Winner of the March Flash Fiction contest on Devin O’Branagan’s forum
The ground under my paws is cold and hard, but I stop myself from shifting my weight and hunker down in the soft green leaves that hang heavily from the grey vine. I am unseen as I watch my prey – a black shadow that stalks and hides in plain view. The beast is too distracted by its washing to notice me, and I can afford to be patient. My stomach tells me I’m hungry, but I’m not desperate. This meal will be too sweet to rush.
Finally it’s done and the long-legged creature steps out of the water, shaking to dry itself. I shy away from the spray but refrain from cleaning the damp spots on my fur. This close, I don’t want to give myself away. The beast preens itself, unmatting its fur, making strange noises in its throat that soothe and frustrate me. I need to concentrate. I wait until it’s finished and begins to walk away. It thinks its safe as it walks towards its nightly resting place, but then I pounce, aim for the ankles. My teeth sink into the creature’s leg, my paws gripping tightly to make sure it can’t escape. But it’s stronger than I think. It screams and struggles and I lose my grip. I prepare to strike again and then I’m not on the ground anymore, but hanging in the air, looking down on the beast, my dinner.
“Oh, you crazy cat,” my human says and lets air out loudly from her throat. She carries me towards her resting place and climbs inside the soft cave until only her head and arms show. She holds me tightly against her stomach.
“My sneaky panther,” she says quietly and a satisfied purr builds in my chest. I nestle down and close my eyes. That’s right, I am Panther.