(Original post at author’s site: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/meankitty-shreds-the-vampire/, original cover and blurb for comparison: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/feeding-the-vampire/)
Through good luck despite her canine leanings, Misty has survived the earthquakes that have torn the world apart, but has no skills to speak of. Or so she thinks. She does have opposable thumbs, and someone must feed the Turkish Van cat who has offered to let her pet his silky, water-resistant fur, and possibly save civilization as we know it, in exchange for sustenance.
Feeding Ivan is a priority, and Misty finally serves a purpose. Prior to Ivan, she’d actually imagined herself…a DOG person. But when she awakens in Ivan’s spot in the bed, beside a rodent gift from the townsfolk on her pillow, she discovers he has hungers other than canned Fancy Feast. Hungers he expects her to satisfy, since catching mice is beneath him. Today. Unless he’s in the mood. Which he isn’t, so could she please arrange for that?
Under Ivan’s red-eyed, sharp-clawed persuasion, Misty discovers she has the power to set “Have-a-Heart” traps in hallways, in the pantry, or even under the fridge, and not squeal like a big, silly dog when she discovers a mouse in the trap, awaiting Ivan’s pleasure.
I was compelled to feed him. I had no choice, really. He was so beautiful.
Earl cleared his throat. “Thank you.” Our town administrator looked around for agreement, but they weren’t meeting his eyes either. Like kids ducking the teacher’s gaze. “Whatever, Misty. We’re all SO happy you get to be.” He trailed off in a sulk.
A cat servant? Surely no one wanted to be reminded of what they’d be missing. Martyr to the cat? No, not much better.
Earl shuffled the papers in his lap. Waiting for me to gloat, I supposed. Well, he had just said that feeding Ivan ought to be the first order of business. We couldn’t very well make plans for our community while the cat in charge of keeping elegance and sophistication alive went hungry, especially since we needed him alert and fat. Me? No one understood why I’d been chosen. I hadn’t brought much to the table so far, what with my love for dogs, and my survival was accidental. Right place at the right time. Turns out stolid New England was just the right place to be for the particular form this apocalypse took. Granite bedrock and all that.
My boring hometown was a safe haven and everyone wanted in on our resources and cat population. The people turning up every day were let in or turned away depending on whether they liked dogs or cats. I counted my lucky stars I’d been grandfathered in simply because my neighbors didn’t have the heart to kick me out. Excellent keyboarding skills and a dog-friendly personality didn’t count for much in a cat’s opinion. Especially without, um, working keyboards.
I couldn’t afford to brag about being chosen to serve our savior.
Their hearts would harden-they already had. Tonight was pivotal. We’d acquired a Turkish Van cat of our own to preserve civilization here.
Everyone felt better about our future-if we could keep him happy. At least I knew how to open cans. You could say I was a natural.
And yet, the certainty that had propelled me to my feet seemed to be bleeding away, frightened off by Ivan’s fixed intensity and everyone else’s jealousy. They waited, grumbling, for me to just get on with it. Uncomfortable silence.
Hi, I’m Misty and I’m a Dog Person. Or I was. I swear, I’m not anymore! I haven’t pet a single dog in twenty-seven days. Kind of a record for me really. Apparently I can learn.
The Van cat just stared at me.
I set my yellow pad on the chair and made myself walk across the circle to where he sat in the tacky folding metal chair. My sandals slapped lightly on the tiles, making tinny echoes. Ivan’s roving gaze sent tremors of anticipation in my fingers. His fur looked so silky….
A few whispered conversations resumed. They probably didn’t like the creepy silence any more than I did. I appreciated their polite attempt not to beg Ivan to pick them instead. I’d never seen a Turkish Van cat swim, as they were reported to love doing-probably none of them had either.
I stopped in front of Ivan. He rolled over, long, white legs sprawled out in careless indolence. He tilted his head at my hesitation and held out his paw as if to show me his gorgeous claws.
“Perhaps we should step out of the room?” I tried.
”Meow meow.” His grave eyes watched me with avid intent.
If I ran, he would definitely find the strength to hunt me down. After all, he’d walked into this room. Heck, he’d arrived at the bridge leading to our sleepy town only last night, offering his sophistication in return for our worship and sustenance. He had to have gotten there somehow.
He batted my wrist with his paw pads, pricking me with claws of steel.
Exerting steady pressure, he dug in and pulled me closer, parting his lips. White fangs gleamed with fluorescent highlights. My heart thumped in panic, hot fear filling me.
”Will it hurt?” My voice sounded thready, weak.
Hunger flared in his eyes at the question. “Mew.”
Ivan wrapped his paws around my vulnerable, bare arm. The sharp movement splintered any second thoughts. He kicked with his back legs and gnawed. My cheap cotton dress was no protection. The chafe of his claws sent tremors up my body. Terror flashed through me. What if he decided to sneak attack my legs next? From behind…the sofa???
Then all thought and emotion burst in flame, immolating me through the fierce violence of his teeth sinking into my hand. I’m so sorry! I wanted to scream. I should have opened the can already! The agony of the deep puncture, fear feeding pain, fired through my blood. I struggled like a wild thing, without thought. Animal instinct screamed at me to flee, to escape by any means possible.
The Van cat held me trapped. There was no escape for me, the mouse flailing under the cat’s paw. [[Meankitty’s note: that last phrase is ORIGINAL! The author totally wanted to go with this version in the first place but was forced to convert it to a romance novel between two-legger types by somebody who likes dogs, no doubt.]]
My will, never my strong point, snapped. The fight ebbed away with the tide of my blood. The steady drop of pressure left me enervated, without resistance. Darkness filled my brain, prickled with sparking stars. I wilted, becoming a bit of detritus washed upon the floor next to Ivan’s chair. If he chewed off my thumb, my prized opposable thumb, I would be of no use to…anybody.
Pain filled my veins, pumped through my heart. It replaced my blood, spiraling through my body from the insistent penetration of Ivan’s teeth in my hand. Meow meow meow! Helpless against the crashing waves, I relinquished my last hold on my embarrassing love for dogs and sank into the hot, tarry sea of oblivion.