Pumpkin

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“Did you just…. Meow at me?”
Under any circumstances the question might be considered an odd one, but from one NYPD member to another while hustling home in the midst of a rain storm late at night-when one could hardly waste breath or time on words, let alone incoherent animal sounds- it was just obscure. Apparently, however, Reeves seemed to find the question only slightly odd, if he in fact thought anything of it at all.

“No, I thought you’d done that.” Reeves replied airily. “I suppose you wouldn’t have though, would you?”

“Why would I meow at you, you idiot?” The other man, a dark-haired, corpulent youth named Flint, snapped.

“For the same reason you thought I would meow at you I expect.”

“Ha, very funny. But seriously, something meowed.” Flint paused mid-step by what appeared to be nothing more than someone’s tossed out trash before crouching low and squinting into the mess. “What do you think it was?”

“A cat, most likely.” Reeves replied with a hint of a smile as he copied the gesture. “Unless we’re about to find a meowing dog, but since I like dogs I guess that would be as good a thing as bad.”

His partner reached forward to shift aside some of the trash as another meow interrupted the patter of rain, increasing in agitation. “Oh can it, would you?” He sighed sharply while pulling aside the tattered remains of a cardboard box from which the sound had come.

Crouched low against the icy concrete was a small calico kitten, no bigger than either man’s hand and as about as skinny as their wrists. The thing was quickly becoming soaking wet, though the box could have offered no great protection, and seemed to shiver from more than the cold as it gazed up at the looming monsters before it. The kitten hissed defiantly and made as if to scramble away, only to find itself clutched in the paws of one of the furless beasts.

“Oh, so it wasn’t a dog. Shame.” Reeves noted curiously, crouching so as to gaze more easily at the small bundle of tattered fur in his partner’s hands. “Angry one, isn’t he?”

“Looks like it.” Flint agreed with obvious distaste. He was a dog person, and cats… well, he hated cats. Dogs could save your life, hunt down scents, stop a drug delivery, but cats? Useless. “What do I do with it?”

“Leave it here, if you like. One more stray won’t tip any balances.”

“Leave it?” The idea seemed tempting for a fleeting moment, but then the poor thing meowed again, and suddenly abandoning the kitten was a terrible crime. “What the hell’re you thinking, Jack? No way in hell am I leaving it here, thing’d starve to death.”

Reeves’s lips twitched into a knowing smile that he managed well enough to hide. “Then bring it. Shall we get going? We’ll all catch our deaths out here.”

“What do you mean, bring it? I can’t keep a cat!” Yet even as he said it, Flint knew his fate was sealed. Sighing rather angrily, he managed to maneuver the little devil inside a pocket with his kitten-free hand. For a moment it yowled and struggled violently but soon seemed to realize how much warmer its new home was and curled up as best it could, one amber eye fixed warily on its captor.

“Christ, that thing’s insane.” Flint hissed. His hand stung where the cat had scratched it and he defiantly brandished those wounds for Reeves to see. “Look at that- that’s your fault, you know.”

“So it is.” The other man replied airily, still smiling in a way that made it very difficult not to hit him. “Are you ready then? Hm, this rain isn’t going to let up. I think I’ll have roast beef for dinner then. Nice and warm. Would you like some?”

“You’re as crazy as the f****ing cat.” Came the blunt reply, which only brought about an agreeing chuckle.


The damn thing was sleeping on him.

It was one thing to meow all night long, to demand constant food and then become sick because of it and even to attack his shoelaces and any visible patches of skin Flint had, but now the cat was sleeping on him. And no matter how often he pushed him aside Pumpkin-as she had been named after eating a plentiful amount of the canned variety- would always pounce once more and situate herself on Flint’s chest in just the right spot to make breathing uncomfortable.

“Geroff me, fleabag!” He had hoped that maybe the volume of his voice would frighten the newly discovered she-cat away, but no such luck. “I should just toss you outside again, brat.”

“Mrow?” Pumpkin seemed to understand the threat, for she gazed up at her new master with sad, wide eyes.

Flint groaned and fell back against the pillow, resigning himself to a night of occupation as a cat bed. This seemed to please Pumpkin, who dug her claws into his shirt and began to pat his skin as though he really were a bed made of cotton. Ignoring his curses the calico at last curled into a tight, slowly breathing ball and fell asleep much more quickly than would her master, who rarely got any rest unless lying on his side.

“You are way more trouble than you’re worth, brat.” The officer murmured with more affection than he had intended, cautiously reaching out to stroke the kittens fur.

Although apparently asleep she yowled with dislike and dug her tiny, needle-like teeth into Flint’s fingers the moment they were within biting rang. He swore loudly and drew back with a start, glaring as Pumpkin made herself comfortable again, apparently indignant that he had dared unsettle her. The glare he gave her might have soured milk, but as was typical of a cat she didn’t so much as blink before returning to her blissful nap.

“Jesus f***ing Christ, you’re a little demon.” Flint growled, not for the first or for the last time. “I’ll kill Reeves for making me take you.”

Of course the decision to keep the kitten had been entirely his own, and something in the sleepy look Pumpkin gave him said she knew it as well as he did.


Pumpkin was very pleased with her new Master. He was rather loud, but at least he was easily tamed and after one incident where the food he’d given her had made her ill-she would, of course, never consider that she had eaten too much of it- he had done a very good job keeping her comfortable. She did have to remind him not to bother her every now and then, but he seemed cooperative enough.

Master kept to a strict schedule. First, he would wake her up and find food for them both, though she was never given any of his and always had to wait until he left to take what remained from the plate. He would then be gone for hours during which she would hunt bugs and nap until it was time to wait for him to come home, which he always did just after dark. He would walk in, smelling of smoke, iron and sweat and eat before giving her her own food and letting her out in the yard. He left the door open in case she decided to come back, and she always did.

Every seventh day Master would bring home a friend who smelled the same as he did and they would eat and talk in their strange language for hours. Pumpkin didn’t like this man, but he did feed her off his plate more than Master did. He also didn’t react the right way when she hissed or hurt him, would only make an odd, happy noise and keep eating. It was long past dark by the time the man left, stinking sharply of a strange amber liquid he and Master always drank.

For months she lived comfortably in this routine, and it seemed even Master was becoming pleased to have her around. At the very least he had stopped calling her “little demon”, which despite not making sense was clearly an insult. The final time he used this was after she had decided to make herself comfortable atop a perch he had brought home for her.

Flint growled deeply as he watched Pumpkin, who had apparently decided to make his new bookcase her home. “God damn cat, never should half brought her home.”

“You don’t mean that.” Reeves replied calmly, watching the cat with an air of amusement. “You would have left her long ago then… She’s big now. Not as big as a meowing dog might have been, but more pretty at least.”

Pumpkin mewed happily and Flint cursed silently before glaring at his friend. “Feed her ego why don’t you?”

“I doubt she understands, Christian.”

“Then you don’t know this cat. Thing’s f***ing insane.”

It truly did seem as though the calico cat-for she was far from a kitten now- could judge the meaning of human words, for she immediately hissed as though with indignation and leapt from her bookcase. None too gently she found her way into his arms, claws scrambling for a safe hold.

“All right, you little home-wrecker. Get out of here.” Flint sighed with exaggerated exhaustion and managed to open the door into his yard with what was available of his hands, after which fickle Pumpkin leapt out of his arms once more and hurried into the night.

“You’ll need to stay up all night to let her back in.” Reeves warned in an unusual show of good sense. “Or can she climb in through your window? That seems rather too far…”

“Ah, whatever. Come on, let’s get you some whiskey-you make more sense when you’re drunk.” Flint gave no other explanation for his self-inconveniencing behavior as they proceeded into the kitchen, for there was no explanation to give. He went to work, fed her from the cans of food in the cabinet, and Pumpkin’s Master always let her out.

Until one night, he didn’t.


Pumpkin waited up all night for her Master, but the door never opened to the sounds and scents that meant his arrival. It wasn’t long before her belly began to ache, and after eating all the scraps she could salvage in the kitchen-curse that man and his tidiness, did he never leave out enough treats?- she returned to her post in the entrance hall. After nearly another twelve hours, however, she began searching helplessly for anything she could hunt. Outside there would be birds, of course, and mice, but how was she to get outside without Master? Disappointment and, more importantly, hunger gnawed at her as she crawled throughout the house making an upset racket whenever awake.

Eventually, after a total two days since his last appearance, she settled in for a full rest- something surprisingly difficult without the comforting heat of Master’s body beneath her. Pumpkin slept well, but eventually was woken by a sound- the creaking of footsteps in the entry.

Excited and aching for food, she tore out of the bedroom and charged forward in search of her Master, stopping with an angry hiss at the sight of the man, the one who smelled like Master, shutting her door. What was he doing? It hadn’t been seven days since he last came, he wasn’t allowed to come. Certainly he was never allowed without Master! He would have to leave.

Before she could drive the intruder away, Pumpkin was frozen by the scent and sight of meat, drawn fresh and slightly bloody from the man’s coat. “I brought you this. You can have some if you come with me, it’s not that far.”

The words held no meaning to her, but the seductive meat was more than enough motivation alone to drive Pumpkin eagerly into his arms, sniffing eagerly at the food and meowing as loudly as she could to inform him that yes, she would very much like some.

The man smiled at her in his warm, discomforting way so different from Master’s. “I thought you would like that. Let’s go see Christian, shall we?”


The small, cramped space the man forced Pumpkin into terrified her at first, but she reluctantly put up with the feeling as the man held out for her small handfuls of meat. It took nearly an hour before she was allowed to eat what she liked, by which time the rumbling beast they were inside had stopped outside a field covered with greenery and odd, porcelain stones.

Master’s friend lifted her up to carry her out of the beast, and though she would have liked to avoid the crowds of dark-furred humans nearby she didn’t object to his warmth nor his familiar scent.

As they got nearer a few of the strange humans stopped to speak with the friend in low voices sometimes broken by what appeared to be the occasional choke. He treated these humans politely buy never stayed long, for which she was grateful. These humans always seemed to glare at her when they spoke, as if she were misbehaving somehow.

The view was unusual but nonetheless very boring for Pumpkin, and it wasn’t until more black-pelted people arrived that she perked up, for they were carrying with them something familiar- Master.

The stone box he was in seemed much less comfortable than a bed, but nonetheless Pumpkin saw with an angry meow that he was asleep. What was he thinking? Didn’t he know he needed her to protect him when he was sleeping? She prepared to take her rightful place on Master’s chest, but the arms holding her tightened their grip to prevent her.

Some of the humans glared at her again and began to whisper to each other, but she paid them no notice. This was her Master, how dare they keep her from him! Even from where she was the familiar scents tempted her: sweat, smoke, and iron… far too much iron. Something about him was wrong, and it frightened her for a moment. What was going on?

Suddenly some of the humans began to lift the lid of the white box, as if to trap Master inside. Pumpkin cried angrily again, clawing at her restraints. What were they doing? He was going to suffocate!

The lid was shutting what are they doing, what are they doing?! They were lowering Master into a hole in the ground he can’t breath down there! Dirt was filling the hole they’re killing him, they’re going to kill him! The dirt was being patted down over the hole and what where they doing?!

The man held Pumpkin tight as she struggled to free herself so she could dig away the dirt, save his life. Yet no matter how hard she cried, how much she fought it was far too late- her Master would never be there to let her out again.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

enkrbffs said...
Jun. 2, 2011 at 11:14 am
Hello. I followed your link from Yahoo Answers and I became interested in your story. Unlike the person who answered your question I think your older than 14. Lol I liked your diction and syntax. But as the writing progressed the writing maturity slipped. but it was nothing bad or really even that noticeable. it happens to me all the time.
 
enkrbffs replied...
Jun. 2, 2011 at 11:14 am
And I cant believe nobody's commented on this story! its good:)
 
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