An Incarceration | Short Story

Cat in Santa hat illustration - "An Incarceration" short story

The cretins have locked me in again. I can only assume it is down to the cold, white fluff which is falling from the sky. It may be chilly, but it’s awfully pretty to look at and rather fun to frolic in. I suppose it will have to suffice that I watch it through the window, since I have been unjustifiably incarcerated.

The worst thing about the locked door? Having to shit in sawdust, like a damn rodent. I don’t think the humans quite understand the importance of feeling grass beneath my paws when I relieve myself. Imagine if I took their strange, porcelain throne away from them; they’d feel degraded. Perhaps one day, if I ever manage to sprout opposable thumbs, I’ll do exactly that and present them with a plastic box instead. I think they’d soon realise that it pays to let a cat keep to his normal toileting habits.

It’s somewhat of a ritual, this locking me in business. I seem to recall they did it last year when the white fluff fell. Perhaps they’re worried I’ll get a chill if they let me roam free when it coats the ground, but I have this wonderful thing called a fur coat which is designed exactly for instances of white fluff falling from the sky. I may look like a beautiful and delicate flower, but I can assure you I’m far hardier than the humans give me credit for.

What makes the behaviour of the humans all the more peculiar is that only a few days ago they brought a tree in from the outdoors. It’s almost as though they did it for my benefit, as though they could fool me into thinking the indoors was the outdoors before they locked me up. And then they adorned the tree — and the rest of the house — with a series of delightful playthings. Now, naturally I’m not about to complain about the introduction of fabulous new toys. The problem is that I am shouted at whenever I try to play with them.

These toys are the most exquisite knickknacks a cat could ask for. They glimmer in the light. They reflect my face back at me. They dance in the breeze and they plead with me to play. And yet when I do, I receive irritated mewlings from humans who forbid me from doing so. It is sheer torture, particularly when I have been unjustly locked inside and forced to shit in a sodding box.

There is, of course, always the night time for playing. Perhaps I’ll have a jaunt beneath the colourful tree now while the humans are all tucked safely up in bed. The big ones placed a few new parcels beneath the tree just a few hours ago, and they all have rather enticing lengths of sparkly yarn attached to them.

It makes little sense to me, the ritual the humans indulge in with these parcels. I’ve seen it before, not just in the cold season but multiple times each year. They spend hours wrapping useless items up in paper and string, only for someone else to rip it all off in a matter of seconds. What would be the harm in me ripping it off for them? After all, I have much sharper nails and I’m capable of shredding the paper into teeny tiny flakes which decorate the carpet so beautifully. But the last time I tried that I received a torrent of hateful wailing.

The branches of the colourful tree deliver the most wonderful tickles along my back, but I shan’t be distracted by that now. There is a parcel which must remain the centre of my attention. It is enormous; it stands taller than I and almost as long, and although its paper wrapping is plain and drab, it is adorned with an exquisitely shiny bow which cascades down its side and drapes along the floor. I’ll just lay on my back before it for a little while to take in its splendid beauty. And perhaps I’ll just run the edge of the ribbon through my claws.

Mine! You are mine now, shiny ribbon. You’re hooked into my talons and, oh dear, I’ll have to just pull and pull until you can be free. What is it that I find so satisfying about tugging at lengths of string with my paws? I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that it fills me with a joy that is almost as invigorating as a line of catnip. It gives the old claws a good stretch, I suppose, and it’s far less messy than ripping the giblets out of a mouse.

Ah, a shiny ball. These little shimmering orbs are all over the tree and I can never resist giving them a quick tap with my paw to make them bounce and swing back and forth. What purpose do they serve other than to reflect back my face in a series of distorted spheres? Why do they enthral me so? I’ll just give this one another quick thwack and perhaps we’ll get to the bottom of it…

It escaped! It leapt from its branch and ran away into the corner. I’ll find you, little shiny ball. You’ll be mine soon enough. I’ll just pick my way through all these parcels and take the opportunity to receive further back scratches from the tree’s delightfully prickly branches.

And what are you, fuzzy, thick string with thousands of shiny tendrils? I shall call you sparkle caterpillar. You are most intriguing. I have an innate desire to wrap you around my torso and roll around on the floor. But you appear to be stuck. I’ll just give you a little tug. And another. Perhaps if I get you in my teeth and my paws I’ll do a better job. There we go, now I have some purchase.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh bugger it, the whole tree is coming with you, that is not what I wanted, not what I had planned, shit, shit, shit, I better take cover beneath the coffee table for a while.

Well. That made an awful racket. But I quite think it serves the humans right for keeping an entire tree indoors in a pot rather than securely in the ground outside where it belongs.

‘BUHWUHWUH.’

Fabulous, now the great drooling imbecile is going to begin howling. Here she is, bombing down the stairs with her tail stuck in the air like she has any kind of authority in this household. She is the lowest of the pack. Even the small humans have more intelligence than her.

‘BUHWUHWUHWUH!’

Don’t come near me, you snivelling mess. It is beyond me how anyone can put up with an animal that screams the house down every time something goes bump in the night. It wants taking out back and putting out of its misery. I’d do it myself if I had opposable thumbs. And a shotgun.

‘BUFF!’

I can smell your damn breath from across the room and I know you’ve been eating from my food bowl and my litter tray. You revolt me. Get away from me! Don’t make me hurt you.

‘Brrruff.’

I’m ever so glad you can’t climb or jump, you foul cyst of a creature. I’ll just hop up onto the mantelpiece while you do your inane security check. That’s it, have a sniff in every corner. Yes, I’m sure some pathetic growling and whining is guaranteed to scare off any intruders. Oh, you’re coming to check on me, are you? Wouldn’t it be an awful shame if this ornament were to fall on your head… oops.

Ha! Idiot.

Was that the ornament I heard crack or was it your cranium? Must be the ornament — you’re far too thick-skulled to have sustained any real damage. It might even have knocked some sense into you if you’re lucky.

Yes, you trot off to bed, you stinking pustule of dog flesh.

Speaking of flesh, I’m feeling a little peckish. I wonder if one of the humans has been stupid enough to leave some titbits out in the kitchen. Let’s have a look. I’ll just pick my way around all the sharp sprinkles surrounding the tree — that doesn’t look safe at all. I think I preferred the shiny spheres when they were still spherical. Perhaps it was a mistake, knocking the tree down. Never mind; the humans will clean up the danger and make everything look pretty again for me in the morning. They always do.

It certainly smells good in the kitchen. It often does at this time of year when they install the tree in the corner and all of the sparkly toys. Each time I do my best to widen my eyes and appeal for a scrap here and there, but do they abide? Of course not. Instead, they produce what appears to be a sock filled with revolting catnip flavoured monstrosities, and they look at me expectantly as though I’m supposed to bow down to their generosity. Less of the catnip flavour, more of the real catnip, please. Or if that’s not possible, a few flakes of roasted bird in my dinner will do.

Speaking of birds… I think I spy a very big one. They’ve tried to shield it from me with a layer of that peculiar mirrored paper, but I see it. I smell it. Oh, it is raw. Bird sushi. My favourite.

If the humans saw me jump up onto this counter, there’d be hell to pay. What they don’t know is that whenever they’re not around, I am up here playing king of the kitchen. It’s the perfect spot for a touch of intimate hygiene. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I’ve licked where the sun doesn’t shine while sitting upon their pristine kitchen counters.

I’ll just peel back this mirrored paper and have a little nibble on the bird leg. I never could resist a drumstick, and this is a terribly big one. Where do the humans find these enormous birds? And why on Earth do they only eat them when the white fluff falls and the tree is in the house? Human rituals certainly are beyond me, but I shan’t complain too much because, truth be told, tonight I have had quite the party. Plus, I have the added satisfaction of knowing that I will cause a little bit of misery in the morning when they witness toothmarks in their bird and chaos in the living room. Serves the cretins right for locking me in.

All that eating has made me rather sleepy. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m stuck indoors; the white fluff is falling outside with some vigour and it makes me feel cold just watching it from the window. I think I’ll find a little space on one of the beds and take a nap.

Oh. Oh dear. Perhaps the bird sushi wasn’t quite as fresh as I thought. I think I might be seeing it again in just.. a… few… seconds… ugh…

That’s better. And right at the bottom of the stairs. I do hope one of the children wanders down barefooted in the morning. That would be the icing on a most splendid evening.

Up to bed we go and… oh, look at that, vomit on my paws. Never mind — it’ll come off on the stairway carpet. They probably won’t even be able to see it amongst the awful pattern. But they’ll sure as hell smell it.

Now, which bedroom shall I choose? Perhaps I’ll snuggle up with the smallest human. She kicks off an awful lot of heat, and she probably won’t notice the eau de barf because she often smells a little sour herself. Her bedroom door is always left slightly ajar, too, which allows for easy access onto a beautifully soft bed.

Look at her — sleeping like an angel. She could almost be cute when she’s miles away in dreamland. It’s a major improvement on her conscious state, when she is little more than a heavy-handed, sticky-fingered grope.

I’ll just crawl up here and settle down on her chest. And now I’ll give her cheek a little lick because all of a sudden I feel a great fondness for her. There’s something about the tree in the corner, the shiny decorations, and the white fluff falling from the sky which makes my heart feel full and happy. Maybe there’s something special in the peculiar human rituals after all.

The little one stirs and gives me a quick tickle under the chin. Queue my chainsaw impersonation — this is purrfection.


This story is an excerpt from my book, Merry Bloody Christmas: A Short Story Collection, which is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.


Merry Bloody Christmas: A Short Story Collection by Ellie ScottFollow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and fiction writer from Sheffield, UK. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Competition and published her first book, 'Merry Bloody Christmas: A Short Story Collection'. You can often find her hanging out on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott), or hibernating on her sofa with a book and a very large glass of gin.

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