The Gift

in fiction •  last year

A short story by Guy T. Martland


I spy on my slave through the slit of the ajar doorway. He’s sitting in his usual spot, in front of his computer, staring out at the window beyond. Occasionally he’ll tap words onto the screen.

A brief nudge with my head and I can get my whiskers through. Moments later, I’m on his lap, purring. I’ve got him where I want him.

As he types, his hands become my paws, his pupils become slit-like. And for a moment, I’m him. I see what he sees: the computer and beyond; the open window, the ledge of the roof where the birds perch. I tap with my paws, write their homophone: PAUSE. And then everything stops.

Safe now, I clamber up from his motionless lap, pad gingerly around the keyboard, careful not to touch anything. I’ve done that before. And when the spell breaks, it can cause chaos: cups of coffee flying, piles of CDs toppling over. His desk is particularly cluttered today, so I raise my tail, take my time.

Then I’m nudging at the window, tapping the old lead latch. It took a while to learn how to do this. I nudge it a bit with my muzzle and it flicks up with a click - after which, the window frame moves outwards with ease. Needless to say, the birds are as entranced as my slave back there. Easy prey.

I prowl out, the hair on my back raised, feeling the warm roof tiles underneath my paws. And then the mulch of the gutter – after all isn’t it expected that I leave mucky footprints over the house? A few more paces and then I can take my pick. Which of the three blackbirds looks tastiest?

Look, I know what you are thinking: it’s cheating. But I’m eleven now. Too old for running around after birds. I get pains in my hips. This is much easier. And before you ask, yes, there is a lot you don’t know about us. Like the hours we spend chasing spirits around the house, so they don’t interfere with our slaves’ lives. But that’s another story.

I select the choiciest morsel, my teeth sinking into its neck. Feeble underneath all those feathers, it gives easily to my mouth with a soft crunch. I carry my bird moustache across the slope of the roof, clamber inside through the open window.

Back in the room, I look up at my slave. The magic hasn’t caught him with the best expression – he almost looks sad. I hope my present will cheer him up.

Come on – you didn’t honestly think that was for me did you? I prefer my meals processed, swimming in gelatine. The real thing is too weird. And all that fur, those feathers, which catch in my throat. Like having the worst furball. And believe me, I’ve had a few.

I place the broken bird next to my slave’s right hand. And then once more become him.

My paws describe what’ll happen next: I’ll jump off my slave’s lap and onto the floor, bound down the stairs. Half way there, I’ll hear him calling my name, as I knew he would. I know how much he likes my gifts. Really, they are the least I can do.

Purring, I’ll then jump into the hammock I had my slave hang next to the radiator. Warmth will spread through me, rising up from its white corrugated face. I’ll feel a sudden wave of exhaustion, and my nictitating membrane will begin to slide across my eyes. Satisfied, I’ll sleep.

But today, finishing this is my second gift to him. I prepare myself to move quickly, feeling the spring in my back legs. Then, I look down at the computer, and type: POST.


END




Guy T Martland is the author of a few science fiction novels, one of which (The Scion) was briefly published. His short fiction has appeared in a number of places, including Perihelion SF, Albedo One, Bards & Sages Quarterly and Shoreline of Infinity. He lives in Dorset, England, close to where R L Stevenson wrote 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. When he isn’t writing, he works as a pathologist and plays a nineteenth century violin (but not at the same time). At six foot eight inches in height (2.03m), he considers himself the tallest SF writer in the world.
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Great addition to your catalogue of stories. The narrative flowed so seamlessly, this was a joy to read.

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Thanks! Really glad you enjoyed it...

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I have included this post in this weeks edition of The Library - a new curation post for writers and readers. Thanks for the great story.

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Many thanks for the promo! :-)

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The story is great, but what you did with the photo really added the extra finishing touch to it!

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Thanks! Totally ‘meta’... ;-)

"my bird moustache" - eeep! You really do have a flair for #horror, Guy, even when you're not trying to write it.
Love this cat. Eleven years old, with pain in his hips, yes, willing now to "cheat" - and making excuses for himself - #sublime!

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Ha ha! Thanks, Carol! I did consider the more alliterative ‘my mouse moustache’ but the birds seemed to have scared them all away!

But today, finishing this is my second gift to him. I prepare myself to move quickly, feeling the spring in my back legs. Then, I look down at the computer, and type: POST.

Ha! Wonderful little twist. Post-ception. Meta, indeed. Really happy to have your talent here on Steemit, Guy(1) ;)

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Pleasure to be here. Glad you enjoyed!

Great story, loved the little twists. Thanks to @naquoya for featuring it in The Library.