It's short story Thursday. Are you ready?
“Maybe we should have called that hoarders show before it was too late,” thought Miriam.
She and her husband, Jack, were now responsible for dealing with a lifetime’s worth of stuff.
Wayne, her father-in-law, had passed away the Wednesday before last, the reality of the situation just sinking in.
In the living room of Wayne’s house, boxes were stacked on top of each other five feet high in a haphazard style suggesting a toddler’s first attempts at playing with blocks. Magazines – mostly National Geographic – were leaning in stacks on top of the boxes. Heaps of threadbare sweater vests and slacks ranging in colors from tan to brown had been draped on the top of the yellow-spined publications, the room’s only open air the two feet of space between the stacks and the eight feet high ceiling.
A slightly sweet smell, part ancient Avon perfume, part decay, hung in the air. The scent was made more complex with the multilayered aromas of years of dust.
Miriam and Jack were going through the piles of Wayne’s hoarded possessions, slowly sorting in a vain attempt to locate valuable items amongst the junk. The overly-full house was dim, even though the first thing Miriam had done was to yank open the curtains, intent upon letting some fresh air into a space that hadn’t been exposed to it in over a decade. Stray bits of sunlight that had found their way around the boxes caught the swirling motes of ancient skin cells and dirt that were being disturbed as the couple worked.
A faint rustling sounded in the background. Miriam wasn’t too surprised. She actually would have been more shocked if mice hadn’t taken the opportunity to move into the space. Looking around as she straightened up to ease the cramping of her back, Miriam realized it was really a mouse paradise – dim, dry, with lots of nesting supplies and the potential for left out and forgotten food – what more could a mouse want? The thought of running across sweaty-smelling mouse nests made her regret the fact that she hadn’t brought gloves. Her stomach clenched as she bent back down to work.
Then Miriam happened upon what appeared to be several white fox stoles resting on the floor between two piles. Jack’s mother, Gloria, a sweet woman whose May-December romance with Wayne was once the talk of the town, had passed away a decade earlier in an accident.
Gloria had been a clotheshorse, loving to be seen as youthful and fashionable. She had collected clothing the same way that Wayne had squirreled away everything else. Miriam hadn’t realized that Gloria was into fur, especially so much so that she had collected multiples of the same item.
Miriam reached for the stoles, and they moved.
“Oh man,” she sighed.
“That movement was too big for a mouse,” she thought.
Looking across the room, she said, “Jack, there’s a rat in here. Ugh.”
Jack dragged his hand through his sweaty, brown hair and straightened to his full six feet three inches. There really wasn’t enough space in the living room for Jack to feel comfortable standing tall, and his shoulders immediately slumped. He carefully threaded his way over to Miriam.
“Let me take care of it,” Jack said, the exhaustion and resignation that had built up the past few days thick in his voice.
He shifted a pile of boxes, being careful not to cause any of the other stacks to fall. A chain reaction of falling debris inside the claustrophobic house was something to be avoided at all costs.
As he exposed a bit of olive green, shag carpeting, Jack froze.
“Holy shit! What is that?” he yelled, startled.
“Is the rat that big?” Miriam asked.
She looked over his shoulder and gasped, “Oh my God! Is that a, is that a dog?”
“That is not a dog,” said Jack, his expression oddly mesmerized.
Curled up in a tight ball on the floor was a white fox covered in dust bunnies and fuzz. It had nine tails and a look of keen intelligence, and hunger, glowing in its eyes. A heady aroma of spice and musk seemed to surround the beast.
“Well, fuck me,” Jack said numbly.
“That is something that I can do,” said the fox.
Jack made a choking sound and looked pleadingly at Miriam. “That wasn’t funny,” he said in a strained voice.
Miriam’s eyes were wide and scared. She shook her head. “I didn’t say that.”
The air around the nine-tailed fox shimmered. Between one eye blink and the next, a young woman stood where the fox had been.
She was slender and tiny, not even five feet in height, and appeared to be of Asian descent. Her white hair flowed down her back in gorgeous waves, stopping just short of the nine tails that protruded from her coccyx. Her breasts were small but perky. Her pubic hair was as glistening white as the hair on her head, making a soft, furry V, perfect for stroking. Her predatory stance showed that not only was she not ashamed by her nakedness, she knew how alluring it was. She looked at Jack with the same intelligence and hunger glowing in her eyes, but now she also wore a smirk.
“I can fuck you, son of Wayne, but I would rather have your liver,” the fox-woman laughed.
Miriam screamed as the woman walked towards them. A feeling of panic began to bubble up inside of her.
As she looked at Jack, anger added to the maelstrom of panic. She couldn’t decide whether to feel betrayed or throw a punch. There was Jack, her Jack, her loyal husband, rooted to the spot. His expression was one of pure, unadulterated lust. The bastard had never looked at her like that, and when Miriam glanced down at the bulge growing in Jack’s jeans, the anger won.
“Who the fuck do you think you are, you God-damned, rabid hussy?” Miriam yelled as she put herself in front of her be-spelled husband.
“I am the kumiho,” she said, flashing her bright smile, her teeth still very fox-like.
“Damn she’s hot,” the unbidden thought spoke in Miriam’s mind. She quickly squelched it. Following that course was much too dangerous.
The kumiho began to sway, running her hands up and down her body while she looked passed Miriam to Jack. She cupped one of her perfect, perky tits and licked her red lips.
White-hot jealousy flashed through Miriam’s body, coupling with the anger with enough force to make Miriam shake. Motivated by those searing emotions, Miriam grabbed Jack by both hands and pulled him out of the house. She forcefully marched him down to the car and pushed him into the passenger seat.
As Miriam pulled away, she could see the kumiho walk up to the window and wave. She was still licking her lips.
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