Finnigan and Mr. Bubs

Write what you know is an often used piece of advice that I have turned to regularly. Many of my stories (short and novel sized) revolve around what I like to call “complicated family relationships” because that’s something I know all too well. But during my experimentation phase in the first year of the pandemic, ReedsyPrompts contest #48 was the first time my knowledge of cats found its way into my work. Specifically, my cats.

When I read the prompt “Write a story that features a protagonist with an archnemesis,” the first thing that came to mind was a recent incident with Bubs that had Mark and I in stitches. From that, I created my version of the world my cats live in. And although the ending isn’t exactly a twist, it is a turn. I wanted to add that shift in tone at the end to highlight the difference between how we view our cats, and how our cats might view themselves. I intended for the bulk of the story to have a more serious tone, but that final “battle” at the end highlights the comedy in what is actually a very silly situation.

So, who is Bubs and Finn’s archnemesis?

It was a warm Saturday morning, and Finnigan was on the hunt. He was young and inexperienced, but he was bold and full of energy. There wasn’t anyplace he wouldn’t explore. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t hunt. He thought of himself as the best hunter in these parts. In fact, if it weren’t for his lack of depth perception, this one-eyed youngster probably would have been the greatest hunter.

Finnigan was just about to go in for the kill, when someone tackled him from behind.

“Morning!” said Mr. Bubs as he pinned his brother to the ground. Although they were roughly around the same size, Bubs had a little more bulk to him and could pin down his brother without breaking a sweat. That’s not to say that Finnigan wasn’t capable of fighting back; sometimes he won these playful wrestling matches.

They weren’t brothers by blood, but they had never been apart. They had even come from the same over-crowded hell hole, moving around from place to place, before they ended up here. They considered themselves brothers and they were bonded for life.

“You broke my concentration, Bubs,” sighed Finnigan when he was finally able to free himself.

“You’ll get it next time,” said Mr. Bubs nonchalantly as he began to look for his own prize.

Mr. Bubs was also a fairly decent hunter. He had the natural born instincts; he just didn’t necessarily have the skill. Still, even though he wasn’t the best hunter in these parts, he had a look that demanded respect. Folks were often encouraged to refer to him as “Sir Bubs”, or “Mr. Bubs”. He had only ever let one person call him “Sweet Bubs”, and that was Mother.

Finnigan and Mr. Bubs prowled around together for a little while, keeping an eye out for a worthy prize. Occasionally, they would split up only to rejoin when one of them signalled that he had found something promising. But eventually, they grew tired and decided it was time for a rest.

“We should visit Old Maximus,” suggested Mr. Bubs. “I bet he’s found the perfect napping spot.”

He was not wrong.  Old Maximus was, as his name suggested, quite old and spent most of his time napping.  At times, glimpses of the great hunter he once was shone through. But nowadays his best skill was finding the perfect spot to rest and nap. He knew all the best places in the area, and what was best could change depending on the time of day, the weather, or even the moods of Mother and Father. His second best skill was convincing others to feed him, so as he had grown old he had also grown to be fat and lazy. He was content, however, and as long as this old man was happy, then everyone around him was just fine with the way he chose to live his life.

“There he is!” called Finnigan as he spotted the old-timer. “Bit of a climb today. Looks like fun!”

And without another word, the boys bounded up to meet Old Maximus.

“What are you doing?!” growled the old man when the boys arrived. “There’s not enough room for you here. Get lost!”

Finnigan found a spot close by that wasn’t too close to Old Maximus. Mr. Bubs, on the other hand, was never really too keen on the idea of “personal space” and sat right up against the old man. Old Maximus rolled his eyes and considered letting the youngster win this one. Besides, there was another good napping spot nearby.

“You boys will want to be on your toes today,” he cautioned as he began to make his escape. “The Cleaner is in town.”

“What? That’s not possible,” scoffed Finnigan. “I would have heard by now. The Cleaner doesn’t exactly make a quiet entrance.”

“I haven’t heard anything suspicious,” agreed Mr. Bubs.

Old Maximus shook his head. He had been around long enough. He knew the signs.

“Look around you, boys. Everything is out of place. And Father was acting in that peculiar way early this morning. I tell you, it won’t be long until we hear The Cleaner coming.”

And with that, Old Maximus made his escape. He retreated to the most peaceful napping spot he could find where no young hunters or frightful Cleaners would be able to disturb him. He prayed to Mother that she would take pity on them today and bless them all with extra food.

The boys hadn’t been resting long when they heard a strange sound in the distance.

Mr. Bubs looked at Finnigan. “Do you think it’s…?”

“It might be. Too soon to tell.”

Not long after, Miss Minerva appeared. Although the boys were very familiar with this formidable hunter, she rarely spent much time in this area. She preferred to live in the high lands. In fact, she typically only appeared when there was a chance at getting food. And when there was the promise of food nearby, Mr. Bubs was on alert.

When he spotted her opening up a secret stash of food, he bolted down from his napping place and went headfirst into her meal. But Miss Minerva had been blessed by Mother and Father. She had the power to hide her food in a way that none of the other hunters could. The moment Mr. Bubs appeared, her food was hidden from him.

“Missed it again,” he sighed.

“That’s mine!” she hissed. “Get your own!”

“Sister!” called Finnigan and he too jumped down from his napping place. “Have you–”

“I’m not your sister!” she spat.

“But sister, have you heard if The Cleaner is here?”

“The Cleaner? Of course it’s here! Can’t you hear it?! Fools.”

Before they could ask her anything else, she disappeared back to the high lands. Finnigan noticed that she was running almost in the exact same direction that The Cleaner was coming from. He thought she was very brave to be doing that. No doubt she had her own special hiding place, though. She knew every square inch of the high lands. She had been places Finnigan still had not yet ventured to.

“What should we do, brother?” asked Mr. Bubs.

“Stand our ground, I suppose. Not much else we can do. I don’t plan on running and hiding, though.”

“Me neither.”

They waited for some time, trying to hunt and explore, but still nervously waiting for the familiar sounds to signal the arrival of The Cleaner.

It came quietly, as it always did at first. It usually appeared with Father, pretending to be a benevolent soul. But all the hunters knew the true nature of The Cleaner. All of a sudden, the noise began as The Cleaner howled throughout the land, disrupting the quiet lives of the hunters.

“Stand your ground,” said Finnigan cautiously. “If we show The Cleaner that we are not afraid, it will leave us alone.”

“I will stand with you, brother.”

They stood their ground, and they felt they had a chance. Perhaps The Cleaner would leave them be. But then, The Cleaner did something unexpected. One long tendril emerged from behind it’s back and began to poke and prod and the once peaceful landscape.

“The fiend!” howled Mr. Bubs. “I will not stand for this!”

“Bubs, no! Be careful!” called Finnigan as he watched his brother charge at the beast.

~ ~ ~

“Babe, come see this!”

“What is it?” As I came around the corner, I could hear him laughing.

“So, I was using the hose attachment on the vacuum…”

I watched as he lifted the hose towards one of our cats, and turned the vacuum on.

“Bubs is going berserk,” he laughed as we both watched Bubs paw at the end of the hose. The face he made when his paw met with the suction was priceless.

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