Chapter 1: Electra and Jemima
"Psst." Jemima whispered to her sister, Electra. "Electra." Electra was snoozing in the moonlight, curled up, a tiny ball of black and orange fur. Jemima couldn't sleep. She never could when the moon was so bright. Even if the moon was hidden sleep wouldn't have come. The Jellicle ball was in two weeks and Jemima could not wait! Last year's ball had been incredibly fun. She had seen her idol, Rum Tum Tugger, who flirted with her! She had danced and sung with the other cats. She had understood Grizabella, the cat who was chosen to go to the Heaviside Layer. She'd even gotten a present from Mr. Mistoffelees!
Jemima had also developed a crush. She felt relatively confident about having her feelings returned. She had always fantasized about Tugger, but he mainly cared for Bombalurina. Now she found herself liking Tumblebrutus. It was something new for her. She hadn't even told Electra or Etcetera about it. She was worried they'd tease her.
"Purrr," that was all that was heard of Etcetera, curled up on the porch where the humans had set up cat beds for them. They lived at the house of a train conductor that their father had once worked with. Skimbleshanks was his favorite of the family, but he welcomed Jennyanydots and the kittens into his home as well. It was the exact opposite for his wife. Jennyanydots was her favorite. But the kittens delighted them both.
"Electra, get up!" Jemima went over to her older of her younger sisters and nudged her in the side. "Dad's gone, we can go explore!"
"Mmmm…" Electra woke up and stretched. "Why do want to get up and go anywhere? I was having such a wonderful dream."
"Oh, c'mon Electra!" Jemima bounded to the edge of the yard. "We always someone watching us, we never get to go into the city. Please?"
Electra sighed, liked a paw, and replied, "Fine, just as long as we get home before Dad. Where's Mum?"
"She's off regimenting the cockroaches, as usual. She won't be done for hours. It's a rowdy bunch that she's got." The two sisters trotted off into the dark alleys of London. The Jellicles were enthralled by the taste of freedom and delighted to be able to be away from the watchful eyes of their parents.
As they skipped through the city, they saw other Jellicles that they knew. Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer were slinking along a side street, their latest treasure clutched in their paws. They saw Victoria sitting in the window of her rich owner's house. She saw them and waved in greeting. The kittens knew she lived there with her brother, Alonzo. Cassandra, Alonzo's mate, also lived there
The two kits sniffed around trash cans and restaurants, smelling the good things humans were eating. They danced in the multicolored lights that shone out into the main streets. As they got deeper into the city, they saw other cats, not tribe members though.
But then Jemima saw something that made her cold with envy and embarrassment. Tumblebrutus and Bombalurina, the cocky teenage kitten and the proud, sexual queen. Their flirty conversation quickly led to Bomba rubbing herself against Brutus. Jemima flared with hatred for the queen. Bombalurina didn't care much for Tumblebrutus, but she knew he'd be captivated by her attention.
All of the adult Jellicles told Jemima that she'd look like Bombalurina when she was older, but Brutus didn't care. She could be as beautiful as Victoria and he still wouldn't notice her.
He had only once paid attention to her. Last year at the Jellicle Ball, it was Jemima he had chosen to curl up with while Plato and Victoria discovered each other and danced together. Now Jemima knew that Brutus had come to her because Bombalurina was with Pouncival. A little stronger and hopeless, Jemima ran to catch up with Electra.
Munkustrap lay in the middle of the junkyard, watching the kittens. They belonged to Alonzo and Cassandra, were very young, and very annoying. They kept jumping on him and batting at his ears with their new, sharp claws. He had to baby-sit them so he tried to ignore them. Alonzo and Cassie had entrusted them with him so they could have some 'alone time'. Actually, there was no entrusting involved. They'd simply dumped the pile of squirming kitties on his lap saying "Here you go". Unfortunately, he'd had no excuse to get out of the job.
Munkustrap enjoyed kittens, but not at this age when they were only a few weeks old. There were five of them, all black, brown, and white. It was difficult for him to tell them apart as they were in perpetual motion. He wouldn't have minded so much if he weren't all alone in the Junkyard. All the other Jellicles were either with their families or out on the street, enjoying themselves. He should get credit as he'd raised most of the Jellicle kittens.
Suddenly, he wasn't completely alone. Demeter came up beside him and sat. "Your turn, huh?"
"I didn't realize we were doing 'turns' when it came to someone else's kittens." He grumbled. "It is better when you have company." He stretched and rubbed his head against Demeter's. At the last Jellicle Ball they'd realized how perfect they were for each other. Things had been fine for a while, but then Demeter started to act strange.
As soon as his head touched hers, Demeter jumped and dashed away. She went to the drainpipe. Demeter looked back at the confused Munkustrap. He tried to follow her, but she sprinted away from him. He didn't try to follow, he was too bewildered. Instead he went back to the playing kittens and sighed.
Electra scampered around a corner in to see a shadow creep down the alley. Her expert vision kicked in and she saw it was a black cat. It wasn't Misto or Cassie though. Jemima came behind her and Electra hissed to her, "look," and pointed to the cat who was slowly making its way down the alley, away from them.
"It looks so much like a Jellicle," Jemima observed. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to bring a new kitten to the Ball? The only kittens now are Alonzo and Cassie's, they won't be eligible till next year. " The cat heard her whisper and bolted.
"I agree, let's follow her." Electra and Jemima dashed after the black cat, trying to stop her, and into the unknown city. They chased the mysterious cat through a maze of unfamiliar streets.
Eventually, they caught up to her. She had collapsed in the outskirts of the city. Jemima and Electra, exhausted from their sprint, curled up next to the cat. At their tough the black cat jumped up, arching her back and hissing. Her yellow eyes caught the moon and the light made the red markings on her face visible for the first time.
"It's ok, sweetie." Jemima soothed, feeling motherly at the sit of the defensive kitten. " We don't want to hurt you." It was the way Jemima's mother spoke to Electra. The dark kitten was about Electra's age too.
Electra tried to reach out and calm the cat, but she swiped at Electra with her claws. "They always said that," she spat at the sisters in her almost cockney hiss, "as they came toward me with a sack, ready to toss me into the river. I ain't stupid, you know!
The train had gotten a little ahead of schedule, to Skimbleshanks's disbelief. Anyway, this meant that Skimble got back to the house a little early with the conductor. They went into the house through the back door. Inside Jennyanydots was waiting for him. They rubbed heads in greeting and headed to the cat box outside.
"How were the roaches tonight?" Skimble asked his mate.
"Terrible," Jenny told him bitterly, "they keep trying to stab me with their kitchen utensils."
"Like the last ones." Skimble recalled as they slunk along the porch together.
"Just like the last ones," Jenny agreed. They entered their box and had a moment of horror. "Skimble, where are the kittens?"