A Balrue in the Moonlight
Word Count: 905
The cat was the only one that saw it come up out of the darkness.
They’d just moved in–the Coleman’s Derek and Kim, Ray and Gemma on Saturday and the Thing came around on Saturday night. Its long limbs and dark black mouth were illuminated in the moonlight streaming through the living room windows but the family was asleep upstairs and none the wiser. Nixie, the cat, did but she was too terrified to meow, or yowl, or even hiss. She cowered, pressing her furry black body flat on the hardwood floor and slipped under the sofa, weaving her body up into the safety of the springs.
The thing paid her no mind, its hooved feet scraping along the floor. It was a Balrue, and Balrue’s didn’t feed on cats. Cats were beneath their notice, like shadows, or headlights dancing along the wall from cars passing on by.
The Balrue lived in the basement. Well, truthfully, it lived under the basement in the long forgotten subbasement of the old Victorian home. It came out on moonlit evenings and prowled the neighborhood looking for its next meal. It ate infrequently and stayed hidden the rest of the time. After the Black moon and oftentimes during the blood moon and the blue moon it went dormant, sometimes for years thereafter.
Tonight it was hunting, sensing the Black moon approaching.
It was surprised to see the sofa in the living room but only for a moment. Such things were of no importance to a Balrue but it did signify rich hunting grounds just one floor up above it. No need to leave the house this time. It turned at once in that direction ascending the stairs on near silent hooves.
In the first bedroom slept Derek and his wife Kim and the Balrue slipped in and crouched at e end of their bed and watched them sleep. It moved like liquid to Derek’s pillow, opened its mouth all black and wide and breathed in the minutes and days and weeks of Derek’s life. It stopped at a month. It was not greedy. It only took what it needed, leaving its food source to live on to provide more for it later.
It moved over to Kim, tasted her life like sweet berries, and stopped after only taking a few days. This one was pregnant. It would not be wise to kill its offspring, especially one so young, only a few weeks in the womb.
The Balrue moved down the hall.
Nixie made smacking noises of displeasure under the couch. If a cat could berate herself for cowardice then Nixie surely was done just that. She purred to comfort herself but her body shook with fear nonetheless. She hissed suddenly, a delayed reaction maybe.
She heard it go up the stairs and her fear spiked and she that’s when she began to weave her way out from under the couch, compelled to protect her family. Her body slunk along the floor and she growled deep in her throat but these were sounds of fear not bravery. Her soft paw pads tap tapped up te stairs and her eyes widened in the dark.
It was in the elder one’s room. Nixie could smell it along with another unidentifiable smell. Nixie passed this door in favor of the next. She jumped on the familiar bed in the unfamiliar room and found it empty. Jumping down she went to the next room, the boy’s room. Curled up next to him was the little girl. They often slept this way when one or the other of them were scared. Nixie jumped on the bed, then turned as the Thing entered the room.
Instantly, Nixie hissed, drawing back closer to her people, her tail up and her back arched.
It stepped closer and Nixie growled low and deep in her throat. Gemma turned over in her sleep, pulling the blanket up to her shoulder.
Nixie spat, dancing on the balls of her feet, leaving their impression in the blanket.
The Thing stepped up the bed and ignoring the cat opened its mouth wide and wider, leaning over the still figure of the girl.
With a screech, Nixie leaped, not scratching and clawing, but instead jumped right into the maw of the Balrue, down its throat and it began to choke. Its body weaved and clawed at its own throat, ethen pulled at the tail that dangled out of its mouth. In a moment it was on its knees, then on its face. They it was still.
The boy turned over in his sleep, saw the Balrue in the moonlight, and sat up abruptly.
“Cool,” he whispered.
The Balrue began to twitch and shift. Its flesh stretched and gashes sliced through it. Long sharp cat claws were revealed, then a nose, then a head, pushing and pressing the flesh outward. Shoulders, then body. Finally, the cat’s tail went into the mouth, then out the back of the neck, an Nixie was free. She sat down at once and began the arduous task of cleaning her fur, starting with her whiskers.
Ten year old Ray slipped quietly out of bed, taking extra special care not to wake his sister.
“I better get it out of here before Gemma sees it,” he whispered to Nixie before grabbing one hoof and dragging it down the hall.