Flash Fiction: The Red Flea

This piece of flash fiction was written for Writer’s Digest’s 2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge Day 27. I spent an hour and a half on this story; this is the third draft. The prompt: “Write something that makes you laugh.

Image from Flickr

The Red Flea

“Emi.”

I peered through a single eye at the smallest of my humans, Minako. She smelled of flowers and gave the best scritches of all my humans. She sat upon the large, multi-tiered padded platform the taller humans didn’t like me scratching. 

From my comfortable, sun-covered spot on the carpet, I mewled, “What?” This human understood my language more than the others.

“It got back in,” she whispered, pointing across the room.

I followed the gesture, opening my other eye and raising my head. My lidded eyes flew open and then sharpened. The arrogant, pestering red flea had returned. It rested on the white wall next to the wooden platform holding many sheets of shreddable things the humans also didn’t like me scratching. The red flea jittered back and forth, taunting me. 

Slowly, I uncurled myself, crouching low on my paws and my ears falling flat.

“Get it, Emi,” Minako said. “You can do it!”

The encouragement filled my belly with excitement. I would capture the red flea this time. It would not escape me again. 

I shifted my weight forward onto my front paws before lifting my hind end and straightening my tail behind me. The red flea continued jiggling on the wall. I wiggled my butt, squishing my back claws into the carpet to give me better traction. I breathed in, holding it until . . . now!

I sprang and dashed across the room in three bounds. On the third bound, I pushed my front paws forward and extended my claws. The red flea began to run when both claws smashed into it. I raked my claws down the wall and slammed them into the floor. 

I got it! 

Leaning down to my paws, I opened them. The red flea wasn’t there! But how?

“Emi,” Minako said. 

I glanced back. Minako perched on the edge of the padded platform and pointed towards the hall. 

Looking that direction, my eyes narrowed. The red flea was there. I don’t know how it escaped my claws, but it did. It always did.

I sprang again, not wanting to give it any more opportunity to escape. 

The red flea fled down the hall. I charged after it, hearing Minako scramble after me. 

The red flea hopped from one wall to the other, though I never saw it traverse air, not like a flying bird or a hopping frog would have. This red flea was something else, something unnatural, something sinister. I would not let it remain in my home, not amongst my humans, especially not Minako. I would protect them from this menace.

We came to the ninety-degree turn in the hall and the red flea once again transferred to the perpendicular wall. I lept and crashed into the wall, again attempting to grasp the creature in my claws. Leaning against the wall, I peered below my claws. The red flea wasn’t there. I hissed, my ears flat and my hair rising. Never before had intruders been this vexing.

Minako caught up. “Where’d it go?” she asked. 

I looked to the left, following the hall, and spotted the red flea. It was dashing towards the taller humans’s bedroom. 

I sprinted after it. 

The flea disappeared into the room.

Charging through the doorway, I immediately turned to the right, heading for the room of flowing water. The flea would be going there because that was where the tallest human was—apparently, according to Minako, the flowing water had stopped flowing and the human was trying to fix it today. 

Facing the room of flowing water, I came to a halt, scanning everything around me, trying to reacquire the red flea. The tallest human was in the room on his knees, half of him hidden inside the cave under the flowing water; his rear half faced me. I searched the walls, the various platforms in the room, the ceiling. Where was it?

Minako came up behind me.

There! On the carpet. The red flea zigged and zagged across the floor, heading for the room of flowing water. 

I sprang across the room, gaining on the red flea in two quick bounds. Almost got it. It would not—no!

It disappeared from the carpet and reappeared on the rear end of the human. How dare it attack any of my humans!

At the threshold of the room of flowing water, I leapt into the air, claws extended before me. The human would not enjoy this, but it was necessary. The red flea would no longer terrorize this home.

I slammed into the rear end of the human, digging my claws in and around the red flea. 

A thunderous howl of pain filled the room of flowing water. 

* * *

Unlike a bird or a frog, the red flea left no carcass. Perhaps it had escaped once again. It didn’t matter. I finally succeeded in defending my home, my humans, my Minako because the sinister red flea never returned.

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