Jaws 'n' Claws

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cover image: pixabay.com.

Submitted: March 23, 2020

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Submitted: March 23, 2020

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Jaws ‘n’ Claws

Strange how I’d never noticed it before. Not once, and I’d walked along this alleyway at least a couple of times a week. Maybe it had just opened, but it did not have that ‘new store’ look about it. No, it had to be that I’d not noticed it simply because I’d never looked.

An alleyway seems a bit of an odd position for a pet shop. ‘Jaws ‘n’ Claws’ the sign above the window reads. I was going to carry on walking but then I had an idea of getting something nice for my cat. She’s a Burmese, and okay, I’ll admit it – she’s spoiled. But pets are for pampering, aren’t they?

I edge my way over to the window and try to take a look inside. Some of these places are so over-priced and I always find it hard to say ‘no’ to a pushy sales assistant. The windows seem to be covered with some kind of film that stops too much light getting in there, not that there’s any chance of that happening along this cobbled street.

I walk to either side of the window, hoping to get a glimpse round the edge of the window, but no such luck. Not so much as a peep. Perhaps it’s some kind of marketing ploy to get people inside. It seems to be working on me at least; my curiosity is aroused and I am now determined to take a look inside.

There is one of those cardboard signs on the door that flips around to say either ‘open’ or ‘closed’. It is turned round to declare the shop open although I can’t see any lights on through the door. I give it a push, honestly half expecting it to stay shut, but it swings forward and I kind of stumble in. The door closes behind me with the sound of a definite click.

Hello,” I call out, in what is definitely what you’d call a dim room. I feel a bit like an intruder, like I had no right to be inside.

There’s a strange smell. It reminds me of some of the cheaper brands of pet food, when they’ve been left open for a couple of days too long. I’m not going to find anything here suitable for Kami. I turn towards the door, but as I do I notice the cages. I step nearer, trying to see what animals are inside. Not because I’d buy one, but if I think the animals are being mistreated I’d have no hesitation in reporting it.

Dim as it is in the shop, the cages are in shadow. The smell is getting stronger too. Finally I get to make out something inside one of them; looks like a rabbit, but it’s not moving. Not so much as twitching a whisker as it lays on its side. Dead, and from the look of it, has been for a while. That’s what the stench must be – death.

I need to get out, get this place shut down.

No one answered my call. Strange to leave a place open with no one working inside. On the other hand I can’t imagine anyone choosing to rob this place. I can’t even see a cash register. Or any stock, unless you’re looking for dead animals that is.

Where the hell has the door gone? The store seems to be in almost total darkness. How long have I been inside?

There’s a sound, a deep rumble of a growl. No, I’m imagining it. There’s nothing alive in here to make a noise. That thought makes me start to panic. I need to find the door and I’m not going to be able to retrace my steps unless I calm down a bit and think.

Deep breath! Bad idea for all I’ve done is drawn the stench of decay deeper inside my lungs.

I feel something brush against my hand. Fur, skin, bones protruding. I push my hands inside my pockets, not wanting to feel anything else, but it doesn’t help much for now I can feel something rubbing around my leg, just like Kami does.

This is no Kami, for its, whatever it is, eyes are blood-red. There’s a deeper growl coming from over by the wall somewhere. The eyes glow red, higher from the ground. A dog? The growl gets louder, deeper, more aggressive. ‘Don’t run! Don’t run!’ I tell myself, but there’s a pain in my leg.

The cat, or whatever it is has scratched me. I kick out, but don’t make contact with anything.

It hurts. I can feel the blood trickling it’s way down towards my ankle. I need to wipe it up, then get out. I have to find the door!

Stooping, I wipe at my leg, flinching at the pain when I touch the scratch. It’s infected me with something! Damn this place! Damn my curiosity! I’ll sue them; as soon as I get home I’ll seek legal advice.

Except I’m not going to get home. The dog is launching itself right at me, and even though I know it’s going to do me no good, I scream!


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