A strangled yell erupted from outside the orphanage. Fumbling for his glasses, Terry Chang bolted upright, then froze. He closed his eyes and listened, trying to find the source of the noise. Nothing. Swallowing hard, he changed clothes. Hopefully it was nothing. Luckily all the children were away on a field trip.
The silence was oppressive. But something was going on, and he had to do something about it. Turning down the volume on his phone, he tried calling 911 but got no response. No signal again? I wish the US government would get it together.
Terry gulped, steeling his nerves before peeking out the door of his third-floor bedroom. Nobody there. Breathing a silent sigh of relief, he ran to the bedroom next to his, trying to make as little noise as possible, and tapped on his friend’s door. “Jesse, it’s me, Terry,” he whispered. “Can you hear me?”
“Yeah.” Jesse opened the door, his black hair tousled.
“I’ll check to see if anybody is on the second floor…if there’s even anyone still here. Can you watch out for anything on the third floor? I heard a scream outside. Couldn’t get my phone to work again.”
“This stupid government, ruining the economy. Okay, let me get ready. I’m coming with you.”
“There might not be any time. Just follow me as soon as you’re ready. I’m going to go check the second floor, then the first. Here’s hoping we’re the only teachers here right now.”
It would have been better if somebody else could go check on who screamed, he thought. What if he got hurt trying to be a hero?
Terry ran to the elevator, then thought better about it. It wouldn’t be good to alert anyone to his presence. Maybe I can send the elevator down as a distraction. His hands shook slightly as he pressed the button to send the elevator to the first floor and took the stairs to the second floor.
He tiptoed down the steps, placing his ear against the door to the second floor. He slowly opened the door. Looking left, then right, he took a right. Reaching the kitchen, he peeked through a window. Seeing no one, he grabbed a sharp knife from a table. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to use it.
He went back to the door of the kitchen, and pulled it open. Then he trotted back to the stairwell and climbed down.
When Terry reached the bottom of the staircase, he paused. It wouldn’t do to go jumping around the corner. It was better to be safe than dead, so he listened for any noise again. Hearing nothing, he peeked around the corner. Seeing nothing, he tiptoed to the first classroom on his right and looked inside. Nobody. He didn’t see anybody in the other classrooms either.
He reached another corner. Something scuffled at the end of the hallway. Inching forward, he took a deep and shaky breath, and peeked around the corner. Then blinked in rapid succession.
A strange creature loomed in front of the restroom. It looked like a dog, but it was the size of a man. Its snout was buried in a device, and he, or she, talked into it. It wore a body suit, exposing its head and hands. Ragged red fur poked out above its collar, and its paws ended in sharp claws. Its ears and snout perked up, and it turned its yellow eyes toward Terry. Slowly baring its stained yellow teeth, it charged.
Terry turned and ran as fast as he could, his heart thumped wildly in his chest. Was he going to die today?
All of a sudden, a whine sounded. Growling and screeching erupted behind him. Terry risked a quick peek behind him, then stopped, jaw dropping.
A brown catlike creature, almost as large as the dog, slashed at the canine with a gleaming metal knife. The dog ducked, then took a quick step forward, clawing wildly. Red gashes appeared on the cat’s torso, and it hissed. It leapt backward and landed gracefully. The two creatures circled and leered at each other with narrow eyes, their breath misting out in the cool morning air.
The cat dashed forward, thrusting with the knife. The dog grabbed the cat’s right hand, twisting and pulling the cat towards him. Off balance, with a feral snarl, the cat managed to use its other paw to claw the dog’s throat out. Gurgling, the dog sighed, and its eyes glazed over. Tongue lolling out, it collapsed.
Before the first fight was over, a heavy weight slammed into Terry’s side, knocking him several feet away. His head smacked the floor. It felt like a train had crashed into him. Through dazed eyes, Terry saw the cat creature throw the knife toward something near Terry.
It turned out to be a second dog, and it ducked, twisting and grabbing the knife out of the air. Then it charged at the cat creature. They locked paws, each struggling to gain the upper paw. The dog proved to be too strong, and it grinned with a manic look before driving the knife into one of the eyes of the cat. Mewling, the cat dropped to the floor.
Before the fight was over, Terry found it getting difficult to breathe.
The dog’s sneer of triumph was cut short as its neck was twisted from behind. It fell on the lifeless body of the first cat. Everything happened so fast, but Terry didn’t see the action because he had already fainted.
A second cat creature, that had just killed the second dog, mourned its fallen companion for several seconds, then turned and slinked towards Terry. When it got close it looked curiously at the young man, who had prickly black hair. The creature tried to shake Terry awake but Terry didn’t move. It placed its paws on Terry’s wrist, feeling for a pulse. The human was still alive.
The cat twitched its tail worriedly, and decided to take Terry with it. It reached a paw towards Terry, when all of a sudden, Jesse came charging down the hallway. “Yaaaaaahhhh!!! Meeooow! Raaawr! Woof! Wooof! Get away from him!” Jesse screamed.
- Chinese American Military/Alien Science Fiction Writer
Bio: I'm a Chinese-American man writing my first science fiction series. I majored in American Multicultural Studies in University. This helps me create fictional alien cultures. But mostly, I just have an imagination. I have 10-15 books and nearly a dozen alien species planned for Aliens Among the Stars.