Unfinished Business

My fearless hunter,
Cloaked in black,
The darkness is his friend,
His stealth approach,
His lightning pounce,
A creature meets its end.

At last fatigued,
He creeps indoor,
He lays down by my side,
He sweetly hums,
His well-earned rest,
And, now and then, a sigh.

The morning grey,
I leave him be,
But potter round the house,
Met in the lounge,
That awful smell,
A decomposing mouse.

He does this! The little B****!

I’m talking about my cat, Reuben, of course. He loves catching mice. Many mornings, we get up and there is some present left for us in the hallway, which we need to dispose of before anything else. If we’re lucky, it’s whole. If we’re unlucky, it’s autumn or winter, it’s dark, and we discover the victim when we stand on it.

But every now and again, he brings a rodent in. Though invariably injured, it’s not quite dead. And, as Reuben loses interest, it manages to scurry away to “safety”.

Invariably, under some furniture.

Where, also invariably, it dies from a combination of injuries and starvation.

And then starts to decompose.

And then starts to smell.

Anybody who ever had a cat live with them, you know what I mean. Anybody else, it is awful, it makes you wretch, and is unmistakeable.

So, guess what I’ve just been doing?

Yes, Mrs Bump is away for the weekend, is not yet home, so I have just been pulling out furniture – one-handed! – to try to discover the last resting place of the mouse I have been smelling all weekend.

I found two mice corpses.

But, do you know the worst thing? Neither of the two smelled particularly disgusting when I sniffed them (although my sense of smell is atrocious), so I’ve a feeling that there might be a third rodent that I will need to go hunting for later! That area of the lounge still smells disgusting, but I guess even if I did get rid of the source, it would take some time for the smell to dissipate. So, I might well be repeating this post tomorrow.


For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #136, where we write about the image below, from Czubachowski at ephotozine.com.

A picture containing grass, outdoor, nature, smoke

Description automatically generated

“Oh my god, John, this is too much. On a Sunday morning, right when we’re about to start getting ready for church, too.” In the background, the siren over on the roof of the school had just begun to wail.

“Don’t worry, Liv. It’ll be another drill. You heard Kennedy on the TV; we need to be prepared for them.” With the practise of a man who’d seen these drills four times already, he took another sip of his sweet, black coffee. Even Nikita Khrushchev would not disrupt his after-breakfast routine. You’d better coral the children up under the stairs, though, just in case.

This might take a while, thought Liv, as the children had been allowed to play outside, to give the grown-ups some quiet time after breakfast.

She approached the back door, and over the din of the siren, called out the children’s names. “Jason! Mary Ellen! Erin! Elizabeth! Come on in now, there’s another drill. Come on now, at the double! Ben! Jim Bob! John Boy! Come on, you too! I want you all in and to the shelter, right now.”

Their makeshift nuclear shelter was the pantry under the stairs. Liv figured it would give them as much protection as a paper bag, but it was all they had.

When the children were installed in the dark pantry, John Sr announced “Roll Call” to ensure that they were all present. Each called out their name, in sequence, to John’s satisfaction, until the last voice. Silence. John cocked his eyebrows. “John Boy?” No answer. His eyes scanned the children. No sign. He saw nothing of Blue, the family’s Jack Russell terrier, either. He looked up at Liv.

“Where is that boy? Didn’t you call him in? I’d better go look for him.” As John rose to leave the shelter, he felt a hand grasp his leg.

“Be careful, John. We’re coming up to four minutes since the alarm started. Hadn’t you better wait a moment before you go looking for him? Just in case?”


inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 20 September 2021, Kafkaesque.

God Poseidon travailed like a banshee,
Worked so hard, had the work rate of three,
When he came to retire,
They said “What’s your desire?”
Said, “I’d quite like to visit the sea”.

More precisely, this was inspired by one of Kafka’s short stories, called Poseidon. Poseidon, the god of the sea, spends so much time micro-managing his domain, that he never actually gets to see the sea!

Prompt image for the Fandango One Word Challenge prompt

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