Nigel cursed when he hit the pigeon. It had flown from the bushes in a manic flurry before smacking off the headlight with a wet bang.
“Crap,” he thought as he continued on out the driveway. “I’ll just deal with it when I get back.”
Nigel had a take-away ready for collection and the last thing he needed was it going cold while he worried about some stupid bird.
When he got back the pigeon was gone. He’d have forgotten about it too if it wasn’t for the slick trail of blood that led into the bushes which divided his house from the Quinn’s’ next door.
“Maybe it’s just wounded,” he said to himself, feeling a bit guilty.
He placed the bag of hot food on the ground beside him, being careful to make sure the silver containers were balance so as not to spill any, and he knelt down. Gently Nigel pushed back the leaves and leaned in. He didn’t want to spook the poor thing. And something rustled.
In slow motion he looked to his left and an eye stared back at him. Just one. It was big and yellow, unblinking with a dark centre, like a burned black penny lying in stale piss.
Nigel heard breathing and a tongue clicked menacingly, drawing his attention to teeth. Lots and lots of teeth. Sharp teeth, stained with blood and bits of feathers. Nigel screamed and stumbled backwards, pushing himself away from the… the thing, the monster. He ran.
And from the darkness a thin, green tentacle whipped out, wrapped itself around the aromatic bag and, with a whoosh, whisked it away.
Twice now the stray had been fed here. Twice was more than a kindness, twice was an invitation.
It had found a new home.
Stray previously appeared in Wordlegs, Issue 16: Winter 2013
Originally from County Tipperary, 34 year-old Ken McGrath currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. His short fiction has appeared in various places across the web including Raft Magazine, Wordlegs and Antipodean SF. He won the Tipperary Reads ‘Premier Short Story Competition’ in 2010 and 2013. You can find him here: @fromthebigfaceSTRAY by Ken McGrath,