Jill stuck her narrow snout out of the grass and sniffed. Beef and vegetables… not too fresh, delicious. Her last litter stirred in her pouch and tagged hungrily on her empty mammaries.
For two years since her brother’s death, she never dared to cross the barren swath separating the forest from the garden. The house had been alive then. Now it hulked in the moonlight, quiet and unguarded. The old lady hasn’t been seen outside, for weeks.
The possum dashed to the squat trees festooned with pale blossoms, then across the garden to the shingled wall. Swerved and turned the corner: Snatches of a conversation drifted from above, spoken in two voices. The low and rumbling made her fur bristle. The other was feeble and female.
Jill’s excellent nose caught an insidious stench of a body rotting alive leaching from that window. The possum heartened- the evil pair were indisposed and distracted.
She retraced her steps around the corner, run past the locked back door, turned another corner, climbed like a bloated monkey over splinting shingles to the first floor window, and squeezed under a raised sash.
She was halfway to the sink and the wonderfully smelly garbage can underneath when a gust of cold air swept into the kitchen. A memory struck: she and her brother, as young joeys, sneaking in--a dark shape swoops down-- her brother’s dead eyes…
She hissed, half-emptying her bladder, and as the swirling mass condensed and hurtled toward her, flew up the counter and slid out, dislodging the pane with a jerk of her back. The sash dropped, nearly amputating her tail. A furious cawing came right behind, as her pursuer smashed into the glass.
Her tail tingling, the unlucky thief ran for the bordering trees, when an attic window broke, and a shard of glass pierced her like a well-aimed javelin.
Jill whimpered and fell. Her turning milky eyes stared at something hovering above. The little joes stirred, and the cloud pounced lower extinguishing their puny, exuberant lives.
The swarm grew denser and seemed to gain in substance. Out of it, a few black feathers fell like ashes, and melted.
A pitiful groan came from the second-floor window. The black cloud paused, listening, and rushed back, the grass and leaves rustling along its path. Up to the second floor… In through the bedroom window…and soon the moans subsided as if the pain was palliated. A tired voice whispered, in Ukrainian: “I told you, you don’t need to die with me… We share blood …She can save you! Go, fly, taste her…”
The faithful caretaker hesitated in the opening. Then a shadowy tentacle stretched, spreading further and further through the night, away from the house- and not long after, hundreds of miles away, Viola Kroll broke into a cold sweat.