Fiction Thriller Suspense

   Fred licked his lips. Dinner was a special treat, tuna. Made just the way he liked it. The can on the counter hosted a different logo and writing than usual but it tasted great.

    “Why didn’t you have tuna tonight?” Fred asked his sister Nicki as he washed his face.

    She made a face at him. “Because you are such a pig. You gobble it up and Mom knows that.”

    “Did you see what kind it was? Very tasty,” Fred said as he stared at the label again. Fukushima Tuna Company was printed under the fish logo.

    “You know I can’t read,” Nicki said. “Ask one of the boys.”

     “No, they can’t read either.” With the parting comment, the pair began their nightly bedtime preparations.

    Fred woke several times during the night shaking from bad dreams. He tried to be sick but nothing happened. His stomach roiled and heaved like he swallowed something alive for dinner.

    Nicki stopped by his bed and poked him. “Wake up sleepy head.”

    Fred groaned and rolled onto his side, “Leave me alone. I didn’t get any sleep. All night, my dreams were monsters chasing me. Big teeth and claws.” He shuddered and hugged his pillow.

    “Did you win?” Nicki asked bright-eyed with anticipation. “How did you escape?”

    “You poked me and I woke up.”

    “Well, that’s no fun. Com’on, let’s get going. The boys want to play.” She was bouncing around, looking at him as he lay there feeling ill.

    “Later, I promise.” Fred rolled over and pulled his legs up into a ball. “Just let me sleep.”

    “I’m telling Mom,” Nicki called as she raced from the room.

    Eleanor felt his forehead, ears and stomach all while making comforting noises designed to relax him. “Just sleep, honey. We’ll see how you feel in a little while.” She tucked his blanket more thoroughly around him.

    As the afternoon began to wane, Fred finally perked up and appeared from under his blanket. He stretched and realized how much better he felt. The rest solved his problems, whatever they were. Bounding down the stairs, he headed outside to play with his brothers and Nicki.

    When their mother called them in for dinner, Fred wasn’t ready to go. He felt full of energy and ran around the yard, jumping and screeching at the top of his lungs. The thumbnail of the moon peaked over the trees at the edge of the fence. Its light was bright and mysterious. It beckoned him to explore and play. Looking around the yard, Fred found a tree next to the fence and climbed up to get over it. As he skipped down the road in the magical moonlight, he noticed every detail. The silvery reflections of the leaves. The smell of the earth and the air.  He snapped his jaws at the non-stop blinking of the lightning bugs. All of it enthralled him.

    As dawn began to blush the eastern sky, the moon set to the west. Fred crept to the front door and laid down on the newspaper. He chased the paperboy down the sidewalk earlier, but the boy didn’t want to play, just throw newspapers. The lock turned and the door opened as Fred lay pathetically on the doormat.

    Eleanor exclaimed when she saw him, “Freddie, honey, what have you been doing? I was so worried when I saw you weren’t in bed this morning.” She picked him up and carried him inside pressing her lips to his forehead.

    After checking him over, she tucked him back into bed and admonished him to be a good boy and get better. Hoping to lose his headache, Fred fell asleep even before he ate breakfast.


    The pattern continued for several days. Each night Fred skulked about the area, venturing further and further into the neighborhood. He discovered over animals out wandering. One night a possum crossed his path and he tried to get it to play with him, but it fell over frozen. When he poked it to check and give it a nip, the smell of its fur made him gag.

    Besides the other animals which he and his siblings never saw during the day, he wandered amazed at the sights and sounds of the night. The rustle of the wings overhead as he crept through the yard. The menacing shadows from the trees waving even when he couldn’t feel a breeze. With heightened eyesight, he realized he could see a mouse creeping around the edge of the garden. While he chased it, he stopped before catching it.

    However, morning brought the desire to be in the house. Quiet and tired, Fred felt drained and required time to recuperate. One evening though Nicki commented on his teeth as they washed dishes. Fred looked in the mirror and grinned, stretching his lips back to complete the grotesque smile. She was right. His teeth looked like he was a snake ready to pounce and fill someone with venom. He imagined fangs dripping with blood.

    He laughed because what he really wanted was to bite into a can of tuna and suck it dry.   


    On the night of the full moon, Fred was on the prowl. Trying to bite things around the house and suck them dry was boring. His siblings just wanted to sleep. Disgusted, he climbed the fence to sneak out of the yard and play with the other creatures of the night. In one yard, he found a stone pool and fountain. He played, dipping his feet in the water, running and attacking shadows. After some time, a desperate craving drove him home as he searched to appease the hunger.

    Insistent pounding on the front door at dawn brought Eleanor down the stairs tying her bathrobe belt. Her hair a tangle while she covered her yawning mouth. “Who is it?” she called as she stepped on the rug marking the landing. She opened the door to find an irate neighbor yelling at her and glaring at the cats peeking at him from the staircase.

    “Where is it?” he screamed, veins bulging in his neck. He tried to push into the house, but she stepped in front of him and held her ground.

    “Where is what?” she asked.

    “Where is the cat that killed my fish? You are going to owe me thousands.” He shoved a grainy black and white photograph printout into her hands. The picture showed the glowing eyes of an animal, facing a game camera, with something dangling from its mouth. While not a negative with reversed colors, the picture image was distorted though recognizable. The gray and white markings of the face were just visible in the infrared light. The whiskers and pointy ears all combined to identify the perpetrator.

    “See….look at that monster.” He grabbed the photograph back from her.  

    “I can’t believe he would do something like this.” Eleanor stepped back from the door and looked around at the bodies peering down the staircase. Making up her mind, she walked into the hallway where she could see into the kitchen. There on the floor by an open cabinet door, with groceries strewn about, lay the bloated body of Fred. As she moved into the room, she smelled the overpowering scent of fish. But it wasn’t the residue of orange scales sticking to Fred’s fuzzy face which reeked. It was the pile of blue cans hosting punctures. Liquid pooled on the floor under the pile.  

    “I’m sorry, sir,” Eleanor said to the man who followed her into the kitchen. “It appears that we have found the culprit.”

    As she rolled Fred over, he burped and opened his eyes sleepily. Eleanor paused as she looked, beyond him and his enormous fangs, over the pile of cans. Some can tops and bottoms hosted jagged holes around the edges like they had been attacked by a screwdriver or hole punch. Others only had two holes. “Well, you didn’t just go after the tuna, did you? You tried some beans, soup and mushrooms. All blue cans. Too bad for you.”

    She picked up the cat and dumped him into the nearby bathroom, closing the door to contain him. Then, she headed for her checkbook while formulating an apology, dodging the other cats investigating the kitchen mess.

    Fred rolled over on the bathroom floor and smiled as he started to wash his face, giving extra attention to his oversize teeth. He wondered what else would taste good.    

October 30, 2020 16:12

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Unknown User
10:58 Nov 05, 2020

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Sandy Buxton
01:41 Nov 07, 2020

Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed it. One of my beta readers felt I should describe Fred's prowlings more...so I will revisit and tweak. I do have a question about Eleanor. I was trying to be vague about feline mother or human mother....is it ok or do I need to work on that too?


Unknown User
20:43 Nov 10, 2020

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