A Dark and Stormy Night

“It was a dark and stormy night and……” 

Miss Williams sat and stared at the words she had just written after several long hours of deliberation. This was the beginning of a novel which would shake the world, but what was to happen in the dark and stormy night? She got up, walked away from the computer and put the kettle on. It was not easy being a writer. No-one understood how she suffered for her art! She thought about the dark and stormy nights she had known. Nothing had happened except she had cosied up to the fire, curtains drawn, cup of tea to hand and Pusskin, her large, black and very fluffy cat, on her lap. Oh, well.

Miss Williams made herself a cup of tea, settled down in her easy chair beside the glowing coals of the fire, and Pusskin leapt onto her lap.

“Oh dear Pusskin,” she murmured to the cat, “my novel is not going too well you know, I’m a little bit stuck.”

Pusskin purred sympathetically and stared at Miss Williams with his big green eyes. His whiskers trembled. Miss Williams stroked his silky black fur. Her eyelids started to droop and she drifted into sleep. Pusskin leaped to the floor, arched his back, stretched, clawed his favourite patch of the sofa (which was now almost threadbare) and headed outside via the cat flap in the back door.

It was a dark and stormy night and the wind was howling through the branches of the trees. On the heath Pusskin spotted a vole and in a flash had pounced. Biting the small animal on the back of its neck Pusskin felt satisfied that his hunting instincts were perfectly honed. That vole had stood no chance with a hunter like Pusskin in the field! Having played with the vole, and taken what he wanted of it, Pusskin moved on, strength flooding his body. His next victim was a little larger. An unwary rabbit fell prey to the large black cat. Pusskin was energised. He growled and padded on.

The moon shone briefly beneath the blackening clouds and a flash of lightning lit the figure of Pusskin, crouched, snarling, the hair of his back standing spikily up. No more the sweet domestic pet, Pusskin was in his element. He leapt into the lower branches of an oak tree and waited.

He didn’t have to wait long – Goldie, a large, extremely aggressive ginger tom with battle scars on his face and a torn ear, was at the edge of the clearing sniffing the air. Pusskin edged back along the branch into the deep shadow making sure to stay upwind. Goldie was stalking the edges of the heath, alert to danger, ears twitching and body low to the ground. He made his rounds, spraying his powerful scent on the grasses and on the trunks of the trees. Pusskin watched. His green eyes narrowed, and a slight smile played beneath his whiskers. This was the night. The scene was set.

Goldie paused beneath the tree where Pusskin waited. Goldie sniffed the air, and relaxed, licking his paws and washing his scarred face. Pusskin’s lips drew back in a silent snarl. He crept along the branch until he was directly above his sworn enemy. Without pausing to allow the ginger tom  to raise his snout again, Pusskin leapt and landed with a battle cry on Goldie’s back, his claws digging into his enemy’s skin. Goldie screamed. The two cats fought  a pitched battle, rolling and clawing and biting without mercy. There came a loud and desperate scream, and Pusskin eyes narrowed as he stretched and edged away from the now silent ginger tom lying still on the grass, the light dying in his eyes. Pusskin strutted, tail held high, across the heath as dozens of pairs of eyes watched from the undergrowth. The word went around – mad, hated, dangerous Goldie was dead! Pusskin had won the battle! A sound like the rustling of the wind rushed around the dark heath. Gradually there began the sound of purring which rose to a crescendo and Pusskin stood erect and accepted the acclaim. He turned majestically and left the field, heading for home.

Entering the little cottage via the cat-flap Pusskin felt the energy leave his body. He washed his paws and face, curled up in his cosy basket and slept.

Shortly before dawn the cat awoke. He strolled, shoulders rolling, into the sitting room where Miss Williams had been sleeping. She was no longer in her chair by the fire, which had now died. Pusskin raised his snout and sniffed. Ah, yes, the human was in her bed. He entered the bedroom, jumped onto the bed and stared at the sleeping woman, then, bored, he leapt down and went once more into the sitting room. The desk chair-cushion still held the shape of the human and Pusskin curled up in the dip. He smelled the old woman’s scent, he smelled her desperation and sadness. He stood on the chair and looked at her computer. He dabbed at the computer mouse with his paw and the screen lit up. Pusskin’s green eyes were thoughtful as he read the opening lines of Miss Williams’s  novel.

Pusskin had lived with Miss Williams for many years, he couldn’t remember how many but in that time she had been kind to him, providing him with tasty snacks of fish and chicken and caring for his wellbeing. He felt something akin to pity for the human in her predicament. Perhaps with his superior intelligence  he could now assist her.

He stretched his paws and began.

Miss Williams awoke and looked at the clock. She tutted. She had overslept again! She pottered into her kitchen, put the kettle on and looked at the large fluffy cat asleep in his basket.

“Oh dear, Pusskin,” she said, “we are getting so lazy, and so old! You really should get more exercise – and so should I!” She chuckled quietly to herself as she prepared her breakfast – one boiled egg and a slice of bread and butter- and breakfast for Pusskin – poached haddock done just the way he liked it – then picked the cat up from his basket for a cuddle and a fond kiss on his furry head.

Pusskin purred. If she only knew what he had been up to all night! He was tired and a little battle sore and was very glad to be cosseted.

Miss Williams sat down at her computer with a sigh. Her agent would be ringing today for a progress report on her novel. How could she report that it was completely stalled?  She’d have to return the advance (already spent) and the contract would be rescinded. She turned the computer on.

Pages and pages of beautiful prose filled her screen. She gasped. Started to read. She remembered feeling anxious to complete her novel, and making some tea to help her think: no wonder she had overslept this morning, she must have been awake all night writing after the inspiration had come! She had forgotten how hard she must have worked! Yes, that had to be the answer, she must have completed the novel and then fallen into a deep sleep!

Pusskin watched, his large green eyes inscrutable. He studied his claws, folded his front legs under his body and waited.

Miss Williams read quickly, through the twelve chapters of A Dark and Stormy Night, and noticed the word count – Fifty thousand words! Her agent would be thrilled.

“Oh Pusskin, I finished my novel last night! I must have been inspired by the storm and the howling of the wind! I was so exhausted afterwards that I fell into a very deep sleep and almost forgot about it! We shall be alright now – you shall have a fine new basket when my fee comes in! What a stroke of luck, to be inspired so brilliantly at the last moment!”

The large black cat licked his chops, twitched his whiskers, and purred “What a stroke of luck that you have me looking out for you! Now, fetch me my biscuits. Having been hunting, fighting and winning a raging battle to the death and writing a fifty thousand word novel all in one night has given me an appetite!”

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