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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'Prank' by Daniel Bird

I hid in the cupboard and watched as my four-foot tall flatmate, Gavin, came back to find his cat was dead. As he petted its rock hard skin whilst it propped a door open, he burst into tears. I had to bite down on my lip to stifle my sniggers. I jumped out, “Got you!” I shouted before tossing the cat against the wall, revealing it to be a very accurate fake. Gavin dried his eyes and fought between anger and relief, but revenge seemed the underlying look that he gave me.

Sure enough the next day, I discovered that he had dyed all of my clothes pink. In response, I put his laptop in the oven with some turkey meat for five hours. “Gotcha,” I yelled as he finally investigated what the smell was. I woke the next morning with a tender hangover to discover half my hair had been shaved off and he just stood there with his little hands, giggling. That night I covered his new car in superglue and feathers.

We took a boys’ trip to Asia in the summer and at customs I was pulled out of line and searched. The guards discovered two kilos of cooking flour wrapped in plastic that Gavin had snuck into my suitcase. I was cuffed and thrown to the ground whilst he heaved with laughter. The next day, I was released and when he bought me a beer, he said he had been laughing ceaselessly for 24 hours.

On a scuba dive the next day, I gestured that there was an enormous shark behind him and he nearly gave himself the bends as he panicked his way back to the surface. Neither of us slept, we were rigid with fear over what the other would do. We shared wine on our balcony and I soon passed out thanks to the pills he’d slipped into my glass. The tattoo he’d had inked on me was of a recently disgraced pop singer found in bed with an underage boy, it covered most of my back, “Gotcha,” he said and slapped it where the skin was still raw.

Upon our return to home soil, I anonymously reported him to the police for hanging around outside a school and also put some dodgy stuff on his new laptop. The investigation that followed made him lose his job. He didn’t smile when I said “Gotcha” as he saw his face on the front of yet another local paper.

I took a break from jokes for a while. Gavin seemed to have lost his sense of humour, and he was late with the rent for the second month. It was so typical of him. “You can get me back,” I told him as he sat homeless at the side of the road collecting coins from people outside Mario’s Deli. He answered with a stare, but I knew this was just an elaborate ruse.

A few weeks later, when my new flatmate was out, Gavin returned wielding a knife and threatening payback. He lunged at my pelvis, I dodged, we wrestled and soon blood was pouring from one of us. I stood up and saw the blade stuck deeply in his abdomen. The police say he was dead on arrival and the judge has sentenced me to twenty years for manslaughter.

I’m sitting in my cell now whilst my new roomie, ‘Pipe’ melts a toothbrush with a contraband lighter. I have a visitor today and I know full well it’ll be Gavin. I’ll have to admit he has won the war, but once he has said “Gotcha!” I have a few ideas on how to get him back, the little joker.

Copyright. Daniel Bird.

Daniel Bird was born in the UK and is a short-story writer living in Hong Kong. He works in education. You can find him at

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