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It Could Have Gone Better · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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He was running late. Spike hurried along the streets of Ponyville to Rarity's boutique as fast as his stubby little legs could carrying him. It was 4:58 in the evening. On most days when Rarity was out of town he wouldn't bother with the shop, but today was not one of those days. Today he was taking care of her cat Opal.

Typically this would be Sweetie Belle's job. However, thanks to some super important Cutie Mark Crusader business she wouldn't be able to take care of the finicky feline. So, Rarity turned to him. "Spike if you could feed my precious Opalescence promptly at five and maybe clean out her box I would be most appreciative," she'd said while batting her eyes. She didn't have to do that. Spike would have agreed to her simply asking please.

Spike opened the door to the boutique with the aid of the hide-a-key under the mailbox and let himself in. He looked at the small clock that hung on the wall. 5:02. He was late. Spike shrugged. It was just a couple of minutes. It wasn't like the cat or Rarity would know.

He walked into the kitchen and grabbed Opal's bowl. He sat it on the floor and grabbed a sealed box of dry cat food. He looked at the label. "See No Bits and Kibbles," read Spike, "Tuna Flavored. Huh. Never heard of it. Must be some designer brand." He shrugged and pushed on the tabs before opening the box and pouring its contents into the bowl.

No sooner had he finished pouring the food that he got the feeling of being watched. His heart skipped a beat as he slowly turned his head to see Opalescence sitting at the edge of the kitchen. Her hair was out of its bow and stuck up at odd angles. Her eyes were darker than a moonless night. Spike gulped and offered a weak smile toward the feline. "Hi there Opa..."

"You are late. You opened the box," Asked the cat in a deep commanding mewl.

Spike's eyes widened, "What ... you?"

The cabinet doors flung open, some plates fell to the floor with a crash. The fat feline slowly stepped forward a frown plastered on its round face. "You are late! You opened the box!"

"What are you," said Spike as he quickly backed away from the food.

"A cat to some. Demon to others. I am the ultimate traveler in the realms of experience and my desire now is for the flesh that is owed me by the one who opened the box!"

"It wasn't me it was already opened," bellowed Spike as he backed away quickly.

"Do not test me dragon. Your stubby legs and flames but a mere shadow of what I will inflict on upon you if I do not get my flesh. I will rip your...."

The bell to the front door rang and a familiar voice called out from it, "Spike are you still here? Things wrapped up quicker than we thought."

Spike stood stock still as he waited for the filly to come into the kitchen. When she did her mouth hung open in disbelief. "It wasn't me I swear!"

"Then who ..."

Spike pointed to Opalescence. Sweetie Belle's gaze shifted to the cat's who meowed at her and slowly walked toward her and wound its way through her legs. Sweetie Belle cast a disbelieving look to Spike.

"I'm telling you Sweetie she did it! That cat can talk and it made all that stuff fall from ..."

"It's a cat Spike. Add some wet food and she'll be fine," said Sweetie Belle with a sigh, "I'll clean up in here. You get the litter box and we'll be done in no time okay?"

Spike sighed and nodded and walked over to the litter box at the far corner of the kitchen. He picked up the scooper and a couple of bags before setting to work. "If you were here..."

"Spike it's a cat. Anyone who's been around one knows how they are," she paused, "Were you late?"

Spike nodded.

"Well that explains some of it. Opal is particular about when she eats," said Sweetie Belle as she looked for the dust pan.

Spike leaned over the cat box and resumed scooping. If he'd been on time none of this would have happened. Then from above he heard it, Opal's guttural chuckling.

"Welcome to oblivion," she said and pounced knocking him into the litter box.
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#1 · 1
Speaking as an experienced catsitter, I can confirm that this is wholly accurate. This could use some proofreading polish, but it’s still a fun, complete little story.
#2 · 3
Some of the phrasing is strange here. I think it could use a proofreading pass. I had to reread this a few times to understand that Opal is just a cat. It reads like Spike is in mortal danger at the end of the story, and I don't think that was the intent. It might be that the comedy is being played just a hair too straight for me.
#3 ·
I think I'll post a couple more reviews for the low-comments fics and then come back later. OK, here we go:

The idea behind this one is amusing - Opal is secretly the spawn of hell, and apparently most cats may or may not be like this - but that's really all I like about this one. The mechanics of the idea are there: what Opal's like when she's alone with Spike, what she's like when Sweetie Belle's around as a potential witness who needs to be kept in the dark, and what happens after Sweetie Belle leaves. Innocents turning into hellions to make like awful for some poor sap is an amusing enough conceit.

It's just... the text is really rough, which trips me up repeatedly when I'm trying to get into the flow. Capital letters out of place, missing commas, bad formatting around speech and action: the story's presentation is immersion-breaking every time these keep cropping up. There's also no real doubling-down on tone. Opal's doing some scary stuff here, but the dialogue and description in the prose are so matter-of-fact it doesn't even remotely evoke fear or terror. You can't just describe stuff; you have to play around with the language, use figurative devices, manage sentence structure and focus like a movie director creating vivid imagery. At the moment, this is just so simple it's uninteresting, and that's a shame when you've got such a funny-horrific concept here.

Sorry, mate. This one's not gonna rank highly on my slate. But take heart: it can be salvaged. If you think about or read about how to use language for effect - say, from watching horror movies for director tips or reading style guides for general principles - you could spruce this up into something that makes 'em laugh (haha, demon cats!) and/or makes them scream (oh my god, demon cats!). Tidy it up, and you could be onto something golden here.
#4 ·
Genre: Demon Cat

Thoughts: This is a nice little functional complete story with a fair amount of movement and dialogue. That might sound like I'm damning with faint praise, but my point is that there's a solid foundation here that already delivers reasonably well on its concept.

What's missing is polish. I feel like the prose is sufficient but not overly engaging in itself. I could also use a bit more setup or whatnot for the cat going Full Demon Mode. It's not that it doesn't basically work in the end, it's just that it comes so far out of left field as to almost seem random. Even just some vague hints of a horror-comedy setup near the beginning would help, as right now the story telegraphs slice-of-life... until it doesn't.

But in the grand scheme of things, all the stuff I just mentioned is pretty fixable. I'll put this in my KD tier but it's got good bones.

Tier: Keep Developing
#5 · 1
“Quick! Put the box back!”
“How can it send us back, child? We are already here!”

This is uncanny, I just don’t understand why Hellraiser II has been following me around this week.
#6 ·
I want to like this more than I do. Not to say I dislike it, but there are some serious issues to be addressed here.

It's been noted before, but the prose and general cleanness of the writing is wonky. When I say cleanness, I'm referring to how much proofreading is recommended, which in this case is quite a bit.

I like how the prose style is generally playful, and the author even gets away with alliteration (the bane of my existence) because of this, but stuff like dialogue attribution and a lack of commas where they're needed throws me off.

Opal sounded better than everyone else, easily. If she could talk, she would probably sound like this.

Spike is less convincing, unfortunately. He's okay, but he acts too stiff for his own good, and the writing quirks I've mentioned don't help either.

Despite all these problems, this is still a solid, funny, and pretty accurate story about taking care of a grouchy cat, and it certainly has the potential to be more than what it is.

I'm feeling a strong 6 to a very light 7 on this.
#7 ·
This is fun and light, and somehow manages to perfectly capture the essence of Opal's character in the most ridiculous of ways.

Truthfully though, this story felt shorter than its wordcount to me. I think a lot of it has to do with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th paragraphs. The first paragraph introduces the setting and main characters, but it isn't until the 6th paragraph that the primary conflict begins. The almost 270 words that come in between feel meandering. They don't introduce any vital information, and instead serve primarily to establish a sense of normalcy that Opal shatters when she speaks. Personally, though, I think 270 words (more than 1/3 of your word limit) is far too much time. You could have probably achieved a similar effect with about 100 words, in my opinion.

In the end, both the exchange between Spike and Opal and the exchange with Sweetie playing straight-mare are nice, but they feel clipped short. I feel like they should be the meat and potatoes of your story, but with only 150 words in the former and 200 words in the latter, I just didn't feel like they were enough.

Maintaining a minific's focus and scope is probably the most difficult aspect of these competitions, since you have so few words rationed to you. As I've said in an earlier review, if you look at previous minific winners, almost all of them set up their conflicts and get going within the first 50-100 words. So you really have to make sure that there's absolutely no redundant fat on your bones to make your story feel more substantial than the scant 750 words you're given. There is a fun story to be had here, but it does feel a little boxed-in by the wordcount to me.