The hunter

The bird was small, but it was nimble, its spindly little legs proving vastly more useful than they looked. Ralph watched as it hopped from one branch to another, spending scarcely a second on each before moving on. It looked, he thought, not unlike a man dancing across hot coals, though he’d only ever seen one of those on the television.

The bird’s plumage was bright blue with black and yellow inflections, and its voice was high and sharp. Ralph had no idea what kind of bird it was – how could he? What he was all too well aware of was the fact it would make a very tasty dinner (or second dinner if the truth be told, since old Mrs Jessop from next door had put out leftover cottage pie for him not two hours ago. But then he was, as she frequently told him in her funny wobbly, gobbly voice, a growing boy).

Ralph curled his tongue lazily around his lips and sniffed the air with precision. He wasn’t hungry, as such. But he was feeling predatory and fully intended to employ his stalking skills. Slowly and silently he rose to his feet. He crouched low, narrowing his eyes so the little bird came into sharp focus. It was preening now, oblivious to him inching closer. Its vanity, it seemed, would be its downfall. Not that Ralph cared.

Sitting back on his haunches Ralph prepared to launch. The pads of his paws rested lightly on the ground; though lazy, he was nonetheless a skilled hunter. As he sprang up onto his hind legs he sensed a movement behind him and, all of a sudden, was spinning through the air in the firm hands of Thomas, his owner’s five year old son. “Whoosh, kitty, whoosh,” Thomas shouted as he tore through the garden, holding the cat awkwardly in his grubby little hands.

Behind them, oblivious, the little bird sat on his branch and continued to preen.

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