Mr. Rempel

“Call anytime you’re lonely,” Jill said. “I’ll miss you.”

When she got home, she filled a wine glass to the brim with a smooth Cabernet and drank it too fast. Her head ached. As she poured a second glass, she heard a faint noise.

“Bouncer, what are you into?” she called out. The dog bounded into the room, panting dumbly. She kept hearing something though. Small, wet noises.

Jill crept over to the basement door and drew it ajar. She clearly heard an animal chewing. In the shadows at the head of the stairs, she saw a leaf rake and a wooden softball bat.

She slid out the bat, then descended the staircase, squinting into the gloom. Weak light filtered through a narrow, mud-spattered window. The chewing was coming from Dean’s tool bench, behind standing shelves of gardening equipment. She raised the barrel of the bat, slipped around the shelves, and almost cried out.

Princess lay on her side. Her belly was snipped open, apparently by a blood-stained fingernail clipper by her paw. The cat’s intestines had been dragged free and piled in a glistening heap. A dark-red lump—her liver? heart?—rested near her head, showing gnaw marks.





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