The smell of the stinky-mouthed things with long tails came to him before he could see them from where he and Leader rested in their den. He perked up, trying to see what only his nose saw. Leader rested his hand on Cato’s shoulder and mumbled something unintelligible.
Cato felt Leader shift next to him, moving the loud thing that shoots fire. Good, he understood the danger. Leader was not as slow as most humans. He had even come to try and find the thing that Cato had seen earlier, but the thing had already gone. Luckily Cato hadn’t seen anymore of the things. When he’d seen it staring at them through the plants, he had had a moment of fear. The way it stared with those glassy eyes, similar to human’s but darker and deep in the head, had been concerning. The thing had pulled back into the shadows and disappeared. Cato had the good sense to stay with Leader…to protect him.
One of the giant lizards ambled into the space where Cato could see it and he suddenly had to kill it. His memory of the thing they’d killed before was still in his mind, and the fact that this one was headed for the dead bird that smelled so good made Cato jump forward out of the hole, but Leader used one of the special words.
“Cato! Back!” he barked at the thing instead of attacking it and Leader climbed out of the hole and made the loud thing go off. The stinky-mouthed thing had started toward them, but the loud thing somehow made the creature’s head turn bloody. It twisted on the ground and Cato wanted to dive in and finish it off, but the word made him hesitate, so Leader blasted the thing again and it stopped moving.
After that, Leader built a bright-hot and cooked some of the dead bird that they pulled from under the tree. They ate quickly and Leader put some of the bird on his back. They left the stinky-mouthed thing before anything else could come to claim its body.
They ran for a long time again. Always in the same direction. Cato didn’t know why, but he trusted Leader, and it was fun seeing all of the new around them as they traveled. He saw a fluttery creature cross the path and disappear into the plants ahead. Cato was tempted to give chase, but Leader was focused and although he was sure that he would be able to catch up to the human after his investigation into the new animal he didn’t want to let him out of his sight. Not with that other thing fresh in his mind. The way it looked at him.
Humans were generally slow, but Leader was fast for one, and he could stay fast for a long time. Cato doubted that his old Leader would have been able to keep up this pace. He felt a little embarrassed at how grateful he was when they came to a ridge that overlooked as far as Cato could see and Leader stopped.
Cato chuffed and laid down next to Leader, breathing hard. Leader breathed hard too, but he leaned over and patted Cato’s head.
“Good boy,” Cato found the energy to wiggle his tail.