Today’s writing prompt was really fun. I didn’t plan on taking inspiration from an image, but I came across this photo I had “borrowed” a long time ago. I’m sure it came from either Facebook or Reddit, but I think original credit belongs to Richard Saunders. I googled the name and a lot of different Richard Saunders(s) popped up. Interestingly, and completely off topic, Richard Saunders was also a pseudonym Benjamin Franklin used to write under. Now you know.
Richard apparently has many topiary cat images, but my writing prompt today was inspired by this one:
I hope you enjoy it. It’s more cheerier than the last one.
Writing Prompt: Hedge Cat
“The hedge cat keeps attacking people.”
William jolted awake from the mess of papers he had fallen asleep on and looked about in confusion. “Wha-?”
Turning awkwardly in his chair, Will blearily found Megan frowning at him from the archway of his room. Peering over his shoulder, she hurried forward to look eagerly at the chaos of notes he had strewn all about his desk. “Is this your new transference spell?”
Will felt his cheeks flush in embarrassment and began to hastily pull the papers into a somewhat haphazard pile. He hated when people tried to read his spells before he had finished perfecting them. “Yes. Well… mostly.” He grabbed three quills poking out from the stack and frowned when he saw they were still wet with ink. Oh, that’s not good.
Megan picked up an alchemist’s weight and hefted it up and down with one hand. “Humph. You better hope this one goes better than your Arcane Eye. GW’s still mad about having to replace his favorite wizard hat. And his eyebrows still haven’t fully grown back.”
Will snatched the weight out of her hands. GW was the Grand Wizard and he wasn’t too fond of Will at the moment. He still wasn’t sure what had gone wrong with his Arcane Eye. Explosions definitely weren’t meant to happen.
“What were you saying?”
“Oh! Yes! I thought you might like to know the cat hedge keeps attacking people.”
“What? But… that’s not supposed to happen!” He stood rapidly, hesitating for just a moment when he heard his stack of transference notes fall over. Sighing heavily, he waved Megan ahead of him, her robes shushing against the stone floor, a comforting counterpoint to his own.
“Yes, well, I had assumed not.” She grinned at him over one shoulder, and he felt his heart skip a beat.
They had hit it off in their first year of arcane school and quickly gone from friends to lovers. Three years later and he still couldn’t believe how lucky he was. She was a very focused student and a talented mage. He was… not.
They left the castle swiftly as he went over his spell in his head, trying to figure out what he did wrong this time. Entering the gardens, they passed several other students and faculty casting various earth spells. Others were simply strolling, enjoying the quiet peace the gardens provided.
Or… usually provided.
Long before they reached the bestial-shrub menagerie, or as students liked to call it, the B.S. zoo, they could hear the sounds of men cussing and a great deal of scuffling taking place. And over all that, a strange yowling that sounded hollow and reverberated through the surrounding trees. Will and Megan hurried their pace.
Emerging from a blossoming corridor, they skidded to a halt as they took in the sight before them. Several gardeners were waving rakes and wands at Will’s hedge cat. All to no avail.
The hedge was over twelve feet tall and shaped to look like a giant kitty. Will had spelled it to sit near the edge of the menagerie’s pond. It was only supposed to lap from the water, and then every few minutes sit up and look around before returning to its drink. It certainly was not supposed to be playfully batting at the passersby!
“Stay here!” He shouted to Megan over his shoulder as he ran forward, pulling his wand from his robes at the same time. Wands weren’t really needed to cast spells, but they were a great focusing agent and almost all the students used them.
Skidding to a halt next to an exhausted gardener, Will raised his wand and started trying to reverse the spell. Reversing spells were sometimes harder than casting the damned things in the first place. He soon felt sweat rolling down his temple and back.
He thought he almost had it when the hedge cat suddenly whirled and pounced right at him. Losing his concentration, he fell back just managing to avoid the clawed branches of a giant leafy paw.
“Stay back!” The gardener next to him rushed forward, wand emitting a shower of sparks, forcing the hedge back. Scrambling to his feet, Will retreated to Megan’s side, breathing hard.
Clenching her own wand in one hand, Megan watched the men and cat battle with unwavering concentration. Will refocused and wracked his brain on what he did wrong with the spell in the first place. Without knowing where he went wrong he wouldn’t be able to reverse it.
A slender hand suddenly gripped his arm as Megan excitedly jumped up and down. “Will, you have to alter it!”
“Alter it?” Watching as the cat playfully swiped first one man, then another, an idea began to form.
Running back into the fray, he raised his wand and began the complicated incantation of animation. The hedge cat slowly calmed, but continued to stalk in a circle, agitated. When he neared the end, he added a slight transference invocation. Everyone watched happily as the beast pawed halfheartedly at a gardener one last time, before prowling back to the pond’s edge to lap peacefully from the water.
A couple of the gardeners came over to slap Will on the back and thank him. One glared at him and began picking up broken branches while muttering something under his breath about damning students.
Megan ran up to him and threw herself at him in a wild hug, laughing gaily. “I knew you could do it!”
Will felt his own face split into a wide grin. “Thanks to you!” He laughed and squeezed her tight making her squeal.
“I just gave you a suggestion. You’re the one that altered your original spell.” She pulled back slightly to look up at him. “What did you do?”
He placed a quick peck on her lips and let her go. “Transference!” At her confused look, he added, “I removed a portion of the cat-like nature. I must have overdone it with the feline essence when I cast the first spell.”
Walking over to the hedge cat, they both started adjusting leaves on the now content kitty, trying to hide some of the damage the poor thing had taken. “But you said you did a transference.” Megan arched one brow in question.
Frowning guiltily, Will avoided her gaze. “Yep. I transferred a smidge of the magic out.”
Hand on her hips, Megan laughingly grimaced at him. “Will. Where did you put the extra essence?”
Just then the booming voice of the Grand Wizard resonated throughout the grounds. “WILLIAM DUNCAN TATE! REPORT TO THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS! NOW!”
Megan jumped and slapped her hands to her mouth, horrified. “Will.” She whispered. “Where did you put the extra essence?”
Cringing, he turned to look up at the top of the castle where the council chambers sat. “I might have put it in the Grand Wizard’s new hat.” He slowly trudged his way back across the grounds and mumbled, “Which means GW’s new wizard hat is probably ambushing everyone that comes near it.” Including the Grand Wizard. Muffled giggling sounded from behind him. “It was the first thing that popped into my head!”
This time loud gales of laughter followed him back to the castle.
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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