By Rachel H Grant
Billy and Teddy chased a butterfly across the garden. The sun stroked their backs like a proud mother cat.
Suddenly, a cloud of leaves spun between them like a hello from far-off autumn. A wind tousled the plants as a shape took form. It was the time capsule.
Regal ginger cat Ambrose emerged, eyes twinkling with feline secrets. “Billy and Teddy! I have a very important mission for you. It will be like no other!”
The sun lit stars in Billy’s eyes. “Another famous pop star to save?”
“No, this will be a real star, or to be more exact, the moon!”
“The moon?” repeated Teddy in confusion. “That white light in the sky at night? We can’t go there! It’s a long way away and looks very cold.”
“Yes, you are going there, but back in time! Men landed on the moon in 1969, as the world stood still in collective awe. But there is a plan afoot. Our feline cousins the Mutalians plan to sabotage the event, a vain attempt at establishing first human contact on international TV, watched the world over. They are complete show offs, and we won’t let it happen. Of course, I know feline history. Two earth cats save the day, yet again! Yes, Billy and Teddy, today you will become space travellers for the first time! Did I never tell you that the time capsule is also a spaceship?”
“Who … who are you Ambrose?” stuttered Billy. “Where do you come from, really, that you have all this technology?”
“One day we will have that talk. Not today. Today you need to prepare for the trip of your life! You’re going to the moon! The time capsule is already programmed for you, with two special cat suits for you to wear that will allow you to breathe on the moon, and so much classier than the human astronaut suits of 1969!”
“We met the Mutalians at Christmas,” stated Billy. “They said they would see us again.”
“Of course, they have access to the feline historic archives too. And they can time travel. But they are no friends of mine, I assure you!”
“They are friends of us.” Teddy arched his back in a huff.
“None of that!” admonished Ambrose. “If they are your friends you should enjoy seeing them again in these historic circumstances! Time awaits you, history is hissing at you! There is no time to lose!”
Billy and Teddy argued for a bit longer, but then resigned themselves to the fact that they were going to the moon. The moon! Them! Sometimes, they wondered what life would be like if they had never met Ambrose. The latter briefed them on the mission, eyes shining as though mini moons were inside.
So they travelled through time and space, to the moon in 1969.
It was superbly strange, looking down on Planet Earth beneath them. Then they entered the purple time tunnel, which ended just above the moon. They meowed in anxious anticipation. Space travellers, them! It was really happening. Time sucked in its breath, as in July 1969 Billy and Teddy landed on the moon.
The time capsule had been programmed to go to the far side of the moon, far from history’s favourite landing site.
Billy and Teddy nervously jumped from the capsule, missing its warmth immediately. Their space suits clung to them like a badly fitting collar. The light was dim, like a low wattage light bulb reflecting off the ground beneath them. Above stars accentuated the sky with a promise of other worlds … other life. Then Billy and Teddy saw them, their alien friends walking confidently towards them in similar spacesuits to their own.
They beheld in silence the large part feline, part human beings, upright on two legs with large green eyes that seemed to drink in their very souls.
“We knew you would come,” spoke the largest feline, finally. “We know what you do now. You are going to try to dissuade us from meeting with the first human Moon explorers? But why? What a wonderful experience for Planet Earth, the first Moon landing combined with their first alien contact! What could comprise a better combo?”
“Well, first of all we would be forever in your debt if you leave now!” pronounced Teddy. “Adventurers for hire!”
“But more importantly,” intoned Billy slowly, so glad that he could use telepathy as meowing would be impossible through his tight spacesuit, “now is not the time and place. The peoples of Earth are watching their TVs, these annoying things that keep our humans strangely amused. There will be mass panic if what they term as aliens appear! Mankind is not ready. Fear will be your outcome, not a happy hello. Let Earth enjoy its first man on the moon moment. Don’t ruin it.”
“But we have come so far, and are so keen to establish contact! We are half human, and have so much in common, yes with the humans of Earth but also with its felines! We wish to meet both, to help both. Our mission is benevolent.”
“So we have an alternate plan, or at least our Cat Elder Ambrose does. You time travel, right? You should fast forward to the year 2020, when something called a global pandemic is happening! Ambrose says this is why our humans are home all day! Not that we are complaining. No, that is when mankind needs a helping hand, when contact with a coronavirus cure will be most welcome!”
“A coronavirus cure? Let our top scientists work on that. They can go undercover in 2020 to obtain a viral sample. Then we can work on it in our labs and yes … with our more advanced science, a cure is possible.”
“So we are agreed? You will return to Earth in 2020?”
“You have our feline promise, as proud as the loudest purr.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the moon, Neil Armstrong placed a foot on its surface, stating with historic simplicity, “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” On the planet below, the cheering began.
History was to repeat itself in 2020, during the coronavirus crisis. “I’ve got a plan,” Ambrose had confided to Billy and Teddy when they returned and told him of the mission success, with the punchline: “The Mutalians are going to come for us one day, and take us on a tour of their planet.”
“Well, well, well, fraternising with fellow feline adventurers! They will be pleased with my plan. Downing Street cat Larry is a recruit of mine. I will ask him to telepathically relay an idea to Boris Johnson. One to pass on to his friend in the US!”
And so it came to pass, that President Trump decreed a day of remembrance of the 1969 moon landing, as a means of instilling national pride and resounding hope during the coronavirus crisis. The famous footage was broadcast on every news channel, as a national day of “socially distancing” celebration took place.
President Trump gave a rousing speech at the end of the footage. “One giant leap for mankind is still in our hearts, in our collective memory like a song that never stops. That is because the indomitable will and aspirations of the US peoples will never die; we are a nation of pioneers, inventors, geniuses and entrepreneurs. Greatness defines us, and no living memory sums up the American psyche better than the moon landing 50 years ago. We succeeded then, and we will vanquish new worlds today. Coronavirus will not defeat our great nation! It …”
A hush, edging on hysteria, struck the crowd. But they were not looking at President Trump.
“We have come in peace.” The words were intoned softly behind him. President Trump turned, in alarm. “We have come in peace, and we have chosen to make contact today. Peace … and a cure for coronavirus.” The half human, half feline creature held up a vial of golden fluid. “Your coronavirus crisis is over. We have come to save you.”
The alien held out a hand. President Trump shook it, speechless, as history was streamed live worldwide. “We have come to save you, and to learn from you too. We are half human and half feline, we are the Mutalians from the Planet Tango. We have much knowledge and science to share.” The Mutalian stopped speaking, in relief. No telepathy today, this was hard work, enunciating words designed for another race.
President Trump finally spoke. “On behalf of the United States, and indeed the world, I welcome you. The world is ready for our next adventure. Space travel will be ours, new worlds to explore, new civilisations to found. With our new friends, the next chapter begins. From landing on the moon, to the universe. I welcome you, friends, I welcome you.”
Social media was in meltdown, as the world ditched disbelief for hope. A new day would dawn, a new future, pregnant with exciting possibilities. And it all began in 1969, when the Mutalians first decided to make contact with Earth.
Billy and Teddy watched the annoying TV box with their parents, in elation and stupefaction. The future would be different … but it would be good.
That night, a space capsule landed outside. Billy and Teddy ran through the catflap, as the Mutalians emerged from their ship. “We have come to take you on a journey, to our planet Tango. Will you come?”
The telepathic yes left their minds, as they smiled inside. Another adventure, and this time one that did not involve Ambrose! The future was theirs to play with, like a favourite toy mouse, always there, always fun.
The future was as golden as the coronavirus cure.
TO BE CONTINUED