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Amenti Chapter One

Last week I talked about Amenti being re-released in its second Edition form.

Today I am giving you a sneak peek, in the form of the first chapter.

Enjoy!

Chapter One

The water moved like it had a mind.

With a cruel purpose, it sliced its way through the darkness. No matter how fast Bobtail ran, the water was faster. It reached him in moments and swallowed the little cat with ease. Bobtail’s already aching chest burned with the need to breathe. The water squeezed him tight, forcing him to open his jaws, gasping for air, but there was only water. Bobtail fought the tide, knowing he could not win. Darkness swallowed him.

He woke from the nightmare gasping for breath, his fur standing on end and his claws digging into the soft seat of the car. The stink of car exhaust, sweat and rest stop food turned his already tense stomach. He looked around rapidly, his whiskers twitching. The car bounced over a pothole; he leapt to his paws and stumbled into a half full box.

“Hey buddy, calm down. It was just a bump.” A large human hand rubbed over his ears, pushing his fur into his eyes. His panic eased. Bobtail looked up at his human and clambered out of the box. He mewled, embarrassed by his fear at the nightmare.

Settling on top of another box and pushing the memory of the nightmare from his mind, he looked out at the road as the car puttered down the duel carriageway. Bobtail’s human, Steven, put his foot down hard on the accelerator. The engine wheezed, and Steven groaned with disappointment as the caravan he had been racing for the last twenty miles overtook him.

“Oh, well.” Steven’s shoulder slumped. “We’re almost there, lad. I told you I’d get us out of that flat.”

“Wonders will never cease, my friend,” Bobtail said, knowing that humans couldn’t understand cat-speak. All Steven could hear was mewls and grumbles.

Licking his paws, Bobtail tried to stop the shiver that was working its way up his back. Cleaning distracted him and ground him firmly into reality. There was nothing like picking grit from your claws to help you distinguish reality from dreams.

“Want some, boy?” Steven ripped open a packet of cheap, processed meat with one hand and his teeth. Pulling a slice free, he dropped it in front of Bobtail.

Bobtail sniffed at it; his stomach clenched at the stink of plastic and chemical processing. Ignoring the meat, he hopped into another box and looked outside at the passing woodland. The sun was setting, and the trees looked like thin charcoal statues, casting long pale shadows. It was almost foreboding. The window was open a crack, and the wind whipped at his fur, carrying new and interesting smells. Bobtail put paws on the glass, his nose to the wind, and inhaled the scent of the land mixed with the spice of the humans and animals that lived here. He continued to watch the surroundings trundle past, and within minutes of his watching, they turned off the dual carriageway onto a smaller road. Stone houses and concrete streets replaced the trees.

“I think this is it.” Steven sounded pleased. Bobtail tried not to let his disappointment show. The town was like most others Bobtail had seen on his travels with Steven, who rarely remained in one place longer than a year.

A fresh breeze wafted into the car. Bobtail took a deep breath and frowned. Sitting up, he inhaled hard. Something wasn’t right. He looked out of the window at the bland buildings and cracked streets and tried to put his paw on what he was smelling. He licked his nose to clear it and opened his mouth. The air tasted familiar, and a bitter sense of dread washed over him as he recognised the scent of blood in the air, faint but distinctive. Bobtail’s ears flattened back against his head.

“Nice, huh?” Steven reached over and rubbed his ears. Bobtail felt a growl start in his throat and swallowed it.

“Stop it,” he muttered to himself. “The move, the nightmare and the summer heat have addled your brain; there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The car drove through what must have been the village centre and out into the estates. “Aww, that’s cute,” Steven smiled as he drove up to a humped wooden bridge.

“It looks like it’s going to collapse.” Bobtail looked to the sky. “Great Goddess Bastet, I pray unto you, please don’t let me die in this car.” The bridge held. “Thank you, Mother Goddess.”

The road narrowed, and Steven turned left into a Cul-de-sac. The houses loomed tall and dark at the side of the road. A few were clearly empty, but some had faint light leaking out around the curtains. Steven turned into a steep driveway overgrown with weeds and stopped the car. For a moment, they rolled back, but with a quick hard pull on the handbrake, Steven managed not to embarrass them.

“Come on; we can unpack the car later.” Steven’s big hands slipped under Bobtail’s chest and lifted him. Bobtail dug his claws into Steven’s jumper when Steven let go of him with one hand and grabbed the overnight bag. He took a deep breath and tried to fill his nose with the scent of his human. Together, they made it to the front door, which Steven opened without knocking.

“Steve?” a voice called from upstairs. “That you down there?” “Hi, Mike,” Steven called back unenthusiastically and stopped to put his bag down. Bobtail jumped downed. “Hey,” Steven reached down and ran his hand down Bobtail’s back. “Don’t go far; I don’t want you getting lost.”

“It is a house, not the Labyrinth.” Bobtail chuckled before setting off to stretch his legs after a day cooped up in the car.

The house was old; the bare wooden floors were rough under his paws, and the wallpaper was peeling at the edges. But Bobtail was never overly concerned about the appearance of his home. What had his fur rising again was the smell.

The house reeked of blood and death.

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