Major Thomas guided his flight into their final approach. He stifled a gasp as they came within sight of the city 30 miles out.

No visible lights. Like it isn’t there.

The briefing had prepared him for it, but the reality of seeing an American city blacked out brought home the reality: we’re about to bomb an American city.

GPS would guide their paths.


The minutes ticked away in the cathedral basement. An eternity of waiting.

Then the anticipation of the last eight hours broke in a span of a few minutes.

The low mutters stopped when the first bomb sounded.

All the bombs seemed to drop at once, shaking the foundations of the cathedral, rattling everything not bolted down.

Even the floor vibrated.

The children screamed in terror.

The dogs howled.

Sergeant Washburn and Fallucci jumped to their feet and yelled.

“Come on, you cocksucking motherfuckers!”

“Pieces of goddamn Air Force shit. You abandon us then blow us up!”

“Fuck you! Fuck your mothers! Fuck your fathers!”

The bombing stopped.

Winchester’s master, the man, cried out, “Please, oh God, oh God, please, don’t let us die down here.”

And it began again.

Father Shannon turned his blue eyes to the survivors, and over the tumult, he shouted, “Let us ask for forgiveness. If we die tonight, let us go to our Heavenly Father, ‘Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all I have offended thee who are all good and deserving of all my love, and I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to do penance, to amend my life, and sin no more. Amen.”

An old woman screamed in madness, trembling, “What is this bullshit? He isn’t here, He doesn’t care, He never did. Fuck you, you virgin idiot. You queer asshole.”

Dowd grabbed her and wrapped her in his burly arms, “Let go of your fear; don’t die this way.”

One of the bombs scored a direct hit.

Dust and debris blew into the basement, choking the air and casting everyone into darkness.


Peary stood overlooking the university from the roof of the science building.

He watched the bombs’ fall growing closer. In that moment, he forgot his never-ending hunger; the red light giving way to the fire’s glowing orange mesmerized him.

The thermal drafts from the burning city played at the tatters of his clothing.

Flying sparks drifted all around him, landing and burning into his skin.

No pain.

The dead have no need for it.

A man in OD green BDUs appeared next to him.

“A terrible beauty, isn’t it? Something I have so often seen that I think I know little else of this world.”

Peary bared his alligator-like teeth, eyes flashing the reflection of the fire’s light.

The man snapped an MP5 to his shoulder, his eyes shining in the orange light. “I can make this easier for you,” his voice sounding over the fire’s roar.

“Easier than what?” Peary slobbered out.

“Easier than burning to death.”

Peary laughed, “And you’re fireproof?”

“Can’t die when you weren’t ever alive.”

Peary’s face fell slack.

“You’re not special forces?”

“No. At least not the U.S. military’s.”

“What is your name?”

“Mike. Now I am being nice. I don’t have to be.”

Faster than any human eye could follow, Peary lunged at Mike.

Faster than fast, Mike clotheslined Peary, slamming him on his back hard enough to crater the asphalt roof.

Asphalt now heated and gone gooey.

Mike stomped down on Peary’s chest, pinning him on his back.

Peary heaved to no avail; he clawed at Mike’s boots.

Mike just pressed him further into the asphalt.

“Do you want it?”

Mike flipped the MP5’s safety to full auto and sighted on Peary’s head.

“What are you?”

“The one who cast the Morningstar from heaven.”
“So it is.”
“Your answer?”

“Not like this,” Peary tore out from his throat. “Let me see the city one last time.”

Mike took his foot off Peary’s chest. “You can’t run. Take your moment.”

Peary rose to his feet and walked to the edge of the building.

Bombs struck the buildings around the campus.

Peary watched flames turn the city into a collection of hell-lit facades in a holocaust reaching hundreds of feet into the air.

One last forlorn gaze into the inferno and he said, “Sorry, Mom.”

Mike fired a burst into his head.

Mike took in the view, one he has seen thousands of times throughout history and said, “Requiescat in pace. The night no longer holds you, Peary; go unto your judgment, buddy.”


The Cathedral’s basement smelt like a thousand campfires.

Brutus and his handler, Officer McCone, searched the perimeter of the basement looking for signs of an opening.

Brutus sniffed the floor.

“Honey, turn off the light, save the batteries.”

“But Mom, I want to watch ‘Baby Shark.’”

“Later, when we get out of here.”

A paramedic came over the mother and little girl. “Here, she can watch it on my phone. My kids can’t get enough of that song.”

The mother, a frazzled little woman of middle-aged appearance, said, “But shouldn’t you be saving your battery?”

“It’s no trouble, really; I carry three power banks in my duty bag.”

Krauss tried his radio, “Captain Krauss, U.S. Army National Guard, come in. Cathedral here.”

Dowd put a hand on Krauss’ shoulder, “Are you getting anything>”

“Nada, zip man,” Krauss said.

Dimitri sat upright near the center of the room. He twitched his ears this way and that. Winchester came over and lowered his muzzle towards the cat.

“Watcha doing, cat? We should find a way out.”

“That is what I am working on, dog dude.”


Eyes searching, Dimitri sought out what the clumsy human eye could not.

Beyond the harsh electric glare of lanterns and flashlights, he knew he would see it when he found it.

“How are you helping, Mr. Cat?”

“It’s daytime; it’s always daytime after my seventh nap.”

In the dark spaces and recesses of the basement’s vaults, he found it

Dimitri said, “There! Follow me, dog!” And her took off through the forest of legs, past sobbing children and coughing oldsters.

He climbed the outside of an old confessional booth and jumped straight up towards the ceiling three feet above.

And disappeared.

Winchester skidded to a halt and stared doggie-eyed wide. “Whoa!”

A small circle of people gathered around the barking mad lab.

“What is it?”

“Oh, God! Oh, God! It’s those things; they’re coming to get us,” a middle-aged woman whined.

Gomez pushed through them and saw to the dog, “What is it, boy?”

Winchester paused barking and Gomez heard meowing.

Letting go of the dog, he checked the inside of the confessional booth. Then looked around it.

“Please people, quiet for a minute.”

Gomez could hear it clear, coming from above. “Hoomin! Hoomin! Up here; I found it.”

Inside a crack in the ceiling was Dimitri’s white and gray face bitching up a storm.

“Up here, dork!”

Sergeant Washburn leaned against a column and crossed his arms, watching the show. “Gomez always hounding that pussy.”

An older woman looked at him, cross. “Sssh! There’s children present.”

“Oops, sorry ma’am,” he said, sheepish.

Brutus sat next to a dopey, panting, excited Winchester, “So, yard dog, wha—” Brutus said and sniffed the air. “There. I can smell it. Fresh air.”

Gomez shouted, “Everyone shut off your lights for a sec!”

In the dark, Gomez didn’t have to wait for his eyes to adjust; through the crack, faint daylight traced its outline.

“Light! From above, daylight!” he yelled out.

Officer McCone craned his neck up, “Yeah, yeah, I see it. Fallucci, get the Halligan over here!”

Ears pricked up.

Cops, paramedics, security guards, and younger men hurried towards the commotion.

“Get that crowbar over here.”

“Hey, Father Conover, you got any tools like a sledgehammer down here?”

“Ladders, we have ladders here.”

“C’mon, make room, you idiots, I used to work construction.”

“Mama! We’re going home?”

“Yes, baby, yes we are.”

With a combined effort, the men moved the old confessional aside. Ladders were placed.

Then Dimitri poked his head through the hole and addressed the expectant people below.

He meowed loud, “Hoomins, I have found you a way out! I am lord of this domain! I demand all your tuna!”

They only heard a plaintive cat chirping.

Dimitri let out a growling yowl when Fallucci mounted a ladder and popped his face up to the hole.

“Outta the way, cat.” And he slammed the pry bar end of the Halligan into the crack.

Dimitri skittered out of the way.

Chunks of concrete and stone dropped to the floor, twelve feet below.

Fallucci tossed the Halligan ahead and gripped the sides of the newly opened hole.

With a mighty wrench, he hoisted himself above into what was once the cathedral’s nave.

“Yo, Gomez, get Krauss and Dowd up here; they’re going to want to see this.”


“Holy shit!” Krauss said. He measured the walls of rubble. “It’s got to be, what, 40 feet high?”

Fallucci shrugged his wide shoulders. “At least. Pretty steep, too.”

Dowd and Dimitri just watched in silence.

Above the clearing, measuring just ten feet across, rose an encirclement of the Cathedral’s debris.

“Well, maybe there is a way through,” Dowd finally said.

Fallucci turned to Dowd. “No way. I checked and double checked. If we’re getting out, it’s up and over.”

Krauss watched Dimitri pick his way up. “Maybe if we were all gifted with fur face’s agility here.”

Gomez scanned the precipice. “I’ve done a bit of rock climbing; give me the rope.”

Dimitri sat on a stone projection ten feet up, cleaning his balls.

Gomez ditched his battle rattle and hoisted himself by a handhold.

Dimitri twitched his tail and meowed, “Yep, that’s it, dummy, get up here, I need tuna, just follow me,” hopping from one outcropping of limestone rubble to the next.

Each outcropping Dimitri found was enough for a hand or foothold. Gomez tracked the cat; here, he placed a hand and it gave way like loose scree; there, the toe of his boot caving the rock fall into a void.

“Hoomin, don’t fall down or I won’t get fed.”

“Yeah, thanks, cat, you don’t weigh 180 pounds.”

Gomez kicked loose rock clear to make something resembling a path.

“Onward and upward!”

The sun climbed towards the zenith. Gomez followed his gray and white scout.

Rock to rock.

Ledge to ledge.

Through loose talus slopes and rock falls.

Grasping broken spar and slicing glass stopped by tactical gloves.

Human and feline ascended, the cat smoother than the human for the first 30 feet.

Sergeant Washburn and members of the tactical team watched from the cramped clearing below, bringing up ropes and breaching ladders.

The final stretch presented a sheer vertical face devoid of holds.

Dimitri looked up and meowed, thinking, This is it, the only damn way out, and it is impossible. Can’t stay in the hole, never could, out, always out, out.

The cat attacked it, digging in claws to catch solid holds, however small they were.

Dimitri pressed flat against the mess, forepaws at an uncomfortable angle.

A bit of the wall gave; Dimitri lost his grip falling backwards when he pushed off his rear paws and gained a purchase again.

Then he mounted the top, newly wide-eyed, “Here! Here! We can get down from here easy!”

Gomez cursed under his breath, “Fucking great. Hardly any place for a hold, like a fucking brick wall.” He looked around the rim; same insurmountable problem on all sides. “Fortune favors the bold.” Gomez took a deep breath and hopped to catch the beak of a gargoyle flattening his body against the wall, grasping inch-deep impressions in the rubble, pressing the sides of his feet against the slight surface decline. Sweat ran in rivers inside Gomez’ uniform.

His feet slipped; he cupped his hands tighter to the diminutive projections six inches from the crest.

Dimitri bobbed his head up and down meowing, “Come, come, you can do it! Almost, wait until you see!”

Taking a hell of chance, Gomez pressed his toes into the loose rubble and shot upward, tearing loose chunks of stone.

By the grace of God, he went straight up and caught the lip with his palms, and it held. A titanic jerk and Gomez muscled up over the top.

“Pretty good for a hoomin,” Dimitri meowed.

Below their feet, the ruins of the Cathedral spread in a gentle, although jagged, slope.

Gomez uncoiled the rope; after testing, he hitched the rope to two projecting pieces of rebar.

Back in the pit, he saw the tactical officers setting ladders in place.

Fallucci and his tac team ascended the slope, setting ladders and anchors where they could.

Gomez and Dimitri turned from the activity behind them and looked out of the ruins.

The entire downtown was gone, just piles of smoking rubble arranged in neat little squares.

What a change in the world; a week ago, I was content in the shadows foraging for food from dumpsters. Now I am one of the few living things, Dimitri thought.

“What now, hoomin?” he meowed.

“Damned if I know, cat, damned if I know,” Gomez said.


For all installments of “Felis,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3