There was a strange wailing sound coming from the next room. Nolan worried about what that meant. This place was supposed to be abandoned. There was smoke showing from the upper floor, but they hadn’t seen any fire yet.
“Hello,” he called out. “I’m with the fire department. Is there anyone in here?”
No answer, just that wailing noise again. He nodded at the man who had come in with him, and they headed for the next room. “Do you hear that, Young?” he asked his partner as the sound came again.
The other man shook his head. “Don’t hear anything, Hunter. Maybe that psych degree you didn’t get will help when you go crazy,” he said with a grin.
Nolan merely rolled his eyes. Why he ever told Mark that he’d been going to school for psychology before joining the Marines then the fire department, he’d never know. It was a good thing he loved the man like a brother.
“I think your ears are still screwed up from that blast.”
It had been a year, not so bad as they weren’t sure he was going to make it Stateside. But, the man was maybe the toughest Nolan had ever known. He’d come back, maybe not with all the pieces of his heart and soul intact, but still alive. “I passed all my tests when I joined. Nothing wrong with my hearing, brother.”
The next time the wailing started, Mark turned to Nolan. “That time I did hear it.”
They went through the door, nearly at the same time. The air was starting to grow heavy with smoke, but they made their way through, calling out to whoever might be there. The wailing got louder, but it didn’t sound quite human. It grew in intensity, though.
“There’s another door back here,” Nolan said, pointing to it. “Looks like a closet, maybe.”
They headed for it, and Nolan very nearly kicked a box as they went through the door. When he looked down, he finally found the source of the noise. “Not losing it,” he told Mark. “Kittens.”
They were crawling all over each other and the larger cat laying in the back of the box who let out another sound that could not be called a meow. Nolan scooped up two of the kittens in one arm. Mark was looking at the box with something akin to terror. “You’d go up against insurgents without showing fear, but a couple little kittens will do it, Mark? We need to get them out of here.”
“It’s Mama I’m a bit more worried about.”
“I got her,” Nolan said. “You big chicken.”
The cat hissed as he reached for it. “Oh, hush, you,” he said softly. “We’re here to help, not hurt your babies.”
That didn’t seem to soothe the animal, but he tucked her into his arm anyway. He would have just left them in the box and carried it out, but the bottom had looked like it would fall out. Mark had already gathered up the rest of the kittens and headed back out of the room.
Nolan could feel the pull of the cat’s claws in his jacket. Thankfully it was thick enough they couldn’t get through to his skin. Once they were outside, he set the cat down, it practically jumped from his arms, then he gently sat the kittens down. The cat seemed to calm once the rest of her babies were back with her, then she started to lead them away from the building. Nolan felt someone clap him on the back.
“So, Hunter, should your new official title be ‘kitten rescuer?'”