Jasper scanned the moonlit world below him from his rooftop perch in the Nocturnal Security Office. Nothing of concern to be seen so far: a fox nosing at the bins outside the George & Dragon, a couple of kids on dirt bikes rushing up the canal in the distance, a few streaks of cloud across the sky like shadows of ivy over a conservatory roof.
In the empty yard of the chip shop, Ruddlestone and Patch were looming hopefully behind the furry frame of Mags as she toyed with the half murdered victim which squeaked between her claws. Jasper rolled his eyes, as if either of those mollycoddled muppets would ever get near Queen Mags.
Yawning and stretching out his paws, Jasper spotted a lone bat making its way back into the church roof and wondered about going over to tease the flying goth once his shift was over.
It was then all hell broke loose.
What had been tendrils of clouds was now an uninterrupted blanket, and it had burst. A flash cracked open the night and, across the town, Jasper saw it reflected in two dozen pairs of panicked eyes. How had he missed this?
Futilely, he shrieked the warning sound only to have it engulfed in thunder. He let out the sound again and again, knowing all he was achieving was to add insult to injury. The cats were already wet, he had failed to see the storm coming and he had failed to warn them. Tomorrow’s town hall was going to be an uncomfortable one for Jasper, but that was a problem for then. There was no more he could do now to help the others, they would need to find their own way to shelter just as he would. He turned to the window behind him just in time to hear it click shut in a gust of wind. Somewhere below, a stricken furball scratched and screamed at a closed door. Ruddleston and Patch pounced on Mags, not for pleasure but in chivalry. Jasper heard their chorus of pain as the damsel who had not needed saving wrenched a set of claws across each of their bellies and scurried into the gap under the potato shed door. Recovered, Patch looked at Ruddleston to suggest they might follow. Mags saw their intention from her place of safety and unleashed an unearthly wail to make clear that such an action would not be well met.
For a dozen heartbeats, there was nothing. No creature moved. Nothing living took a breath. Even that which would normally sway in the breeze found itself fixed in space as the world adjusted to the change.
Tentatively, Jasper raised his gaze to the sky.
It was empty, just the gradual fade of soft white moonlight into hard black nothing. No clouds. Not a residual drop of rain to be seen. Only the glut of cold damp which clung to Jasper’s fur served as evidence of the deluge which had just occurred.
Jasper took one more look across the sky, cleared his throat, and purred the all-clear.
In the dark streets below, body by body, the felines retook control.