The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story by Jon F. Merz – Part Seventeen
The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz
I had both hands on my pistol, sweeping as we moved further up the slope of the mountain. Higashi’s footsteps were surprisingly quiet. He had the flashlight under his gun in the classic two-handed style of cops everywhere. I kept my eyes on the tracks as we moved. We were at a definite disadvantage when it came to hearing, but I suspected the rains and winds would dissipate our scents. If it truly was a cat of some type, then the chances of it sniffing us out seemed lower than they might have been otherwise.
The forest around us lit up as lightning slashed across the sky.
I thought I saw something.
I jerked my pistol up and squeezed off a round.
But I blinked and the damned thing was gone.
A clap of thunder boomed overhead and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Higashi jerked as well. But he’d heard my shot and turned.
“What did you see?”
The barrel of my pistol still smoked. I could smell the cordite on the air.
What the hell had I just seen?
It had been fifty meters away – maybe. Big. Some sort of cat. I could see the ears, the tail, the snarl of its fangs as it eyed us like we were some type of nuisance.
I blinked. Higashi was close, but he kept his attention focused outward. He must have known I wouldn’t have fired if I hadn’t seen a target.
“I saw a cat. It looked as big as a mountain lion. Bigger even.”
Higashi frowned. “No such thing in Japan.”
“Then someone either let one loose or it’s something else entirely,” I said. “But I know what I saw.”
“I don’t doubt you. What happened when you fired?”
I shook my head. “It disappeared. One second it was there and the next it was gone.”
“Just like that?” Higashi scanned the ground, looking for more tracks.
I climbed the slope toward where I’d seen the cat. As I did so, I kept the pistol at low-ready. If I saw the creature again, I wasn’t going to miss.
On the ground, I saw a smear of a track, indicating a sudden burst of speed. There was a chance I’d missed my target, or else I hadn’t and the round was still embedded in the creature.
Higashi joined me and we followed the tracks, noticing that they were now heading downhill. Back toward the village.