's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Cats and Dogs"

Submitted by Olita Clark

"And that was our favorite local band singing about something we can all relate to in this great city of ours! For all THREE of you who don't know, that sweet tune is called 'Running Red in-"

Franklin brought his fist down upon the alarm with a resounding thump. The numbers '5:30' flickered wildly upon the small device's soft green display as the radio transmission ceased with the abruptness of a falling guillotine blade. The man groaned, mentally cursing every deity he had ever heard of and several that his sleep fogged mind made up on the spot. For the 100th time since accepting his new promotion, he pondered if the significant pay raise-and drastically modified hours-were a blessing or a curse. What kind of price could you put on a good night's sleep? Was a gleaming new Mercedes crouched in the driveway really worth twenty years of miserable mornings?

Was it worth it to relocate his daughter from a seedy public school to a prestigious academy? To ensure her enrollment in one of the nation's finest colleges when she came of age? To provide her with name brand clothing and toys instead of cheap knock offs purchased on sale at the local Wal-Mart?

Of course. He was an adult, after all. He could handle a little sleep deprivation for the sake of Jenny.

Franklin forced himself to roll from beneath the paradise of his soft sheets and into a cold, unforgiving world lit by the dull light of early morning. He winced as his bare feet made contact with the smooth wood panels that made up his bedroom's floor. Maybe he should buy a rug for the area around his bed. The part of his find that still ran off the frugal survival instincts of a man trapped in poverty insisted that it would be a wiser choice to simply start wearing socks to bed. He pushed it away. He could afford a rug now. Hell, he could afford to cover the entire two story house in rugs three times over if it struck his fancy.

The grunt-turned-manager shuffled wearily toward the spacious bathroom to begin his morning routine. He executed the familiar movements with the precision and enthusiasm of a robot. Shower (Hot water, not cold. Unlike his old place, the heater in this house worked flawlessly.), shave, teeth...wait. He paused mid stroke, mouth leaking thick white foam, and listened to the soft pitter-patter that had infiltrated the corners of his hearing. Had he left the water running? Clamping the toothbrush between his jaws, Franklin navigated the expanse of tile that lay between the sink and shower and brushed back the damp curtain. Nothing. That could only mean one thing.

"Shiff." He growled around a cloud of mint flavor. The storm wasn't supposed to roll in until tomorrow. He'd intended to attach the car's forward plow after work today. Being relativity new to the suburbs that lay upon the city's out most borders, the act was still new to him and thus took at least fifteen minutes to complete. The man supposed that one day the various straps and clasps would be as familiar to him as the back of his own hand, but for now...

Franklin picked up the pace. Thank god it was a Saturday. He'd hate to wake Jenny up early. Once the rain built up upon the roads, traffic quickly reached levels that would make the West Coast cesspools proud. The city was efficient but even it couldn't automate civic vehicles. The plows wouldn't be out for another half hour at least as the drivers were summoned and transported to operate their mechanical beasts.

Cleaned and clipped, he slid into one of his neatly pressed suits and selected tie. Yes, it was a red tie sort of day. Thus dressed Franklin slid away and was replaced by Mr. Brooksfield, department manager of the Product Corporation of-

The weather was getting worse. Mr Brooksfiled decided that the reinforced umbrella would not be sufficient protection and added the full body cover to his ensemble. It was a good deal less refined than his usual pea coat but no one at the office would hold the bright green plastic against him. Unless they were exceptionally foolish or lived in the company's on site apartments they too would have their own gaudy garments to toss into the automatic cleaner upon arrival to work. Thus prepared, the man-manager-descended the steps to his kitchen and fixed a hasty breakfast that centered around a tall mug of the professional world's black lifeblood. He took a brief moment to enjoy the rich aromas drifting up from the cup. His eyes slid closed in ecstasy as his senses were flooded, sharpened, enhanced by the divine mixture.

Suddenly the arduous chore of attaching the plow transformed into a quick and simple task. He was in the garage; the leather and metal construct danced into place beneath his nimble fingers. He regretted having to burden the beautiful precision machine with the great ugly thing-not to mention the bold black lines of the industrial windshield wipers-but it was preferable to having its elegant grill clogged with flesh and blood. Mr.Brooksfiled slid into the leather clad cockpit and pressed the Mercedes' on switch. Eight cylinders rumbled a deep bass greeting. Carefully setting his mug of energy in a specially fitted cup holder, the man reached up to the sun visor and commanded the smooth metal wall before him to retract on well oiled rails and grant him access to the world beyond.

The manager observed that the fetuses were relatively under developed today. They displayed the vague features of their canine or feline species, but their heavily veined skin bore no fur, their limbs comically stubby, their eyes soft orbs of blank jelly. That was good; Jenny tended to have a problem with rain when it too closely resembled one of the domestic species she was constantly begging for. At this stage, the fetuses would do nothing but cause her to giggle as she stomped through the 'crunchy puddles'.

Mr. Brooksfiled forced his way down his winding driveway and onto the street proper. Today was going to be a good day, rain be damned. He could feel it.