20.8.06

Sunday Scribblings: The Inner Life of Pets

I'm not sure what to make of what I wrote for this week's prompt at Sunday Scribblings, so I have even less idea what you'll make of it.

The following story is fictional (just so you know), but my (very real) cat does make a brief cameo appearance. And this time, there is a reward. I actually spend a lot of time trying to capture my cat's inner life on camera, because most of the time he just looks like a lazy ball of fluff. One of my favourite attempts is at the bottom of this story - but you'll have to read it first. I'll know if you don't...



Dawn of the Cats

I ignore Marlow when he first jumps on the bed. He uses me as a springboard to get on the windowsill, and then dive bombs back on me, but I’m too tired to move. Insistently, he begins to stalk up the bed. I feel his little paws pressing into the quilt alongside my body with as much force as his little fluffy body can muster. When he reaches my face and begins to lightly swipe at my nose, I open my eyes and sit up.

“Alright, alright,” I say groggily. “You want feeding, I take it?”

“Mao,” Marlow says, his big, liquid blue eyes peering up at me intently.

I swing my legs out of bed and get to my feet unsteadily, rubbing sleep from my eyes. I yawn. Dim sunlight is creeping into the room around the edges of the curtains. I don’t look at my alarm clock. It must be early because the usual whisper of traffic from the nearby main road is silent.

“You’re getting greedy in your old age,” I tell Marlow as he bounds down the stairs ahead of me. “And I need my beauty sleep. You’re lucky you’re so cute. I should just kick you off my bed instead of letting you abuse me like this.”

I reach the bottom of the stairs and the coarse hall carpet scratches feebly at the soles of my feet. Marlow sits on the doormat and scratches at the front door.

“Mraow,” Marlow says.

I sigh. “There’s a perfectly good cat flap in the back door. Why are you wasting my time like this?”

“Mew,” Marlow says.

“Fine. I’m up. Your very own personal door opener.”

I grab the door handle, turn it and fling the door open. Marlow races off into the lounge. I feel like a complete idiot, standing in an open doorway in my night clothes for no good reason. I look out. It‘s bright out, but no-one is around this early on a Saturday. The air is still. “Marlow! Have I done something to upset you?”

Leaving the door open, I wander into the lounge looking for my cat. I stop dead in my tracks at what I see.

Marlow is pulling something big and heavy from beneath the sofa. He grips it in his teeth and drags it over the carpet slowly and insistently. The object he’s pulling out looks for all the world like an assault rifle.

“What on Earth?”

I take a step forward, but Marlow gives me a fierce look. All of a sudden my cute little moggy is a tiger with his paw on the trigger of a lethal weapon.

I hold up my hands defensively. “Okay. My mistake. You want to play with the gun. Go ahead.”

“Mao,” Marlow says amicably.

I watch as he slowly drags the rifle across the carpet, out of the lounge, down the hall and out the front door. He has got it halfway down the front garden when a sudden gust of wind blows the door shut. I sit down on the sofa and stare into space for what must be a few minutes. Then I take a deep breath and look around.

The sofa cushion is still cold beneath me. The familiar smell of my house is in my nostrils. It is a morning like any other. I have not gone insane. I merely took longer to wake up than normal and a dream lingered on in my mind.

I get up and turn on the telly, sitting back down with the remote in my hand.

An important news story seems to be breaking. Journalists are gathered around an officious looking building, rushing towards an officious looking man. See? The world is going on as normal. No cats with assault weapons around.

As soon as the journalists reach the officious man they begin to bombard him with questions. One voice shouts above the rest: “What can you tell us about this situation, minister?”

“We are still gathering intelligence, however I can confirm that this morning’s emergency press release was quite correct and this is not a joke, although I am sure that you are all quite aware of that by now, as are an increasing number of people throughout the world.”

He places a strong emphasis on those last three words. Throughout the world. Bloody hell, what’s happening?

I press the channel changer.

Krishnan Guru-Murphy is looking at me seriously from the Channel 4 news studio. “-who has a special report for us from the region.”

A woman in a flak vest and helmet appears, the letters ‘TV’ emblazoned on her outfit. “Until last night this was a war-zone. Behind me you can see the burnt out shell of an armoured vehicle that was hit by several RPGs just six hours ago. And yet this morning peace prevails, after thousands of cats descended on the area, disarming all combatants without fatalities-”

I bash the remote frantically. That’s not real, that’s part of the dream. Let’s watch a TV channel that’s in the real world and not in my head, shall we?

A man, outside, wind ruffling his hair, a microphone in his face. “-to stay away from fish farms, cat food factories, pet shops, furniture shops, butcher shops, dairies and anywhere that you might find cat-nip. Other than that we are to continue with our everyday lives. The statement issued by the revolutionaries assures us that we will be allowed autonomy to the extent that we do not harm ourselves. In particular it stresses sustainable consumption of North Sea cod-”

I press the channel changer again. That’s quite enough of that. Madness!

A rather flustered woman in a long raincoat, ITN microphone glued to her lips as people run past her. “-soldiers laid down their weapons. Um…”

She looks off the screen and the camera is suddenly pointing at the cameraman’s shoes and some cracked tarmac. Someone can be heard faintly saying, “Miaow, mrraow meow.”

The camera lifts back up to the woman as she and the cameraman begin moving. The view swings as the cameraman tries to keep his camera pointed at the reporter while walking quickly backwards.

“I think,” she says, “I think we have to move now. I don’t think we’re allowed to film here right now.”

The camera swings down to show the cameraman’s shoes again and suddenly we’re in a newsroom, looking at an anchorman who is clearly not expecting to be on air. After floundering for a moment, he manages to come out with, “We’re getting many confusing reports on what’s happening right now. I think - yes, we’re going to Scotland now, where we have a special report from-”

I press the off button.

I grab my mobile from the nearby coffee table, knocking the TV guide and this week’s lottery ticket onto the floor. I call Melissa. I count the number of rings it takes her to answer. Seventeen.

“What?” she says rather grumpily. “I’m asleep.”

“I think I might be too.”

“What?”

“Mel, am I dreaming?”

“No, you’re being an arsehole. You only do that when you’re awake.”

“Turn on your television.”

“Why?”

“Just do it. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

“Oh crap,” she says, acquiescing.

I hear the sounds of her fumbling around, knocking something over, and finally a tinny, authoritative voice. Michael Burke, I think.

Melissa says, “What the fuck?”

“Am I insane? Are you seeing the same thing I am?”

I hear her change the channel. Then again. And again.

“What the fuck?” she repeats. “Cats?”

And then the line goes dead. I try to call her back, but a recorded message tells me that the network is busy and to try again later. Probably a fluke I got through to her on the first try.

I turn the television back on.

We are looking at a podium surrounded by microphones. A cream Persian cat with grey markings is sitting on the podium wearing a little black beret and saying, “Maow, maow, maow, maow,” while camera flashes go off like strobe lights.

Someone in the news studio says, “Do we have any idea what he’s saying?”

I turn the television off again and get to my feet. So… Marlow is out there, with his assault rifle, taking over the world alongside all his feline brothers and sisters. Affecting revolution.

I wander to the front door and open it. A tabby cat is walking down the pavement wearing a black beret. I can see another, ginger one on the other side of the road trotting in the opposite direction. The nearest one looks at me with sharp green eyes and says, firmly, “Miaow.”

I smile politely and close the door.

I head back upstairs and turn on the computer, wanting to read the blogosphere’s reaction to events, or at the very least to play a game and take my mind off things. As I sit down, the windows begin to rattle. The rattling becomes more pronounced, developing into a low thrum and then a louder rumble. What’s happening now? The world is exploding. It’s all over. I throw my hands over my head instinctively.

No, wait, it’s a helicopter.

I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s flying low. And coming very close. I look out of the window, not daring to lift the net curtain lest I attract the attention of the patrolling tabby outside. I try to peer up as much as I can, but I can’t see anything. Surprising given that my bones are now rattling as much as the window pane. This must be what it’s like to watch Apocalypse Now in the cinema.

I can see it! The little ski things a helicopter has at the bottom. It’s hovering right over the road! It descends slowly, almost hesitantly. Each movement is small and often corrected. But eventually it is sitting in the middle of the road, its rotor blades slowing to a halt. Something hits the road with a loud, splintering impact - a wooden crate, breaking and spilling fish onto the road.

Marlow jumps down from the cockpit, grabs a fish in his mouth and then races towards my house and out of sight below. I hear him vault the side gate.

Curiosity gets the better of me. I lift the net curtain and gawp at the helicopter. It’s white and yellow, with police markings. I can’t see anyone in it, human or otherwise. Did Marlow really fly it by himself?

I hear the cat flap go.

I run downstairs to find Marlow sitting on the sofa with the fish in his paws, licking it and purring. He looks up at me as I walk in and I can’t help but scratch him behind the ears. His purring intensifies.

“I suppose you want me to cook that for you now?”

“Mraow.”

I take it from his claws and he swipes at it playfully as I lift it up. As I turn to take it to the kitchen, I kick something that is loose under the sofa. Various papers spill across the floor. Marlow looks down with mild disinterest, but I’m rather more fascinated myself.

The papers are covered in strange, printed characters unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s like someone made a written language out of scratch marks. There are drawings too - labelled maps, diagrams of vehicles and objects, pictures of fish and cat toys.

I look at Marlow. “You lot have certainly been getting up to things when we’ve not been paying attention, haven’t you?”

Marlow just purrs.

“You’re lucky I didn’t kick all this stuff out from under here before today. I wonder what I’d have made of it…”

“Mao,” Marlow says.

“No, you’re right. If it was as easy as kicking it out by accident, I’d have done it by now. You must have dislodged this when you got your gun out, right?”

Marlow isn’t interested. He leaps from the sofa and walks towards the kitchen, his tail in the air, glancing back at me every few steps.

“Right,” I say, following after him with the fish. “Of course. Priorities.”

12 comments:

Diddums said...

Excellent - and I hate to think what could have been going on in Scotland! Gulp. I know what you mean about trying to capture the inner life of the cats - as soon as they see the camera pointing at them, a polite shutter comes down.

Michelle said...

Delightful, as usual! I liked it from the moment I read the title.

(I have wondered if eating the same food every day might be grounds for a revolt of some sort...)

tinker said...

Brilliant coup!
Now I'm off to check under the sofa - something's afoot. Lately, they've been huddling in the corners together, then nonchalantly sauntering away when they see I've come into the room...

:-)

leonie said...

Brilliant and funny. I always thought they were up to something... Thanks for the great post.

zhoen said...

I always figured the Cat Coup necessitated the mastering of the screwdriver. I'm betting it was the Canadian Cat Conspiracy.

boliyou said...

Great story. Very detailed.

Geosomin said...

Cute story.
This made me think of an episode of a canadian show called Twitch City where the cats were plotting to take over by creating androids they could remote control and be in places of power while keeping the people pacified with drugged fruity oh cereal and bad hypnotic TV.
I always wonder just what our 2 critters are up to when I'm not looking...

Roadchick said...

The 'chick knows cats that would be entirely possible of staging just such a coup.

Great entry!

Ceebie said...

LOL this was great! You captured my interest from the get go! Thanks for visiting my blog...

commongal said...

The description of the light in your room is so natural and clear, and you perfectly replicate the range of "meows" Marlow speaks. I loved it, and he is a beautiful cat, by the way. Obviously, very well loved and cared for.

Pacian said...

Ah, but his name isn't Marlow. He thanks you for the compliment all the same. =^_^=

My cat is the one in the press conference. I did base Marlow's mannerisms on my cat though, including his voice. (And the light in my room looks like that right now...)

Miss Meep said...

Lovely post - thanks for sharing.

And your cat is just gorgeous!