The House of Cats and Dogs

In relation to my Evolution novel, which features a cat and a Staffordshire bull terrier among the main characters, here’s one I wrote earlier:

Once in an abandoned house there lived a cat and a dog. They were a tabby cat named Harry and a Staffordshire bull terrier called Bonny. These two were an unusual pair since dogs and cats are not known for being the best of friends. Yet not only did Bonny and Harry get along (more or less) they in fact preferred each other’s company to that of members of their own species. For this reason they were content to live together, unconcerned with humans or other animals, save for the small creatures that Harry liked hunting.

One day they were in the garden enjoying the sun. Harry was, as usual, hunting small birds while Bonny lay in the sun ignoring him. Harry, despite not being particularly clever, was a skilled hunter. ‘Bonny!’ he called, leaping down off the garden wall. ‘Did you see that? I just caught a sparrow with one paw and swatted another with my tail. Don’t you think that’s amazing?’

Bonny, stretched out on the lawn, did not reply. Harry went up to her and poked her. ‘You weren’t looking, were you?’

‘I assure you I was enraptured by the display.’ replied Bonny, without opening her eyes. Harry sighed and climbed back up the wall. His face lit up and he cried, ‘I can see a big fat one over there!’ and leaped. Bonny pricked up her ears as a scream echoed from the neighbouring garden.

Harry returned in a great hurry with his tail all bottle brush. ‘Bonny!’ he said, joining her. ‘I think in future we should not live next door to humans whose heads look like sparrows. I just savaged Mr Jones.’

Bonny got up and together they peered over the wall. ‘Ouch,’ said Bonny. ‘He’s not going to be happy when he wakes up.’

‘You mean if he wakes up,’ replied Harry. ‘Can you tell if he’s breathing?’

‘I think he’s just in shock. Either way, let’s not hang about.’ They went inside together, doing their best to look innocent in case anyone should be watching. Harry and Bonny were not liked by their human neighbours, a feeling that was entirely mutual. But due to low cunning and a bit of luck on their part, they had so far managed to avoid being evicted from the house they shared.

Inside, Harry decided to play with his toy robot. This was a remote control contraption that fired foam discs at high speed. Harry liked to pretend the discs were birds flying towards him, and viewed the game as hunting practice. Bonny was in the kitchen when she heard a particularly loud noise from the living room. A moment later, Harry appeared around the corner. ‘Bonny,’ he said sheepishly. ‘The robot is dead.’

‘Oh dear,’ replied Bonny. ‘Does that mean we have to hold a funeral?’ They went to the living room, where the robot lay on the floor. Bonny asked, ‘Did you kill it?’

‘No, he was firing discs one moment and then he keeled over.’

Bonny went out and came back with a phone in her paw. ‘Hello, vicar?’ she said into it. ‘Yeah, I’d like to arrange a funeral. It’s for a robot.’ She paused and listened. ‘What do you mean you don’t do funerals for robots? Robots are people too. And don’t take that tone with me, little man who wears a collar when he’s not even a dog! I hope some idiot mistakes you for a pooch and puts you on a lead, you heartless fiend! Goodbye!’ She threw the phone to the floor. ‘I thought they were supposed to be caring.’

‘Maybe we could resurrect it.’ said Harry.

‘Don’t you mean resuscitate it?’

‘Do what now?’

Bonny stood over the robot. ‘I may be a dog, but I do know some first aid. The robot needs

mouth-to-mouth.’ She kissed the robot’s visor.

Harry stared at her. ‘What possible good will that do?’

‘I don’t know; I’ve only seen it on TV.’

‘I’ve got a good idea. We’ll restart his heart.’ He held up his paws together and brought them crashing down on the robot’s chest. Then he cried out and staggered away, clutching his paws to his side.

‘Congratulations Harry,’ said Bonny. ‘Not only is the robot still dead, but you’ve just ensured that you will never be invited to join the cast of Casualty.’

‘We could always try surgery,’ snapped Harry. ‘There’s a chainsaw in the cellar which I am just dying to use!’

‘Hold on, I’ve got an idea. I think the robot has some of those battery things that make stuff work. Go and get me a screwdriver.’

‘Not the chainsaw?’

‘Not the chainsaw.’

Once the screwdriver was located, Bonny turned the robot over and undid the screws in its back. Sure enough, there were two batteries there. ‘Maybe if we put new ones in it’ll work again,’ she said.

‘But where will we find new ones?’

They thought for a moment. ‘What about the remote control for the TV?’ suggested Bonny.

Harry looked crestfallen. ‘Not the TV!’

‘Well we don’t actually need the remote to make it work; it’s designed for people too lazy to get up and change the channel themselves.’

‘Fine, but I might just point out I am one of those lazy individuals who enjoys the convenience of a remote control.’

‘Your sacrifice is noted, now shut up and let’s get those batteries.’ In the other room they found the remote and started dismantling it. However, as they were digging out the batteries, the television turned on. Harry and Bonny looked up in surprise. The TV screen was showing blank white static and producing a strange humming noise. ‘Okay, which of us pressed the ‘on’ button?’ asked Bonny.

‘We didn’t,’ said Harry. ‘The TV just switched itself on.’

The white screen was then filled with a pale, staring face. ‘Seven days!’ it hissed.

‘Oh no,’ groaned Harry. ‘It’s one of those cursed video tapes that kill you a week after watching them.’

The pale face looked confused. ‘Oh sorry,’ it said. ‘Wrong story. I’m an evil spirit living inside your television, and I’m here to tell you to put those batteries back.’

‘Why?’ said Bonny.

Because they are mine!’

‘Well, somebody doesn’t like sharing.’ said Harry.

‘We need these batteries,’ said Bonny. ‘So we’re taking them, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ The door slammed shut behind them and the lights dimmed. The ominous glow grew brighter and lightning flickered around the screen. ‘Put the batteries back,’ said the pale face. ‘Or you will be sucked inside the television and trapped here with me forever!’

‘Okay, this is terrifying in so many ways.’ said Harry.

‘What do we do?’ said Bonny. Harry grabbed the remote and flung it at the television. A lightning bolt shot out, struck the remote and then wrapped around Harry like a lasso. He screamed as the lightning pulled him into the television and disappeared.

‘Where’s he gone?’ demanded Bonny.

‘He is now lost somewhere in Gardener’s World, and you will join him unless you put those

batteries back!’

‘Actually I quite like Gardener’s World.’

The pale face paused. ‘Fine, then I’ll put you somewhere that will be your own private hell.

Somewhere like I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here!’

Bonny looked horrified. ‘You wouldn’t!’

‘I will, unless you put those batteries back!’ Just then the pale face flickered and died as a chainsaw burst through the screen in a shower of sparks. Harry climbed out of the television, wielding the chainsaw with a delighted grin. ‘The fool! It put me in the lumberjack special edition! All of my dreams have come true!’

‘Of course, now we’ll have to get a new TV,’ said Bonny.

‘Ah…’

‘Never mind, we can get one that isn’t inhabited by a demonic spirit. At least now we can fix the robot.’

They eventually succeeded in reviving the robot with the new pair of batteries, and the television did not trouble them again. Life soon returned to normal in Harry and Bonny’s house, though perhaps normal is not a good description.

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