The fly fell to the white linoleum floor, landing on its wings. Its legs twitched one last time before curling inward to the insect’s hairy black body. A skinny brown tabby cautiously approached from its hiding place beneath the desk where it had fled as the flyswatter smacked the glass. It batted the small body, flicking it across the floor to where a small but growing pile of swatted flies rested beside a dirty little box. Satisfied, it returned to stare out the large windows that encompassed a quarter of the office walls.
Anna learned monsters were real one night as she crouched in bed, her ear pressed against the wall that separated their bedroom from the living room. This was before Papa had left with the marching men, back when Mama came home from selling in the market while the sun was still high. Annabelle had never seen her mother look like that day when Mama came home. She kissed Papa as they welcomed her home and Annabelle heard her whisper to him, 'We need to talk.' As soon as supper ended, the two sisters were ordered to bed.
Transcribed below are the contents found within a letter inside an unmarked envelope. I found it atop the nightstand at my bedside, leaning against the broken motel clock radio. The letter itself was written on plain computer paper in a messy half-cursive, half-print handwriting.
She dug in the shade of an elm tree where the dirt was still soft and moist and tried to keep her eyes off Starry. The queer thing was, nothing else touched the body. Flies avoided it, the ants and beetles marched around it, and the smell hadn't drawn any scalehound. The monster had touched it. You should never eat something a monster touches. Papa had never said this but she felt sure he would if he were with her. Perhaps that’s how you become a monster in the first place, she mused.
You're not supposed to be scared at nine-and-three-quarters, she knew. You had to be brave and strong and protect the little ones that get scared. Papa said so. Monsters weren’t real. Papa said that, too.
Welcome to the official strategy guide for Felis Catus, affectionately called by its biggest fans as simply “Felis”! Felis is Mammalia Corporation’s second most-popular production—next to Canis Familiaris—with over 500 million copies sold worldwide. A special note to long-time players of Canis: while Canis is famed for its family-friendliness and multiplayer compatibility, Felis only supports…
The cold air burned my nostrils as I inhaled, my chest expanding until my lungs could fill no more. I exhaled a hot blast of air, the steam twirling like smoke from a dragon before rising to join the gray clouds overhead. It was the coldest day of the year. The blizzard from the night…