their porch created the slightest shimmer in the eyes of the cougar that was right behind his mother. His mind did a system dump. All required files were terminated at that point. The file that he needed so desperately, The Scream, was nowhere to be found.
Complete system search.
Aha! There it is!
“Mmmmmmmmmmmooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmm!” but it came just seconds too late. In all honesty, minutes before he had seen the cougar was too late. The girl, who had stopped to wait for her brother to get the things from his bag, her system collapsed, as well, and she went running up to the house and in through the door. Sensitive, caring, loving…she was unable to process what she had just seen. Or thought she saw. Frozen inside the kitchen she remained, unable to move to look out of the window over the sink. She heard her brother screaming for their mom, and that stirred something. Her legs were sticks in cement that was nearly dry, but she made it to the window. There, about halfway up the drive, down by the abandoned house, was a circle of red in the snow so large she felt her head swirl like a toy sucked in the funnel created by the bathwater going down the drain. Her mother was gone. Not just dead, but gone. No longer in the driveway. And neither was her brother. As she’d went into the house, she didn’t see her brother decide to lunge toward the animal that had just decided to eat his mother. Seeing this as a threat to its suppertime, with one swift swipe of its paw, the cougar propelled the boy fifteen feet into the brush along the side of the hill, dead, obstructed from view.
The girl, alone, stayed inside the home.
Nearing cataclysmic system failure. Memory files dumping.
Software malfunction. Hardware glitch.
A wolf, in the distance, howls as the moon becomes visible over the treeline.
Buttons, some of which should not have been, have been pressed today.
Would you like to recover your system?
System Recovery initiated. Full recovery in progress.
Would you like to reboot now?
System Restore complete.
Organic files have been added.
Would you like to restart your system now?
5. 4. 3. 2.
“Come on guys. Get your stuff on. I wanna head to Safeway. They have some sales going on, and I would like to get some things for the football game later,” said the mom.
The boy and the girl minded, just like they always did.