My skin felt like over-cooked bacon. There was no water or food on this island, only a few spiny shrubs. Dehydration would probably get me first. Already my tongue felt thick and heavy. It would have been better to have drowned with the rest of the crew. Instead, I floated for days before washing up on this sandy deathtrap.

It was midday when I collapsed on the coarse sand. Something snapped in the scrubby growth. I opened my eyes. The sun hung low. I strained to hear past the steady crash of waves. Another rustle, even closer. Maybe it was something to eat. I scanned the landscape.

A dark shadow moved toward me. Two giant eyes peered from the darkness. Vertical slits reflected yellow in the failing light. My stomach twisted. To have come so far only to be eaten by a beast was fate’s ultimate cruel prank.

I forced my cracked lips open. “Make it quick.”

The beast towered over my prone body. Instead of death, furry arms scooped me up like a babe. I was too stunned and exhausted to fight. It carried me down a ramp into a bunker and place me on a bed.

“Catherine. We have a guest.”

Another creature appeared. “Poor thing’s dried out and terrified, Tom. Bring me some cactus juice.”

I sipped the offered juice and let my feline rescuers fuss over me. If this was a hallucination, it was a good one. If not, I’d have an interesting story to tell.

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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