A Gathering of Tails

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artymon I\/
LEP Commander
Posts: 2529
Joined: Thu 9th Feb 2012
Location: Beyond time and space

A Gathering of Tails

Post by artymon I\/ » Sat 9th Sep 2023

Little light had managed to creep into the darkened hovel that once had been a house. A few scant beams snuck in through irregular parts of the windows, where either some of the blinds were cracked and worn or curtains hadn't been closed properly.
Unfortunately, even in the dim light, the boys saw more than they wanted.
Which was unusual for at least Joey. Normally, he was all for seeing...well...you'll work that one out in a minute.
However, it was the smell of biological excrement and the expression on the elderly cat that really set the mood.
It was a combination of standard death glare mixed with an alarming helping of madness, enough to make Cheshire seem sane and rational (which, isn't he? That's an unfair comparison. Now, Hatter....ah, but we're sidetracked again).
The whole thing was enough to make the feathers on Quacksalot's tail curl.
"Your presence is meaningless," the dark cat declared, his voice a raspy rumble. "The time of peace and negotiation is past. There is only death now."
Joey looked at his compadre, rolling his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever, Mr. Emo-Chemo. Look, how's about I fix ya bowl of bucatini, I just sawer an Old World recipe, I been dying ta try - "
Quacksalot whipped his head at Joey.
"Did you say...you say...sawer? What's a sawer?"
Joey sighed.
"Ah for Lizzie's sake, give that willy-waggle a rest, hey?"
"....you're literally just making up words now."
"Someone's gotta keep them letters in a job."
A raspy yowl howled throughout the den.
"Silence. I grow weary of your bickering."
"Yeah? I grow weary of this smell, can we at least open a win-doe?"
Joey glanced at Quacksalot.
“You don’t need to put so much emphasis on it. Just window.”
Joey rolled his eyes at the old cat.
“Bloody yanks, amirite?”
“You’ll be dead!” hissed the fickle feline. His eyes glowed with the malice of a jade jungle menace. “For, if my demands are not met, I will activate this detonator.” From….actually, neither duck nor kangaroo was precisely sure where the suspiciously oblong remote had been produced (nor did either want to know). The cat twirled it around his dark paws. “…which in turn will activate the bomb I’ve hidden in here and blow you all to death.”
On cue, the story saviors looked in opposite directions, Joey to the left, Quacksalot to the right, meeting in the middle.
“It’s in the litterbox, isn’t it?” Quacksalot surmised, his voice deadpan.
“What?! No, it’s, uh, hidden,” the cat claimed.
“I’m pretty sure I can see…well…something that does not look like, uh….”
Indeed, nestled half-buried among brown logs, a silver and block box was emitting a red gleam from an LED readout of numbers.
Rumbling something that might have been a hiss or indigestion, the cat scurried towards the litterbox and kicked some granules of clay on top of the bomb.
“It’s hidden,” the cat repeated, as though assuring himself. “Now give me the nip…or die.”
“Won’t you die too, mate?” Joey wondered. “I mean, seems pointless….”
“Silence!” Yellowed teeth flashed from within the old cat’s mouth, revealing a missing tooth. “I have more lives than you.”
“Can’t be that much more. What’s an old coot like you got? What, maybe half a life, two?”
If the hate in the cat’s eyes were a tangible force, he’d bury the young kangaroo beneath a house-worth.
“It’s enough. More than enough to deal with you people.”
Quacksalot restrained a sigh. That would only aggravate the old cat.
“Look, we’re just doing our job, we’re only grunts, same as you. So why don’t you help us help you?”
A gurgling sound followed by a wet heave and the cat spat out a slimy, greasy looking ball of hair.
Again, no clearer message was needed.
Heedless of negotiation tactics, Joey sighed.
“Oh forget this. For this, I gave up a night with my sheila!”
Quacksalot narrowed his eyes.
“You don’t have a sheila.”
“I could. The gal at the coffee shop.”
“…The bartender? Dude, I’m pretty sure she’s just flirting to get a good tip.”
“Oh she’ll get the tip and more.”
“Enough! Now you die!”
Depressing the button on the detonator, a mad grin spread on the wry cat’s face. Beside him in the litterbox, a series of pops and clicks began to sound off….
Rooted, the kangaroo and duck could only watch in horror as the bomb clunked about sparks jumped…culminating in a noise something similar to flatulence and a puff of smoke plumed from the device.
The cat’s brow furrowed.
“What? But I did…the…rrrrr….”
He hit the button a few more times, then whacked the bomb with his paw and suddenly the room was illuminated in a harsh flash of light too bright to determine colors and a gunshot bang.
As the smoke cleared through a freshly busted window behind the cat, Joey and Quacksalot strained hard not to laugh at the sight of the singed cat; every hair on the feline’s body had been burned off, revealing pink flesh (marred with smoke and charred patches of fur).
“Right, uh, I think we’ll head out. We’ll tell Captain Tony you’re thinking about it,” Quacksalot said.
The cat moved not a muscle as the kangaroo withdrew a card from his vest and laid it on a table.
Outside, the quirky companions clambered back into the rusty red truck.
"Man, I could use a hotcake," Joey grumbled, fishing his keys out.
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The last step in any journey may be the first step of an even greater adventure.
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