2016 Honorable Mention: FELINE FLUMMOX by Isabella Astuto

So there I was, hiding in my small hole, sharing my last sliver of cheese with my sister. I glared at the enemy who lay outside of the hole, watching is lazily. I shot angry looks at him, chomping on my cheese loudly. My sister sighed, rolling her eyes. I knew that my sister hated my war with him, but she just didn’t understand that this needed to happen. I needed to escape or else we would starve! Well, there were those old pieces of stale bread in the corner, but they were disgusting. We are mice of refined tastes for heaven’s sake!

See, the problem with escaping from this prison was that the monster was always awake! Always staring at us with those huge, green, open, cat eyes. Open was the problem here. His eyes were always open!

Wait, they had closed! Was the evil creature tricking me? Would I actually be able to leave? I creeped up to the ferocious beast and pawed at his nose carefully. He didn’t move. A squeal of joy bubbled up in my throat but I pushed it down, determined to not waste my freedom.

“Sister, today is the day that I shall leave this wretched place and save us!” I said, preparing to run out of my hole.

My sister rolled over out of her corner, staring at me, presumably entertained by my words. “What are you talking about?”

“The ogre has fallen asleep for the first time in a millennia! I’ll be able to go out and finally get us real food! Aren’t you excited?”

“I’m overjoyed,” She deadpanned. “Don’t get eaten.” She rolled back into the corner, gnawing on her cheese.

I brushed her words off, confident in my mission. Poking my nose out of my hole, I checked to see if the kitten was still asleep. He was, so I dashed out of my hole. I felt my tail brush up against the critter, but decided to ignore it, too drunk off of my freedom. I threw all caution to the wind, slipping and sliding through the hall. My tiny claws grasped at the shiny, waxed floor, trying to get a grip on it.

After what felt like hours, I reached my own personal utopia that I regularly dreamed of reaching-the kitchen! I drooled just thinking of the amazing goodies in this heaven. Right now it didn’t look like much, but I knew what was hidden in that fridge and those cabinets. They were filled with delectable pastries, enticing loaves of bread, and mouthwatering fruits. And I couldn’t forget the palatable, savory, heavenly, cheeses. They were the main reason that I was on this quest. Now all that was left to do was to just reach those tempting delicacies.

I skittered back as far as I could as to get a running start up the wood. I shot up the cabinet, grappling wildly. I cheered in my head, celebrating my triumph. We would have fresh food once more!

But alas, I had celebrated too soon, for I felt something against my tail again. But this time it wasn’t the soft fur of a cat, oh no. I felt sharp hooks on my tail, dragging me down towards the body they were connected to. I screeched as I felt myself being lifted by my tail, mourning the loss of the treats. I looked around, disoriented, scouting out my surroundings.

I found myself gazing into the face of the ruffian. He cocked his head, meowing as if confused by my presence. I turned my back to him, refusing to be scared by his torture tactics. A pay swatted me, turning me back in his direction. I sighed at his persistence and continued trying to wiggle out of his paws. He seemed bemused by this. It’s just like felines to laugh at the struggles of an innocent rodent such as myself!

Success! I had finally shaken myself free from my arch-nemesis’s clutches. But apparently, apprehending me was not enough for this barbarian. He knelt down, nudging at me with his nose. I squealed in terror, sprinting away from the nefarious plans of the savage.

I started planning out my will in my head, sure that this would be my awful end. I decided to give my spool of thread to my sister who envied the fact that I had claimed the spool before her. I would give my blacket of ribbons to the chipmunk who lived in the wall installation next to us because he was always complaining about how cold it was. And my…

Four white, furry legs surrounded me and I cursed my rotten luck. Maybe if I stopped planning this theoretical will, I wouldn’t need to plan for it in the first place!

The cat ducked his head between his legs, staring at me. I bared my teeth at him and he meowed back in response. I tried to growl threateningly, but it only came out as a pitiful whine. We stared at each other for another moment, which I likened to the equivalent of a staredown between a hero and their villain.

But then, huzzah! The brute backed down, clearly because he realized who the superior animal was in this match. He padded off towards the living room, probable going to beg to be pet shamelessly. I did a victory lap back to my hole, convincing myself that yes, that was the only reason I was sprinting back as fast as I could.

I was greeted at the entrance by my dear sister who I hugged tightly, secretly relieved that I had made it back in one piece.

“Where’s the food you were supposed to bring back?” She asked, looking behind me as if she thought I was hiding the morsels.

“I decided that we didn’t need it my dear,” I said, making my way over to the pile of bread in the corner which now looked like an exquisite dinner. “This looks like it will hold us over for a long, long time. I handed her a piece of the bread and retrieved one for myself as well, settling down.

I wrapped my tail around her as we sat at the front of the hole, chewing on the loaves. My sister and I both peered out into the living room. She gawked at the ginormous fireplace, entranced by the flames, while I tried to catch a glimpse of the scamp, planning to establish my dominance over him to my sister. Unfortunately he caught my eye while I was peeking and seemed to think it was an invitation to come over. My sister exhaled exasperatedly as she saw him coming over and shook my tail off her’s, walking back to her bed, bread in paws.

“You can deal with Skip,” she said, a slight giggle in her tone. I opened my mouth to remind her not to call that scoundrel by his name, but then decided against it.

I considered the cat as he made his way back over to the hole, watching me all the while. I threw a slight nod in his direction, deciding that being nice to him for a time would be the best option. He purred and plopped himself down, batting a chew toy her had found around. I stayed at the front of the hole, but moved back just a bit, deciding that this shelter wouldn’t be too horrid of a place to stay in for a little while longer.