Gail looked up at the brilliant stars and the silver of the crescent moon in the cloudless sky. She had struggled all day to keep her cool at the office. Her boss seemed to have it in for her over the last week, handing her one project after another, barely giving her time to finish any of them. Finally quitting time came and she reveled in a weekend to do as she wanted. And she wanted to run.
She stripped out of her clothes once she made it far enough into the trees and kneeled to begin her change. Gail stretched and let it flow through her as fur rippled along her back covering her body. Bone and sinew reshaped making her the animal she became – bobcat. She shook herself, and after licking a sore spot on her shoulder, took off at a lope. Running settled her mind and stretched her body until the kinks of the day fell away.
The tangy smell of a rabbit caught her attention, and she followed the scent to a strand of briars. The blood coursing through the animal’s body called to her as did its fear. She paced in front of the prickly vines, stopping to push at them, but wrinkled her nose at the thorns. Eventually the rabbit would panic, and she could chase it down. Maybe she’d make it her kill, and maybe she’d just release it. She wasn’t particularly hungry, but the thrill of the chase ate at her.
Another scent perked her nose – different yet familiar. She crouched, unsure if she wanted to leave her rabbit to follow it or wait on the rabbit to run. Poking at the briars again she ended up with a biting prick on her nose, and whined at the insult. She pawed at her nose and made her decision, the new scent claimed her curiosity. It wasn’t the nasty briar. Just her natural need to know what ran in her woods.
Gail eased through the underbrush crouched and slowly followed the strange scent. Something moved ahead of her so she stopped and waited, sniffing the air. Still she couldn’t place the odd scent. It wasn’t another bobcat or even a lynx. What strange cat dared to enter her territory? She would make it leave. No one ran in her woods.
Slowly she snuck up on the animal. Her ears picked up the sound of fur against bark. The bastard was marking her land. She marked her land and wouldn’t have another going behind her. She’d tear him up before running him out.
Gail advanced through the leaves making no noise as she moved closer and closer to the trespasser. Crouching behind a clump of hedge, she waited for the animal to show itself. The pungent smell of urine and his male scent met her nose. He padded closer to where she waited then stopped. She wondered if her scent reached him. She was down wind and had made sure to circle wide of the intruder. Then he moved into view. Finally the scent made sense. He was a weir. A weir cat no less.
A cat. A common, everyday Tom cat. A large one for sure, but just a simple black cat stood sniffing the air not ten feet from where she lay waiting. Where had he come from? There were no cats in her neighborhood that dared enter her woods. She’d seen to that. It hadn’t even taken killing one to run them all out. But a weir cat put an entirely different spin on things.
The black thing moved towards her with its back up and tail bushed. She would have laughed had she not been in her bobcat form. He actually thought he could attack her and live? She strutted from behind the hedge growling deep in her throat at the scrawny thing in her way. He didn’t budge but hissed and growled back. Was he daft? Did he realize what she was? Maybe he was from the city and didn’t recognize her as the predator. She’d have to educate him then.
His back bowed and he came sideways at her, baring his teeth. She could do nothing, but oblige his challenge. Charging the cat, she swiped at his nose but only managed to rip through the air. He’d turned and attacked her rear. She felt a sting on her upper thigh. The cat had drawn first blood. This was impossible. Again she lunged and made contact, this time scoring a slash to his side as he jumped back. They both jumped forward at the same time and rolled along the deeply padded ground of leaves, a tangle of flying fur and lashing claws.
The cat’s fierceness and fighting ability astonished her. He turned out to be a formidable opponent and didn’t back down. She found he made contact with her body nearly as much as she made contact with his, and both of them finally jumped back to pant and lick their wounds. The growling cat backed up until he reached a tree and marked it, his tail twitching before racing off towards the tree line.
He’d sprayed her tree! She’d never cover up that pungent scent now. She’d have to wait and mark it later. His parting insult infringed on her victory. She’d find out where the cat lived and warn him to stay out of her woods, or next time she’d go for the throat.