Hope everyone’s week has gotten off to a great start! For some entertainment, let’s start a new adventure =)
(Some adventures are just a blast to write. This was one of those. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!)
He’s staring at you with golden, unblinking eyes. A deep rumble emanates from his chest, just loud enough for you to hear the burr of it like a distant engine. You try to stare back and he slowly closes his eyes and opens them in an exaggerated, lazy blink.
When you were hired for the job, you were ecstatic. Finding work these days is difficult in the extreme and this promises, if you do well, to be a continuing job instead of only a short time gig. No one you know has a full time, continuing job.
Ms Katerina explained in your interview that you’d have to look after her baby cat. At the time, you pictured a cute little kitten with fuzzy fur that might fit in the palm of your hand. Not a problem, you’d answered. She said nothing about wrangling with a 50 pound baby cougar.
“He’s just darling,” she’d said, “and loves to be scratched under the chin.” She’d gone on to explain the details of his diet and how long she’d be gone on vacation.
You were in a manor house, house sitting essentially, for two weeks with a cat that could eat you.
Gregory. That’s what she named the cougar.
“Hello Gregory,” you say, trying to decide how you’re going to get from the front door, which you just walked through, to the hallway to your left that leads to the kitchen.
The sun outside sits against the horizon. According to Ms. Katerina’s instructions, it’s Gregory’s dinner time.
Great. You showed up just in time for the cat to be hungry.
Gregory’s purr deepens and the cat pads two steps closer and then stops to stretch his spin in a languid yoga pose all cats do. Front paws outstretched, butt in the air, spine elongated. He yawns and his continued purr comes out with a r-a-r-o-w.
You swallow, watching the teeth he just displayed for you.
Gotta get to the kitchen.
You hold out your bag at arm’s length and plop it to the floor. When you packed, you still had the furry kitten image in your head. Ms. Katerina mentioned Gregory loves catnip, so you picked up a small bag of it on your way to the manor. Considering the size of the cat, the amount’s definitely too small, but you slid the package into the outside zipper pocket of your pack. Perhaps the cat’s large nose will pick it up and find it interesting enough to distract him. Hopefully long enough for you to get to the kitchen.
Gregory eyes the bag and his nostrils flare in and out several times. He sinks down, focused with deadly glee, and then pounces, front paws hitting your bag so hard it slides across the floor right at you.
You side step and bolt for the kitchen door.
With a solid thud, you shut it behind you and throw the bolt, an actual slide bolt, not just a lock in the doorknob.
Through the small window in the wooden door, you peek to see where the cougar’s at.
He bats at your poor bag, now ripped down its entire length on the side with the zippered pocket, and then throws his head at it and, in a half roll over his front shoulder, rubs his entire spine across the bag.
Huge paws in the air, he wiggles back and forth, eyes closed in drug-induced ecstasy.
Great, you just drugged the cougar. But he’s not chasing you, so you recede down the hallway to find the kitchen.
Five minutes later, you’re staring at the instructions Ms. Katerina left. No wonder she can’t keep hired help these days.
First thing on the list is dinner for Gregory. Venison. The cat eats better than you do. You find the containers with raw venison in the fridge and portion out the desired amount into a metal bowl made for a mastiff dog.
There’s a thud to your right where you bolted the hallway door. Gregory just figured out he doesn’t have easy access to half the house.
You stare at Ms Katerina’s instructions.
Feed Gregory at 7pm every night and 9am every Morning. Blablabla. Gregory can be a bit feisty when hungry. I’ve found feeding him in the backyard or the workout room works best so he doesn’t break anything.
Umm. The backyard sounds best but to get there, you have to go through the door Gregory’s pounding against.
The workout room’s closer but upstairs. You’d have to let Gregory through the house and hope he doesn’t break anything, or attack you, on his way to dinner.
You have two weeks with this cat. Best to face him head on right from the start or he’s going to make your life a circus. As a side thought, you pocket Ms Katerina’s instructions.
Then, with mastiff bowl in hand, you make your way to the locked hallway door and peek through the small glass window.
Gregory’s no longer ramming his shoulder against it. Instead, he paces back and forth in a languid stride with his tail lashing side to side. His eyes lock onto the window and your face, and his lips pull back over his long teeth in a protest. His nostrils flare as he picks up the smell of venison.
Your pack, and its contents, are scattered all over the entryway floor behind him. Apparently the catnip no longer holds any interest.
Nothing for it, you decide, and slide the bolt open on the door.
Gregory sits back on his haunches, ears and eyes alert.
No fast motions. No fast motions.
You pull the door open and step through. Gregory simply watches, his golden eyes unblinking in that eerie cat way. He’s close enough that you can make out individual eyelashes on his large lids.
“Good boy, Gregory,” you say.
The cougar’s eyes open wider but he doesn’t move as you side step toward the back hallway that leads to the yard. His head follows you with each step but he doesn’t move.
You’re not sure what catches his interest, but that instant before you step into the hallway and out of his sight, his muscles tighten into a pouncing stance.
“No,” you say, trying to deter him.
This only serves to excite him more. He crouches and his butt lifts a little.
“Greg—“ You don’t get the name out fully before he leaps.
You spin and bolt down the hall. On the right and left are multiple rooms you could dart into, but none of their doors are very thick. Judging from the thud against the other door, these ones wouldn’t hold up under Gregory’s momentum.
You glance back.
And he’s got a lot of momentum!
Just as he’s about to land with his paws on your shoulders, you grab a handful of venison and toss it into his face.
There’s a wet slap and the cat crashes into a wall, denting in the drywall, as he attempts to catch the meat in his mouth.
Those long teeth sink into the meat and juices drip down the cougar’s chin. He pauses to tear the venison into smaller pieces, which gains you most of the hallway before he takes off after you again. Right before you hit the door into the yard, you toss a second piece of venison over your shoulder.
There’s a slap from it hitting the floor and then you’re through the door and out onto the patio.
Without stopping, you drop the bowl, and the remaining meat, onto the concrete slab and then crash into the door of the enclosed gazebo. It swings open, hits the wall and swings shut again behind you. The gazebo’s one of those full wooden post structures, so it might hold out against the cat if he decides to ram his shoulder against the door.
Only then do you stop and grab your knees. Gasps of breath heave in and out of your chest. You start to shake with the adrenaline coursing through your system.
Two weeks! Running from Gregory every time you feed him might just kill you, if, of course, the cat’s teeth don’t do the job first.
You pull Ms. Katerina’s instructions from your pocket and smooth out the creases in the paper. It shakes in your hand.
Gregory’s rather messy when he eats, so I rinse him off when done. This keeps him from smearing blood on the walls.
You scoff. Right. But then you read on.
He likes warm water so I leave the hose in the sun during the day and he’ll come right to you for his washing.
She’s serious! Don’t cats typically clean themselves?
You look up to locate him but he’s not on the patio. From where you stand, you can see the rest of the venison still in the massive bowl. Did he exit the house behind you?
You’re not sure. You were too busy getting away to actually see him leave the house. So where is he now?
A low rumble makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. On a heel, you slowly spin to find Gregory, perched atop the wall where the ceiling of the gazebo has been cut away for him to enter. Kind of like a cat door.
Juices from the venison smear his muzzle and he licks his lips with a long tongue.
You could go for the hose and hope he really likes to be washed.
Or you could try to make a stand. He’s not eaten all of the venison, so at this point, he finds you more interesting than dinner. Or he thinks you’ll be more tasty.
Make a Stand?
Go for the Hose?
House Sitting-Make a Stand
You just ran through the house being chased by this beast. With two weeks to go, you aren’t in any mood to let this feline set the precedent. No way are you letting him dictate every meal.
You meet the cat’s golden eyes, set your feet and place your hands on your hips in a challenge to the giant feline.
Gregory yawns, unimpressed.
You don’t move. Of course he’s going to win the staring contest, but that’s not the point.
Gregory yawns again, showing his long teeth and raspy tongue, and then he lays down atop the wall, never taking his eyes from you.
You doubt it. You feel like the mouse in a cat and mouse game. But you can’t stand there all day, so you relax and turn toward the door.
As soon as you turn, his muscles bunch and he launches off the wall.
Ha! You expected the move, so you slide through the door and use it as a shield to break his momentum. His body hits the wood with a thud that forces you back several steps, almost closing the latch.
When Gregory hits the floor, you shove the door open against him and he sprawls onto his back. Claws and tail lash out as he scrambles to stand back up.
You don’t let him get so far.
You grab his large paws and pull them all together in a hog tie position. In the same move, you place a knee against his throat to keep him from biting at your hands. Then you lean in, against his powerful chest, to weigh him down.
He thrashes around, almost throwing you off, but you manage to hold the position until he stops moving.
If he were any older, and bigger, the move wouldn’t have worked. As is, your body screams at you that you’re straining it to the max just to subdue the beast.
You hold him for a bit longer, just to show him you can, and then you slowly back off him.
Gregory rolls over to his side, eyeing you with far more caution than he did a moment earlier.
“Dinner,” you say and point through the open door at the bowl on the patio.
Gregory stretches and then moves past you to finish his meal.
Relief makes you weak. For now, at least, you showed the cat who’s boss. But you didn’t make any friends in the process.
Gregory finishes his meal and then, true to Ms Katrina’s instructions, he moves over to lay beside the sun-warmed garden hose.
After washing him and finding a meal of your own, you head farther into the house to the room Ms Katrina said you could use while staying.
Before you reach the room, you pause outside the study door. It stands open and inside, drawers law scattered with papers and other bits littering the floor.
A quick exploration of the house confirms that the study’s not the only room in such a condition. It wasn’t that way when you first arrived. Sure, you were distracted with Gregory, but you’re not that unobservant.
At some point between getting the cat’s dinner and now, someone’s been in the house.
But you’ve no way of knowing who did it or what was taken, if anything. Nothing for it now. You go to bed, discouraged on top of being exhausted. The likelihood of Ms Katrina keeping you on after the two weeks just got very slim.
You toss and turn until sleep finally takes over.
It isn’t a noise, or even the extra weight on the bed, that wakes you. It’s a sense of unease. You open your eyes to find the shimmery orbs of Gregory’s eyes watching you. He’s laying, sprawled to his full length, against your right side. His nose sits less than five inches from your face. When he licks his lips, you almost feel it against you skin.
Shove Him Away?
Start Talking to Him?
House Sitting-Talk to Him
Your eyes burn from lack of sleep while Gregory’s breath fans across your face. All you wanted was a stable job, something more than jumping from job to job. What’s the harm in hoping?
You don’t want to wrestle with the feline. Exhaustion weights your limbs down and, added on top of that, Gregory’s weight holds your right side in place.
“You’re a big pain,” you mutter.
The breath on your face stops for just a second but then resumes, like you surprised him by suddenly speaking.
“All I wanted was a steady job. That’s it. You know my friend Wilson cleans up people’s garbage just to have enough money for his dinner each day. That’s no kind of life. And my friend…” you ramble on.
Other than his orb like eyes, you can’t really see the feline. But you can make out the faint reflection that tells you he’s watching.
And you see it a second before he lays his head down on your shoulder because the orbs wink out, like he’s closing his eyes to sleep.
You keep rambling. “I worked for a while as a day laborer on a farm. Good work, but seasonal. They don’t keep…”
Gregory’s body relaxes into your side, making it a tad hard to breathe, but you don’t risk moving if he’s actually going to sleep.
You’re not sure how much longer you chatter on about the different jobs you’ve had, but eventually, sleep takes you too.
When you wake, the cat’s not beside you but the blanket holds the impression of his large body.
Breakfast becomes a rendition of the dinner the night before but this time you don’t move fast enough to reach the back yard.
Gregory doesn’t go for the bowl immediately. Instead, he pins you to the floor and, very slowly, closes his jaws against your throat. He holds there, just like you did the night before after pinning him, for a moment, and then releases you and goes to eat his venison.
You’re heart beats so hard in your chest that you start assessing yourself for a heart attack. By the time Gregory’s ready to be cleaned up, you have your heart back to normal but the adrenaline still leaves you weak in the knees.
The text two weeks turn into who can best whom. Sometimes you pin the cat, sometimes he pins you. It’s never exactly friendly but neither do you hurt each other. And each night, you fall asleep rambling to the feline curled up beside you.
When Ms Katerina returns, your nerves are kind of fried. She pays you, thanks you for taking care of Gregory and lets you go. Between your fried nerves and Ms Katerina’s disappointment over her missing things, you separate on good terms but will never be back.
Although you do wonder, if you handled things differently, would you have made a friend of Gregory? Was such a thing even possible with a wild cougar?
Thank you to everyone who participated in the adventure. =) A new adventure will start on the 17th.
Until then, blessings,