May 21, 2012 by JRD Skinner
Welcome to Flash Pulp Guest-isode 7.
Tonight we present The Pilling, by Rich the Time Traveler
This week’s episode is brought to you by The Mob.
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, we present a tale regarding a finicky feline, as provided by our own Rich the Time Traveller.
The Pilling, by Rich the Time Traveler
The young blonde girl bounded quickly through the bedroom doors. She carried a writhing mass of white, black, and caramel-mocha colored spots that twisted and resolved itself into a calico cat.
“I got her,” she said cheerfully still dressed in half pajamas and half school clothes.
The man and the woman turned to her from the hustled chaos of their morning preparations. The man was in a dull grey t-shirt bearing the faded design of some inside joke or geeky reference long rendered unreadable with sweat shorts of the same hue. The woman contrasted in a full-length pajama shirt of yellow that was painfully bright for the hour. The opposition of their palettes was united by their similarly pillow rustled hairstyles.
“Nice work sweetheart. Put her in the bathroom, would you?” the woman requested. Raising her voice she added, “And finish getting ready for school. Have you and your brother brushed your teeth yet?” An audible groan of frustration came from the hallway at that signaling the unseen boy had, indeed, not completed that task yet.
The girl propelled the complaining cat through the second doorway to her right and pulled the door shut. “I have,” she exclaimed and bounced out the way she’d originally come, half-humming and half-singing an unidentifiable song to herself.
“Let’s get this over with before she goes crazy in there,” said the man nodding his head towards the now-shut door. “It’s not fair making her wait for it.”
Agreement washed across the woman’s face and she moved with him towards the room. Reflexively he gave her shoulders a squeeze as he came up behind her and, after rubbing them for a few seconds, scratched her back.
“That feels good. A little lower… harder,” she breathed as his nails worked across her nightshirt and then he reached past her to open the bathroom door.
They stepped into the neat and mundane room shutting the opening behind them. It was of typical and unremarkable suburban construction. A shower, a far too small bathtub, a far too large mirror, the ubiquitous bar of lights, double sinks molded in synthetic cultured marble, and safely tasteful light tan tiles. Secretly the woman wished the original owners had been a little bolder in their choices of decor, but they had made their own mark in the time they’d lived there. The walls were a deep turquoise-blue color and a piece of stained glass hung in the oversized window above the tub depicting a river flowing through a mountain range; though with the faint rays of sun passing from the outside, the rich azure looked more like an abyssal crevasse instead. The man had been less covert with his sentiments and had expressed them on many occasions. He would have liked nothing more than to rip the whole space apart and rebuild it with a much more efficient layout, but that would have to wait until a future opportunity arose.
The cat hunched between the two basins with her tail of black and brown curled around her feet as a tortie-colored trim. She let out a growl that quickly fell apart to a plaintive meow.
“She’s in a mood today, isn’t she?” the woman pondered disinterestedly.
The man nodded and mumbled a yes as he retrieved an indigo and cream striped towel that lay folded by the tub. Wordlessly, he handed it to the woman who unfurled it and moved towards the cat. The feline target only dipped her face and pleaded with big eyes as the woman wrapped the cloth around her, leaving just the calico’s head protruding.
Meanwhile, the man had slid to the other side of the counter and had picked up an amber colored bottle. Popping the top, he dumped the contents onto his hand. A single pink half-circle nestled in the cracks of his palm. The cat redoubled her effort and managed another weak growl.
“Come on, girl,” said the man in a gentle but slightly irritated voice. “Last dose. Seven down, one to go.”
He turned and plucked a white plastic tool from a cup in what was clearly marked as his own area by the other items surrounding it. Taking it in one hand, he pushed back a plunger with his thumb and then pressed the half-pill inside a pair of soft rubber flaps on the opposite end.
Reaching out with his free hand, he scritched the head of the cat and then rubbed it briefly. “Relax, this won’t take long and then you can be on your way.”
The cat struggled within the linen embrace of the woman. “She’s really wound up. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Yeah,” asserted the man has he placed his thumb and first finger on either side of the calico’s mouth and began to lever her jaw open.
The cat gave a low mewl and lurched unexpectedly. The woman gave sharp cry and the irritated animal broke free and flew from where she’d been held.
“You OK?” asked the man, dropping the piller.
“The little bitch got me with her back claws.” The woman turned her wrist and revealed a scarlet rivulet running from the puncture in her forearm.
“I think the correct term is Queen,” replied the man stepping closer to inspect the wound. The woman’s eyes clearly underscored that she didn’t find his joke funny this time, or likely the first hundred times he had used it. A single pregnant orb of blood fell from her arm onto the vanity and shattered making many spindly legs about the point of impact. The man grabbed the towel and wiped it away and then pressed it to the woman’s injury without further comment.
“I swear if she caused me to get any on my shirt, I’m going to use her to make hat,” remarked the woman with the practice of an old and hollow threat while she inspected her pajamas for any freckles that may have splattered on them.
The man lifted the cloth and, satisfied that the bleeding had stopped, handed it back to the woman before walking to where the bundle of claws and fur had escaped. Stepping in the tub, he plucked her from the corner above it where she was huddled and slightly shaking. The calico complained meekly as he lifted her by the scruff.
“You know deep inside this is good for you and you don’t want that UTI coming back so just cooperate, OK?” scolded the man pointlessly.
The pair worked speedily and the cat once more had her paws ensconced safely, though more tightly than originally. The man plucked the rod from the surface and, once he’d verified the medicine was still in place, quickly pulled the calico’s jaw open with his free hand. Darting the tool towards the open mouth, he snapped the plunger home with his thumb sending the pill tumbling into her throat. He now held her mouth gently shut and, after waiting a few seconds to be sure she had swallowed it, gave the mottled head a playful tussle.
Their body language signaling relief, the man and woman stepped away and let the towel fall from the cat. The man turned the faucet on his sink to a slow trickle.
“There, it’s over. You wanna drink of water to wash it down, girl?” he asked.
The cat remained motionless and growled. Suddenly the white, black, and caramel-mocha hair was all standing on end and she gave a loud hiss that faded back to a moan as she leapt from the counter. Diving to the floor, the calico sprinted across it to cower behind a pair of overflowing hampers where she began caterwauling; quite in earnest this time.
“What crawled up her a…,” the woman started only to have her words cut short by a shattering sound. A spear of shiny black chitin pierced through the large window and cleaved the stained glass in two along the course of the river.
“What the fuck!?” said the man much less rhetorically than usual, but no answer would come. As a rumbling sound grew and the house shook, the walls and ceiling were ripped away to leave them all face-to-many-eyed-face with Kar’Wick, the Spider God.
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