About Felines and Fiction

An ardent cat lover and amateur creative writer from Scotland.

Billy and Teddy’s Christmas Adventure

By Rachel H Grant

Billy and Teddy lay side by side in the winter sun, central heating cheer in their bones and Christmas mirth in their purrs.

“Time to wake up!”

Billy rolled over. Not again.

“Yes, it is me, Ambrose! I have a new mission for you.” The large ginger cat scratched the floor to accentuate his words.

“But it’s Christmas!” moaned Teddy. “A time for games and fun, not for serious missions and what’s that word you love, destiny!”

“Your destiny has found you!” declared Ambrose sternly. “But not to worry, this is a fun, a Christmas mission! Not too many miles down the road is the very very special village of Mormond. It is a village of good Christian people, however with the highest rate of illness in the region! They need some good Christmas vibes. They have erected a large Christmas Tree in their award winning village park. You need to go there and rub round it, not difficult for you at all but the effects of your feline healing energy emitting from the tree will benefit all the villagers.”

“Healing energy? Us?”

“Do not underestimate the powers we have given you! It is a cat’s mission to save the earth. How many times do I have to say this before you will take me seriously? But today, I am only asking you to save the village of Mormond.”

Billy yawned dramatically. “I suppose we can fit this in before tea time.”

“No,” proclaimed Ambrose. “You must go at night, when few people are around. The last thing we want is a good citizen seeing you and catching you as a stray! It’s the kind of village where anything –or any cat – unusual is noticed.”

“Very well then. We will continue with our nap for now!”

Ambrose returned at 11pm, or – in cat speak – the time of day when owners are in bed but there is still some food in the dish.

“Get in the time capsule! Of course, this time you are not travelling in time, it is simply a flying machine today.”

Billy and Teddy arrived in the park, frosty air filling their lungs as a gentle moonlight guided their way. The Christmas tree was so large it overshadowed the grass expanse around it. “The tree is ridiculously huge!” laughed Teddy. “They must really love Christmas trees here.”

“I guess the end of year budget was healthy,” agreed Billy. “Well, let’s do our magic and get out of here!”

So they rubbed around the tree. Then again. And yet again. “This is fun!” proclaimed Teddy. “I wish all our missions were this easy!”

“Is that enough?” wondered Billy.

“We’ve done as instructed. Now let’s get out of here!”

“Wait,” said Billy. “There are other parts to this park. Let’s explore. We can be tourists now our mission is complete.”

“And what an easy mission!” sighed Teddy. “Is Ambrose really serious? Heal the village through a Christmas tree? I suppose he knows best, Cat Elder that he is.”

So Billy and Teddy began to explore, visiting first the rose garden, then the rock garden with its many gnome figures (“Do these come alive at night I wonder?” mused Billy) and finally the children’s playground, where they ran up and down the slide in glee. “I don’t know about children, but this is certainly good for cats!” cried Teddy.

Then they returned to look at the Christmas tree one last time. To their surprise, it was surrounded by human size feline like animals, furry but erect, with tails yet two human legs, and the largest green eyes they had ever seen.

But they were preparing to carry off the Christmas tree.

“No!” screamed both Billy and Teddy in horror. “They can’t do that!”

They raced over. One of the strange animals turned. “It … it is them!” it stuttered.

Another of the beasts came towards them. “It is an honour to meet you, Billy and Teddy.”

“You … you know us?”

“We have followed your stories and your missions across time. We are the Mutalians from the planet Tango. We have some very dilute feline blood in our genetics, an experiment from millennia ago which went wrong. But enough of that. Suffice it to say, we have a connection to Earth cats, and we have particularly been watching you, Billy and Teddy. Your adventures are legends on our planet. Of course, this is the first but possibly not the last time that we will interfere. A Christmas tree with your healing energy! I’m afraid we could not resist. It is coming with us!”

“But you can’t do that!” hissed Billy. “The tree is meant for this village!”

“Perhaps there is a solution,” pronounced Teddy. “Why not find another Christmas tree and we will simply rub around it too? Then you have your tree, and so does the village of Mormond!”

“Well said! Well said! I can see why you two are heroes. Will you wait here while we find a Christmas tree? Our space shuttle is also a time capsule so we will literally be one minute.”

So that is what they did. Billy and Teddy had great fun rubbing around yet another Christmas tree.

“You don’t know how very grateful we are. This tree, it is going to a children’s hospital on our planet. Until the next time, Billy and Teddy! There is a future mission of yours we are keen to witness! We will see you then!”

“What mission?”

“Spoilers! You will discover one day.”

And they were gone. “Well,” said Billy, “that did not go as smoothly as we expected!”

“It’s hard to believe creatures on another planet have heard of us,” agreed Teddy.

But it was time to return home. Christmas Day awaited, with turkey and lots of naps on their parents’ knees. Pure bliss. Time to forget, yet again, that they were heroes. Time to be normal cats.

But for how long? They asked Ambrose when they would see him again. His eyes twinkled. “Perhaps in a week or two.” Then he was gone.

Christmas morning dawned, as a wave of healing love engulfed the village of Mormond. Its citizens enjoyed a Christmas like no other, with peace and good cheer reigning high.

Billy and Teddy gazed out their window as the first snowflakes fell. It was a white Christmas. As they chased snowflakes, far away in another galaxy, children awoke in hospital to a feeling of love, aches and pains forgotten. It was time to enjoy Christmas, as they circled the grand Christmas tree and opened their presents, delight dancing in their eyes and hope stirring in their hearts.

And just for one day, all across the cosmos, Christmas peace touched every heart. It was a Christmas to remember. But for Billy and Teddy, it was just another adventure to forget. Until the next one.

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Snow Kitten

By Rachel H Grant

Melissa turned restlessly, holding her cross tightly to her chest. It helped her to feel a connection to Chloe, her daughter who had died of cancer last month. The metal bit her skin as she clutched it, but she did not notice. She turned over again, night-time teasing her closed eyes with the prospect of sleep. But it would not come.

Then she heard it. A scratching at the back door, followed by a frantic meowing.

Slowly she rose, her legs weary, and her senses sleep deprived. Melissa opened the back door and beheld the first winter snow, gently raining down like a promise of peace from heaven. On the doorstep, a pure white kitten shivered, the colour of snow, a winter wish come true.

Melissa swept it in to her arms, all her ills forgotten. Cuteness squeezed her heart, the spell of love stroking her soul. With a bang she closed the door on the cold night. The kitten began to purr.

She steamed some milk, which the kitten drank ravenously.  Melissa smiled for the first time in weeks, but she did not notice. She was transfixed by the kitten.

Small and dainty, with deep autumn leaf eyes, it was the perfect chocolate box cat. “You are like a ballet dancer in a white tutu,” decided Melissa. “I will call you Odette, after the ballerina in Swan Lake.”

Odette became her cherished companion. Sleep returned, laughter resumed. She truly was a gift from heaven.

“You are sent by Chloe,” murmured Melissa, holding her cross.

The winter crept slowly through snow-topped days. Odette grey bigger and to Melissa she was ever more delightful. Then spring stretched its paws as the first snowdrops appeared. Melissa went to bed one night with Odette in her arms, but the next morning she was gone.

Melissa searched everywhere, painting the village white with her snow kitten posters. But Odette was never found.

Months passed. Melissa wrote a children’s novel about a magic kitten. Then another, and another. The Snow Kitten in DisneyLand, the Snow Kitten in space. The ideas came, and more ideas came. It was fun, and so surprising to find herself published. The legacy of the snow kitten would live on.

But Melissa would not. Decades had passed, and she was an old lady. One night, she retired to bed with bad indigestion. She did not feel well at all. As she drifted to sleep, the sound of purring filled her ears. She sat up. It was Odette, and still a tiny kitten. Melissa smiled. There would be a new book to write. The Snow Kitten and time travel.

She slowly succumbed to sleep, a deep slumber from which she would never awake. When her neighbours found her, they were surprised to find a white whisker on her pillow. They searched the house, but there was no sign of a cat.

In a house far away, a small girl cried. She was bullied at school, and her best friend had moved away. Then she felt it. Claws on her back. Stephanie looked over her shoulder. A snow white kitten beheld her, deep golden eyes answering all the questions she never knew she had. She smiled, and took the kitten in her arms. It was just as she had imagined the kitten in her favourite novel, The Snow Kitten at Christmas, by Melissa Thomas.

The kitten purred, pure love in its eyes. Its travels were over.

In another dimension, Melissa and Chloe played in heaven. One day, perhaps, a snow white kitten would join them. But not today. A perfect day, just over the horizon.

Meanwhile, Stephanie laughed. She had found her perfect day. Perhaps it would never end. Because a kitten’s purrs last forever.

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(c) Can Stock Photo / pressmaster

A Labrador’s Most Excellent Adventure

By Rachel H Grant

Prequels:
Billy and Teddy’s Most Excellent Highland Adventure

Billy and Teddy’s Excellent Adventure

In their favourite corner of the room, Billy and Teddy slept in the sun chasing mice through a daisy-dotted meadow. Life was good.

They had forgotten their previous adventures, the notion of time travel a muted memory in a dream from afar. They had no time to think about it anyway. Their lives had awoken in to something new, every day an adventure, and all because of their new house companion Marty the Golden Labrador. Through his young and curious eyes they saw the world afresh. And it had become a better, a more exciting place.

Billy yawned in his sleep, then stirred, immediately alert. Teddy raised his head.

“I wondered when you two would wake up.” It was Ambrose, the large ginger cat from their previous adventures. What did he want now?

“I have never met two so reluctant heroes,” admonished Ambrose. “But it’s not just you two I need today, it’s Marty too!”

Marty ran in to the room, and barked nervously. “Tell him to stop that!” shrieked Ambrose. “My ears are so sensitive. A drawback of time travel, I fear.”

Marty sniffed Ambrose, and barked again. “It’s okay, we know this cat,” reassured Billy. “But life does get more interesting when he is around! What do you want us to do now?”

“It’s very simple. Marty is a Labrador, the classic guide dog. The instinct to help is strong in him. We need him to help America’s first guide dog! He must convince her to make the relationship work, to try her hardest to be a good assistance dog. Because she has doubts you see. But she is so important. Buddy the German Shepherd will be the first of many; the future depends on her! Your task: to take Marty to meet her, and to impart his Labrador wisdom to her. He instinctively knows how to guide: he needs to help her. If he succeeds, history proceeds as it should. If not, history, the history we know, may be rewritten.”

Teddy looked dubious. “How can you possibly know this?”

Ambrose arched his spine aggressively. “Do not doubt me! When I first recruited you two, I knew you were special, reluctant heroes as you are. So I did a bit of research, looked at articles from across time in the ancient cat library of the cosmos. But more of that on a later adventure. As A Cat Elder, I am allowed access to this library, which spans time, and all times. I have searched for traces of you two throughout history. I am happy – or is that afraid? – to say that the mentions are innumerable. You appear so many times I almost wonder whether there is another cat duo, somewhere. You achieve an unbelievable amount of success. But history is fluid, it can change course. It is my job to keep you on track! I will make sure that the important missions do indeed take place. Nurturing the first American guide dog is one of those missions.”

Teddy and Billy look at each other, resignation burning a hole through their eyes. “I guess it’s our time to shine once more,” muttered Teddy sarcastically.

“Let me tell you about Morris Frank and his guide dog Buddy, the first guide dog in the United States and one of the most memorable and acclaimed dogs in history! Marty has a major task: to teach her Labrador empathy and service.”

A half hour later, Billy and Teddy had convinced Marty to join them in the tiny time capsule. It was a squeeze, but the journey did not take long. The joys of 21st century time travel! “By the way,” asked Billy. “When are our humans going to try time travel?”

“They won’t,” said Teddy. “It’s not been invented yet.”

Then they were there, in a Swiss village in the year 1928 confronting a beautiful female German Shepherd. Marty fell slightly in love straight away.

“Hello Buddy. You are important,” he whispered. “That’s why we are here.”

“My name is Kiss,” she replied.

“But you are to become Buddy. A pioneer, fate has chosen you to leave a great legacy to be remembered forever. Seeing dogs. You will be the first in the US.”

“Me? How can I become such a pioneer? I am just an ordinary dog!”

“Let me teach you.”

Billy and Teddy stared in disbelief. How had young mischievous Marty turned in to this master teacher?

“You and Morris Frank are the pioneers at the heart of guide dog history. Blind persons all over the world will thank you, your legacy lasts forever.”

“I want to see the future! I want to see what we achieve!”

Marty looked at Billy and Teddy for help.

“Time to see Ambrose!” they cried in unison.

So it was back to their house. “What are you doing?” shrieked Ambrose. “Why is Buddy here? She has no place in the future, she is a dog of her own time!”

“She wants to see proof of her legacy.”

“Ah.” Ambrose nodded thoughtfully. “A clever dog. Let’s show her the statue of Morris Frank and Buddy in Morristown, New Jersey, USA. Billy and Teddy – you are going to the land of the free, the continent of big dreams and even bigger dreams come true.”

“Cool,” said Teddy. “When will this assignment be over?”

“Don’t be so impatient!” scolded Ambrose. “Perhaps I should show you your future statue too?”

“We have a statue!” breathed Billy.

So it was off to the US. Buddy was overjoyed. “It is me! In stone!” If dogs could cry, this is when the tears would fall. But Buddy only barked lightly, joy and disbelief forming a ribbon in her eyes and a knot in her heart that would never now be broken.

“I must get back! There is a mission to get on with!”

“And remember every day,” said Marty. “Remember these words. They will echo through canine eternity, and will sound – silently – to so many blind persons. And in your eyes, are my eyes. And in your legs, is my strength. Man’s best friend, a soldier by my side.”

“And in your eyes, are my eyes,” repeated Buddy.

“What about our statue?” whined Billy.

Back in their house, Ambrose was waiting. “Is Buddy returned to her time?”

“Yes and ready for her destiny. History will never forget her.”

“Excellent! So I suppose you want to see your statue now? I can’t tell what you do to deserve it. Spoilers! Suffice it to say, there are many adventures still ahead of you. I will programme the capsule to the year 2163, to a safe corner of the British Museum no less!”

“Museum? Us?”

“Yes! You are heroes! Please don’t let it go to your heads.”

Then they were there, overwhelmed and overjoyed in equal measure. The British Museum was alive with action, people like blood pulsing through its veins, a non-ending stream of noise and energy. Billy, Teddy and Marty hid behind a statue as they stared in astonishment. Then they cautiously approached the statue further down the hall, two cats and a dog staring down at them in brilliant bronze.

Children stopped and stared. “It’s them!” They pointed at the statue in excitement. “It’s them!”

The time travelling trio reached the statue, disbelief dimming their vision. Two small cats and a Labrador, larger than life. Could it really be them? As they could not read, they did not know what the plaque at the statue’s foot proclaimed. Perhaps it was better that way. Spoilers!

People continued to stare. “Let’s go,” muttered Billy nervously.

They raced back to their time travel pod. But when they arrived behind the large statue where it was hidden, there were two black cats and a chocolate Labrador there, staring at them in what looked like awe.

“We knew we would find you!” squealed one of the cats. “We knew there were another us!”

“Who … who are you?” muttered Teddy dumbly. A strange day had turned even stranger.

“We are time travellers, just like you! From the stories in the cosmic cat library, we suspected we weren’t the only ones. It is recorded that on this day a cat duo and dog are seen in the British Museum. We came to find out – is it us. Or you!”

“I am Leo,” said the other cat. “This is my brother, Bruno. We live in the year 2068 but have travelled all over time. There is a large Egyptian spotted cat, Ramses, who directs all our adventures. He is one of the cat elders.”

“We have a cat elder too, his name is Ambrose,” said Billy. “Hey, why don’t we do an adventure together!”

“Why not indeed!” laughed Leo. “Where and when do you live?”

They entered the time capsule and Billy showed them their home coordinates. “We will be sure to get you when we know our next adventure!”

Meanwhile Marty sniffed the new Labrador in excitement, as friendship ignited in his heart. “This is Smartie,” said Leo. “Labradors are great companions, whether at home or travelling through time, as I am sure you have found out!”

Then it was goodbyes in cat style, head butts and purrs. Soon, the intrepid trio were back home. But something had changed in their hearts, forever.

There was another time-travelling trio. Future adventures lit their eyes with inner fire. Where would these adventures end?

But for now, as the sun shone, it was time for another nap. After all, time travel was an exhausting business. They did not tell Ambrose about their encounter. Spoilers! One day he would find out.

As they slept in the sun, the future changed around them. But they did not notice. It was time to sleep.

Far away, in the US, a new statue to Morris Frank and Buddy was erected. In another dimension, in a far off heaven, Morris Frank looked down on Earth, as tears formed in his unearthly eyes. Buddy sat beside him, a friend to the end.

The words beneath the statue read:
“And in your eyes, are my eyes. And in your legs, is my strength. Man’s best friend, a soldier by my side.”  Words that would echo through eternity, and bring light to the dark of blindness. For dogs are man’s best friend forever.

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Cat Pen Memories

4 August 2013
Cat pens update: new cat Mia is the embodiment of fun, she loves to play and does not like being returned to her cabin afterwards! Hopefully she will soon have a large garden to run around in. Ali enjoying her stroll in the corridor; Trixie as adventurous as ever. Milo seems settled in, his second week here, eager for affection. New cat Bella is gracefulness and dignity in feline form. She is lovely, her foster home is on holiday and I reckon they may keep her when they return 🙂 Resident feral Aaron, who loved the Whiskas Oh So Meaty pouches I took with me, is enjoying the summer weather (and no doubt a mouse or two). Finally, I’m delighted that Alfie, who was new last week, has already been rehomed – pictured below…

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Cat Pen Purrs

16 June 2013
Cat pens update: the beautiful Musui enjoyed his turn in the corridor – pictured; Stumpy desperate for affection; Ruby playing in the cat tunnels; Trixie and Ali the black and white wonders out for a stroll; meanwhile poor beautiful plump Sally now on a weight management diet. Aaron resident feral around for his breakfast, he has been there forever and never seems to age!

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Moggy Memories

13 May 2012
Cat pens update: Jamie is homed, replaced by Lexi, a very very elderly frail soul with a meiaw that is barely a whisper. Ginger boy Mannie has really come on in confidence, he is desperate for attention now, and sleek black Hector and Harriet are as adorable as ever. Norman is enjoying playing in the cat tunnels, while poor Fifi has an eye infection and returns to the vet on Tuesday. It’s good to be back.

Melting Memories

… of the cat pens (and my first moments with Tibby, who then became my Tessa).

10 March 2013

Cat pens: all well at the pens, all cats venturing out to the outer corridor for a run around – but very quickly returning to their cosy cabins! Felix playful as ever, Munchkin much more settled – he is a lovely boy, Sox desperate for a cuddle, Jynx enjoying being brushed and Tibby enjoying some affection. New boy Merlin is a handsome black gentleman of 12 years (pensioner age in human terms!) – see photo below.merlin3