The lone predator, the silent assassin, I felt invincible last night, but what had started as a routine hunting expedition turned out to be a much more dangerous affair. Creeping through the tall grass of the wilderness, I listened and watched. Spring had just begun, which meant there would be sweet, succulent younglings; but they would be faithfully guarded by their mothers or families. All around me, the sounds of life filled the moonless night. Were I inclined to show the weakness that is emotion, I would have purred gleefully at all of the prospects around me. That night I would feast like the king I was!
Oh so many choices before me! Was I hungry for squirrel, pigeon, or maybe even bat? Perhaps I would have one of each! The air tingled with activity. How to choose my first meal?
And like a sign from the heavens, my eyes fastened upon it. High in a nearby birch tree sat a sparrow’s nest and three helpless sparrow chicks. Wonderful, marvelous, nestlings, still too small to do anything but squawk—and the mother was nowhere to be seen! I had truly hit the jackpot.
I crossed the vast field between myself and the tree in total silence, my ears low and tail swishing rhythmically. My claws sank into the bark of the birch tree as I carefully scaled the trunk, making sure to stay on the far side from where the nest perched. The higher I climbed, the more my ears swiveled, listening closely for the telltale chirps of the mother swallow. As a mighty warrior, I knew I must never be caught unawares. Reaching the branch on which my prey sat, I checked my surroundings once again. Still, I saw, heard, and smelled no sign of the mother. This was too good to be true!
Being a feline, my balance was second to none as I crept along the branch. I kept low and close to my tightrope, inching forward. This was the pivotal moment when I would either emerge as the victorious hunter or be forced to abandon my mission. The nestlings loomed larger in my superior vision. So close was I now that I could smell their youth. It was a mouth-watering sensation. Finally, I was close enough, and still, the helpless meals had no idea I was upon them. My muscles tended as I scrunched down for the kill strike.
Like a bolt of grey lightning, I launched through the air and onto the nest, my razor-sharp teeth catching a chick by the throat. My leap had knocked one of the other chicks from the nest to its doom—a two-for-one special!
As I turned to carry my prize down the birch, the fur along my back raised in alarm. I could smell her very close to me. With a deafening cry, the mother sparrow came swooping down from the branches above me. Looks like I’m ordering to-go, I quipped to myself, proud of my amazing wit.
If I had been a bolt of lighting before, I was now just an indiscernible streak of grey. My trusty claws propelled me across the branch and back down the trunk in mere seconds. Mother sparrow had missed her first strike but was circling around to come at me again. I zoomed past the other nestling as I ran for the safety of my mansion, giving the second meal a forlorn glance. No seconds tonight, it seemed.
The tall grass around me rustled as the sparrow made agonizingly close dives toward me. My safety was in sight! Only a couple more yards to go. Locked tight in my jaws, the nestling fought weakly to get free, life draining quickly from the pitiful bird. I was alive with energy, swerving through the field with ease. My legs pulsed with strength. I would be dining soon.
Within feet of my home, the sparrow landed a lucky blow on my back. I rolled to the side, the bird’s momentum pushing me off course. Quickly I sprang to my feet, baby sparrow still in my possession. The mother was coming back in for another blow, and I didn’t have anywhere to flee. Reluctantly, I spat the chick out and rolled onto my back just as the adult sparrow was on me.
She and I fought claw to talon, rolling around the grass arena. The fiesta sparrow landed several good gashes on my stomach and sides, but ultimately my four deadly paws and a clean bite to the neck silenced my attacker. I flipped back onto my feet, refusing to show any sign that my injuries were painful.
In the end, I had won not one, not two, but three meals that night. Proudly striding through the push door to my mansion, I carried the mother sparrow now in my jaws. This would make a fine gift for my servant. She had always served me well, so she deserved the largest prize.
I hopped onto her bed and happily dropped the sparrow onto her chest. In my closest imitation of her language, I awoke her.
“Meow. Meow. Meeeeoooooowwwww.”
Lazily she squinted at me, smiling to see her master’s face, “Good morning, Mr. Tickles. What have you been—”
She stopped mid-sentence, probably awestruck by my catch.
“Edward Ferdinand Tickles, what did you do?!” she shrieked.
I still don’t understand what she said next, but her ungratefulness will not be overlooked.
Originally posted in response to a writing prompt on reddit.com.