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Awake (Chapter 30)

Chapter 30

Cato was not happy about being left behind. He paced back and forth in the new shelter that Leader had captured from the scary things. He’d scratched on the door for a while even though he knew that it was ‘bad dog’ behavior, but Leader didn’t come back, so he paced and whined, then barked. Nothing worked.

He went back to the door and scratched again, but stopped when something on the far side hit the door. Cato stepped back for a second in surprise then let out a bellow.

There were no clear things to see through, so he could only bark.

Whatever it was pushed on the door again. It must have been big because Cato could see the door flex with the force of it. His own scratching had done nothing to move the solid door, so when it pushed in more and more with each attempt, Cato began to worry. He sidled backward while giving his best barks, but the door pressed in again.

The latch creaked.

Suddenly Cato was tempted to run and hide, but he also wanted to protect the shelter. That was probably why Leader left him here, he realized. He trusted Cato to take care of things here and he didn’t want to let him down, but the thing was chuffing now, and the air rushing through the crack it had forced in the door blew like the wind. It sniffed, testing Cato’s smell. Cato returned the favor.

The creature on the far side of the door smelled of rotten meat. Cato barked at it with all his strength. It gave a final sniff and then was silent for a while. He wondered if he had finally scared it away, but then it bellowed a challenging reply and the door bent in half.

The monster snarled and Cato saw that it was the same thing he’d seen from inside the front of the new shelter before it was the shelter. It had destroyed the thing that made all the noise and destroyed trees. He had been secretly happy that that thing had been silenced but now it was here staring at him.

Its mighty horns kept it from fitting all of its head into the opening, but it tried to get at him nonetheless. The beast turned its head this way and that grating its horns on the metal that had surrounded the door. The smell of its breath was worse than ever. Cato hadn’t remembered backing up as much as he had, but when he realized just how much ground he’d given up he was ashamed.

Leader would probably be disappointed in him. Cato growled and the thing tried to reach at him with a thick leg. That was too much. Cato could not allow even a part of this creature into Leader’s shelter. He charged.

Cato gripped the thing’s lip in his teeth and shook. The monster jerked back in surprised pain and Cato took advantage. He let go of the lip and jumped up at the throat of the thing, tearing and clawing. Its blood tasted awful, but Cato didn’t care, he kept biting.

Cato was well out of the shelter now, going further and further away with each retreating step of the giant horned scary-thing. It wasn’t so scary to Cato now, however, with its foul-tasting blood filling his mouth and splattering the ground around them, he thought the creature must bleed to death eventually. But then it swung its mighty head and a horn smashed into Cato’s already sore side.

He was thrown to the side and rolled across the ground several feet, but then his paws were under him again and he charged at the thing again, but it had had enough and with a toss of its head it turned and sprinted away.

Cato ran after it, barking his victory, until he decided it wasn’t coming back anytime soon. He gave a final bark then went to the nearest plant and marked his territory.

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