First new chapter after the big edit! yay!
For anyone who doesn't know, the previous chapters have all been redone, with chpater-songs, breaks/gaps, even a few plot holes have been fixed up. It's all very exciting.
Well, it is for me, so there.
I am currently the owner of a charming stomach bug. But I am not the owner of CATS or its affiliates.
I'm the creator of a few characters, including the main one, but I'm sure you can work out which ones have those pesky little copyright laws attached.
My eyes opened against their better judgement. It was so lovely, curled up in that basket.
I stretched one back paw out and heard a very melodious snuffle. I caught red fur out of the corner of my eye. My moment of fear soon subsided as I recognised the red as crimson-y, not ginger-y. It was Bomba, snoring lightly in harmony with Mother, as they always did.
I lay my head back down, on what I realised was not a pillow, but Mother's stomach. It rose and fell with her breathing.
I flicked my tail out towards Jemima's nose, prompting a tiny sneeze from my big sister.
My eyes drifted closed again.
Two hands gripped me under the belly. I let out a choked yelp.
"Careful, Mum! She's really badly hurt."
Celeste's voice prompted the painful hold to become gentler. Soft hands guided me into a wicker cage.
"Can we put her cushion in there, Mum?"
"Sure. Just grab it."
Celeste slotted it into a corner of my cage, filling my nose with smells of my family. Any qualms I had about the cage were wiped out.
I saw Mother's face press up to the door. Jem's little nose poked through next to it.
'You're going to the vet, Arti. Don't be scared, okay?' Mother cooed.
'And we'll play that game of yours when you get back.' Jem confirmed. 'Daddy says we can go down to the Junkyard-'
'What's the Junkyard?' I asked, but my cage was suddenly picked up.
I careened from one side to the other until I collapsed on my cushion, sick with dizziness.
'I don't like this!' I yowled.
Bomba's sweet voice followed me as I was loaded into a car on Celeste's lap. 'Don't worry, Arti. You'll like the Junkyard!'
I was glad I had that to look forward to. Because cars were just awful.
I came out of my cage, onto a bench. An unfamiliar man stared at me.
"Well, you've been through the wars, haven't you, kitty?"
I blinked slowly.
"So, am I just patching her up, or is she getting spayed today?"
Spayed? What was that? It didn't sound good.
Rachel was with the man. "Not Spayed."
I still had no idea what it was, but I was relieved not to have it done to me.
"But we do want her microchipped."
Now I was nervous again.
The man spoke. "We'll have to do a bit of surgery to fix her up. We'll keep her overnight after the operation, but you can take her home tomorrow."
Tomorrow? I jumped for Celeste.
"No, no, Artemis. Stay with the vet now. We'll see you tomorrow."
Rachel and Celeste left. Vet put something over my face.
I was suddenly very sleepy.
I woke up a few times after that, but everything was blurry. Nothing focused before I was back asleep.
I dreamed of singing and dancing, of playing with Jem and Derry, and of Brutus, Pounce, Plato, Admetus, Terry and Perry. I dreamed a little of Macavity, but then I'd dream of Daddy. I dreamed of Mother and Bomba singing together, with Tugger as a bassline. I dreamed of songs and dances.
And then I was awake- properly awake.
'Rise and shine, Arti! How you feeling?'
I jumped up, facing Jemima. 'Great!' I shook my head happily, only to discover a spiked collar studded with blue around my neck. I grinned. 'Better than great! Fan-happy-tastic!'
'Good, because I told everyone we were coming after lunch, and it's lunchtime now.'
As she led me through to our feed bowls, I quizzed her. 'Who's everyone?'
'Like who? Brutus? Pounce? Plato? Ad-'
'Them, but also Cetty, Leccy, Quax and Vic. Vic's my best friend.'
I pouted with a mouth full of food. 'I thought I was your best friend.'
She bumped me playfully. 'You're my sister, silly. We're… special best friends.'
'Special best friends?'
'All sisters are. Mother and Bomba, Cetty and Leccy-'
'Who are Cetty and Leccy?'
Jem crunched her way through the last morsels of her lunch. 'Finish your food and I'll take you to them.'
I gulped down a few final mouthfuls and trotted after her, out the catflap.
We crossed the garden, encountering Mother, who warned me not to get my bandages all dirty. I hadn't even noticed, but there were strips of cotton wrapped around my legs and back.
I promised I wouldn't, Bomba said she didn't believe me, and we left.
The Junkyard was brilliant.
Assorted rubbish was piled everywhere, there with a rocking chair balanced on top, here with an oven wedged into the base. Everywhere ropes dangled and mice scurried. There was a big red car boot visible, propped open slightly with what looked like part of a boot. Cardboard boxes had been set up in the wide, clear area before us, piled high atop each other in a very precarious fashion.
As I watched, two cats, slightly bigger than Jem, scurried towards us. One was whitish, with golden tabby stripes, the other darker, swathed with browns, blacks and reds. She didn't have a white bib, unlike most other cats.
'Jem!' The light one squealed, rushing insanely fast towards us.
'Hey, Cetty.' Jem nuzzled her affectionately.
'And I guess this is Artemis.' The dark one smiled at me.
'Hi.' I said quietly.
'Hi!' The light cat stuck her face right up in mine. 'Doesn't look much like you, does she, Jemmy?'
I scooted back a little.
The dark cat grabbed the light by the scruff of her neck- I noticed neither of them wore collars, despite looking older than Jem, even. 'I'm Electra. And this is Etcetera. Call us Leccy and Cetty. Everyone does.'
'It's true!' Cetty confirmed chirpily.
Jem was stifling laughter. 'Don't terrify my little sister, you two.'
I stared at them. 'You're sisters, right?'
Electra narrowed her eyes. 'Right.'
'Great! Jem told me so.'
'Well, she's right!' Cetty giggled. 'Hmm… where's Vic?'
'I was about to ask you that.' Jem looked past us towards the cardboard boxes. 'Is she in one of them?'
The sisters giggled in tandem. 'Maybe…'
Just then, we heard a muffled thumping. One box shook on top of all the others, then finally toppled to the ground. It burst open and a ball of pure white rolled gracefully out. The white ball stretched until I could tell it was a cat- clearly older than the sisters. Her limbs looked like liquid, moving even as they were to fix up her fur.
'I'm gonna kill you two- Jem!' She ran towards my sister like a stream of water, elegant and poised in her hurry.
'Vic!' The two cats embraced.
I hrumphed. 'Arti?' I suggested to anyone who's listen.
Jem let go of the white Vic and pushed me forwards. 'Arti, this is Victoria. Vic, this is Artemis, my sister.'
'Oh, you're just adorable.'
I hrumphed again.
'Sorry. You're also stunning, Artemis.' She smiled. Her face was flawlessly beautiful. 'Very cute, also very pretty. That'a a winning combination, you know!'
The four friends laughed together.
'Where's Quax, Vic?' Jemima asked.
'Umm… somewhere. I don't know. He disappeared this morning, I'm sure he'll turn up at some point.'
I was the only one worried. 'Is he okay?'
Victoria stared at me. 'Why would he not be- oh.' She shared a look with my sister. 'Don't fret about it. My mate's a conjurer, he tends to come and go. Drives me crazy, sometimes.'
'Tugger doesn't come and go…' Cetty spoke dreamily.
'Tugger?' I asked. 'Why would he?'
But no one answered me- they all had faraway looks on their faces.
'Hello!' A cheerful voice surprised me.
Cheerful… and familiar. 'Sorry to freak you out there, Artemis.' Plato strutted into our crowd, followed by Admetus.
The latter groaned. 'Who mentioned the Tugger?'
I didn't understand the significance of the question, but I still answered. 'Etcetera.'
The toms laughed. 'Yeah. Figures.' Admetus muttered.
'Hey, queenies!' Plato yelled. 'Come back down to ground level!'
One by one, my friends shook their heads as if coming out of a trance.
'You've all got your heads up in heaviside, you have.' Admetus grumbled affably.
'And you left little Artemis out.' Plato smiled at me crookedly.
'Yeah- can we play a game now?'
Electra shared an excited look with Etcetera. 'Sounds good!'
Jem flicked my ear. 'What was that one you thought up the other day, Arti?'
Everyone watched me for an explanation.
I included our settings into my basic idea, which turned into a quasi-hide-and-seek game, with a team of Jellicles and a team of dog-people, added to tiggy and hunting. Barley was the car, the boxes were the fort, and the winner was the last one standing.
When I'd finished, only Cetty spoke.
'Awesome! Let's do it!'
Chapter-song is 'Don't Worry Be Happy' by Bobby McFerrin
A nice happy song to get back into Arti's regular emotions... ie HAPPY