Cat in the Underwild

I wrote this as one of our writing group challenges recently and felt it would be worth blogging. From my perch among the branches of the woodpecker tree, I see the cat prowilng through the long grass beneath me. Night approaches…

 

Cat
The train races unheedingly through the night, its brightly lit windows flashing snapshot images of sleeping faces. Just one or two, occasionally peer out into the darkness, trying to see landmarks in this emptiness on the edge of the city. None are aware of the creatures of the underwild. Or their tormentor lurking so close to the track.
Poised and motionless in the long grass of the embankment, the large black cat merely twitches his ears as the train roars by. His unblinking green eyes remain fixed on a faint movement in the grass. Not just the breeze… A tiny vole hides, shivers and waits for its chance.
A fox’s sudden bark from the nearby woodland briefly distracts the cat and, in a flash, the vole is gone! Safe. For now…
Thwarted, this intrepid hunter slowly stands, yawns and stretches. Whiskers brush the blades of grass as he pads softly, down the slope.
“Cat… cat… cat…” whispers the wind through the tree tops. The moon peers, nervously, from behind a cloud, illuminating the silky black fur of the beast, silently stalking his land.
Mother Blackbird huddles closer on her nest, safe in the heart of the bramble bush, while a brief staccato call from her mate stabs the night as sharply as the bramble thorn.
But the large black cat pads on.
Overhead, a Barn Owl glides on ghostly wings. Stay safe little vole! Another predator patrols the darkness! Fieldmice, with peppercorn eyes and comical ears, scurry for cover. The tiny shrew, with its long pointy nose, whiffles its whiskers and, with rapidly beating heart, hides among the dandelion leaves.
But the large black cat pads on.
The moon spills pools of white light on the surface of the pond. Mallards tuck their heads under their wings; Swans remain immobile, guarding their cygnets under feathers of fairy softness. Frogs plop, faintly, into the safe depths of the water. Dragonflies sway with the Iris flags, hiding their fizzing beauty beneath furled wings. From under wing, water and leaf blade, sharp eyes watch the creature approach.
But the large black cat pads on.
He approaches the houses now, as black sky turns to grey, and Fox and Badger delve deep into earth and sett. Hedgehog scurries towards the bushes, freezing into a prickly ball, when he senses that danger is near.
The cat snakes through the bars of the garden gate, and down the path. As dawn breaks through and night time finally fades, Robins, Finches and Wrens wait in the bushes and trees, beady eyes fixed on the cat as he pauses to sit, and meticulously cleans ears and paws. Then, with a contemptuous flick of his tail, he noses at the cat flap and vanishes… into a world of pampered comfort and tasty treats.
A long drawn out sigh from the creatures of the underwild, blows the night shadows away and the large black cat sleeps. For now.

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