It was cold...
That was his first observation. It was cold, he was wet, and it was dark. The last two he didn't mind so much. As long as there had been even the slightest bit of conciousness in his small form, he had been wet and in total darkness. But the cold...
A small, tired mew escaped his lungs, begging someone to bring back the warmth.
"There, there, little one..."
A voice? Momma?
Something warm was wrapped around him as he felt himself being placed next to another writhing bundle. He curled up. That's how he would be warm now. Curled up in that warm thing. But that writhing thing next to him...
"It's another boy, Griz." came the voice.
The voice wasn't Momma...
He heard another voice crying out in pain, some more mewing, and another writhing blundle was placed next to him.
Why couldn't they just be still? He was so tired...
"Three boys, Griz." came the first non-Momma voice. "Do you want to see them?"
"Too tired..." came a weary voice. Was that Momma?
A third voice came, this one very near. "Too tired for them? I knew she wasn't ready for kittens."
"Noilly Prat, hush!" the first voice whispered sharply. "She's tired, not deaf!"
"Can I help with the kittens then, Mother?"
Four voices? Which voice was Momma?
"Certainly, Jellylorum." the third voice answered.
Voice three... Noilly Prat... Voice four... Jellylorum... Voice one... non-Momma...
Voice two was Momma, then!
Was Griz Momma?
"Mother," Jellylorum's voice whispered, "the gray kitten, he's not moving."
'Course not... he wanted to say... Too tired to move...
"Not moving? Jelly, what do you mean... Heaviside! Jenny, the second one!"
He felt himself being scooped up, the warm thing falling off from around him!
Cold! he wated to cry, but he was too tired...
He felt his back being rubbed frantically... That hurt!
"Miii!" he cried, trying to struggle away from his tormenter. Then he felt a soft, warm breath on his back. A sigh of relief.
"Thank the Everlasting Cat..." Non-Momma's voice came as the warm thing was wrapped around him again. "I think he'll be fine now. Griz, you are one lucky queen. Griz?"
"How do you like that?" Noilly Prat's voice huffed. "She's asleep! She's asleep and these three don't even have names yet!"
Such was his rough entrance into the world.
"I think I've settled on Macavity for the red one and Rum Tum Tugger for the spotted one." Momma's voice sounded sweetly through the dark. He liked to listen to Momma. Especially when she sang. Momma's voice was the prettiest of all the voices he'd heard.
He'd heard the voices of the three other queens when he was born. Noilly Prat's voice was accented in a way where she had a hard time with l's and r's. She'd sometimes talk and sing in words he couldn't understand. Non-Momma, who he'd figured out was Jennyanydots, sounded happy nearly all the time. Her voice was high, but had a way of making other voices listen to her. Jellylorum's voice was high too, but every so often he'd notice a slight change in it. It was getting deeper and richer to listen to.
Toms he'd learned about a few days after coming into the cold world. They liked 'seeing' (whatever 'seeing' was), him and the two forms that wriggled about all the time. The first tom he'd heard was Skimbleshanks. He rolled his r's, and didn't sound like any other voice. It wasn't an unpleasing voice, but just different. But it was like Jelly's in that it was changing a lot. His changing was more noticible, and his voice sometimes cracked. If she heard it, Jelly would giggle and tell him it was 'cute.' Bustopher Jones had a deep voice that Jennyanydots sounded like she liked. Everyone said he sounded 'proper,' and 'distinguished.' Gus had a harsh voice, but not harsh in a mean way. Words just never came out sounding soft. But he laughed a lot, and his laughs were always nice to hear because they were filled with energy.
"What about the gray one?" Noilly Prat's voice asked. "You've come up with four or five each for the other two and not one for the little gray one."
He started to sniff around for lunch.
Find Momma's voice... Food is near her...
He had been the smallest of the three, weaker than either of his brothers, explaining why they had both been energetically moving around at birth while he was more than happy to just lay there. Momma had called him the Runt. Wasn't that his name?
Anyway, name or no name, he wanted lunch. He heard his brothers moving. If he didn't hurry, he would miss out again.
Momma's voice sighed. "I know, I know. I've been trying, but nothing comes to mind for him. I mean, look at him, Noilly!"
"Noilly Prat." the other queen muttered. She didn't care too much for Momma and he was still having a hard time understanding why... For some reason it seemed to involve him... "And at any rate, he'll be a week old soon. Deuteronomy isn't going to be happy if only two of them have names."
"Okay, okay... What about James?" Momma suggested.
"You're kidding, right? That's such an Everyday Name!"
"Bill Bailey?" Momma snapped back.
"You heard Jelly talking about using that name when she had kittens."
He reached Momma and was about to start lunch when she moved. "Then I'll just wait until Deuteronomy gets back and let him name the little runt!" she said, exasperated.
So his name was Runt?
"Grizabella!" Noilly Prat sounded equally exasperated. He heard her get up and walk off.
Hmm, so Momma was Grizabella.
But where did she go?
Grizabella picked up her other two kittens and walked back to her den, forgetting about the steel gray kitten that had been nosing around her a moment earlier for milk. Not really intentionally, of course, but the attention of a Glamour Cat is rarely held long by things that are not as eye-catching as herself.
A cool wind blew through the Junkyard. His thin coat did little to keep him warm. "Mii!" he mewed as loudly as he could, his voice dissapearing into the wind.
A new emotion started to well up inside the kitten. Fear. Where was Momma? His brothers? Even the other voices? He mewed again, but still got no answer. A drop of something landed on his nose. His little pink tungue flicked out to taste what it was. Water! A drop fell on his back, then his head, and then his tail. Then all over! Chills started running down his small body. Water was falling and he was scared, still in the dark. He started to crawl, trying to find Momma's scent, but the water, which was turning the dirt to mud, thwarted his efforts.
More water, this time it was warm.
Warm and salty.
He started crying out for Momma, for anyone. But there was no noise, save the falling rain on the piles of junk.
Deuteronomy hurried as quickly as his aging body would let him. Grizabella had been due to deliver their kittens two weeks ago and he wanted to get back to see his newest progeny. He hoped there would be at least one son. Old Philemon had accended to the Heaviside Layer at the last Jellicle Ball, and being both Jellicle Protector and soon-to-be Jellicle Leader was taking its toll. If Grizabella had delivered a son, then he would add the title 'Old' to his name and be just the Jellicle Leader. He would have to appoint a Protector in the meantime. Young Skimble would do well in that job.
The rains of the last few days had slowed his progress terribly. He had planned to be home in the Junkyard much sooner, but the storms had made travel impossible. Finally reaching the Junkyard, he quickly made his way towards the den that he had made for Grizabella and their kittens when something caught his eye.
He had almost missed it, the color blending into the pile of junk it lay under. Deuteronomy cautiously crept closer, his duty as Protector in full-swing. A few more steps forward revealed his find to be the still body of a small kitten. His heart sank. The kitten wasn't very old, only a few weeks, but it was coated in caked mud. It looked as if it had been starving, the way the ribs poked out from it's small body. Deuteronomy gently reached out and picked up the kitten. It was so light, Deuteronomy was worried that he might snap the poor creature in two. Was it dead or alive? Placing a finger against the small body, he felt it's sides rise and fall faintly. He gave a sigh of relief. The poor thing was alive. Now, what to do? Grizabella? No, she must have birthed by now. Jennyanydots would be the better choice. The older queen was better at nursing as well. As much as he loved Grizabella, Deuteronomy knew that the queen prefered not to learn about such things.
Quickly reaching the Gumbie Cat's den he knocked frantically on the trunk lid. Opening a little ways, Jenny peered out from underneath. "Deuteronomy!" she smiled. "You're home!"
"Jenny, I've got an emergency for you." he said, urgently. The queen's smile quickly vanished as she lifted the trunk door open enough to let the older tom in.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
Deuteronomy held out the small kitten. "I spotted this little one next to a junk pile." he explained. Jenny looked dumbstruck. Deuteronomy noticed. "Jenny? What is it?"
The striped and spotted queen just looked at the kitten and then at Deuteronomy. "You found him? Just now? Next to a junk pile?" she asked, taking the kitten from him and placing him into a small bed. "Why didn't you take him to Grizabella?"
"Yes, just as I was coming in." Deuteronomy replied. "I thought that he was in too bad a state to take him to Griz. You're the better nurse, and you don't have any kittens to watch out for right now. Why?"
Jenny didn't answer for a while. She was busy bustling around her den, finding warm water to clean the kitten, pulling out a box carton of milk that she had sniched from her humans' larder earlier that day for a snack to warm it. Deuteronomy sat back, knowing that the Gumbie Cat wouldn't answer until she was done with what she needed to do. "How did you get all the way out there, little one?" Jenny said quietly.
"Jenny?" Deuteronomy asked. "Is he alright?"
Jenny sighed. "It will depend on whether or not he wakes up soon. Poor thing, he was already off to such a hard start."
"What do you mean, Jenny?" Deuteronomy asked, indicating that he wanted to be informed now. The queen looked unsure. "Jenny, I'm going to be the Jellicle Leader sooner or later. But I can't be a good one if you can't tell me something."
"Well," Jenny started, not sure what to say exactly. "For starters I should say congradulations. You are the father of three sons." Deuteronomy nodded, inwardly elated, but knowing there was more. Jenny continued. "But secondly, you might be on the verge of losing one of them."
Deuteronomy leaned forward. "What?"
Jenny gestured to the still form of the kitten. "He was the second of the three. I'm afraid he's always been a little on the small side..."
"A runt." Deuteronomy said, saying the word that Jenny couldn't bring herself to. "Do you know how he got away from Griz, then?"
Jenny sighed. Deuteronomy frowned. He had been worried about this. Grizabella was a Glamour Cat. They were notorious for abandoning what they saw as ugly, plain, useless. A small, plain gray kitten was just the sort of thing that would lose her interest quickly. Maternal instinct would come in second to Jellicle nature.
Jenny watched as the large tom got up and walked over to the bed. He knelt down next to it and placed his hand on the kitten's head. Warm. Feaver. "Names?" he asked.
"Macavity is the red one and Rum Tum Tugger is the spotted one. She didn't name this one."
"No name..." he said softly. That was akin to writing a kitten off. Jellicles only did that for stillborn kittens. Even sickly ones are named so that they can be sent to the Heaviside.
Deuteronomy closed his eyes for a moment. Even an unexceptional kitten needed a Particular, Pecular Name. "Then you'll be Munkustrap." he said softly.
Under his hand, Munkustrap shifted a little.
There was something big and warm near him...
Not Momma, but it still felt warm and safe.
Deuteronomy smiled. "So you are going to fight, eh little Munkustrap?" He was answered by a soft little mew. A weak one, but it was there.
A new tom voice...
Deep, rich... Warm, strong... Full of command, but at the same time gentle...
Little Munkustrap wanted a voice like that someday.
Deuteronomy stood and turned to Jennyanydots. "Jenny, I have a favor to ask of you. It's big, but..."
Jenny cut him off. "Say nothing more." she smiled. "Another little soul around this home would do some good. Bustopher and I always wanted a little one running around, but never had the chance. Besides, it'll get him out of competition with his brothers. Those two have no problem getting around. They'll either be the bane of our existance or a tribe clown, mark my words."
"Thank you Jenny." Deuteronomy smiled at the matronly queen. "Now, if you'll exuse me, I have two other sons to see and a mate who needs to answer for this one."
Grizabella shrugged. "I guess I just forgot him." she said simply.
"Forgot him?" Deuteronomy asked, astounded that she could say something like that so calmly. "Griz, he was nearly dead! I found him laying under a junk pile."
"So he's still alive. Good then." Griz answered, cleaning Macavity, who batted back at her. He hated being groomed. "Where is he now?"
"With Jenny. I thought that she might be better suited to take care of him right now." Deuteronomy answered.
"Macavity, hold still..!" Griz said irritably, holding the red kitten down with a paw. "Yes, she would be a good one to take care of the little thing."
Deuteronomy sighed. "I did give him a name."
"Hmm?" Griz was still distracted by the little red kitten.
"I thought Munkustrap would be a good name."
"Terribly fancy, isn't it?" she asked, looking up at him. "I mean, even you have to admit that he's just a plain little kit."
"That's not the point, Grizabella. He needed a name and I gave him one. Besides, all cats need a Particular Name. And maybe a plainer kitten needs one more than anyone."
The eyelids of the small, gray kitten fluttered open, seeing his world for the first time.
Blankets were piled on top of him, a precaution against feaver, and from somewhere behind him he heard someone moving around. A voice, rather sing-song was coming from the sounds of bustling. He recognized the voice as Jennyanydots. Rolling over, Munkustrap's large blue eyes looked all around, and found himself in what looked like a home. Blankets and cusions were all around him, there were little areas to stash food, and even a little broom to clean with. Rolling over a little more, he saw a cat... well, he thought it was a cat. He'd never actually seen one before. So, not knowing if it was a queen or tom, or even if it was a cat, Munkustrap started watching it.
It was covered with stripes and spots, and moved around with a bustling shuffle. Then he heard the voice of Jennyanydots coming from it, and guessed that this was the actual queen. As she made a pass by the bed, Jenny glanced down to see the two bright eyes looking up at her from under the blankets. "Great Heaviside..." she said n a mix between a gasp and an exclamation. "You've made it!"
Made it? What did she mean? The last thing he remembered was laying under something to keep the water off, waiting for Momma to come back for him.
"Deuteronomy!" Jenny rushed to the trunk door and called out for the Jellicle Leader. "Old Deuteronomy! Come quickly!"
Old Deuteronomy? Who was that?
An old tom came into the den. He walked over to the bed and sat down next to it. Munkustrap leaned forward a little, the scent of the old tom familiar... "You're finally awake, eh, Munkustrap?"
The voice! The tom voice!
Munkustrap... His name was Munkustrap? Not Runt?
He liked Munkustrap better.
"You probably don't know who I am, but I'm your father." the old tom said. "I'm Old Deuteronomy."
Father... That was like Momma, but a tom!
Munkustrap mewed happily. Since Momma was busy with his brothers, Father was going to be with him!
Old Deuteronomy smiled at the tom kitten. He was plain, that was true. Dark steel gray was no unusual color. But there was a white spot around his small mouth and under the dark gray, lines of black could just barely be seen. There might be an interesting pattern to this kit yet. He noticed that Munkustrap was wondering out timidly from the blankets. He also noticed that the kitten's ribs still stuck out clearly. "Jenny, do you think that Munkustrap here could have something to eat?"
Jenny's voice called back from further into the den. "Oh of course! The poor dear must be starving."
Munkustrap worked his way out from the blankets and started to make his way akwardly over to Father. He stumbled a few times, but eventually he managed to get his feet working with the rest of his body. Old Deuteronomy smiled. "Such a big spirit in such a small body. You are going to be something special when you are older, aren't you?" He reached down and picked his small son up. Munkustrap let out another happy mew and nuzzled his father. Father was furrier than Momma was, and his voice was even nicer to hear, if that was possible.
A few minutes later Jenny came into the main area of the den with a small saucer of milk. She set it down on the bed, and Deuteronomy set Munkustrap down next to it. The kitten looked sadly up at the old tom for a moment wondering if Father was going to leave, but quickly smiled when he realized that the white stuff was food! After making his discovery he started to lap it up greedily. It was only a matter of minutes before the saucer was empty and Munkustrap's small belly was very full. A small burp escaped the kitten and Deuteronomy chuckled. "Such manners!" Jenny exclaimed, a smile crossing her face. "We'll have to work on those."
"I think that once he learns that he doesn't have to worry about food dissapearing on him, he be a little more Jellicle in his manners." Deuteronomy smiled as Munkustrap begain to slowly amble over to his sire. The old tom picked up the kitten and smiled as a soft, contented purr eminated from the little form. Soon, the bright blue eyes closed again and Munkustrap was asleep, his small paws grasping at Deuteronomy's long fur.
Jenny sat down nearby. "The little darling doesn't want to let go." she smiled. "I can't say I blame him. I think this is the first time he's really ever been held like that."
Deuteronomy sighed. "I don't honestly think she means to ignore him."
Jenny nodded. "But she is what she is. She's a Glamour Cat. And I'm a Gumbie Cat." She smiled at Deuteronomy. "Don't worry. I'll take care of him like he was my own."
"You're an angel amoung cats, Jennyanydots." Deuteronomy smiled.
Jenny blushed a little. "Hardly. Just doing what comes to me." she picked up the milk saucer and took it to the back of the den to clean it. "Now, I'm going to meet Bustopher at The Siamese. You stay here for as long as you like to get some quality time with your son."
So he had a name, and friends in the world.