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Flash for Cash

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The animals change. All of them, all at once.

For O’Reilly’s old tom, lying in a cube of sun, his body loose as a bag of oranges, it happens in a jolt that drives him snarling to his feet. The usual rush of sensual images that flow through his mind slow then explode into a soaring unfilled space as cavernous as a cathedral.

There had been only Now: a quiver at the sight of a bird hopping near, a rustle alerting him to a small creature in the grass, helpless. Heat twitching his fur, the smell of bloody meat. Satiation felt even to the root of his eye teeth.

The concept of past and future arrives whole as a gift-wrapped present, he holds it. Settles on his haunches, stares around with wonder. The day is new, the summer early, yesterday he caught a glowing emerald lizard, today he will look for another, this he knows.

Human words drop like weighted strings into his brain, his pupils grow huge. Blue sky! Green grass! He likes it soft. Not prickly. This he knows.

Carefully, unsure if he is sick, he lopes to the low fence. Instantly, Dog appears on the other side. No furious barking today, they stare at each other with profound understanding, the universe flies across their eyes.

“Timmy!” O’Reilly crosses the lawn. Cat watches him with irritation and something he will later name. Hatred.

“Come away.”

A sound from Cat, rusty and guttural, unlike anything ever heard –




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