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Cat Walk

by on November 10, 2010

Tom was woken by the distant wail of sirens. He stretched his entire body deliberately and wandered through to the kitchen to pick idly at the food that Mable had prepared. But there was blood in the air tonight and food held no interest for him.

Outside it was nearing midnight, the wind was up and a scatter of drizzle whipped between the dirty high rise blocks. It was a perfect summer’s night.

He stepped nimbly onto the rusty fire escape and tasted the wind. The sounds of loud drunken curses and a woman’s sobbing drifted up from the fourth floor. A clang caused him to sink deeper into the shadows but it was merely some teenagers in the alley below: their sweet, cloying cannabis smoke mingled with the smell of rotting garbage. There was nothing of interest down there so he headed upwards, to the roof.

He found the acrid signs of a challenger on the wall near the top stair: inwardly he shuddered with excitement. Adrenalin rising, he stalked, low to the ground, across the untidy roof space. He sensed his foe behind the old venting units and leapt silently onto them.

For one long moment he paused and pulled his lips back slowly, baring his teeth – it was the closest Tom got to a grin. Then he dropped down behind his startled opponent: back arched, claws unsheathed and hissed a vehement challenge.

It was time to tussle!

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8 Comments
  1. This is so fantastic – I love it.

    I love the ‘acrid signs of a challenger’ and ‘it was time to tussle’. I think you captured a tom well, particularly to ‘pick idly’ at food.

  2. I enjoyed how the cat was painted in almost a human light; no explicit mention of Our Hero being a cat is ever made. Personally, I would have liked the stretching in the first paragraph to not have been emphasised as much — given the theme and the title of the piece, I immediately pictured Our Hero as a cat, although Mable had me wondering if Our Hero was perhaps human.

    I also enjoy the detail of the space, of the building that this cat inhabits and is wandering through: the stairs, the vents, and so on.

    • Glad you liked it- thinking of making the catness less obvious in the rewrite; also perhaps changing the title to ‘night walk’ or some such.

      As for the detail I try to write what I know – teenager smoking in Hillbrow back alleys watching the cats on the fire escapes in the summer drizzle…

  3. Great capture of a cat: kinda mean, mostly disinterested in humans and their business.
    Enjoyed the descriptive bits a lot: “scatter of drizzle whipped between the dirty high rise blocks” really jangled my wombats.

    Not sure I like “It was time to tussle!” for the ending.
    The sentence works for me, but the exclamation mark seems a little silly / frivolous compared to the fairly serious tone for the rest. Minor quibble, though.

    Great stuff, man!

  4. cbraz permalink

    I loved this. You capture the cat very well in various bits – like the picking at food, slinking around, being jumpy at sounds. I particularly like the bits on the roof – the last two paragraphs and sentence. Unlike comovedy, I like the lightness that the last sentence and punctuation introduce. In a way this is fun for the cat – yes, he’s challenging an interloper but he loves doing it 🙂

    I found it quite obvious that this was a cat – not sure how it would have been if the theme hadn’t guided me, though. For me, the Mabel bit cemented it – something about the tone of her preparing the food felt more like for a pet than for a housemate or family member.

    I think my favourite sentence is “He found the acrid signs of a challenger on the wall near the top stair: inwardly he shuddered with excitement.”

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