Below is my first attempt at a story after reading Save the Cat over the weekend. It’s also based on last Friday’s prompt from Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge, to include the phrase “there are no exits” and tell the story in ~1000 words.
Caitlin’s fork stabbed the table where the chocolate cake had been moments before.
“Trust me,” her cousin Skylar said through a stuffed mouth, “I’m doing you a favor. You can’t metabolize desserts.”
Aunt Terri, still in her flour-dusted pizza apron, glared at the back of Skyler’s head before swearing at the calico cat that was licking a dropped pepperoni.
Skylar leaned towards Caitlin. “Hey, Kate, I need you to do that spooky-find-stuff thing and go get Aunt Terri’s spare keys.”
Caitlin blinked. “Why do you need her keys?”
Skylar rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a baby, it’s for a prank. And I need you to come with me tonight when the restaurant’s closed. Tell your dad you’re sleeping over at my place. It’ll be fun.”
“I can sleep over at your place?”
“Yeah! Maybe we can do something with your hair while we’re waiting.”
Caitlin looked at Skylar’s perfect highlights and the cut that flattered her thin face. She touched her own long, limp ponytail.
“Okay,” Caitlin said, and closed her eyes, thinking of the spare keys and the million little drawers along the walls of her aunt’s office. After a moment, she stood up, walked past her aunt’s turned back, and slipped into the office.
She opened a little plastic drawer. Her stomach twisted a little bit with guilt as she pocketed the keys.
Caitlin immediately walked into an upturned chair in the dark restaurant.
“Sorry,” Caitlin said, feeling her cousin’s glare. She ran a nervous hand over the braids in her hair.
Skylar thrust a screwdriver at her. “Take down the Exit signs and tell me when you’re done.” She stormed off towards the office, ignoring Caitlin’s weak protest.
The signs were easy to take down. There was a weird logo on the back of each, all spikes and circles. Caitlin almost fell off the chair she was standing on when a shadow meowed loudly up at her.
“Mr. Whiskers!” The calico meowed again. “You’re right, this isn’t a very funny prank.”
He chirped and cocked his head.
“You think we should get dessert before telling Skylar the signs are done? Good idea.” The cat turned and walked towards the kitchen. Caitlin followed.
The humming deep freeze had a lock. Mr. Whiskers purred loudly and rubbed against the cold steel. Caitlin put a hand on the lock, defeated.
She imagined all her aunt’s fancy desserts lining the shelves inside, frozen cannolis and tiramisu and more, and pulled down on the lock in frustration. The lock opened.
“Huh, she didn’t lock it tonight,” Caitlin whispered.
Mr. Whiskers meowed triumphantly as Caitlin pulled open the heavy door. Just inside was a plate of tiramisu, waiting for her. And Mr. Whiskers.
She sat on the floor, scraping some cream off onto a second plate for the cat before getting a first bite onto her fork.
“What do you think you’re doing!” Skylar’s arms were full with books, a folder, and a little box. “I told you to come get me when you finished with the signs.”
Caitlin put down her fork and started to apologize, but they both heard the door open upstairs, Aunt Terri’s voice calling for Mr. Whiskers. He ran up the stairs, chirping and meowing loudly.
Caitlin could just make out Aunt Terri saying, “Is that so?” to Mr Whiskers, and what might have been snapping fingers, before the stairs creaked with footsteps. Skylar bolted back out into the dining room.
Caitlin felt queasy, but followed her cousin.
The dining room was full of a weird blue light, and Skylar was slapping her hands against the wall, crying, “There’s no door, there’s no door!”
Caitlin looked around. The front windows were… gone. So were the doors. There was no exit of any kind.
She grabbed Skylar and pulled her down into a booth as Aunt Terri stepped out of the kitchen door.
“Girls,” Terri said, “I don’t want to play games. Fess up and we’ll get this over with.”
The cat meowed helpfully. “Yes, Mr. Whiskers, I know you got some cream. And you’ll be gassy later.”
Skylar opened the box little box from the office, pulled a small green rock and thrust it at Caitlin. “Point this at Terri. Imagine that she doesn’t remember us being here. Do it, hurry!”
Caitlin looked at the stone, green and wand-shaped. Skylar was still talking, but Caitlin didn’t care. Her stomach ache was gone. She felt a new fear, then, of never understanding tonight, of going back to a world where Skylar was always in charge.
“Damn it, Kate, do what I tell you!” Skylar hissed.
Caitlin closed her eyes and breathed deep. “I hate it when you call me Kate, Sky.” The stone assured her. Her anger was justified, and she didn’t have to do anything she did not want to do.
“Kate, we don’t have time for this. Deal with Aunt Terri. Now!”
Caitlin felt something break open inside her. She stood up, pointed at Skylar, and shouted, “I hate it when you call me Kate!” There was a flash of light. Then she saw Skylar on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, slack jawed, and Caitlin’s knees gave out from under her.
Terri set down two cups of coffee and plates of chocolate cake. “You’ll feel better once you eat a little something,” she said.
Caitlin poked a fork at it suspiciously. “Is Skylar okay?” she asked.
Terri waved a dismissive hand. “Yes, the little monster will be fine, which is more than she deserves, after a year of using you to do things she can’t. Really, sweetie, eat some cake.”
Mr. Whiskers brushed up against her leg, looked up at her and chirped,“Door Opener, I’ll help you eat your cake.” Caitlin looked back up at Ruby, eyes wide.
Terri smiled apologetically. “We have a lot to talk about, hon.”
Caitlin took a bite of cake.