A short story.
A burglar! She hadn’t seen him, hadn’t heard him. Only the creak, the groan of the old timber bench – he must have leaned on it, or hidden behind it, or used it to propel himself at her as she came in to investigate the noise.
The television sound from the back room – the residential area – jingled with ads. It wasn’t loud, but was it too loud . . . for help to come from there?
She’d made a sound, surely, when the thump came from behind. A groan, a moan, a whoomp of air? She tried to open her mouth, tried to yell, but she felt herself tipping, sliding forward. The floor rushed up at her.
Another step behind her – steel-capped boots; she knew that sound. A crisp clip on the left side of her head. Ow!
She reeled backward, twisted in the air from the force of the blow, fell heavily against the wooden railing at the base of the stairs. Slid down to almost sit on the bottom stair.
The black wraith advanced, hand outstretched, the gun-barrel unwavering in its line. A bright flash, a concussive boom, distant sparks exploded in front of her eyes. A searing hot sensation jagged her thigh. She gasped . . . could not scream . . . tried to stand . . . the floor behind her gave a slow, creaking squeal.
Behind the mask, the wraith’s eyes widened. The gun swung up, shook, wavered. The whites of his eyes enlarged. His mouth let out a squawk – just before Momma-Cat pulsed through the shadows and knocked him to the ground.
Cat growled, bit, scrabbled her claws to catch hold of the struggling intruder.
Groans, yelps, screams – hisses of breath, desperation in every movement. Finally, the enemy lay still. He didn’t stand a chance, anyway.
She looked at the gunshot wound on her thigh.
“Just a flesh wound,” she said aloud, “we can fix that easily enough.”
They left the bloody carcass where it lay and went up the stairs to the main treatment room. She gave herself an injection to fight infection, and cleansed the wound. Sliced along the wound to extract the lump of still-warm metal from its position too close to her artery. Momma-Cat sat by her side for the duration.
Ten stitches went into her inflamed flesh.
The neon light at the gate flickered its message as it lit the stainless steel table.
There were two signs: the one already switched on, always on, was the new sign – “Under New Management” – the second sign was an old sign, the original, that she had just had fixed.
The light flashed again: “Tiger World – See the Great Cats in a Natural Environment.”
pic from Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/en/tiger-scientific-fiction-linear-1529556/)