Flash Fiction – Creature

In February 2021, Storytelling Collective had a flash fiction prompt month and of course, I didn’t hit every day (or really get close) but I did end up with some favourites I want out in the world, even in their unedited form.

Creature

Yoli slid the dish stacked with bits of meat and cheese next to the bowl of water, both almost in the shadow of the space beneath the couch. It would be easy, if you were small and scared and hiding under the couch, to dip out and grab a piece of food to drag back into safety. Though, Yoli was not quite certain that what was hiding under their couch was small.

Sitting back on their heels, Yoli waited at arm-distance from the couch for a few minutes, listening. It was quiet. Maybe the creature was sleeping. Softly, they stood and moved to the big chair across the room. Their interrupted dinner sat cold on a tray, an open book turned face down on the floor next to it. Yoli had been well-absorbed in the pages, eating without really thinking about it, when something had moved in the corner of their eye and they realised they’d heard the back screen door creak open a moment before.

They’d been meaning to fix the catch on that door, the last thing they wanted was raccoons inside. Well, the actual last thing was a big cat or some dog they didn’t know but the raccoons were more probable, thanks to the big sturdy fence that lined their property. So they’d sat frozen, fork badly stacked with noodles, and tried to see what had come inside. They couldn’t discern it, not properly. It seemed bigger than a raccoon. When they’d slowly turned their head to look the thing had scooted under the couch in a flash.

Yoli didn’t really know what to do, so they’d fed it. Waiting seemed like the best choice. It was late and the people who rounded up animals weren’t in the office routed calls to the police non-emergency line. Which was the last thing Yoli wanted. So, they got back in their big comfy chair and ate their cold noodles, trying to get back into the thread of their book while casually keeping an eye on the shadows under the couch.

Some time after they’d finished the noodles—which were still good cold, which Yoli was pleased with—the shadow under the couch seemed to shift and move toward the plate and bowl. Yoli tried to keep their outward energy as chill as possible. Whatever it was, it delicately took a piece of cheese off the plate and disappeared back under the couch. A moment later something like a paw carefully hooked over the edge of the bowl and dragged it all the way under the couch.

Squinting at the narrow slice of the shadowed area beneath the couch, Yoli tried to discern a shape, any indicator of head or tail or ears. There was nothing. Maybe the spot where the creature was crouching was darker than the rest of the space beneath the couch. Yoli shrugged. As long as it didn’t interact with them it didn’t really matter what it was.

Eventually, they got fully reabsorbed by their book, no longer half-watching the space beneath the couch. The bowl rattled as something brushed by it and Yoli froze, watching again from the corner of their eye. A shape poured itself from under the couch and slunk out of their vision, in the direction of the kitchen. Yoli had left the screen door unlatched and they heard the bump and shuffle of a creature nosing it open and slipping out.

Carefully and slowly, Yoli padded to the back and saw the screen door still bumping softly in the creature’s wake. They walked up and latched it properly, looking out the screen into the blank of the night.

A portion of this post was initially published in a locked Patreon post on February 15, 2021.

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