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In Name Only · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Patrimony
Crossing the drawbridge, I tried to make my boots thump-thump-thump against the planks, but all I could manage was a tap-tap-tap. I kept my ears perked anyway and padded under the portcullis into the courtyard.

Which is absolutely typical, isn't it? He's got a whisker-bristlingly huge castle, stone walls thicker than two of you humans stretched out head to foot, a moat that could swallow the nearest village, crenelated battlements towering into the blue mid-afternoon, and that idiot kept the damn gate open! He was all show, all phony, all a complete and utter waste of—

Sorry. Yeah, I'm okay. He just...I mean, he always...

Anyway, I put on an expression of amazement, looked around with the widest possible eyes, and went into my act. "My goodness!" I exclaimed. "How remarkable! But then even a measly little house cat like me knows about this palace and its ferocious master! For he's said to rule this entire countryside despite the king's best efforts!" It was impossible to pour it on too thick where he was concerned, I knew all too well. "I can scarcely believe that this courtyard isn't filled with the carriages of visiting nobility paying homage to his greatness!"

"You got that right!" His rumbling voice shook the paving stones under my boots, and there was no way I could keep my ears up when he lurched all pasty and bloated out from behind a massive balustrade. "It's just I don't want them poncy bastards stinking up the place, y'know what I mean?" His lopsided head gave a grin full of teeth bigger than my whole body, and a part of me wanted to scramble away on all fours yowling at the top of my lungs.

"Of course you don't, sire!" I shouted instead, letting the tremble remain in my words. "But I'm merely a cat who wished to see for himself the fabled lord of this land!"

"Cat?" He squinted down through the nearly three stories of empty air separating us. "Well, if that don't take the biscuit!" Flinging himself backwards, he crashed to a seat against the castle's inner wall with another earth-quaking thud and smacked his knee. "Blow me if it ain't a real-life talking cat! And come to see me of all ogres!"

Relief loosened my clenched muscles, and I almost let out a laugh. My biggest fear had been that he'd simply smash me without a second thought. Not that he ever really had a first thought...

But still, since he hadn't attacked, I figured I had about a fifty-fifty chance of pulling this off. "It's your fame," I said with a bow. "Tales of your magical prowess resound across the countryside, and I had to come see if they were true."

"Damn right they are." He nodded, and I swear I heard something clatter behind his eyes. "I'm pert near the most magicalest thing what ever was."

It took an effort to stop my tail from frizzing. I mean, the only thing he mangled worse than the language was the local peasantry. Gritting my teeth, I managed to ask, "So you could, oh, I don't know, change yourself into a lion, for instance?"

He blew a spattering breath through his lips, the spray soaking me and every inch of stone for yards around. "Nothing simpler!" he declared.

And that's when I knew I had him.

I cowered away from his admittedly terrifying lion before nonchalantly asking if he could do a mouse. He could, and then, well, then it was pounce, crunch, swallow, and the palace was mine. Well, yours, I mean. I've got no interest in being anything other than a cat for the rest of my life, thank you very much. That was my goal when I first wandered onto your family's farm, and nothing's changed my mind since then.

Still, it guess it was kind of an anti-climactic end to his reign of terror. But, I mean, believing in talking cats? Did he think he was living in some weird kids' story?

Well, Dad always was an idiot...
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#1 ·
· · >>axxuy >>Baal Bunny
A Shrek crossover? With Puss in Boots as the protagonist? 😛

It's a fun little world you've created here, and the ogre is a great character. But I'm lost on the backstory. Paragraphs two and three imply that our cat has dealt with this ogre before. But he's not actually a talking cat? And there's that You that this piece seems to be addressed to...

I'm sold on the description and dialogue, but the rest has me confused.
#2 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
That was a nicely executed twist. This one's near the top for me.

>>Dubs_Rewatcher
So the ogre can shape-shift, right? What I got out of it was that the "cat" is actually the ogre's kid, who can do the same thing, pretending to be a cat. The 'Dad' in the last sentence is referring to the ogre.
#3 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Alternate Title: Some-BODY Once Told Me—

This is a... comedy?

Let's start from the beginning.

The narrator is an ogre who shape-shifts into a cat to trick his father so that he can kill him and take the land for himself (or rather his human buddies, but I'll get to them), and that's the gist. The daddy ogre is like the baron of this land or something, and is plenty tyrannical, not to mention a shitty dad from what we can tell, so his ass gets yeeted the fuck out.

Eating your dad is kind of fucked up, though, I don't know if I'd go that far.

I think the main problem with this entry is that, if it's a comedy, I didn't laugh, and as a plain fantasy piece I have a few too many questions. My face was the thonking emoji for most of it, but then these last few paragraphs happen:

I cowered away from his admittedly terrifying lion before nonchalantly asking if he could do a mouse. He could, and then, well, then it was pounce, crunch, swallow, and the palace was mine. Well, yours, I mean. I've got no interest in being anything other than a cat for the rest of my life, thank you very much. That was my goal when I first wandered onto your family's farm, and nothing's changed my mind since then.

Still, it guess it was kind of an anti-climactic end to his reign of terror. But, I mean, believing in talking cats? Did he think he was living in some weird kids' story?

Well, Dad always was an idiot...


The framing here is really weird. From the first few paragraphs we get the impression that the narrator is talking to "you," a human, true, but why the narrator is telling "you" all this in this particular way seems unnatural. It's like a case of "As you know..." but even odder, and it makes the ending feel clunky.

I do like how we get a lot of insight into the narrator's personality and relationship with his father just by the observations he makes, though. As far as first-person narrators go, this one has a good deal of personality, not to mention a good deal of moral ambiguity.

Also, gores can shape-shift? I mean, it doesn't really matter. Just that the rules of this fantasy world are not so thoroughly established. Taken in a vacuum, or if there wasn't another comedy-ish fantasy entry to compare it to, I wouldn't have a problem with it, really.

Unfortunately, there is...
#4 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
This one really smacks of Baal Bunny to me.

It starts off very cute, and mostly maintains that. There's a fair amount of unnecessary language at the beginning, but you weren't up against the limit, so you had word count to spare.

This is a tough kind of story to provide useful feedback on, because there's not really anything wrong with it. It's just a comfortable read, nothing spectacular.

Okay, I'll dig for something. Our narrator was correct when he called it an anticlimactic ending. It's all set up to deliver this switcheroo, which it does, and I can't say I think it should be structured differently. But there are two things that kind of put me off.

One, so much happens so fast at the end that it's easy to become confused. I did sort out what had happened after thinking about it a moment, but then I don't get the mindset of the ending, which is the other issue. He's content to be a cat now? Why? I'm torn between thinking he's lying to the audience the same way he lied to his father, and he's suckering me in to get eaten as well, but then why rule over a farm when he's already got a kingdom? Or on the other hand, he felt his father was a tyrant that needed taking down, and yet he never expresses any negative opinions, aside from generic ones. Nothing related to why he deserves killing from the narrator's specific viewpoint, anyway.

Back to the structure, this one's shaped kind of like a feghoot, where there's this long build-up to a quick surprise ending. And when the ending's not that funny or outrageous, it can feel like the sacrificed pacing didn't pay off well enough.

I'm also torn about the narrator's personality. There's not a ton of it on display, and what we do get is unreliable (going back to how he spent most, if not all, of the story lying), so I don't know that I got a picture of what he was like at all.

Cute story, and in a vacuum, I'd probably place it middle-high, but as it's the first story on my slate, I can't yet say where it'll rank.
#5 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Ah. The usual trick. I say that because I've read several (children) stories where an evil being (warlock, witch or w/e) is dared to transform themselves into a harmless form, which they usually do because of their bloated ego and stupidity, just to be then safely disposed of by the hero. Granted, that hero seldom is the villain's son.

But, I’m with Dubs here to say that the first lines were highly redolent of Shrek, while the last ones turn the hand more towards Puss in Boots.

In any case, it’s a… story there’s little to say about—it’s a sort of moral fable in prose, but you lack the moral takeaway, such as “Never trust a talking cat” or “every flatterer preys on those who listen to him”. Besides, I think you could have your protagonist be turned into a fox rather than a cat. Cat are catty, whereas fox are foxy. That would've stuck better to the usual bestiary we all know about.
#6 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Man, I feel old. All y'all saying this felt like Shrek. The protagonist and the shapeshifting ogre (and the method of triumph) are 100% stone-cold from the plot of the original Puss in Boots fairy tale. There's no Shrek in this.

As such, when I recognized the fable up front and saw this following it beat for beat, there wasn't a whole lot here for me to appreciate ... right up until the ending. You got me, I'll admit. (I'd advise changing the title if you edit this; you really don't want to give away the twist that's the core of the story.) I'm going to have to weigh that against the predictable path it follows for most of its length, but leaving me with a smile counts for a lot.

Thanks for writing!
#7 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Yeah, I can't believe Horizon was the only other person to recognize actual, straight-up, no-Shrek-involved, Puss in Boots.

I have a soft spot for retellings of fairy tales. Even if they're played almost entirely straight, the fact that we get a different perspective counts for a lot with me. I was enjoying Puss' sarcastic commentary on the ogre without much expectation for something different, and then boom, that last line. Puts the entire fairy tale into a different light (after all, why is the cat so loyal to a human who was seriously contemplating killing him and selling his fur right before discovering he could talk?)
#8 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
I'm old and I've never actually read Puss in Boots.

Honestly, the twist mostly feels kind of underwhelming. I mean, it re-contextualizes the relationship a little bit but it ultimately doesn't really change enough to land solidly. The lampshade hang makes a lot more sense with the knowledge that this is Puss in Boots, but I'm also not really sure it helps or is necessary? Magic has its own rules, etc, but given what we know about the setting I think going for a "ha, ha, talking cats are dumb he should have known I was a shapeshifting ogre!" just doesn't really land as effectively?

Ultimately this one is a bit hard for me because it feels like it is really leaning on the knowledge of Puss in Boots which I lacked so a lot of it just didn't land, aside from the way he dispatched the ogre which was a pretty obvious thing.

I think a lot like the whaling story the primary problem is that there isn't much of an emotional arc here for the reader? I think the punchline is supposed to be the real ramp up given the anticlimax delivery of the fairytale's climax, but like I said above, I don't actually feel it makes that much of a difference (at least with the information here). He hates the ogre. It being his dad I guess makes it a bit darker, but it doesn't really change anything, as it were. Might work better in context of the actual story though.

Prompt Relevance... sure. Applies to the father thing. Applies to the cat thing. Works.
#9 · 5
·
>>Dubs_Rewatcher
>>axxuy
>>No_Raisin
>>Pascoite
>>Monokeras
>>horizon
>>alarajrogers
>>AndrewRogue

Thanks for the comments, folks:

And I'm sorry I was pretty much absent this time around. Originally, I wasn't going to enter at all because I learned just before the prompt voting started that Timeless Tales magazine was opening from Feb. 17th through the 22nd for poems inspired by Puss in Boots, and I wanted to write one.

But I couldn't think of anything to say about Puss in Boots, couldn't come up with a story or a fresh take or anything...until I saw the prompt here last Saturday morning. I didn't think I could reach the minimum 400 words on a poem about the cat being the ogre's son, though, so I did the prose version here to get the story and images worked out, then spent all this week boiling it down into a four strophe terza rima ode in iambic pentameter that I submitted to the editor yesterday.

So we'll see what happens!

Mike