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2014 – A Year In Stories: Week 46 – Terror Error

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Posted on November 23, 2014 by

One more week down, now only a handful to go. I can’t believe that in less than two months this will all be over. I couldn’t even picture the final stretch of this challenge in the first few months and times it felt like I was never going to make it to the end. I mean, I still haven’t, so let’s not tempt fate, but it’s getting close.

Anyway, this week’s story was suggested by my fellow Liverpool sufferer, Lola Smith-Welsh, whose suggestion was as follows: ‘New kitten is not just a ball of fluff, but an interactive bugging device placed in the home of a suspected terrorist by security forces. Bonus points if the cat can talk.’

Enjoy.

2014 – A Year In Stories
Week 46
Terror Error

Francis looked at his packed bags and, finally, relaxed. He had been waiting six months for this holiday, and all the preparation was finally complete. His bags were packed, his passport was in his coat pocket and he had canceled the milk. All that was left was one final sleep, then he would be on his way to Barbados.

On the table, his phone buzzed. Francis picked it up and read the text message from his mum, telling him to have fun. He closed the message, fired up Twitter and read his feed for a bit.
After a while of reading, he decided to compose a humorous tweet in advance of the flight.

‘I hope my flight to Barbados leaves on time tomorrow,’ he wrote, ‘or else I’ll be forced to take drastic action! Lol!’

His tweeting completed, Francis climbed the stairs and went to bed.

#

The next morning, Francis awoke to a loud banging on his front door. That’s odd, he thought, looking at the clock. The taxi isn’t due for another two hours. The door rattled again.

Sleepily Francis rose and went downstairs to see hat all the commotion was about. A third knock on the door, even louder this time, was the final straw.

“Now see here…” he began as he opened the door. He was discouraged from embarking on his rant by the automatic rifle barrel being pointed directly at his face.
“Francis Charles Hughes?” the owner of the gun barked.
“Y…yes,” Francis replied.
“Get on your God damn knees!”

Francis panicked and slumped to the ground as ordered.

“Francis Charles Hughes you are under arrest for conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack,” the man said, lowering his gun and cuffing Francis.

#

Several hours later, Francis was released from custody, his ego slightly bruised. Police had questioned him and conducted a search of his house and his person, and determined that he didn’t pose an immediate threat to anyone. They warned him, despite his protestations that he had only meant he would write a very stern letter of complaint, that further tweets of that nature would be taken very seriously indeed.

Worst of all he had missed his flight. The airline didn’t have another one going out for another four days, and the customer services agent had been less than inclined to help when Francis had explained the reason for missing the plane. ‘I was indicted for threatening to commit international terrorism’ doesn’t tend to go down well with most airlines.

So, defeated and demoralised, he headed home, determined to fly out on the next plane and enjoy a shortened, but now thoroughly deserved holiday.

Upon arriving home Francis did a quick check up and down his street for any suspicious looking vans marked ‘Meals in 5′ or something similar, but it appeared that he was not actually being watched by any government agencies. He swept the house for bugs, just to be sure.

Francis looked despondent at his packed bags, that would have to sit there unused for another few days. He should have been well on the way to sunning himself on a beach by now, but he was stuck back home. It’d probably rain soon just to confound his misery.

Slumping down on to his sofa and preparing to sink in to a pit of despair, Francis’ attention was drawn to the window as he heard a mewling outside. Looking over he saw the most adorable kitten sitting on the window sill. It looked sad, as if it wanted to be let in.

Outside, the kitten turned slightly away from the window, so it could not be seen properly by Francis, and lifted its paw to its mouth.

“Alpha alpha, I have made contact with the suspect,” it said in to a concealed microphone. “Will update again soon. Over and out.”

Francis duly opened the window, and the kitten strode in confidently.

“Oh, you are a cute one,” Francis said once the cat was inside.
“Miaow,” the cat replied, before cleaning itself.
“I’m afraid I haven’t got any milk to give you, little one. I was due to go on holiday today, you see, and it would have gone off by the time I got home.”

The cat stared at him, nonplussed by his excuses.

“Oh!” Francis said. “I know. I’ve got a tin of sardines in the cupboard.”

As he ran off in to the kitchen to get the tin, the kitten raised its paw to its mouth again.

“I have infiltrated the premises. The mark seems oblivious to my true identity.”

Quicker than expected, Francis returned from the kitchen with a plate full of sardines. The kitten immediately began licking its paw to cover up its actions. It miaowed for effect.

“Something wrong with your paw there, buddy?” Francis asked, putting the plate down on the coffee table. Fearing it had been rumbled, the kitten stopped licking its paw and tucked in to the sardines.

There were some perks to the job, at least.

“I can’t believe im not going to get to go on holiday for another 4 days all because of one stupid tweet,” Francis said, sitting back on the sofa.

The kitten, on hearing this, perked its ears up to listen more closely. This could be it, this could be the information it had been sent to collect.

“But what do you care?” Francis added. “You’re just a kitten. You don’t even know what Twitter is. You probably just think that’s it’s a noise that the tasty birds make.”

The kitten frowned. It hated being patronised. It was much more than just a single minded kitten, focussed only on murdering innocent birds. In fact, it quite liked birds. It much preferred murdering mice instead.

Overcoming its displeasure, it noted that Francis had tailed off. So close, yet so far.

“Oh,” Francis noted. “You’ve finished your sardines. You must have been hungry. Who do you belong to?”

Francis picked the kitten up, much to its chagrin, and inspected it for a collar, finding none.

“No collar eh? Are you a stray?”

The kitten miaowed in protest at being held for so long. Of course if it wanted it could ask him to put it down in plain English, but that would have had the unfortunate side effect of giving the game away.

Instead it had to subject itself to this ignominy. It had a good mind to tell its superiors at MI5 that this was no way for a cat with a genius level intellect to be treated. All the sardines in the world weren’t worth being treated like a common house cat.

Of course, all the genius was down to the chip in its paw that it used to communicate with HQ. Without that chip, it would be just that, a house cat. Remembering this it decided that perhaps piping up wouldn’t be too smart a trick after all. It decided to get back to the job at hand.

Using its best pleading and understanding look, it sat and glared at Francis, hoping that the simple creature would understand that it was there to listen.

“What are you looking at me like that for?” Francis asked. “I told you I don’t have any milk, and that was my last tim of sardines.”

The cat continued to stare at him.

“Alright, fine,” Francis said. “I’ll go and buy some milk. I’ll need it anyway if I want a cup of tea for the next 4 days.”

As Francis grabbed his coat and keys, the kitten hit its paw up against its face and let out the kitty equivalent of a sigh.

#

Half an hour later Francis strode back on to the house, a blue plastic bag in one hand. The kitten had timed its latest check in report to MI5 poorly, and was calmest caught in the act. Once again it had to resort to licking its paw to divert attention. Unfortunately, this time it did not work.

“What’s wrong with your paw, little buddy?” Francis asked, placing the bag on the coffee table and picking the resistant kitten up. This was too close for comfort. The cat had worked too hard and too long to get discovered now. It spit and hissed as Francis tried to examine it.

“Come on now, I know it must be painful. You’ve been licking that thing every to,e I look away. Whatever’s in there must be causing you some awful grief.”

Finally the sheer size difference told, and Francis managed to stabilise the kitten for long enough to do a search of the paw. He finally noticed the small, black box attached to the cat.

“What’s this? Did you step in something and it got stuck? No wonder you’re in such a flap.”

Frantically the kitten licked the last ditch mayday code in to the device in the hope that its superiors would intervene.

This is it, it thought, this is the moment where my cover is blown and miaow.

The last part of the thought had been completed in the immediate aftermath of the device’s removal from the kitten’s paw. Miaow, it continued to think, having been reduced back to the intelligence of a normal house cat. Purr.

“There we go,” Francis said, throwing the device in to the bin without even glancing at it again. “Much better.”

He tickled the now docile kitty, who purred enthusiastically in response, before affectionately attempting to claw his eyes out.

“Well, if you don’t have a collar that probably means you don’t have an owner. How would you feel about living with me?” Francis asked. “Unless, of course, you are secretly a spy cat sent here to keep watch over me by MI5.”

Francis laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion.

“I bet that thing I just pulled out of you was a secret microchip that gave you super powers. Hah, listen to me. I’ve been watching too many James Bond films. Perhaps I should call you Bond. My little spy kitty.”

The kitten, as if it needed to live up to its new name, performed a death defying leap, claws first on to the curtains, hanging there for a minute before falling off.

All this distracted neatly, if accidentally, from the spontaneous combustion in the bin of the now compromised secret device.

“Stand down, 007,” Francis said, in a terrible posh accent.

The kitten miaowed, and for a second Francis could have sworn that he saw the cat salute reflexively before moving on to clean his leg.

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2014 – A Year In Stories: Week 40 – Why Do You Think You’re A Kitty Mr Hitler?

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Posted on October 12, 2014 by

…sung to the Dad’s Army theme.

This week’s suggestion is from my friend Manda Richardson, who has recently started to do very well in some animation competitions. Congratulations Manda! I’m sure you will all see the fruits of her labour very soon.

Anyway, her suggestion was for me to write a story about ‘A person who realises their cat is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.’

2014 – A Year In Stories
Week 40
Why Do You Think You’re A Kitty Mr Hitler?

“Our prices are extremely low this year,” the Avon lady explained to Juliet. “We have made some savings in our packaging department and this has allowed us to pass the savings on to you, the customer. I’m sure you’ll find the prices more than competitive.”

Juliet wasn’t usually the sort to let door-to-door salespeople in for a chat, but she was new in town and didn’t really know anyone yet, so she was grateful for the company. It didn’t hurt that she had been in the market for some new eye shadow, either.

Just as the Avon lady was preparing to show her skin are samples, Juliet’s pet cat, Socks, came prowling in to the room and leapt up on to her lap. She began to pet the cat as the lady went on about sea salt facial scrubs.

“Now, see, what the benefit is…” the woman said before trailing off.
“Is everything OK?” Juliet asked.
“Yes, I’m sorry,” the Avon lady replied. “It’s just that your cat looks so remarkably like Adolf Hitler.”
“I, uh, I’d never noticed,” said Juliet, leaning round to have a look at Socks’ face. The cat purported not to notice the special attention that was being paid to him, as he swatted idly at a fly. “Now you mention it, though, he sort of does…”

Sure enough, a diagonal streak of black fur crowned his head, where the parting would be, and another small patch just under the nose where the dictator’s famous moustache had grown.
Juliet had only recently got Socks from a cat shelter, taking full advantage of the fact that her landlord had failed to put a ‘no pets’ clause in her contract. The lady at the shelter had said that Socks had been to a few homes already, but always came back as unmanageable. He had seemed to take a shine to her, however, and caused no trouble so far.

“I hear there are whole websites devoted to that sort of thing on the internet,” the Avon lady said, as she packed up her samples. “I’ve left you a catalogue, just be sure to mention my name if you do decided to order anything.”

Juliet saw the woman out and went back to her job search in the local paper. When’s he got back to the living room, Socks had disappeared as he so often did during the day. Probably chasing mice or birds no doubt.

#

It was a frustrating afternoon. Her search bore no fruition, and Juliet began to question the wisdom of moving halfway across the country on a whim. Thirsty, she went through to the kitchen to get a drink.

She looked up as she poured some orange juice in to a glass and saw Socks sitting on the external sill of the kitchen window, next to her begonias. His back was turned, and he appeared to be mewing at something or someone. Probably a dead bird.

Juliet walked over to the window to see what he was looking at, and nearly dropped her orange juice in surprise. Outside, the decking was filled with cats, all of whom were staring up intently at Socks, who was mewing away authoritatively.

Every cat in the neighbourhood must be out there, Juliet thought. Surely they weren’t all…listening to him? She decided that she had been in the house too long and went out for a walk.

#

As she returned from her walk to the shops, Juliet’s attention was caught by a scream that came from the next door neighbour’s back garden. She rushed down the side passage of her house and out in to her own back garden, where the erstwhile kitty congregation had dispersed.

Peering over the fence to see what the commotion was about, she saw her neighbours, a middle aged couple, tackling a fire in the doghouse. The woman was aiming a fire extinguisher at the wooden construction, which was now merely smoking, while her husband held their poodle in his arms.

“What happened?” Juliet asked when the fire was out for certain.
“It looks like a mouse got in and nibbled the wires,” her neighbour replied, dipping her head in to the charred remains of the doghouse. She reached in and pulled out a small, very dead, mouse. “See?”
“What a horrible thing to happen.”
“Oh yes, we’re just so glad our Floofykins is alright, aren’t we Floofykins?” the husband replied, snuggling the rather reluctant poodle right up to his face.

Juliet elected to leave them to it, although she couldn’t shake from her head the fact that she was sure she had seen Socks slinking away surreptitiously from behind the doghouse.

When Juliet got back in to the living room and sat down, Socks wandered in and jumped up on to her lap. She stroked his head, and he kneaded her legs with his claw as in an affectionate manner.

“You’re not really Hitler, are you boy?” she asked the cat, who mewed in response.

But she couldn’t get it out of her mind. First the cat rally and now a suspicious fire with an unlikely suspect? What if the Avon lady was more right than she knew. What if socks didn’t just look like Hitler? What if he was…

It seemed silly, but if it was true then she had to know for sure. Casting her mind back to her walk earlier Juliet remembered seeing an advert on a lamp post for a pet psychic. She wasn’t generally inclined to believe in the occult, but giving the guy a call seemed better sooner rather than later after Socks had claimed Lebensraum in a neighbour’s flower bed.

#

Ten minutes later Juliet was back in her front room, the advert clutched in her hand. She found her cordless phone and dialled the number. A quick explanation later and John Young: Animal Psychic was on his way round.

#

The van pulled up outside Juliet’s house, and a middle aged man in a purple velvet jacket got out. He smoothed his clothes down and walked up the path.

“You must be Juliet,” he said, extending a hand, which Juliet took. “Now where’s the great dictator?”

They went in to the house, where Juliet found Socks asleep, stretched out in no patch of sun that was coming through the living room window.

“Now let me take a look here,” John said, placing a hand on Socks’ forehead. This didn’t seem to disturb the cat, and a few seconds later he stood up.
“Yes, ma’am, I’m afraid that your cat is indeed the physical reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.”
“What, it’s that simple?” Juliet asked, bewildered. “You only touched him for a second!”
“Ms Harper,” John Young: Animal Psychic replied, “I’m just very good at my job.”
“But how can you be so sure?”
“Animal reincarnation is quite common. Eventually someone – or something – was bound to come back as Hitler. That cat has by far the darkest psychic presence I’ve ever come across. Unmistakably a great and evil being has come back in to existence within him.

“Oh, and Pol Pot and Stalin were accounted for recently, I’ve got a lead that Genghis Khan is in a German Shepherd up in Leeds, and most of the others were rounded up ages ago. Pretty much just left Hitler. The real clue was the actions, though. The spirits tend to repeat their old actions, and based on what you were describing it’s got Adolf’s calling cards written all over it.”
“Rounded up?” Juliet asked. “You mean this is quite common?”
“Oh yeah, happens all the time. Psychic community does its best to keep tabs on the real doozies. The ones that are likely to offend again, given the chance. This one would have been purging the neighbourhood cats and declaring war on the next street over before you knew it. It’s good you called when you did.”
“So, what happens now? What is your fee?”
“Oh, no fee for this one ma’am. Knowing that I was the one that collared history’s greatest monster is reward enough for me on this occasion. I’ll take socks to our containment facility, where he will lead a good full life, just away from any temptation to commit acts of unspeakable evil.”
“That’s good, I suppose…” Juliet said. Even though it turned out her cat was the reincarnation of an evil dictator, she would still miss the little bugger. He had always been perfectly nice to her.

#

It was a sad farewell. Juliet came close to tears as Socks was carried down the path in a cage. She thought she saw him put his paw on the cage to say goodbye, but it could just as easily have been a salute.

John had comforted her, saying that it wasn’t her fault she had adopted an evil feline. After all, there was no way of knowing who her cat really was.

She spent the next few days moping around the suddenly empty house. An offer to look after the neighbour’s poodle was politely but firmly rebuffed, as word had gotten out about the true identity of her cat.

Eventually Juliet decided that the only way she would fill the void was by getting another animal.

She drove off down to the rescue centre, determined not to make the same mistake again, and quickly dismissed a dachshund that she thought looked suspiciously liked Chairman Mao, and a golden retriever that had once barked enthusiastically at a photo of Kim Jong-il.

After hours of agonising decision making, slowly ruling out each of the animals one by one until only a handful were left, Juliet found the most adorable fluffy bunny rabbit called Nibbles, which was busying itself rearranging the food in its bowl.

A bunny can’t be evil, she reasoned, loading her new friend in to the car. And anyway, it lived in a cage and wouldn’t be let out, so what harm could it do?

As she drove off, she failed to notice the pattern the rearranged food had been made in to. Reversing out of the car park, she bumped over the curb, and the perfect pentagram was knocked out of shape. Nibbles squeaked irritably, and began its task all over again, a certain glint of malice in its tiny eye.

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