Any Shelter

The paw prints in the new fallen snow led toward the back porch, but did not lead back out again. That damn tom cat again. I’d sick my dog on him, but Rusty isn’t up to it, and besides, he’d probably get stuck under the deck. I pull on a pair of gloves, step into my boots, and grab the broom. I’ll have to chase the cat out myself.

As I open the back door, I’m greeted by sharp cold and my breath billows out like an old steam locomotive. “Come here, cat.” I kneel down to jab the straw end of the broom as an encouragement to the tom to leave.

Under the deck, in the dark, I can see a pair of shiny purple eyes glaring at me. Purple? That’s when I notice the paw prints are too large for a cat, least not an alley cat. When I hear a growl coming from beneath the deck, I leap up and scramble for the door, tossing the broom at the shape that emerges, a tangle of fur and claws and very sharp teeth.