Excerpt from Untitled Work

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Inkwina/Wikimedia Commons

Inkwina/Wikimedia Commons

By CATHERINE KANE
Contributing Writer
Published: December 7, 2011

Christopher Darcangelo’s life was only saved because his daughter had given him a Father’s Day card covered in silver glitter. The glitter was reflective enough for him to see the flash of movement, and long years of experience had him throwing himself sideways seconds before the creature would have pounced on his back and sunk its teeth into his neck.

It landed on his desk in a shower of broken glass, giant paws scattering his papers as its wickedly hooked black claws left deep gouges in the wood. It snarled in his face, lips drawn back to reveal a row of glistening yellow teeth, and Christopher dropped to the floor, scrambling desperately under his desk as the creature swiped a massive paw at his head. He felt the wind as it went by, and he quickly pulled himself out the other side, leaping to his feet and running for the door.

Two steps before his fingers would have touched the handle the creature leapt on him, its claws digging deep into his back and making him scream in pain. Knowing injury was better than death, he took a deep breath and rolled, crying out again as its claws tore free. Desperate, he crawled across the floor on hands and knees until he could grasp his bookcase and haul himself upright.

Christopher’s hand slid back to grab his desk chair, while his other hand felt in his pants pocket for his cell phone, even as he saw it lying in pieces on the floor amidst the ruins of his desk. Right, so he’d just have to do this alone then. He grabbed the chair with two hands and raised it as the creature leapt. He threw the chair with all his might before lunging sideways so he was pressed against his bookshelves.

The creature’s front legs tangled in the chair, and it howled in fury as it thrashed on the floor, trying to rid itself of the chair. Christopher hurried out of its way as it crashed sideway into his bookcase, his books and mementos clattering to the ground.

Christopher could feel blood running down his back, thick and hot, and he knew that soon the adrenaline would lessen and the pain would kick in, at which point he’d really be in trouble. He just had to get to his door—but he was dismayed to find that every step sent a spasm down his spine and into his leg muscles, making running impossible. He cursed himself for obeying his boss and wearing a suit and dress shoes instead of his usual jeans and sneakers—if he died because of poor fashion choices, he wasn’t sure he could live with the embarrassment.

There was a shriek as the wood strained, and then his chair splintered into several pieces as the creature finally ripped itself free. Enraged, it spun towards him on lightning quick feet and coiled its muscles as it prepared to jump. Christopher tried to run despite the pain, but he tripped and fell, and he lay curled against his desk, helpless, as the monster lunged for him, claws unsheathed and teeth bared.

Christopher closed his eyes seconds before the beast crashed into him, but to his shock it simply landed on him, heavy body pinning him to the floor. For a moment he froze, terrified to move, but then he realized that the creature wasn’t moving either, wasn’t even twitching a paw. It was dead.

The next thing he knew, someone was attempting to move the heavy body off of him, and as soon as his senses returned he helped, and together they shoved the giant cat aside.

Christopher looked up into the eyes of his rescuer, and allowed himself a shaky smile. He should have known.

“That was too close,” Elizabeth Darcangelo said, her blue eyes wide and her face white as she stared down at her husband.

 

This excerpt is from Kane’s young adult fantasy novel, which is the sixth in a series.