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Puss in Boots

One of my writing goals for this year is to practice more short fiction (at least one short story per quarter). So I figured I’d participate in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Fairy Tales Remixed.

I chose “Puss in Boots.” For my subgenre, the random number generator chose “superhero.” The result follows.

Puss in Boots

The boots Jack gave Black Puss were not Boots of Invincibility, nor Boots of Invisibility. These were worn, green boots that possessed no special abilities. Still, one must make do. Gallantly, Puss pulled them on, and consoled himself with the Inescapable Sack, handed down to Jack, and then Black Puss, by Jack’s recently deceased father.

Well, technically the deceased father had also given Black Puss to Jack as an inheritance, but Puss preferred to think he was helping a friend, not a master. The idiot needed it. “After I have eaten my cat, and made myself a muff from his skin, I must die of hunger,” indeed. Defeatist attitudes solved no problems.

Black Puss took the Sack to the Cove of Conies, where dwelled a warren of mutant rabbits that had long attacked passersby who came too near to the rabbits’ carrot patches. Black Puss filled the Sack with bran and greens and lay as though dead. Before long, a mutant rabbit climbed into the Inescapable Sack, and Black Puss snapped its neck.

Black Puss took the dead mutant rabbit to the palace and asked to speak with the king. The guards immediately led Puss in, which struck Puss as a horrid lack of security. Nevertheless, Puss bowed low and said, “Your highness, I bring you a mutant rabbit that my lord, Marquis Massacre, vanquished!” (Puss thought “Marquis Massacre” more intimidating than “my orphaned friend Jack”).

“Tell Marquis Massacre,” said the king, “that I thank him for his battle trophy.”

Black Puss next took the Inescapable Sack to the Field of Merciless Fury, where lived a flock of mutant partridges. Black Puss again held the Sack open, and when a brace of partridges ran in, he crushed their spines. Again, he presented them to the king, who again was well-pleased with the heroism of Marquis Massacre.

So passed the next few months, with Black Puss dispatching various mutated animals with the help of the Sack, and presenting the conquered foes to the king.

One day, when Black Puss knew the king would be out driving with his daughter, he said to Jack, “If you follow my advice, your fortune is made. All you have to do is bathe in the river, and the rest is up to me.”

Jack knew better than to doubt his anthropomorphic cat. While Jack bathed, Black Puss hid Jack’s clothes under a large stone. Shortly, Puss heard the approach of the king’s carriage. He cleared his throat. “Help, help! Alas, water is Marquis Massacre’s only weakness! He’s drowning!”

The king put his head out the window. Seeing the cat who had so frequently presented trophies of slain foes, he commanded his guards to help Marquis Massacre. While they pulled the Marquis out of the water, Puss explained that Shadow Rogue had stolen the Marquis’ clothes.

“Shadow Rogue!” said the king. “His entrails will dangle from my parapets!” Then he ordered the commanders of his wardrobe to fetch some clothes befitting Marquis Massacre. The form-fitting black leather showed off the Marquis’s washboard abs and bulging biceps. He had only to give the king’s daughter one or two brooding glances that hinted at a tortured past, yet possession of a tender heart if only some brave woman could break through his walls, for the princess to fall in love. The king invited him to join them on their drive. Puss cackled as he ran ahead. His plans were coming to fruition!

Meeting some countrymen who were mowing a meadow, he said, “If you do not tell the king that this meadow belongs to Marquis Massacre, he will flay you and use your bones as toothpicks!”

The countrymen had heard of the Marquis’ exploits, and so did as they were told when the king asked to whom the meadow belonged.

Black Puss next encountered some reapers. “If you do not tell the king that the grain you reap belongs to Marquis Massacre, he will pull your spines out your noses and turn them into hat stands!”

The reapers had also heard of the Marquis’ exploits, and so they told the king the grain belonged to Marquis Massacre.

At last Black Puss arrived at the castle of Doctor Morpheus, the richest shape-shifting ogre ever known. All the lands the king had passed belonged to him. Black Puss, who had already researched Morpheus’s strengths (shape-shifting) and weaknesses (extreme stupidity), requested the honor of an audience.

“I have heard,” said Puss, “that you are able to change yourself into any creature, such as a lion, an elephant, or the like.”

“That is true,” said Morpheus, “and to prove it to you, I shall now become Cthulhu.” And Doctor Morpheus did.

The sight of Cthulhu so frightened Puss that he leaped out the window onto the roof, which caused more difficulty as the subpar boots Jack had given him were of no use on the tiles. But Doctor Morpheus, in a show of soon-to-be fatal hubris, changed back again.

Black Puss climbed inside. “I suppose it’s much easier to turn into a Great Old One than a tiny thing like a mouse. That must be impossible.

“Impossible!” roared Doctor Morpheus. “You’ll see!” Morpheus changed into a mouse, whereupon Black Puss leaped upon and ate him.

Hearing the king’s coach running over the drawbridge, Puss ran out and said, “Your majesty is welcome to the castle of Marquis Massacre!”

“Marquis Massacre, this castle also belongs to you?” asked the king. “I am charmed by your good qualities of mutant-slaying and exorbitant riches! It will be your own fault if you do not become my son-in-law.”

That very same day, Marquis Massacre, even though all he’d really done was get his cat a pair of boots, married the princess, who remained most charmed by his leather-bedecked washboard abs and bulging biceps, and those brooding glances.

As for Black Puss, he procured the Boots of Invincibility, which, coupled with his trickster nature, made him formidable indeed.

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Thoughts: I don’t think it’s terrible, but I do feel limited by the 1,000-word limit. (The version I referenced is closer to 1600.) I also think I might have written a stronger version had I not kept referencing the original. The parts I like best about my remix are the deviations, and I think I might have worked in the superhero stuff better if I didn’t keep reminding myself of the original storyline.

Also: egad. I know part of it is because they’re so short, but fairy tales are full of “tell” and little “show.” Guess you don’t pick up on that when you’re 7.

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