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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2213313
How can her father say 'no'. Screams!!! 2/18/2020.
Critter

The man knocked at the door, just once. The rain dripped from the brim of his hat onto the shoulders of his coat. He would not wait long.

Footsteps sounded from inside, followed by the sound of a bolt being pulled back. The door opened just a crack, not enough to grant him admittance. "I... I've changed my mind," said the voice from inside the hallway. "Sorry to have wasted your time."

Before the door had closed, a younger voice shouted out. "Wait! Don't go. Daddy, you promised me."

The man heard the sigh of the man, the father, he presumed, before the door opened a bit wider. "You'd better come in."

The girl was quite young, about nine or ten years old. He suspected that it was her, rather than the father, that got to have the final say on most things that happened within the house. She would, he knew, be easy to win over.

They proceeded along the hallway until they reached a room at the back of the house. A fire was blazing in the hearth and he stepped towards it, not for himself but to warm the tiny creature that huddled at the bottom of the cage that he held in his right hand.

"Oh, look, Daddy. The poor thing! And you kept it waiting outside!" She bent down so that her face was level with the creature and began to coo.

"Careful," her father said, pulling her away. "We do not know what we are dealing with yet," he warned.

The girl stood back, momentarily chastened and her eyes downcast. But then she seemed to regain her confidence. "You promised me, Daddy. And if it is to be my pet I will have to be able to get close to it."

"Maybe I was too hasty with my agreement. We need to know more about... the creature, before deciding to take it in."

The man turned a steely gaze towards the father. "What do you need to know? The order was made, the money has been paid; I am simply delivering what you asked for."

The creature began to stir in the bottom of the cage. No bigger than a tiny kitten it begin to make a pitiful mewing sound. The girl reached a finger through the bars and began to stroke the fur that was colored the deepest blue and almost seemed to shimmer. From the cage a purring noise was heard, before the creature's head whipped round and sunk its teeth into the finger that caressed it.

"Ow!" The girl pulled back her finger, looked at the blood that was pooling on her skin.

"It has accepted your daughter, and now you no longer have the option to refuse."

"But... but it is clearly vicious!" The girl's father looked shocked at the amount of blood on her daughter's finger.

"Give me your hand," the man ignored the father and spoke instead to the girl. "Do not be afraid," he said, as he moved her hand towards the cage, slipped her bleeding finger between the bars where the Critter began to gently lap up the blood. Soon there was no sign of blood nor injury. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it!"

"Is there nothing else it will feed on. Perhaps the blood of red meat?" suggested the father.

"No, there is nothing for the Critter now but the blood of your daughter. Send it away and you will be condemning it to a life of oblivion!"

"I cannot take in a creature that is going to be nothing more than a parasite that feeds on my daughter's blood! Take it away!"

"No, Daddy!" The girl moved swiftly to stand in front of the door. "You promised me and I will not let you send it away. If the Critter goes then I go too."

Her father looked from his daughter to the Critter, then to the man who still had hold of the cage. "But... " he began, then slumped in defeat. "Very well," he said at last.

"Now, all I need is your signature." The man pulled a rolled up scroll from his pocket, held out a pen to the father.

Hand shaking, the father scrawled his name on the bottom of the scroll, while the other man passed the cage to the girl. "Be sure not to let it feed more than once a day," he told her. "He will only take as much as he needs, not a drop more."

Back outside, the man tipped his hat in farewell, then disappeared into the darkness, leaving father and daughter standing together with a Critter that would feed on her blood.

(780 words).

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