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.’
2014 – A Year In Stories
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.