The stranger eyed Spud. Spud eyed the stranger. Spud was tied up in that chair again. Josephus’ words had agitated the stranger, it was clear to see.
“What’s this about stalking and hunting?”
“I beg your pardon.”
“The Katt’s father said she’s out feeding.”
“She has quite an appetite,” Spud said.
“I’d just as soon get this over with, because I’m going to get the Katt and win out in the end anyway, fiends always do.”
It was at that moment that an enormous roar shook the trees and echoed through the woods, a roar so deafening that every living thing stopped dead in its tracks. The stranger froze.
The Big Katt continued to move rapidly, and nothing would stand in her path. She threw back her head and roared again, and the scent in her nostrils was growing deeper and stronger. She would feed now, she MUST feed, as she padded along on all fours, her mane of golden blonde hair streaming behind her, panting, and she could feel her jaws strengthening and her teeth becoming razor sharp. She had had all she could take of meddling in her homecoming, of an ex-husband who had jumped the rails and spoiled her good times, and now she would satisfy her lust for revenge and move in for the kill.
In the distance, she could see light coming from the mojo shack. She paused, eyes narrowing, and she knew what was in that shack -- the man she now hated, and the man she loved. And the man she hated would be made to pay a dear price, a dear price indeed, and nothing he could do now, nothing in God’s good creation, would spare him.
She felt a tremendous hunger, and her belly was shaking and she was panting, and spit dribbled from her mouth. She breathed heavily, and she realized that she had now made the full transformation into something akin to an actual lion, or lioness, and she opened her mouth again and roared.
The hut shook. Inside, the stranger was beginning to come unhinged.
“What the hell is going on?”
And another roar went up, and then there was dead silence. If the stranger had listened carefully, he might have heard the rustling of leaves, a rustling caused by paws, as the Big Katt circled her target. Indeed, if he were a bit more attentive, he might have noticed the eyes peering in at the window, as she was able to stand upright and seize it with her paws.
Her eyes met Spud’s, and they knew. They knew because they were bonded, heart to heart, and because they had shared the experiences granted them by the high desert medicine man, that something wild and unpredictable was about to take place. For make no mistake, the Katt must feed, and very shortly, the Katt would. And now, she was taking in the situation, and she slipped back down on all fours and padded to the front door of the shack. She let out another savage roar, and the shack shook on its foundations.
“That -- ” the stranger muttered.
“Sounded like the hounds of hell,” Spud said, completing the thought. And there came a pounding at the door. “I would strongly advise you not to open that door.” And another pound-ing.
The stranger didn’t know what to do. He moved to the window, and peered out. What he saw was the Katt, the golden and glorious Katt that he knew and loved, in all her radiance. In dungarees and sneakers. Casual, beautiful, the most desirable creature in all of creation. But how could a sweet, beautiful, sylph-like creature make such a roar? That was simple enough -- he had imagined it. That was no wild animal outside the shack that was howling, it was the sweet and affec-tionate little Katt he knew and loved. He felt more at ease now.
He’d go to the door and open that door, and greet his beloved, take her in his arms. Oh Katt, Katt, I love you now, I have loved you always. He would reunite with his beloved, and they would be happy in each other’s arms again.
Knock-knock! The pounding was heavier now, like a huge sledge hammer thwacking against the door.
“Don’t do it,” Spud said.
And then another thump! Thump!, and this was all the stranger could take. Perhaps three was the charm. He opened the door, and what he beheld you don’t ever want to behold in your life -- he opened the door, and there was no sweet angelic Southern gal standing before him, no gentle soul with a kindly drawl who would stroll with him on a Sunday afternoon among the butterflies and magnolias, and cuddle with him at night. No, when he opened that door what he saw standing before him was something ferocious and terrifying, something savage beyond imagining, with murderous red eyes and huge claws, and teeth that gleamed. The huge, hungry lioness opened her mouth and roared again, and it shook the hut like a blastwave. Indeed, the stranger now realized it, albeit too late. He had opened that door all right, opened that door on something more terrifying than anything he had ever witnessed before -- he had opened that door on the very jaws of hell.