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Friday, 20 November 2009

#FridayFlash: Mr Fluffles and the Art of Feline Psychiatry.


Well, here it is, my first attempt at #fridayflash fiction. By way of an introduction, this is the sort of thing that happens when I’m trying so hard to write something else and not getting very far! I swear this story wrote itself. I was in two minds whether or not to post it as it still needs some work (did I mention this is my first attempt?), but after two days I’m in danger of tinkering for tinkering’s sake, so here we go…


Mr Fluffles and the Art of Feline Psychiatry.

‘There’s this cat, see? It’s following me. It’s everywhere I go. It was bad enough when it moved in, but it follows me when I go out too! There it was, sitting outside the supermarket last Saturday morning when I went to get some breakfast. And it was still there when I came out. And at the dentist’s yesterday. It followed me home, again. On the bus. The driver thought it was funny, a cat using the bus by itself – he said so. But it wasn’t. Not to me at any rate. That cat’s been following me everywhere for the past month and it’s creepy, like it knows what I’m thinking or something.

I like cats, used to have one when I was a kid, but this one’s not normal. It’s the eyes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely looking thing, sort of a marmalade cat with a white bib, but that’s not the point. It’s evil. I’ve even tried boarding up my windows, but it still gets in, somehow.

The damn thing even followed me to my Mother’s house this morning. I went to see her before I came here, and it came in with me and, and, she fed it! The silly woman fed it, right there in her kitchen. She can’t see how dangerous it is, not like I can. I know what it’s up to, I know! And I’m scared that after it’s finished with me it’ll go after her.’

The young man shifted nervously in his chair, wringing his hands while the nervous tic beneath his left eye beat out its silent Morse code. He wondered how he was going to make the man seated across the desk from him understand without giving too much away.

‘It’s OK, Mark,’ Dr Brown said slowly in his best “reassuring the patient” voice. ‘We’ve been here before, now haven’t we?’ he continued, running a hand through his thinning grey hair, ‘and do you remember what we agreed last time? Stick with the medication and the relaxation exercises, keep your CPN appointments, and everything will be just fine, I’m sure.’ He smiled.

Patronising git, thought Mark.

Dr Brown scribbled something on his prescription pad, tore the sheet free and held it out to Mark.

‘Thinking about it,’ he said as Mark reached out a thin, bony hand for the prescription, ‘I’m going to change your medication. I think this tablet will be better for you. Take one in a morning and one before bed, and any problems with side-effects, just give my secretary a ring.’

Mark shoved the prescription into a pocket of his filthy, torn, army surplus combat jacket.

Dr Brown’s voice became suddenly serious, ‘Do not,’ he paused, ‘Exceed the stated dose. This drug’s fine at the usual dose, but can be quite dangerous if you take too much. OK?’

Mark nodded.

‘And make an appointment,’ Dr Brown said, switching back to his reassuring voice, ‘with my secretary for next week. Try not to worry Mark, we’ll get you sorted out, it just takes a bit of time to get the treatment right.’

Standing, Dr Brown extended his hand as a sign the consultation was over and watched as the unkempt young man left his consulting room. Would he take the hint about the medication, Dr Brown wondered. It might be easier all round if he did.

The clickety-click of slightly over-long claws catching in the weave of the deep shag pile carpet made Dr Brown stiffen and, looking over his right shoulder, he watched as a large white tomcat padded slowly into the room from the half open door of the private bathroom adjoining the office.

Dr Edmund Brown, consultant psychiatrist, slumped into his leather executive desk chair as the cat jumped silently onto the end of his desk and began to wash its face. It was a very nice chair, deep chocolate brown Italian leather, and fitted in perfectly with the other high-end fittings of his large, plush consulting room. He thought he would rather like to keep the chair, the office, his current lifestyle, so when the cat nudged his hand and meowed, Dr Brown sighed quietly to himself, opened a new blank word processing document and pushed his laptop towards the cat.

Slowly, carefully, the cat began to type with its right forepaw, one key at a time. Dr Brown almost smiled at the look of concentration on its face. Yes, he thought, he would like to keep the office, all except for the large potted palm by the door to the outer office. He’d keep that too if the cat would stop pissing in the pot, he thought with a momentary flash of irritation, which he quickly suppressed. The cat paused. Dr Brown made a swift mental apology and the cat resumed its typing. When the cat had finished, it stared up at him, baleful yellow eyes making contact with his pale blue ones.

Retrieving the laptop, Dr Brown dialled the number the cat had typed, the telephone only ringing twice before an efficient voice answered.

‘Liquidation Team, how may…’

‘Mr Fluffles has another job for you,’ Dr Brown interrupted flatly, reading out the cat’s instructions before giving Mark’s address and personal details. He pictured the cat that ran the Liquidation team, a black tomcat with a penchant for typing “Go! Go! Go!” DCI Gene Hunt, with fur.

‘Thank you,’ said the disembodied voice when he’d finished, and the line went dead.

The medication, Dr Brown thought, remember the medication, Mark – make it quick and painless, before it’s too late.

Looking down at his hands, Dr Brown realised they were shaking, and he was perspiring profusely. He rose from the chair and walked towards his bookcase, intent on the eighteen-year-old bottle of single malt currently residing behind his copy of Freud’s Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.

On the desk, Mr Fluffles smiled. This one, he thought, watching Dr Brown fumbling with the bottle top, had potential.

* * *

If you enjoyed the story, check out more #fridayflash fiction here, and don't forget to Twitter Search the #fridayflash hashtag.



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32 comments:

jimdempsey said...

Great story. I like how harmless the cats sound: marmalade with a white bib and the name Mr Fluffles. Contrasts well with their true intentions. Maybe Mark wasn't so crazy after all.

Deb said...

LOL! This story reminds me of a song that we sang in sleepaway camp as a kid called The Cat Came Back.

Of course, that song will now be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Anton Gully said...

Crazy! Loved it.

Pretty sure it should be "wringing his hands"

PoetryDuck said...

I enjoyed that - good story, apparently harmless cats with Particular Agendas. I look forward to reading more.

Chance said...

Yeah a good yarn and welcome to FridayFlash

Sam said...

jimdempsey - Thanks for your great comment. I am "staff" for two cats and tried to capture that private agenda they seem to have.

Deb - I hope that's a good thing?! ;)

Anton Gully - Thanks for your kind words. Dang! Thought I'd caught all the typos - ammended, thanks for that. :)

PoetryDuck - Aww, thanks. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for the encouragement folks, I really do have some awesome readers. :) Guess I'm going to have to write some more #fridayflash stories!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

I KNEW it - evil little creatures!
You;d better watch yourself now, they know you're onto them...

Very fun story, welcome to fridayflash!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Oh, and re: your comment above, I think you'll find it's "slave", not "staff" - I'll hazard a guess they're not paying you :-)

R.E. Wolf said...

Cats already give the impression of knowing too much. This did NOT help! Well done!

Laura Eno said...

Wonderful story, Sam! I have 3 cats so I know what you mean. I love the fact that they are running an agency.
#fridayflash is very addicting. :) Welcome to the club.

Karen from Mentor said...

Loved the title and you did a great job of delivering the concept.
Welcome to fridayflash!
Karen :0)

Diandra said...

Liked it. Very much. It was a really surprising story.

Julie (Okami) said...

Wonderful!!! I love it - I laughed out loud at the reference to DCI Gene Hunt. Bravo! Encore!

Linda said...

Wild stuff, all good. Knew there was a reason I preferred dogs. Peace, Linda

Marisa Birns said...

Enjoyed your story very much!

Laughed out loud (at the proper places, don't worry).

The denouement surprised...well done!

Hmm, I love cats, but now not so sure, especially when my Starbuck looks over at me.

Welcome to #fridayflash!

SiameseCaroline said...

Great story Sam! Loved the reference to feline telepathy and Dr. Brown's mental apology to the cat - find myself doing that from time to time.

Poor old Mark ...

Deanna Schrayer said...

What a fun story! The change in POV sort of threw me for a second - maybe Mark's thoughts at the beginning should be italicized or something to set it apart from the rest?
Love your descriptions and the voice is fantastic!
Welcome to #fridayflash!

Melissa said...

Love the twists! Secret life of cats, huh? ;) Welcome to #fridayflash! Great first piece!

Michael Solender said...

love the voice. cool write.

techtigger said...

too funny! And completely true, anyone who has had cats knows they are trying to take over the world, one human at a time.

Laurita said...

Great voice. Excellent first flash. I really think you're onto something, too. I'm sure my cat is out to get me.

J. M. Strother said...

This is why I have dogs. Can't trust them cats. ;) I enjoyed the story. Thanks for participating, and welcome to #fridayflash.
~jon

Susan Cross said...

I never trusted cats; they're too independent. Never been a dog person, either, but somehow one crept into my life and I'm stuck.

Reminds me of the phrase, "Who's walking who?" when you see a dog pulling its walked down the sidewalk. From reading your story, I guess you could say the same about cats.

Should there be another end quote after 2nd paragraph? I kind of got confushed without it but not sure what the rule is.

Welcome to the FF club. You'll get hooked, I promise.

Donald Conrad said...

Yes; cats are all full of agenda. Aren't they? Wonderfully imaginative piece. Thanks for sharing. Welcome to #fridayflash.

On an aside: for me it's dogs all the way...

Sam said...

mazzz_in_Leeds - You're absolutely right - no money has changed hands anywhere in the deal, so I guess "slave" it is! Glad you enjoyed the story.

R.E. Wolf - Thanks for those kind words. Sorry I couldn't allay your worries about cats! ;)

Laura Eno - Thanks! Oh, it's not just an agency, it runs much deeper than that. ;)

Karen from Mentor - Thanks so much, very kind of you to say so. :)

Diandra - Thanks, glad you enjoyed the story twist.

Julie (Okami) - Thanks! Looks like I'll have to put pen to paper again and write the story of the black tomcat.

Linda - Much appreciated!

Marisa Birns - Thanks very much, glad you enjoyed the story and relieved the laughter came in the right places! I suspect Starbuck may be in on the whole thing, I'd keep a careful eye on your kitty! ;)

SiameseCaroline - Thanks for those kind words. Yes, I too am afflicted with feline telepathy from time to time. :)

Deanna Schrayer - Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I agree about the POV thing - I wanted to try and capture Mark's anxiety, though I think I ought to have put an attribution somewhere in the first couple of paragraphs to make it clear who was speaking.

Melissa - Thanks! Much appreciated. :)

Michael Solender - Thanks, especially for your kind comment about my voice. :)

techtigger - You want to be careful with talk like that, if the cats find out... ;)

Laurita - Thanks! :) As long as your cat doesn't realise you know, hopefully you'll be alright! ;)

J. M. Strother - Thanks Jon, really means a lot. :)

Susan Cross - Yes, I agree, cats have this way of getting you to do their bidding, whether you want to or not! You could well be right about an end quote after paragraph 2 - I did wonder, but I'm not really sure of the rules either.

Donald Conrad - Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your kind comments.

Thank you to everyone who read my story and left a comment, I really do appreciate the support and encouragement. More #fridayflash to come I suspect, it is quite addictive!

jdanetyler said...

This is a clever and nicely executed piece. I love the way the shrink is slowly revealed to be the minion of the cats.

A nice debut piece. :)

Oh, and for the record, I love cats. They're delicious. ;)

A Writer said...

Fabulou! Crazy talk is my favorite sort of speech. ;) Sorry it took me so long to get here!

Dana said...

Great story! Good job with the voices. And I was chuckling by the end.

Kim Batchelor said...

Same cat followed me from grocery store years ago. Unloaded quickly on unsuspecting friends...

I really like the image of the Morse code eye. Well done story.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Hee, now this funny. Hey now, you ever watch Cat's Eye? They can be good too.

Sorry I got to these later than I intended. Super busy and it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon.

Keep'em coming.

Sam said...

Jodi MacArthur - Thanks for your great comment. I haven't seen Cat's Eye, so thanks for the heads-up, I'll have to check it out.

Aislinn O'Connor said...

DCI Gene Hunt with fur - love it! Also love the idea of Mr. Fluffles reading Dr. Brown's mind. Have always suspected cats AND dogs do that. They just don't repay the compliment by letting you get into theirs! Fascinating story.

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