January 19, 2017 Leave a comment
[[ Prompt: Unreliable Narrator
I chose a “naif” unreliable narrator, which is one without a full understanding of the situation. In this case, a pet cat. I guess this one could also be classed as a horror story! Warning for: Animal death ]]
Here is what happened. It’s possible you haven’t heard of me before — though unlikely. I am the most skilled hunter and most handsome in all the countryside. Until the thing happened, my considerable talents were squandered as an Inside Cat in the care of my two humans and their horrid offspring. That is what they would always say, “No no, you’re an Inside Cat.” Through persistence and cleverness, sometimes I would manage to find some time to hunt, or simply reflect in solitude, but it never lasted long. Most days I had to be content to observe through the large window at the front of the house, watching passers-by. I knew all of the regulars well; the female with her bright-colored legs and the wires on her ears — she always went by very early in the morning. A mother pushing her useless infant in a rolling chair — if you don’t know, human offspring are completely useless when they are born. It takes a very long time for them to master simple tasks like walking and communicating. Later in the morning I would see humans taking their dogs out on those humiliating leashes. I don’t know how they can abide it, but they are dogs after all, and servitude is in their blood. Did I ever feel a twinge of jealousy at their freedom? Freedom at the end of a rope doesn’t sound very appealing to me. Most of the dogs are harmless fools; the long-haired yellow one, the muscular brown one, and the spotted one. But there is one that has murder in his eyes. I know if he were able, he would relish tearing me apart. When he passes each day, he looks to the window and sees me there, his glaring eyes boring into me. That look has the promise of blood written on it. Sometimes he barks, and I can see his jagged, awful teeth. What an ignoble way to die! I ignore his taunts, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of a response. In the evening, the cars start to return home, bearing their humans within. Sometimes there are unusual visitors. The large truck that brings packages, or the loud one that attracts children. But for the most part, it is quiet, ordinary, and predictable.
The day that it happened started normally. The humans woke up and prepared their food. I asked, politely of course, for my share. They ignored me. The offspring were roused and put on their clothes, as always they tried to grab and bother me. I retreated to my perch high in the kitchen, where I repeated my request for my breakfast. Perhaps they just didn’t hear me over all of the noise. Some mornings they forget entirely, and I’m forced to suffer until the evening when they return. I can only guess this is some punishment I am meant to endure, though for what crime I have yet to figure out. Humans can be so capricious. As it happened, that day they neglected to fill my bowl, so I was in a sour mood to begin with. I sought out some prey within the house — some naive mouse or plump bird, perhaps, but there were none to be found. I went to my perch to contemplate my revenge upon the humans, or perhaps to have a nap first.
The usual visitors to the street didn’t come. I didn’t notice, at first, in part because I was asleep. But as the morning grew later I realized that none of them had come. What was happening? This was highly irregular. Even the murderous dog had not come, and I knew he would not pass up an opportunity to taunt me. Unsettled, I decided to sleep on the matter in hopes of reaching clarity. When I awoke, it was approaching dark and the cars had not returned to the street. Neither had my humans, not even the offspring who usually returned in the afternoon before the adults. Hunger howled within my belly, did they not realize that I was starving? But it seemed it wasn’t only my humans who had failed to return, no, all of them were away. Somewhere else, but where?
I slept fitfully, my hunger constantly making itself known. I had never gone so long without food, and I was uncertain how much longer I could hold out. Surely they would return again in the morning and fill my bowl. I recalled this had happened once before, they had gone for a drive and not returned until the following morning. I had survived that, I assured myself I could do it again — though it was not pleasant. It would take more than an empty belly to bring me down! I went to the front window to watch. I saw people this time, but not the ordinary ones that I was used to. I didn’t recognize any of these ones at all. And there was something fundamentally wrong about them, in the way they looked and moved and smelled. Many were smeared with blood, especially around their mouths, as if they had hunted and fed recently. There was a lingering odor of death about them, it was apparent even through the glass. There were several of them, I wasn’t sure how many, but much more than the usual morning visitors. They moved as a pack, with no apparent leader. One would see or smell something and begin moving toward it, and the others would gradually follow. One of the dogs, the long-haired yellow one, jogged down the road toward them, his tail wagging. Was one of them his human? I couldn’t tell.
In a moment, they were upon him. They clawed and grabbed with their hands at the dog, who rapidly disappeared beneath the clump of humans. I could not see what happened, but I think I am thankful for that. When they moved on, there was nothing but a red spot upon the road, some tufts of golden fur drifting away on the breeze. Had they eaten him? My mind could not fathom such a thing. Dogs were sacred to humans, they took them everywhere. What could have caused them to react in such a way toward one? And worse, how would they treat me? Fortunately the throng had not seemed to notice me. Perhaps it was the glass that kept me safe. I thought of the dog who hated me so, and wished that they might find him. Was that wrong of me? Maybe so.
In the still of the night, I heard the clattering of glass breaking. Alarmed, I raced down the stairs to see what it was. The strange humans were still there, and they had broken the window — my window! There were more of them now, milling aimlessly about in the darkness. I knew I had an advantage here; humans could not see well in the dark. I was much faster than they, as well, and knew many good hiding places. They would not do to me what they had done to that dog! I leapt through the open window and dashed away, hiding under the porch across the street. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked back to watch them. They clamored through the window into the house, I am not sure what they were seeking, but it would not be me they found.
I didn’t know where to go. I found food left out on porches and doorsteps, but that did not last long. I soon found others like myself, the ones wary enough to escape. As much as I disliked the idea, we were safer in a group. We could hunt larger prey and defend against dogs and wild things like coyotes and raccoons. While the adventure of it was fun for a time, I admit that I miss the simpler life sometimes. I miss waking to have my bowl full of food, a soft place to sleep, shelter from the rain and snow. I miss the reliability of it all. And I wonder, sometimes, what became of my humans. Are they part of the roaming pack? Or did they fight back? Did they think of me at all?
I do not know the answers, nor do I know what tomorrow will bring.