By Vickie Johnstone
Chapter 17: The Cute Squad
“Kiwi needs rescuing... and our world just went crazy!” summed up Inspector Furrball. Somehow his brain had accepted the impossible. “Moggie let’s get going. Hi again, Jimster and Ames. Let’s go!”
Siam opened his mouth to speak, but there really wasn’t anything he could say. His head went blank.
“Ok,” smiled Amy. “Glad we are all ok about this. We have a short journey to make. We have to cross this field and then we need to get to the house, which is inside this tree in the middle of a forest. It took us an hour before, but I think we can get there faster if we catch a bus.”
“I think we should catch a bus,” suggested Amy.
“A bus?” asked Siam and Inspector Furrball. “What’s a buuusssss?”
“Good idea!” said Moggie. “I haven’t been on one of those in cat years!”
Amy and James jumped up, trying not to frighten the Cat Squad’s finest police cats, and began to walk towards the road where the nearest bus stop was. Moggie ran quickly behind them, so she fell into pace with the children’s walking almost. Inspector Furrball sped along behind, while Siam half wobbled and half ran. His head ached. His brain ached. His whole body ached. Nothing made sense any more.
On the other side of the road, a white cat was walking, minding his own business. Siam glanced up and wondered why the cat was completely naked. He wasn’t wearing any decoration or protective clothing at all. At that moment, the white cat turned and looked at Siam. His mouth hung open and his ears went back, and his eyes turned into big round circles. He had never seen a cat before in boots and a jacket. Well, have you?
They only had to wait five minutes until the bus turned up, but it was five minutes too long.
“Ah, what cute kitty cats, Mabel,” shouted the old lady in the blue, fur-lined jacket. Her hair was also blue and she had socks that looked as if they had fallen down years ago. She must be half deaf, thought James, as she was shouting really loudly.
“Ooooohhhh I love the ginger one, he’s soooo cute. Look at those little booties Daisy, aren’t they just the cutest thing!” grinned the other old lady, showing a graveyard of teeth.
“But...” stammered Siam, cringing. His tail drooped.
James tried not to giggle as one of Daisy’s hands shot out and ruffled the hair on top of Inspector Furrball’s head. He froze. This was so undignified!
“Urrk,” splurted Siam, who tried to hide behind Amy, but it was too late. Mabel bent down and tickled his ears. Oooch. That really did tickle. Siam flicked his head, but the old lady kept on rubbing his ears. It really tickled, but it felt weirdly not uncomfortable. In fact, it was sort of, kind of, kitty nice. Without meaning too, Siam started purring.
“Ahhhh, Daisy, he’s purring away. Can you hear him? Ahhh bless him!”
Inspector Furrball frowned. This was really too much. He was the head of the Cat Squad and an inspector. He had a reputation to uphold. Ooohhh. Ahhh. Mmmm, that’s rather nice! Suddenly, Inspector Furrball was purring too and flicking up his tail.
Siam grinned. Inspector Furrball pretended to look the other way.
Amy and James chuckled, and Moggie purred.
Luckily, the bus turned up, so they could all hop on, away from the two old ladies. However, their unusual appearance was not lost on the other passengers.
“Ooohhh, look at that... look at those little booties and little gloves...
“Wow, he’s just so cute...”
“Who would have thought they made booties for cats...”
“Ah, I should get one of those little baggies for my cat, Tinker. Imagine that, he could carry his own cat food around...”
The little old ladies laughed. And so it went on for the entire journey. Suddenly, Siam and Inspector Furrball were the all-time heroes to every little old lady on the bus. The whole neighbourhood was going to hear about this. Luckily, it was a very short trip.
“Thank you!” yelled the children as they leapt off the bus. The cats all bounced off. James waved at the bus driver, who looked really confused. He’d have a really interesting bus story to tell his wife and kids when he got home. Not the usual boring stuff, but cats in fancy dress costumes. Well, it was Halloween after all!
“Am I glad to be on solid ground again!” sighed Siam, licking his lips. “Even if this place is a bit grey.” He looked at the pavement, which was chipped, dirty, plain and lacking any colour at all. It was stained with something squishy and smelly. Eeuwww. He suddenly missed the colourful, clean, blue mosaic streets of Cat City. His home, sweet home.
“That was a very unusual experience,” said Inspector Furrball. He checked his pocket watch. Time was waiting for no catizen today. “They go very fast... faster than our cat-cars back home...”
“They’re called buses,” said James. “They run on wheels that go round and round, and we use petrol.”
“Petrol? What’s that? We use paw power,” laughed Furrball, sticking a leg out. “We peddle!”
“Petrol is made from oil and it’s not good for the environment,” said Amy. “People drill for it in places where you shouldn’t drill because it damages the landscape. Sometimes the ships carrying the oil leak, and this harms the birds and animals...”
Inspector Furrball looked at Amy. “I see this is a subject you feel very seriously about,” he said.
“Yes,” she replied, smiling. “Inspector, when I grow up I want to join Greenpeace and help to save the planet!”
“That’s a fine ambition,” said Inspector Furrball. “I imagine you will be very good at it.”
“Thank you!” said Amy. She had really missed the inspector.
“What about you, James,” asked Moggie. “What do you want to be?”
Siam grinned – “a computer genius?”
James thought hard. “I want to be a catizen!”
Everyone started laughing!
“No, seriously,” said James. “I want to be a catizen and live in Cat City, and be a detective like you!”
“Well,” said Inspector Furrball, looking up at the boy. “We’ll just have to see what the future brings! I’m sure you would make a fine detective, whether that’s in the human world or the cat world...”
“Or both!” laughed Siam.
“Wow!” said James. “I hadn’t thought of that... both worlds!”
Moggie smiled. She wondered too. Amy was still giggling and Siam raised an eyebrow, which made her giggle more. Siam was getting used to the children not being cat-shaped, but it was weird if he thought about it too much. Best not to think too much and just get on with things!
“Let’s go!” said Amy. “It’s not far to walk now.”
They were on the opposite side of the road to the forest. Lush trees rose up from the ground, their leaves a mixture of greens, yellows, oranges and browns. The day was still warmish, not too chilly.
“I think it will take us about 20 minutes to walk. Last time we went around in circles a bit, but I can remember the direct way,” said Amy. She took the lead and crossed the road, followed by James and the three cats, all walking in a line. They had just stepped on to the pavement when they heard a little, but high-pitched voice.
“Look mum! Look at those cats! Look!”
They all turned their heads to see a little, brown-haired boy pointing towards them from the opposite side of the road. His mother was walking quickly, holding on to his hand and trying to hurry him along. He dragged back and pointed.
Oh no, thought Amy and James.
“Look! That cat is wearing a red vest – can’t we get one for Smokey? He looks so cute and little black booties too... ahhh mum, mum, I want those!”
“Huh, I am not cute. I am Inspector Furrball, head of the Cat Squad!” announced Inspector Furrball, standing up on his back legs. He’d had enough of being cute for one day. He put his paws on his hips.
Amy didn’t know if to laugh or cry. Moggie sighed. Siam purred. James put his hand over his eyes.
“Mum! Mum! The cat just said something! Mum! He’s standing up! Mum! Mum!” the little boy shouted, pulling his mother’s hand.
“Have some respect for your elders, little boy!” said Inspector Furrball.
“Inspector! Get down on four paws and try to look like a human’s pet cat please!” meowed Moggie.
“Hmph!” said Furrball, obeying. Siam grinned.
“Now you know that cats can’t talk,” replied the little boy’s mother. “Come on, walk faster or we’ll be late for dinner!”
“But, but...” stammered the little boy. He continued to stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed as he mother dragged him along.
Siam waved goodbye. He felt that the little boy was owed something for the shock. But this just made the boy open his mouth even wider.
“Inspector, can we go now please?” mewed Moggie.
“Yes, of course!” said Inspector Furrball, regaining his composure. “Lead away young Amy.”