The Fiery Devil Ball
by Christopher Partin
The fiery devil ball flies along the wall and then the carpet. It moves quickly, evades my attempts to capture it. It crawls up the wall, bounces in circles, up and down, left to right, but no matter how high I jump or how close I get, it always manages to escape my grasp.
Even more baffling is how Dave, my roommate, just sits on the couch smiling, does nothing to help. Humans can be so ignorant sometimes. Did I say sometimes? I meant all the time. Can you believe Dave even wattles around in a big ceramic tub of water everyday? Who does that? But he wastes most of his time in front of a strange box with funny moving pictures inside. Why do that when there are so many things to explore and play with? Like the threads poking out from the couch pillows, for instance.
Sometimes I have to teach Dave how to eat. He likes to stab his food with these ugly silver pitchforks, but I don't understand why. He's got a tongue, that's all he needs. Honestly I'm appalled at how little he uses his tongue for anything, really, especially bathing. That guy is the filthiest creature I've ever known.
Yesterday there was a bird sitting on the ledge outside the window, tweet tweeting, and you know what Dave did? He smiled and waved at it. He waved! Is he crazy? I told him, I've told him many times, you gotta get down low and watch it, wait for the right moment, and then pounce. But no, that lumbering idiot waves and acts like a lunatic. He lets a perfectly good meal fly away.
I tell Dave a lot of things, but whenever I do all he does is look at me like an idiot, smiles, and goes, “meow meow meow,” whatever the hell that means. Sometimes, I think he needs special assistance, I really do. I hate to say that about him because I love him, but come on. The guy obviously needs some help.
The fiery devil ball, the thing that sometimes invades our house, disappears again. I think it may be gone for good so I stretch, yawn, and curl up into a ball on this bed of books spilling out of Dave's backpack. But just as soon as I get comfortable, that damn demon shows up again, taunts me, bounces up and down along the edge of the room.
Now I know what you're thinking. Why am I working so hard? Why don't I just curl up and eat some of the god awful food Dave keeps getting me (even though I've told him over and over again that pizza is where it's at)? And the main reason is that even though Dave is sort of a stupid pet, I care about him, you know? I really do. I want to protect him. So when evil demons start sprouting out of the walls, I want to fight them off before they eat his brain, or what's left of it that is.
I bound across the room and leap and whack at the demon, hoping for a fatal strike, but instead it moves out of the way at the last second and now I'm frustrated. How does it always do that? I jump and leap and swipe and even bring out my claws, which is something I never do unless I'm on Dave's chest. I go berserk. But it does nothing. Nothing.
Exhausted, I take a step back to assess my game plan. I think and think but before I know it the demon is gone again, probably realizing it's been bested by a more powerful adversary. For the rest of the night I'm wary, because I know how tricky the demon is, how quickly it comes back, but I think it's gone.
Dave has that black thing against his ear, the thing he uses when he wants to talk to himself. He says how Pete (that's what he keeps calling me, no matter how many times I tell him my name is Balthazar) really likes that laser pointer. I have no idea what a laser pointer is, but if that's the name of the food he's been buying me, he's sadly mistaken.
I walk into the dining room, jump up on the chair, and onto the table. I find a nice stack of papers he just finished signing, nicely laid out for me to lie on.
Yes, having pets can be hard, especially stupid ones, but sometimes you gotta have them to be happy, you know? And they can be difficult work, but they're worth it. Protecting Dave is a full time job, but I'm up for the task.
I close my eyes, curled up and snug, content to know that Dave is safe under my watch. I begin to fall asleep. I'm a bit behind on my nineteen hour sleep schedule.
Christopher Partin is a writer of speculative fiction, an avid reader, quote collector, space traveler, tentacle expert, and wielder of the fabled thagomizer. You can reach him at email@example.com
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Nine Lives of a Cat'
'In Pale Green Eyes'