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Cat and Mouse

A campfire tale

By Julie LacksonenPublished 11 months ago Updated 11 months ago 8 min read

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. I was relieved to see a sign of potential civilization. Being a woman driving alone at night made me nervous, and now my fear of breaking down had become a reality. All I wanted to do was attend my 10th high school reunion, but someone had scattered some nasty-looking pieces of metal on the road. Three of my tires were punctured. I skidded to a stop, halting at the top of a steep ditch.

Of course, I had no cell reception. I decided to follow the dirt driveway to the old, two-story Murphy Cabin, walk around it to Foster Lake, and follow the shore until I got to an inhabited cabin. Surely, someone would be around for the summer.

If whoever put the candle in the old Murphy Cabin was still there, they saved me lots of walking. As I approached, I noticed that the candle was really one of those lightbulbs meant to look like flame.

I knocked and yelled, “Is anyone here?”

I don’t remember blacking out, but the next thing I knew, I woke up sprawled out on a wooden floor. The air was dank and the lighting dim from the single lightbulb, hanging from the vaulted ceiling.

I heard a computerized voice broadcast:

Welcome to a game of Cat and Mouse. If you have a gun, you are the Cat. You have one night and six bullets to kill the Mouse, who is the only other inhabitant of this cabin. If you are the Mouse, your job is to survive the night. If you refuse to play, you will die. There is no way out. I will be watching. Good luck.

I looked up at a window. A sliver of moon was barely visible through metal bars. I felt around, but there was no gun near me. I called from my hands and knees, “Hello?”

A gun fired from the opposite side of the room, and a bullet struck the wall above me. I instinctively flattened to the floor. I was grateful for my long, black hair and dark skin and clothing. A piece of wood broke off from the wall and bumped my leg. I retrieved it as I heard the gun cock and the empty cartridge clink on the wooden floor.

My mind was screaming, Oh my God, Julie, you’re going to die, but I quieted my breathing and army-crawled until my shoulder bumped up against the leg of a coffee table.

I squeezed under the table, hoping to hide for a while, but I felt someone whack into the corner and heard a female voice yell, “Ouch! Damn it!” I heard the dull thud of her climbing on top. Fingers reached under, and her nails gently brushed against my neck, sending goosebumps through my body. I threw the piece of wood across the room, hitting the wall. I felt the table shift and a second gunshot rang out as The Cat fell for my diversion.

I rolled out from under the table and kept going until I hit the wall. Then, I crawled to the next corner. I took off my white shoes and threw first one and then the other to different walls. The Cat didn’t fire, but while she was distracted, I stood in my stocking feet and slipped into a small alcove. I discovered the stairs to the second floor. I ran up them, not caring if my footsteps were heard. A third shot rang out and I felt the burn of a bullet graze my arm. I couldn’t help crying out, but I made it around a corner and the fourth bullet hit the wooden wall.

It looked like there were just two rooms on the second floor. I chose the farthest one, hoping she would start with the first. I hunkered low in the doorway, watching and listening. I heard her footsteps carry her into the first room. When I guessed that she was checking behind the door, I rushed up and slammed it against her, making her fire her fifth shot into the floor. I darted for the stairs, jumping to the bottom, and rolling.

Her last bullet would have struck me if I hadn’t dropped to the floor.

Overhead lights suddenly flooded the cabin, blinding us both. I heard something spraying and put my shirt over my mouth, squatting as low as I could, but my lungs were burning for air. I heard The Cat fall and tumble down the stairs, landing unconscious, not far from my position. The blond looked no more than 18. I gasped and then blacked out.

When I awoke, I was lying on my side on a wooden bench in a small room with a dingy, pea green pillow under my head. Early morning light streamed through the barred window. There was a small table on which were a large, plastic cup containing water and a paper plate with a turkey sandwich.

The same computerized voice I had heard earlier announced:

Congratulations on winning your first round of Cat and Mouse. You have been promoted to the role of Cat. Eat and rest. The next game will commence tonight, and the door will unlock at that time.

I shouted, “I won your stupid game. Let me go home, you asshole!”

I didn’t hear a sound. I ran to the door, but it was locked up tightly from the outside. I found the gun under the bench. It was a .30-30 lever action rifle. Having lived in the country most of my life, I knew how to shoot, but I had no more desire to kill a human than to be killed.

I sniffed the water and food. I reasoned that if I was wanted dead, I would be by now, so I took some sips of water. It didn’t taste funny, so I gulped down some more. I nibbled a bit of the sandwich, portioning it out to last the day.

I spent time trying to figure a way out of my predicament. I assumed there were infrared cameras from which the gamemaster watched his victims. I probably wouldn’t have enough bullets to knock them out, even if I could see where they were. Plus, I would be no closer to a way out, and I would no doubt be gassed again. I had only one other idea, and it would depend on the security of the back door.

When it became dark, I heard some muffled noises. About 30 minutes later, the door to the room I was in clicked open, and the voice again broadcast:

Welcome to a game of Cat and Mouse. If you have a gun, you are the Cat. You have one night and six bullets to kill the Mouse, who is the only other inhabitant of this cabin. If you are the Mouse, your job is to survive the night. If you refuse to play, you will die. There is no way out. I will be watching. Good luck.

I heard a man yell, “What is this? You raving lunatic! If I ever get out of here, I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”

Instead of shooting at him, I let my eyes adjust and turned towards the rear door. It was barred, but I got close and shot at the wood around the deadbolt. I cocked and shot again, again, and again. Two bullets left, and the wood was weakening. I shot the last two and then kicked with all my strength. The door cracked open, and I made a run for it. The lake wasn’t too far away. Instead of following it around it without shoes, I decided to swim toward a light about half a mile diagonally across the water. I threw the gun into the lake and swam with sure, even strokes, happy that I hadn’t wasted my membership to the public pool.

No one pursued me. I hoped they would be searching by land. I made the shore in front of the cabin with the light in about 20 minutes. I walked around to the front and knocked on the door.

A man cracked open the door and asked, “May I help you?”

I took a couple of deep breaths and said, “I need to call 911. May I use your phone?”

He opened the door wide and said, “My word! What happened to you? Your arm is bleeding, and you’re all wet. Come in, please. Let me get my phone and some food and drink, and you can tell me all about it.”

I sighed, grateful to be safe. “Thank you so much. It’s been quite an ordeal.”

He took a blanket off his couch and wrapped it around me. “Please, have a seat and I’ll get my phone.”

I looked around. It was a quintessential hunting cabin. There were a lot of mounted game animals.

Soon, he brought some leftover chicken and a blue sports drink. He said, “You go ahead and start eating and I’ll make the call.” He smiled.

“I am rather thirsty. I thank you for your kindness.” I took several swigs of the sports drink.

He turned to his phone, and I heard him say, “Hi, Roger! I’ve got quite a story for you. You’ll never guess who showed up after swimming the lake. Sure, I'll be glad to help.”

I was getting drowsy. Perhaps a short nap would do me well.

When I woke up, I was on a wooden floor. I heard a recording:

Welcome to a game of Cat and Mouse. If you have a gun, you are the Cat…


About the Creator

Julie Lacksonen

Julie has been a music teacher at a public school in Arizona since 1987. She enjoys writing, reading, walking, swimming, and spending time with family.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (27)

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  • Veronica Coldiron11 months ago

    Amazing!! Well done!

  • Carol Townend11 months ago

    I enjoyed your story, Julie. I'll never let a cat in my house again!

  • Amy Writes11 months ago

    Wow! This was a really cool idea for the challenge! So original!

  • Cassandra McElroen11 months ago

    Well done! This would make a fun movie.

  • Kevin Rolly11 months ago

    Really enjoyed it. Could have imagined this in an old Twilight episode. I did see the ending coming, but that didn't distract me from the narrative. There is one minor typo. "I called from my hands and knees" I think you meant "crawled." Regardless, well done and good luck!

  • Heather Hubler11 months ago

    Brilliant! That is one game I do not want to play!

  • Jordan Flynn11 months ago

    Very enjoyable, hooked me reaaal quick! Deadliest game to the max.

  • Michele Jones11 months ago

    An excellent read. I love a good thriller, and the ending was perfect.

  • Babs Iverson11 months ago

    Absolutely horrific. 💖💕

  • Clyde E. Dawkins11 months ago

    Very thrilling story!!!

  • I would pay to see this as a movie!

  • Call Me Les11 months ago

    Holy moly. Squid Game but creepier! Really liked this. I think it's one of your best!

  • Angel Whelan11 months ago

    Great story!!!

  • Russell Ormsby 11 months ago

    Nice job. It captured my attention and held it to the very end. Well written, you didn't have to write some long tedious back story in a sad attempt to contrve some sort of connection with your character. You expertly did that as the story progressed. Very intelligent writing and much more interesting. I wish you all the best in the challenge and any of your future projects. Well done👍

  • The Cat and Mouse game reminded me of the games from the Saw movies franchise. Loved your story so much!

  • Mariann Carroll11 months ago

    Wow, Excellent story. It remind of Tom and Jerry . Very Creative.

  • Sarah Johns11 months ago

    Loved the premise of this story! Great job!!

  • C.Z.11 months ago

    Fantastic story, I was hooked!

  • KJ Aartila11 months ago

    Oh, my! I can hear this around the campfire. Well done!

  • C. H. Richard11 months ago

    Excellent storytelling! Could picture whole diabolical game going on. Hearted and enjoyed

  • Dana Stewart11 months ago

    Great story! I really enjoyed the pace!

  • Stephanie Downard11 months ago

    This was a fantastic! I loved it. Great story for the challenge. ❤️❤️

  • Lea Springer11 months ago

    Creepy. I'm sure you were glad to wake up but I see it stayed with you like nightmares usually do. Hopefully you were able to dispell it by writing!

  • Cathy holmes11 months ago

    This is fabulous. Well done.

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