The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (director: Will Sharpe) is a first class and fascinating film which portrays the life of genius artist Louis Wain (1860 –1939). Uplifting and moving, the film charts Wain’s rise as a renowned illustrator of cats: depicting felines with oversized eyes and latterly in larger than life psychedelic detail. An incredible talent, Wain’s marriage, widowhood and final descent in to madness are relayed with sensitivity and stark detail.
As a cat lover, Wain served as president of the UK’s National Cat Club, and contributed to the global rise in popularity of feline pets. To him, felines everywhere owe a debt of gratitude.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy excel in the star roles of Wain and wife Emily. Wit tangoes with wisdom, emotion waltzes with enlightened monologues. The film is at once life-affirming and sad, a journey through love, notable achievement, fame and finally the fog of mental illness, a mist that shrouds a life with mystery and regret.
This film is a must see for art and cat enthusiasts alike.
Irina walked slowly through the old house, brushing her wanton dark curls from her face, brown eyes glowing with fervent fire. The creak of ancient floorboards sung a story beneath her feet, the beat of time sending shivers up her legs. Old pipework groaned, a poem of the passage of life. The new house was medicine to her soul, a powerful place in which to finish her novel.
Her beloved tabby cat Tabitha had peacefully passed away only weeks ago. The novel would be a celebration of her life; the story of a cat lover and sanctuary manager who learned to talk to cats, using the ancient language of telepathy.
Walking down the stairs in time to its creaks, Irina suddenly stopped. She could hear a cat purring. Irina hunted through the house. However there was no cat. An imagination on fire, that was all.
That night, Irina awoke abruptly, jumping as if she had heard a shot. She had felt a cat kneading the blankets next to her. She turned on the light. Nothing there.
Over the next few days, a pattern formed: distant purrs and night-time kneaders. Never a cat in sight. Was the house haunted by a feline soul?
It was New Year’s Eve. Irina sat alone but not lonely, her fictional characters chattering in her head, a strange solace. Absent-mindedly she moved her hand to stroke Tabitha, and then stared at the empty spot on her lap as tears finally formed in her eyes.
Then she heard it, punctuating the quiet atmosphere of the house like a drum.
A miaowing coming from her bedroom. She ran upstairs. However, despite searching the entire room, including removing all boxes from the wardrobe, there was no cat to be found.
That night, Irina again felt a cat kneading her blankets. This time, she did not even bother turning on the light.
On New Year’s morning, a crimson sunrise greeted her. As she set the coffee machine to go, Irina turned round in soul-slapping surprise. Someone – something – was scratching her back door.
Nervously, she opened the door. A large tabby cat confronted her, marching in as though he lived there. Irina smiled. Was this her ghost? But how could he have hidden from her?
Irina named him Zac. Despite attempts at advertisement, no owner materialised. Her local vet scanned for a microchip, but there was none. He was hers, and how her heart hiccupped with joy at the prospect of keeping him!
The midnight miaows, nightly kneading and distant purrs all disappeared. In their place, a real live cat had claimed her heart and secured his food dish.
Irina finished her novel. She typed the last line, then bounded down the stairs, Zac in tow. Time to relax. Zac curled on her knee, as a crimson sunrise shimmered in her chest, rays of celebration in her heart.
In Irina’s office, the computer keyboard lay lifeless, until one black whisper fell on the letter T. A sound of purring whispered in the room, and then all was silent. The room was empty. An old soul lingered for one minute longer, eyes glowing with supernatural gold. Then it was gone.
Downstairs, Irina’s smile was stuck on her face like a stamp. She thought of the last lines of her book, and wondered whether she should reword them. “A love of a cat endures long after their death, like a a sun that can never burn out. Feel that love, and you will never be alone.”
A stray draft tousled her hair, then was gone. Zac slowly licked her hand. Peace claimed the house, like a cloud of serenity, raining down silence. Irina closed her eyes, contentment caressing her heart. It was a new year, time for the ghosts of yesterday to go home. New days would come, and with them new dreams. Zac began to purr, a song for tomorrow.
Noah lay in bed, tears rolling down his cheeks, a heavy stone turning in his heart. This was his first Christmas without Cheetah, his much adored Bengal cat. He had written to Santa asking for a kitten, however his mother had informed him that Santa did not give out living animals as gifts, and in fact no one should, as Christmas gifts may end up in an animal shelter after only weeks or months. “A cat is for life, not just for Christmas,” she intoned solemnly. “Besides, we will get you a kitten in the spring.”
However for once in her life, his mother would be proved wrong.
Noah awoke to feel something moving next to him. He stifled a scream, his six year old body quivering, his ginger curls standing in electric shock.
Tentatively, he opened his eyes.
A white kitten lay curled up before him, deep yellow eyes begging him to play.
Noah giggled. Had Santa really brought him a kitten?
A piece of paper lay on his bedside table, with lyrical old-fashioned writing like a missive from the past. “Love him like a glittering jewel, his feline power is beyond priceless.”
And so began a fifteen year relationship of fun and frolics. He named the kitten Miracle, as that is what he was and always would be.
Noah’s Mum was speechless. Had her husband bought the kitten without telling her? However, she quickly resigned to the presence of the new feline.
Noah grew in confidence and hurtled feet first in to a new happiness. Miracle lit up his heart like an inner candle of joy. He began a new hobby, football, and in-between practice spent happy hours with his cat.
Little did he know, that Miracle really did suit his name. He was a magic cat, chosen by Santa just for Noah. Every time Miracle looked in to Noah’s eyes, he imparted deep and ancient wisdom. Noah grew in more than just size, as maturity and magic magnified his mind.
The football hobby eventually turned professional; Noah had realised his dream. However, the day after his first record-breaking goal, the sixteen year old Miracle died. He had delivered his mission; Miracle had helped Noah grow in to the man he was and the man he would become. Miracle had furnished a new future, just as Santa had hoped and had foreseen.
Noah became famous, a pin up poster boy for young teenage girls. At the pinnacle of the young man’s stardom, dark times threatened to devour the planet. War whispered on the horizon, world peace as frail as a one hundred year old piece of paper.
It was during this period that Noah delivered the speech of his life during a routine TV interview.
“I have a heart to hope, and a soul to cry. Let’s choose the tears of friendship, and scrub out sobs of war and terror. Let’s choose peace over war, let’s create a paradise not a graveyard. Let every man and child, everywhere, live to see the sunset rise again in the pinks and reds of a brave new dawn. Let’s leave our children a better, a safer, a more peaceful world. Let’s begin now. Alight the flames of love in your heart, look at your brothers and sisters, feel their pain, share their hopes and fears. Remember we are one, one human race, one planet. The future is ours to set free. Set it free to be reborn like a phoenix from the flames, set it free to deliver happiness and health to all, set it free to pulse to the quiet drum of peace. Banish the dismal drums of war forever. The future is ours, it is ours to mould like clay, let’s become master potters and mould the world we really want to see. Let peace perfume our world, a fragrance for the future of all time. Let love light our souls. Let compassion calm our rage, and empathy erode our divisions. It is time to stand united. It is time to say, enough, no more. It is time to create a paradise right here on Earth.”
Noah’s speech went viral. His message struck a chord at the heart of each nation, and the people knew a fresh hope.
Father Christmas watched with a silent smile on his lips. He had chosen Noah well. Miracle had performed his purrful magic to perfection.
However there was no rest for Santa. It was time to choose a magic Christmas kitten for yet another child. Santa’s smile grew wider.
Charlie turned over in bed, excited for Christmas Day, wishing it were here already. As he closed his eyes, a whisker fell on his pillow. A ginger kitten sniffed his hair, and curled up in the arch of his legs. Charlie would awake to a new friend … and the world would one day know a new leader. A man with the love of a cat colouring his soul. A leader with the innate instinct of a cat, and with feline secrets in his heart.
Teddy woke up, his eyes twitching with dream-driven excitement. He had met King Teo, Ruler of Tigers. A huge tiger with twinkling wise eyes. “I am giving you a mission,” intoned King Teo. “Save the Highland Wildcat.”
Teddy meowed softly. Billy raised his head, whiskers twitching. “We have a new mission,” said Teddy.
The two cats stared in to each other’s eyes, their previous adventures roaring in their hearts.
“We need to help the Highland Tiger. I guess we should ask Ambrose what to do.”
Ambrose was the regal Cat Elder who had assigned all their previous adventures, a large ginger cat with a vicious sense of humour. They had never attempted to summon him before. Using feline psychic powers, they blasted him a message using a mystic wavelength. Cheaper than the phones their parents played with! “Ambrose, we ask for a mission to save the Highland Wildcat!”
Billy and Teddy looked at each other, a cat grin lighting their eyes as they heard the familiar whirring of Ambrose’s time capsule.
Then it was time to explain about King Teo. Ambrose regarded them sternly. “You boys have been up to unsanctioned mischief! The time capsule is not for frolics and fun. But yes I will help you.”
Ambrose’s eyes lit up with inner fire as he mentally planned their adventure.
After several minutes, he spoke (in cat telepathy of course), with a determined demeanour.
“Do you recall the healing energy I attuned you both to so many cat moons ago now?”
“How could we forget,” said Teddy drily.
“I have a new magic energy for you. You will be Feline Healers Supreme! And there are so many more adventures that could use this energy … “
Ambrose jumped in to his time capsule. He returned as violet smoke filled the room, emitting from the capsule like a swarm of ferocious fireflies.
Billy and Teddy felt their eyelids droop, as the smoke of a thousand senses massaged their minds.
“Wake up you fools! The smoke is attuning you to rejuvenation energy. You can impart it to anyone you rub around. It is a longevity pill. For a cat, you will gift them an extra two or three hundred years to live!”
“What about our humans?”
“This energy is feline, it only works on cats. But cats are magic. Heal the right cat with this, and you heal the world.”
“Okay, so how does this help Highland Wildcats?”
“There are beautiful feline souls I visit often, resident at Highland Wildlife Park. Alas, they are not wild and free. But these wildcats have the perfect chance to produce kittens. The longer they live, the more kittens there will be, kittens who will be released in to the wild and will repopulate the Scottish hills and glens with our feline poetry in motion, stanza in stripes cat – the Highland Tiger.”
So the three cats climbed on to the sofa and planned, purred and planned. Then it was time for Billy and Teddy to weave their molten magic.
Wildcat William slept in his pen, deep within the Highland Wildlife Park. He dreamt of a beautiful princess, a wildcat named Leiana with mystic powers. He purred as he slept, a perfect dream of a better tomorrow. Then the sound of a bizarre today awoke him. A strange silver machine had landed in his pen. He growled grimly.
To William’s surprise, a small black and an even smaller grey cat emerged. Their eyes beamed hellos … and something else. “We have come to save the Wildcat.” William appraised the two felines, wondering whether they were fools or heroes. “We only need to rub around you, and your life will become so much longer … “
William regarded them with disdain. However, something in his heart fluttered at the thought of living longer, surely something they would all like to do.
“How much longer?”
“Two or three hundred years, during which time your offspring will take over all the highlands and ensure that wildcats continue for centuries.”
“If this is the case, I have one wish. Return in two hundred years, and set me free! I wish my last days to be there, in the wild, where we all at heart belong. The song of Scottish streams and the murmured poems of trees, these are in our blood. The land is just an extension of us, we are the soul of Scotland. Yes, come back and set me free.”
“And there will be a surprise when we come back,” declared Billy with a twinkle in his enigmatic eye.
So William the Wildcat lived in the Highland Wildlife Park for two hundred years, never aging one year, his sleek healthy body the wonder of scientists. Tourists from all over the world came to Scotland just to see William. He was an international supercat-star.
A religious group famously worshipped William, recognising him as a son of God, and conducting an annual religious gathering in Aviemore. Other groups made William their honorary chair. A cuddly William replica became the mascot of many sport clubs. William children’s novels and William animated films were adored by children the world over. William was truly an inspiration to any and all.
Sometimes William thought of Billy and Teddy, but not very often. The years soldiered on, days turned in to months then years, time flowing like a river that would never stop. However life did not improve, it just went on and on. Was this the magical life Billy and Teddy had promised?
One day at sunset, a strange whirring sound broke his slumber. It was them. They had not forgotten their promise.
“I am young but weary, healthy yet so tired,” pronounced William. “I am ready for my final days, and it is time to be free!”
“We have a special surprise.”
Billy and Teddy transported William to the place and time they had deposited Princess Leiana, Highland Wildcat princess with magical powers, so many adventures ago. “She will be near,” they advised William in reverent telepathic tones.
“The legendary Princess Leiana is real? We tell all our kittens her story. But we never believed it.”
With that, William walked proudly in to the woods, a solitary figure in the light of the setting sun. Freedom fired his heart. The scent of the wild filled his lungs. The spirit of Scotland shone in his eyes. This land, his home, his legacy. From the undergrowth, the eyes of his many offspring watched shyly. A king was in their midst. And as the last Wildcat King, he would be remembered forever. For memories do not die, they live in stories, in happy endings that enchant children and in the poems of tomorrow. Memories are feline meows deep in the heart, a Scottish song of a thousand better futures, a ballad of beauty and unwritten wisdom.
William’s disappearance from the wildlife park prompted many conspiracy and religious theories. His statue at Edinburgh Castle gazed disdainfully at his fans, fools and heroes both. And in his granite eyes, secrets simmered and died.
Dedicated to my mother, who inspired my love of both felines and fiction.
Olivia gently stroked the tiny white cat, its little black patches like rainclouds in a summer sky. She would call her Sammy. A mystery cat, found in the village and never claimed. Olivia could not resist, her heart melting when she met the little stray in a neighbour’s house. Mrs Russell was more than happy to hand the cat over. “I have quite enough cats already!”
Soon after Sammy arrived, Olivia bought a notebook and fancy pen. She did not know why, an impulse on the wind. Then the dreams came. Every night, deep in sleep with Sammy next to her, the dreams rained a river. They would not stop. It was a story with no beginning or end, but a tale she must tell.
Every morning before getting ready for work, Olivia would spend half an hour just writing. The words flowed, a deluge of drama. It was a soap opera kind of story, beauty and betrayal, love and lies, fear and fights. She could not stop. Then one day, the novel was finished.
The next day, Sammy went out as usual, and never returned.
James found the tiny white cat on his doorstep, shivering in the dawn cold. Despite notices in local shops, no one in the town claimed her. So she became his new best friend.
He had never owned a cat before, and was surprised how easy – and how rewarding – it actually was. There was a hole in his life since his wife left him for his best friend. At least little Tabitha would never betray him like that.
Then the dreams began.
Each night, a story playing in his head. Each dream started where the other one finished. Eventually, he could stand it no more. So he began to type on his laptop each morning, recording the dreams. The story grew and grew.
One day, the 80,000 page manuscript was finished. James sighed with relief. Perhaps the dreams would stop.
And they did. The same night Tabitha disappeared. He never saw her again.
Eileen awoke to find a white cat on her doorstep. Perhaps it’s meant to be, she mused, still mourning the death of her beloved feline Lottie.
The new cat – Natasha – was small and quiet, with a soothing purr. Eileen slept each night to the music of purrs, a song that slid in to her soul and softly told a story.
Eileen began to write. There was a story inside that just must be told.
One day the novel was finished. On that day, Natasha went out the catflap never to return.
Two years later, three novels were released by different publishers. They caused a sensation in the literary world. They acted, together, as prequel, main story and sequel, featuring the same characters within the one unfolding story, although all written in very different styles.
The novelists denied any collaboration. Who would believe them? It was a modern mystery.
Five year old Sabrina climbed in to bed, their new white rescue cat beside her. She had called her Snowdrop. As Snowdrop purred, Sabrina slept. In the morning, she found a notebook, and wrote. She wrote and wrote, all day, and secretly at night. It was a story about a stray cat with many owners, and many lives. When she had finished, she hid the notebook in her box of treasures.
Snowdrop lived with Sabrina for ten years. Then one night, when Sabrina was fifteen, she disappeared, never to be seen again. Sabrina cried, then forgot.
Years later, the eighty year old Sabrina found her old childhood box at the back of a cupboard. Tears of joy ran down her face as she read her childlike story. She had never forgotten Snowdrop. And now she had a piece of that magic time to cherish, forever.
Eventually, she published the children’s story, to great acclaim. “To Snowdrop, international cat of mystery” declared the book’s introduction.
Sabrina chuckled. For the memory of a great cat lives forever, hidden in the words of our stories, purring from their pages as though really there. A cat’s memory is like treasure in our hearts. It is a jewel that can never be lost, or stolen. It is literary love forever.
Recap: A tall figure attired in green leaves stood before them. “I am Elliot, Master of the Maze. I am here to take you to a far-off magical land, a place where all your dreams come true and where fairy stories are real! But you must stay here in the maze. It will take us all there.”
“We are ready,” said Billy simply. They stepped in to the maze, as it twisted and danced around them. Magic kissed them with a silken mother cat tongue. Despite themselves, they purred. For cats can never resist magic. They closed their eyes. When they opened them, it was like every dream of theirs had come true at once. They began to purr in earnest. In fact, they might never stop purring …
They were still standing at the entrance to the maze, now in sunlight rather than darkness. But what lay ahead now interested them: purrs welled in their throat like tears of intense joy.
A forest held out its hands like the embrace of a proud mother cat. Paths wound their way to deep within, pawprints to poetry, paths to paradise … or so it seemed to their activated sixth sense. Feline freedom was before them.
They ran as only cats can, graceful and fluid like sea waves coming to shore, purposeful and poetic. Soon they came upon a large forest glade.
In the middle, rising up like a blossoming flower seeking the sun, a wooden hut on stilts regarded them with tinted window eyes. Every window was a different colour, and there were many windows, as if the hut was a magic lantern, and would light up the forest at night, colours spilling on to the glade like a party of paint.
Billy and Teddy climbed the wooden stairs to the half open door. What lay within?
Rose pink light painted the top step, drifting from inside in a dreamy haze. Mesmerised by the soft light, Billy and Teddy strode slowly through the door.
And stopped in their tracks. The hut was bigger on the inside.
A cat tree stood in the centre, complete with beds, stairs and hammocks on different levels. In the corner, a lamp was emitting the pink light. Above and all around, windows looked out on changing views, of where they knew not.
Plates of cat food lined the walls, as though an army of cats was due to arrive. Wooden branches snaked the walls, more climbing opportunities. The hut contained hours of fun. But it did not interest them. Instead, they moved to the back wall, where three tiny TV tablets (like their parents’ ipad) stood on the floor, looking up at them with winking lights. Then they came to life.
Are you ready to play? Choose a game! Shouted neon lights in cat language.
There were three choices. Which should Billy and Teddy choose today?
Catnip maze – scroll down
Catbed heaven – scroll down
Cat jungle – scroll down
Billy pressed the catnip maze picture. The wall of the house fell down, and before them lay a purple and perfumed maze. The scent of catnip massaged their minds.
They ran in to the maze. It was huge. The catnip brushed against them , a feline fragrance on their fur.
Sensory suffocation overpowered Billy and Teddy. They stopped, panting for breath. “It’s a maze, or a puzzle,” said Billy. “Is it a test to find the middle of the maze?”
Immediately a bubble appeared over them, and relayed Yes in cat telepathy language.
“That answers your question then,” said Teddy. “Which way will we go?”
They ran down tunnels, backtracked, ran down some more, backtracked again, then realised they were completely lost in the maze.
“I am going to try something, trust me,” said Billy. “Everything about this maze is magic, perhaps the catnip is magical too? Watch this.”
Billy reached in to a catnip bush, eating its leaves, and purring as the perfumed poison suffused his senses. Then he sat still, closing his eyes.
“I know how to get there, to the middle of the maze. The catnip has enhanced my psychic powers. I can see it, a heart shaped centre with a pink bush of catnip! And that pink catnip will certainly have an effect if we eat it!”
Billy stood up and then ran, Teddy in pursuit behind. They seemed, at least to Teddy, to go in circles. Then they were there.
The heart shaped centre of the maze was as welcoming as it was strange. A large bush of pink catnip towered in the middle, with a plaque in front commanding: “Say the magic word and summon the golden lion!”
“This pink catnip is special,” declared Billy. “Let’s eat some and see what happens!”
Cautiously, they approached the pink bush, its scent teasing their nostrils like a sweet spell.
As they nibbled on a leaf, a rush of energy roared through their bodies. Exhilaration encapsulated them. A burning sensation played with their shoulders. They looked at each other in alarm. They were both growing pink wings!
They flew in to pink clouds which had formed over the centre of the maze. Then they exited the clouds above a telephone pole, a small kitten crying piteously on top. Billy helped the kitten to climb on Teddy’s back, and they safely deposited him on the ground. They flew back in to the clouds, then descended once more to rescue a cat lost in the countryside. Using their enhanced psychic powers, they again helped the cat on to Teddy’s back, and flew him safely home. And so it went on. Everytime they descended from the pink clouds they hoped to return to the maze, but no there was another cat to save! Having superpowers: not easy! They were reluctant heroes, but mighty knights to the felines they helped on this Day of the Cat.
Finally, they descended back to the maze. As they landed, their wings retracted and were gone.
“I don’t think I will eat any more of the pink catnip!” proclaimed Billy.
“I concur,” agreed Teddy.
“But what about the golden lion?”
“I would like to meet a golden lion,” said Teddy.
“But what on earth is the magic word?” wondered Billy.
“How about PINK? Or CATNIP?” shouted Teddy telepathically.
They would never know which word it was, but they no longer needed to.
A spinning cloud of gold descended from the sky. The cloud dissipated to reveal a mighty golden lion.
His eyes sparkled with golden orbs, a window to a soldier soul within.
“You have uttered the magic word. I am here to help you, Billy and Teddy, dynamic duo of feline fame. I am the keeper of all feline knowledge, of Planet Earth and the whole of our cosmos. Secrets reside in my golden heart; words of wisdom whisper in my mind. I will give you one secret today, just ask the question.”
“Why do cats love catmint?” blurted out Billy.
“Really? That’s your question?” hissed Billy.
“That’s a very good question,” affirmed the lion. “It is extra-terrestrial, designed by cat loving aliens to help the cats of Planet Earth. Humans have this notion that aliens may visit Earth to spy on them. There are some who don’t – they simply love cats, and wish to monitor them, and who wouldn’t. They couldn’t care less about the humans. Cat mint is a gift from the gods, the advanced aliens, for your pleasure and healing.”
“Wow,” muttered Billy.
“Would you like to go home now?” asked the lion. “I can take you.”
“Yes please!” chanted Billy and Teddy.
The lion roared. A cloud of golden dust engulfed them. Then they were back, at the space capsule, safe where they had left it.
“How do we program this to arrive back earlier in time?” asked Billy.
“Don’t worry, we’ll just be late,” said Teddy. “And next time, please ask the lion who Ambrose really is.”
The space capsule whirred, as Billy and Teddy closed their tired eyes.
Billy pressed the catbed heaven picture. Why couldn’t they have an adventure where they just slept, for once? The wall of the house fell down, and before them lay a green meadow littered with catbeds of various colours and sizes. Billy yawned. An afternoon nap, what fun.
Billy and Teddy ran among the beds, testing each, trying to find the perfect one.
Billy eventually chose a bed in the shape of a large mouse. Feline fun sparkled in his eyes.
Teddy chose a bed designed to be a tiny house, with a doorway and an elaborate turreted roof. His own little castle. He snuggled in to the soft blankets within.
Billy drifted in to a delightful dream, the glow of relaxation unfurling within like the most beautiful flower in the world. He was in a large garden with various cat climbing frames and other feline comforts. In front of him, a toy mice spun on wheels. “Chase me!” it squeaked. Billy pawed it happily, a toy that could speak! And without the wild animal smell of a real mouse.
Meanwhile, Teddy dreamt of a castle, a magnificent mansion with room after room to roam. He ran over plush carpets, sinking in to them like sand, and up spiral stone stairs. Then he found another cat bed in one of the bedrooms, like his own, a miniature house with blankets inside. In he went, and drifted off to another dream, within a dream. Again he was in a castle, and again he found a new bed. And so it continued.
Billy grew bored of the toy mouse, and strolled over to a bush of pink catnip, breathing in its sweet perfume like the scent of heaven. To his surprise, a pink cat jumped out of the bush!
“I am Magenta, guardian of the pink ray,” said the cat. “I can teach you to heal using the power of pink. You can heal your humans, they will never suffer a cold again! Then you can walk your street and send the pink healing light to all your neighbours. Everyone who meets you, will be blessed.”
“Well, I am up for that,” purred Billy.
Teddy woke from his tenth dream within a dream, to find a white cat licking him. “Hello,” she said softly in his head. “I am Reflecta, an angel of dreams. You are deep within your subconscious, in a many layered dream state. I can answer any question. You may not remember when you awake, but the knowledge will come to you again when you most need it.”
“Okay,” said Teddy. “I would like to know who Ambrose really is, where he comes from, and that question of all questions …. Why did he choose us?”
Reflecta began to speak, as Teddy descended to his dreams once more.
Billy and Teddy awoke at the same time, and came together, sleepy eyed, dreams dripping from their whiskers. “Did you dream?” asked Billy. “It was very special,” said Teddy. “I met a white cat angel. She said something very important, but I can no longer recall.”
“You have awoken!” It was Elliot, Master of the Maze. “Are you ready to go home, or would you like to learn about the secret of the maze first?”
Will they go home?
Will they learn the secret of the maze?
If you would like to learn the secret of the maze with Billy and Teddy, keep reading.
Elliot escorted Billy and Teddy to the heart of the maze. They ran down never-ending corridors until they were there, the centre of the mystical maze. A wishing well was in the middle.
“This well,” confided Elliot, “holds the energy of all children’s dreams and wishes, on Planet Earth. It keeps them safe. Drinking its waters: all your dreams may come true. It is a magic well. Sometimes we take children here, the lost and the unhappy. Then we return them, with the power to realise all their dreams throughout their entire life. But mostly we just tend the well. It becomes deeper all the time, as more children are born. If you jumped in there, you would fall for hours. And when you reached the bottom, you would be in a child’s dream, with the power to help it, change it, or destroy it. This is why this maze, and our forest and meadows, are in another dimension. We keep dreams secret and safe. Do you dream, Billy and Teddy?”
“Yes,” said Teddy sarcastically. “I dream about being back at home, and no more adventures.”
“That we can arrange,” said Elliot. “Come back with me now.”
Cat Jungle shouted Billy telepathically. The screen changed, to reveal a variety of large cats. Choose your avatar, announced the screen.
“What is an avatar?” wondered Billy.
“I think we choose a cat character to be. Look – a tiger!”
Teddy touched the tiger on the screen. The wall of the hut fell down, to reveal a rainforest, beautiful, exotic and utterly enticing. Teddy raced in, as he turned in to a large tiger!
Billy surveyed the screen thoughtfully, and then touched the lion cub picture. He too entered the rainforest, turning in to a golden cub.
Teddy raced through the rainforest, enjoying his strong and supple body. Then he stopped. Another tiger approached.
“I am King Teo. I am Ruler of Tigers, everywhere. You are Teddy, are you not? Enjoying your avatar? I have a special mission for you, if you dare.”
Teddy’s eyes sparkled with an adventurer’s angst. “Of course I dare.”
“Save the Highland Tiger,” said Teo. “Your Scottish mini-tiger. They are endangered, as humans would say. There are very few left in the Highlands of Scotland.”
“But how can I help?” asked Teddy.
“Ask your friend Ambrose. Tell him hello from Teo. Oh, and watch out for the dinosaurs. This is an adventure playground – with all the thrills of a scary fairground ride! Take care, my friend.”
With that, Teo was gone.
“Highland tigers?” mused Teddy. “We already had an adventure with them.” Princess Leiana, the most beautiful cat he had ever seen. Read about this adventure
Then he heard a roar. Fright flamed inside, as he ran from the terrifying tyrannosaur rex. Of course it was not real, he was in a pretend reality, he knew. He looked round. The tyrannosaur swooped over him, and then was gone in a puff of smoke. In the sky, the words “8 lives left” appeared. Great, thought Teddy. Eight more deadly encounters to go.
Meanwhile, Billy ran through rainforest, like a mouse chased by a cat. Then he saw her. His mother.
She lay in a tree cavity, cubs around her. “Welcome, Billy,” she intoned softly in his head. “We have been waiting for you. We knew you would come one day. My children and I, we would like to visit your planet. We have heard of all your adventures, they are the stories I tell my children to send them to sleep. Thank you for coming.”
“What is this place?” asked Billy.
“This is a dimension between dimensions. It is a playground where many lessons can be learned. All the cats here, we police it and keep it safe. There are dinosaurs here too, but they are not real. They enhance the learning experience, that’s all.”
“Can I join you?”
“Of course, come lie here.”
As Billy lay on top of the other cubs, sleep reached out and claimed him, the mother’s loud purr like the music of a thousand church choirs.
When he woke up, he was back in his normal body, and in the hut once more. Elliot towered over Billy and Teddy. “You’ve awoken at last. It is time to take you two intrepid explorers home.”
“Did you see a dinosaur?” asked Teddy.
“No, I just slept.”
“You two,” scolded Elliot. “You are the most lazy adventurers ever. I hope to see you both again, and something tells me I will!”
“What do you know about Highland Tigers?” asked Teddy.
“Scottish wildcats are the most magical felines on Planet Earth. If you are called to help them, you must, it will be the most rewarding adventure of your lifetimes.”
“I have no idea how to help them,” complained Billy.
“In time, you will see the signs. You will know what to do. Humans need to wake up and value their native creatures. Highland tigers are the most magnificent wildlife in Scotland. One day, their true worth will be known. But for now, hometime …. And knowing you two, that means more catnaps!”
“Roll it on!” sung Billy. “My catbed awaits.”
Deep in the Scottish Highland forest, a wildcat stood still. He could feel something coming. Something … good. What was it that glimmered in his heart? It was hope.
Sean turned over in bed, his ginger hair like a halo round his head. He could not sleep. It was New Year’s Eve, the last day of the old and the start of a bold new chapter. Only it did not feel like a new beginning. This new year would be the same as the last and the one before. School, bullying, hell. Days that fell like dominoes, an unfinished game that was the remains of his life. If only something good could happen tonight. A sign of better times to come.
Sam was being allowed to stay up for New Year. At eight, he felt so grown up. He stroked Charlie absently, his ginger kitten. Then he had an idea. Charlie would go on a mission. He would become a New Year supercat!
He hastily attached the cat angel wings novelty gift they had been given. He placed the kitten on the backdoor step. Charlie ran confidently ran in to the night. “Come back after you have performed some wonders!” shouted Sam.
His mother came down the stairs, anger chiselling her features in to middle-aged madness. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
“Charlies has turned in to a supercat and is on a mission!”
“You fool! We may never see him again! He has never been out yet!” She opened the door and called the kitten. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. He was gone.
Sean still could not sleep. Then he heard something. He sat up, alarm an invisible architect, freezing his features. He heard it again. A scratching at his window.
Cautiously, he opened the curtains. A handsome ginger kitten confronted him. Sean laughed, quickly letting the cat in. Angel wings were attached to a collar. Sean removed them, then cuddled back in bed with the kitten by his side. He descended to beautiful dreams, lions and tigers his friends as together they faced the school bullies. Sean chuckled in his sleep.
The next morning, he woke with the embers of his dream still warm in his head. There had been a kitten in his dreams. Sean turned over, and froze. It had not been a dream. The kitten was next to him, right here and now. It looked in to his eyes and began to purr.
Sam sat at the backdoor for the third day in a row, calling Charlie. He did not come. His heart beat with burning regret. Why did stupidity hide a sharp knife inside? His heart was bleeding, he was sure. But still no Charlie.
“It’s time to get over this,” scolded his mother. “Charlie will have found another home, another warm fireplace. He will be fine. Time to get ready for your new school tomorrow!”
Sam scowled. He hated school.
Sean felt more confident at the prospect of returning to school than he ever had before. It was supercat power from Clio the kitten, he was sure. Sean had never felt more happy.
Clio was his new best friend. And that day at school, he even made a human friend, Sam, a new boy in town. Could life really be getting better? It was the kitten, he was sure. A magic spell of feline charm had transformed him and his life.
Sam ran home from school. “It wasn’t too bad!” he gasped running through the front door. “And I made a friend!” The he paused, perplexed. “Charlie hasn’t come home has he?”
“No,” said his mother softly. “Who is your friend?”
“His name is Sean. He’s cool. I’m invited to his house after school tomorrow!”
Sam and Sean walked home from school together. “I have a secret to show you,” confided Sean. When they opened the front door, Clio the kitten ran to them in delight.
Sam stood stock still. “Are you scared of cats?” asked Sean. “He came in the night, and he has been like a lucky charm. My life has never been so good. And I even met you!”
Sam tried to say something, but the words would not come out. Then a mature version of him rose from a deep slumber. “That’s great! He’s a supercat and you are meant to have him!”
Sam forced himself to smile, and to pretend that he had never seen the cat before in his life.
That night, in bed, tears fell on his pillow. But whether they were of joy or sadness, he could hardly tell. In the night, magic would unfold. Because cats have superpowers, and they appear just when needed.
The next morning, his mother knocked at his door. “I have something for you!” There was a box in her hands, and scratching from within. Could it be … ?
“It’s not Charlie, but we have a new kitten!”
A white kitten fell in to his lap. Sam smiled. “I will call her Snowflake!” His eyes dried, but in his heart tears still fell. For a true friend gives up the one cat they love more than any other. No matter how much it hurts.
He took Snowflake in his arms. “You’re my supercat now, and I’m never letting you go.”
Sam’s heart still cried, but his smile was real. He had learned a lesson. At the end of our tears … there is always a rainbow.
Jessica laughed as she built the kitten snowcat, her hands cold but her smile as warm as sunshine. School holidays and early snow, it would be a white Christmas! The two grey pebble eyes regarded her with no emotion. She laughed louder. How she wished she could have a cat, a little white kitten. But her mother was allergic to cat hair. “One day,” her mother told her solemnly, “one day when you are grown up you can have as many cats as you want.” And Jessica would, five at least, including an adorable white kitten. She would call him Snowfall.
That night, she dreamt of Snowfall, his white whiskers brushing her cheek as he rubbed enthusiastically around her. She chuckled quietly as she slumbered, dreams like cat purrs in her head.
When Jessica awoke, her dreams drifted away like bubbles on a breeze, twinkling in the morning light, then gone as though they never were.
When Jessica left the house that morning, she ran her hand over the snowcat. Then she stared in disbelief. Gone were the grey pebble eyes. In their place, a pair of shining green crystals.
Jessica slowly laughed, as she realised that someone – perhaps even a child at her school – had replaced the eyes. It was not so much a practical joke, as a small appreciation of her snow sculpting skills. It was good to know her cat had been noticed.
That night, she awoke from tangled dreams in a sweat. Jessica was sure she had heard a cat cry. She looked out the window, keen to see her snowcat in the light of the streetlamp. The cat was gone.
Jessica stared in stupefaction. Tears slid down her face, little crystals looking for their green cousins, crying inside their watery soul, tears within tears.
When Jessica awoke the next day, she tiptoed in trepidation to the window, her breath in her throat like a trapped bird. The snowcat was there, untouched, sparkling in the frosty early morning light. She sighed with relief, as a happy bird flew away, leaving Jessica with her dreams behind.
That night, she dreamt of Snowfall again, green eyes glinting as he bestowed cat kisses on her hands. Jessica chuckled in her sleep. Outside, in the quiet street, a cat was awake. The snowcat moved, stiffly at first, then more easily. As the snow slid to the ground, a pure white kitten emerged.
At the local hospital, a white kitten appeared in the covid ward, hiding under beds, running quickly to the next one, avoiding detection with a cat’s cunning. Each patient was licked in turn. The sleeping souls laughed softly, divine dreams massaging their minds. In the morning, they were all much improved. The doctors could not believe their eyes. Christmas had come early to the covid ward.
The kitten slid quietly away, a night’s work that deserved a Christmas nap. When Jessica looked out her window the following morning, her snowcat was there, glinting in the early sun again. She remembered the vivid dream where it had been gone, and shrugged. She was obsessed with this cat. It was only a lump of snow after all.
As Jessica left her bedroom, she did not see the white whisker on the floor.
It was the last day of school before the Christmas holidays. As usual, Jessica patted her snowcat as she passed. She did not see the real cat whiskers on its face.
The days grew milder and the snowcat began to melt. Jessica would have cried, but there was too much to look forward to, it was Christmas! When it snowed again, she would just build another snowcat.
That night, as she slept, a kitten crawled on to her pillow and licked her face. Jessica chuckled but did not awake. The kitten slid away, silently returning to a distant feline world of healing white cats. One day, he would return. But not now. It was time for a long Christmas sleep.
In the morning, the snowcat was gone, a pile of sludge all that remained. Jessica retrieved the two green crystals, and held them in her hands as they grew warm. She laughed quietly. She would treasure these, she decided as she placed them in her jewellery box. Jessica did not see the white whisker hidden inside. One day, much older, she would find it, and remember her dream. A white kitten. And on that day, the grown up Jessica would decide to find one for real: her own white kitten.
Until then, her kitten would sleep in a magic land, never far away, there in the back of your mind in the dreams you forget the next day. For the right owner, a cat can wait forever.
In the secret world of dreams, green eyes sparkled with Christmas cheer. May your Christmas wishes come true in 2021, may we always have white kittens to watch over us, and may we all one day meet the cat of our dreams.
Cara grinned her delight as she decorated the Christmas tree: silver, sparkling and a winter wish come true. Her eight year old heart swelled with happiness, feline kisses within her like stars exploding. Ginny, their 18 year old tabby cat, watched her efforts with fire in her eyes. She was not too old to enjoy Christmas.
Cara’s auburn hair burned in unison with the glittering baubles. Tenderly, her twitching hands opened the box of kitten decorations. Her grin increased, threatening to fly off her face.
The different coloured kittens hugged her heart tighter, feline whiskers brushing against her soul. She laughed, her feline Christmas dream come true.
She carefully placed each kitten on the tree. Their eyes sparkled in the dim sitting room light. The kittens looked alive, the reflection in their eyes like a real soul looking out.
Cara slipped in to bed that night with a smile in her eyes, and a festive yawn in her mouth. Sleep claimed her over-excited mind. She dreamt of the kitten ornaments. She gently held one in her hands, stroking it like a real cat. Then it happened. The ornament grew warm, and the tiny kitten began to purr. It was alive!
The next morning, she rushed through to the tree. The kitten ornaments were just as she had left them the night before. She fingered the small white one, the kitten of her dream. It was cold and inanimate, if pretty. The dream had been just that, a dream.
That night, she drifted to sleep with the white kitten ornament in her hand, like a secret talisman that would take her far and away. In her dreams, she flew with the kitten, which had turned in to a large cat with wings. Below them, fields spread out like a tapestry of the gods. Cara laughed. This was so much fun.
In the morning she awoke with the embers of joy in her heart. The dream massaged her mind, a beautiful memory like a pink sunrise, a prelude to what could only be a fantastic day.
She looked for the kitten ornament but could not find it. To Cara’s surprise, when she entered the sitting room later it was there, on the tree, just where it had been the day before. Had she sleepwalked and put it back? In exactly the same place? Cara rubbed her head, puzzled. However she soon forgot the incident, as she helped Mum wrap Christmas presents. Her favourite time of the year, fun frolicked in her fiery hair.
That night, she did not take the white kitten ornament to bed. She was too grown up surely for such behaviour. However, in the morning, there it was, in her hands. Curious but not perturbed, she placed the little ornament back on the tree. Had she been sleep walking again?
She sat next to Simon at school that day. “A cat visited my house last night,” he confided. “It was a huge tubby cat with orange eyes. I let him in and he slept with me all night. In the morning he was gone.”
Adele turned round. “A Siamese cat appeared on my windowsill last night. I let her in. She was beautiful. In the morning she was gone.”
The stories began to travel around the class. At least ten children had experienced a feline visitor the night before. Cara frowned. Where was her secret cat sleepmate?
When she arrived home from school, she rushed to the Christmas tree. It brought her such joy. She fingered each of the cat ornaments carefully. One was missing, the Siamese cat. Hastily Cara looked under the tree, but it was not there.
That night, she took a black cat ornament to bed with her. In her dreams, a black cat joined her. “Come with me.” The little cat spoke the words in her head. Together, they entered a globe of white light at the foot of the garden, and ran down a sticky, strangely lighted tunnel. They emerged within a flower bud, where large cats with spots surveyed them coolly. “Welcome to Christmas in the kingdom of cats.”
Cara woke up. It was still night. A purring sound played with her ears. She looked down. There was a shape on her bed. Gently, she touched it. The purring increased in volume.
Cara smiled as sleep claimed her tired brain. There was a cat on her bed! In the morning, the cat was gone. Had it all been a dream?
Then she saw it. A whisker on her bedspread. She laughed. The dream was true.
That day at school, there were more cat tales. Many of her class had enjoyed vivid dreams; a few also recalled running down a strange tunnel with a cat, and the flower bud at the end of the tunnel.
Cara ran home that day after school, excited at the thought that she may be visited by a cat again that night. Her real cat, Ginny, greeted her at the door. “Don’t forget about me,” her eyes seemed to say.
Cara stroked Ginny quickly, then rushed to the Christmas Tree. She knew there was something magical about the kitten ornaments, they were weaving a web of feline silk over the village, purrs their Christmas present. But when she got there, the tree was hissing rather than purring. Hissing in rage. The kitten ornaments were gone.
“Have you hidden them?” accused her mother. “Me? No!” Cara looked around, confused. Where had they gone?
That night, there were no cats in her dreams. When she awoke, however, there was something in her hand. The black kitten ornament. The one she had forgotten to replace.
Holding it tightly, she rushed to the sitting room. The tree was still devoid of kittens. There was only the black one left. That night, she locked it in her jewellery box. She wouldn’t let this one escape.
Many many miles away, a little girl would wake up in the night from a bad dream, and find a cat on the bed beside her. It was gone in the morning, but on her Christmas tree were kitten baubles, having mysteriously arrived overnight. Her mum laughed, “Your Dad is playing games.” But the child, Sarah, knew better.
And many many years later, two old women, Sarah and Cara, became best friends, their bedrooms next door to each other in their nursing home. One Christmas, Cara brought her old child’s jewellery box to the common room. It had been in her bedside unit, untouched for years. Tears slid down her face as she fingered the little girl’s bracelets and necklaces. Then she found the black kitten Christmas tree ornament. Her tears turned to laughter.
The next morning, kitten ornaments had appeared on the nursing home Christmas Tree. They shone in the soft lighting, secrets locked deep inside their twinkling eyes. For we never grow too old for magic. Have a Christmas filled with feline fun, a festive season to remember forever, a special day to cry over in years to come, a sweet memory like a cat’s purr beating softly in your heart.
Billy and Teddy knew the ingredients of a good cat’s life: food on tap, mice to chase, and a summer house to sleep in. But there was another recipe at work in their life: Ambrose, regal Cat Elder Ambrose who turned up unexpectedly and demanded their help on important missions. Billy and Teddy did not agree that every one of their missions had been important, but that is another matter.
On this mild August summer evening, Billy and Teddy were indeed sleeping in their summer house, warm and undisturbed. Until they heard the whir of the time capsule …
“It is me!” announced Ambrose redundantly; who else would it be? “There is no time to waste. There are two frightened children who need a pair of cat heroes!”
“Children? I like children,” commented Teddy.
“Fiona and Fergal, cat lovers and very lost and scared. This will be your first mission to a magical place! Have I never told you, that the magic and mystery adult humans love to add to children’s stories is actually true? There is much magic on Planet Earth after dark. As you are about to find out!”
“Where are we going now?” said Billy in his I’m so not resigned to this telepathic voice.
“No less than a magic maze! In the village of Hazelhead, many hundreds of miles away, but that’s no problem with our space capsule!”
“Are they there now?”
“Yes, no time to be lost! Fiona and Fergal are eight years young, but they will feel much older after tonight. They thought it would be fun to go out after dark to the local park to spot hedgehogs. But they are lost in a magic maze that has engulfed the park! It will not be there in the morning. And if we don’t rescue them, neither will they! They will be whisked to a Neverland type place, never to return. But with your cat psychic direction skills, you will guide them out of the maze. You will be their knights in shining fur and glowing whiskers! Time to go!”
“Ambrose, one day you must explain to us why you can’t do these missions yourself.”
“Spoilers! One day you may learn more about me, but not now. Come along, my knights in glowing whiskers!”
The space capsule took them to the edge of the maze. High hedges towered over them. It was dark, but cats have night vision so this was no problem for Billy and Teddy. “Directional antennae working?” asked Billy. Teddy consciously turned on his psychic direction powers. “Working.”
They entered the maze, moving to where they felt the children were. The hedges kept moving, confusing but not stopping them, not invincible Billy and Teddy! They ran around the shifting sides of the maze, until they finally heard the chatter of children. Seconds later they were there before them, two bewildered children hugging each other in fright.
Photo by Michael on Unsplash
Billy and Teddy began meowing and rubbing around the two siblings. Their magic was greater than the maze, for no one can resist a fluffy cat, least of all scared little children.
Fiona and Fergal grinned despite their fears. A cat is magical, even more magical than a mysterious moving maze. Billy and Teddy decided to find the way out, looking back to ensure they were being followed. They were.
They ran through the changing lanes, the hedges swooshing as they moved around them. Fiona and Fergal kept up, hope lighting their dark path ahead in addition to the torches they had brought with them.
“Hello and stop!”
A tall figure attired in green leaves stood before them. “I am Elliot, Master of the Maze. I am here to take you to a far-off magical land, a place where all your dreams come true and where fairy stories are real! But you must stay here in the maze. It will take us all there.”
“No way!” screamed Billy and Teddy telepathically. “We are taking these children home!”
“Intelligent cats! But my magic is stronger.”
“But we can travel in time,” boasted Teddy.
“Really? You’re not Billy and Teddy are you? The famous time-travelling duo?”
“We just might be.”
Fiona and Fergal listened to what was, to their ears, a one sided conversation.
“Who are Billy and Teddy?”
“It seems some very special felines have come to your rescue tonight!”
“And we’re taking them home now,” said Billy as he growled.
“Don’t you want to see the special dreams I can make come true? Yes, for all of you including you Billy and Teddy! Wouldn’t you like a more peaceful life, no more adventures all over the world? Time to rest and play in peace, in a paradise where every day is sunny and toy mice come back to life again and again after you catch them!”
“No!” hissed Teddy. “The children are coming with us.”
A doll’s house appeared in Elliot’s arms. “Fiona, I know you wished for a special doll’s house! This one is all yours.”
Fiona laughed and stretched out her arms. The doll’s house was so large it hid her face. But her delighted chuckling could be heard if not seen.
“And Fergal, here are some football boots for you!”
“Fabulous!” breathed Fergal.
“That’s enough!” shrieked Billy. “They can have the toys, but we’re taking them home now.”
“Okay, you can take them home, but only if you return here and come with me! Such wonders I can show you! There are many in my land who would love to meet Billy and Teddy, famous cat conquerors! What do you say?”
Billy and Teddy looked at each other. “What would Ambrose say?” muttered Billy. “He never need know!” rejoined Teddy. “We have a time machine! We can take as much time as we like!”
They stared in to Elliot’s eyes, but picked up no danger. Only laughter and joy.
So they escorted the children home, following them through the dark streets and then rubbing around their legs in goodbye. As the children opened their front door Billy and Teddy slowly retreated. “No! Come with us!” beseeched Fiona.
However the cats could feel their new adventure calling them. They hurried round the corner, the night a cloak around them as they disappeared. Fiona and Fergal stared after them. Fiona picked up her doll’s house, and entered the house. “I think we will see those two again.”
“I know,” said Fergal. “I believe when we see them again, there will be more magic. Bigger than these presents, bigger than anything we have ever known.”
Billy and Teddy found the maze once more. Elliot was waiting for them at its overgrown entrance. “I knew you would come back. Curiosity is after all a cat’s weakness.”
Billy and Teddy looked at each other. Were they doing the right thing?
A wind swirled around them. They shivered as the cold night sky stared down with no feeling, only deep darkness that hid unknown secrets. Perhaps they would find out a few secrets tonight.
“We are ready,” said Billy simply. They stepped in to the maze, as it twisted and danced around them. Magic kissed them with a silken mother cat tongue. Despite themselves, they purred. For cats can never resist magic. They closed their eyes. When they opened them, it was like every dream of theirs had come true at once. They began to purr in earnest. In fact, they might never stop purring …