A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By CeeDee Olano
That night, in the deep thicket of the trees that surrounded the suburbs of Peaceful Pines, there was a great howling in the air. “Rrrrrrrueeowww!!!!!!!,” carried in a soft high-pitched whine, cutting the dark sky. The time had come for the gathering.
“Are we all here?” Old English asked, pursing his mouth and twitching his whiskers. He was a grand old gray monster of a cat. He was an antiquated cat who stood for antiquated notions. The time was nearing when he would no longer rule the underground civilization of domesticated felines, the Purrternity.
Old English had founded the Purrternity many, many cat years ago. The organization was a simple one, comprised of all the pet cats in Peaceful Pines. They met monthly to discuss: territorial disputes; the business of handling people; vital information on ways to escape their houses and get back in without a trace; how to beg for scraps with big doe eyes, and yield the best results; the rules and procedures of string play; the issuing of mouse hunting licenses; and the dangers of catnip addiction. There was even a particular commission doing research on how to work a can opener. They had yet to produce any valid results, but everyone felt they were closing in on a solution.
The whole community met monthly to pay their dues, and smaller commissions met on their own time to solve the pressing issues of the day. Tonight was a regular monthly meeting with no heavy business to discuss.
Lurking in the darkness, Royal Emperor Charlemagne and Archduke Ferdinand, so named by their people, crept towards the meeting. The two brothers, large white cats with large black spots and big green eyes, had been weak in their youth, suffering from anemia, losing one brother and two sisters to the sickness in their blood. One would not guess this by looking at them. They were strong, giant beasts of cats, but gentle. They were goofy and skittish and sweet-tempered. What they were about to undertake was under direct orders— orders that would not have been their choice, if choices existed in a domesticated world.
Hobbs sat hidden in the tree branches. Her dark, thick stripes on moonlight silver fur adapted her perfectly for her covert work. She was a tiny cat, monkey-like in shape and maneuverability, fast as a cheetah. She could run at full sped, charging at a tree and without pause could run straight up. She was a fierce little general.
On Hobbs’s command, Charlamagne and Archduke leaped out at Old English. The fur flew and much hissing could be heard carried on the thick summer night air. No cats sprang forward to help Old English. They had known his time was nearing its end. Even domesticated cats know the ways of the wild kingdom. Alpha cats grow old and are chased away by fierce young blood. Cats in high power had to be prepared to face their own battles in a free society.
Old English lost his battle that night. He went running into the night, his tail and the fur up his back puffed up to three times its size and a deep scratch below his eye commemorating the encounter. It was the beginning of a new age.
“Good job, my pets,” Hobbs cooed as she came bouncing out of the trees. Hobbs was the product of wild cats. She had been taken into the home of a young couple who did not believe in the ways of domesticating animals. They offered her food and a clean, dry place to sleep and free reign of the outside world. As a result, she lived in both worlds. She was both free and cared for at the same time. She wanted to bring her brand of freedom to all the cats of Peaceful Pines and also set up a place in this society for the feral cats that lived in the area. She was a tiny cat with big plans.
“I have a dream,” she howled out loudly. “I want to build a freer society. You have all let yourselves become soft under the rule of the humans. You play their games, rolling over for them like common dogs. You do what they say when they say it. You allow them to make eunuchs of you. They have sterilized you. They make you urinate and defecate in a box of sand. They try to keep you locked away from the outside world. They nightly feed you on cardboard pellets while they eat fresh, unprocessed meat. Some of you have had your claws taken away from you, leaving you next to defenseless. The time has come for revolution.”
“And what will we do without the support of our humans?” This came from Buddersby. Buddersby was an old-timer, a shelter cat. He was a tough old cat who had seen many things and was scared of nothing. He had sharp yellow eyes, a thick, black coat speckled with white fur and was missing a small chunk of his right ear. He walked with a slight limp when the weather was about to be cold or wet. “Without humans, kitten mortality rates sky-rocket. Without sterilization, the jails become flooded with cats…”
“Yes, cats that the humans kill, because they don’t trust that we can take care of ourselves.” Hobbs interrupted him.
“They protect us from disease.”
“They run us down with their cars, and leave us flattened like garbage in the streets. They made us dependent upon them for survival. They took away our right to choose. They turned us into a state-controlled substance. If you are not with the revolution you are against us all. GET HIM!” On her command, a dozen wild cats appeared, borne from the night. Buddersby knew he could not win this fight. He took off into the woods. The ferals chased after him. “Is there anyone who would like to join him?” Hobbs purred victoriously, sedately licking her paw.