A picture of a cat, looking concerned

Short Story Challenge Week 6: The Bowl

Time once again for me to stretch the old creative muscles with a new short story.

For anyone here for the first time, I’ve challenged myself to write a short story (or short fictional piece; there’s really no particular set length or other pesky “rules”) every week for the next year. As the title suggests, I’m six weeks in, which means that there’s already five short stories for you to enjoy before this one if you like:

Short Story Challenge Week 1: Before The War

Short Story Challenge Week 2: Apples Cannot Scream

Short Story Challenge Week 3: Blankets

Short Story Challenge Week 4: Charles Leadworth

Short Story Challenge Week 5: Cloud Running

And if you like those, I’ve got a full collection of short stories available to buy for all major eBook platforms, called Fifty-Two:

Buy Fifty Two through Amazon for your Kindle e-reader here.

Buy Fifty Two through Apple for your iPad or iOS devices/Macs here.

Buy Fifty Two through Smashwords for any other e-reader format here.

And now, it’s time for…

The Bowl

A picture of a cat, looking concerned

Hello, human?

Yes, I know, I know, you’re lying down and all… but… well… how can I put this politely but firmly.

Oh yes.

That’s right. My bowl.

There’s a problem with my bowl.

No, it’s not missing again because I’d nudged it under the pantry cupboard.

Again.

It’s not cracked again, like that old bowl that you insisted on using when I was just a kitten that smelled weird, like some other cat might have been using it before me.

That bowl couldn’t meet an “accident” fast enough… not that I’m admitting to having anything to do with that, you understand.

Nor is it suddenly displaying a gateway to another dimension, like it did the other time when I ate those “special” brownies you’d stored at the back of the pantry cupboard. I’m still a little wary of the bowl after that one.

No, human, the problem is considerably simpler than that. I’ve had a run around the house, I’ve had my early morning snooze… and now, I find my bowl is empty.

Yes, empty!

It beggars belief, truly it does. So, if you could just switch on the light and go open up the cupboard where the food is, that’d be…

Human? Are you even listening to me? Do I have to nuzzle your head again? Very well.

Human?

I will come back after I’ve wandered around the house for a bit. Maybe somebody else is awake.


Ah, there you are. Look, it’s obviously later now, and you’re still lying there, not getting up, and most importantly, not filling my bowl with food.

I need my food. You know this, and I make sure you know this by singing at you, winding around your feet while you walk and then slowly walking towards the food cupboard.

Every single day, because clearly you’re not all that bright and I have to keep on reminding you. A fine figure like mine doesn’t just happen, you know.

I’ve worked long and hard to build up my reserves for times when the hunting might be low… but today should not be that day, because if I go hungry today, what reserves would I have for tomorrow.

No, that cannot be allowed to happen. The bug that I caught twenty minutes ago was a mere snack… oh, I didn’t tell you about the bug!

I was doing my rounds, checking the litter tray and watching out the window for the dawn birds, when I spotted movement in the corner of my eye. I turned, and there it was, on the windowsill, bold as brass.

A bug. No, strike that.

THE BUG.

The big one, with the glistening diamond wings that’s been taunting me all week by landing on the veranda and hopping around behind the glass, where I couldn’t get to it.

And now it was inside. Now, never let it be said that I didn’t give it a fighting chance, even though it seemed like one of its diamond wings was missing a few segments for some reason, or that its eyes were covered in spiderwebs. I had nothing to do with that.

Still, I warned it, thumping my tail to let it know that I was coming.

OK, OK, you got me. The tail thumping just happens, and I wish it wouldn’t, but it’s like the tail has a brain all of its own, you know? Tails, eh, what are they like?

Where was I? Oh yes, tails.

My tail is very fine, as you know. Long and curved and always meticulously clean. Not like the dog’s tail. I swear, that idiot wouldn’t know what his tail was for. But my tail was doing something… oh yes, thumping.

Ah, yes, THE BUG!

So, I thumped my tail, and then, faster than you’d be able to see, I leapt gracefully through the air towards the bug, readying for an epic battle and chase around the house. I’d already planned the route that would ensure a few photo frames would be knocked down, because that usually wakes you up, and did I mention that my food bowl was empty?

Because, it is you know.

Empty. My food bowl. Still.

Still, I have resolve, so I wasn’t going to let a little thing like ME MAYBE STARVING YOU MONSTER get to me.

Well, not much, anyway. I leapt through the air, eyeing off the twelve different escape routes the bug could have used, ready to pounce any way it chose to go, when suddenly…

I landed on it.

It didn’t move at all, because, get this, you’ll love this… it was already dead!

Isn’t that a hoot? All that time spent planning the perfect bug chase ,and it had already carked it!

So I ate it, of course, which is why there are stray bits of web in my whiskers. Gimme a second to have a quick clean, and then… yeah, that’s much better. Now, what were we talking about?

Oh yes, my bowl. Still empty, you know, and you lie there as though there’s nothing wrong with that.

Human? Human? HUUUUUUUMANNNNN?

Really? I’ll come back. Maybe the small human is somewhere.


Human?

It’s getting DARK again now, and this is just plain intolerable. I’ve tried looking for the small human.

I’ve tried looking for the small human, but she’s nowhere to be seen at all.

I’ve tried scratching out my complaint on the side of the sofa, and while that helped with the stress of BEING SO HUNGRY, nobody came to look or make the loud words at me or, y’know, just a suggestion, merely a possibility, PUT SOME FOOD IN MY BOWL.

Even knocking down the photo frames I’d planned to knock down didn’t seem to make a difference, and there, I’m really helping you, you know. I know you hate that photo of you in the purple dress, but you don’t need to worry about it any more.

It’s smashed real good, so I’ve done you a solid there. Could you, maybe, do me a solid by way of some solids to eat?

No? You sure do like to complain that I “sleep all day”, but just look at you! The sun’s going down and you’ve barely moved all day.

HUMAN!!!

MY!!!

BOWL!!!

IS!!!

EMPTY!!!

Sigh. Maybe it’s because you’re lying on your side, and you can’t hear me properly. I’ll go round the other side of the bed, even though the effort is a lot in my weakened, starving state.

Hey, when did you get the red bedsheets?

Oh, wait, they’re not red… you’ve dyed them for some reason. Pretty uneven job, if you ask me, though using your own… fluids… to do so sure is a choice.

Hmm. Smells pretty good though.

Yeah, maybe you didn’t mean to do that. That knife doesn’t look like much of an art implement, even if you are holding it pretty tight by your chest

But don’t stress. It smells fantastic, so I’ll just clean it straight off the bedsheets for you.

Don’t move at all… good, you’re not moving at all. This might take a while to clean up, and then we can talk about some proper food.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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