Human vs. Cat, with the former's job on the line.
|The story you are about to hear is inspired by actual events. The names have been kept the same to both honor the innocent and the sleepless, and to indict the guilty.
The battle has not gone well. Five hours of listening to taunts, the jingling of bells, and the scratching of claws against wood and fabric. The alarm clock on the nightstand reads 4:00 AM. I need to be at work in an hour and a half, and I have only gotten a few minutes of sleep. However, the tide seems to have turned. My opponent has either worn himself out or given up. Ten minutes have passed with nary a word from my adversary. My eyelids slide shut and blissful sleep will soon follow.
One eye peeks open, but I see nothing in the darkness of the room.
The other eye opens and I look harder. There he sits, looking directly at me, his feline eyes gleaming in the dark, sparkling, taunting as he chews ferociously on his trophy. I can show no fear.
He chews on, daring me. I reach toward his mouth and jerk the object away. I inspect the candy wrapper, which he has thoroughly mauled, and then toss it into the nightstand drawer. Speck stares first at me, then at the drawer, then back at me. He dismounts from the bed and patters off. A foolish tactic, I think. Now he has no weapon. Minutes pass, and I seek sleep once more.
Sneaky bastard. I yank the second wrapper away and toss it into the drawer next to its mate. Minutes pass again. 4:15 AM.
And so it goes.
4:30 now and four wrappers lie in the drawer of my nightstand. He is relentless. I open my eyes to find him staring at me from perhaps three inches away, chewing and glowering. I snatch the weapon and toss it into the drawer. That makes five. He can’t possibly have any more, and I give him a grin to let him know that I realize this. He looks at me, then at the drawer, then back at me.
I feel a jolt as his right paw connects with my cheek. He punched me. So, it’s physical violence now, is it? He must really be running low on ideas. He retreats before I can retaliate. He has no more weapons, and he knows he can’t beat me in a physical fight. Or at least, I hope he thinks that. I’m not entirely sure if it’s actually the case.
“John?” the still form next to me asks.
“Go back to sleep,” I whisper. She does so. No sense drawing my loved ones into the battle. Speck could use them as further ammunition.
I try to follow my own advice and return to sleep. One hour until I have to be at work. A hollow victory, but I’ll take it.
I’m not sure what that was. I see no sign of the enemy on top of the bed. Maybe I’m imagining things.
Shred, shred, shred, shred
The sounds come in rapid fire succession, first sounding close, and then retreating. Then they return, and then retreat once more. I sit up and look. I still see nothing, but the sound continues. I peak over the side of the bed to see my opponent sticking to the side, claws firmly entrenched in the mattress, running back and forth like a thing possessed. I watch pieces of sheet flake off into the moonlight shining through the window as his claws wreck havoc upon the unoffending material.
I snatch him by the scruff of the neck. He takes a jab at me, but his reach is too short. So that’s the way it’s going to be, is it? I’m not going to lose this battle. I toss him out the door and shut it before he can pounce. I hear his body smack against the wood, and listen to his hostile cries. I return to bed, pillow planted firmly over my ears. I still hear his hateful battle cries, but I can zone those out. 4:45. I can still get in a half an hour if I skip my shower. I’ll be a zombie, but half an hour is still sleep. I can’t do another day on no sleep. I just can’t.
The cries cease. Silence. Has he given up? He can’t get to me, so battle cries are his only weapon. It’s a risky tactic I’m trying, because he might realize he has lost the war and so decide to destroy my home out of spite. Nothing. Minutes pass, and still I can’t sleep. I know he’s doing something. I know he hasn’t given up. 4:55.
I rise from the bed, the walking dead now. I stumble to the door. I have to know. I have to be sure, or I’ll never find peace. I open it. I look down at my enemy, who stares up at me, a glint in his big, brown eyes. I stumble past him and pick up the phone. I dial work’s number.
“I’m not going to make it in today,” I numbly intone as I stare at the results of Speck’s final assault. He sits perfectly still, only staring at me as I give my information to the obliviously friendly woman on the other end of the phone. He does not move, and there is a hint of pride in his stance. He is surrounded by small pieces of carpet: mountains of them, piled up around him and the base of the door. Casualties of war. Collateral damage. I’ve lost, and he knows it.