With the Scent of Bagels By: Carassius Naci
A Day in Bagel Shop
It was an orange day.
Streams of warm sunlight broke through the windows and splattered across the floor. The glass, tinted with the years of constant defense yet shining with brilliance, welcomed the light in. The wooden sign, brandished with the words “open” on one side and “closed” on the other, turned like a new leaf to announce the shop’s status; the shop had opened its doors, ready to serve delicious bagels.
The coffee maker bubbled, a dark-brown beverage rested on the clear, see-through bowl. Steam crawled out of the machine, to the metallic layer, to the stagnant, warm air, and to the ceiling of the quaint room. It released the fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee, now the room is covered in the heavy smell of coffee beans. It ticked, gradually becoming faster. The coffee maker made a ding, the sound reverberated around the room, hitting the thin, paw-print motif wallpaper and bouncing off it.
The large canine, with sun-bleached fur and a wet, jeweled snout, sitting on the corner of the room, exclaimed. It had been staring intently at the machine, listening attentively to the fast melody it played. Alas, the musical symphony concluded with a ring, and it met an applaud in the form of barks. The lone audience rested upon the fabric cushion, tail wagging and mouth definitely watering. The door behind the pristine, marble countertops responded and opened, then out came a man donning an equally neat apron. He had a beard and held multiple trays of steaming bagels, fresh out of the oven. The dog looked up in admiration and its tail began to move at a faster motion, eyes sparkled like fireworks exploding into joy within his eyes.
“Thanks for being such a huge help, big boy!”
The man hastily reached for something within his pockets, and the dog immediately knew what that meant. The canine curled its hind legs, and moments later, made a graceful leap. Its golden fur fluttered and it held out its arms, its eyes focused, targeting the fist clutching at the hidden treasure. The landing wasn’t ideal, but hey! The dog had reaped what it sought and feasted on three pieces of green treats on the ground… At the cost of a few bagels now laying on the ground. The floor, smothered with the coffee’s scent and a myriad of long, walked shoes, added a peculiar flavor to the treats. Dog did not mind, he actually liked the treats being that way. While he delighted upon the treat banquet, a sound played.
It was a familiar sound, repeating countless times in a day whenever a customer walks in through the doors. Dog quickly took his stance: the corner of the store, near the entrance, on his comfy, fabric cushion.
The sound of the bell attached to the door was accompanied by the day’s first customer: Customer.
It was a new face to Dog, but it took no time for Dog to register her face in his mental mega database of recognized customers. He forgets no one, and no one forgets him. A fair trade he kept closely.
The customer immediately noticed the cute creature posted at the fetching corner, accessorized by a blue, grandiose cushion, crafted by the skilled cushion masons at the furniture store; it was very expensive and Dog did not buy it himself.
“Awww,” the Customer approaching admired Dog’s adorable features, especially how his ears towered tall and did not back down, “Can I pet him?”
“Yes, of course,” Owner responded with his arms crossed, “that would be ten cents each second, though.”
“No,” Owner laughed, putting his hands on his belly, “of course not! Dog even considers those pets as payment and he would probably maul me to death if I did start charging customers.”
“Hmm, very well, I guess.”
The lady squinted her eyes and leered at Owner, but her hands were already on top of Dog’s head. Once she stopped, she began to make her way to the counter where the bagels were presented. Her metal-tipped shoes clicked each time she made a step. Dog was fond of the rhythmic sound since it bore semblance towards the ticks of the coffee machine. She perused the available, hand-sized delights. Customer repositioned her matte black glasses with glossy tips with one finger, making careful observations. She looked through the foggy glass, attacked by the soft interventions of steam, exerted by the bagels themselves.
Hmm, she began to ponder, what a wide array of choices on this fine day. Bagels, bagels with seeds, bagels with cream cheese, and bagels with… I don’t even know what that is. This! This is what she wanted. The bagel with the unknown substance injected inside it, oozing artistically outside the dough to portray its beauty. She pointed at the bagel, feeling the heat of the translucent glass, and used her eyes to look up at Owner. Owner nodded with his eyes closed, he whistled to Dog who then quickly equipped a proficient mindset. Dog walked quickly, making soft imprints on the cream floor tiles on his short journey, and prepared with his muzzle a paw-print and bagels motif paper bag and expertly stored the fresh, honey-drizzle bagels inside the bag. Dog relayed his work to Owner who efficiently grabbed onto the bag; they worked together so beautifully as a team, it amazed customers.
“Wow, and you guys do this everyday?” Customer asked with curiosity, her hand on her chin.
“Yep,” Owner answered, “and that would be a dollar and twenty-five cents.”
“That's… I’m in awe! I would love to bring him to my workplace down the street, my coworkers could literally use a great teacher like him. I’ve tried telling them to cooperate, but it never works…”
Owner laughed, promising that, one day, he would do just what Customer proposed. Customer paid Owner silver coins and paper bills, which Dog always thought of how it smelled like freshly printed paper and long hours loitering in leather wallets.
The bell rang once again to announce Customer’s exit.
This particular bagel shop sat at the corner of a busy street. The noises of the city could be heard throughout the day; despite the dark of night veiling the city, it shone with bright fluorescent lights. Not many customers would visit the bagel shop, but it had frequent patrons that visited the shop hidden at the corner. It was embedded in their hectic schedules— purchasing refreshing coffee, munching on bagels— and Dog would remember everyone.
Each day, the shop would open its glass doors, welcoming each patron with warmth and comfort. Performing the same routine every day; Dog’s skills surpass even the renowned chefs along the street. He knows how to operate even the most intricate equipment, like the oven! The oven, a resident of the shop ever since it was constructed, still possessed the scarlet red bricks and durable cement. The rustic, brick oven, surviving years of service with persistent tenacity, engulfing doughy bagels in gentle flames. The bagels would come out, hardened by the fire, delicate and scrumptious. Owner and Dog then serve the customers who pay with money and, most importantly, pets just for Dog. He received pets from the calloused hands of hard workers to the small palms of children. The bagel shop offered not only bagels but a temporary shelter that everyone loved, untainted from the dilemmas and humdrum creeping outside the glass doors.
The business wasn’t incredible, yet it was sufficient enough to pay rent and dabble on interests. Owner wished to save enough to pay his wife’s hospital bills and go on a vacation together with them and Dog. With a goal in mind, the employees were determined to keep this shop running. Dog and Owner enjoyed maintaining the shop and wanted it to stay that way forever, but that thought wouldn’t last any longer.
There was a downpour just outside.
Weeks had passed since construction equipment, mechanical noises, drilling, debris, scaffolding, and workers rose and began to construct a new building just ahead of the street. Owner could see it all. He saw it rise from the ground below up to reach the heavens. He saw the brick apartment transform into a giant shop. He saw the walls of the new bagel shop tower high, its shadow now blanketing his shop. He could see the shop he worked hard on fading away. He could see everything.
Dog did not like it. Not even one bit. The owner was sitting, glum and worried, holding his fist tight, clutching at nothing. He did not like how inside those fists were not green treats, but nothing. How could he just give up? After years and years of building up this store, the sight of another potential competitor made him waver. Dog did not like it. In fact, Dog would not accept this.
He made his way up to Owner and gave him a slobber on his face.
“I’m so pathetic,” Owner cried, covering his face with his hands. Owner let out a long sigh, stood up, and slouched upon the seats near the countertops. Dog quickly went to retrieve his fabric cushion, positioning it next to Owner’s feet. Dog made it his new place, not confined to one corner of the shop, but moving at all times next to Owner’s side, wherever he is at.
The seat was layered with a cold tundra, manifesting when the volley of droplets began. It was cold. Owner did not know what to do, so he pleaded for someone to pop up and give him a warm embrace and tell him exact guidance on what to do. Dog answered his wishes, but, one small thing, the dog language isn’t quite understood yet. So, what to do? What to do? What should he do..?
It was the familiar sound! The door opened, inviting the sounds of flowing rivers beside the sidewalks and the instruments of rain. A man wearing a flamboyant tuxedo then came inside the bagel shop. However, Dog did not leave his new post, he huddled near Owner and vowed to not ever leave.
“Bad weather today, ey’?” A man tapped his dripping umbrella. He slowly made his way up to Dog and gave him a good pet. “I’ll have my usual bagel and coffee.” Getting no response from Owner, he looked up in surprise. He looked back at Dog, “Are you the one serving me today, Dog?” he jokingly asked the resting pup.
After a brief silence, he asked in concern, “Did something happen?” This time, the question wasn’t to Dog, it was to Owner. He looked despondent, life sapped, and fatigued. All the color on his face had faded and it only made Customer worry.
“Are you okay?” He sat upon the seats near the countertops.
“No,” Owner said, “I’m not.”
Customer’s face grew tense.
Owner let out a sigh. “Everytime I look inside the register,” he bursted out, “I think about if I even have enough to get my wife all better. Heck, do I even have enough to pay rent at the end of the year? I’m just so tired. I’ve worked so hard, but all it takes to trample, crush, and destroy all that hard work was just some stupid mass-produced, factory-made bagels in a lifeless store next door! Why did it have to be next to my shop?”
Dog quietly whimpered, surprised and feared by the sudden outburst of Owner. He had never done this before, Dog wanted to help him.
He sat down at the seat, the seat letting out a loud cry of rust and age. “I… I’m sorry,” he said as he covered his eyes with hands, slowly traversing across his head. “I didn’t mean to freak out at you like that. I shouldn’t have. You’re one of the few regular customers I have left.”
Customer made his way up to the counters, sitting down near Owner and Dog.
“Look man, I’m always here for you. Do you need anything? I can always help you. Maybe financially! Well, I’m not sure about financially but-”
Owner bolted from his seat, standing there for what felt like an eternity. Silence erupted, accompanied by the rhythms of rain and the humming buzz of LED lights. The ticking noises of the coffee machine rampaged, the muffled noise of traffic engulfed it, and the breathing of Dog conquered the cold room. But, the face of the customer had changed, it lit up, flooded by ideas. He stood up with Owner and chuckled.
“It’s about the new store down the street,” he said, “isn’t it?”
Owner was caught by surprise, was it really that obvious?
“How’d you know?” he gasped in surprise, he was sure he hid it well.
“It’s all you’ve been talking about, man, ever since construction began, you’ve been so… stressed? You became more and more frantic until, well, it did complete construction.”
Owner expressed his somber worries, and Customer knew what he had to do to help Owner. Customer was the exact guidance Owner was looking for.
There was a huge, gaudy sign, flickering and waving neon colors in expensive, silver light sticks.
My B.F.F. Best, Fashionable Friend.
“This is the shop I usually go to when I need to get new, fancy clothes.” Customer said, “But, they also specialize in animal clothing. And, wait ‘till you hear this, they have been awarded 27 awards for their amazing costumes! Let me see, I think some were the Pet Fashion award, the Animal Safe and Gorgeous certificate, and the prestigious Black Cat award!”
“Black Cat award?”
“Yes, I think they award it to businesses who make clothes which the Cat likes. The reason why it’s so prestigious is because the Cat only picks 3 outfits for the whole year, and this year she only picked one, and it was from My B.F.F.!”
“Cat? Is that a person?”
“No! You don’t know who Cat is? She’s been all over the media! She’s a cat but she has 4 fashion branches, 6 cat cafes, and a popular bagel shop that’s been expanding all over the globe! But, to be honest, the bagels are kinda’ icky and gross… Eugh…” Customer gestured to the disgust he felt when he consumed one of the Burnt Bagels’ famous bagels.
“Wow, a bagel shop, too? Let me guess, it’s called Cat Bagel Shop?” Owner jokes.
“No, it’s named Burnt Bagels, I believe.”
Owner lowered his eyebrows, tilting his head to his confusion. That name sounds familiar, he delved deeper into pondering.
Burnt Bagels. Burnt Bagels. Burnt Bagels. Burnt Bagels…
“Burnt Bagels!” Owner exclaimed in revelation, “It’s the shop that’s been stealing customers from me!”
Dog also jolted in surprise, but not at the coincidence that they found out, but the fact that it was actually a cat that’s been running the enemy bagel franchise! It was perfect, Dog wholeheartedly believed dogs always beat cats, just like how rock beats scissors. This wasn’t true, though.
“Oh! I had completely forgotten about that! I haven’t paid attention to what the name was for that shop. No wonder the bagels were so bad.”
It was humid outside. The sun scorched the pavements of the sidewalk into steaming concrete, the trees provided the little shelter it had to offer. The sun, burning bright on the calm, blue noon-time sky, looked down and gleamed melting rays. Each step felt and sounded like a stovetop fire went off underneath. There was only one place to go in this place littered with hellish flames.
“Welcome to My B.F.F!” an employee welcomed the guests in.
The store was cool, despite the uncountable glass walls that let the burning light in. A perpetual and continuous humming noise could be heard, the air conditioners working hard to release comfortable, cold air. It was an upgrade from the hot summer outside.
They made it to the pet costumes section. There were a variety of clothes. There was a hotdog costume with milky-white buns and a scarlet hotdog with charred imprints. A fairy costume with glittering wings and a waving skirt. And also a television screen with a bundle of wires coming off it.
“How do they have a television screen with a bundle of wires coming off it, but not a bagel?” Customer angrily asked with his hand on his forehead and the other on his hip.
As they walked on the magenta carpet for centuries, they finally found it! A bagel costume both for cats and dogs, the perfect size for Dog, too! They hastily put the costume on their cart and ran off, ensuring that no one would steal their treasured purchase. Not like anyone would, though, why would anyone specifically need a bagel costume?
The store’s rugged magenta carpet guided patrons through the labyrinth of clothes, accessories, necessities, and snacks scattered throughout it. The clothes were diverse; one was sprayed with exuberant colors and the other sparkled with rainbow glitter. It looked very tacky and uncomfortable, even to look at.
“Did this store really win such prestigious prizes?” Owner asked with curiosity and skepticism.
“We’re in the discount section, look, it’s 75% off.”
“Oh. I see. No wonder.”
As they walked through the maze-like aisles, they encountered many customers in all shapes and species, there were many cats. Many, many cats. One was strange though, a black cat with beautiful fur, green, moon-stone eyes, and a strange halo around her head. She was guarded by many men who wore black suits and a peculiar device wrapped around their left ear. They pushed the cat around in a gorgeous cart and a quilt roof above her head, protecting her from the harsh rays of the sun. Dog kept still to observe the heavily-guarded cat, but was pushed away by one of the guards.
“Get away!” the Guards said in unison, “No one is allowed to be within 2 feet in the Cat’s surroundings.”
“What is wrong with you? That’s my dog!”
“That does not concern me, you are endangering Cat’s health.”
Cat? Hold on… That’s the owner of Burnt Bagels isn’t it?
“In what way are we endangering its health, huh?”
In the commotion, the wool roof opened up and revealed the hidden feline within the carriage. It licked its paws, looked around, and meowed. It looked around once more, and then its eyes widened in surprise.
The earpiece of all the guards made a ringing noise, and the guards then locked their sight, with heavy malice, on the bagel costume Customer was holding.
“That? You want us to get that?” one of the Guards asked, “Are you sure?”
It seemed like the cat yelled in frustration, furiously grooming her left paw. Then, suddenly, one of the guards began to run towards Customer, their glossy, black shoes shuffling upon the now disheveled magenta carpet.
“Huh, what? Wait, what?!” Customer stepped back in confusion, then another step, and turned to running, “Run!”
Customer started to book it, using the guidance of the magenta carpets and bright neon signs to look for the exit. A ruckus could be heard from behind him, gradually becoming louder to a crescendo. Piles and piles of clothes are being made from the guards chasing after Customer.
“You’ll never catch me and the costume, haha!”
The glass doors opened in a mechanical whirr, chimes of electronic bells, and sending in gusts of dry air.
Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong!
Customer and the guards have left the establishment a mess, Dog and Owner look out in surprise. He looked at Dog, and Dog looked back.
“... We aren’t going to pay for this right?” Owner worried.
The sudden purr caught both Dog and Owner in surprise; the cat was left behind! This heavily guarded cat was suddenly forgotten by the guardians. There was no quilt roof shielding it now, but it was fine, the cat did not fret. The cat gracefully leapt from its soft, floating island and landed on the carpet. It walked with a beautiful stride and carefully bit at the entangled and mangled gadget at the ground. It carried it, with its pearly sharp fangs gently caressing the ear piece, over to Owner. It dropped the gadget over Owner’s feet, gesturing with her paw for Owner to utilize the ear piece’s abilities.
Owner, confounded by the sudden events and the cat’s apparent intelligence, hesitantly cooperated, picking up the gadget and wrapping it around his ear. The gadget sprouted into life and spouted something back at Owner.
The ear piece received a piercing ring shortly before speaking.
“Bring me back to my abode, lowly human.” The earpiece ordered aggressively with a robotic, monotone voice. “I am not afraid to contact authorities if you refuse.”
Owner was puzzled, who was communicating with him via this gadget? He scratched his head and looked around the store. Finding no one, he replied back to the ear piece wrapped around his left ear.
“Hello?” Owner asked hesitantly, “Who is this?”
The ear piece sighed with electricity and static.
Owner looked down to his brown, leather shoes, on the soft, magenta carpet gnawing away at his soles. He didn’t see anyone, though, so he shifted his view slightly left, right, then up.
“Are you stupid? I don’t mean literally down,” the ear piece mocked Owner, “look up a bit more.”
Owner panned his eyes up, still seeing the carpet, looked slightly more up. There they were… The one ordering Owner around… It was none other than the… cat?
“Bring me back to my home, the guards are busy attending to your friend.” Cat said, “Don’t worry, I’ll give your tiny brain instructions on how to get there.”
“And if I refuse?” Owner questioned.
“Do you really want to know?” Cat groaned, “I hold so much power, I can easily put you out of a job. They will never know of this conversation because that ear piece you are wearing right now does not record. So, yes or no?”
Owner walked over to the royal wagon whilst Cat jumped to the resting place within it. Owner put his hands over the wagon’s gilded handles and pushed, Dog following behind his tracks.
Dog wondered what Owner was planning to do, but Owner reassured Dog with a couple of pets. Dog appreciated them, returning a couple of sloppy licks back to his hand. They continued walking on the cement sidewalk, under the scornful gaze of the sun and shades of the trees’ leaves. While under the canopy of quilt and wool of Cat’s carriage, Cat licks her furry paws and looks straight forward, her green, jade eyes glistening like a sly fox.
“Left.” she exclaimed.
Owner then promptly made a sharp left turn on the end of the street, seeing familiar sights: the nostalgic bookstore which smelt of the lingering book pages, the small general store where they bought Dog’s exquisite bed, then finally, his own bagel shop.
“There, drop me off here.” Cat said ungratefully, “Don’t expect payment for this small job.”
Towering above them was the building constructed from white marble and cement, clear glass, and huge statues of Cat eating a bagel. Below the building were lines of people waiting for their order of a single bagel or one hot cup of coffee. Most of the people stood waiting, perused on their bright phones, or chatted with the people in front and behind them. Some of the patrons climbed one of the few statues and took photos, their electronic flashes glamoring the building in apparent glimmer and sparkles. Under the scorching heat of the sun, singing their skin, they waited patiently. It awed Owner, for their dedication, but it also seemed ridiculous to him, for people to wait in long lines to get one small snack. This must be because of the branding thing Customer told me about, Owner thought with his hand on his chin, which is precisely why we bought the costume in the first place. Wait, hold on hold on, we paid for that costume! Cat strutted her way towards the front entrance, fading away in the snake-like line of masses. Owner chased after Cat, stepping foot in the building’s tempered glass doors, painted with fog and haze, allowing only a translucent view inside to the viewer.
“Can we have our costume back, please?!” Owner screamed. But, Cat was already gone amongst the crowds of customers, so he sighed, stepped back, and planned on going home, yet he kept on hearing this muffled screaming. So, curious by this sound, he went inside the establishment again to find, to his surprise, Customer being dragged away by two guards, his hands tied together with a glistening rope. Customer’s hands were clutching the other hand, unable to have much mobility. His hands, reddened by his nails digging through his calloused skin, were not holding tight on the costume anymore. It’s gone! He wormed around, left and right, up and down, but his attempts were futile against the grips of the guards. He went limp, then jolted back with mighty energy, then stopped moving again, taking in deep breaths; it almost looked as if he were dancing. Then, the dull, metal door closed, sealing away the chatters of the customers and locking away any outsiders.
Anxious, Owner retreated back. He stepped out of the refreshing air conditioning of the building, back out to the scornful blaze of the hot, everlasting sun. He searched for Dog, who he thought was left to stand post at the royal gates, but he found them there no longer.
Owner stepped on the ceramic tiles reflecting the sun’s red rays, getting his hands on every nook and cranny of the bagel shop. The tiles, coated in heavy bleach, extruding a suffocating, pungent, but clean, miasma of detergent. This bagel shop smelled disgustingly clean, resembling the scents of a cleaned pool. He looked behind each marble statue, but he only found more people waiting or taking photos. He looked everywhere for Dog. Yet, to no avail, Dog did not appear.
But, under the pressure of losing Dog, Owner noticed a faint trail of paw pads imprinted on the mirror-like ceramic tiles. Along the paw prints were two shoe soles accompanying it, similar to the ones left by the guards back at My B.F.F. The trail of paws and shoes eventually led back to the dull, metal door. With one heavy breath, Owner bent his elbows within his torso and made a great push, opening the doors with a loud creak. On the other side of the door, he found a worker holding bundles of inky paperwork, his shirt untucked, and his obnoxiously big glasses unbalanced. The worker, after noticing the stronger breeze since the metallic door opened, moved the origami mountain aside to allow his view further. He instinctively pulled back his left leg, his gray, cargo pants strode amongst the moving winds and his brown leather shoes clicking upon impact with the ground. Surprised by Owner’s presence, he froze.
“What are you doing here!?” The worker said shivering and shaking, yet he still managed to keep the pile of papers balanced, “This area is for employees only!”
Owner thought of an excuse before deciding that being honest would be the best choice.
“I want to see the manager.”
Dog was invited through the grand, waxed oak doors, opening like an inverted jaw of a tremendous beast. The inside was an infinite abyss, light unable to penetrate even a centimeter of this room’s everlasting nighttime. Though, a faint light could be seen at the end of the neverending room, which bore more semblance to a hallway. A red carpet, though impossible to discern its color due to the darkness, paved a path straight to the wooden work desk. The desk was lit by a single frail lamp wearing a green hat, and next to it were piles upon piles of papers that spanned across the floor, eventually succumbing to the darkness. A plaque laid in the wait for a reader to notice it, shimmering longingly for that day. The room was littered with hidden speakers amongst the shadows, performing feedback everytime the slightest noise occurred.
Suddenly, a squeak was heard by Dog, it was the sound of the office chair turning, revealing the menace sitting behind the chair.
It was a cat.
A cat rested upon a void-black, leather office chair and stood tall, her green-eyed gaze that screams a million shrieks yet with deafening silence, looked down upon Dog. She had a crown given at birth, surrounding her head as heavenly white fur that contrasted the blackhole-esque coat she donned. Her tail, tipped with white fur, fanned the still air around it.
“Hello there, Dog.” the cat said, igniting the conversation and killing the silence, “My name is Cat. Yes, yes, the Cat. One and only and will always be only.” Her meows echoed throughout the room. The cat yawned, she licked her majestic coat and switched to her paws, taking a few seconds, which felt like minutes, really, to finally pay attention to Dog.
What is this cat talking about? Also, are these speakers translating for me?
Woof… Bark bark!
Dog exclaimed, “Give us back our bagel costume!”
“It won’t be that easy, Dog.” Cat said menacingly, staring at her paw lovingly, until swiftly looking back at Dog whilst her paws quickly grow sharp claws. “I need that bagel costume to win the next show.” Then, Cat’s ears unexpectedly perked straight up, sensing an oncoming event. She looked straight at the oak doors.
The grand doors opened to the room. There was a worker who then came inside.
“Uh, hello?” The worker asked, panning his view to look around the obscure room, “There’s a customer asking to see the manager… Wha-!?”
Meow, meow meow, meow!
The worker stepped back in surprise. He dropped his papers, scribbled with black ink and text, on the dark floor. He ran out the doors, leaving behind his work.
“Help!” he exclaimed, but his voice was muffled by the thick wooden doors, “There’s a cat and dog fighting in the boss’ office!”
The closing of the doors made a loud thud, faint questions about the events occurring inside the room could be heard.
“What is that guy even talking about? Our discussion is sophisticated and well-mannered, like how I am, it is far from being a catfight.” Cat said, “I’ll fire him later. Anyways, continuing on to our discussion.”
Meow, meow meow! Bark!
The insane cacophony of meows and barks continued, grating the ears of the unfortunate fools who stepped in the obscure room. Cat and Dog discussed the bagel costume, made from premium silk and fabrics, fitting both cats and dogs. Cat sought after this bagel costume, planning to attend an exclusive fashion show with it after implementing a few installations on the wearable.
“I will not allow some stupid mutt to destroy my ascension to a new level of fashion!”
Then, the grand wooden doors bursted open amidst their discussion. On the other side of the door was a man with a beard, holding his arms open to keep the doors inviting, eyebrows down, and definitely furious.
Cat quickly took a defensive stance, her back standing up and her void fur forming sharp spikes. “Who let you in here?” Cat screamed at Owner, “Was it that stupid worker again? Ugh! Incompetent fools!”
Owner approached the Dog and Dog ran towards Owner. “You went too far with this trick, Cat.”
“I didn’t even do anything! It came here to me!”
Cat bent her back and leapt from her wooden desk, leaving the papers in disarray and the green lamp flickering. She hastily strutted from the paper-covered floor to the lone stool acting as the stairs to the small phone booth. Cat used both of her paws to make the phone fall and caught it with her mouth before hugging it.
“One final warning, Owner,” Cat threatened with a malicious tone, “One call and you’ll regret it. I’m serious this time.”
But, when Cat widened her jade eyes to see in the dark more clearly, it was only the blackened silhouette of a tall tower of papers and a sofa. They were already gone, escaping the jaws of the shadow beast.
The speakers in the room blasted loudly, screeching a monotone pitch that bursted the bulb of the frail, green lamp. Cat threw the phone down, its rubber wires extending to its limit. Rebounding from the force, the phone quickly, as if manipulated, snapped back to its previous, untouched position. The source of light now gone, Cat was left in the darkness to sulk about her miscalculation: about how Owner truly loved Dog. Cat never experienced the true endearment and compassion of a person, they only saw her beauty and stature. Cat put down the phone and returned to her mispositioned chair, consumed within the gluttonous dark. She stared at the fine imprints of wood, the hardworking lamp laid to rest, and the non-existent reflection of herself. It’s okay, you are the Cat. The Cat. Of course everyone loves you. She stood still, soaking in the inner monologue. No doubt. You won many awards. No doubt. None…
The speakers turned on once again, screaming out one phrase. “You’ll pay for this!”
She looked up and listened in a mix of anger and melancholy. She walked off her squeaking leather chair, her paws silently impacting the ground. She traversed the darkness with her green eyes and trekked on the stool. Grabbing the phone with her slender arms, the phone activates at an electronic speed.
“Cat? What do you need this time?”
The sound echoed throughout the dark room, veiled in an everlasting night.
“Not even a hello? I’ll do it for you,” Cat complained, “Hello once again, Rats.”
Perfectly Cooked Bagel
Owner and Dog ran, rippling through the puddles adjacent to steps, running away from no one’s pursuit. One step quickly followed by another, one foot nearly kicking another. All to make it to their shop, literally one road away from Burnt Bagels. They ran as fast as they could to the crosswalk. With this crazed sprint, they finally made it to their home: Bagel Shop. The doors opened, the bell ringing. Both Owner and Dog panted, hoping their quick breathes would replenish their energy. Owner took one deep breath.
“Nothing beats the smell,” Owner took one quick breath then exhaling, “of coffee beans.”
Before tending to his duties in the shop, Owner briefly took a moment of tranquility in the booth seats, warmed personally by the sun. He released control of his muscles, resting his head on the window sill, using his hand to shield his eyes from the brightness of the sun. Dog followed him, bringing his beloved fabric cushion next to Owner. Dog put his paw on the resting place, then followed his entire body. Dog coiled around the middle of the cushion, bending his arms, legs, and head in, ready to go to sleep.
They both slumbered, now back to their home.
A faint pitter patter of small feet could be heard inside the bagel shop’s antique walls. Rustling, small debris dripping like droplets, the particular sound of tools excavating the exterior down to the foundations of the wall; what is going on inside the walls? This tiny song of small tones and high notes of squeaks took time to turn to conclusion. One final strike at the wall’s composition led way to a new entrance from the outside alley. In a single file line like ants, one by one came out rats wearing plump hats and fluffy ties, then taking formation near the sleeping giants.
“Hehehe, the sleeping fumes must have worked,” one of the Rats wearing a blue tie said, “Let's turn it off now before we take in too much too.”
The Rats strutted over to a corner and hidden in the shadows was a purple mushroom with small indents on the top. A green-tied Rat twisted the top part of the mushroom, and it made a clicking noise.
“W-Wait, everyone step back at this moment!”
But, it was too late, suddenly purple fumes sprouted from the small indents, which turned into holes after it was twisted. The fumes overtook one of the Rat’s faces, quickly putting him to rest. The thick miasma of sleep creeped along the ceramic tiles while the Rats tried to run away, but their small feet were too slow to compete against the expanding gas. One by one, like in the beginning, they began to exit reality and enter the state of dreams, all in the span of two to five seconds.
“Who… didn’t turn it… on…?” Thump!
Now, all the people and animals in the bagel shop were fast asleep. Their mission to sabotage the shop’s equipment had failed at step one.
Customer came in gasping for air, his hand over his shirt’s collar whilst fanning forward and back to create miniature gusts. He looked all over the shop eventually finding Owner and Dog dead asleep on one of the booths. He tiptoed slowly over the floor, consciously thinking about each and every of his steps. While he was about to put his foot to the ground, he noticed something on the ground, like a piece of gum. He moved his shoe over to allow his eyes to observe what the supposed gum was, but it was no gum, it was a Rat! Customer’s eyes widened in shock and he froze, cold sweat streaming down like falls on his face. He shifted his eyes all over the surrounding floor in a frantic manner. He began to shiver, counting one, and two, and three, and…
“Four! There’s four more! Aaaah!”
Customer screamed out, managing to bolster a sliver of courage to crouch down to his knees and cover his face between his legs. He brought up his arms and propped them on top of his head. “This sucks!” He sobbed.
Owner rebounded from the scream, scratching his eyes when he got up from the booth. He looked down to see a crouching Customer crying his eyes out.
“What are you doing there,” Owner asked with one eyebrow raised, “crying and stuff?”
Customer pointed at the floor in front of him. Five sleeping rats.
“Hm? Holy moly! It’s five sleeping rats!”
Dog arose from his deep hibernation from the word “rat.” His legs rebuilt from low buildings to high towers in a matter of seconds. With his eyes closed, he sniffed the wafting air around him.
“Q-Quick! Kill them! Feed them to Dog or something! Oh, I don’t know, just get them out!”
“Are you crazy!? I won’t feed them to Dog! That’s like rat poison! I’ll just set them outside.” Owner said, “This is the first time rats have gotten here, with fancy clothes too!”
Owner opened the shop doors then went to the back alley where he put down the resting rats to the pavement, in a safe corner. He quickly went back inside the shop, grabbed the garbage, and placed it on the dumpster while he was there.
The rats woke up in unison, confused about how they got back to the beginning.
“How did we get back here again?” A red-tied Rat said.
“I don’t know, maybe we had mass hysteria.” A green-tied Rat said.
A purple-tied Rat smacked the head of the green-tied Rat.
“You were the one that activated the mushroom!” The purple-tied Rat angrily said, making a fist with his paws.
“The problem here, though, is that no one activated the trap before we came in. I’m sure that was your responsibility, Orange.” Red-tied Rat said, putting a hand under his chin.
The orange-tied Rat revolted, “Yellow-tied Rat said that he would do it for me, though!”
“Don’t try to blame me!” The Yellow-tied Rat said, “I just forgot!”
“We shouldn’t worry about that right now,” an old raspy voice said, hiding under the dumpster’s shadows, “I think you guys are forgetting about something… No, someone!”
“Cat…” All the Rats said in perfect synchronization.
“I expected this,” Cat said.
“You’re not mad at us?” The Rats asked with their hats on their hands, pleading that she does not get mad.
“No, I’m not really.” Cat said, spinning around on her grandiose chair, “I’ve had a lot of time to think while you guys were out.”
Cat stopped the rotation with her paw, hitting the edge of the desk. The room was now built with windows that reached the ceiling, the frail, green lamp was replaced with a fish bowl, housing a goldfish. The mountains of paperwork grew lush forests of foliage, aloe vera, flowers, and the like. There was no more darkness, just the brightness and warmth of light.
“Yes, I renovated my whole room in just the span of three days.” Cat said, “But back on topic. I’ve thought long and hard about it, as in Owner and that dog. There is not much of a reason to go after them, now that I think about it. I got the bagel costume, which is a good thing.”
“Shouldn’t you nip the problem in the bud?” The red-tied Rat asked, “What if they come barging in, demanding the bagel costume?”
“The problem is me, barging myself in small businesses’ affairs. Shouldn’t you be wondering why I’m dipping my paws in the bagel business?”
“Your aura feels different. I won’t ask any questions about that, but will you give us our pay? You know, we discussed it? Last time we found out you had a bad habit in regards to paying, the hard way.”
“You don’t deserve to get paid for a failed job,” Cat said, but she cut herself from the sentence before finishing it. She put her paw on her mouth, then removed it. “I will be mailing it tomorrow.”
The rats yipped in jubilation, receiving their first payroll since then.
“You really did change, for the better!”
As the Rats left one by one, in a single-file line like a military, Cat leapt from her chair. Landing on the ground, she began to walk towards the oak, lime-green door on the corner. She looked up at the metal doorknob, grinning, and proceeded to press a button laid on the ground next to the door frame. The wire connected to the button released steam, taking not more than half a second for the door to open gently.
Inside was a myriad of clothing, exclusive to Cat. She picked one out then changed into it. She left her office, into the work areas full of employees lounging, working, and sweating their heads off staring and typing into a screen. She left through her shop’s walls, the doors closing behind her. She looked on forward and stared lovingly at the small, quaint shop she had been trying to destroy.
A Day in Bagel Shop
The day’s canvas was painted in a nostalgic orange with the green of spring.
Leaves glided down, guided by the hand of wind, pierced by the valiant sword of sun, and leaving behind a beautiful design on the shop floors. The glass, plastered with many gilded awards from prestigious institutions, welcomed the light in. The wooden sign attached to the door waved with the fleeting wind, announcing that the shop was open to customers. The bell jingled and chimed, coming through in a beautiful stride, as the first customer came in.
As usual, the smell of coffee wafted in the air. It stepped on the indents of the wooden planks, flowing and dancing through the warm, stagnant air.
Across the street sat a quaint shop, selling seasonal clothes while also serving as a cat cafe of some sorts. It was busy, flooding in and out of customers. It did not match its former glory, but it had matched the nostalgic tone as its neighboring businesses and homes. No longer a place teeming with toxic miasma, it became a home, for everyone and everything.
The bagel shop was the same as ever. The smell of coffee and the paw motifs on the wallpaper, it was as if nothing had changed. But there was something that changed. Fur, that isn’t Dog’s, began to manifest itself in increasing numbers each day. There was also another bowl seated next to Dog’s.
“I allowed myself an hour and a half of break. This place is always the best place to lounge around.”
The sound of the bell. A furry animal walked into the shop through the small, square door, walking in a graceful stride towards the food bowl, its contents exquisite and a kingly feast, and began to eat. Slowly.
“What a wonderful banquet you have prepared for me, Owner!” The ear piece blared out, “Your shop’s cuisine is divine!”
“Oh, you cooked it?” Cat said, surprised, “Well, would you look at that! I didn’t know there was another talented, gifted animal besides me.”
Owner stared at the animals on the corner, chatting as if they had never been enemies.
“Another employee never hurts, except when all they do is eat.”
“Hey, I’m a taste-tester. You never knew, but my taste buds are on par with the likes of you humans. You should be grateful I don’t ask for pay.”