A day passed, Ethan didn’t see or hear from Ryan or the other demon. He had wanted to speak more with Ryan, possibly convince him to help him in his situation. Ryan still intimidated him, but at least he wasn’t hostile.
After using the medical kit Ryan had given him to properly bandage his injured foot, Ethan started to regain hope for himself. He had made his way back to town and lingered for a bit, staying hidden in the shadows.
This, however, caused him to be worried again. His story was big news, everywhere he went he heard people talking about a boy who was killed by a demon; or even warped stories such as that a demon had killed and eaten a boy and then killed the entire household.
What scared Ethan the most was that while the majority of the people were scared, many others were angry. Fearing for their own lives, several people had put out a reward of cash for anyone who could bring in the demon, dead or alive.
Ethan avoided the people as much as he could, but couldn’t help listening in to their conversations to hear if they called off the chase or not. So far, people were still looking for him. He even passed by several small groups of people who were looking for him intently.
He now crouched in an alley, sitting in the dark shadows behind a dumpster and wondered what to do. Ethan kept an eye on the entrance to the alley, praying that none of the small groups looking for him would enter.
So far no one had passed by, and it was silent. But suddenly, there were footsteps. Ethan tried to curl up into the smallest ball possible and froze in the shadows, but he couldn’t help shaking in fear.
A man stepped into the alley, whistling a public domain song cheerfully. He was carrying a bag, and walked towards Ethan. His paranoia getting to him, Ethan’s mind began racing, thinking that he was going to be caught soon. The man, however, stopped in front of the dumpster. He opened the lid and swung the bag inside, and then walked out of the alley; not taking a second glance at the hidden boy.
Once he was absolutely sure that the man would not come back, Ethan relaxed and let out a sigh of relief. Remaining silent to listen for any others, he remained in the shadows until yet another sound made him jump.
It was a soft mewling sound, followed by several voices of the same quality. Ethan turned his head slightly and noticed they were coming from an old and rotted box beside him. The box was open at the top, and seemed to move slightly as if it contained something living. The side of the box indicated that it once contained cans of tuna, but it was obvious that the canned ocean fish was long gone.
A fluffy tail appeared over the top of the box into view, followed by two pointed ears and amber eyes as a cat stood up and stretched. The caramel coffee colored tabby looked at Ethan, its expression unreadable. Ethan was afraid he would frighten it, but the cat merely glanced at him and then looked down into the box as if it saw demonic beings every day.
The mewling from the box continued, and the cat bent down and picked something up. It was now obvious that the cat was a female, as she held one of her small kittens in her mouth. Carrying it gently by the scruff of its neck, she stepped out of the box and set the kitten on the ground.
The mother cat stepped back into the box, leaving the young kitten to pad around and mew. The mother cat stepped out of the box again, holding another kitten. She set it on the ground next to its sibling and returned to the box. She repeated these actions until four kittens were out of the box, mewling and padding around; their small fluffy tails straight up like flags.
It was only now that Ethan noticed their physiques. The mother was terribly thin, emaciated, even. The kittens fared no better, although their fluffy fur made them appear healthier. The mother cat glanced at Ethan again, but then turned and walked towards the entrance of the alley. She flicked her tail and looked back at the tumbling kittens playing joyfully. The kittens got to their paws and ran after their mother, joyful and carefree.
Ethan watched as they went, in a happier mood. Fluffy kittens often helped one cheer up. But he felt sorry for them, they looked so malnourished. He wanted to help them, and was about to go after them; when thoughts of people wanting to kill him returned. Ethan sat back down and tried to get the thoughts out of his head; so he thought of the family of cats.
He thought about how the mother had helped the kittens, all the while thoughts of death flashed through his mind like flashes of lightening, highlighted by memory of gunshots from the night he was forced to run away. The kittens had someone to help them; perhaps he could find someone to help him as well.
Ethan could think of only one option to help him survive. He had to go find another demon and ask for help. Ethan got to his feet and looked around. He didn’t want to go out onto the sidewalk as the cats had done, there could be people out. He was relieved when he spotted a fire escape ladder up the side of the building, and walked over to use it.
Scaling the ladder and then climbing some, Ethan managed to reach the roof of the three story building. Checking beforehand to make sure it was vacant, he crawled onto the empty roof and looked around; keeping low.
He crawled over to the edge of the roof and looked down, trying to stay hidden. He saw the family of cats again, walking along the sidewalk. He decided to follow them along the rooftops, moving along slowly.
They eventually reached the side of a small park, a stream cut through the park there. The mother cat walked down to the stream to take a drink, and the kittens followed suit. Ethan stopped as well, watching them peacefully. There were no people in the park, and the only sounds were the wind rustling the leaves, birds chirping, and the stream flowing.
However, another sound was soon added to that list. There was a soft metallic rattling noise. Ethan looked up, and saw someone else on the roof of the opposite building. Quickly, Ethan flattened himself to the roof; thankful that this one had a border on its edges.
After a minute or two of not getting attacked or called out, Ethan peeked over the edge of the roof at the other building. His heart raced madly.
Someone stood on the roof, crouching on the edge of it. The source of the sound was seen; it was a large metal chain wrapped around one of their arms. The person was a boy, he seemed around Ethan’s age. Ethan wondered for a second whether they were human or not, and quickly realized they were a demon. One of their hands was set on the edge of the roof, and large cat-like claws extended from each finger. Unlike the demon he had seen earlier, these claws were not black, but more like the ones you’d see on an ordinary house cat.
Besides the chain around his arm, the boy was donned in black pants and a gray jacket, lined with beige fur. A small chain hung around his neck, and his hair was short and dark brown.
His face was hidden by a mask, which confused Ethan. The mask was nearly identical to Ryan’s, but was more fox-like and, rather than a color scheme of black, red, and gold; it was white, red, and blue. It seemed almost friendlier, as this one lacked the unsettling glare and grin of Ryan’s mask.
Ethan was greatly relieved when he realized that this demon hadn’t noticed him. The demon was looking down towards the stream. Suddenly and skillfully, the demon pounced over the edge of the three story building and grabbed the edge of the roof, now hanging off the edge with his feet on the side. Seizing the ledge of a window, he hopped down and grabbed a pipe running vertically down the wall. Then, sliding down the pipe, he made it to the top of the first story and then let go of it. Twisting in the air in a fashion not unlike a cat, he landed on the ground on all fours.
Awestruck by how easily the demon had done that, Ethan stared in wonder at him. The demon got to his feet and dusted himself off slightly, but then walked over to the stream where the cats were now resting.
Ethan suddenly grew worried when he saw the demon approaching the cats. Knowing that some demons preferred raw meat to feast on, he stared, terrified, as this one casually strolled towards the innocent felines.
However, one of the kittens noticed him first and let out a high pitched mew. It quickly padded towards the demon; its tail up and fluffy. The demon watched as it approached and slowed down, looking down at his feet when the kitten reached him so he wouldn’t step on it. The demon reached down towards the kitten, his claws sheathed as much as possible, and picked up the kitten. Despite the fact that the mask covered the demon’s emotions, Ethan could tell he was smiling.
The demon stroked the kitten’s soft fur as he walked down to the stream to the other cats. He placed the kitten down next to its mother and then reached over and petted her. The mother cat purred and rubbed around his legs. The demon then reached down and picked up the mother cat, and walked over to the start of a small bridge that was over the stream. He set her down and then patted her on the head, and then began walking slowly over the bridge while looking back at her.
The mother cat turned and meowed at the kittens, who stopped playing and ran after her. Once they were all by her, she turned and followed the demon across the bridge.
Seeing them move on, Ethan looked around to see where to go. He walked over to the other edge of the roof and managed to make it to the roof of the building next to him. He continued along the rooftops after the demon and the cats.
Soon, the demon lead them to a lot besides a small store. There didn’t appear to be any people around the outside of the store, so the demon walked casually. He made a motion with his hands towards the cat, and then jumped up and climbed the side of the building to a small window high up on the wall. Opening it, the demon managed to crawl through it and disappeared from sight.
The mother cat sat down and waited patiently, as did Ethan; the kittens remained their happy playful selves and hopped around their mother energetically.
A few minutes passed by, and the demon returned to the window. His mask was pushed up slightly, showing that he had three red markings on his skin on each cheek. He was holding something in his mouth; Ethan could see his sharp teeth as well. The demon crawled out of the window and clung to the side of the building as he closed it. He then turned and jumped to the ground, landing on all fours as he did before.
Taking the item from his mouth and setting the mask right on his face, the demon crouched down in front of the cats, who seemed to get eager. The label of the bag now forward, Ethan could see that it was a bag of cat food.
The demon unsheathed one of his sharp claws and stuck it near the top of the bag, he then dragged it across the top in the plastic; ripping a hole in it. Tipping the small bag over, the demon let its contents out in a pile on the ground; small cuts of fish in some kind of sauce.
The mother cat meowed gratefully, and looked around at her kittens. The kittens mewled and ran forward, wolfing down food as if they hadn’t eaten in days. After the kittens had eaten their fill, the mother cat began eating.
Ethan watched, happy seeing that the stray cats were getting the food they needed. He was glad that demon was nice to them, and began thinking to himself, although getting nervous. The demon had helped those cats, maybe he would help him.
Ethan crawled to the side of the building and managed to climb down the side of it. Anxiously, Ethan limped towards the demon, his back to him. He stood there for a moment, not quite knowing how to start.
“E-excuse me?” Ethan said quietly, looking at the kittens as he was scared of looking at the demon himself.
The demon turned and looked at him, cocking his head to the side slightly in confusion. He made a quick motion with his hand.
“Could you help me?” Ethan managed to look at the demon, trying to exert confidence.
The demon stood up and looked at Ethan, his actions and expressions unreadable; which made Ethan even more nervous. The demon gestured again something with his hand in silence.
“Well, I uh, I’m Ethan” Ethan grew silent, hoping for a reply in words.
The demon motioned with his hands, and then was silent; as if waiting for Ethan to continue. They stared at each other in silence, when suddenly the demon seemed to realize something. The demon motioned towards himself, and then to his throat, and then made an ‘X’ with his hands.
“Oh,” Ethan was glad he finally understood something the demon motioned. “You’re . . . mute?”
The demon nodded, but then made a motion with his hand; Ethan could tell it meant for him to continue.
“Well I ugh, everyone kinda thinks I’m a demon who killed someone, and now people want to kill me. And I don’t really know how to fight or get around, and everyone out here seems to be looking for me to kill me. I was hoping . . .” Ethan paused, hoping he wasn’t asking too much from a stranger. “I was hoping that another demon could help me learn to be on my own, seeing that I can’t go back to being a normal human . . .” He glanced at his abnormal hand.
The demon replied in sign language to what he had said. Although Ethan couldn’t understand him, the demon seemed genuinely concerned for him. Ethan’s hopes rose by this, and he grew less nervous to be talking to a demon.
Motioning in sign language, the demon seemed to be thinking of ways to help Ethan. He seemed to settle on an idea happily, and then motioned for Ethan to wait. The demon crouched down and picked up the bag of cat food. After making sure that every morsel of sustenance had been emptied from the bag, he walked over to the store and put the bag into a trash can.
After doing so, the demon returned and crouched down. He petted the mother cat and each of the kittens one more time before standing up again.
The demon looked towards Ethan and made a simple gesture to him that was well known as ‘follow me.’ He then turned and began to walk away.
Ethan hesitated, but then walked after the fox-masked demon.