Chaircat Mao and Cheeser the Mouse

adorable animal bed bedroom

“Chaircat Mao,” asked Cheeser the mouse, “Why don’t you ever chase me?”

Chaircat Mao rolled his rotund body over and readjusted his luxurious gray coat.  “Well, have you ever chased me?”

“No, Chaircat Mao!  That would be silly!”

Chaircat Mao closed his eyes as if the question were answered.

Distraught, Cheeser scurried onto Mao’s flesh.  Without response, she balanced down to his nose and pulled on his whiskers.  “It’s not right, Chaircat Mao!  God made cats to chase mice!”

“Don’t be silly.  God made cats to be worshipped.  Now stop disturbing my nap.”  So, at last, Chaircat Mao slept.

***

This week’s Carrot Ranch prompt was about a mouse – which thrilled me.  I have several stories about mice, and they’re one of my favorite animals to write about.  If you’re mildly interested, they’re Elephant and The Lord of AllThe Beggar’s Coins, and To Stop and Smell the Flowers.

In this flash, I wrote about a Tom and Jerry-esque pair, except Chaircat Mao and Cheeser don’t MAKE ME LIVID.  

The Chase – #Haibun

adorable animal animal photography animal portrait

The water of the creek smells clean, like something that has trickled out of the water table and onto leaf litter.  I lap it with my tongue, tasting with care, then drink to slake my thirst.  I hear thunder rattle through the mountain pass, and lift my head to sniff the air.

Scent of saltpeter
Humans chasing their quarry.
Danger stalks these woods.

***

This was written for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday #124 – Game and Trouble.   Synonyms are in bold!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Crate

pexels-photo-951344.jpeg

The smoke makes it difficult to breathe.  Where is my human?  Why is she screaming outside instead of helping me?

Blaring noises and blinking lights scare me.  I crawl away into the dark, to my crate, to safety.  I curl up on my pillow and whimper as the smoke in the air thickens.

A monster bursts through the door.  I bite at its thick hide, but it doesn’t care – it just grabs me and drags me outside where I see her.

“Human!” I bark.  “Human!”

I break free of the monster’s grasp and leap into my human’s protective arms.

***

This was written for the November 29th challenge on the Carrot Ranch – ‘Into the Dark.’  While I was instantly reminded of Devil in the Dark, an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, I thought about my fear of fire as a child and how children hide from the fire by going to closets and dark places.  Feeling that a child trapped in a fire might be too much for a daily flash, I wrote from the perspective of a dog.

Squirrel in the Winter – #Tanka

A squirrel chitters
Outside double pane windows
I sip hot chocolate
While she eats frozen acorns
I stay quiet, she feels secure.

***

This was written for Collen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Tuesday #112 – Cold and Safe.  When I was growing up, we hunted squirrels vigorously – but one winter, a tiny squirrel climbed up on our porch and ate our dog’s food.  She would cuddle up against the window, from whence I suppose some heat emitted, and eat her bounty.  Our poor dog was basically Gandhi and wouldn’t defend his food, so we eventually started putting cereal grains and nuts out on a table so she’d have preferable goods to eat. 

Pomeranian Dog

Spud – basically dog Gandhi

In the spring she had a nest full of baby squirrels in a tree nearby.  They grew up bigger than her, took her territory, and kicked her further into the forest where we never saw her again.  We later shot them and ate them. 

20180826_213415

Current pupper Hector who was bought because of Spud’s breed and turned out to IN NO WAY be dog Gandhi (but I still love him because he’s bold, brave, and fun)

The Most Important Sign that Goldfish Revolution is COMING

photo-20181022154624728

One of these days, those humans will get their comeuppance.  They’ll understand the excruciating mental torture of being confined in a space just big enough to ensure happiness while a theoretically more intelligent species ogles them.

But woe!  Woe is me right now!  The treasure in this sunken ship is all plastic and ceramic garbage.  Sometimes I pretend that I’ve never seen a certain part of my enclosure, or that I’ve never met a fellow fishy sibling before, but it is all only dross.  Just a part of the show to make sure the humans don’t remove me from this aquatic sanctuary and force me to flop in the dry air.

But ooh!  Oooh!  There’s my human now!  Is she… Is she going for the bottle – yes?!  Yes!  Food food food food!

(132 words)

***

This was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers #188.  I thought this one was hard because it was so easy to tell what was going on.  The final product reminds me of a crappy version of my earlier story, Caching In, about squirrels.

Roundup of Animals

Roundup

Animal Month is coming to a close on Let Me Tell You The Story Of, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the array of animal stories, articles, reviews, and more.  Before we close out this month, though, I wanted to point out some of the best animal stories I’ve seen on other blogs this month.  There were a few more I read that almost got mentioned here, but these are some of my favorites.

Dogs and Cats

This month, I noticed several posts about dogs.  I’m a dog person myself, especially the 20180505_185319floofers, and I think I can understand the deep emotional connection other writers feel to their dog.  Dibenami got a new dog this month, and I hope he loves her to the end like Robert Okaji with Jackboy.  I’m also unsure if Sarah from BySarahWhiley recently lost a pet, but her haunting tale about a Guard Dog really stirred my heartstrings.

Cats are all the rage on the interwebs, and I expected more cats to pop up this month.  The one I remembered best was Impatience! by M. Raynes.  I liked it because it had a feeling reminiscent of Mara from The Wildings.

I mentioned Ellie Scott in an earlier post, but I think she must just have a lot of inspiration from animals!  She wrote a short story about both dogs and cats, and I liked it because of the comraderie between the animals.  Check it out.

Birds

One Hundred Famous Views of Edo 1857 Hiroshige

Sometimes, Soap Opera Fanfics n More has a real winner.  I thought the poem Me&You was really cute, and I liked what I interpreted as a poem about colorblindness.  I’m unfamiliar with bird vision or if they experience either blue-yellow or red-green (red-green is the one found in humans), but I still think it makes this piece interesting.

I’ve always loved crows, and I’m not sure why.  Recent research has shown the astounding intelligence of crows, and I find it so very cool.  Aak Fictionspawn must have also found crows cool, because Gathering of the Crows looked through the lens of an eventual crow uprising.

I also participated in the Carrot Ranch prompts this month.  I really liked the Charisma of Cranes prompt, and I encourage you to check out this trove of 99-word flash fictions!

Other Animals

winter squirrelAfter I looked back over the month, I was surprised to find there weren’t many other animals on my radar!  One of the few people brave and creative enough to venture into a wilder set of creatures was Tom Darby, whose works I really enjoy reading.  His After the Cow Jumped Over the Moon made me laugh, and I read it aloud to the spouse, who also gave a chuckle.  Though you may not like the moral, Animal Lover – about lions and their interactions with a woman named Lydia – also made me snicker.

Robert Okaji also had one about deer, but it must have been titled something odd and I can’t find it anymore.  😦

Thanks!

Thanks for taking this safari through the animal world with me!  I’ll have a fresh, new theme for June, and I hope to see you there!

 

The Zookeepers

On Sundays, I respond to prompts I find on other blogs.  Though it wasn’t a prompt in the usual sense, I found this post from Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand to be thoroughly fascinating.  I hope the stories promised on that blog are excellent, just as I hope you enjoy this flash fiction.  I hereby conclude my month of animal stories with the most potent animal of them all – humans.

Narrash squinted at the faraway zoo, adjusting its telescope to see through the cloud cover.  “A bit stormy on the planet today, Verrant.”

Verrant nodded.  “It’s thoroughly out of the ordinary.  Something must be going wrong.”  With a couple swishes of its plumbiuns, Verrant examined the sanctuary.  “Hmm… runaway chemical reactions, rising global temperatures, massive levels of toxins, and… radiation?  This is a relatively new captive space, one wouldn’t expect to see this for millions of years!”

Narrash nodded and put away its scope.  “I think we should just give up trying to capture this species.  It’s obvious they just shit all over their planet until nothing can live there ever again.”

“But they’re so cute.  Their little eyes, their little noses, their baldness save for the patch on the top of their heads!”

“You want to open this exhibit to the public?  You want to commit to being zookeepers for this craphole?”  Narrash booted up the engines.  “If you want to do that, do it with a different partner.  I’m giving up on the humans.”

Verrant slurtened and shifted the computer’s specs.  “We gave them everything they needed at the outset, so it’s possible they can clean their mess up.  Maybe I’ll check on the in a few centuries.  Just to see if they survived.”

“You do that.”

The ship turned around and blopeeted into deep space.

***

The Hurrith Planetary Enclosure Company was sued soon after for neglect in the care of its charges.  Several cages were found to lack basic needs, and the abusive relationship between keeper and charge went unreported for millennia.  All those who read this missive can claim their piece of the settlement by calling the law offices of Herrngutturtengeim today. 

Run From Your Fears

This is inspired by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #56, “Erosion.” 

The deer sniffed around a caracass on the dewy night ground.  It crawled with flies, broken bones sticking up from what little flesh remained.

The deer’s legs trembled.  The murdering animal could still stalk nearby.  Out of precaution, the yearling lifted its white tail and dashed away.

“No,” a voice called out.  “Don’t leave me.”

Frightened, the deer leaped over the brush.

“I miss you!”

The thrashing of an animal close behind forced the deer to run faster.  Quicker its heart pumped, faster its legs pushed.

Recent erosion from rainstorms made the deer’s feet falter.  As the deer’s side hit the mud, it tried to get up, but then squealed in terror.

The bones, eyes sockets red and bleeding, had followed. “Don’t you remember mommy?”

The Beggar’s Coins

On Sundays, I respond to a writing prompt that I enjoy.  This week, I chose the dragonition image prompt #179.  The image creeped me out (contained an antique doll), so I’m not including it this time, but the prompt words included in the story are bolded.  Because I read Longtails and reviewed it earlier, I wrote this from the perspective of human-like mice.  It may or may not be a fanfiction…

“Alms for the poor?”

I jumped when the beggar, ears ragged and fur matted with the filth of the city streets, tugged on my cloak.  Without thinking about it, my hand reached for the short-sword on my hilt, but I let the blade rest in its leather scabbard.  “I don’t carry coin I don’t intend to use for myself,” I said.  “The Church of Screel will gladly give you sup, if you’d find your way there.”

The beggar mouse showed its teeth in a haggard smile, even its rodent teeth showing signs of significant decay.  With wiley, squirming movements, it bent to my shoes and ran a curious set of dirty claws over them.  “You were going to get your shoes repaired, were you?”

I lifted a brow and squinted, curious.

“Perhaps a shoe shine will do wonders-”

“The sole is coming off, my good man.  I’m afraid I need a cobbler.”

With a cackle, the beggar spat on each of the shoes and rubbed his crusty elbow on the tops.

“What in the nine heavens are you doing!?” I shoved the beggar off, sending him sprawling onto the boardwalk.  A mouse walking by lifted her skirts and wrinkled her nose at the smelly beggar before scurrying quickly by.

The beggar pointed to my shoes, his finger shaky and voice confident.  “See, good as new.”  He smiled and gestured to my feet all the more emphatically.  “Really.”

I stuck a foot forward to examine.  Rather than the mud I expected, I saw instead a shoe with the shine of fresh leather, a sole that still possessed its original tread.  I let go of my sword and bent down to examine my two feet, finding that indeed the shoes were repaired.

“How did you do it?” I asked.  “Magic?  Wizardry?  Because if it was, you don’t need to be a beggar – the spell of mending is powerful, and you could support yourself if not make a fortune!”  I reached out to help the mouse back up from where I’d wrongly shoved him down.

The beggar tilted his head and, instead of taking my assistance, held out a palm.  “Perhaps you could give me the coins you intended for the cobbler, then?”  He lifted the hand a little higher.  “Alms?  Alms for the poor?”

I took out every chez that I owed the mouse, placing them into his hand.  “You deserve these coins for the work you’ve done.  But with all seriousness, my good fellow, how did you do it?  Just give me an honest answer.”

The mouse closed his palm greedily over the coins in his hand, stowing the money away inside his ragged cloak.  “I don’t carry wisdom I don’t intend to use for myself,” the beggar said.  “The Church of Screel will gladly fill you with knowledge, if you’d find your way there.”

animal blur close up cute

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Max’s Pal

Max panted, his unclipped claws making quick ‘click-click’ noises as he thundered down the alley.  “This way,” he barked.

Pal snorted in affirmation and crept into the small area behind the dumpster, making sure to crumple into the corner with his companion.  Max’s tongue lolled out of his mouth, and quick sniffs searched the air for the scent of water.  The stink of the excess food and rotting refuse in the dumpster overpowered anything else that could have been in range.

His breath returning, sides not heaving so quickly, Max whimpered and ventured to look around the edge of the dumpster.  Upon seeing the humans in the uniforms rush by, wielding their long stick with retracting lasso on the end, he pulled back.  His ears waggled, eyes wide and frightened.  “We can’t let them find us.”pexels-photo-356378.jpeg

Pal remained squeezed against the brick wall behind him.  “You’re sure you smelled her, here, in human land?

Max huffed out a breath.  “Dead certain.  We’ve got to get you to her, Pal.

Once the noise settled outside the alley, Pal stood from the damp pavement.  Max looked out again, snuffling the air before his tail perked up.  He took a few wary steps into the alley, still crouched in case the dog catchers returned.  “Come on, Pal.  This is your chance.

The two barreled out of the alley.  The front of the restaurant smelled heavenly, like all human-food did, but Max knew they wouldn’t give him anything.  A few of the herbal scents leaking out from under the door told him they wouldn’t treat him so.  Humans rarely shared anything tainted with onions or garlic.

Max put his nose to the air, trying to catch a whiff of her scent.  She had been in the back of an old pickup, her paws up on the back window so her human could pet her.  The scent was faint now, but lingering whiffs lingered on the breeze.  He moved his head to the side and ran down the cement walkway, not liking the prospect of competing with cars for space on the road.

Few humans littered the sidewalk at this time of day, and those who sat on piles of smelly rags didn’t bother Max or Pal.  A couple tried to pet him, and Max couldn’t help but let them stroke his head before returning to his mission.  Pal, always a bit of a scaredy cat, tucked his tail between his legs and scooted back whenever Max interacted with the street people.

At a point the cement ended abruptly, and Max enjoyed the nice blades of fescue beneath his paws.  As he crossed a small road, he caught her scent on the air, earthy and strong.  “This way, Pal!”  He bounded forward, certain now that he’d found the path to the white dog in the truck.  Across the street stood two buildings – one behind a fence, residential, and the other a brick building with a small parking lot.

Once across the street and sitting in a nice ditch, he sniffed the air again.  She was closeby, of that Max was certain, but something else laced the air.  It was the scents of fear, death, and chemicals.  Max shuddered as he remembered the scents.

What’s wrong?” Pal asked.

Max tried not to notice.  He hoped he wouldn’t have to answer, so he turned to the house with asbestos siding.  He trotted through the well-trimmed front yard, stuck his nose in through a knot-hole on a fence, only finding floral scents in the yard.  He grumped and barked.  He scratched the ground and looked back to Pal.  “She’s not here… which means she’s in there.”  Max pointed to the brick building with a bent foreleg.

Is that so bad?

You don’t understand.”  Max growled and paced.  “You’ve never been caught before.

Pal turned, looking over his shoulder.  “You can always turn back.  You’re not getting anything out of this adventure.pexels-photo-257570.jpeg

No.  Do you not smell her?

Pal said nothing, merely perked up his ears.

She’s in heat, and you can’t smell her, even at this distance?  You are broken.”

I’m afraid of that place.”  Pal tried to slink away, but Max moved quickly to corral him.  He shrank from Max, ears pulled back.  “It smells like death.

Max pushed Pal toward the building, feeling little resistance from the big dog.  “I’ll keep an eye out.  They won’t catch you, Pal, and even if they catch me – well, hopefully they won’t clip away my tail.

Or one of your legs.  What if they want your legs this time?”

Max shuddered at the thought and stopped pushing Pal forward.  He whimpered, tail tucked, but a deep breath filled with the estrus of the white dog steeled him.  “No, Pal.  This is your time, and I’m going to help you succeed where I failed.

Pal floated in front of Max, unable to stop him.  “This sounds like a dumb idea.

Max’s paws burned on the black pavement, the heat of the day bearing down on him.  Hints of barbitol radiated out of this place, masked by the estrus of the white dog along with the feces and urine of countless dead and tortured.  “We’ve got to get you in there.  Even if we’re caught, you’ll be of some comfort to her.  That alone should be worth the risk.

The front door, obvious by its welcoming front and glass with words written all over it, didn’t appear to have a clear method of entry.  Max sniffed at it slightly, catching the scent of thousands upon thousands of dogs at the threshold.  He followed around the building, stepping off the entry sidewalk and onto a set of boards that led around the side.  As he grew closer to the back, he caught a whiff of ashes, then heard a click.

What was that?”

The humans,” Max answered with a friendly lick of Pal’s face. “They’re burning stinky weeds.  They love burning weeds in their face, but it distracts them.  Now may be our only chance!

Max lumbered quickly to the back of the building.  A heavyset human, young and friendly looking, leaned against a wooden rail.  With one hand it held a leash and a phone, and with the other it flicked the device in its hands.  The dog it walked focused on a spot in the grass, likely one where another sorry animal had peed its terrified last.

Behind the human, the door to the building remained cracked.  Max, ever so stealthy, climbed up the stairs – his nails clicked, but the blonde-haired human just laughed at something in its hands.  He stuck his nose in the crack of the door and drew in a deep breath.

She was here.

He opened the door, the hinges squeaking only slightly, and snaked his way in as best he could.  “Hurry, Pal!

Pal ran right beside him.  Though humans began to pay notice to Max, he skirted the grasping hands and rushed to the room at the end of the hall.  Like the hero he was, Max burst into the door, finding the white dog sitting on the floor.

Pal!” Max barked.  “Pal, hurry up – I’ll fend off the door, you help her out!

The white dog howled and turned around, presenting herself by moving her tail to the side.

Pal remained still beside Max.  “I can’t do this.  You know I’m not capable.

What?”  Max bared his fangs.  “We’re going to get caught, and I did all this for you!  You’re intact, you can give her what she wants.  I did this for you and her-“

Max felt himself choked by a cord around his neck, so he bared his teeth and growled.  His slobber flung everywhere, but the humans showed no fear.  A human entered the door and grabbed the little white dog, holding her leash to keep her from following Max.

The humans pulled Max to the door and tried to drag him out of the room.

Run!” Max yelled at Pal between bouts of choking.  “They haven’t caught you, run!

Pal remained by Max’s side, following the humans out of the room.  “I can’t leave you, Max.”

Max could say nothing as the humans dragged him to the back.  The metal cages – deathly places, places no amount of bleach and chemicals could scrub clean of fear – waited.  A human pulled on the handles, opening it so that the other human could shove Max inside.  The door closed behind him, and the loop around his neck loosened before the human removed the stick from the door.  One of the humans ran a scanner across the top of his cage, uttering some nonsense words to another human when Max’s microchip was scanned.

Max bit at the wires of the cage.  “Pal, why are you still there?  You’ve got to run – they’ll get you, this time!

Pal lay down just outside the cage, his breaths even and calm.  “I came when they cut you up last time, and I’ll never leave you, Max.”  He nuzzled up against the entry to the cage. “We’re both captured, Max.  The difference between us is that your cage is made of metal – mine’s made out of your thoughts.

Max began to whine rather than fight uselessly against his cage.  He lay in the crate, remembering when Pal had shown up.  “Sorry for asking so much of you, Pal.”

It’s ok,” Pal answered.  “You got to see her, and your human is probably coming to get you now.  Won’t that be fun?

Max let out a calm breath.  “Yeah.

pexels-photo-951344.jpeg

Though I wrote this before reading Ellie Scott’s short story “What Does He Have?” I must acknowledge the similarities and encourage anyone who enjoyed this to peruse her much shorter, much better tale about lost balls. 

In case it was unclear, Pal is the figment of Max’s schizophrenia. I don’t know if dogs can have schizophrenia, but I thought it would be a good twist.  I’m not sure I like the twist or even the story as a whole, so let me know what you thought in the comments!