Cat liked being up high. She lived in Central London in a building that was very high indeed. But the woman she lived with could only afford the third floor and for Cat that wasn’t quite high enough. The flat was also very small and the woman didn’t care for Cat, so on the whole Cat didn’t like the flat much. Cat believed she had been given a proper name but it was seldom used and she found that the common reference point of ‘the cat’ suited her much better, which she shortened to just ‘Cat’ so she couldn’t be accused of vanity.
Cat was a ‘house cat’, which she didn’t understand. She watched the man on the television, who clearly liked animals and who the humans seemed to see as a sort of animal god. His cats were bigger than Cat, and they got to go outside. She wondered if those cats had won their outdoor freedom by being so much bigger than the animal god, maybe he now had to live outside with them?
Cat wondered if she would grow as big and would one day be able to win her own freedom. Though Cat had seen other cats down on the street and they looked tiny, and they were outside! Maybe they had snuck under the door? Cat thought to herself, not understanding perspective, and thinking they must be smaller than the spiders she liked to watch walking along the ceiling.
Eventually, Cat found freedom by sneaking past the cleaning lady. But every night, because she didn’t know where else to go, she would return home and miaow loudly and obstinately at the building’s entrance until someone let her back in. She found this method worked for most things. People would do a lot for you if you miaowed at them loudly enough. Cat would also admit to doing it just to annoy people.
While Cat liked people a lot, close up, where she could watch them and talk to them, she preferred to watch them from up high. She would climb on to the roofs of smaller buildings, slowly making her way up to office blocks, where she would sneak in via a goods entrance and make her way up to the empty office spaces. London really did have a lot of empty office space; it made her wonder why the property prices were so high.
Eventually Cat made her way to what she understood to be ‘the city’. Although she didn’t quite understand how a city could have another city within it. Here, some of the tallest buildings stood, and she found she could sneak in quite easily. Cat was black and the humans in these buildings wore a lot of black clothes and carried a lot of black bags. They were, Cat thought, a depressing looking bunch, but also excellent cover. As Cat’s confidence grew so she would follow them into the see-through boxes. The boxes, Cat understood, were what took the humans upwards. Occasionally Cat would stand in front of the doors, staring at them, miaowing, just because their silence annoyed her.
Most offices were the same, only the views changed. Until one day Cat smelled something different. She was at the top of a particularly pointy building; she had seen the point from the ground and had entertained herself with the idea that she would like stand on it. Cat followed the smell, which was particularly salty, and found herself in a fairly empty kitchen. One that was surprisingly empty of food, which Cat found disappointing. She strolled through it into a restaurant. It had huge windows, much bigger than what she’d seen in offices and she marvelled at the fall below.
Cat lay down and watched for a long while, incredulous at the fact that she was higher even than some birds. Though, eventually, she realised that she was too far away to look at the people properly. How disappointing. It was then she noticed the smell again. Cat was hungry. She followed the smell to a table in the middle of the room, and hid under it. The noises from above were unpleasant, there was a woman’s voice that was high pitched and grandiose. Cat found it annoying.
Eventually the smells from above coordinated in Cat’s mind with her annoyance at the owner of said smells. She snuck out from her hiding place and leapt on to the table. The woman screamed in a way that Cat discerned was particularly designed to gain the most attention and pity. Cat turned to look at the man on the other side of the table. He looked miserable, and only a bit surprised. Cat looked down at the smelly black stuff on the woman’s plate, then back at the screaming woman, and declared the plate relinquished. It tasted very nice, very salty, which was just perfect.
Cat became aware of some commotion taking place over her head as the miserable man dealt with the annoying woman and the accompanying fray. When she had finally finished she became aware of being watched. The miserable man was staring at her, so she stared back. When he didn’t move she miaowed defiantly. And then he miaowed back. The miaow was small and sad, but it pleased Cat. She leaned in and sniffed at the man’s face. He smelled like grass. Which was nice.
Cat didn’t go back to live with the woman. She lives in Richmond now, with the man from the restaurant. She likes that he talks to her and that he sees that she is big enough to have her freedom. They live in a house, so they’re not very high up, but they live near Kew Gardens and Cat likes to climb the trees. There she talks to the parakeets, she studies the squirrels, and she calculates her point in the evolutionary chain. But she always goes home when it gets dark, she likes the television programme with the dragons.
I wrote this for Round #1 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. The story had to be a comedy, no longer than a 1000 words and had to include caviar and the top floor of a skyscraper. It also had to be written in 48 hours. This competition is points based and this is one of two stories I get to write. I didn’t get any points, but I did get some rather lovely feedback, and I’m okay with that.