Mister Snuffles

Submitted into Contest #30 in response to: Write a story about someone who loses their cat.... view prompt



Water splashed into Tori's shoes, soaking her socks.

Ugh, gross, Tori thought, pulling her left foot out of an ankle-deep puddle. She gingerly stepped her way to the side of the dark alleyway, water squelching underfoot with every step she took. Leaning against the wall, Tori pulled off her shoe, letting the water pour out.

Taking this moment to catch her breath, Tori looked around her. She was in the middle of a dark alleyway, which reeked with the rotting smell of week-old garbage radiating from the large, four-wheeled bins lining the alleyway.

She looked at her watch. It was just a few minutes to midnight; she needed to hurry.

Goddamn it, where could he be?

It was getting late, she shouldn't be out on the streets at this time of the night. But she didn't have it in her heart to give up. He's gotta be here somewhere.

She wrung out her wet sock, and crammed her foot back into her soaked shoe. Tori gazed up at the night sky, but couldn't make out the full moon. The multi-storey apartment buildings that lined the alleyway towered above her, blocking out most of the city's lights so that she could just make out a few stars through the haze of pollution, always lingering around the city.

She took a deep breath, and ran down the alley, back to the main street. Without slowing down, she rounded the corner, running straight into someone. Tori felt a sharp pain in her right ankle as her hands hit the ground. For a moment, she was frozen. She was sitting on the pavement, her legs sticking out at uncomfortable angles from underneath her, her right ankle throbbing with pain, shooting up aches through her legs, paralysing her whole body.

It felt like minutes, but Tori was probably only on the ground for a few seconds before she heard a voice above her.

"Hey! Watch werrr yih goin'!"

Tori looked up. She had ran into a homeless man, his right hand swinging around a walking stick accusingly at her. In his left hand, he carried a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. The man looked like a large dome towering over Tori, with all the layers he had wrapped himself in to prepare for the chilly night. It looked like he had a whole wardrobe on his back. Underneath a large woolly beanie, Tori could see the man's face. He despised her.

"I- I'm so sorry," She managed to get out.

The homeless man didn't seem to hear her though. He yelled out, "Get ofda groun' yer blockin' de way!" and started drunkenly kicking at her with his steel-capped boots. Lucky for Tori, the man seemed to have drunk most of the bottle he was carrying, and some of his kicks blindly fell through the air. Some of them, though, landed straight into Tori's chest. She wheezed as the air was knocked out of her lungs, and used her hands and her left leg to quickly shuffle backwards away from the drunken man.

She didn't have much more to worry about, though; the man seemed to get bored of kicking the air, and he spat at the ground in front of her before turning away, stumbling drunkenly down the street.

Tori let out a big sigh. She definitely shouldn't be on the streets this late at night. It was time to go home. She would take the day off tomorrow and continue her search.

Her chest and her ankle throbbed as she slowly stood up. She rubbed her chest, almost certain there would be a huge boot-sized bruise there when she woke up the next morning. At least the homeless man hadn't broken her rib cage. She couldn't say the same for her right ankle, though. She looked down as a sharp pain shot up her leg every time she tried to shift her weight onto that foot.

She limped back in the direction of her apartment.

"Great, just great," she muttered to herself, left shoe still squelching as right foot ached.

She had been limping back to her apartment block for almost 20 minutes when she saw a weird light emanating from one of the alleyways in front of her. The light was a swirl of neon green and purple, and it pulsed as if alive with a heartbeat.

This alleyway was just two blocks from her apartment, and she had never seen this kind of thing happen here before. Or anywhere, rather.

Her curiosity piqued, Tori limped quicker towards this alleyway. As she got closer, the light became brighter, and pulsed even quicker.

She stopped right in front of the alleyway, and was showered in a sea of swirling purple and green light. Immediately, she held up both hands to shield her eyes from the blinding light. Through her fingers, she saw a silhouette standing in the middle of the bright light. He was shaped like a large dome, reminding Tori of the homeless man she had run into earlier.

She could hear the man muttering to himself.

Perhaps he's insane, Tori thought to herself. But that wouldn't explain what this strange light was. She wasn't insane, was she? Yet she could see this bizarre light show.

She listened carefully and realised that she wasn't hearing the mutterings of a lunatic, there was a distinct rhythm and pattern to his mutterings. They rose and fell as the light pulsed around her. He was chanting.

I better get out of here, I shouldn't be out in the streets this late at night, Tori quickly turned to go before the man could see her, but before she even took her first step, the light stopped.

Darkness washed over her. Even the light from the streetlamps and the full moon above seemed a dull grey compared to what had just emitted from the alleyway.

Tori paused in her tracks, her eyes set on her apartment, her back half turned away from the alleyway. She was hoping the man could still not see her.

But, it turns out, he could.

"Victoria Paisley," he called out, as if his voice was amplified by speakers surrounding Tori's head, "known to her family as Vicky, and to her friends as Tori (as an act of rebellion against her parents' nickname), in search of her tabby cat Agent Felix, known to his master as Mister Snuffles, brown-grey in colour, with black stripes, who, at half-past nine this evening, left their apartment unit 14, number 53 Hunter Street, in the east vicinity of Shelbytown. Current afflictions: fractured ankle, bruised chest, light-induced migraine, and mild abrasion to the left knee."

Tori dropped a hand to feel her left knee. Sure enough, there was a patch of skin that had been rubbed off, probably when she fell after bumping into that homeless man. It didn't even hurt, she barely noticed it.

"I am so very glad," the man continued, "that you decided to stop by and pay a visit. Although... it is unwise to be out on the streets at this time of night."

Tori slowly turned around, her chest and ankle aching as she did so.

"Wha-, did you jus-, what, did you say that-, how did you-" she was, quite understandably, lost for words.

The man waved his hand at her nonchalantly.

"Please, questions later. For now, let me look at your injuries. Come towards me, away from the main street."

Tori turned her head and eyed her apartment, two blocks away. If she hadn't've rolled her ankle - or fractured as this man said, she could have made a run for it.

"It's okay, you can trust me." The man said, as if reading her thoughts. She had no other choice.

Tori limped forward, eyeing this man that seemed to know everything about her and Mister Snuffles - did he say that Mister Snuffles' name was Agent Felix??? There's no way this guy was right in the head, how could Mister Snuffles be Agent Felix? I have to get out of here, this guy's not right in the head. But how did he know my-

Tori had not noticed that as she limped towards the man, the man had started to approach her. He had reached her quickly, picked her up by her arms, and flung her towards the back of the alley.

Her body was sore all over as it collided into the cold, hard, wet pavement.

"Hey, what the hell-"

The man crouched above her. Tori tried to scramble away from him but he was too quick; in a swift, karate-chop motion, he hit his hand across the bridge of her nose.

A sharp, searing pain spread from the bridge of her nose through to the back of her head. The inside of her skull seemed to be on fire, and Tori was momentarily blinded by an intense pain.

Within seconds of recovering her vision, Tori felt the wind knocked out of her lungs for the second time that night; the man had dug the heel of his palm deep into her chest. He held it there as Tori struggled for breath. She gasped but no air passed through her mouth. The edges of her vision started to fade to black as she choked on nothingness.

He finally lifted his hand off her chest and Tori gasped for air. She turned to rest on her right arm, choking on the feeling of her lungs filling up.

Then the man stood up, a big dome towering above her. Tori was reminded of the moment the homeless man started kicking her. She automatically lifted her left hand to protect her face. She knew she couldn't fight back, or block any of his blows, but it was an automatic reaction.

The man lifted his knee up towards his chest, and brought it down on Tori's fractured ankle.

She gave a great yell as she was once again paralysed in sheer pain. She heard a distinct crack, and her foot went numb as the rest of her body felt like daggers had come out from under her skin.

Time stood still for a moment, before Tori found herself leaning on her hands, her mouth agape, drool dribbling down onto the ground below her. Her body was throbbing all over. As if she had forgotten to breathe for the last few moments, she sharply inhaled a lung full of air. Her breathing was rapid, and she realised she was crying, her tears mixing in with the rain that had pooled in between the pebbles in the ground.

"I know it hurts now," a voice above her said, calmly.

She looked up. It was the man. She had forgotten he was there.

"...But by the time I leave this alleyway, you won't feel a thing." He turned and began to walk out of the alley.

"Wait!" Tori called out to the man, reaching her hand out as if she could catch him, but he continued towards the main street. "Please!" Tori continued, "Please! Who are you? How do you know me? How do you know about my cat?"

"Oh, don't worry about the cat," the man kept continuing down the alleyway, yet his voice sounded as if it came from right next to her. "He'll come back when his task is completed. I don't know how long that will take, so maybe you should just... forget about him for the time being." And the man turned the corner and disappeared.

Tori jumped to her feet and ran towards the main street. She looked wildly in the direction he turned, but there was no one there. The streets were empty.

Suddenly remembering, she looked down at her body. She rubbed her chest, which wasn't sore anymore. In fact, her whole body was perfectly fine in a way that it had never been all her life. No niggling headache at the back of her eyes, no sore muscles, itchy spots on the skin, and... her ankle was painless!

She looked down at her watch. It was just after half-past one in the morning. What was she doing here, out in the streets at this time of the night? She ran back to her apartment building.


The alarm went off and Tori shot out her hand automatically, hitting the snooze button with years' worth of muscle-memory accuracy as her eyes were still closed.

Heavy with sleep, she struggled to open her eyelids. She looked out towards the opened blinds of her bedroom window. It was an overcast day, but for some reason Tori felt like it was going to be a good day. She sat up in bed, stretched her arms, and started getting dressed for work.

As she was heading into the kitchen, she passed by her laundry room and did a second take. There was a big litter box next to her washing machine, and three boxes of cat food cans were stacked against the walls.

That's... strange. I haven't owned a cat since I was eleven. Why did I buy all this cat stuff again? Oh! That's right... it must be for the neighbour.

Tori quickly finished her breakfast cereal, brushed her teeth, and made multiple trips from her laundry to carry out all the cat food and the litter box to the front of her neighbour's door. While she was carrying one of the boxes of cat food, she thought it was strange that it was already opened, and some cans were missing.

Her neighbour, Mrs Wellington, was a nice 86 year old lady. After her husband passed away and her children moved overseas, she had no family left and spent her time caring for her three cats. Tori often stopped by when she left for work, occasionally passing Mrs Wellington some food as an excuse to check in on her health.

Tori knocked on the door and waited the usual several minutes for Mrs Wellington to shuffle to the front door. Upon seeing it was Tori, Mrs Wellington opened the door wide and smiled, "Oh, Victoria, it is so lovely to see you again. What, what's all this then?" She gestured to the cat food and litter box on the floor.

"Oh, yeah, I got these for you! I can't remember when I bought them, but the expiry isn't for a while anyway!" Tori said cheerfully, bending over to pick up the boxes and carry them into Mrs Wellington's apartment.

The old lady moved aside and stared at the litter box left near the front door.

"Oh, dear," she said softly. "Has something happened to Mister Snuffles, Victoria?"

Tori dropped the boxes of cat food onto Mrs Wellington's kitchen counter, and looked at her with a confused frown. What is she talking about? Mr Snuffles? Who's that? Is she going senile?

Tori gave a small chuckle, "What are you talking about? Anyway, I have to head to work, are you okay with unpacking the cans yourself? I'll bring in the litter box into the front door for you to put away, that okay?"

Mrs Wellington looked taken aback, but had no choice but to nod and wave goodbye as her neighbour brought in the litter box and closed the door behind her.

February 24, 2020 07:42

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Vaibhav Sharma
06:50 Mar 05, 2020

Hey, Chloe. The story takes a little time to hook you, but when it does, it's difficult to let go. The structure and writing itself have a very dream-like quality to it. The abrupt ending sort of works in favour of the effect you were going for, I believe. The story itself has a nice pace to it. A well-written piece.


Chloe Lim
21:39 Mar 05, 2020

Thank you for your kind words :)


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