Cape May NJ ~ A Sort Of Truce
When I realized my big bad intruder was nothing more than a scared lonely thirsty kid my girl-genes kicked into gear and I felt all protective-like. Even worse, I felt sorry for him. I hate that.
“So kid, where you from anyway?”
After I pried my cat off his face my conscience kicked in, next thing you know we’re leaning against a counter full of old WWII relaxation paraphernalia drinking some of my preciously low supply of Acme iced tea. I was starting to wonder if a Nestles bar held it’s flavor for more than half a century but it would be a desperate day before I smashed the glass to get at it. Fuck the apocalypse, I still had some manners.
Malcontent was suspiciously watching the kid from the spiral staircase winding up the center of the tower. He was waiting for any excuse to pounce on the poor kid again. I think he was just paranoid from chewing on too much catnip.
“Stop calling me that. And why are you being so nice to me? I just tried to rob you!”
He scratched the top of his head and pushed his broken glasses back up his nose sniffling.
His hair was a mess of dirty-blond-snarls. He reminded me of a golden-retriever and I squashed the urge to pat his head.
I wasn’t usually accused of being nice so I was wondering the same exact thing.
Why was I being so nice to the kid who followed me back from town?
After hiding out in the woods a few hours he’d tried to break in when I was sleeping in the Dayroom near the top of the tower. Well, not so much break in as stand outside pounding on the door shouting.
I don’t know why this place was left empty, it was the perfect place to hole-up during an apocalypse. A strong fortress and I could literally see for miles. The old display telescopes from World War II worked fine, if I was going to survive, what better place than a WWII Museum housed in an actual Fire Tower.
“Well for one thing, you refuse to tell me your name. I mean really kid, I get the whole stranger-danger thing but the times they are a’ changing and you’re way too young to even get that reference,” I sighed, ” besides, I was raised right, I’m always nice to losers.”
“Hey! I’m not a lose-”
I cut him off mid-word with a wave of my hand.
“Ok ok, calm down kid, I’m just busting your chops. Lighten the mood? You know, just, uh, kidding, so to speak.”
The poor thing was scared out of his mind and I couldn’t blame him. Things were pretty scary these days with more people dead than alive. Getting information was next to impossible and people, if you saw any, were either scared and suspicious or fucking assholes of the violent kind.
Malcontent poked his head out from between the steps of the spiral-staircase and meowed loudly.
The sun was beginning to peak over the ocean, if we weren’t going to sleep then Mal wanted to eat now.
“Get that thing away from me!!!”
The kid hunched over, covering his face.
When Mal had leaped onto him earlier after he entered my sanctuary, he’d left a few scratches and knocked the kid’s glasses off. They were already broken and the concrete floor didn’t help much.
Now I was starting to feel guilty, not a very useful emotion in an apocalypse but seeing this kid so shaken up and frightened half to death by a little ball of fur, well it didn’t take a genius to figure out this kid’s been through some serious shit, what with the end of the world and all. And I did, on the rare occasion, long for some conversation with someone who gave me a little more than a meow.
Though going by the kids track record so far Mal had him beat on the verbal portion of this little pop quiz life had sprung on us.
Watching this stranger who could have been my younger brother in another life I realized my mind had made itself up without including me in on the decision making process.
I grabbed my recently-adopted cat by the scruff of his neck and held him while he purred loudly. He knew I was going to feed him, he always read my mind. I was hungry myself and looked at the kid, thinking about my meager pantry.
My stomach rumbled loud and Mal shot out of my arms looking like a Halloween-cat.
The kid shrieked and I felt a reluctant-maternal-tug on my rusty-heart-strings.
I had a feeling I was gonna regret this.
“C’mon kid, there’s a McDonalds a few miles away, let’s go see if we can scrounge something to eat.”
“Don’t call me kid!”
“Oh joy,” I whispered to Mal as I leaned down and filled his bowl with cat crunchies, “this is going to be all kinds of fun.”