A Kat's (GOD AWFUL!!!) Blessing
It was close to lunchtime in the middle of the week as two strays relaxed on the roof of a vacant storefront on Mainstreet. They were stretched outward, resting their heads on the edge of the building to see the street below. People passed by, oblivious to the two strays that watched above them. Large cumulus clouds floated overhead, bringing the occasional minute of shade whenever one blocked the sun.
“Hey,” said one of the pair, a cat with long, white fur which was a cross between a Turkish Angora and a British Longhair. She was abandoned by her human owners as a kitten but ended up being rescued by a group of strays led by a cat named Boss. Her name, Deborah, was bestowed on her for her first birthday, almost two years ago.
“Hm?” answered a toyger named Tommy. He was born amongst the strays led by Boss, whose name was given to him in a similar ritual three years prior.
“Have you heard what happened to Mushii and Socks the other day?”
Tommy stretched out his front paws as he let out a huge yawn. “No, I haven’t,” he replied.
“They were chased by… you know,” Deborah said in a hushed tone.
Deborah looked around, making sure the coast was clear. “Diabolus Calico.”
Tommy let out a small chuckle. “Don’t tell me you believe in those rumors.”
“But it’s true! I talked to Mushii just the other day! He said that he and Socks were minding their own business near the creek when... it leaped out of the trees and attacked them.”
“Pfft!” Tommy rolled his eyes.
“I-it was this massive calico that looked almost human, he said!” Deborah stuttered, making sure to be quiet so as not to draw attention to them. “It even went so far as to wear the clothes of a human it killed and devoured!”
“A cat the size of a human? Do you even hear yourself right now?”
“But that’s what Mushii said to me! It chased them up and down the creek, and they only barely managed to get away! And it’s not just Mushii and Socks, either! I’ve heard stories from Tom, Cody, Brownie, Sapphire, a-and even Sir Mittensworth!”
“Sir Mittensworth is a senile old cat who mistakes a shuck of corn for a dog,” said Tommy.
Deborah grew upset. “And what about Mushii and the others! Surely they’d never lie to me!”
“They all probably got into some bad catnip and had the same hallucination.”
“And how could they all have the same hallucination at different times!” Deborah shouted. “How do you go about explaining that one? Huh?!”
Tommy rolled onto his back, tilting his head upward to look at the street below. “It’s because you’ve all been passing around this silly ghost story that it’s gotten stuck in the back of all of your minds. Then you get into the catnip and next thing you know you’re fretting about a giant mouse chasing after you,” he said in a mocking voice. “Or a swarm of cockroaches! Or even Diabolus Calico!”
Deborah smacked his stomach.
“Ow!” he yelled. “What’d you do that for!”
“I don’t appreciate you making fun of me when I’m terrified, Tommy!” she yelled, walking to the other side of the roof in a huff.
Tommy went back to looking at the street, ignoring Deborah’s temper. Normally he had no interest in going along with these childish scary stories. But then his mouth curled into a wry smile. Flipping back to his feet, he started slowly approaching Deborah, as if he was getting ready to pounce a prey he’s been stalking. “It’s coming to get you, Deborah.”
“Stop it,” she demanded.
Tommy leaped in front of Deborah, startling her. “It’s coming for you, Deborah!” he said in a teasing tone.
“Stop acting like an immature kitten!”
“It’s coming for you! Listen! Can’t you hear it? Diabolus Calico approaches!”
Deborah pushed Tommy away, who went right back up to her and put a paw around her.
“There’s no escape for us now! It has us trapped! Just watch! At any moment, it will leap from over the edge and pounce on us! Devouring our flesh and bones!” he said, pointing to the edge of the roof.
Of course, there was nothing there, as Tommy was only teasing. After a few moments of silence as Deborah’s heart raced in fear, he began to laugh.
Deborah let out an angered “hmph!” and strutted away.
“It was only a gag, Deborah!” Tommy said. “Like I said, Diabolus Calico is only a—”
A quick shadow jumped high into the sky from over the edge of the building behind Tommy. Deborah watched in fear as it rose into the sky, blotting out the sun. Seconds later, the shadow landed on the roof with a loud thump, sending Tommy into the air from surprise.
Towering over Tommy was something unlike anything the two strays had ever seen. It was a monstrous being that appeared half human and half calico. It wore a black tank top and jean short-shorts, with a tail poking out from a custom-cut hole in the back.
D-D-Diabolus Calico, Tommy thought, terrified by the sight.
Diabolus Calico raised its mighty human-shaped paw. Its mouth gaped open as it took in a deep breath.
A cheerful voice seeped out from between its razor-sharp fangs. “Hiyo!”
Deborah and Tommy screamed, fleeing for their lives.
“No! Wait up!” Diabolus Calico shouted.
Both Deborah and Tommy sprinted from rooftop to rooftop as fast as they could, with Diabolus Calico chasing shortly behind them. The roof shook with every step the demented creature took.
An intersection cut through the line of buildings, leaving the pair nowhere else to run. In a last-ditch effort, they hopped down onto the red and white cloth canopy strung outward from the building.
“I said waaaiiiit!” Diabolus Calico shouted.
Deborah and Tommy bounced off the canopy and onto the road below and dashed across the street.
Diabolus Calico stumbled onto the canopy. It lost its footing and fell off, landing on the ground with a loud THUD.
Maria ran up to Kat, who had landed on the ground on her butt. “Are you all right?” she asked, worried about the fall Kat just took.
“Yeah. I’m okay. Good thing I’ve got all this fur on my butt to cushion my landing.”
Maria lent Kat a hand and pulled her up off the ground. She then helped dust off Kat’s tail and butt.
“Hey!” yelled an angry voice from inside the butcher shop, where the canopy hung from. “Just because you’re a cat now doesn’t mean you’re free to act like one! You almost tore a hole through my canopy!”
“Sorry, Mr. Thompson,” Kat apologized guiltily.
Kat fled the scene, with Maria following closely behind.
“What am I doing wrong?” Kat moaned, resting her head beside a plate of french fries and a hotdog buried under a mountain of toppings.
Kat and Maria had given up trying to talk to any stray cats and retired at a small restaurant on the edge of town, which also happened to be the only restaurant in town. Its interior hadn’t seen a major facelift for forty years. The walls were decorated with various street signage and old movie posters of the owner’s favorite films, of which the most recent one was an action film from 1995. Water stains covered the ceiling, the booth-style seats had tears, the tables wobbled, and a crackling AM radio played classic rock from the 70s.
It was a pit, but to those who lived in town and ate there all their lives, it had its charm.
“Your food’s getting cold,” Maria said, taking a bite of her turkey and cheese cold-cut sandwich.
Kat rotated her head toward her food, dunked a french fry in the ungodly amount of ketchup she’d dumped onto her plate, and took a bite. She then double-dipped and finished the one single fry. “I’m not hungry anymore,” she whined, pushing the food away from her.
“But all you had was one fry,” Maria said. “You need to replenish the calories you burned running around all morning.”
“I can’t eat. I’m too frustrated. Every time I see a stray cat, they up and run off like I’m going to capture them or something.”
“You act like they never did that when you were a regular human.”
Kat turned her head back toward the window. “I guess.”
Maria put down her sandwich and took a sip of water. “That’s just what stray cats do. They see someone, and they scurry off. They’re distrusting of others, and they should be, being wild animals more or less. If they weren’t, they’d have a much harder time in the wild.”
“But it’s not like they don’t understand me. I’ve even listened on some talking when I try and sneak up on them.”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t be sneaking up on them?” Maria suggested, resuming eating her sandwich.
“I have to, or else they’d run off before I get a word in! I’ll say ‘can I ask you something,’ and they bolt! Why can’t they be like Ludwig? I talk to him every day now since being transformed.”
“Because Ludwig is domesticated and a family pet. He’s had human interaction all his life and accustomed to it.”
“But I’m not just some regular ol’ human anymore, Maria!” she shouted, banging the table with her fist. Her plate clattered against the hardwood table as it wobbled from the interaction. “I’m part cat now! We share an ancestry, sorta! Why don’t they understand that!” She grabbed her soda and chugged it down in one go, letting out a loud exhale and a burp shortly after. Wanting more already, she walked over to the old soda fountain and dumped every flavor into her cup, and returned to her seat.
“You may be part cat, but that’s the thing. You’re ‘part’ cat. Not completely a cat. Maybe they think you look scary to them?”
“Me? Scary? What are you talking about? Everyone has told me I’ve become adorable since the transformation. Are you calling everyone in town a liar? Huh?”
“Again, that’s only the human side of things. Sure, people think you’re cute, but what about cats? Maybe they don’t see you as this adorable little mascot like the townsfolk do. What about Ludwig? Has he ever mentioned to you how he perceives you?”
The memory of Ludwig calling Kat a grotesque-looking cat replayed in her mind. It was a really embarrassing moment that she didn’t feel like reliving, nor did she want Maria to know that her family pet called her “grotesque.”
Kat took another french fry and dunked it into her ketchup. “H-he said I was cute,” she said, throwing it into her mouth.
Maria glared at Kat, knowing something was suspect. “Is that so?”
Maria frowned and reached for her parasol in a threatening manner.
Kat choked on a french fry. “I was kidding,” she said between a fit of coughing.
“What did Ludwig say?” Maria inquired again.
Kat glanced away, pouting her lips. “I don’t want to say it. It hurt my feelings.”
Maria returned her parasol to her side. “Well, maybe the other cats see you the same way as Ludwig did initially, and that’s the reason every stray cat you try to speak with runs away from you?”
Kat pulled on her hair in anger. “What’s good being able to talk to cats when they all run away from you!” She then grabbed her food and started shoving it into her mouth.
“I thought you weren’t hungry,” Maria said.
“Eyef chernged mer mernd!” she replied, bits of food spitting out of her mouth.
Kat grabbed her soda and washed the food down. “I said I changed my mind!” She ate the rest of her lunch, then licked the ketchup off the plate until it was spotless. Still annoyed with her current situation, she decided she deserved a desert. “Pops! Hit me up with a chocolate milkshake!” she shouted.
A graying, middle-aged man poked his head out from the back kitchen. “You got it, Kat!”
Minutes later, he arrived with a large chocolate milkshake, topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and a cherry. Kat took her straw and began sucking it down, smiling with pure delight at her chocolatey treat. “Aaawww yeah,” she moaned in pleasure. “That’s the stuff.”
Maria picked up her purse and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Putting all of that aside for the time being.” She placed the paper onto the table so that it was facing Kat. Written on it was an announcement that the community pool was going to open, the date stated being the next day. “The pool is opening tomorrow.”
“Oooooohhhhh!” Kat cheered, grabbing the paper and holding it up. “I’ve been waiting for this! I even bought a new swimsuit and had Mom add a tail hole the other day!”
“I figured as much. Would you like to go tomorrow?” Maria asked.
“Heck yeah I do! You gonna bring your siblings?”
Maria nodded. “I also need to teach Carlos how to swim this year.”
“I can do it!” Kat shouted, holding up her hand. “I’m, like, the best swimmer in town! Nobody can hold a candle to me!”
“Are you sure?”
Kat pounded her chest. “Leave it to me! I’ll have him swimming like a champ by the afternoon, or your money back.”
Maria laughed. “Okay then. I’ll tell everyone when I go home.”
Kat and Maria finalized their plans for their trip to the community pool, then paid for their meals and left the restaurant. The two then split for the day, as Maria had to return home to do afternoon chores. Kat waved to Maria until she was out of sight, then skipped home, excited about finally being able to go swimming again.