Our Furry Friend

A frantic purring sound came from somewhere down below. Harry sighed and glanced at his companion, Melanie. She was thin, gangly almost, with mouse blonde hair, green eyes and a small, pointed nose that her glasses didn't quite sit right on.

"That's her," Melanie said. Her eyes lit up and her energy seemed renewed now that they had evidence that her pet was still alive.

Harry clenched his jaw, shook his head and said, "Of course it is."

Of all the possible places for the kitten to be, it had to be the entrance to the sewers and underground tunnels of Chicago. It was dangerous enough grounds for a human. He didn't like to think what the kitten must be going through. Kittens generally don't last long in the sewers.

A long strangled mew met their ears. Great. Just great. What was it now?

"Harry. We have to do something! I think she's hurt."

A much louder sound, a guttural growl, followed.

Harry cringed and nodded. "Quickly," he said as he led Melanie in the direction of the noise. He held his staff up in front of him, mentally preparing himself to use it.

Melanie followed. And then she stopped, aghast by the scene before her. One thing was certain: her kitten's life was nearly over. "Do something, Harry!" she pleaded.

It was too late for the kitten – they both knew it – but he nodded anyway and aimed his staff at the demon gnawing at the poor animal. It was the typical kind of demon for the sewers. Dirty, no sense at all of personal hygiene, and it stank like someone had dropped a few rotten eggs in a urinal and added a few corpses to the mix.

The demon didn't take well to the blue blast that shot from his staff and pounded it in the chest.

Harry had not expected a single blast to kill the demon – and he was right. It climbed to its feet. Enraged, it hurtled toward them. Harry felt its breath on his neck. Its claws. Groaning in pain, he staggered back, half his shirt shredded and some strips of skin beneath ripped away.

He hurried further away. Put enough distance between himself and the demon that he could fire another blast at it. Another direct hit. A scream – his or the demon's or Melanie's, he couldn't tell. A screech from the cat.

His arm and shoulder burned, was on fire, but the adrenaline pushed him through. It blurred in his mind as each event led to the next and each hit or miss and scrape of teeth shifted to a new move, a new punch. He was sweating, bleeding badly from the wounds on his shoulder, and he smelled worse than the demon did by the time the damn monster collapsed before him.

The demon didn't move.

When he turned to check on Melanie, she had the kitten cradled in her arms and tears streaking her face. "Okay?" he asked.

"I am."

He hesitated before he asked, "And our furry friend?"

Melanie didn't answer. Instead another tear dripped down her face and she turned to head out of the sewers and back to his office.

Great, he thought. Just great.