Chapter 1:

The arrival of the stranger!

All Tabbies have a place to go


“Nadia?”

”Meow!” An orange tabby kitten came running into the living room with too much energy and ended up tripping on the rug tumbling over until she sat up right.

“Nadia…what were you doing?” Mandy asked her tiny orange companion.

From the front door, you can see the closet in the bedroom was cracked as usual. Mandy rolled her eyes, picked the culprit up and made her way to her bedroom. Upon entering she placed Nadia down to find a roll of toilet paper mauled to confetti sprinkled around the room. Nadia slowly seeped out of the room as if she knew it was wrong.

Sigh

Mandy needed to see her closet, opening the foldout door a little more to get a better look inside she stepped in. She began lightly inspecting the places she thought would be more appealing to a kitten…nothing seemed to be out of place.

Pleased with this result, Mandy picks up the mess and heads to the kitchen. Tossing the torn up bits of toilet paper in the trash before she goes to the cabinet above the stove to reveal a wide variety of treats. Careful to glide her hand over the lobster and crab treats to grab a blue tuna treat bag with a smiling tuna fish on the front of it. Mandy had always found this odd, if the tuna is being eaten why would it be smiling…

“Meow!” Nadia interrupted, demanding her treat, snapping Mandy back into reality.

“Oh, haha. I didn’t even shake the bag. Were you watching me this whole time?” Mandy asked Nadia as if waiting for a response. She scratched Nadia on the cheeks and was greeted with a light pur. She placed a single treat on the counter Nadia was pacing on. Nadia inspects it, smells, throws it off the counter and hops down to gobble up her snack.

“Come on, let's go for a walk!” Mandy grabbed a yellow harness hanging on the wall by the doorway where her keys were. She scooped Nadia to her lap and began putting the harness on her. Nadia had a grumpy look, but sat still allowing Mandy to put the harness on with no problem.

“Now, this is easier than it used to be.” Mandy acknowledged, “The daisies all along the harness make you look like a flower girl!” Nadia let out a soft meow, as if to acknowledge back.

Mandy started to put her shoes on as Nadia began chewing the leash.

“And we’re off!” an excited Mandy opened the back door and plopped Nadia in a brown wicker basket with a multi cat linen graphic lining the inside attached to the handlebars of a light pink cruiser bike. She walked it around the house to the backyard fence door, and pushed it opened. She hopped on, riding down the driveway for a small speed boost and began pedaling as fast as she could down the road. Nadia couldn’t stop darting her eyes everywhere interested in everyone and everything the view has to offer. Then she spotted a big cat in the woods with dark fur or at least she thought it was a big cat. Its hair was really long making it difficult to tell its actual size. It was only for a brief moment but their locked eyes and the cat vanished into the bushes. Nadia didn’t think much of it.

A little over 10 minutes had passed and they were no longer on a sidewalk, they had entered a path to a nearby park. Barking can be heard in the distance, children playing, and an ice cream truck with a line of people in front of it was in the parking lot. Nadia looked over at the ice cream truck and began meowing excitedly.

“Yes, I know!” Mandy stopped her bike at a bike stall and grabbed Nadia’s leash; however she needed no help getting out of the basket; she was too excited about the ice cream. After Mandy placed her bike in the stall it printed a small ticket with a QR code to later retrieve the bike. The bike lifted into the air and secured itself in place alongside other bikes that were lined up on the ceiling.

“Alright, now for some ice cream!” Mandy sounded just as excited as her kitten. They made their way to the back of the line. Nadia, done with standing, climbed Mandy’s body to rest on her shoulders. As they waited in line people were curious and began asking if they could pet the tiny orange feline. Mandy let a few people pet Nadia but asked if everyone could keep space though because she might get overwhelmed. Some people took photos while others waited for their turn.

They were so distracted, Mandy didn’t realize that the line moved so much it was her turn.

“Hey are you getting an ice cream?” the ice cream man asked.

“Oh, yes, sorry I didn't notice it was my turn.”

“That's fine superstar with a girl, what can I get y'all?” He joked.

“Haha can I get two soft serves, one strawberry and the other vanilla?”

“Cup or cone?”

“Both cups please.”

“Coming right up!” The ice cream man turned around to begin making the cups, when an impatient Nadia couldn’t help but jump through the little service window. Mandy, who still had the leash, tried to pull her out before he turned around, but it was too late Nadia brushed up against the man's leg causing him to let out a shrillish scream and fall over hitting the switch for the ice cream causing it to dump faster. It started cascading to the floor. The man was still yelling and trying to get up but kept slipping on the ice cream. Finally he pulled himself up and turned the switch off. He sat down for a moment to catch his breath. He looked over and saw a mound of ice cream moving suspiciously, he was about to yell out “rat” when he saw a yellow band lined with...are those daisies? He thought, attached to the moving mound.

“What on earth…” He muttered out loud. He stood up and looked out his window, following the yellow leash to see a frozen Mandy with a look of disbelief. He slowly tugged the leash to reveal an orange cat licking as much ice cream as she could off the floor. He picked her up by the harness, now licking the frozen tasty treat off herself and carefully placed her through the window into Mandy’s hands.

“I am so sorry I-” before she can finish the ice cream man covered in ice cream raised a finger to his lips as if to shush her and slowly closed his serving window. After a brief moment the truck started and drove away to the dismay of everyone in line.

Mandy rushed to the restrooms to grab paper towels and covered Nadia in them.

“That was not cool pumpkin. You’re taking a bath when we get home. But I don’t want to put you in the basket like this. Sometimes you’re just such a handful.” Mandy added a comment with each bunch of towel paper she grabbed.

After about 20 minutes they were ready to head home. Mandy walked with a sticky Nadia back to the bike carousel. She scanned her ticket and the machine roared to life, spinning other bikes around until it got hers. As she waited for this, she glanced toward the exit and spotted Janeli Releno and her dog Peanut Butter. They were standing right at the main entryway of the park. Mandy quickly turned to avoid any eye contact.

Good grief, I should take the long way home. Mandy thought to herself, she could take the side entrance but then she’ll have to pedal up that big hill. She turned slightly to check the entrance again to see Peanut Butter barking in her directions in intervals, gradually getting faster. Mandy took Nadia off her shoulder where was trying to peek over her, to see what all the noise was about, and placed her near her chest to hide her with her body from the yapping dogs eyes.

They’re ride finally came down. Nadia wiggled out of Mandy’s grasp and jumped into her usual spot before the bike even exited the carousel. Nadia rubbed her head in the inside of the basket, she loved riding around with Mandy. Mandy hopped on the bike after she pulled the clamps off the frame. She rode toward the western entry, looking back for a final time to see Janeli and Peanut Butter leaving.

Once Mandy got to the exit, she checked both directions. The coast was clear. She started pedaling down the street toward her house. After about 15 minutes Mandy had come to the steep hill she was dreading.

Sigh

“I guess I’ll walk it from here” She said aloud to Nadia. She hopped off her bike and took a deep breath before trudging up the hill. Mandy, who runs track and plays lacrosse, was sweating halfway up this mountain, thought to herself, who would want to live on this block?

After making it to the top, Mandy put the kickstand up and sat down for a moment to catch her breath. Just as she was ready to get up she heard a familiar yapping, oh no, three girls on cruiser bikes were riding in from the opposite direction toward Mandy’s way. Nadia watched in curiosity from the basket.

Mandy tried to pick herself up fast enough to get on her bike but the girls surrounded her with their own bikes. They each popped the kickstand and got off their cruisers one by one, starting with Janeli. Peanut Butter, in a basket of his own on Janeli’s bike, was yapping and growling in rotation as if he didn’t know which he wanted to do more.

“I hear your feral rat attacked the ice cream man in the park. How…expected of a stray.” Janeli began, prompting the girls to offer a snarky laugh.

“Hello Janeli, did you become a detective yesterday?” Mandy snapped back.

“As if, you’re starting to make the rounds!” Janeli looked at her friends like she was searching for approval.

“What do you mean by ‘make the rounds’?”

“You're going to be trending soon! You forgot to smile for the camera but your shocked dumb face is priceless enough!” Janeli said with excitement while pulling her phone fro her pocket. She tapped through it for a moment then smiled deviously as she found what she was looking for. She offered Mandy a view on her phone, however an ad for a coffee popped up.

“Ugh, wait I gotta skip this.” Janeli said as she rolled her eyes and clicked the skip ad button after a few moments. This delay killed the mode a bit but Janeli turned the volume up again,”here it’s playing.”

I just want my ice cream! What is happening up there? I've been waiting for 2 whole minutes and the line hasn't moved! The video caught the last of the episode Nadia caused only showing an ice cream truck driving away with distraught ice cream wanters. Mandy could be seen with an ice cream covered orange feline licking herself. She was seen rushing to the restrooms and the video cuts back to the ice cream truck exiting the parking lot and then back to the line of people who are now just a crowd aweing at the loss of the chance to get ice cream.

“Is this it? I have to go, thank you Janeli for sharing.” Mandy said sarcastically, getting on her bike with a curious sticky kitten watching for the basket.

“Well, its gonna spread like-”

“Peanut butter?” Mandy cut in to offer. One of the other girls let out a burst of laughter similar to a hyena in labor. “Look, I have to go but I would love to hear more soon, chow.” Mandy didn’t give Janeli a chance to say anything back. She pressed forward and passed a yapping dog that got louder after hearing his name. The girls stood there in shock as they watched Mandy pedal off.

“Meow?” offers a still curious Nadia facing Mandy before turning back to the front to see where they are headed.

“Nothing I can’t handle, pumpkin.” Mandy said, petting her tiny companion as she said pumpkin. She couldn’t help but have a slight smile on her face.

They make it home. Mandy rides up to the backyard fence door, lifting her leg over the seat to stand on one pedal as she nears the fence hopping off to open the gate. She opens it, pushes her bike through to the back of her house, and sees her father sitting on a patio couch under a square tent with a small linen chimney on top. Smoke from his cigar rose though it.

“Hey skittle, where are you coming from?” her father asked.

“The park, I wanted to get ice cream.” Mandy answered though she wanted to just shower and sleep.

“Your mother was calling you earlier...said your phone was going to voicemail” he said in between puffs.

“Yea it died and I couldn’t find the portable charger, I thought I grabbed it.”

“Well your mother is inside making dinner why don’t you let her know you're alive and well.”

“Okay dad.” she said lastly as she grabbed Nadia out of the basket and she went through the back door to the living room. Taking off her shoes she could smell her mothers cooking. She started walking to the kitchen when a soft meow made her turn around, she looked down to find Nadia struggling to take the harness off alone.

“Hold on come here” Mandy undid the clips and freed Nadia of her restraints. She took the opportunity to run away. “Don’t get lost, you're taking a bath!”

Mandy followed the smell of food to find her mother at the end of the aroma.

“Hey darling! Did you finish your homework before you went out?” her mother asked.

“Uh, yes I think so.” lied Mandy.

“Right, of course after a shower and dinner you’re going to finish it if you haven’t started it.”

“Okay” Mandy replied, grabbing a spoonful of pasta to taste, Mmm, just right.

“Go shower now, dinner is almost ready.” her mother shooed her away.

Mandy went upstairs to shower. After her shower she went to find Nadia. She found her in the window sill in her room. Come on, it's time to shower. She scooped Nadia up and headed to the bathroom and placed Nadia slowly in the water. Nadia got slightly nervous but allowed Mandy to place her in. she scrubbed her clean while Nadia had a grumpy face the entire time. She finished and wrapped her in a blanket drying her as best as she could then made her way to the kitchen to fix Nadia some dinner to join everyone eating.

After dinner, Mandy began her homework while Nadia roamed around the house. She visited every window, until she found the one she wanted to sit by. It was one of the laundry room windows that sat in the corner of the room creating almost a panoramic view of the backyards and small forest over a few houses. Nadia loved it because it was right above the fence lines so she could see plenty of the area. But what was that walking in the distance on the fence? She spotted another cat. She stood up and the cat outside looked at her direction and started making its way to where she was.

The cat outside appeared on the fence in front of the window. Nadia could see it was smaller up close. It was a gray kitten.

“Hey, what are you doing in there?’ the stranger asked.

“Uh, I live here..what're you doing out there?” Nadia asked back.

“I’m, uh, wondering, looking for something,” he replied.

“What did you lose?”

“I didn’t lose anything.”

“So who lost it?”

“No one lost it, it’s just not easy to find.”

“What is it?”

“A door.”

“What kind of door?”

“I’m not really sure.”

“So you’re looking for a door you don’t know looks like?”

“Yes, It’s a gateway, I've heard. To a place where only we can go!”

“Only ‘we’?”

“As in cats.”

I don’t have anywhere to go other than my home.”

“Of course you do, all tabbies have a place to go.”

“Haha, I thought you were a tabby, you're just gray!” Nadia giggled as she thought to herself she was looking in a grayscale mirror,”what's on the other side of this door?”

“I don’t know but I heard there's an endless sea of fish and sky full of birds and a forest of rodents waiting to be hunted!” the strange kitten explained excitedly, “Well if I’m ever gonna find it I gotta keep looking.”

The gray kitten was about to jump out of view down the opposite side of the fence when Nadia yelled out

“Wait, will you come back to tell me if you found it?”

“I’ll come back to tell you when I find it” he offered with a grin.

“What is your name?”

“Usually Leo, what’s yours?”

“Nadia Tabernacle.”

“See you later, Nadia.” he leaped down on her side and walked down the side of the house out of sight. How interesting Nadia thought as she put her head down to nap on the window sill and then chuckled to herself haha all tabbies have a place to go.