Summer Short Story #6
(Prompt: Write a story featuring a character very like you. Put the character in a situation you’d like to find yourself in, make something go terribly wrong and describe the (three weeks after the Doctor’s visit to the Mayor) reaction. Include “storm” per the WordPress daily prompt.)
(Three weeks after the Doctor visits the Mayor.)
“Prrrmeow… rre, rre, ming…”
Penny twitched her tail, expecting a reply, and then sneezed delicately. She lazily blinked her citrine shaded eyes and let their slits expand in the dim light.
“That’s right, human, I sometimes am forgetting. You are not yet fluent in feline, as my Doctor would say.”
Eyeing the new girl (“the Rosamond” as Penny would say), the nearly solid black cat washed her paws. Deeming them sufficiently clean, she then went to the water dish and dipped a paw in, bringing the drops to her mouth. Unlike some other cats, she was refined.
“Get yourself off, you nasty tom, shoo!”
The Rosamond was not beyond chasing that ginger vagabond away. Penny knew all about the girl’s fierceness with a broom. She’d seen if first hand, quite exciting, and wouldn’t mind more entertainment. But he’d sprayed the Doctor’s front door again, and the smell was not to be ignored.
Normally a pacifist, she’d twitch nothing more than a whisker, if that. Today, however, was one insult too many. The Rosamond had knelt with pale and sponge nearly every day this week, and it could not be born any longer. So Penny slipped out behind the unsuspecting girl and made to follow the wretched tomcat.
“You would be coming. I had the knowing, Penny.”
“You have nothing but a bladder of fault, scoundrel.”
“Indeed. I am knowing of truth! You mark a gentleman’s door… the mark of a scoundrel!”
“My master is saying always yours is an upstart. You are getting your mighty airs from him.”
“Master?” Penny twitched her whiskers and an ear. She’d always assumed the tomcat was feral.
“What is the saying of your master about my Doctor?”
“You would like the knowing, dreadful Penny, but what will you be paying?”
The horrible tom leered with a flicker of his tail, and Penny hissed. Words weren’t need for his distasteful suggestion. It was time for action, and so the usually tranquil cat, shook her head mightily—making her bell peel in a flurry of fur.
A raucous chorus of cawing echoed overhead, right before the first volley of bombs dropped on the flea-ridden ginger.
He didn’t complain for long, bolting for cover, instead. Whatever catty curses he fouled the air with were left to the bricks and mortar of the alley into which he scurried.
“Graww, gra! Graw huha. Gruh, gruh!”
If anyone should’ve happened upon Penny, they would have exclaimed in shock. For a cat, she spoke Raven remarkably well. Although, her accent left much to be desired. The black birds cared little, though. She managed to get the raven-haired girl she lived with to leave the tea time crumbs to them fairly often. Beyond that good fortune, however, was the fact that Penny was their sister of a different feather, a raven in heart. They would gladly give aid whenever asked.
Humans called their group an “unkindness of Ravens,” but Penny knew better. They were the very best sort.
Thanking them again, she doubled back and returned to the Doctor’s house just as the Rosamond was finishing her unfortunately task.
“Penny! How did you get out?”
“Prrmeow! Ming. Rrr.”
“I know. Wasn’t that a nasty tomcat? Let’s hope this is the last we see of him. I’ve poured vinegar on the doorstep. Mind you hold your nose.”
She gently scooped the Doctor’s cat up and carried her inside so she didn’t have to be so close to the deterring scent. All the while, Penny began to wonder if—perhaps–the Rosamond wasn’t beginning to learn feline, after all. She’d understood her remarkably well just then.
Some hours later, her Doctor returned from his calls and was about to begin receiving appointments in his front office.
As he carefully closed his wet umbrella, he said, “It’s just begun to rain. I think the weather’s taking a turn. It’s a bit nasty outside.” Placing it in the umbrella vase, he asked, “Have you see that atrocious tramp of a cat outside by the steps?”
Both she and the Rosamond answered simultaneously, “I have, Doctor. He’s terrible, marking your door every day this week. I hope he’s not done it, again! I’ve just poured vinegar there.”
“Ah, that’s why its smells as it does.” Taking his coat and placing it upon the rack, he replied, “I don’t think he has. He’s just been standing there—looking rather determined. I thought, perhaps, he was stalking an unseen rodent.”
Penny grew unsettled as she listened. More than just the skies were turning grey, she could feel it. Her whiskers were growing twitchy—never a good sign. As the afternoon waned into the evening hours, Penny’s sense of foreboding grew even worse. She couldn’t attribute it to the ginger’s continued presence. He’d left hours before, but she couldn’t help the sensation that his feral stare was aimed at her and the rest of the house’s occupants.
At eight o’clock that night, the worst happened. A window from one of the street-side rooms broke, sending shards raining inward. Something hurled from outside thumped ominously upon the floor and rolled unevenly, and then she became unhearing for many moments. The explosion was maddening to her feline ears, but she heard the Doctor clear enough, despite the assault.
He yelled from the library, running to the hallway, “Is anyone hurt? Call out! The house is on fire!”
Everyone, including Penny, found their way to his voice, and the Rosamond asked a frantic question of him as the rain fell in monsoon sheets.
“That wasn’t lightening and the clash of thunder, I’m afraid. It was an explosion, dear girl, and we must make haste!” The Doctor’s calm voice belied the severity of their problem.
Grabbing a fire extinguisher, he ran to his office, where fire licked at the curtain. But his efforts were in vain. There was only the one apparatus, and the fire spread quickly.
“Out! Out! It’s no use.”
So Penny, her Doctor and the other humans of the house, stood outside in the rain, watching as the fire brigade tried valiantly to save the structure. In the end, it looked as if they’d be able to salvage much of the home. However, the Doctor’s medical records were all burnt or water damaged. Most of the furniture was ruined, and everything smelled of smoke.
“I know, my Penny Dreadful, we’re lucky,” her Doctor exclaimed, as he stroked her fur meditatively.