041 - Teamwork

Another 100 themes. This one has a nice point of view, quite different from anything I've written so far. I think on reflection that the amount of things I put in to make it seem 'alien', calling furniture and rooms by different names, makes it too hard to get a sense of place.

041 - Teamwork

“My friends,” screeched Barney, “we must work together to defeat our common enemy!” He turned, pointing to the walls of their prison. “Even now we are taunted, forced into unwanted physical contact completely at the whim of our captors, and for what? For the sludge they put out for us every day? For what we can steal from their kitchen while they sleep?” He looked down at his audience, but Flora was licking her paws and Flynn just seemed to be staring out into space. “It is an outrage!” Barney yelled, trying one more time. “Only together can we bring down this cruel system…” But it was no good. His voice tailed off and he sank down onto all fours again, then jumped down onto the floor. Flynn’s ears flicked, a sure sign that at least part of him was paying attention, but Flora had finished with her paws and had moved on to her elbows. Barney sighed. “Are you even listening to me?”

“Chill out, man,” Flynn said dreamily, staring intently at a spot on the wall. “It’s not like we’re in a bad place. I mean, we’re cats. Cats, man.”


Barney sniffed suspiciously around Flynn’s shoulders. “Flynn, have you been licking the inside of the Owners’ cooking machine again?”

“It’s so flavour-y,” the ginger tom murmured, eyes wide and voice dreamy. “Like, if you took all the chunks of dinner and squeezed them into one tiny black burnt-tasting ball, like that. Y’know?” He blinked slowly and then whispered “I think that spot on the wall is actually a fly. It was a thumbtack last time, but I think now it’s a fly again-“

Barney sighed. “Flynn, you can’t just go around licking everything! You’re dragging the rest of us down with your habits.” He tutted and turned his back, tail high. “I mean, seriously.”

Flora paused, one leg gracefully extended, tongue halfway down. “You shud justh accepth ith,” she said, and finished the lick. “I mean, look at us. You’re twelve this year. Twelve! Would you ever have lived that long in the Wild?”

“Ah, the Wild,” Barney said, and deep inside him the gnawing hunger awoke again. He jumped up onto the counter again and padded over to the window. Outside, the tiny metal noiseboxes were moving to and fro, many catlengths below, and he watched the ant-like Owners. “Don’t you see,” he murmured. “They’re tiny! There are mice here in the Food Room that are bigger than those tiny Owners. Our Owners are the only ones that are bigger than us, the only ones that have power over us, but down there…” He tapped the window with one claw for emphasis. “Down there, we would be gods…”

Flora sniffed. “Down there we would be cold and the Owners wouldn’t put food out for us.” She stretched, arching her back in a feline shrug. “I know where I’d rather be.”

There was the sound of a key in the lock, and all three of them pricked their ears up. Barney fought down the urge to run in to greet the owner, and watched Flora and Flynn as they trotted to the door.

Ugh, Barney thought. Trying to organize this lot is like herding Owners.

Why should it be like this? Didn’t the Owners bleed the same? Didn’t they have their own Litter Room, like cats? The door opened, and the Owner came in, carrying food bags. He said something in the silly booming voice he had, and then went straight to the Work Room.

“Oh boy! Pouch food again,” Flynn said, burying his nose as deeply into the bag as he could. “There’s loads of other stuff in here too.”

“It’s always pouch food,” Barney muttered, watching the Owner sitting at the No Table. The Owner had put some paper right on Barney’s favourite sleeping spot; this would not do, but Barney knew from past experience that any attempt to reclaim the spot would lead him being scruffed.

Barney grinned suddenly. It was time for some teamwork, whether they liked it or not. “Hey, Flynn; Flora; I can see the Owner’s kind of busy. Oh! What’s that he’s holding?” He stood up tall on his back legs. “Oh! It’s a note. Looks like a receipt. It just says ‘Cat Food’ though. He grinned slyly and half-turned to look at Flora and Flynn. “Dig in, guys. Looks like it’s all for us.”

Barney crept up to the chair, crouching next to the Owner’s legs. Almost immediately he heard the crackling of plastic and paper as Flora and Flynn tore open the food. With cat-ike reactions, the Owner moved. As he moved out of the Work Room, Barney dashed past him up on to the No Table and made a bed for himself. The paper must be plans to keep them imprisoned here; his claws ripped into it. That pencil pot? Nope, that didn’t fit with the design. With a flick of one paw, off the No Table it went, clattering to the floor. Barney looked around; mere seconds of freedom remained. Then he saw it, the weapon that could turn the tide, that would show the Owner who really held the power. He grabbed hold of the thin black cylinder, no more than a pawslength long, and scrabbled for the little button. As the Owner came back, Barney pinned the laser pointer between his paws and jabbed one claw down. A bright red spot appeared on the Owner’s chest.

“Ha! Now dance! Dance like we dance for you!” Barney shouted, waving it around. He pointed it towards the wall, still carefully holding the button down, and made it wiggle around.

The Owner’s hand closed on his neck, scruffing him, and he went limp. The laser pointer clattered to the floor and clicked off.

“No! You should have been chasing the light! I had the power, not you!” Barney wriggled, but the Owner’s grip was firm. He saw the Bad Bed come into view. “I will do unspeakable things in your shoes,” he screamed, and then, as he was put in the bed, narrowed his eyes.

“Your time will come, Owner,” he muttered, tail flicking.