You have 4 free member-only stories remaining for the month. Subscribe now for unlimited access

Strange Sanctuary: Grem the Guardian

Mikey sniffed the yard thoroughly, taking in every scent with his super-powered snout. It was a nice night for smelling, and there were so many smells to smell that it nearly overwhelmed the pooch, yet still, he persevered. Mikey had his nose to the ground for so long that his neck started to hurt, but that wouldn’t stop him. A sore spine was a small price to pay for a buffet of woodland creature scents.

His owner Mac once told him that his nose had 300 million olfactory receptors. Mikey had no clue what a receptor was or what old factories had to do with it, but he knew it meant he had a really good nose. It was definitely better than a human nose. They couldn’t even tell if someone was sick unless they stabbed each other and looked at the blood after the stabbing.

Just as Mikey began to have flashbacks of his last visit to the vet’s office, he was distracted by an especially interesting whiff of something, but he wasn’t sure of what. Cat, maybe? It had that hint of feline to it, but it didn’t smell like either of the cats on Fox Run Farm. Lucy always had an air of kitty litter about her—though Mikey learned the hard way never to tell her that— and Gremlin, the barn cat, frequently smelled like dead mice.

Mikey and Lucy had somewhat of a relationship, in the sense that she constantly insulted him, trapped him in the bathroom, trapped him in the basement, trapped him in the attic, and smacked him on the head when he walked by. Lucy even convinced the dog that he would keel over and die if he used the doggy door, so Mikey had to resort to waking up Mac to be let out. Mac did not like being woken up for that.

Gremlin, on the other paw, had maybe said two words to Mikey, ever. The barn cat was a quiet one and didn’t have many friends either. Mikey tried asking him if he wanted to play one time, but the cat responded by swiping at his face. Unlike Lucy, Grem still had his claws, which hurt way worse than when the house cat smacked him.

When he told Mac about the incident, the human shook his head at the dog and laughed. “Mikey, is there any part of Gremlin that looks friendly to you? He’s a massive, one-eyed mouser with an underbite whose only mission in life is to murder rodents.” Mikey learned to give the barn a wide berth after the encounter. Not because he was afraid of the cat or anything, but because—well, ok, fine—he was terrified of Gremlin.

The feline was huge. Mac said he probably weighed in at around 20 lbs, but no one had ever gotten the nerve to pick the cat up and weigh him. Mac also said that a lifetime of outdoor living and killing had made Grem a “hard” cat. His fur looked just as soft as the next animal’s, but Mikey wouldn’t dare get close enough to see for himself.

With his nose an inch off the ground, Mikey continued to track the odd scent blindly. The trail led him right up next to the house and into the backyard. Just as he rounded the corner, he was startled by a voice from the kitchen window.

“What are you doing, dum-dum?”

The dog looked up to see Lucy casually sitting on the sill. The window itself was open, but the screen was shut. Screens were the worst, particularly screen doors. Mac said they were necessary to keep insects out, but Mikey didn’t see the big deal. Insects were a quick, healthy snack, especially the flying ones. They didn’t taste bad either, although the striped ones burned a little on the way down. He must’ve been lost in his pondering of screen doors and spicy flying insects because the cat became annoyed at his lack of a response.

“Hey, dumbass!” snapped Lucy. “I asked you what you were doing?”

“Oh, uhh,” said Mikey, tilting his head. “I don’t—I was sniffing something. I don’t know what, though.”

“You don’t know something? Shocker,”

Mikey squinted at the cat. “Are you being sarcastic?”

“Oh my. That was a big word,” snorted Lucy.

Completely missing the sarcasm of her second statement, the dog held his chin up proudly. “Mac’s been helping me with my vocablueberry, thank you very much.”

“And he’s doing an incredible job,” replied the cat. “You’re not tracking another porcupine, are you? Not that I don’t enjoy the show that follows, but Mac’s not here, and I don’t want to listen to you carry on all night.”

Mikey sniffed the ground again and shook his head. “No. It’s a cat of some kind.”

Lucy yawned. “It’s probably just Gremlin trying to watch tv through the windows again. He wanders up to the house anytime Mac puts on an action or superhero movie.”

Mikey put his nose back to the ground and continued to follow the trail towards the barn. “It’s not Grem. I know his scent, and this ain’t it.”

Something about what Mikey said caused the tone in the cat’s voice to change. “Mikey, stop!” shouted Lucy. He didn’t stop, though. The canine was already through the back gate, and he figured the cat was only calling after him to prank him or squeeze in another insult. Lucy must’ve wanted it pretty badly because she continued to shout as the pooch followed the trail behind the barn.

About 10 yards behind the barn was the tree line that separated the farm from the woods on the Fox Run property, and Mikey followed the scent all the way to the trees where the trail went suddenly cold. That was weird because usually, he could track into the forest for a while before he either lost the scent or became too bored to continue. This trail just stopped at the trees in front of him.

Mikey backtracked a few feet to try and pick up the trail again, but it led to the same result. He practically shoved his nose in the dirt to investigate further, and his efforts led him to a single oak tree. The dog leaned in close to the thick tree trunk, taking in the familiar scent that began to lead up the tree. As Mikey’s eye’s followed his nose, he noticed what looked like large claw marks leading up into the canopy.

Mikey’s brain began to slowly piece the puzzle together as he craned his neck to see the branches overhead. The scent of feline that wasn’t either of the cat’s he knew, large claw marks leading up into a tree, a pair of large, yellow glowing eye’s staring down at him from leaves above. Wait, Thought Mikey. Yellow glowing eyes?

From the branches came a piercing screech, the likes of which Mikey had never heard. Before the canines fight or flight sense even had time to take hold, the leaves rustled, and the pair of yellow eyes descended rapidly down on top of him.

Mikey turned to run, but it was already on his back. The dog felt pain in both of his shoulders and his neck. He made it another step before the weight of the thing caused his legs to give out, leaving him pinned under the creature. Mikey felt teeth sinking further into the nape of his neck, claws digging further into his sides. He could feel that he was seconds away from death.

Suddenly, there was a black blur in Mikey’s now fading peripheral vision followed by a thud that resulted in the thing on top of him releasing its grip. It took a few seconds for Mikey to regain his senses and figure out exactly what was going on. The creature made the same horrible shrieking noise, but this time, it was accompanied by a quieter but equally terrifying yowling. The dog stood up groggily, and stumbling, turned around towards the source of the noises.

Mikey’s vision returned completely, and that’s when he first laid eyes on it. It was a cat, but unlike any feline, the dog had ever seen. It was as big as Mikey, with the longest, nastiest looking teeth he had ever seen. The cat had a thick spotted coat, with fur that puffed out around its cheeks and tufts of black hair sprouting from the tips of his ears. The final thing Mikey noticed was the feline’s tail or, in this instance, lack thereof. That was when Mikey realized he had seen a creature like this before on TV when Mac was watching one of his nature shows. “Oh, no,” said Mikey under his breath. “It’s a boobcat,”

The creature’s attention wasn’t on Mikey, however. It was crouched low, ready to pounce on whatever had just attacked it, but there was nothing on which to pounce. Still next to the tree line, it frantically searched in every direction. The creature seemed to relax a little as it scanned the canopy overhead, then turned its attention back towards the dog, still only a few yards away.

Mikey knew he should have been running for the house already, but he didn’t want to lead the predator back towards the more vulnerable animals on the farm. It also didn’t help that he was frozen with fear. He locked eyes with the cat for half a moment, and before he could turn to run, the cat sprang at him with lightning speed.

It moved so fast that Mikey didn’t even have time to flinch, but something else that moved much quicker intercepted the boobcat mere inches before it sunk its teeth back into the canine. It was the black blur again, except this time it didn’t disappear. The blur stopped, calmly sitting a few feet away from the beast, who was now trying to regain its bearings as well.

Mikey strained to see in the dark, but all he could discern was a shadowy outline and a tail that swished back and forth casually. The shadow turned its head slightly towards Mikey, revealing a single glowing eye, before turning back towards its opponent. It was Gremlin. The thing faced the barn cat and got back in the same crouched position, ready to pounce.

“Grem lookout!” barked Mikey. “It’s a boobcat!”

Both Gremlin and the other cat turned towards the canine, briefly forgetting about each other. “Is he serious?” asked the boobcat.

“Yeah, I’m afraid so,” Gremlin responded in his gravelly voice. “It’s bobcat, dog.” Mikey had told the barn cat his name at least a dozen times—however much a dozen was—, and he was starting to think Gremlin didn’t care enough to remember.

“Actually, I’m a Canada Lynx.” said the bobcat in a sinister tone.

“Wait,” said Mikey, tilting his head. “So it’s not bobcat?”

“It’s bobcat,” replied Grem. “But this asshole is just a bigger version of the bobcat.”

“So just to circle back around,” said the dog. “Is there such thing as boobcat?”

Ignoring the question, the Lynx addressed Gremlin. “You have to put up with this?” it said, nodding towards Mikey.

“Unfortunately yes,” said Grem, still calmly seated.

“You should have let me just kill him,”

“He might be an annoying, smelly, dumb mutt, but he’s in my territory, and that means only I can touch him.”

“Your territory?” laughed the Lynx. “You’re a barn cat, you wannabe.” It slowly approached Gremlin, keeping its head low and muscles tensed, ready to leap. Grem remained in a sitting position, looking almost bored with his tail still moving independently of his body which remained perfectly still. “You catch mice and a few big rats, and you think you’re an ice-cold killer. That’s adorable.”

“You must be a special kind of stupid to attack a dog on a farm,” Grem replied coolly. “Let me guess; you dropped a fox or something, and now you’ve got a taste for the thrill.”

“You’re very astute for a domesticated kitty,” said the Lynx. “It’ll almost be a shame to kill you, but-“

“Save the bad guy speech, you fluffy-faced dickhead,” said the barn cat. “Quit your yapping and make a move.” The Lynx didn’t hesitate at the invitation. It leaped at the Grem with the same blinding speed, but again, Gremlin was quicker. The smaller black cat dipped low and dove to the left. The Lynx’s feet had barely touched the ground before it turned and sprang at Grem again, only to clamp down on nothing but air.

The Lynx spun, muscles still tensed, its eyes burning with anger. It searched furiously for its quarry, but the smaller cat was nowhere to be found. “I thought you wanted a fight, little kitty!” hissed the Lynx.

“No, I want you to leave, dumbass,” said Grem’s voice from an unseen location.

“Yeah, dumbass,” added Mikey. The Lynx whirled around towards the dog, who, until that point, had gone unnoticed. “Uh-oh,” said Mikey, realizing his mistake. The wildcat flew at him with the same insanely fast reflexes and again was intercepted by Gremlin, but the creature was ready this time. It halted in mid-attack, causing Grem to miss and leaving him exposed. The Lynx blindly swung a paw and connected with Grem’s ribs, sending the smaller black cat rolling.

The Lynx seized the opportunity and pounced at its opponent. Grem dodged at the last possible second but not as quickly as before. Gremlin was injured, and it was glaringly evident with his sluggish movements. The Lynx dove, Grem dodged, the Lynx swiped, Grem ducked, and this went on for another couple of seconds until the larger cat finally made contact, sending the barn cat skidding into the dirt.

The Lynx pounced on Grem before he could stand, pinning the black cat to the ground. “Run, Mikey!” shouted Grem before the Lynx put its other paw on his throat. Mikey hesitated a moment and then bolted for the house. Maybe Mac had come home, or perhaps Lucy could help. As he ran around the barn, he began to realize the gravity of the situation.

He stopped in his tracks, thinking harder than he ever had. If Mac had come home, he would have heard the tires coming up the driveway, even with all the commotion. And the idea of Lucy coming to help was a ridiculous one because she wouldn’t even go outside, let alone fight a giant wild predator. Mikey turned to see the Lynx, leaning over Gremlin, both paws pinning the smaller feline.

He called me Mikey, thought the dog. Not Fido, Spot, Mutt, Spike, or Dickhead. “He is my friend,” said Mikey out loud. That was when Mikey, the cattle dog, decided he had to do something to help his friend or die trying. Hopefully not die, though, cause that did not sound fun. The dog knew there were only seconds left before Grem was eaten, so he did the only thing he could think of, he charged.

Mikey didn’t have reflexes like the cats. He wasn’t smart like them or crafty. The dog didn’t have sharp claws. He couldn’t climb trees and couldn’t jump as they could, but he could run really fast in a straight line. Mikey could run faster than anyone in a straight line, anyone. He also had the world’s hardest head, according to Mac.

Lucy once shut the wooden part of the doggy door and dared Mikey to sprint through it from the yard. Mikey naturally took the cat up on her dare and splintered the wood into a thousand pieces with little to no feeling in his skull.

Mikey ran faster than he ever had before, thinking of all the times Mac referred to him as a bullet or a missile. Yeah, that’s what he was—a furry, hard-headed, sometimes slobbery, dog missile, flying towards his target. The tall blades of grass whipped by as his legs churned furiously. Mikey was going so fast that he knew he’d never be able to stop himself without crashing into something. It was a good thing that was exactly what he intended to do.

The Lynx opened his mouth to finish Grem off, but it stopped an inch away. It looked up from the smaller cat just in time to see the dog, now approaching Mach speeds and only a few feet away. Target acquired, thought Mikey, lowering the hardest part of his skull. The Lynx attempted to jump out of the way, but it was too late. There was no avoiding the dog missile.

The Lynx’s ribs made a sickening crunch as Mikey’s head connected with them. The wildcat was launched from its position on top of Gremlin, rolling end over end before finally coming to rest in a heap of fur. Mikey stood protectively in front of Grem, growling with his head still low to the ground.

“Leave my friend alone,” Mikey growled at the Lynx.

“I’m not your friend,” said Gremlin weakly.

“Shutup, yes you are. Just accept it,” replied Mikey, never taking his eyes off the wildcat. The Lynx stumbled to his feet, breathing raggedly. It seemed like it was trying to catch its breath as it shambled towards both Mikey and Gremlin.

“I’m—going—” gasped the Lynx. “To kill-…” The creature’s threats were cut off by the sound of tires rolling up the dirt driveway. A pair of headlights illuminated the backyard, and Mikey heard a truck door open, Mac’s truck door. What immediately followed was a cacophony of shouting from the other farm animals. They must have heard the commotion.

The next thing Mikey heard was the truck engine revving like an angry beast followed by a loud crash. It was Mac ramming the steel gate open, obviously not wasting any time. Mikey turned back towards the Lynx. “Now you’re really in trouble,” snorted the canine. “When my human gets here, he’s gonna turn you into a pair of mittens fuzzball.”

The Lynx hissed, taking another step towards Mikey. It thought better of it, though, as the truck’s headlights swiftly approached. It hissed at Mikey one last time before turning tail and running into the woods. Mikey attempted to hiss back. He had never done it before and wanted to see what the big deal was. After hacking and coughing for a few seconds, he decided that hissing was not for him.

With the Lynx now gone and Mac rolling up in the truck, Mikey turned back to Grem, still unmoving on the ground. Mikey sniffed the cat, examining his wounds. Gremlin had three long claw marks running the length of his ribs, puncture wounds on his shoulder, and a large flap of skin and fur hanging from one of his back legs. The cat was in bad shape and seemed to be losing blood fast. Gremlin began to shiver uncontrollably on the ground. Mikey, ever the good friend, laid down next to the cat and curled up around him to keep him warm.

“Don’t touch me,” hissed Grem weakly.

“I know you are, but what am I?” replied Mikey

Grem looked up quizzically. “Wha—That’s not even in the right context—” The cat shook his head slowly before laying it back on the ground. “God, you’re dumb.” laughed the cat. That seemed to relax him a little, and the threats on Mikey’s life soon stopped. The truck came to a screeching halt a few yards away, the truck door opened, and out flew Mac. He came sprinting up to the pair on the ground and fell to his knees next to them.

“Mikey, what happened?!” asked Mac frantically.

“We were attacked by a Lynx. I think Gremlin is hurt bad, Mac.”

“Wheres the Lynx now?”

“He took off in the woods,” said Mikey, nodding towards the trees. “Hey, also, did you know that it’s called a bobcat, not a boobcat?”

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Humor