Slowly back away, out of the darkened house. Step carefully, toe-to-heel, toe-to-heel. Watch them skulk forward from the shadows. They advance with bellies low. Don’t break eye contact. Don’t trip as you move, don’t fall. They’ll pounce. They’ll tear and rend. They’re too far gone now — no calm words, no soft vocalizations will bring them back. They have devolved. No longer the sleek-coated creatures that, just yesterday, you ran your hands over, that lifted to receive your touch. They bristle. They hiss. Their ears and teeth and claws have elongated and begun to curl. Their jaws shift forward. Don’t look so closely. Don’t think about it. Ignore the rapid beat of your heart, the shallowness of your breath and sweat at your hairline. Continue your uncertain exit. Find the door at your back. Press into it. Feel the bite of wood, the chill handle beneath your groping hand. Hear the click of metal tongue, the creak and gasp of hinges. Back out — slowly, slowly — into the cool, heavy night. Quickly now, pull the door shut as they hurl themselves upon it. Hear them yowl and scream. Hear their talons gouge wood. Pause a moment to catch your breath, to collect yourself. You have escaped. Now, run.