Grant woke up to his second day off in a row, feeling refreshed until a wave of memories from the previous day unraveled in his head. Although, the sun shining through his window did a great job at repelling his mood to one of a more neutral stance.
There was no doubt in his mind that Ambri’s cages hadn’t caught anything the previous night. For the first time in weeks, not a single roar echoed throughout the fields.
He found it kind of odd that all the abnormalities stacked on top of the same day. As if the village went through a shift, transporting him to an alternate world that only looked the same, but provided bone chilling differences. Well, Kale was an exception. He would appear creepy no matter what world he resided in.
The warped wooden floor in the kitchen creaked as he stepped towards the counter where he placed the rock and the knife from last night. He picked it up, observing it once more, cracking it against the edge of the counter like an egg. Something still shook inside. It wasn’t his imagination.
Still carrying the rock, he walked to his room where he left the claw laying on his dresser. Warbles from birds dulled as they passed in through the window. He reached for the claw, lightly tracing his fingers around it as it easily sliced into his skin.. A rough breath escaped his mouth.
Just how sharp was the claw? The first time he gave himself a cut, he at least applied a bit of pressure on the claw, but this time he barely touched it.
Blood dripping from his hand, he held the claw like a pencil and ran the tip across his dresser. It left a deep engraving with every inch as the claw dragged against the wood. Grant’s eyes widened. He had never been in contact with a lion before, but were all of their claws really this sharp? With how easy he engraved his dresser, he was frightened to imagine what damage these claws could do attached to a living beast.
He set the rock upon the dresser, and brought his face closer and pinned it down with one hand. With his other hand he aimed the tip of the claw at the rock and pushed inwards. It dug in. All that was left to do was slice it in half.
Steadying his breath, he held rock down from the sides with his thumb and index finger. He pulled the claw out from the shallow hole he dug and held the claw above the rock, like a butcher ready to chop meat.
He laughed. What was he doing? Treating this rock like it was some kind of sacred treasure waiting to be claimed.
The air fell silent as he crashed his hand downward, mouth open in anticipation, slicing through the rock. All that was left was to cut through the other end. He picked up the rock to reposition it, and he felt liquid burn into his fresh wound. He moaned in agony and waved his hand through the air and wiped his hand on his shirt. Something leaked from within the rock.
“What the hell is all this s***?!” Grant took for the bathroom and washed off his hands. Standing back in front of the rock, he debated if he should still slice it completely in half, but a puddle of liquid already formed around the stone. Was all that was inside just liquid?
He cleaned up the spill and threw the rock into the garbage, saving the claw. Why was there liquid hidden within the rock anyway?
Grant headed towards the field of cages, and nodded to Kale, who sat on his deck grooming his cat. He seemed to be in the same mood as always.
The light breeze provided a nice relief from the stifling heat of the day before. Grass swayed around the cages as Grant approached. There was no one else around, not even Ambri.
The cages had caught nothing, but as Grant expected, he could see a few of the cats waltzing within eating a grand feast. It was a stupid idea after all, and he was sure that most of the others agreed. On top of that, with his new found knowledge of that claw, who knew if the lions could slice through the whole cage with ease. He wasn’t willing to test that theory, however. After yesterday, if he damaged one of those cages she would probably kill him.
A rustle from a window opening from behind him startled him. “Oh? You are checking out the cages?”
“Ah, y-yeah, just having a look I guess. I was just going on a little morning walk,” Grant said.
“I’ll be right out there, hold on.” The window slammed down.
Ambri at least appeared to be starting her day in a good mood. Maybe that attitude change was just a one time thing.
“No luck last night, what a shame.” Her voice snuck up behind Grant with a whisper. “To be honest, I didn’t even hear a single howl. How odd.” The words flowed out of her mouth as if she was implying something.
“Why are you saying it like that?”
Grant stared at her, and they both went silent for a bit.
“Never mind.” He broke the awkward exchange. He could never tell what she was thinking, or what her version of a joke was. He had experienced her strange pranks ever since the first bonfire he attended.
“I think that was the first night in like three weeks, maybe they went hunting somewhere else. They are probably running out of wildlife to feast on.” Ambri’s shoulders shrugged. “Maybe I should have put out more delicious food for them.”
“I still really don’t know if this is such a great idea.”
“Oh? Why’s that? Do you have a different reason now to try and lecture me?” Ambri’s tone turned serious, but not with an eerie effect.
There she went again. Always acting like she should be in charge of everything. Them staying in Montria all day. Saraiya shouldn’t go to the forest. Kale needed to be watched over like she was his mom. She had to be the one who was going to protect everyone in the village.
Grant was reminded of his own parents as he stared down her eyes, high on authority.
“No, forget it,” Grant spoke and turned his back, walking towards his home. He was not going to allow this to escalate.