7 Days in May
“Dr Vasant was talking about fleas.” Dawn caught Sheena’s wrist in a tight grip, her eyes widening as the memory
came back. “What happened to him? He said he was bitten by fleas. Is he alright?”
Sheena eased her arm free and rolled up Dawn’s sleeve. “This won’t hurt. You’ve been vaccinated before haven’t
Sheena kept up a steady stream of small talk while she applied the vaccine to Dawn’s upper-arm, scratching the skin
with the scarifier.
Dawn winced, rubbing her arm. “You didn’t tell me what happened to Dr Vasant,” she said, pulling down her sleeve.
“Want something to eat? I’ve heated up some pizza and I can make you some big fat chips to go with it if you’d like.”
Dawn smiled, the tension flowing from her. Sheena sure knew how to make her feel better.
After eating their meal, Terry and Sheena checked the house, making sure that all the doors and windows were closed.
Then they all settled down in the lounge. The TV stations were full of government statements about an ongoing terrorist
attack on the island and none of them knew what to make of it all, so after some debate they decided to watch a DVD.
As the closing titles of the film were scrolling up the screen, the lounge door pushed aside and a dark shape slinked
into the room. Dawn turned, stretching out her hand from where she was sitting on the floor, her face lighting up in
pleasure. Pickles ran across the floor towards her, tail erect.
The room was filled with the explosion of a shotgun and Dawn screamed, her ears ringing as a bright flash washed out
her vision. The cat, caught squarely in the blast, slammed against the wall, leaving a long smear of blood on the wallpaper
as it slid to the floor.
Dawn felt as though the breath had been knocked from her body. She jumped to her feet, horror distorting her face.
Turning to face Terry, now lowering his gun, she tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come, her mouth just opening and
“Catch her, she’s going to fall.” Terry’s shout was far too late. Dawn was down before Sheena had even turned.
Terry walked over to the cat, pushing at it with the toe of his shoe. “How the hell did that get in here? I thought we’d
checked all the windows and doors.”
Sheena was holding out her arm, her fingers splayed as she shouted at Terry, “Get away from that. The fleas.”
Dawn moaned, sitting up. “It’s Pickles, Carolyn’s cat. You killed it, just like the deer! Why? Why do you keep doing
things like that?”
Sheena almost collapsed with the tension and Terry’s face fell as he hurried over, extending his hand to help Dawn up
but she turned away from him.
Sheena knelt beside her, rubbing her back, tilting Dawn’s head to look in her eyes. “It’ll be okay, hush now.”
“Dawn I’m so, so sorry. I thought . . .” Terry looked at Sheena, shaking his head. Then turning away, he hurried from
the room, calling back over his shoulder, “I’ll get a pillowcase and tidy up.”
Sheena helped Dawn to her feet and cuddled her. “He thought the cat was attacking you. He wouldn’t have shot it if
he’d known it was Carolyn’s pet.”
Dawn stepped back, looking up into Sheena’s face. “It was Pickles,” she said with a shiver, then burying her face in
Sheena’s shoulder, added in a muffled voice, “I want my dad.”
“Look why don’t we get you up to bed. We’re all tired and upset.”
When Dawn nodded, Sheena led her from the room by the hand.
Having settled Dawn, Sheena came back down to the lounge and looked around. The cat’s body had gone, although
the blood stains were still bright under the lig hts.
“She okay?” Terry asked as he came into the room.
Sheena nodded, a frown creasing deep furrows in her forehead. “What was all that about terrorists on the news?”
Terry sat down in an armchair, worrying the inside of his cheek with his tongue before answering. “I reckon it’s a
cover-up for this cat thing,” he said, staring her straight in the eyes.
Sheena stiffened, then collapsed in on herself, her face turning pale. “What have I done? All these deaths. And poor
Mani too. It’s all my fault.”
“That’s as maybe, but at least you’ve developed a vaccine that’ll stop it spreading any further. We’ve got to get it to the
right people as soon as we can.”
Sheena stood up, suddenly animated again. “Yes, you’re right. I’ve got to take it to the police so they can get it into the
Terry caught Sheena’s arm as she headed for the door. “Wait, where are you going?”
“To the police station. I just said.”
“Have you taken a look out of the window lately?”
Sheena hurried across the room and stared out into the night. Dark shapes were moving against a darker background,
slipping in and out between the plants and bushes. Catching her breath she turned to Terry.
“Cats,” he said. “Hundreds of the bloody things. Every cat on the damned island seems to be hanging around out
there tonight. We’ll have to wait until daylight. We can’t chance leaving in the dark, even though we’ve been vaccinated.
That many cats would tear us to bits in seconds, and I’ve no intention of letting you go out there alone.”
Sheena’s new-found energy dissipated like a deflating balloon. Head low she made her way across the lounge. “I’ll go
see how Dawn is.”
Terry turned back to the window, blinking as a flash of lightning lit the sky, “Okay,” he mumbled.