Chapter 19:

The Kingdom of Cats (3)

A Kat's (GOD AWFUL!!!) Blessing

Ludwig looked up at the dull gray sky like a prisoner being led away from society to his cell. Despite the lack of sun, it was insanely hot outside with a one-two punch combo of summer heat mixed with high humidity. He swore if it got any more humid he’d be able to swim around in the air.

Surrounding his neck was a makeshift collar made of the ribbon Kat got from her mom, tied into a small bow in front of his neck. One end of the collar extended upward like a leash, which was tied around Kat’s wrist. She was carrying a twenty-pound bag of dry cat food in her arms. Her feet dragged across the damp ground as she struggled to walk in a straight line. Sweat dripped from her fur, drenching her clothes.

“It’s hot,” Ludwig noted.

“I heard you the first hundred times,” Kat responded, adjusting the bag of cat food in her hand. The longer she carried it, the more it felt like she was hauling a boulder. “But yeah, I agree.”

“I can’t even remember why we’re out here. My brain’s just about cooked!”

“We’re going to the Kingdom of Cats. Remember? Deliver food? Earn goodwill? Get cat god info?”

“Oh. Right. That. And why did I have to come along on this adventure? I’m a simple house cat. I’m not accustomed to this much exercise. Look at my legs. Do these look like the legs of a cat that takes regular hikes?”

“You’re out here to lead us the way to the Kingdom of Cats,” Kat said, re-adjusting the bag of cat food in her arms again. “It’s not like I know where it is. You could use a little exercise anyway. Work off that bowl of food you ate earlier.”

“I’m perfectly comfortable with my size, thank you,” Ludwig replied. “Also, I’ve got something to tell you, but I’m afraid of saying it, considering how much we’ve been walking.”

Kat sighed. “Spit it out. I’m too exhausted to get mad.”

“You promise?”


“Okay. I don’t know where the Kingdom of Cats is.”

Kat stopped right in her tracks. “You what?”

“I said I don’t know where it is.”

The large bag of cat food fell from Kat’s arms, hitting the ground with a loud THUD.

“You mean we’ve been walking all this time without you knowing where we’re going?!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Her anger was multiplied by the intense humidity and heat.

Ludwig cowered back a bit. “You promised you were too exhausted to get mad!” he whined.

“That’s before I knew we weren’t going anywhere!” she yelled. “Where were you leading me all this time?!”

Ludwig stood back up. “Leading? I was following you!”

“But why would you follow me when I don’t know where I’m going?!”

“I dunno! I just figured you might’ve known something that I didn’t!”

Kat threw up her arms. “I only learned about the Kingdom of Cats like an hour ago!”

Just as he was about to make a retort, he stopped himself. “Yeah. I guess that does make sense now that I think about it. I’m telling ya, this heat is doing a heck of a number to my brain.”

It had turned out that both Kat and Ludwig were walking side by side for the past hour, assuming the other knew where they were going. This resulted in them arriving in the middle of nowhere.

Kat grabbed her hair in frustration as she let out a subdued scream. Once her anger was let out, she took a deep breath, then exhaled. She repeated the process over and over again until she found inner peace. Or as much inner peace as she could amidst the hot humidity.

“Okay,” she said calmly, picking up the bag of cat food. She wiped off the bits of mud that stuck to the bottom. “Let’s keep going.”

“What?!” This time it was Ludwig’s turn to let out his frustration. “Keep going?! We don’t know where we’re going?!”

“But we’ve come this far! It’ll be all for nothing if we turn back now!”

“And, what? Keep wandering around aimlessly with a bag of cat food in tow? No way. I’m not partaking in this sunk cost fallacy. I’m heading home.”

Ludwig tried to walk away, only to choke on the makeshift collar and fall over.

“And just where do you think you’re going?” Kat said, growing a sinister grin across her face.

“You can go on your own. I’ve got a spot under the AC at the house with my name on it.”

“But I am the one in control of this situation.”

Ludwig tried to claw off the ribbon. “You’re a slave driver!”

Kat got down on her knees. “Come ooonnn, Ludwig! I need you to be with me when we get to the Kingdom of Cats! They’re all afraid of me! But if they see you, someone they trust, maybe they won’t run away the moment I show up! You could even introduce me to them!”

Annoyed, Ludwig looked up at Kat with a glare. He was in no mood to deal with this. Why bother today when it’s hell outside when they can put it off until tomorrow? Or the day after?

When he looked at Kat, he was met with a depressing pout, staring at him like a sad little puppy. The glistening of the sweat in her eyes gave the appearance of tears.

Ludwig wanted to reject her. He looked away, refusing to give in to the power of her cute face. But she leaned closer to him, leaning her head on his back with a whimper.

“Aahhh! Alright! Alright! Let’s go before I change my mind,” Ludwig said in defeat, kicking a rock in the road.

Kat stood back up with a smile. “I knew you’d come around!”

The two resumed their march along with dirt road.

“That was cheap of you to pull that move,” he complained.

“Sure, but it worked, and that’s all that matters!” Kat laughed.

“You’re evil, you know that?”

Kat laughed sinisterly, playing up the role.

“Despicable, even!” Ludwig said.

An even louder, more evil laugh bellowed up from Kat’s gut.

“Now you’re going too far.”

Kat went for an evil, mad scientist laugh, but Ludwig cut her off.

“No, I meant you had the right kind of laugh after I called you evil. Once I got to despicable, you were trying too hard.”

Kat sighed. “Gotta be a killjoy, huh?”

“Sorry,” he apologized. “It’s hard to keep a bit going when you’re hungry,” he said, patting his stomach.

Out in the distance, carefully studying Kat and Ludwig, was Marshmallow. He watched in horror as the Diabolus Calico forced a defenseless obese cat to march behind it as it let out a succession of laughs, each more sinister than the last.

Kat and Ludwig were also too far away for Marshmallow to have heard the entire conversation, thus losing context.

The stray cat dashed back to the Kingdom of Cats in a hurry, hoping he could get help in time to free the monster’s prisoner.


Back at the Kingdom of Cats, Wolfgang and Amadeus returned from their donation collection with cheers from the other strays. Boss welcomed them home.

“I pray that your trip was free of danger?” he asked.

They lowered their heads. “We were confronted by Diabolus Calico,” one of the pair said.

Boss narrowed his eyes.

“It was at the tailor shop, home of Ludwig,” Wolfgang said. “He was in the middle of handing us a can of wet cat food when it fell from the sky between us.”

“We immediately fled, just as you told us to,” Amadeus responded. “However, it didn’t give chase. When we returned, the cat food was gone. Ludwig also didn’t respond to our calls.”

Boss lowered his head, gripping his claws to the floorboard of the rotting porch. Diabolus Calico has now turned its attention to the house cats and not just us strays, he thought. “I see… His continuous contributions to us were a massive help. I hope that he simply was unavailable and not…”

A sense of guilt hovered in the back of Boss’ mind. He feared that his actions to protect his fellow strays had inadvertently increased the danger to the house cats in town. Those cats who gave them provisions for years and helped his cause were now at risk of losing their lives. Though as dangerous it was for the strays to survive out in the wild, they could at least flee into the wilderness. House cats were locked away within the confines of their homes. They were sitting ducks. If Diabolus Calico managed to enter, there was no hope for them.

He felt that he had to act. This reign of terror could not continue. But it was also a fool’s errand to run around in search of Diabolus Calico. It would only tire him and the others out before they would be able to confront it and fight with all their strength.

If only we knew when and where it could be located, we could devise a plan to initiate an assault, Boss thought.

“Boss!” cried a voice from the tall, uncut grass growing alongside the abandoned house.

Seconds later, Marshmallow leaped out from the grass, running to the steps leading to the porch.

Boss stood up, alert. “What is it?”

“It’s Diabolus Calico,” he said between pants. “It’s close by with a cat hostage!”

All the strays began to murmur amongst one another in confusion and fear.

“Do you know who it was?” Boss asked.

“It was an obese Calico.”

Wolfgang and Amadeus raised their heads. “Ludwig!”

Relief and urgency had replaced the guilt that had depressed Boss moments ago. “How was he?”

“He appeared exhausted from marching in the heat, but otherwise I believe he’s unharmed. Diabolus Calico has him restrained, however.”

There’s still time! Boss thought.

Boss hopped onto the railing of the porch, towering above the dozens of strays that made up the entirety of the Kingdom of Cats. They all looked up at him, prepared to listen to what he had to say.

“Fellow strays! We have gone too long living in fear under the terror that is Diabolus Calico! Not only that, but our actions to save ourselves have also put the lives of cats in town at risk! Those cats who have gone out of their way to aid us! One of our benefactors, who has selflessly given us food for years, is now at the risk of losing his life! But there is still time! We must defeat Diabolus Calico!”

The strays began to murmur once again.

“Us? Take on Diabolus Calico?”

“That’s suicide!”

“Can we even fight it?”

Boss called out to them to cease their talking. “I do not wish to put your lives in danger, so I will act alone if I must. Nobody needs to risk their lives in this battle. But if you wish to join me, step forward now!”

There was hesitation amongst the strays. They wanted to be rid of Diabolus Calico, but none felt they had the power to do it alone. Would it be possible to let Boss take it on by himself? Of course not, they all knew. It would be suicide. But aiding him could also be suicide.

“I’ll come!”

A young gray cat, barely two years old, stepped forward.

“If it means the survival of the Kingdom of Cats, then I will gladly sacrifice myself for everyone here!”

After another moment, another cat stepped forward. “So will I!”

And then another. “And I, as well!”

One by one, the strays stepped forward, until the entirety of the Kingdom of Cats rallied and cheered, ready to give it their all to protect their home.

Boss smiled. “Together, we shall take down Diabolus Calico!”

The strays hollered, pumping themselves up.

“Let us go! Marshmallow!”

Marshmallow nodded. “Right!” he said.

Boss hopped down to the ground and followed Marshmallow into the tall grass. The rest of the strays ran behind them, stomping down the grass.

They were ready for war.