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MINE: Claimed By the Prince - short story
Entry for Fictionistas' March Writing Prompt
They picked four Storymatic Cards to give us the following prompt:
A person who steals cats
Something beautiful yet useless
Something is wrong with the water
Up to 1000 words
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I usually shoot 100% blanks when it comes to prompts. But this tale popped into my mind, fully formed the moment I saw those cards.
Here is mine, 1000 words exactly:
Abhorrent creature. It squawks at a thin, rectangular device upon entering My new domain—My prison, rather. More rectangles. These form annoyingly high walls with a sealed lid.
They do love their boxes, but they never use them correctly. Boxes are made for uninterrupted snoozing and perfecting one’s Hide & Stalk skills, not for imprisoning one’s Overlords.
On one wall, another rectangle swings open, but its locking mechanism is designed for gangling monsters with opposable thumbs. The illusory aperture, on the other paw, never opens. This torture device provides the sensory lull of sunbeams as well as a view of My predestined domain. Ah, the winged prey, the fuzzy food, and memories of soft breezes—all cruelly denied by a transparent barrier too sturdy to break.
So I plot My escape through the swinging aperture.
My jailor approaches—abductor, rather! Loathsome snatcher, prying Us all from the warmth of Mother’s love. This creature is hopeless at stealth and must be inexcusably squirrel-brained, for it straps clunky, clompy pedestals upon its feet.
Why would it hamper itself against an Overlord plotting its doom?
Long before the aperture swings open, I hear it coming. It tosses down Goop of Nourishment in a can, then pours Clear Tasteless Liquid into a trough. Yes. A trough. And Me: groveling at its feet for scraps. No chase. No takedown. No teeth in neck and certainly no death-shake.
We had never experienced the hunting joys Mother promised in the bliss of the barn. Not before We were unceremoniously ripped from Her love-grooming tongue.
The two-leggers tried to fool Us with yellow “nipples.” Hah. More torture devices that reeked of chemicals and tasted of lies. But this was the only route to the milk-substance. More falsehood. The Goop and Clear Liquid is worse. As though such abomination could ever suffice after knowing the rapture of Mother’s Milk.
It’s all deception in this place. My jailor is soooo aesthetically pleasing. Its appendages were clearly designed for petting, and it can be adjusted into the purrrfect throne. This model’s head even sports dangle-toys just begging for a good swipe, as does the fabric swirling about its legs. So wondrous to behold!
False food. False libation. False entertainment. Those toys are naught but more torture. Tantalizing, swishing, dragging, baiting. Swinging back and forth in “innocent” allure. Yet the tyrant pops My nose—My nose!—when I lunge forth to claim the offerings with a claw.
My abductor never performs obeisance, much less worshipful petting—sacrilege—and it shooed off My first attempts to woo and tame it—rude. Instead, I am subjected to solitary confinement save delivery of the so-called “food” and the removal of My droppings.
To add backwards-fur-stroking to injury, it expects Me to relieve Myself in that ghastly receptacle—another box full of pebbles that lodge between My paw-paddies. Do you think the delinquent could pry them out? Not once. Useless. In fact, it expresses upset when I shake the offenders off. It also steals the pebbles when I bat them around the floor for Pounce & Kill practice, the only entertainment left around here, now that My Siblings have been taken away—
No. Sold off to other oppressors.
But I still have My chance today. I shall plant Myself in the clompy monster’s path, toppling it once and for all so I can spring over its twitching corpse and—
My jailor prowls in at an odd hour today, furtive in fuzzy foot-dampeners. I only rouse from slumber when the aperture-handle twists. Curses! I scramble at the swinging rectangle but the slidey-floor hampers proper purchase. Heart racing, claws a-skitter, I launch forth, but My belly and ribcage are met soundly with the crook of the beast’s ankle. I am discourteously hoisted into the air. Fwing! I soar and land with a surefooted whumph.
It will pay for that.
My fangs grit. My ears flatten. My body coils.
Alas. It knew to bring backup today. This new two-legger wears streamlined leg-protectors in a heavy, utilitarian fabric, as well as low, cushioned foot-armor. Wieldy. Stealthy. I can barely hear its footsteps.
A worthy foe then.
We both bristle as the jailor’s squawk-box erupts into incomprehensible speech. No matter. The thing’s thoughts are as clear as that tasteless liquid it forces upon Me. “I only have this boy left. He’s the runt, and quite the handful.”
Well, fine. Accurate. But We do not use that offensive word. The proper term is “compact.”
The jailer’s chatter and thoughts continue smacking about the room, unrestrained. “The others were all white little puffballs—so darling. They went right away, but not him. He’s been here alone for days.”
My eyes narrow. Yes. Tormentor. I am aware.
The other two-legger grumbles off a succinct, “Mmm.” Yet its thoughts slip out, tidily corralled with a vibration like Mother’s post-kill claw-licking. Puffballs—pah. As its scrutiny sweeps over Me, the vibes shift to exploratory fur-stroking. My shipshape tuxedo is met with approval, My symmetrical markings with awe. Tiger stripes down the back and whorls on the sides? Sleek eyeliner…lynx ears too big for his head? Now that’s darling! He is the first one I would have chosen out of any white puffballs.
My princely heart swells. What is this sensation? I have not felt it since…
Since We were all together in the barn.
Could it be—?
Is such a thing possible?
This one’s petting-appendages glow like sunbeams—a longing to use them properly.
Our gazes touch. The creature’s mouth quirks up. A catly gaze offers a slow, sensuous bat that conveys everything flowing through that silky, purring mind. The thoughts mirror My own. In a flash, I know.
My claws gouge the floor and I’m across that room, giving My Liberator’s foot one sound, cheek-scenting swipe in an unmistakeable proclamation.
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