A Kat's (GOD AWFUL!!!) Blessing
The Kingdom of Cats continued onward in their march through the forest, led by Marshmallow. They were moving slower than they ever had, as Marshmallow wasn’t as quick as Boss when it came to making decisions. He would sit and think on things, sometimes overthink them, just to be extra sure that whatever he decided was the most “correct” choice.
But his indecisiveness was obvious. Whereas Boss would immediately give a response on what to do next, Marshmallow would litter “ums” and “uhs” throughout his sentences. This affected the confidence people had in him. Morale was already at an all-time low with the news that The Cat God had gotten Boss and mutated him. Some had hoped that Boss would somehow return before they were to leave, calming everyone down, just as he always had whenever he went out and fought for the Kingdom of Cats.
But when the pet cats of the owners of the farm came to let them know the humans were soon to appear and they had to vacate the barn, their hopes were dashed.
Boss was gone.
The linchpin of the Kingdom of Cats was gone.
Marshmallow was now in charge, and he was giving it his all to keep things together. But even he knew he wasn’t up for the task. He was at best an advisor, not a leader. His strengths lied in being a supporting role.
An elderly stray cat lost his footing trying to step over a log and fell, injuring himself.
“Hold!” Marshmallow commanded the others. He then ran over to the elderly cat. “Are you hurt?”
The elderly cat shook his head. “Just a tad exhausted from all this walking we’ve been doing these past few days. I’m not built like I used to be.”
Marshmallow looked at the condition of the elderly cat, then decided maybe it was time for a rest. “We’ll rest here for a while!”
The news of another rest stop, while pleasing to some, was the straw that broke the camel’s back for others.
“This is the third time since we started this morning!” yelled a younger cat, who was in their physical prime. “We can’t keep stopping every single time someone feels a little bit tired!”
Another cat, who was already at their breaking point, finally snapped. “We’re crawling at a snail’s pace! How can it be this late in the morning and we’re still wandering around in the middle of the forest!”
“You’ve got to calm down!” another cat jumped in. “Some of us are exhausted and aren’t as physically inclined as you guys are!”
The initial cat laughed. “You’re right! You guys aren’t! So why am I wasting time slowing myself down waiting for you all?”
“Yeah! Why do we have to suffer just because you guys are slow!”
“Because we have to work together as a community!”
“What’s the point?! It’s not like any of you slowpokes have done anything for me! Heck! I’d be better off if I didn’t have to share my hunting spoils all the time!”
“Yeah! Why are we wasting our time for your sake?!”
About a dozen cats quickly turned on one another, arguing about the slow pace, and slowly devolved into being tired of their current situation. Threats of a few breaking away from the Kingdom of Cats started flying, prompting a response from Marshmallow.
“Stop it with your arguing!” he shouted. “We are a community! We should be trying to help one another!”
“This community is falling apart, or have you not noticed! And don’t even get me started with your poor excuse of leadership!”
Marshmallow was taken aback, becoming furious. “If Boss were here—”
“Boss isn’t here!” the young cat argued. “Boss is gone! He’s abandoned us!”
“I bet that story Marshmallow said back at the barn was a lie. I bet Boss ran off.”
“Boss wouldn’t abandon us!” argued another.
“Then where is he?! We need him now more than ever, yet he’s nowhere to be found!”
“Maybe Marshmallow stabbed Boss in the back so he could take over and become leader.”
This accusation infuriated Marshmallow. He would never do something so treasonous. “Y-you take that back! I would n-never!” he stuttered, trying desperately to hold his fury back.
“Look how he’s stuttering! I was right on the mark!”
Marshmallow jumped at his accuser, with the two tumbling around biting and scratching one another. The fight was short, however, as Marshmallow was easily pinned down. He was never much of a fighter, to begin with, and his brief adrenaline rush could only do so much for his poor fighting skills.
“You can’t even stand up for yourself, yet you want to lead us?” the cat spat. He turned to a few of his friends. “Let’s go, fellas.”
His friends nodded, and the small group started to walk away.
“Where’re you going?!” Marshmallow shouted.
“The Kingdom of Cats has fallen. We’re not gonna stick around wasting our time waiting for those who can’t keep up with our pace.”
Marshmallow watched as the group of strays started walking away. He clawed at the dirt, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. There was pain all over his body from the numerous cat scratches and beatings he took, but it was nothing compared to the pain he felt in his heart.
He had tried to keep the Kingdom of Cats together in Boss’ absence.
His efforts didn’t even manage to last until lunchtime.
I failed, he thought. I’m sorry, Boss. I let your years of effort crumble within a day. I can’t replace you.
“Hello!” shouted a voice from a distance.
The strays that were about to leave halted. Everyone’s ears perked up.
“Anyone out here?!” it yelled again.
“Boss!!!” the entire Kingdom of Cats yelled in unison.
happiness and relief overcame all of the strays. Even those that had threatened to leave. Boss’ presence meant that much to them. He represented safety. He was a father figure to those who became part of the community as kittens. A foundation of bedrock for their lives.
Everyone continuously called out his name so they could be found. They were all lost kittens, waiting to be found.
When a nearby bush rustled, everyone’s hearts jumped, expecting to see Boss hop out as a beacon of hope.
“Oh!” Kat said, stepping out from behind the bush. Her tail snagging on a branch.
Everyone looked at Diabolus Calico with disappointment. A collective “oh” murmured.
“Hey, Boss!” Kat called out. “I found them!”
The bush rustled, once again causing everyone’s heart to jump.
“Everyone!” Boss said, happy to see his fellow strays.
But when they saw him, a collective gasp escaped their mouths.
“A Diabolus Maine Coon…”
Kat became exasperated when she heard that. “Aw, come on, guys! It’s Boss! Same as always! He’s not a monster or whatever!”
Boss put a hand on Kat’s shoulder. “It’s fine, Kat. I’ll take it from here.”
Kat looked up at Boss, then stepped back, understanding that it was best to leave things to him.
“Everyone in the Kingdom of Cats. I have returned. But, as you can see, I am no longer the cat I once was.”
“Then what Marshmallow said was true?” one asked.
“Did you really confront that cat god?”
Boss gave a silent nod, resulting in everyone murmuring amongst themselves.
“It is true. Our youngest member of the kingdom and I had a run-in with The Cat God, who gave us his ‘blessing,’ as he called it. The same ‘blessing’ that had impacted our friend, Kat, here,” he said, motioning to Kat.
Kat smiled and gave a short wave.
“It was quite a shock when I obtained this form. I had to deal with changes to my body. Not only that, but I have gained the ability to communicate with humans.”
The murmuring amongst the strays grew louder.
Boss cleared his throat, causing the cats to silence themselves.
“Putting that aside, for now, I have come with good news for you all! The Kingdom of Cats has found a new home!”
“Really?!” a stray asked.
“You’ve found us a new home?!”
“In your condition?!”
Boss continued. “It just so happened that I ran into one of the human owners of the farm we had camped at last night. When I expressed our circumstances to her, she had willingly given us permission to continue living on the farm, and is settling matters with the other owners to figure out the specifics.”
“But… can we trust them?” Marshmallow asked. “They’re human, after all. How do we know they won’t suddenly turn on us?”
“Ever since our encounter with Kat, I have been thinking about our relations with the humans in town. Part of the problem has been a lack of communication between humans and cats. Now that I’ve gained the ability to directly interact with them, I see now that there is a possibility to coexist. It will not be a perfect coexistence. I cannot guarantee that. But of the people I talked to, I have come to realize that they are not all bad people. They even offered assistance to us once they came to learn of our troubles.”
Boss knelt down on the ground. “That is why I wish to move the Kingdom of Cats onto the human-owned farm, and try to live in harmony with them. It is a huge ask of you all. I know. You are putting your lives into the hands of humans by living on their property. We are giving away our autonomy. Those who do not wish to relinquish that freedom and would prefer to abandon the Kingdom of Cats, then I wholly understand. I will not stop you.”
He then put his hands before him, and bowed his head, touching his forehead to the dirt. “I may no longer be just a cat anymore. I have been transformed into the very kind of creature that we had demonized for the entirety of this summer. My words may no longer carry the same weight now. But believe me when I say that I am still me. I am the same Boss who wants nothing more than to help and protect you all. For you are my family.”
He raised himself. “So I ask of you, despite this new grotesque form that I take, in which I may never change back. Despite having failed to save our home from collapsing. Despite the anguish and turmoil, I led you through this past week. I ask you to put your faith in me once again. To trust that I have the best interest in you all. My family, whom I love with all my heart.”
Marshmallow stood up and limped over to Boss. He placed a paw on Boss’ knee. “Boss…” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. “Boss!” he cried.
“Boss!” another cat cried, running up to him.
Kat watched as all of the cats quickly ran up to Boss. They cried out his name as they rubbed their heads against him and hopped onto him. All of the Kingdom of Cats buried Boss with their affection.
Boss let out a laugh as he tried to hug them all, which proved to be a challenge even with his increased size.
Their leader was back. Their Boss was back.
With the Kingdom of Cats in tow, Boss and Kat marched to Maria’s, where they met with Maria’s parents. After some discussion, Boss and the cats were offered to stay around the guest house, on the condition that the stray cats stayed mostly in the back area of the farm as not to be a nuisance. The last thing Maria’s dad wanted was for something to happen to them, whether getting injured by farm equipment or getting too close to Charles Bark-ly.
Discussions then turned to who the kitten should stay with, but those talks ended quickly after she refused to leave Boss and the rest of the Kingdom of Cats. It was cramped living, but she and Boss were already used to it.
With the Kingdom of Cat’s living situation settled, Kat and Maria took Boss and the kitten around town to properly introduce themselves. With Mrs. Keensley having gossiped rapidly about them to everyone, their introduction to the townsfolk went smoothly. Some joked to Boss saying now they had someone they could bother in case any stray cats caused a problem. Boss apologized for any past behavior, and let them know that if there were indeed any issues, please contact him and he will handle it.
And with that, Boss, the kitten, and the entirety of the Kingdom of Cats were given a place in their small community.