The photo is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto Thursday Photo Prompt. It’s cheeky, I know, but it made me think of a scene from the beginning of Abomination, a not very pleasant scene, my contribution this week.
Tully groped about in the darkness until he found Carla’s hand. He had no idea if he had stopped falling, or if he had been moving at all. All he remembered was the sensation of being nowhere, of being nothing, nobody. Atoms dispersed in the void. Then he remembered the voices and a blind fear rose up and grabbed at his throat until he felt sick.
Calm down, he ordered himself. You’re not in pain and Carla’s here beside you.
“Carla?” he croaked, and the sound of his voice revealed the other sounds he had not noticed before, the faint tremor of Carla’s breath, a scraping when he moved a stone with his foot, the faint sigh that came from his rucksack when he shifted his weight on it. And the darkness was no longer total. Vague silhouettes cut the dim light in one direction. Carla squeezed his hand.
“Tully? You okay?”
“It’s too dark to see the blood,” he said, “but I think I can cope with the pain.”
He grinned hopefully but Carla’s face was strained, weary. “We must be trapped in the cellar. There was a quake. It sounded like the building came down on top of us.” Her eyes opened wide. “Tattoo!”
Carla felt about her as if she couldn’t decide if she was upright or lying down, sat up, waited for her head to stop spinning, then swaying slightly, got to her feet.
“Tattoo,” she called louder. Tully scrambled up too and took her hand. Together they made their way to the pale glimmer of light. “Hey, Tattoo! I see him.”
They stumbled toward the small shape, crouched and waiting, his tail twitching. The cat stayed where he was, giving no sign of recognition.
“It’s me, Carla, stupid! The one who opens the tins, remember?” She reached out her hand and the cat retreated, ears flush against his skull, his upper lip curled back in fear. “Tattoo?”
Carla moved another step forward and the cat turned and fled, scuttling off into the dim gray light. Carla ran after him. Ten strides and she stopped. Tully saw her clearly against the wan light from outside, saw her stop, wait, saw her press her hands to her mouth, then he ran to her.
They were standing in the mouth of a cave—grotto, tunnel, an opening of some kind—whether in a hill or simply a mound of debris it was impossible to tell in the gloom. All Tully could make out was a jumble of irregular hillocks, more like a gigantic rubbish tip than a site of natural beauty. More than the gloom, it was the sense of hostility that made him want to back out of sight, his eyes sliding furtively after half-seen movements. Carla pointed, her eyes wide with horror. He followed the direction of her pointing finger and what he saw made him glad there was so little light.
Tattoo was creeping, backing up to a shifting heap, away from the rippling movement that surrounded him. The ripples leapt and squirmed, squealed and chattered. Tully saw naked scaly tails and colorless fur among the ripples. Carla formed Tattoo’s name silently, helplessly, as the cat, his fur bushed up, one paw raised in hopeless defense, was submerged beneath the wave of rats. Carla sobbed and Tully hid her face on his shoulder. It was over in seconds, but the single scream of terror and despair rang in his ears long after Tattoo’s body had been ripped to shreds and carried away to the vermin’s nest.
If the story grabs you, you can get it here: