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?’
‘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.
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