Family Matters | The Inkwell Flash Fiction Contest

in The Ink Well3 years ago

Image by Ella De Kross

After over a year of dating, I finally gave in to my girlfriend's pleas to go visit her parents.

"Just for the weekend," she told me. "You will love it, I promise."

Her parents lived in a cottage in the middle of the woods, separated from the rest of society. Their nearest neighbor was at least ten minutes away by car.

"My parents like the quiet," Anna, my girlfriend had explained when I commented on the fact. "They worked all their lives in the noise and pollution of the city but chose to retire here. Where they can commune with nature, listen to birds sing and the wind whistles through the trees."

And I knew why the moment we got there. The place looked like it had been taken off a postcard.

The cottage itself was in the middle of the woods, surrounded by trees with paths cleared up for feet and vehicles. There was also a pond in front and everything was protected by their black tabby cat called Panda.

"He likes to think he's the boss around here," Anna told me as she stroked the cat. "And we just let him keep on thinking it."

I was given a tour of the place, I saw where they stashed their firewood, where they kept their backup generator in the event of power failure. And later, we were treated to a sumptuous dinner by Anna's Mom. And I had to admit, she was a pretty good cook.

The next day, I went to assist her father in chopping firewood, and as we returned to the house, Anna emerged with a cooler in hand and a fishing hook.

"We are going fishing at the pond." She told me, smiling beautifully, "you wanna come?"


Her Dad came along too. On getting there, the pond did not seem like a normal one to me. As we got closer, the surface of the pond began to bubble and gurgle. I changed my mind at once.

"Hey babe, no need to worry," she told me when I tried to leave. "That's how the water is."

"I think I'll sit this one out baby."

I returned to the condo and went to say hi to Anna's mother. She was busy in the kitchen baking cakes.

"You know what?" She said to me, "why don't I give you our family pictures to look at?"

"That would be great, ma'am."

She walked back into her bedroom and returned shortly with the album. It's cover was dusty and she cleaned it off before handing it over.

She said to me, "there are pictures here of our ancestors, going as far back as five generations."

"Wow." I gasped, genuinely interested in seeing my girlfriend's ancestors.

As I settled down to feast my eyes, Panda leaped into my lap and settled there, snuggling in as he purred quietly. I had no choice but to stroke him. I continued though as I found myself to be enjoying it.

The first picture was in black and white, it must have been the first-ever picture taken in the family's history. A whole lot of them had gathered before the camera, smiling like loonies.

I moved on to the next picture. It was pretty much the same concept. Just different faces. Another generation.

I flipped through the third and fourth pictures, wondering how far I would have to go before I started seeing recent pictures. It was as I got to the fifth picture that I noticed the oddity.

I studied the picture closely. I saw my girlfriend, posing before the camera along with her parents and brother, there were also some extended family members in the mix. In the picture though, there was a cat in the arms of Anna's mother. I recognized it at once to be Panda.

I went back to the fourth picture, it had been taken before Anna had been born and when her father was just a teenager. In that picture, another woman was holding a cat. Upon closer inspection, I recognized I recognized the cat again.


"What the..." I gasped out loud as I went on to the third picture taken when Anna's grandfather had been a toddler. And guess what, there was a cat in the picture as well. Posing with the rest of the family. Same thing for the second and first pictures.

Panda! Panda!! Panda!!!

It was the same cat that was currently snuggled in my lap, and I was stroking. I yanked my hand off him immediately, wondering what the hell was going on.

My sudden movement must have alerted it because the cat raised his head and looked up at me. I looked down at him as well. Our eyes met, I could feel the connection. I could almost hear him thinking, "what the hell is wrong with this puny human?"

Then he looked away and his gaze settled on the photo album. My heart began to race in fear and confusion. He looked back at me, holding my gaze once more.

He was looking at me with a look that said, "oh gee, you caught me! Will you tell my mommy?"

I could hear the words in my head.

With a yelp of fright, I jumped to my feet, dislodging the cat at once. It flew through the air and landed on the table. I slowly began to step backward, fear washing through me like a river. I knew then that I had seen something I was not supposed to. And this cat was out to silence me.

The feline smiled at me, showing me sparkling white, tiny, and pointed teeth as he stretched his body and braced for a spring.

I knew then I was done for. So I did the only thing that crossed my mind.

I ran out of the condo, screaming at the top of my lungs for my girlfriend.

The End.
This story is written for the Inkwell Flash Fiction Contest and it is inspired by the third prompt. Feel free to try it out.
Thank you for reading.
Feel free to contact me via my Discord handle below:


My husband just asked me, "What are you laughing at?" I had just read the line:

Panda! Panda!! Panda!!!

What else can I say? I always look forward to reading your stories. What a treat. This was delightful, funny, well developed. Just great.

Thank you very much @agmoore for all your support.
I am glad you enjoyed the story.

The feline smiled at me, showing me sparkling white, tiny, and pointed teeth as he stretched his body and braced for a spring.

Ooo, I love nefarious Panda! I mean, your whole story started out with the whole comfy, domestic, homesteading vibe, including a friendly cat, it honestly reminded me of my farm, and then SMACK, you hit us right in the thriller bone with the photo discovery.

I am literally dying to know what happens next, that was like an opening scene to a movie @bruno-kema, I loved it!!

Thank you very much @generikat, reminded you of your farm huh? Bet you didn't see the twist coming.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Hahahaha...this is funny... Where you afraid of the cat you saw in the picture? Or you were afraid of seeing the cat in your girlfriend's house?
This is a great and interesting story

It's great how you introduce the reader to the story, from the beginning you sense that something will go wrong, but never in this way. The descriptions are exquisite and give a solid picture of what is happening.

Really, I never thought the cat would have the weirdness in the story. Now what creature is that cat going to be?

I guess the we will never know what the cat truly is.
Thank you for reading, i am glad you enjoyed my story.

The story of an immortal cat and a family that serves as a front for him.
I wonder if the boyfriend isn't too squeamish and jumped to the wrong conclusion that it's the same cat when it could very well be photos of Panda's ancestors.

Nice description of the cat's smile, @bruno-kema:

The feline smiled at me, showing me shiny, tiny, pointy white teeth as it stretched its body and prepared for a leap.

Thank you very much, I am glad you enjoyed the story.

This story actually made me smile while reading.

I'm glad to put a smile on your face.
Thank you for reading.

This is such a fun story, @bruno-kema. What a bizarre and unsettling discovery! I love how the creepy gurgling pond sets the scene for the strangeness that follows. Great use of the prompt.

Thank you very much @jayna, it is definitely a discovery of a lifetime.
I am glad you enjoyed the story.

Panda is a character. I wonder if the 9 lives played a role in all of these? Good job.

Honestly this didn't cross my mind when i was writing it.
It's definitely another angle to consider.
Thank you very much.

I think it was a small cat, not a lion 🤣 What did he think it would do to him?

What an awesome story :)


I guess he did not wait to fond out.
Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it

This is one of the strangest turns of fiction ever ... the ageless, immortal cat whose secret is discovered -- I did not expect that! Wow! Well done -- this was a really great surprise in a story!

Thank you very much, i'm glad tou enjoyed the story.

He'll be fine. though he could've handled it better and just pretend he didn't see anything.

That could have worked. But with a discovery like that, it would have been a bit difficult to pretend

Hehehe. This reminded me of the movie, Get Out.
Panda probably has nine lives indeed. I don't know what I would have done if I were in the protagonist's shoe other than fainting right there.

Great story!

Actually, i had that movie in mind when i was writing this down. Although the cat was another element😁

This story is so well crafted. You worked magic around the prompt line. The cat is a perfect device. Thank you for posting the story in the Ink Well community. Thank you for commenting on the work of your fellow authors.

Thank you for this, i am happy to be participating in this contest.

Oh my! I could not help laughing at the point where Panda grinned and braced for a spring while the narrator runs screaming for his girlfriend! 😀 Really? How would his girlfriend help in this situation? Hahaha!

Nicely written! I enjoyed reading your story.

I guess he is calling his girlfriend because she is the only one he knows the most and would probably be the best to answer what would surely be a plethora of questions.
I guess we would never know for sure😁
Thank you for reading.

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 3 years ago  

Hello @bruno-kema. I love this story. As I read the character and his upcoming visit with this girlfriend's parents, I knew I was in for some type of catastrophe coming from the character's actions or reactions to her family. I assumed it would be an awkwardness on the part of the boyfriend.

I didn't imagine the pet would be the source of my amusement. Thanks for allowing the story to go beyond the standard boy meets girl's parents. Also, I was hoping the parents wouldn't be some weird types that would make the boyfriend run for his life.

Thanks for sharing.

Thank you very much for this, i'm glad i was able to go beyond the norm and explore new territory.
I'm also glad you enjoyed the story.

Family secret indeed. Wonder what he would do next.

Thank you for reading, i'm glad you like the story.