The family men and the oldsters who had slept in the early morning took up position walking perimeter while the threat was low.

Gomez slept light, Dimitri nearby, surveying everything, caught his cat naps. Until a certain sound and smell came to him: cans opening and the odor of pureed meat and meat byproducts. Tail twitching and a hop in his step, Dimitri bounced over a side aisle, where the civilians were feeding the few dogs they brought with them.

Winchester greeted Dimitri, “Hey, cat buddy! Scary last night, eh?”

“Indeed, doggo. Is this an open buffet?”

“Sure, dude, dig in. I’m glad you stayed,” Winchester said wagging his tail.

Dimitri was chowing down and mumbled between mouthfuls, “I’m glad I stayed, too. I guess you dogs are cool, too.”

Officer Schmidt led the three K9s over to the side aisle.

Brutus woofed soft at Dimitri and checked himself, “I see punk ass puddy cat is still here.”

“I’m here, I’m there, and always in the in-between. Catch you dogs later, rub-a-dub thanks for the grub.”

And Dimitri disappeared among the shadows. He wasn’t long before he found Gomez sleeping on a cot, gear shrugged off and piled at the head of the cot. Dimitri curled up on the passed out soldier’s stomach and was soon purring away.


They both awoke at the words, “Can we have your attention now! Please, everyone; this is important.”

It was the older priest, Father Conover, speaking. Detective Krauss stood next to him.

Private Gomez sat up unintentionally, dumping poor Dimitri.

“Sorry, cat bro, gotta muster.”

Dimitri stretched out on a pew away from the knot of people and dogs.

Father Conover continued, “We have important information about what the government’s plan for our city is. But for the love of God, save your questions for when Detective Krauss finishes.”

A few grumbles that might have been protestations, excepting everyone was strung out and beat down.

Wan faces turned to the front of the altar and Detective Krauss, looking more like a paramilitary commander than a city cop, cleared his throat and spoke in a booming voice:

“If you have been paying attention in the last 48 hours, it is plain that the federal and state government has cut us off and left us to our fate. The city government bunkered down and saved their own asses. We are on our own. Our question to this point was ‘when this was going to be over.’ I have good and bad news, which in this case are the same thing: it’s going to be over by tonight. The U.S. government and the Air Force, in all their wisdom, have decided to carpet bomb our asses like Dresden.”
A few dads shouted “Bullshit!” and “Fuck out of here with that shit!”

Father Conover hushed them, “Listen! There’s more!”

Krauss glared at each man who stood up. “Yes, this is speculation. But speculation of these men who have been fighting since this shit started and, furthermore, have years of experience with the government and the military. Yes, the Air Force will do it and collect their hazard pay. Now, before you feel your oats and cook up some half-assed plan, listen to ours. The cathedral has an extensive over-built basement. I want you pack everything and prepare to move, starting first with the old and the families.” Krauss checked his watch. “Families will have an hour to collect their effects. Those of you without families, if you please, help my officers move the TOC equipment downstairs.”

Krauss scanned over the crowd once last time. “No questions, get to it now; daylight is burning.”

Father Conover turned to Krauss, “If you will, I have one last thing,” then he called everyone’s attention one more time, “If anyone wishes, before the sun sets, Father Shannon and I will be available to dispense the Last Rites.”


An hour later, everyone was downstairs, save for two.

Dimitri lingered in the nave of the cathedral to spy on the last man left upstairs; he sniffed and rubbed the pews, leaving his scent.

Krauss hunched in the Cathedral’s main door, radio in hand, the last beams of sunlight spilling inside the narthex. Dimitri watched the man, curious.

“Detective Krauss hailing National Guard Operations at county general. Get a hold of Captain Krauss, please.”

“National Guard Operations, stay on the air, sir; it will be a moment.”

An eon of whispering silent wind played through the city.

A squirt of static and then a voice, distorted a little over the five miles distance.

“Hey, big bro. What’s up?”

“Nothing, Jimmy, I just wanted to put in one last call before we’re all hunkered down and see how your preparations are going.”

“It’s a mess. But we’re finally wrapping up the transfer of ICU patients to the basement. Though the conditions are less than ideal. Once we seal off all basement access, it’s a game of sit and wait. No one goes out and hope to God none of them can get in. How about you?”

Detective Krauss glanced around the interior of the cathedral in the fading daylight. “We’re all moved downstairs. Just one thing: you guys over there get through this, if we don’t radio in a day, come dig us the hell out.”

Captain Krauss chuckled, “And here I was used to you getting me out of the shit.”

“I know. If we don’t make it, tell my boy I love him.”

“Have no fear, big bro, you always told me that. Even when all this shit came down.”

“Pray it is almost over. The Air Force thinks it’s in their hands, but really, it is in God’s hands now.”

“I will…”


Dimitri was not with the hunters still prowling the city.

Elsewhere in the abandoned facilities of the city university, the first man to turn, Peary, sulked in the shadows and tried to remember. And in trying to remember felt pain, the pain of loss that overwhelmed the burning hunger of the undead.

Peary had a nice view of the river as it flowed past campus.

Funny how I used to love this view, in another life, the heat, the sun, the girls. All pointless now; maybe it was pointless then. My life didn’t have a point until I died. Now I have won, the city has fallen, the streets are filled with my kind. And we can’t get out.

But out to where and what?

More people to kill.

To eat.

To be free.


Dimitri’s eyes shined in the darkness of the basement. He watched Krauss, interested. It was mostly silent except for the hourly rosary. Even the dogs held their tongues.

Krauss sat deep in contemplation.

“Nothing to do now, cat, except sit and wait. They either do it or don’t. If they do, it will be over and we can get out. If they don’t, food runs out, then time as those things kill us one by one or we starve.” Krauss said to the cat.

Winchester came over to Krauss and set his head on the detective’s lap. “Did someone get jealous of me talking to a cat?” Winchester gave his tail a couple of wags.

“I’m figuring you two are hungry again. Let me see what I can do.” And Krauss stood up.

The survivors began praying the rosary again.

Krauss knelt for a decade of the rosary; he shed a tear during the Glory Be. “…to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…”

Gomez came to Krauss and asked, “Hey man, have you seen that cat?”

Krauss cocked his thumb to the supply shelf behind himself, “Your furry buddy is there. Why?”

“Just seeing how my rescue cat is doing.”

Krauss looked at Dimitri, “He’s just being a cat. Do you have the time?”

“Yeah, 1932 hours.”

“The sun sets in a half-hour.”

“What do we do then?” Gomez said.

“Keep checking the basement for any weak spots and double-checking the exits,” Krauss shrugged his shoulders, “and pray.”

“Just like my abuela always said.”

Krauss leaned back and Dimitri jumped in his lap, Winchester chuffed and laid on the floor, “You have doubts?”

“Probably less than average, Joe. It always seemed like an old lady thing to me.”

“And now?”

“Young or old, we are all close to meeting our maker now.” Gomez eyed his M4 thoughtfully.

“I was like that once, until my first deployment. Then I became cynical. I saw my friends get hurt, get killed. I saw bombs destroy homes.”

Dimitri dropped to the floor and rubbed against Gomez’ legs. “I don’t think that is you deep down.”


“Yeah. They said you’re a homicide detective. I don’t think a man who brings killers to justice doesn’t believe in some sort of soul. You know, all those hours spent ‘round the clock; you have to believe in something more than this life.”

Krauss sat in wordless silence as Gomez picked up the cat and sat down stroking the fur ball.


For all installments of “Felis,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2