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Literary Maneuvers October 2021: The Cat Parade (3 Viewers)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor

Literary Maneuvers October 2021: The Cat Parade

Welcome to the cat parade! What story can you spin out our feline prompt this month?
650 words, deadline 23:59 GMT / 18:59 EST, Saturday, 16 October
If you win, you'll get a badge pinned to your profile, plus the chance to enter our Feb 2022 Grand Fiction Challenge, which carries cash prizes.



The judges this month are vranger, Taylor, Llyralen and piperofyork. If you'd like to volunteer, please let me know via PM or in the Coffee Shop. If you wish to know more about scoring, take a look at the NEW JUDGING GUIDE which also includes a template to use for your scoring. Please use this template for consistency.



All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM WORKSHOP THREAD.

All anonymous entries will be PMed to myself and please note in the PM whether you want your entry posted in the workshop.

Please check out our Rules and Policies for extra details on the LM contests.

Everyone is welcome to participate, including judges. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score, though some judges are happy to let you know their score for you privately. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

Judges: If you could send the scores no later than October 31st, it will ensure a timely release of results. Much later than that and I will have to post with what I have. Again, please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.

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WF Veterans
Annual Kitty Coup

“What do we want!” a pepper-colored tabby in a trashy blue necktie shouted. He padded on the rooftop ledges of the many, many stalls, his stride widening to keep in pace with the hordes of kitties and cats on the road. Their claws tinkled on the cobble sidewalks, a hundred of knobby paws on a mission.

“Human flesh!” roared the cats. Whiskers flicked as snouts curled with the words in a snarl.

“For too long we’ve been starved! For too long we’ve been content with their kibble or tuna. But not anymore! We will take back what’s ours!”

Yowling chased the tabby’s words. He hurled over a gap in the roof, strutting onto the other side, head high. The wood under him creaked but steadied under his burly weight.

“Wait, what?” asked a tiny Siamese mix, trapped in the masses. “This isn’t a parade to celebrate our feline lord and savior, Sphinx?” Rainbow confetti covered the ground, colorful pink, blue, purple strips hung off lamp posts, and trash cans overfilled with greasy leftovers. The Siamese plodded in a dried oil stain where a food truck anchored itself the day before.

“No, no!” corrected a shadowy ash-stain of a cat whose belly rubbed the ground when she walked. “This is a march. A public announcement on the cruelty of modern medicine.”

Around, a continuous chant of “Stop medicating, your meat taste bad!” grew in might and sound until it deafened everyone around.

Running parallel to them, a young errand boy darted the alleyways towards his job, and the cat’s end destination, the local pharmacy. He pressed angrily on the end call button of his phone, unable to hear anything with the cat’s persistent wailing, like fingernails on a chalkboard. His grip on his bag tightened, and he hoped it would be enough. It had to be, or the sheer might of the felines would ruin them. Thankfully, he was quicker than the cats and arrived with minutes to spare to where his boss stood, arms crossed with her high heels clinking on the stony steps of their work.

“Finally, you got the goods?” she asked.

“Yes! Yes!” he huffed, red exhaustion creeping on his cheeks.

She snatched his bag, propping it open. Several gleaming bottles of catnip reflected her smiling face. “Good god, I hope this is enough. Grab some, everyone grab some!” Every employee who didn’t take the day off to cower under their table with family, grabbed two or three bottles. “Get in position.”

They moved into an arc to protect the doors of the store.

The boss grumbled, “Always after the pride parade the cat’s get this gusto…” She spit. “Like they aren’t living like royalty.” Her own Muffins was locked in his cage, being unruly this morning in preparation for their annual kitty coup.

Time ticked slowly until the yellow slits of malice appeared from the main road. A furry army, strapped for battle with sharpened claws and tapered fangs. Their leader, the fat tabby on the roof, sailed from the roof top to land in front. He let out a mighty belt before choking out a hair ball.

“Wait,” she whispered to her employees. A trickle of sweat tickled between her eyes. “Wait… we don’t want to spook them.”

The cats charged.


Bottles of catnip flew, whizzing like smoke grenades that exploded on impact. Cats screamed and scrambled as the catnip landed. Puffs of green smoke filled the air, and the humans stepped back. The cat’s assault had ceased as quickly as it began. When the smoke cleared, the cats were curled under a pepper sheen of catnip-herbs, pupils wide.

The boss sighed, steeled her nerves, and looked across the crowd of high kitties. “Please, if you could gather your cats, we can get back to work.”

They were lucky today, but they still had next year to fear.


WF Veterans
Nine Lives

647 words

The old Wickham house, Joe’s mom and dad always called it. It had been calling him all summer, and since Halloween was his 14th birthday, he just had to explore it.

“I thought haunted houses were big and weird looking,” his twin sister Cindy said. “That’s just a plain old two-story house.”

“It partially burned one night, killing old lady Wickham and her nine cats. Besides, it’s next to a graveyard. Extra creepy points.”

“You and your adventures. I thought we were going trick or treating.”

“You came with me, remember.”

“These woods are spooky enough to make me want to go back.”

An owl hooted. Cindy jumped.

“Come on,” Joe said. “It’ll be fun.”

“If it doesn’t’ scare me to death first,” Cindy said.

The night was getting darker, and the gloom surrounded them as they walked. A cold wind came up, and they both shivered. As they got close to the house, a light in an upper window went on, then off.

“Joe…,” Cindy said, grabbing his shirt.

Joe looked in a window.

“I see cobwebs. Means spiders.”

The window pushed open easily. He crawled inside, followed by a reluctant Cindy. He pulled out his flashlight.

They went from room to room, Cindy holding on to the back of his shirt. The house smelled of urine and burnt wood. There were a few chairs scattered around, mostly broken in pieces. They heard a scratching sound.

“Probably rats, “Joe said.

“Maybe it’s old lady Wickham in the walls, trying to get out,” Cindy said.

A cat shrieked. Cindy screamed and grabbed Joe by the arm.

“Calm down,” Joe said, laughing, “it’s just a cat.”

The two kids held each other’s hand, though, as they creeped along through the house. The floor creaked with each step, and the wind whistled through the open window.

“I felt something cold drift through my body,” Joe said. “I didn’t feel a breeze.”

“You’re scaring me,” Cindy said.

In the distance they heard a chanting, and realized it was coming from upstairs.

It became louder and louder, and they realized someone, or something was coming down the stairs.

Their skin prickled, and as the kids watched in horror, a woman appeared, followed by a parade of eight cats.

“Who are you,” Joe asked, his voice trembling. Her skin was a sickly green.

“Oh dears,” she said, “you are blessed to see my darlings bury their friend.”

With that, she and the cars marched through the living room, chanting “Nine lives per cat, nine cats per life” with each step. They were carrying a miniature coffin, and they went out through the front door without opening it.

“I-I peed on myself, “Cindy said, crying.

“Let follow them,” Joe said.

“L-let’s go home. NOW.”

Joe grabbed her arm.

“Come on,” he said, but when he tried the door, it wouldn’t open.

“We’re trapped in here!”

“No, let’s try where we came in.”

The two kids crawled out the window.

“I think I hurt my leg.”

“Look,” Joe said,” they’re headed for the graveyard. There’s a pet cemetery on the other side.”

Cindy’s curiosity overcame her initial fear and followed Joe. When they got to the pet area they watched as the old woman dug a grave and buried the coffin. The old woman called out.

“Old Kickipee has lived his last life. Let the mourning begin.”

They all marched back into the house, wailing, and chanting all the way.

When the kids tried the door, it still wouldn’t open. Joe got brave enough to peek in the window, but when a cat shrieked he quickly closed the window and they ran home. After they were safe in their own rooms, the old woman appeared to both, cackling and wheezing. She vanished in a puff of ectoplasm.

Joe called Becky on his cell phone.

“You okay?”

“Yes," Becky said, "but I’m not sleeping tonight.”


Senior Member
Some books say we domesticated dogs back in pre-agricultural days but that's bullshit, dogs weren't afraid of us so followed and ate the garbage and leftovers and scraps and that was easier than hunting for themselves - calorically beneficial - bred and denned around us, provided a barrier against the unexpected. We reaped the benefits of it centuries before we were aware of it.

Then agriculture and civilization, irrigation - here's cats - and urbanization, towns, roads, nations, armies, cities, laws, science, megalopolises. Overpopulation. Organized stupidity. Disease.

Then the fresh meat's gone, then the Cup o Noodles, then the restaurants close and the grocery stores close and the farms are already mostly dead when plundered.

Then gardens die.

Then there weren't any more deer, and you put on the ski masks and loaded the rifles and drove out there but of course the cows in the pasture weren't there anymore and and the chickens weren't either, it was stupid to think they would be.

Then the squirrels were gone and most of the birds didn't come back that year, not that you could have caught them anyway. But it would have been nice to see them. Or would it?, all that protein jumping uncatchable between the branches?

The dogs can't catch anything worth catching, there isn't enough large plant life to support prey. They can't retrieve fowl, there's nothing to shoot. They can't guard anyone, the only predators out there desperate men in overwhelming numbers with crushing firepower. The dogs don't work as alarm systems. They can warn you of threats but can't do anything to save you from them, have gone from guardians to harbingers.

Nothing new grows. The farms that fed the world are wastelands.

The junkyards are the only abundant source of organic energy, breed bacteria which attracts insects, which sustains the only living rodents, which attract the rare predator mammals and birds able enough to have survived - an occasional dog or cat - who have no chance against the hordes of humans with clubs and .22's and digging hands, until all that's left is the insects, and the gangs had already been eating each other well before that's all that's left.

Then it's just the big tomb cities. Monstrous apartment and office blocks with rotting garbage and corpses sealed off in millions of closed doors easily accessible to bacteria and fungus and mice but nothing bigger. Skyscrapers and residential blocks so hermetically sealed thanks to modern energy saving requirements the minimal growth creates practical biospheres.

The dogs were too trusting and have all been eaten.

So you starve. There's water enough in puddles because the rain didn't stop but it's brackish and the diarrhea is daily and killing you. You can soak and boil the moss which makes it worse but it keeps you alive.

Now and then you see a cat.

The cats know where the mice you can't hear are. You follow a parade of them until they bunch around a door they can't get though, reach out and turn the knob - the cats rush in. They scatter. You close the door behind you then stuff the cloth under the door to prevent easy escape.

You stomp 7 mice and 3 rats, get a variety pack of 4 more with the brick and uncover three nests of babies. The brick's really carrying its weight today.

The cats get their fill.

You open the door and let them slip out, until there are only 2 left.

Then you shut the door.

And heft the brick.
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Senior Member
Joy from Little Things

So good to wake up at daylight! I hate having to turn the lights on when it's still dark. Can never close my eyes fast enough. Long live spring!

Light as it may be, my yawning mouth is so wide open that I hardly see anything as I stumble toward the window. Or maybe I'm exaggerating. Resting my elbows heavily on the window sill, I smile at the sight of the seagulls floating gracefully above the house opposite.

But what in heaven's name is that on the sidewalk across the street? A cat, then a young woman, after her a cat, another young woman, and the third cat. Walking behind each other as if going somewhere and not wanting anyone to know they're together. Either that, or the cats are escorting their prisoners to the nearest supermarket.

It's a bizarre sight, I'm telling you. Truly a cat parade. Or... no. A cat parade.

After another delightful yawn, everything on the street looks normal again. The cats are trotting away in three different directions, having left the sidewalk to the women. Too late to grab my camera. Now no one will believe me when I tell them what I just saw.

I know. I don't have to photograph everything. Just enjoy the mood of the present moment.

I realize what was actually strange about it – you don't see cats on the streets anymore. For several years now, all stray cats are captured and brought into one of the pet sanctuaries. They're stunningly efficient. The city is truly empty of cats, as well as stray dogs. And snakes, lions, elephants... yeah, we've never had any of those to begin with. Guess my brain is not quite awake yet. Maybe I ought to go back to sleep. Or just have a catnap?

Wow. This one was hysterical, don't you agree? Well, I don't mind. I still think it was. Made me want to exclaim: "Ha! I kill me!" Who was it that said that? A sitcom character, many years ago, what was his name? Loved cats too... or not. I can't remember. And I should stop thinking all that nonsense.

Kenny and Eddie and I talked about the good old times last night. As a matter of fact, I disagreed with them. The present is so much better. Even though I long a little for the time when the p-word actually meant a cat, there's no denying so many things are getting so much better so fast it's unbelievable. That's why I left the talking mostly to the guys. As well as the drinking.

All of a sudden, I break into tears. I don't want to die!

Can't see a way out either. Indecision is killing me. Sorry, a very lame pun. I meant to say I'm so tired of making a brave face after all that's happened, replying to all those how-are-yous day in, day out.

I can't forgive myself for what I've done. All the people I've hurt. It's tearing my heart out. Told myself a million times it's in the past and I can't undo it. It's not helping. All those things I could have done differently – I can't get them out of my head. I'm cursed with remembering everything. How can a man live with such memories?

The cat parade was hilarious, though. I guess I won't end my life yet. I can just as well do it tomorrow, can't I? Besides, when there are cats running around, there's still hope. A lousy excuse, I know. Just as lousy as the couple hundred previous ones. How long will I continue this miserable existence, a pathetic coward who doesn't even have the guts to go out with dignity? Whatever. I better take a shower and then grab something to eat. There's a world out there with happiness to be found.
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Staff member
Senior Mentor
An Ohmage to Freddie . . . A Cool Cat
(650 wds)

It was a dark, stormy night, and I went to sleep, waking up later to find Freddie Mercury sitting on the foot of my bed, looking at me expectantly. My cat, Penny, who I had to put down in 2019, was purring loudly in his lap, wearing a tiny tiara-like crown on her head.

“Hey,” I said. “You died in 1994; what’re you doing here?” It had to be my dream-self talking. I’m pretty sure I would never speak so rudely to a shade if I were awake.

“Yeah, but I miss me cats and I know you’ve had a few, too. Remember Penny here?”

“Of course I remember Penny,” I said, insulted. “She was my dear girl and I miss her terribly. What Is Penny doing in your lap, Freddie?”

“They give me all the cats now. I had several of me own when I was alive; loved the little beasties, I did. I have a whole parade of them to look after, but Penny’s my Queen. I guess that’s why they call it heaven. Remember the song, Penny’s from Heaven?”

I laughed at the faulty contraction, looking him over. He was wearing that famous vest that had cats on it and I remembered reading an article saying he had left most of his money to his surviving cats when he passed away.

“So, why are you here, Freddie? I haven’t been able to get another kitten since Penny, so there’s no felines left.”

“I know and that’s one of the reasons I’m here. I heard you’re a writer and that for the month of October the Cool Cat Writing Forum prompt is A Parade of Cats. What a novel idea and one I know I can participate in. Channel me! Loving cats as I do, they were always a part of my life. Delilah, Tiffany, Goliath. I loved them all, even when they peed on the curtains in the ball room. When I hear Cool Cats or Bohemian Rhapsody wafting up through the clouds, I know me and my cats have not been forgotten.”

I was skeptical. I had known about the prompt for a couple of days but couldn’t find the inspiration to write a story. I never write about animals; they always die.

“Are you here to be my muse, Freddie?”

“Well, girlie, I’ve been a lot of things in my life, but a muse, now that’s a new one for me. I’d like to think I’m a muse-ing, though.” He threw his head back and laughed like there was no tomorrow, his protruding teeth sparkling in the moonlight. I laughed too.

“So, tell me about when you wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie. Were you inspired by a cat of your own, one in your parade?”

“It was dedicated to Delilah. She was the Queen before Penny and I wanted so much to honor her in a song. You know the lines from Delilah, right?

You take over my house and home
You even try to answer my telephone

“You need to have an inspiration, like Delilah was to me . . . now for Halloween I’ll fade into a shade; the rest is up to you.”

The night had become cooler and as I went to close the open window, I could swear I heard the opening strands of a familiar song that abruptly died. The lamp on my desk came on and my laptop sat open. I felt inspired, invigorated and up to the task as I sat down in my pajamas to pen the elusive tale.

How to begin? A title, of course and then there was no stopping me. I had to get it all down, pounding away on the keyboard. Would anyone really believe that Freddie Mercury . . .?

Wait! This can’t be right; six hundred and fifty words already, not including the title, and I still hadn’t . . .



Staff member
Senior Mentor
I know it's hard to believe, but November
is just around the corner.

I am looking for prompts and judges!

Let me know right here in the coffee shop.

I'll even buy you a cuppa!


Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
The Cat Parade

The noise of the annual Sphynx Festival has slowly been starting to subside with the setting sun. I pass by a big crowd, standing beside some marching soldiers, followed by a band, loudly tooting their trumpets. How did the military find its way into a celebration of a big sand cat? I’ve been standing around the Sphynx all day, but I wanted to get a closer look by myself. The evening is a perfect time for that. It’s not unusual to be intrigued by it. I walk around to the back of the Sphynx, where there are barely any people standing. The guard here seems to have taken a break. I make some intense eye contact with one of the bystanders as I climb over the dividing fence. Though I’ve always hated these clichéd phrases, I can’t help but to feel the mystical aura as I’m walking closer. When I’m standing right before her, I wait a couple of seconds before I start to touch, then downright hug the Sphynx. I forget all my rationality and feel nothing but connection and overwhelming joy, happily ignoring the various people staring at me. Oh shit, it’s the guard coming back. I give the Sphynx a quick goodbye kiss and try to sneak out, then start moving faster when I see him marching towards me, then I take off running. Once arrived at a busy road, I look back. Luckily, he’s gone – oh no, there he is, now even with backup. I indulge in the Adrenaline, take some deep breaths and take off – I misjudge my speed get hit by the first car I see.

I wake up in a giant room. In front of me is a creature. A “You’re not supposed to be here.”, comes out of the, as I’ve now gotten to categorize it, little human head on a miniature lion. “. You’re supposed to be dead. How did you get here?” he asks, while jumping over to stand menacingly in front of me. I look at him. “Are you the Sphynx?”, I ask, trying my best to hide my confusion. “I am a representation of it “, he answers. “Am I inside the Sphynx? Wait, maybe I’m here because I touched the Sphynx right before I died!” “Something might have gone wrong with the energy fields - that could explain it”, he says, “but still, humans aren’t usually able to shift like that.” “Then who is this place made for?”. With his paw, he points to the distance. There, I see some weird creatures, crowded together. “Cats”, he says. And truly – hundreds of cats, standing upright like humans, seemingly enjoying themselves at what seems to me to be different food stands and attractions. Next to them is a little cat band marching, with their cat uniforms. “Cats come here after death?” I ask him. “Yes, and most of them leave again, to resolve some last duties, live out an unknown experience, maybe because of boredom”. I roll my eyes: “Is it because cats have nine lives?”. “Precisely.”, he answers. “But why do cats get this opportunity? Why not humans?”. The little Sphynx scoffs. “You guys are so egocentric. Is it just that you humans get to dominate the other species? And besides, are you sure it’s you humans who are dominating?” I point to the cat parade. “And these cats over there, what are they doing?” “They’re just finished with their 9 lives and choose to spend some time amusing themselves before entering the eternal Nirvana.”. I stare at the floor for a couple seconds. “And what am I supposed to do now?”. “I don’t know”, answers the little Sphynx. “Huh. May I join them?”. “Yeah, I guess you haven’t got anything better to do”. And so I join them, and celebrate the time away with the cats, up until the last day, when I join them in Nirvana.
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