Secret Cat

Received Highly Recommended in Cambridge Writers 2015 Short Story Competition

So here I am with my friend Marvin in a big room in a big building in a place Marvin calls London. Over there is a dumpy woman in a posh frock who’s holding a gold medallion on a scarlet ribbon.

The dumpy woman is coming this way. She must want to play shiny-thing-on-a-string with me. What does she think I am, a kitten?

“Now be a good girl, James,” Marvin whispers, and he strokes me under the chin

just where I like it making me purr fit to bust.

Perhaps, I’d better tell you my story.

I live in Marvin’s territory. It’s got two levels and a special flap so that I can come and go as I choose. It’s a lot better than my last home. There wasn’t enough room to swing a dog and too many noisy neighbours. But even that was better than my first house; my human kicked me and the food was terrible when I got any at all. I don’t like to think about it, but if I ever see Abu again, he’ll feel my teeth. Still, he did give me this spiffy collar.

That’s why Marvin chose me, the collar. Well I suppose it was really Marvin’s human friend Sylvia who chose me. Sylvia’s the one who likes wearing short skirts and

who talks through her nose, and she does something to change the colour of the fur on her

head. Don’t know why. Perhaps it helps her hunt.

Anyway, Sylvia says, “If we have to get a cat get a tabby one. I can’t abide those marmalade monstrosities. How about that one with the snazzy collar? He’s so adorable.” She lowers her voice, “And those are real diamonds.”

“I think he’s a she,” Marvin says, and he picks me up to verify. Some cheek, but at least he knows how to hold a cat.

“Is she a good hunter?” Marvin asks my keeper. “Only we’ve got a problem with rodents.”

“I’m not just a good hunter,” I purr, “I’m the best.”

I don’t know if Marvin understood, but he finds that place just under my chin

where I really like to be rubbed. That is sooo… nice.

When we get to Marvin’s house, I have myself a look around. It’s important to find out what’s where. Sleeping places, pouncing places, hiding places, places to sit with the best chance of tripping your human, you know the drill. Marvin and Sylvia are in the kitchen arguing.

“If she’s supposed to get rid of the rodents, why are we feeding her? Can we claim her on expenses?” Sylvia shouts.

“Weren’t you going to sell that collar of hers? I can’t believe those are real diamonds.”

“I was assigned to a dealer from Haifa for three months. Always receiving hot stones from Zimbabwe. Taught me a lot. Anyhow, I couldn’t get the collar off her. It must be welded on or something. Marvin, you’ll have to do it.”

“Okay, but our first client arrives this afternoon. The collar can wait till tomorrow.” He pauses. “What are we going to call her?”

“I thought James.”

“She’s a girl, remember.”

“Licensed to kill, even if it is only vermin.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny. You’re letting the job get to you.”

“No chance of that. Who’s first for our safe-house then?”

“Name’s, Hassan Khan, or at least that’s the name on the file. Probably Osama Bin Laden’s brother or something. You know we’re never told the full story. Arabs and Israelis both after this one apparently.”

As I walk into the kitchen they stop chattering and look at me suspiciously as though I’m some kind of spy. “Hey, Marvin, scratch my head,” I purr.

Marvin’s visitor arrives, so I’m shut out of the front room. Shame. And they’d just put the gas fire on. I’ve found a mouse nest in the garden. I’ll go hang out there for a bit.

Turns out the man next door keeps pigeons. I leave the wings in the kitchen for Marvin. Sylvia isn’t impressed. Don’t know why, she could never catch one. “James, you’re supposed to eat mice,” she says contorting herself as she bends down to my level without showing the world her knickers.

“Listen lady,” I purr. “You ever tasted mouse?”

Seems I’ve caused a row. The man from next door wants compensation, but Marvin has spent his budget on cat food. The row made Hassan very upset. He insisted Marvin give him the remote control that’s the only way of unlocking the front door. Humans!

I want to sleep on Marvin’s bed but he shuts me downstairs. Never mind, the spot in front of the gas fire is still warm.

Hey, my collar just went beep. No, I wasn’t asleep. I tell you my collar just went beep. There’s a click, then slowly the front door swings open. It’s Abu. I never forget a


“Hi, Abu,” I purr, rubbing my head against his trousers in my best honey trap


“Get away, Mau’dib.” Abu aims a kick at me, but, as always, I’m too quick for


I pad on up the stairs after Abu. He’s hunting. And if he is, then I am too.

“You think that’s moving silently,” I purr at him, but he takes no notice.

“A single bullet for the apostate,” Abu whispers. He pushes open a door. The thing about hunting is that you must pick the right moment to pounce. Not too soon, not too late, just when your victim is least expecting it.

Abu screams as I sink my teeth into his hand. “That’s for feeding me broccoli.”

The metal thing he’s holding drops to the ground and makes a terrible noise. Time to


The posh lady with the shiny medallion on a ribbon is standing right in front of me now. She really does want to play. “Got any crunchies?” I purr. Fat chance;I can smell this lady is a dog woman. Perhaps I’ll bite her instead.