The Importance Of Flossing A Cat
John's day at work had been bad. Not because he had managed to sort through several hundred complaints over various issues ranging from Blasphemy on Television, to why certain childrens programmes were not staying true to reality and attempting to pervert physics. He was forced to sit there at his desk. and one-by-one, read through and each and every single complaint that had been logged. He didn't have to do anything with them, he just had to read them so that the company he worked for could legitimately argue that they had "someone looking into it" over any problem that might become a serious issue.
What made his day truly bad, was that this was all he ever did. His day did not vary in any way at all and the dull monotony of it all was beginning to drag him down, almost breaching the surface of depression. He had tried to make the day more interesting by breaking wind in time to his favourite advertisement jingles. Particularly for air-fresheners, such was the boredom of his job.
Finally the end of his day had happened and he greatfully pulled himself out of his chair and dragged his sorry self over to the elevator where he quickly rapped out the last few notes to the "Fresh Air Plug-in" advert through his 'instrument'. The ride down in the lift was accusingly silent, hanging in the atmosphere like a pungent fart, everyone quietly stared at him in mute discontent. He didn't care though, he was going home and he had a whole weekend to himself coming up.
Stepping out through the doors of
the office-building, he marched across the tarmac of the carpark to his
economy car, the sunlight fading behind the first few storm clouds of
the weekend. Already not back home and his weekend was going downhill.
He had planned to spend the days in his garden either pottering around
with his plants or just reading his newspapers while doing a spot of sun
lounging. Now he would have to sit in doors with the radio on, or god
forbid, the television. He knew he wasted too much time in front of that
thing if he felt compelled to repeat various adverts via the medium of
flatulence. His co-workers certainly didn't appreciate it, but he never
felt any remorse for them. He was nearing his retirement and quite
frankly, didn't give a damn.
But he did. His weekend was now
ruined, the only redeeming quality was that his wife was going away for
the weekend to some big time Bingo session. He wasn't concerned and
while he had to cook for himself for a few days, he welcomed the
prospect of being solitary, if only for a few days and nights. As he was
about to find out, nothing was going to be simple for him, especially
during the next few days and nights.
His ride home was
relatively uneventful, even the blaring horn of someone who he
inadvertantly cut off with his car as he switched lanes unsuccessfully,
was unimportant to John. He had the weekend to look forward to, and a
period of uninterrupted bliss. While the weather may have been
conspiring against him, he was going to enjoy himself as much as he
could with what was available. Be it through watching the sports, or
listening to older musical hits through his radio.
pulled into his drive and went through the sequence of actions to safely
park the car. Finally he unclipped his seatbelt and opened the door
before stepping out into the pouring rain. Shielding his balding scalp
from the hard hitting droplets with his briefcase. It took him a few
seconds of fumbling through his pockets to find his doorkeys, before he
slammed then into the lock and clicked the latch open. Finally he had
access to his own house and home, in a few seconds he had thrown his
coat and briefcase onto the floor and was already tearing open the door
to the fridge in an effort to pour himself a fruit juice.
Seconds after the first few drops had splashed down into the glass, he
realised that he need not drink this rubbish. After swishing the tumbler
out, he marched across to his secret stash (which his entire family
knew about) and grabbed the first bottle of whiskey he could lay his
hands on. He poured himself a double shot of the drink and sipped it
gently, afraid that if he hurried the liquid down his throat, he would
lose the tranquility that he had waited so long to welcome and embrace.
Nothing stopped the calm and euthoria he had managed to slip quietly between. That is until he saw the note.
"What the..." he managed to cut himself off, while realising that he
had been about to talk to himself, he saw the little reminder his wife
had left him. Although, he thought to himself, a reminder would have
been a way of making him recollect something he had forgotten, this was
the first time he had ever seen or known about it. His 'other half' had
decided to leave him a list of chores to complete while she was away.
'Empty the bins for pickup day'. A bit easy, he thought to himself, nothing too difficult there.
'Vacuum the upstairs and the hallway'. That's reasonable enough, he
considered inwardly, the task was something that would take a few
moments although his wife would never call the machine a hoover like
everyone else who knew did.
'Wash the floor, and use REAL
cleaner'. John had been infamous in washing the floor with just hot
water. He argued that the floor was wiped clean from stains but his wife
knew when the bleach had been used. He would be forced to use it this
time but it wasn't going to be a real impossible task. Just one that he
would resent while performing it and grumbling under his breath while he
'Floss the cat'. Silence. Complete silence.
read it again. This time making sure to check each letter completely,
but found it to have the same letters it had the first time around. He
contemplated calling his wife, then remembered he hadn't had a phone for
several weeks since they had decided to make a budget cut and removed
one of the most technologically gifted forms of communication known to
humanity. Now he realised he might still need it.
cat'. The words still sat there, with a sort of tongue-in-cheek attitude
that laughed at him in a queer sort of way. Was this a joke? A trick of
the light? No, he tried reading it in every room of the house and still
got the same result.
"Floss the fu.." once again he cut
himself short. Not because he was talking to himself but because he was
about to swear in his own house and expected a torrential downpour of
scolding from his wife. Only she wasn't here!
"Fuck?" he almost
asked the word to emit from his mouth, having to tease it out while the
inhibitor on his brain slowly understood that he could do it. Pretty
much do what he wanted. But the chores had to be done first and so with
steely determinism, he began to perform them.
The black bags
split as he pulled them from the bins. His feet were rewarded with
several foul smelling liquids rained down upon his slippers. Despite
wiping them as soon as he had tied the bags up in new, unsplit black
plastic, the smell remained. He cursed once again, smiling as he spouted
the vulgarity, relishing in his new found freedom of expression. He
admitted to himself that he was not behaving as a man of his maturity
should be, but he was enjoying himself.
Until he began to
'Vacuum' the stairs and halls instead of 'Hoovering' them. He gritted
his teeth as he dragged the tool up the single flight of steps. He
grumbled as he pushed the head back and forth across the carpets and
then had to unplug the thing and take it back down to it's abode under
the stairs. He was not going to do the stairs themselves, he was going
to complain that as the breadwinner of the house, he couldn't risk his
health and safety to do such a dangerous task. He was gong to leave it
to his wife when she got back.
Washing the floor was a simple
enough task, except that he complained loudly despite the simpleness of
the job. This was meant to be his time to himself, not slaving away for
his wife. Even though he never really did anything while his wife was
there, he still thought she was being evasive from such a task.
But his real problems began when he looked at that last request once
again. 'FLOSS THE CAT'. While it hadn't been written in capital letters,
the words did seem to scream at him with their absurdity. Other
questions began leaping to his mind; "Where is the cat?", "Why does it
need flossing?", "Am I meant to use my floss?" and the most absurd of
all "Why floss it now?".
Eventually his mind rationalised these
questions that began to threaten his sanity. He managed it one
spectacular sentence which scared him with it's volume.
don't have a cat!". He was proven wrong when something made a mewling
noise in the front room. Slowly he walked out of the kitchen, past the
fridge/freezer combination unti and through the doorway of the front
room. The couches were spread around the edges of the lounge, each
pointing towards the twenty inch television they had purchased several
years ago. While the volume was a little touchy from time to time, the
picture was still as clear as a bell. The cat on the other hand sat in
the middle of the room with it's back to him.
As he approached
the feline it suddenly became aware of his existence and twisted its
neck round to see what was approaching. The cat did not rise from it's
sitting position, but kept looking at John as he came closer. In a
sudden idea to try to get a better view of John, it turned it's head
round to the other side, and looked at the middle aged man with bright,
John stopped when he was not more than a
few feet from the kitten. To him it looked not really old enough to have
left its mother. Perhaps that was why it need this sort of attention,
but wasn't that 'worming' instead of 'flossing' and wasn't it dogs
instead of cats? He didn't know the answers, reminding himself that he
was not a vetinarian but just a man with a boring desk job. He had a job
to do, and he meant to complete that job. Despite how ridiculous it
"Hello puss-puss" he soothed towards the kitten. He
crouched towards the animal and reached out to pet it on the head, the
cat responded by looking away from him, displaying it's back to John in
what looked like an act of defiance.
"Fussy moggy." He told the
animal before standing up and heading for the bathroom. There he rifled
through his cabinet of bathroom tools, several toothbrushes, some half
used bottles of mouthwash, a pregnancy testing kit that had was no
longer useful and hadn't been for many years, a box of earbuds, a few
razors and a roll of flossing. He reached inside and dragged the floss
out, but not without knocking down a few toothbrushes. He replaced them
quickly before descending the stairs once again to the kitten in the
The cat still hadn't moved, although if he had been
watching it when he dislodged the toothbrushes, he would have seen the
kitten prick its ears up at the noise before relaxing those muscles and
remain staring at the wall opposite the doorway. It did strike him a
little odd that the cat had not moved, but thought only that it was
still adapting to it's new environment. He then became aware that his
wife would force him to install a 'cat-flap' at some point when she
returned. Another job that came with such a bundle of cuteness.
"Here kitty-kitty, come here puss." He coaxed once again, this time
while on his knees beside the feline. It didn't respond to him, not even
when he gently placed his hands around it's soft body and lifted it
into the air. Only when he put his hand on it's mouth to pull the cats
lips back to see why it needed flossing did the cat mewl in quiet
protest. John scratched the animal behind the ears to comfort it and
made the familiar and soothing shushing noise to calm it down. When it
had settled, he tried again, this time it put up no resistance as he
revealed the tiny, pointy and gleaming white teeth.
As he turned
the kitten to the side, he could see that right at the back of it's
mouth, stuck between the final and penultimate teeth, that something
small was lodged there. Considering the size of the bundle of fluff that
had been labelled a cat, and the size of the teeth, this 'something
small' was large enough to stand out quite comfortably as a green mass.
"Looks like she tried to feed you some veg." he mused to the kitten as
he prepared to open it's mouth and extract the offending article. The
tiny creature splayed it's claws as it tried pitifully to resist the
comparitively huge hands. John simply told it that 'this will all be
over soon' as he parted it's mouth and went to reach inside.
John suddenly found himself pinned to the wall under the force of
something horrendous. With great effort he managed to look down and see
the kitten with it's mouth open making one disgraceful noise. Nothing
came out of it's maw except a great volume of voice and an immense blast
of wind. Just when John began to identify the cat with the strange
occurance, it stopped and he slid to the floor. His legs gave way
beneath him as he touched down and he collapsed in front of the feline.
He lifted himself onto his hands and stared straight into the bright
eyes of the kitten. he watched as it kept looking around the room
without moving it's head, the eyes darting from side to side, as if
mimicing his own thought.
"What on earth just happened?"
He never got to answer it as John's nerve broke and he ran from the
lounge, up the stairs and into his bedroom. Not even waiting to change
his clothes, he dived straight into bed and hid beneath the sheets,
quivvering in a mixture of terror and confusion.
He didn't leave his bedroom until the next morning while the kitten slept on the couch during the night.
The next morning John awoke and went about his normal saturday-morning routine. He got out of bed, he undressed his clothes, and went to take a shower. Soon after he dried himself and began to dress himself again in clean, fresh clothing before walking downstairs to have breakfast. His choice of food was limited to cereals since they had run out of bacon and eggs, reaching into the cupboard he extracted a box of 'Wheatie flakes' and set to pouring himself a bowl full before adding milk. It was only when he sat down at the kitchen table that he noticed his company.
Sitting on the table, staring straight at him, was the
kitten. Beside it was the note John's wife had left for him, the issue
of performing certain dental hygine upon a feline creature was very much
clear. Most strange of all though, was that the dental floss was also
beside the cat.
"Are you going to give me any trouble if I try
this again?", John asked the cat while pointing at it with his breakfast
spoon. The cat didn't respond, but instead cocked it's head on it's
side in a quizzical fashion. John wasn't sure what to make of all this,
but he supposed that maybe yesterday had been a result of too much
boredom at work and that his mind had made it all up to keep him
interested. But why would his brain rebell to that extent and terrify
him? Finally he decided it was all a dream and today he would floss the
cat. Just as soon as breakfast was over.
approached the kitten at dinner-time, just as he put a microwave meal
into the oven and regretted not having such a powerful cooking
appliance. When he turned back towards the kitchen table, his eyes came
upon the cat once again. It hadn't been there all day, but had followed
him from room to room, except when he had fed it. Once the kitten had
finished eating it had rejoined him and sat looking at him the whole
time, until he moved again, where upon it would repeat the same actions.
Now he had to floss the beast. He repeated his question, this time
while holding the floss in one hand and pointing towards it with the
other. The cat didn't respond, it just kept staring at him as he
approached it while the moggy sat on the table.
Once again he
reached out, but didn't get to touch the creature when something
happened. Just before he could hold the kitten and reach for it's mouth,
the maw opened up and he braced himself to be hurled across the room
once again. Instead nothing happened, it seemed as if the feline was
going along with his task and lending a helping hand. The hand he got
instead wasn't of the "helping" kind.
A green hand shot out of
the cat's mouth and grabbed John's in a firm grip. He almost screamed in
surprise and would have done if the hand wasn't trying to force him
over. Quickly, John sat down and placed his elbow on the table, from
there he began to push back against the freakish green hand as they
began to wrestle each other. The kitten didn't move.
what is going on?" John's brain screamed. "What is going on here? Why am
I wrestling a green hand that's protruding from this cat?" then for a
few seconds his mind went blank, until it spoke up again in a stranger
way than before.
"Why am I letting it win this?" Suddenly John's
brow became thick-set and he braced himself before pushing back harder
against the hand. Somehow it hadn't expected this, if it could expect
anything at all, and was losing the arm wrestle.
I'm going to win!" John yelled at the green hand as he nearly pressed
it's green knuckles to the surface of the table. Just before he could
punch the air in jubilation with his free hand at the point of victory,
the green hand suddenly pushed back with explosive force and not only
slammed John's hand to the surface of the table, but also threw him out
of the chair and across the floor.
Normality seeped back into
the cracks of his sanity as he looked at his hand and saw it smothered
in lumps of broccoli and cabbage, most of which was old and mouldy. In
seconds he had raced to his feet and over to the sink where he proceeded
to turn the hot water on full blast and scald both his hands as he
tried to scrape off the greeness. In his mind it took him hours, hours
of searing pain as he kept cleaning himself over and over again. The
kitten was just as terrified as him, darting it's head back and forth as
it tried desparately to comprehend what was happening to it and how it
had just won an arm wrestling match. Finally it gave up wondering and
went back to staring at John as he backed out of the room, not taking
his eyes from the cat.
There was no sign of the green hand.
After a bout of television to calm his crumbling nerves, John decided to retire to bed. Although not before taking one very big drink of spirits. With the alcohol in his system, he found it easier to go to bed and forget about anything weird that had happened in the last two days. Once again the kitten slept on the couch, it had already forgotten about the hand that had come from it's mouth and the arm wrestling match it had emerged victorious from.
As John woke up on Sunday, he realised his wife would be home. Instead of running for the nearest exorcist, he went to the garden shed after dashing through the rain, and hunted for a pair of pliers. The ones he found were very old and rusted, but still functional. But his nerves failed him and he sat for three hours in the leaking shed, too afraid to return to the house where the kitten was sitting on the window edge, staring out of the glass towards John's shed.
It was the fear of his wife scolding him
for not completing his chores that drove him from the shed. He came
running back towards the house with the pliers in one hand and the
packet of floss in the other. Bursting through the door, he quickly
scanned the kitchen for the cat and saw it sitting back on the kitchen
once again. Not stopping to act daintily around such a tiny creature, he
lunged forwards and reached for it's mouth. Once again it opened and
this time the old sound came blasting back out.
John fought to keep on his feet and found that he could only just
resist being thrown backwards once again. As he neared the mouth under
such stress, the hand emerged once again and it reached for his own.
"NOT THIS TIME SONNY!" he yelled at the fingers and thumb which were
still green. "I'M TAKING YOU OUT!". John wore a frenzied little grin as
he grabbed the palm with the pliers and began pulling on the weird
appendage. The kitten still looked as if nothing out of the ordinary was
happening, despite it emitting such a horredous noise and sitting there
with a collection of digits poking past its muzzle.
held the pliers down on the green hand. He could hear the windows
cracking from the blasting voice that erupted from the cat's mouth. In
his own strange little way he couldn't stop himself from uttering the
peculiar phrase of "CAT'S GOT YOUR TONGUE!" and laughing at his own
joke. Finally the inevitable and something gave way. John was sent
hurtling to the back of the kitchen but not without the hand clamped
firmly int he pliers.
As soon as it had started, the voice
stopped. As did the freakishly powerful wind. The green hand went limp,
but not before forming an 'O' with it's forefinger and thumb. From there
it paled in colour and turned grey. At the same time it lost it's
strange moist feeling and became as dry as bone before crumble to dust,
still while be held in the pliers. John watched in silent facination as
the hand dissolved away. When it was all gone, and nothing more than a
pile of ash on the floor, he looked back at the kitten to see it rubbing
around his feet as he sat on the floor.
They remained that way
for a while until the sound of a key in the lock broke their silence.
John and the kitten both snapped their heads round to see John's wife
come walking through the door. She folded up her umbrella and placed it
beside a radiator. She was already talking before she had closed the
"Bingo was a disappointment, I nearly had a full house on
every game but that Mary from over the road always got her last number
before I could. I swear she had cheated. She always manages to upstage
me and if I catch her doin..." her voice trailed off as she saw the
chaos in the rooms.
"What in blue hell happened here? I asked
you to clean a few things, to take out the rubbbish and see to the new
cat." she marched up to him as he lay sitting on the floor.
did them, but the cat made this mess, but I did manage to floss the
kitten." John finally said with an almost pathetic level of meekness.
"Let me see then" came the reply as John watched the cat be lifted into
the air and held inches from his wifes face. She then prised the
animals jaws apart and stared inside. A few seconds later she was
launched out of the kitchen, past the lounge and exploded out of the
front door and into the rain.
John watched in astonishment as
she exited the house and felt the cat land in his lap. Slowly he turned
back towards the kitten, who was already staring at him with the
faintest of smiles across it's face, and began laughing. His whole body
rocked as the guffaws burst from his body and when he finally stopped to
wipe the tears from his eyes, he thought that maybe having a cat would
be a worthwhile change to his life. The kitten began purring as if in
agreement with his thoughts.
John laughed again.