[The first encounter with the Miu, a race of vaguely feline bipeds. —GJ]
He walked slowly, boots making no sound on the carpet, until he was one step from being in front of the door. The peephole he expected, but not the mail slot below. It was unusual for a building of this level of cheapness. Crouching, the Thief took an awkward sideways step, placing him right in front of the door.
For a slow count of one hundred, he listened, ear pressed to the door. No sound. He decided to risk a peek. Very slowly, the Thief lifted the mail slot flap, wincing at the brief creak. Inside was another that opened inward. Reaching his free hand through, he pushed it open with his fingertips. This, at least, was silent.
Bright green, fur framed eyes stared back at him, trembling, unblinking.
“Hello,” the Thief tried.
A sound, halfway between a moan and a hiss, with something clicking in it answered him. He assumed it was a word (or two or three). The figure stood (too short for an adult, he thought) and trotted away, going down a hall and turning a corner deeper in the apartment.
“Hey!” Before he had time to decide what to do, the figure returned with another taller cat person. He stood as he heard a chain rattling and the deadbolt slide back.
The door opened the length of the chain and the left half of a feline face looked down at him from a height of seven feet. He stared into a bright yellow eye as its brow descended. A sound escaped the figure that went from the Thief’s ears straight to his hind brain. He took two steps back before he remembered himself. He held his arms out from his sides, palm forward and open. “Hello? Do you understand me?”
The growl stopped and the figure said something that sounded like, “Hinglish,” in a voice like the doom of worlds.
Taking a chance, “Yes, English. I found some of your” —the door closed, the chain rattled again—“uh” —the door opened and the figure emerged. It was male, quite distressingly muscled, and naked—“people on the”—the Thief never got a chance to finish.
The cat man, sharp teeth bared in what the Thief feared was a smile took two large steps and laid hands on him. Fear paralysed the Thief. He cursed himself as the figure threw him to the ground and leaped after him. He recovered himself enough to fight back, but he wasn’t strong enough anymore—not since the manor house. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. His attacker was much more muscular.
The sound of the door behind him opening almost escaped him as the cat man laid hands on his leggings, and began to pull them down.
A hideous yowling from behind him startled them both. The cat man looked up, scowl returning, and grunt/hiss/yapped back.
A cacophonous dialogue ensued right near the pain threshold, while the Thief wriggled out from under, trying to keep his pants on. His would-be rapist offered only token resistance as he discussed civic relations vis-à-vis assault on strangers with intent to dishonour, with his neighbour.
By the time the Thief had himself squared away, both disputants were silent. The tomcat retreated, hurling sentiments that sounded uncomplimentary over his shoulder as he did so. His door slammed.
Only then did the Thief turn around. His rescuer was female and naked to the waist. He was getting the feeling that he’d woken everyone up. Shorter than he, she looked older than the poor thing he’d found dead on the wall, though not by much. Her right forearm was above her head against the jam, her left akimbo. Her feet were crossed at the ankle. The longer hair atop her head was a shaggy, unkempt mess.
Her whiskers twitched as she considered him. “So, y’are the Hinglish, ya?” Other than mangling one word, her English was good, though heavily accented, her voice high and husky. Her cobalt eyes were frankly appraising.