Bharat Award Winner 2014-2015

PARTNERS IN CRIME – Award Winning Short Story ( Bharat Award )

A short story by

Miss Annie Christopher.

Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom

Winner of The First Bharat Award - (2014-2015)

(Photo used with the kind permission of Grant David Read)

The small white cat delicately dipp edits paw into a rain puddle bending down to sniff the water’s edge where moments before a small brown sparrow had been bathing. She’d done all that the hunter in her decreed.   Flattened to the damp fragrant rain soaked earth with tail flicking she had uttered her bird chat call.  Then with the speed and attitude of a snow leopard she had suddenly sprung into action racing soundlessly from her hiding place under the bush towards her prey, who in return had taken flight where upon reaching the safety of a nearby tree shrieked loudly a warning clarion call announcing “cat on the prowl” to foraging sisters and brothers.  A great fluttering erupted from the surrounding area as numerous prospective prey answered the urgency of the message, flying noisily to safety.

With flattened ears, hunched shoulders and an annoyed flick of her tail, the white cat sloped off to her favourite resting place among a fragrant and colourful bed of nasturtiums, where she feverishly washed off the mud from her paws and underbelly.  Having cleaned all traces of her failed assault from her soft white fur, she then settled down to sleep on the problem,pink nose and paws twitching with her dreams. Oblivious to all around her, she does not realize whilst she is deep in slumber that the birds had returned to their feeding and ablutions with guarded caution. The earth now steaming as it warmed in sunny daylight that follows rain.

The cat awoke some time later,stretching and yawning in the lengthening sunset.  She scratched her ears and under her chin whilst working out where she was. Deciding it must be feeding time she drank some water from the puddle before climbing through the cat flap to her home.   She called her mistress on the way who responded with a bowl of fresh food in her spot.  Having satiated her hunger, she settled on the window sill to watch the dusk antics of the wildlife in her garden.

Next door an elderly couple cast bread and wild bird seed around the woodland area at the bottom of their garden.  This was visited at night by mice,squirrels, badgers, foxes, crows and pigeons.  The smaller birds encouraged by fat balls and elevated bird tables with slippery poles that the white cat had tried several times to scale without success.

Underneath the open window where she rested motionless the water in a raised pond her mistress enjoyed watching,began to reflect the red glow of sun as it slipped below the horizon.  Its bright beams slowly being replaced by a full golden moon rising in its stead.   Muted,dappled light spread across the garden through the trees that surrounded the furthest parameter.   The cat was even more unsuccessful in its hunting forays in this light for being pure white was one of the last things to be visible as night settled.

Miniscule flies skittered across the sunset reddened water surface which now began to reflect the circular, swooping flight of bats causing the cat to look up and become alert, back in hunter mode.

A sudden thud behind her made her turn round.  Something was flapping round the room.  She instinctively crouched ready to pounce on the black mouse shaped, fluttering object as it hit the opposing wall.  It then momentarily landed on the floor, before almost immediately returning to flight, heading for the open window and the waiting cat.

The little white cat rose up on her haunches, blocking the space; claws extended swiping with her paws, caught it,pinning it down with her body weight and mouth. Her jaws fixed on its jugular and after a few moment frantic flapping as it succumbed to it’s killers hold the bat stopped moving.  The cat releasing its hold, gave the bat a cursory wash before commencing on her late unexpected freshly killed supper, completely ignoring the frantic voice of her mistress.

“A bat, she’s killed and is eating a bat!” her shocked mistress exclaimed to the ether not expecting a response.   “What to do now?” “They are a protected species”.  Talking to her self her mistress peered cautiously through the net curtains covering the window hoping in her heart of hearts the neighbours had not been watching.    No one in view.  Next move close the curtains prise the beheaded prey holding it between two fingers, it’s life blood dripping on her pale bedroom carpet as she carried it to the kitchen’s washable flooring in the hopes of persuading the cat with the dark red evidence of her response to a primal call spattered across her once pristine white fur, to follow her and spoils out of sight from prying eyes.

Safely in the kitchen, the cat cried to continue it’s feast.

Her mistress scolds her with a sight and allows her to continue.  She is a cat after all, and that is what cats do.   She reminds the cat of the bat she had caught and dragged through the cat flat a few days before.   On that occasion she’d been caught before she could kill and the bat had been released back into the garden none the worse for wear.

A knock at the door.  “Whatever next” her mistress anxiously asksof the ether.  She closes the connecting doors to kitchen, bedroom and hallway, taking her time to answer.

“We are so excited” It’s the elderly couple from next door dressed in his and hers matching RSPB Sweatshirts, jog bottoms and trainers.   “We have bats in the garden.  We hadn’t really noticed them before today.  We have just put a night camera in place and are filming” They say.  “Have you seen them yet” they ask.

“In truth yes I have” says the little white cat’s mistress, lowering her eyes and reddening as she realizes there are blood spots on her clothes.  “Quite closeup as it happens.” is her wry response, hoping they won’t notice the blood on either her or the floor at the other end of the hall.   “Are you just filming your garden?   Are you putting food out for them?”

“Well you know us, can’t resist giving nature a hand.”   They speak in unison smiling at each other indulgently. “We plan on showing the night filming at our next group meeting”   “Yes just our garden, unless of course you would like us to film yours as well”.

Ignoring their request she speaks.   “Have you ever wondered if the little animals you feed at night become prey?” Asks the cat’s mistress.  “I mean all those little mice that come out to collect seed dropped by the birds are a sitting target in some ways” she squints at them watching their response. “We have owls as well as bats and mice are their favourite food, not to mention cats and crows. All of which live in the area.” She continues, prodding for an answer.

“Yes, well, we wanted to talk to you about your cat as a matter of fact” they say.  The cat’s mistress starts to feel uncomfortable and worried, nodding and waiting with lowered eyes for what might be said.

‘We wonder if you would put a bell round her neck to warn the wildlife she is on the prowl?”

“I’ll give it some thought” by now the white cat is scratching at the kitchen door wanting to come out and see what is going on.

“Look I’m sorry to seem rude, but I am in the middle of clearing up something quite messy at the moment and need to get on before the stains dry, thank you for sharing your news and I will definitely think about a bell for the cat”. She closes the door on surprised faces as she speaks, knowing she is being rather rude, but not caring.  I’ll apologise in the morning she thinks.

She lets the cat out of the kitchen and kneels, opening a cupboard under the sink to find her cleaning cloths and potions needed to remove the blood from her clothes, the carpet, window paintwork and kitchen floor. 

The little white cat has lodged herself on a comfortable chair in the sitting room and is now sleepily cleaning her fur once again, ready to contentedly snuggle up, full bellied for the night.

Some time later ravaged body disposed of, cat, carpets and floor cleaned, order is restored, oblivious in sleep, the little white cat’s mistress watches over her as she twitches in her dreams.  Incarnate evil on four legs and protective owner bound by a morbid secret.  Partners in crime.

Comments by Annie Christopher on winning Bharat Award

This is amazing Gop and I feel so very honoured and a bit overwhelmed. My daughter is thrilled as is my son. (Yes of course I give permission for you to use it.... I love the Web Page.....) this will spur me on to complete my book of poems I will publish next year and to complete a children's story I am currently writing..... you know what dear friend I am so lucky to have such a wonderful connection with your great country

Comments by the Judges

Vihang A. Naik : Poet ( Gujarat, India )

"The grabbing story 'Partners In Crime' by Annie Christopher is exciting, captivating, with some thrill which is carried and maintained till the end , with language which holds you on - Vihang A. Naik @ "

Prof. Rajendra K. Padhi ( Odisha , India )

The winning story Partners in Crime explores a world of our love fought with danger. The wonderful creativity lies in its simplicity of depicting the irony that always runs behind our expectations. ..A brilliant story we all should read.

Dr. Ram Sharma ( Uttarpradesh,  India )
This story contains wonderful mixture of intellect and imagination.It transports us into the world of fantasy with reality . Wonderful effort. Congratulations.

Comments by The Founder of Bharat Award
I am so glad that the first award gone straight into 'The Great English Country' from where our land inherited the basics of a beautiful language called English. By winning this title Annie has given us the opportunity to express our gratitude. Congratulations!

Gopakumar Radhakrishnan