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The Hallway Troll

by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


Now we've been in the house for two weeks, the cat is out of the bag, err, out from under the bed. There is just so much space for a cat to maintain. Nightly prowls now take much longer, and everything still has to be marked and catalogued in that cute fuzzy head of his. He is slowly getting over his agrophobia because almost all of the external wall of the lounge room is window, which means he can see <gasp> sky rather than the next door neighbour's toilet window. Now that he has begun to deal with seeing great expanses of nothing up there, he has started to fully appreciate those valium like things called sunbeams and takes great great pleasure lolling in them in the early afternoon. If one could bottle contentment, I think it would contain a cat on the sunny spot of the carpet.

I have found simple delights that I have not previously known -- like the sound cat paws make on new and crispy carpet. Now that we have an enclosed garage, I got a great buzz of seeing my own cat's catprints on my windscreen this morning. Shmoggleberry seems almost like a different cat, he has a lot more energy and seems a lot more content in his new surroundings. Although I am still a bit sore about him taking up residence on Joel's bed, he otherwise is being more affectionate, and hasn't yet woke me up before 9am for breakfast. There is a certain serenity about the place that I have missed in my life for a long time -- its much like the first cool breeze on a hot and humid summer's day.

The house has a long hallway that extends all the length of the house. Its very bad feng shui, but Shmoggleberry loves it. Halfway along, there is a little alcove, for want of a better word, so that one can access the laundry, toilet and bathroom. Since both his litter box and feed station are in the laundry, its not entirely surprising that Shmoggleberry has staked out this square of carpet as his. Once the sun has moved far enough to the west that he can no lounger lounge around in sun beams, he moves to his spot in the hallway, waiting impatiently for his food to be delivered.

On the whole, I think that him harassing people moving up and down the hallway is understandable when he is hungry. I guess he assumes, as all cats do, that human's exist only to serve their masters, and therefore anybody walking in the hallway should be surely carrying his royal highness' supper. Although his habit of chasing and nipping the ankles of the poor hapless traveller was, on occasions, annoying, it was understandable from the cat's point of view.

Of course, I don't have a straight forward, easily understandable, pet. I have a cat. Even Joel is more understandable than the inner machinations of Shmoggleberry's consciousness. When I claim that Shmoggleberry has claimed his spot of carpet as his, I mean it. Even when not hungry, Shmoggleberry sits watch at his post, waiting for the latest victim to wander past, blissfully unaware of the consequences of walking through the cat's territory without prior approval, or without the appropriate security pass (which is cunningly similar to a can of cat food).

If one of us even takes just a few steps up the hallway to enter the loungeroom, Shmoggleberry will leap forth like the proverbial guerilla out from the jungle. He races forward in that funny side-ways cat swagger, hackles up, hair back, and hissing furiously. At the point between half way between his spot of the hallway and the enemy's position, he'll stand there, literally daring us to go any further. Proceeding without proper procedure is a futile act. Both Joel and I go barefoot at home, and we have the scars to show that this is a cat that will not be moved without a solid fight first.

Having a troll always on guard in the hallway is bad enough, at least he sleeps occasionally, and we do have plenty of forged security passes to get us through. (Any can will do). However, the ante was upped recently. At the end of the hallway proper, it opens out to the loungeroom on one side, and the other wall carries on for another 4 or so metres, so as to separate the kitchen & dining room from the rest of the lounge room. Joel and I were sitting at the dining table, looking forlornly at the mobile phone, and waiting anxiously for it to recharge so we could order the Friday night pizza fix. Joel was sitting so that he could see up the length of the hall. I was sitting nearer the kitchen, out of the Hallway Troll's line of sight.

"He's staring at me", utters Joel, after looking up the hall, somewhat perturbed. "Don't be silly," says I, "he's not staring at you, he's just looking in your general direction". "No, he's definitely staring right at me. He's up to something" surmised Joel. "You are way too paranoid". "Well look for yourself," Joel snapped in exasperation, "he's definitely plotting something".

I gingerly put my head around the corner just far enough to sneak a peek at The Hallway Troll. He was definitely acting suspiciously, as all I could see were a pair of the cutest ears, and two eyes full of cunning. He was doing the all innocent act, a sure fire sign of cattish guilt, but of course, I couldn't tell what his devilish little mind had come up with this time. "Oh, don't worry about, just ignore him", I proclaimed, entirely forgetting that the very worst thing one can do to a cat full of maleficence is to just plain ignore it.

It all happened very suddenly. Joel screamed. At almost the same moment, I heard the most spine-numbing screech akin to nails of a chalkboard, and saw a greyish blur appear and dissapear around the "dining room" corner, about two foot up the wall. This grey furry flash was followed by the sound of cat paws beating a very hasty retreat back to the safety of the hall alcove. Joel was still in complete shock, as he had not seen the cat coming at all, and the whole thing happened very near his most delicate bits. Of course, by the time I had registered what had happened, I was hysterical with laughter.

The cat had flung himself around the corner and made a great attacking leap into the air. When confronted by nothing but wall, instinct made him try to grab the wall he now found himself facing. Although claws are very good at climbing at innumerable objects, including one's slaves if pressed (they seem to yell a lot about it, but you can get right up the top of them if you need to), the wall offered no claw holds whatsoever, and he found himself sliding down the wall, all the time making that most cringeworthy nail-on-chalkboard screech. No wonder he ran back down the hall as fast as he could go.

Ten minutes I was still gasping for air -- the look on Joel's face was just the most precious look. Bastard Cat had now got Joel a good one - finally!!!! Oh, it was just wonderful. I was still giggling, when Joel sobered up and pointed out, quite correctly, that the cat had actually leapt at the exact location my head was in when I was taking the sneek peek at the cat. Had I stayed there, I would have been the victim of yet another Bastard Cat prank. He was plotting my comeuppance, the sod. My giggling stopped with a thunk. And you know the worst thing? I can't even think what this trick was for, I have been on my very best Slave behaviour ever since we moved!

Bastard Cat 4, Human 0.


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