Tall Tails 3: In which Sylvester and his intrepid band of Looney Tunes brave the unknown, in search of wild and scary beasts..

Tall Tails 3.

We’re going on a lion hunt… and we’re not scared….

Join Sylvester and his doughty band of explorers as they fearlessly journey where the paw of kitten has feared to tread, in search of the savage, man-eating li.….what’s that, Sylvester? Really? OK. …in search of the savage, man-eating buffalo.

Hmmm….

Day one: Base Camp

Well, here we are, on the eve of our great journey, planning our route through the highly perilous terrain and checking our supplies. I have put Taz in charge of supplies, as he is the brains of the outfit, but slow. I see he has packed plenty of food and…well, just food really. Unfortunately, I have had to put Penelope in charge of map reading, even though she’s no good at it and we haven’t actually got a map. I’ve warned her that we can’t be stopping all the time so she can wash her paws. She will have to put up with the heat and the sweat and the flies like the rest of us. Marvin is actually looking forward to the flies. Marvin will go ahead to clear the way for the rest of us. I can trust him to do so without fear of the dangers that lie ahead, which is the advantage of having little imagination. We will eat one last meal, then rest for a short while – just three or four hours – before setting out.

Day two: Departure

We slept a little longer than we anticipated, so we are behind schedule. We must put some miles behind us before dark, so just one small snack, a quick wash and a tweak of the whiskers and our journey begins. It is not long before we encounter our first obstacle, a sheer, concave cliff of smooth, buff-coloured rock – very few claw-holds and only a single, narrow path on which to balance. We stop for a snack to gather our strength, then we begin our arduous climb. I send Marvin ahead – that’s what he’s for – then I follow. Just below the summit, I call to Marvin to help me up the last few feet, but the face that appears over the edge is not Marvin’s. It is Penelope’s. She came up the back way and is sitting washing her paws with an air of studied contempt. I push her off and tell her to come up the correct way, or I’ll send her home. I also tell her to wake up Taz while she’s down there and ask him if he’d care to join us, please? Tsk…such unprofessional behaviour. I am forced to eat a snack to calm down and to restore lost calories.

Day Three: The Swamp

After a late start, and a hurried breakfast, we continue our journey. Thank goodness, we are traversing flat terrain today. Penelope stops, sniffing the air. We ignore her, of course, as she’s always complaining that she can smell something bad – usually me or Marvin. This time, however, she might have a point. I catch a whiff of it too. Phewwww!! Then, we see it in the distance…a mighty and dangerous looking swamp of evil-smelling grit and slime. I send Marvin ahead but, just as he is approaching the edge, an enormous apparition appears before us, rising dripping from the ooze, clouds of noxious steam rising from her steel grey back. It is “She Who Must Be Obeyed”, the evil Queen of all she surveys, legendary nemesis of all travellers. She looms over Marvin, before grabbing him by the neck and pinning him to the floor, her slavering tongue poised to strike….poor Marvin. Too late to save him, and he hates having his ears baffed. I take the opportunity to have a quick snack, by which time She Who Must Be Obeyed has finished with Marvin. I look around for my team and see, to my dismay, that Tazz has blundered into the swamp, to be sucked down into the murk. There is no hope for him now, but I will guard his food ration, lest he should return.

Day Four: The Cave

We awake with a start, somewhat later than expected. It is exceptionally warm and comfortable this morning and it is with reluctance that I stir the troops from their slumbers. Breakfast soon perks us up, and I can’t help noticing that Taz has returned to us after his misadventures in the swamp. He honks quite a bit, but mum…I mean, She Who Must Be Obeyed, freshens him up a little for us. We don’t want to attract predators, so cleanliness is important. Not as important as Penelope thinks it is, though. We have no choice but to wait for her while she cleans thoroughly between each of her toes. We pass the time gnawing on each other’s ears, then we have a quick snack. We are finally ready to set off, and after a very short time, Penelope notices the mouth of a cave on the distant horizon. She insists that caves are always full of treasure and we should explore it, but the entrance to this one seems to be guarded by a large golden beast with a huge, gaping maw. I send Marvin ahead, and he reports that the golden beast is nothing more than an effigy and would be quite easy to move if we all worked together. I wake Taz and we set to, Penelope and Marvin pushing from the rear, me lifting from underneath, and Taz steering from inside its mouth…laying down…with his eyes closed…AHEM! With the guardian fish beast thing out of the way, we can explore the cave properly. I send Marvin ahead and I watch him disappear into the darkness. He soon rushes out again. “TREASURE!” he shouts…and, sure enough, we find the cave stuffed with enormous jewels of pink, green, blue and yellow, all perfectly round and smooth. We decide to hide the treasure and to collect it on our return journey. For now, we must press on if we are to succeed in our goal of finding the fearsome, man-eating buffalo…after a snack and a lie down.

Day Five: The Demon

Ooh…how long were we asleep? I don’t know. I can hear the sound of drumming in the distance and strange voices, all muffled. I can’t make out what the voices are saying, but they don’t sound happy. We should move on immediately, but we decide we have just time for a quick breakfast. Before us lies our greatest obstacle, a gigantic mountain, with a wide plateau at the top which, legend has it, is home to some ancient, kitten-eating beasts. We must proceed with caution. We wake up Taz and check that our packs have enough food to last us for the journey. They have, in fact, a little too much, so we partake of a light snack to reduce the weight. Then we set off. The mountain looms before us, its summit shrouded in mists. I send Marvin ahead, to tackle the lower slopes and to check that it’s safe for the rest of the party to proceed. Just as we are about to begin our climb, there is a great bang and a crash and the ground begins to shake and the sky to darken. A huge shadow blots out the light and we find ourselves face to face with a demonic creature of enormous proportions. His eyes seem to glint in the sun and his legs are of a white so bright, it hurts our eyes. Fascination overcomes our fear, and we feel brave enough to approach a little way or, at least, Marvin does, because I’ve sent him on ahead. The demon appears to fold itself in half and drops slowly to the floor. A huge hand reaches out and there, on the ground before us, suddenly appears our quarry – the fearsome, man-eating buffalo! I’ll admit, it’s a little smaller than I imagined and I hadn’t expected it to be imprisoned inside that container, nor did I expect it to flap around in such a tempting fashion…Penelope has her nose pressed up to the container, and I warn her to take care. Man-eating buffalos are not to be trusted, even if they are an attractive shade of orange and black.

Whoa…!! I have just received an update. Penelope has just informed me that this is not, in fact, a buffalo, but a butterfly…

So, what’s a buffalo, then? It’s HOW big..? Horns…? It lives WHERE…?

OK…so maybe we’ll go and hunt the man-eating buffalo later. I mean, man-eating buffalos need to be hunted. After a quick snack and a nice lie down…

Kari’s Valediction

And finally….

Kari’s valediction

So, my children, the time we all knew was coming has finally arrived. You are on the threshold of your greatest adventure and we must all be brave and look to the future. Because what a future it’s going to be. This is the last time we are all going to be a family and we will probably never see each other again, but that is the way it has to be. Our time together is just the first step down the long road of our lives. It is time to pack up our things and move on.

Tomorrow, you will be taken into the homes of hoomins. Good hoomins, like the ones we have encountered here and you will enter into the pact with them that will sustain your lives, and theirs, for the rest of your days. They will provide you with shelter, warmth, food and safety, as well as companionship and love. But you must keep your side of the bargain too.

My two boys – your role is to bring joy and laughter, comfort and sustainance to your people. Their lives are complicated, I have discovered, and they have many cares and troubles. It is for you to lessen those cares, to lighten their load, to wish them a good day when they leave home and to be their joyous first sight when they return. Be strong for them and keep watch over them. Learn their moods and know when to respond with a purr, a murr, a knead of the paw. And remember to pursue the red dot at all times. Without fail. This makes them happy.

My two girls – you will be so beautiful when you grow up. Teach them your beauty and patience and tolerance. Share with them your wisdom, your tranquility, your peace. Be their playmate in the good times and their rock when things are bad.

All of you, use the gifts you have – your eyes, ears, noses, cheeks and tails; your purrs and your paws. Remember to retract your claws and soften your mouths and don’t forget to sing to them that all is well during the night time. Hoomins are creatures of the daylight. They are afraid of the dark, so they will appreciate this. Remember too to leave a little piece of yourselves on all the things they touch, to remind them that you love them. You were endowed with fur for this purpose.

Enjoy the rest of your kittenhood. It should be full of love and fun and games. There will be no responsibilities placed on you, so make the most of this golden time, for it will soon pass. But, girls, remember to count the turns of the moon. When she has turned twelve times, listen for me. I will be calling for you from the Great Circle.

So, let us move over here where the watchers cannot see us, and say our last goodbyes. Let us touch our paws together and take The Oath – the one I have been teaching you. It is not to be taken lightly. Think about the things we pledge and take them forward into your new lives. Now, let us touch noses.

Goodbye, my darling babies. I am so proud of you. Be strong tomorrow and every day after, and remember to look forward to the future with excitement, not back to the past with sadness. I will miss you so much, but I know you are going to be extraordinary. I love you all.

Tall Tails 2: In which several Mythbuster kittens battle evil aliens, persistent poop and each other

Space, the final frontier…

These are the voyages of the Critter Room Starship “Enterprise”..(Captain Mordoc at the helm)

Captain’s log, Stardate 2421.9. We’ve been over two months in the white nebula, and there is still no end in sight. Crew morale is at an all time low and tempers are beginning to fray. Only this morning, my Science Officer bit me on the foot. I pray for an end to this featureless expanse and our return to blackness of normal space. Our time here has not been without incident, though, as these extracts from the ship’s records will show:

Stardate 2421.1: We are imprisoned in some kind of alien penitentiary. I cannot see my shipmates and I am being force fed on some kind of rich nutritional supplement, which is keeping me subdued, so they can work their evil machinations upon me. I am awaiting the arrival of The Giant Claw, which comes every day to scoop me high into the air and dangle me over a chasm, before dropping me unfeelingly onto cold, hard metal. A mechanical voice spits out meaningless numbers, before the claw grabs me again and I am returned to my cell. However, little do they know that I am getting stronger. I will bide my time until I am ready to fight back. My crew will help me. We will prevail!

Stardate 2421.2: I regret to report that I have had to quell an insurrection led by First Officer Kayleb. He says that he is not an android. I informed him that he is a funny shape and therefore he must be. Failure to respect the chain of command incurs the most severe punishment, so I sat on him.

Stardate 2421.3: We have escaped the penitentiary. For some unknown reason, The Giant Claw has turned on its masters and thrown open the gates of our prison. We stumble, gratefully towards freedom, leaving The Claw to battle to the death with its evil overlords. I fear no-one will be left alive. However, the Prime Directive forbids us to interfere in the affairs of other cultures, which is quite handy really, because it looks really cool out here.

Stardate 2421.4: I have today had to put down another mutiny, this time by Science Officer Elinora, who demanded to know who had put me in charge in a most insubordinate fashion. I accused her of having ideas above her station and failing to obey a direct order from a superior officer. She made a rude noise and went and sat in the litter box.

Stardate 2421.5: Science Officer Elinora has been attacked by Klingons! She got one on her foot and managed to spread it all over the floor. I sound red alert as we all try to bury it.

Stardate 2421.6: The encounter we’ve been dreading the most since we left spacedock. Yes…(pause for dramatic effect)…THE BORG! I don’t know how it got onto the ship un-noticed, but, as my head of security, Tactical Officer Shara will have a lot of difficult questions to answer. It was enormous and terrifying – neither man nor machine. It had cybernetic eyepieces and a strange sort of fibrous insulating material above its mouth, presumably to stop its face from catching fire. It came in among us but seemed to only want to observe us, then it removed matter from our litter box, presumably so it can sample our DNA. Before it departed, I’m sure I heard it say “You will be stimulated. Sisters are futile”. I am backed up in this by First Officer Kayleb, who says it might be an evil alien but it makes a good point, but the girls think I must’ve misheard. More insubordination! I will remove their holodeck privileges.

Stardate 2421.7: My Tactical Officer is sulking. I pushed her through the hole in the floor of the bridge, but I am the Captain and I can do what I like. I’ll probably apologise to her later. The ship needs her Tactical Officer.

Stardate 2421.8: We have Trouble With Tribbles. Oh yes! Someone (ahem!) brought one on board without my knowledge. My Science Officer made a brave attempt to kill it but was obviously not successful, because now the place is littered with them. It should be the Tactical Officer’s job to remove alien intruders from the ship, but sadly she is still not speaking to me. I was going to apologise to her for the hole incident, but I’m afraid I pounced on her tail instead. I don’t know what came over me.

Stardate 2421.9: Today. I have to go – Mum wants to talk to us. I have a feeling we’re about to boldly go where no kitten has gone before.

Thanks for joining in

Tall Tails 1: Inspired by Ash’s new bow tie…

Tall Tails 1:

It was a hot summer night outside but, inside the casino, I was cool as ice. The roulette wheel was on my side and my pile of chips was steadily growing. I counted out another hundred and pushed them across the baize until they rested on number 8, black. My lucky number – reminds me somewhat of my mother, only without the ears.

I felt hot breath on my neck and a waiter leaned over my shoulder, placing before me a dry niptini – shaken, not stirred, two olives. Just how I like it. “Compliments of the lady…” he said.

I looked up and saw her, a stunning redhead draped in white furs, in spite of the heat. About her neck was a gleaming gold collar from which hung a single, brilliant diamond. “Eight carats” I thought. “Worth at least a hundred grand…”.

Her green eyes surveyed me, taking in my immaculate tux and impressive whiskers – lightly curled with just a dab of wax for a subtle sheen – and my air of practised insouciance. I tweaked my bow tie a little and raised my niptini glass to convey my thanks. A half smile played about her lips and she tilted her beautiful head towards the door. I understood.

Draining my niptini, I cashed in my chips and bade my fellow gamblers a good night before strolling out to the lobby, where she was waiting. I introduced myself, although I had the feeling she already knew who I was. “My name is Bond. Ash Bond”. “Oh, I know who you are, Mr Bond” she purred. “My name…” she extended an immaculately manicured paw, “…is Pussy Galore”.

“Please come with me.” She began to walk towards the door, then stopped, glancing coquettishly over her shoulder. “I’ll make it worth your while..”. I was intrigued, but my professional training had taught me to be cautious. Instinctively, I felt for my trusty Walther PPK then, flicking a stray ear tuft back into place, I followed her to her car. She drove fast and silently, as we snaked our way out of the town and into the foothills of the mountains. All my senses were on high alert as she steered the car towards what appeared to be the blank stone face of a cliff. As we approached, the whole cliff face rolled slowly upwards and we drove inside. A small door ahead of us slid open. Pussy climbed out of the driver’s seat and opened my door. “This is where you get out.” she purred. “My boss is waiting to see you.”

I stepped through the door into a dimly lit room which appeared to contain nothing, save a large desk, behind which was a high-backed chair. The chair slowly swivelled round and I found myself staring into the impassive, pale face of a hoomin. His silver hair was swept back from his forehead and he sported a set of whiskers on his top lip which were almost (but not quite) as impressive as mine. The eyes behind the studious-looking spectacles radiated pure malevolence. On his lap sat a large and beautiful white cat, whom he stroked with great delicacy and tenderness.

“Greetings, Mr Bond”. The voice that emanated was smooth and languid. I was impressed, especially as he hadn’t appeared to move his lips. “How do you do that?” I asked. “Please don’t play games, Mr Bond” said the cat. “We have business to discuss. Thank you, John. You may desist now”. The man stopped stroking and sat immobile. “There is a chair behind you, Mr Bond. Please sit down”. I sat, and immediately metal clamps pinned my limbs, front and back, and I was unable to escape. A familiar, immaculately manicured paw relieved me of my gun.

“Do you recognise this?” the cat continued, indicating a brown substance in a small dish. “Of course,” I replied. “It’s catnip”. “Exactly, Mr Bond. The scourge of the feline world. The means by which the hoomins have manipulated us and subjugated us for generations!” “Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “I’m quite partial to a bit of ‘nip myself – in moderation, of course”.

“This is like no catnip you have ever encountered before. It has been genetically modified, so it no longer has any narcotic effect…”

“What’s the point in that?” I asked. The cat’s tail began to twitch. He did not like being interrupted.

“It no longer has any narcotic effect…on CATS. But on hoomins…” He cackled, a sound so evil that it sent a shiver down my spine. “Think of it, Mr Bond. The entire hoomin race enslaved to catnip! A new world order. The order of Felidae – our order! It will be us cats who will laugh while they chase little plastic balls and points of red light! It will be US who shut THEM indoors at night! It will be US who make THEM poop in public! It will be US who take THEM to get….” He closed his eyes and a slow shudder shook his frame “…FIXED!” The last word came out like a hiss. For a split second, I felt an infinitessimal flash of empathy, but…Oh no! It could not be.

“We’re not ready yet!” I yelled. “One day, maybe…but not yet. At least, not until we’ve figured out can openers!”

He sighed. “I was hoping you and I could work together, Mr Bond”. He was icy calm now. “But, as it’s obvious that we cannot, I’m afraid… this is goodbye.” He pressed a button on the desk and the floor in front of my chair retracted, revealing a sparkling blue pool…and a heaving, boiling mass of savage, razor-toothed fish. “However, I hate to dispose of an enemy before lunch – John, my napkin and my fork, please.” He hooked the fish out one by one and ate them with relish (tomato, I think), spitting the teeth into a black onyx bowl.

As I watched in horror (tomato with piranha – what a faux pas!) I felt the brush of fur against my cheek and Pussy appeared in front of me. Bending down low, she whispered in my ear “I can help you escape, but first you must do something for me…”

“Anything..” I breathed.

“Get your big butt out of my window seat”

Eh…huh…what?

Owwww…Catsy! I was just getting to the best bit…

Kari’s Conversation

Mum – it’s good to be in touch again

Well, it has happened just as we knew it would. I am separated from my babies. We will travel separate paths from now on and I must have faith in them to put what they have learned to good use. I know I have prepared them right, but it’s hard not to worry just a bit. It’s the little things that pop into your head, isn’t it? And always when you’re about to tuck into your dinner, or drift off to sleep. Who will baff them? Will they bury correctly? Will they clean between their toes? You must have gone through exactly the same thing with us.

As you know, I had no idea where my own road would lead me, but it seems that, after many twists and turns, detours and dead ends, it has led me to the home of these good hoomins. Oh, mum! It’s better than I could possibly have imagined! This is such a cosy place, full of soft and warm things (well, apart from the stiff cat, but I’ll gloss over that for now) and the hoomins are…well, right. They are cat people. You explained cat people to me a long time ago, but now I understand what you meant. I can tell by the way their hands are relaxed when they touch my head and ears and by the tone of their voices when they purr at me and by the scent of them and their things. These are hoomins who know cats and are known by cats. I have no fears. I know they will keep their side of the pact in full and I will keep mine. We will be happy together. I am not alone here, though. There is another with whom I hope to be friends, but she is missing her sister, lately taken up, so I shall bide my time and be patient with her.

I spent my first day here learning the smells and sounds and sights (that stiff cat is REALLY stiff – I don’t understand it at all) and teaching my hoomins where I like to lay down and how I like to be petted and, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t give much thought to the babies. But, on the second night, anxious for news, I remembered Ripley’s instruction, so I waited until dark and went to the window. The Moon was still up, so I sang a little to Her to give thanks for my good fortune, then I tucked in my paws and waited until She had disappeared to sleep, not really knowing what to expect. I was just starting to doze off when, suddenly, there it was. First, it was just the tiniest vibration on the end of my whiskers, then it came in through the floor under my paws and spread slowly along my spine and up into my ears. It reminded me of the sound of thunder a long way off, only softer and more musical. I swivelled my ears and stiffened my whiskers to channel the sound into my brain, where it began to resolve itself into something familiar, comforting yet thrilling. The voices of my sisters.

They called me by my proper name and asked me to relate my story and I learned that there are many, many cats who have shared the same experience as me and who remember the white room and the big, kind hoomin and his little companion with the poop fixation. They talk together often and Ripley (man, that girl hears some gossip!) was able to tell me about the kittens and that they are all safe and well and living in the homes of good hoomins. I am excited for them and can sleep easy now, knowing that all is well with them. My new companion joined us for a while. She told us how lonely she had been since her sister had gone, but Rosemary was able to teach her how to look into the night sky to find her sister’s eye, which watches over her from within the constellation called The Queen, at the Moon’s right hand. She seemed to be comforted by this and I have hope that she will come to accept me as a friend – maybe, one day, even as her sister.

And now I’ve found you again, mum. We can talk to each other about the old times, good and bad, and things that have happened and things that will happen. We can talk about friends and family, warmth and comfort, security and the goodness of hoomins. We will no longer need to talk about being cold, or hungry, or afraid or lonely.

We are home.

Ripley’s advice to Kari

Hello, Kari.

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Kari, since we’re being informal and…well, my mum never performed the ritual so She never named us. It was tough enough for mum to find enough food so we didn’t go hungry, and I’m afraid the niceties got overlooked sometimes. She did her best, though, and I’m grateful to her.

I hope you’ve found my mark. If you haven’t, look for it under the window, which was my special place while I was in the big white den. The other girls left their marks too. I found Rosemary’s straight away because it was the newest and it was still glowing. It was a big comfort to me. It told me that everything would be OK.

Do you want to hear my story? I think it will help you, so listen up while I tell it. I was born on the wrong side of the tracks, for sure. I don’t want to go into details about how it was hard to find enough food or to find a warm place to lay down – all that is in the past and best left there. I spent most of my time out of doors, where at least the air was fresh and there was a chance of a mouse or two and…well, you know how it is. The tabby from the parking lot was kind and showed me where the plumpest mice were to be found and…oh!..but that big, long-haired drifter was just the most handsome dude I’ve ever seen. I still dream about him some nights…

Kari…you think four is hard work? Try five! And what’s more, they were all born grey! You know what that means – I’d not done right by my babbies while they were cooking. I felt so ashamed. I’m afraid it made me a little short in the temper department and, although I was taken to a lovely place with a soft bed, I’m afraid I disgraced myself. I would like to apologize to that cat in person one day. I hope his fur grew back OK. Anyway, the end result of our…er, close encounter was that I was shipped out to the big white den with the big white cage and the big white hoomin. Yes…that hoomin. I thought it was some kind of tree at first, but then he purred at me and let me boop his hand and he was so gentle with the babbies. They adored him.

Ha ha! I can’t help wondering what names She would’ve given my brood, if I’d done the ritual. “Ash, He Who Doubles In Weight Daily”; “Bishop, With A Face Like A Pansy”; “Parker, Where The Hell Has He Gone Now?”. Ah…what fun they had together, my lovely, lovely kittens.

I understand that feeling of being watched, too. At first, I thought it was the little yellow god with the staring eyes. Has he manifested himself to you, too? He bothered me at first, I don’t trust a creature who stares so intently but says nothing, even if he is an immortal. But then he cuddled my little daughter when she was having bad dreams and soothed her to sleep, so I said “hail” to him, which seemed to be what he expected and we lived in peace after that.

I loved my time in the den. It was the best time of my life…up to that point. But, you see, Kari, a day is coming that you should be prepared for. Your time in the den is coming to an end – I know you can sense it. When it was our day to leave, we were taken to a bright, shiny and noisy place with strange hoomins everywhere. We took The Oath together and pledged to uphold The Code then, one by one, my babbies were taken from me and I was left alone. I’d just told my kids to be brave, but it’s easier to say than to do and I felt very, very afraid. I don’t know how long I was there on my own. I hunkered down in the hope that no-one would see my fear and time seemed to stand still but, suddenly, I felt a rush of warmth, from the tips of my whiskers right through to my toe pads. It was like the sun emerging from behind the clouds and my spirits were lifted. It was as if I could hear a thousand voices all shouting “Yay!”. Then hands reached into the cage and I was lifted out and I gazed up for the first time into the face of a hoomin…MY hoomin! I cried and cried and clung on tight so he wouldn’t leave me behind and we cuddled for the longest time, before we left the shiny place forever…together.

You see, Kari, I’m as ordinary as you are exotic, as plain as you are beautiful, yet here I am, with my big sisters, and two hoomins to care for who I love dearly. There will be love for you too, and snacks and sleeps and cuddles. And don’t be afraid for the babbies either, for they will go on to great things. I am so proud of my boys and girls. So young, yet they are teachers, comforters, counselors, comedians and companions and so, so beautiful, every one of them. And my boy Ash…well, he’s just the spitting image of his father. Don’t tell him I said so, though.

So, leave your mark for the next lonely mother to find and, when you have moved on, listen for us in the darkest hour of the night, when The Moon has gone to sleep and the world is quiet. You know that murr that’s right down low? The one that seems to come in on the breeze, just on the edge of hearing, that you feel through your paws and whiskers? That will be us. We are waiting for you.
And, somewhere out there, they are waiting too.

Good luck
Ripley

PS: We’ve all been baffled by the poop thing. Rosemary thinks they probably use it as currency. Rosemary is usually right about these things.

Kari’s Letter Home

Dear Mum

Sorry it’s been so long, but…well…I’m afraid things didn’t turn out quite the way I planned. Yes, yes…I know you warned me that they all only wanted one thing, but the ginger guy was so charming, and I’m a self-confessed sucker for an exotic oriental and the gentle tabby brought me the corpse of a rat with the head still on. How many guys would be that generous, huh? Anyway, long story short, suddenly there was no room at the inn and I found myself shoved in a box and delivered – with no ceremony at all – to what I can only assume was some kind of maternity hospital. Didn’t even have time to pack my blankie or mousie. I miss mousie. After that, we (it was WE by that time) were dispatched like luggage AGAIN, this time to a big, scary cage thing with a big, scary hoomin. I’ll tell you more about the hoomin later.

Anyway…I hope you’re not too mad with me, because you’d just adore the kids. Four of them, all cute as buttons. Mum..my backside isn’t that big, is it? I know you’d tell me if it was. I only ask because, well, every time I went to sit down inside this cage thing, one of the babies had managed to wriggle its way under my butt. I swear I never saw them move but, lo and behold, without fail it was “squeak squeak!” another squished kitten. So embarrassing! It’s a good job nobody was watching.

So – the hoomin. I think it’s a he. It’s hard to tell without getting a good look at…you know. So I’ll say “he” for the sake of argument. He’s ENORMOUS, but he has soft hands and a nice, gentle purr. He gives good rubs and scritches and furfles my ears and I trust him with the babies. They like to climb him, although he’s a bit slippery and they have to grip on tight. He smells like the streets and good food and cats. I wish he came to see us more often, but I feel we are safe here. There’s a smaller one too. He seems to have an obsession with digging up the poop we have just buried and collecting it. They are a strange species.

You’ll be glad to know that I waited until the proper time to perform the ritual. I sat in the window and sang to the full moon and she told me that the kittens’ names were Mordoc, Slayer of Voles; Kayleb, He Who Dances With Shadows; Elinora, Lighter Than The Air and Shara, With Eyes Like The Summer. Much as I like the hoomin, he seems incapable of memorising their names, no matter how many times I correct him. He just grunts strange noises at them. Sometimes, I don’t think he’s very bright. Elinora lived up to her name the other day and jumped all the way up to the window. I was proud of her. She fell off shortly afterwards, but it was a good first try.

Hey, one thing though. The other day, it was getting real warm and we were all feeling snoozy and lazy when this cacophany started up in the corner of the room. It was making a noise like Uncle Feyodah, He Who Poops In Closets used to do when that big tortoiseshell from next-door-but-one came in and stole his kibble. I tried to calm the kittens down by singing to them, but Kayleb is a bit “sensitive”, if you know what I mean, and I just seemed to be making matters worse. So now, when the noise starts up, I just sing to myself instead and remember Uncle Feyodah and all the family. I think I might be accidentally summoning a spirit from beyond The Bridge, though, because whenever I sing, the room gets colder. It’s very odd.

The kids are growing like weeds now. Elinora and Mordoc look a lot like our side of the family. Shara and Kayleb look more like their dads, but it can’t be helped. I love them anyway. It’ll soon be time for them to become independent, which will be sad in a way, but I cannot wait for them to step out into the world and fulfil their destinies. I’ve talked to the girls in the hope that they won’t fall into the same trap as I did, but you know girls (of course you do ha ha) they never listen to their mothers. Mordoc is healthy and floofy just like us and – well, sensitive kittens can make their way in the world too, so I’m not worried about Kayleb. He will be a heartbreaker. My girls, too. They’re bold and beautiful and will rule their kingdoms with wisdom, grace and only minimal use of claws and teeth.

As for me, I don’t know what will become of me. I miss my bed and my mousie and I would love to have a proper home again with a hoomin to worship me and a lap to lay on. It may be that those days are over forever, in which case I must find a new path. I’m beginning to wonder if I might have magical powers, because…and I can’t really explain this…I am absolutely certain that I am being watched. I know they are there. I can feel them. I hope they like what they see.

Will write again soon. Keep safe and warm

Your loving daughter,

Zathira, With Eyes Like the Sun and Moon