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LJ Idol - Season 9, Week 5 - Build a Better Mousetrap

"Maybe you should just get a cat." Sophia's laughter rang out, and she grimaced, holding the phone away from her and making a rude gesture at it before putting it back to her ear.

"I'm serious, Soph," Margaret protested, mashing the lock button on her car keys and jugging the grocery bags while trying to keep the cell phone penned between her ear and her shoulder. "I don't know what it is, but it keeps making these clicking noises and I'm terrified that it's mice or rats or something."

"Like I said, maybe you should get a cat. Not even joking, sister. Laughter aside and all that, a cat might be the answer. Mine is the reason I haven't seen a cockroach in years." Margaret wedged a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke under her right arm and shuffled her way toward her apartment, fumbling with the keys again to get to her door key.

"I don't have time for a cat!" she protested feebly, unlocking the door and holding it open with her hip while she set down the soda bottle and a package of toilet paper. "I don't even have time for myself!"

"Maggie," Sophia said gently, "cats are therapeutic. Your husband left you, you're kind of obligated to get a cat now, it's a rite of passage. Newly single? Get a cat! Look at me, I have one and I'm still single." Sophia trailed off, realizing the implications of what she was saying. "... but not because of the cat! Come on, I'll drive down there, we can go to the shelter together."

Margaret sighed dramatically as she began to unload the plastic bags: she'd forgotten her canvas, reusable bags again. Why did she keep buying them? She literally never remembered them. She did have a lot of space now ... and 29 wasn't too young to ever find love again, cat be damned.

"How's tomorrow work?"


"Look at that one!" Sophia pushed her sunglasses up to the top of her head and sat down in the middle of the room as a herd of cats began headbutting her for attention. The shelter had their cats set up in a huge, open-air room and there were at least 30. Margaret hung back a little bit, anxiety creeping over her chest. She'd heard the noises again the night before, and they seemed louder and closer. But maybe she was being paranoid. And maybe, just maybe, a cat would help with that after all. She slowly crept farther into the room, watching as her best friend laid down on the concrete, laughing as waves of cats clamored euphorically over her, mewing in ecstasy.

"Okay, okay!" Sophia sat up and pulled a Ziplock bag out of her pocket. "Want some?" She shook it at Margaret. "I brought catnip treats. My own recipe!" She began to break the treats up into small pieces and toss them around, creating a feline mosh pit. Margaret shook her head. "I'd rather just look."

A few cats came over, rubbed themselves along her ankles and walked away, happy that they had left their marks. Margaret noticed a small calico sitting a few yards away, intensely studying a corner and ignoring the treat frenzy Sophia had created across the room.

"Hey little girl," murmured Margaret, creeping closer. "What are you up to?" The cat didn't even glance up, but remained fixated on whatever was going on in the corner. Margaret kept an eye on the cat, settling down in a chair a couple of feet away. Moments later, the calico pounced on something and turned around, pride shining in her eyes as she trotted over to Margaret and deposited it on her shoe.

Margaret looked down at what appeared to be a mangled cockroach, and over to the calico.

"I found the one," she shouted over to Sophia as she put her hand out for the cat to sniff. "I think she might be the solution to all of my problems." Margaret suspected Sophia might have heard her, but she was too busy communing with the feline world to notice or care. Margaret gently scooped up the calico and stroked her ears, thrilled to hear the purrs come like a roaring engine.

"Danica!" exclaimed Margaret to the cat, who continued to purr enthusiastically.


A month later, Danica had settled in to Margaret's apartment seamlessly, and she hadn't heard the noises in weeks. "You're my little good luck charm!" she'd exclaim to the cat, who would purr and trace a figure eight between her legs. Until mid-July.

"Did you hear that?" Margaret sat up, alarmed. Danica was asleep at the foot of the bed and seemed quite nonplussed about the entire situation. "Danica!" Margaret hissed. The cat stretched her legs in response and rolled over. Slowly, quietly, Margaret slipped out of bed and grabbed for her phone to use as a light source. 4:12 in the morning: if the noise was going to come back, couldn't it at least be more nice about what time it showed up?

"Danica, I think it's in the bathroom." No response from the cat, and Margaret cursed to herself. "Want a treat?" she said louder, in a higher pitch. The cat was at her side instantly, purring and making small chirruping noises. Margaret opened the door to the bathroom and flicked the light on: the scrabbling, rodent-like noises were coming from inside the walls, and they were definitely in here.

She opened the door to the linen closet and poked her head in. Danica followed, becoming interested in a Q-Tip that had fallen to the floor of the bathroom and batting it out of the way. The scratching noise came again. "Do you hear that?" she exclaimed to the cat, who sat on the floor with the Q-Tip hanging out of her mouth, her ears back. "Mrrp?" said Danica, standing up and trotting away toward the living room.

"Damn it, you're useless!" Margaret exclaimed, shoving aside towels and linens. She needed to get into the closet, needed to see if this rodent, creature, whatever it was was in the walls or in the closet itself. Margaret turned around to make sure the cat had left the bathroom with her prize, and shut the door behind her with a firm click so she could wedge open the linen closet door even farther. Margaret began to toss towels and sheets out onto the floor, and the scrabbling noise in the wall became more frenetic.Mutant mice? She had no idea, and didn't really care to find out, either. This was most unamusing.

A loud scratching noise issued from the other side of the bathroom door. "Not right now," she exclaimed, "I'm trying to see if it's in the closet. Hold on!" The scratching became more insistent, and Margaret figured that the cat was having a severe case of separation anxiety. She climbed off the shelf in the linen closet and went to shut the closet door behind her, when she saw Danica sitting on the bath mat, gnawing on her Q-Tip.

The scratching from the other side of the bathroom door stopped.
  • Current Mood: exanimate exanimate
Isn't that the way with cats? :P They get pampered and then they get lazy :P hehe ... still adorable though :) enjoyed reading this :)
Oh dear! lol Come on Danica, you have a job to do. Nicely done!
The Q-tip detail was priceless-- I could completely see that happening.

Things scratching in the walls... I hate it. One they're IN, it's ridiculously hard to get them OUT.
Loved reading this and Danica sounds like a perfect cat, with all the characteristics you highlighted....I wish to know about the scratching though..:P
The scratching at the other side of the door at the end was good. I would like to know what was making the scratching. At least Danica is with her to defend her...... maybe?
Oh, no! What is making the noise? D: D:

I loved this little story! I already care about the main character and her cat, and I got pretty spooked at the end there...
Wow, major creep factor at the ending - I'm left wondering what's out there!
It's apt that you chose a calico. They do tend to be avid hunters, until they get spoiled!
The comment, “Look at me, I have one, and I’m still single,” actually made me laugh out loud at work. I also loved the image of the “feline mosh pit,” as well as “Want a treat” being the only phrase that got a response from the cat, and the delightful interaction between Margaret and Danica in the bathroom. I was so taken with how adorable these two were with each other, and how precious that Q-tip scene is, that I didn’t even see this bizarre creepy cliffhanger coming. However are they both going to get out of that bathroom now? Fabulous!