Toast Post: Puppy of Steel

I am Thunder Toast. This is my post.

As darkness crawls across the sky, drawing the blanket of night, I slip from bed and don my Thunder Shirt. As Superman, Batman, and Silent Bob before me, my Thunder Shirt is my disguise, my shield, as I shed my mild mannered Toast persona and become my true self – Thunder Toast, master crime-fighter.

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The compound is silent, Mommy and Daddy are sound asleep; oblivious to the evil that lurks behind the shadows. There are felines afoot, and they must be stopped.

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I clear the top floor, crawling from corner to corner. Although my Thunder Shirt renders me invisible, it only works on even numbered days – today is the 11th, that is not an even number, I checked.

The felines are very clever. They have a hidden lair within the compound accessed by a secret tunnel in the stairs. I believe Daddy may have built it for them, they do not seem capable of using power tools.

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Dixie Chicken has spent hours staring into their tunnel and barking, attempting to get them to emerge. They simply watch her and laugh – they do not need to come out. They have food, water and a bathroom box. They have even trained Mommy and Daddy to empty it for them on a daily basis. Very clever indeed.

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At night though, at night they come out, particularly the fat one. The fat feline goes by the name Conner and weighs more than thirty pounds. He can’t sustain this weight on cat food alone so he sneaks out nightly and eats Dakota the Fluffer Wolf’s dog food. Sometimes he even eats Dixie Chicken’s food. Not mine though, Toast always leaves an empty bowl. Even if I am not hungry, I will eat it all rather than feed the felines.

Thunder Toast is an excellent hider and I hide now, hide and wait.

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At precisely 2AM, I spot Conner’s beady little feline eyes as he pokes his head up from their lair. A moment later, the giant puddle of cat pours out of their tunnel and works his way down the stairs, stopping every few steps to catch his breath. I do not see the female but she usually follows close behind.

Weezing and grunting like a rabid pig he crosses the living room and ventures into the kitchen. I follow closely behind, stealth and silent as only Thunder Toast can. I quickly run from the stairs to the couch, then the kitchen island.

He pauses for a moment and sniffs the air. Has he caught my scent? Impossible. Thunder Toast has no scent. Perhaps he has found more food or can smell the Outback Steakhouse two miles away. Perhaps this is how he signals the female. I do not understand the feline mind and do not want to.

The feline approaches the food bowls and begins to eat with the ferocity of an Ethiopian at a Golden Coral all-you-can-eat buffet for the first time. It is both disturbing and fascinating. How could one creature consume so much? Perhaps he stores it like an Alaskan river badger? Does he take it back to their lair, regurgitate, and feed the female?

Stepping from concealment, I bark: “Back away from the bowl and put your paws up! I am Thunder Toast! I command you!”

The feline continues to eat. Oblivious.

“I do not wish to unleash the full wrath of my thunder powers but I will!”

With a loud burp, the feline turns and stares at me. A moment later his body convulses in a wave of fur and fat and his mouth begins to open.

Hair ball bomb incoming!

I jump behind the kitchen island as it flies past me and crashes against the refrigerator with a splat.

The feline then runs toward the stairs, unbelievably fast for his size.

I give chase but he is too quick. I watch him disappear down the hole to his lair; stray fur fluttering through the air.

My thunder powers do not include flight. Tomorrow I will write a complaint letter to the manufacturer. I could have caught the feline with flight.

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Upstairs, Mommy stirs. I quickly return to my bed and remove my Thunder Shirt, transforming back to mild mannered Toast.

“Back to sleep, Toast.”, Mommy mutters before drifting back off.

The felines may have escaped this time but I foiled their plan and drove them back to the bowels of the compound where they belong.

The world may rest, but Thunder Toast will not. My responsibilities, my conscious will not allow it, not as long as felines roam free to wreak havoc, not as long as danger hovers over this place I call home.

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That is all.
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J.D. Barker is the internationally best-selling author of FORSAKEN, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His latest novel, THE FOURTH MONKEY, released in June 2017. His third novel, THE FIFTH TO DIE, releases June 2018. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to DRACULA due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

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