My Tail

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Afterwards, I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. I wanted it to be stars but it was just a ceiling. For a while, she lay there too with her head nestled in the crook of my neck and our tails entwined. We lay in silence as the rain came down outside but, eventually, she kissed me gently on my furry cheek, got up, dressed and left.

That would be the last time I ever saw her.

I lay there staring at the corner of the ceiling where the walls met and listening to the soft rain outside before I too got up, dressed and left. I felt more hollow than usual. Much later, I would realize why.

It was still raining when the call came and it was still raining when the Pack arrived. I don’t think it ever stopped raining.

***

“She wanted flowers on her grave,” I said, my quiet growl dripped bitterness, “And the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, this world no longer has any flowers in it.”

The rain was falling around us as we stood in that gloomy cemetery. We were a small pack with buildings looming on every side. The City lights blurred through the water while the noise seemed shy to enter that place of sorrow and the endless traffic of man sounded distant.

“What will you do now?” one of the Pack asked, his jaw taut and his eyes dark as he looked at me, “What can you do now?”

I smiled without any warmth, my fangs showing. The rain soaking us hid my tears but I could taste their salt in my mouth. It lacked the copper of blood. Her fresh grave lay before us barren and empty. There were no flowers on it. Mankind had killed all the flowers centuries ago, as with all the non-urban animals too.

The entire world was just the cursed City now; concrete and trash, streets and endless buildings. Mankind’s own polluted temple to his ever-hungry gods.

The only animals that had made it were the ones that could adapt, or be adapted. Rats, pigeons, cockroaches, among others, like us.

Some fringe scientists and rebel bio-engineers had helped evolution along, creating a handful of hybrids–us–that now mingled on the fringes of society and stalked through dark alleyways. Why? None of us knew. The original scientists were now all dead and disappeared. Mankind had eaten mankind, leaving behind us: their illegal bio-tech legacy to be killed on sight as she had been, or worse if the traffickers got you.

Alone–outcast by nature and banned by men–we were each others only refuge.

And she had been mine.

I threw my head back and howled. The old primal howl from deep inside my heritage ripped its way to the surface. The Pack leaned back and howled too, their voices mingling with mine in both sorrow and rage. A primal choir, the blood-curdling song echoed off the City walls and scattered the rats and other survivors in the sewers and trash cans around us.

Mankind was right to have ostracized us. We were different. We were animals, and we would destroy all of them. And, in that moment, I knew what had to be done.

“Kill them,” I growled, turning to the Pack, “We will kill them all.”

***

I watched the dissolvable canister fall. Slowly it fell, like the rise of the City from the eventual merging of all the smaller cities of mankind. Steadily it fell, like the advance of mankind and the slaughter of nature. But, most importantly, decisively it fell towards the central water pumps that drove the remainder of the de-salted seas–a scarce resource–across the entire planet.

I licked my lips. The copper taste of the guards’ blood was still fresh and their corpses still warm behind me. Some of the blood, though, was mine. Perhaps a lot of it was?

All of my Pack had fallen. I was the last of them, and of us.

Some had sacrificed themselves in obtaining the aggressively-engineered, fast-spreading and water-resistant rabies that I had just dropped into the City’s water. The treachery of the fringe scientists and bio-engineers were to thank for that. The rest had sacrificed themselves in breaking into the secure central water plant and making it this far. The paranoia and weapons of mankind were to thank for those fallen in this Hunt.

The final Hunt.

Mankind would be no more in less than a week. The enhanced virus would enter the populace soon, spread quickly and, before long, mankind itself would be little more than a feral beast tearing itself apart.

And they had her to thank for that. The cop that had fired the killing shot at her had killed mankind as a result.

I threw my head back and howled. The old primal howl from deep inside my heritage ripped its way to the surface. There was no more Pack to join in. No voices mingled with mine and, as my lungs gave in and I dropped to my knees, I put my hand to my chest and felt my life-blood pumping out. One of the guards’ bullets had hit me there.

I toppled over to one side. The last of the Hybrids, alone but not lonely as I was going to rejoin the Pack.

And the last thing I saw was the ceiling, where the walls met in the corner.

Then there was darkness.

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