Cozy Flash: “The Cat and the Conerian”

A gray cat with yellow eyes stands on its hind feet, staring at the camera.

A concerned frown creased Gonnor’s brow as he sipped his ale in the darkened tavern corner. He had been to this establishment many times, but something was different this evening. What it was he could not say. That is, until a muffled meow sounded, very faintly, from somewhere behind the wall at his back. Then it was obvious.

On every previous visit, a small, mangy orange cat had alternately lounged insouciantly by the fire or wandered grabbing scraps from beneath tables, generally ignored by the place’s patrons. Today there had been no sign of it.

There was another small, distant meow. And another. But it seemed that only the Conerian’s sharp hearing registered these. Gonnor mulled, then got up from the table.

Outside, around the other side of the wall, he found the cat. The outer wall was wooden, and the cat had gotten itself stuck in a gap in the lowest plank. Carefully, Gonnor pulled the edges of the wood aside, granting the cat egress. The feline showed its gratitude by immediately running back around the wall, through the open door, and back into the tavern.

Gonnor grunted to himself in something like a laugh and came back inside himself. He returned to his table and his drink and sat there, glancing around the place. The cat emerged from under one table even as he watched, and ducked under another.

Gonnor drained his cup and signaled for another. The place felt right again.

— Frederick Sheilira

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