“I win again!” Mistoffelees said triumphantly as he slammed his final card onto the pile. Crazy Eights happened to be his forte.
Victoria flicked her cards away with her claw. “You always win, Misto. Even with Solitaire.” She yawned. “I’m bored.”
“Tell me about it,” Misto muttered. “There’s not much to do at three in the morning.”
“Shut up, Misto,” Rum Tum Tugger said good-naturedly, putting down his own cards. “There hasn’t been much to do at all lately.”
“So, what do you suggest, hop on a plane, head out to who knows where, see some sights, and come back?” Misto said irritably.
Victoria’s eyes grew round. “Misto!” she shrieked. “You’re a genius!”
Misto laughed. “Thanks for the compliment, Vicki, but what’d I do?”
“You came up with a brilliant idea!”
“Uh, oh...” Misto said. “You aren’t actually suggesting we take that vacation, are you?”
“I’m not suggesting,” Vicki said, grabbing his paw, “I’m going. And you’re coming with me.”
“Hey, wait up!” Tugger yelled, running after them. “I’m coming too.”
“We should probably see if anyone else wants to come, and tell Munk where we’re going, naturally,” Misto reasoned. “And then we’ll have to figure out a way to get on the plane without being noticed, what to do when we get there, and how we’ll get back. I do eventually want to return.”
“Oh, you’re too darn sensible,” Vicki teased. “Come on.”
The three told Munkustrap what they were doing, and of course, Munkustrap did not approve. But he allowed them to go, and they could take three others with them. Only three. It was decided that Kashmir, Bombalurina, and Tumblebrutus could go, and the group set off for the airport.
“What flight should we go on?” Tumble asked as they walked, bouncing happily.
“I vote we just get on the first plane we come to,” Kashmir suggested.
“Easier that way. We don’t have to worry about missing our flight or anything.”
“I second the motion,” Vicki said.
“I third it,” added Misto.
“Okay, it’s decided. We take Kash’s advice,” Tugger said, and ran the rest of the way.
A few minutes after arriving at the airport, they found an opening to a plane. “On the count of three,” Misto told the others, “I will run and distract the stewardess with some magic. You guys run for it, find a place to hide, and I’ll be with you shortly. Ready? One... two... three!”
They made a mad dash for the door. Misto made the flight attendant’s shoes disappear, and the lady looked down in astonishment. Then her shoes reappeared. She murmured something about needing to sit down, and Misto made it through the door just in time.
“Hey, guys!” he whispered, sniffing around for the scent of cat.
“Psst!” someone whispered. “Over here!” Misto turned quickly, and ran over to where Vicki was gesturing wildly. She pushed him behind a pile of blankets where the others were waiting.
“I don’t know,” Misto said dubiously. “Isn’t this a kind of obvious place to hide?” As if in response to his question, a ton of luggage came crashing down upon him. “There,” he added wryly. “That’s much better.”
“Next time, Misto, keep your comments to yourself,” Tumble grumbled from under a duffle bag.
“Welcome aboard,” a tinny voice said over a loudspeaker. “We have been cleared for takeoff. Please fasten your seat belts.”
Tugger’s eyes opened wide. “You mean we’re actually going to... fly?” he gulped.
“No, Tugger,” Vicki said sarcastically. “We’re going to swim across the ocean in a plane. Yes we’re going to fly!”
Tugger’s face went blank. “Barf bag,” he whispered, and Misto produced one. Tugger grabbed it and hid under a large suitcase, which he did not come out from under for a long time.
He cheered up, however, when he heard the announcment that food was now being distributed by flight attendants. “All right!” he shouted, and careened out of the pile of luggage.
“Tugger, don’t-” Bomb yelled, but Tugger ignored her.
A flight attendant saw him and screamed, throwing he plate into the air and taking off like the plane. “Cat... on plane...” she gasped.
“No, Eleanor,” another said. “You’re just imagining things.”
“But I tell you, there was a cat... A big one with a mane...”
“There, there, Eleanor, why don’t you sit down for a while. I’ll take your shift...”
Tugger gleefully scooped up some chicken and returned to his post.
“Nice going, Tugger,” Bombularina hissed. “You nearly got yourself killed, and now there’s going to be a wild cat-search and we’ll be found.”
“Nah,” said Tugger, grinning. “They all think they’re imagining things. You want the chicken or not?” They all stared at the lumpy, greasy, brownish-gray pile of liquidy who-knows-what sitting on the napkin in front of them.
“Thanks, but I’ll pass,” Bomb told him.
“You can have it Tugger.”
“Hey, give it to me, Tug,” Tumble said. “See, it works like clay.” He began shaping the mound into a figure. When he was done, he displayed it triumphantly. “Look, it’s Kashmir!” The others looked at it dubiously. Kashmir hid her face under her paws, and Vicki hit Tumble on the head. That was the end of Tumble’s career as a sculptor.
“You know, I may need that barf bag again,” Tugger commented after sniffing the chicken.
The tin can voice came over the loudspeaker once again. “We have been cleared for landing at Newark Airport in New Jersey. Please put your seat belts on and prepare to land. When we have stopped please wait for the...”
“Oh, is that where we are,” Misto said. “Well, we’d better get off quick.”
They threaded their way around the chairs, trying desperately to keep out of site. Misto, of course, blended in perfectly, as did Kashmir, and surprisingly, Vicki, because the walls and floor were white.
It was Tugger who gave them away. With his huge mane, he was hard not to spot. “Oh, my God! It’s the same cat I saw before!”
“Eleanor, I told you it’s... Oh! There is a cat! There’s more!”
“Get them off! Get them off!”
The cats needed no more encouragement. They all took off like a shot, Kashmir in the lead, chased by flight attendants with brooms, which unfortunately did not stop chasing them once inside the airport. The forced themselves to run right out the doors, which were slammed shut behind them.
“And stay out!” was the humiliating call.
Tumblebrutus sat down with a thump. “Now what?” he yawned.
“Now we sleep,” Tugger said, and curled up under a bush, where the others joined him.
After a good, long catnap, the cats discussed where to go next.
“Back to sleep,” Tumble groaned, curling back up.
“I don’t know. How about the zoo?” Bombalurina suggested.
“Bomb,” Tugger said, “you could go to the zoo at home. We’re here to do something new. Something exciting. Something we’ve never done before. The question is, what should we do?”
“How about that?” Misto said suddenly came out with. He pointed at a brochure rack outside the door. Kashmir, eager to make herself useful, went out and retrieved a pamphlet.
“Great Adventure,” she read off the title. “Well, that’s what we want, right? A great adventure.”
“Let’s try it,” Tumble said, taking the paper. “It looks interesting.”
So they all started off down the road. They had gone about a mile when Bomb abruptly said, “Um, does anyone know how to get there?” So they all whacked themselves on the head, consulted the map in the brochure, turned around, and started off again.
The first thing they found upon arriving at the park was an advertisement for a drive-thru safari. “Um, that sounds rather dangerous to me, guys,” Kashmir said, backing away nervously.
“Lions, tiger, and bears. Oh my!” Misto read off the sign. “Hmm. I agree.”
“I’d rather not be eaten by a lion,” Tumble remarked.
“Hey, let’s go!” Tugger screamed, and, to the other cats’ amazement, took off through the safari entrance.
“Oh, great,” Bomb groaned, and followed. “Tugger!” she hissed when she had caught up with him. “What are you doing?”
“Lionesses and tigresses, queen!” Tugger shot back, and started to run even faster.
Bomb dropped back to the others, who were waiting for her to convince Tugger to come back, and relayed the information. Then she started dishing out commands. “I guess we’d better follow, but we’ve got to be careful of the animals. Kashmir, you’re fastest, run ahead and see if you can somehow get Tugger to stop.”
“Me?” Kashmir squeaked.
“Oh, marvelous,” Kashmir mumbled sarcastically as she ran off. “I just know Tugger will listen to me. Convincing him to stop will be a breeze.” She soon caught up to Tugger, a) because she was faster and trying to catch up to him and b) he wasn’t running all out. “Listen, Tugger,” Kashmir said weakly, “is this really necessary?” She skittered sideways, narrowly avoiding a giraffe.
“But of course,” Tugger answered smoothly. “Lionesses and tigresses! Oh, man.” He grinned and ran a little faster, not putting too much more energy forth though, of course.
“Um, Tugger, you’ve overlooked one little thing,” Kashmir told him, ducking under a camel.
“Well, there are lionesses, and tigresses, but there are also lions and tigers,” Kashmir informed him. “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come on this vacation to get eaten.”
“Hmmm,” Tugger mused.
“Yeah,” Kashmir said, beginning to get into it, “you could climb into that cage, and look up, and there’ll be a lion, with a much bigger mane than you. And he’ll shake it -” they dodged under an ostridge “-and he’ll roar - like this – ROAR!” She lunged at Tugger, feigning an attack.
Tugger laughed. “You’re a cute kid,” he said, eyeing her.
Kashmir rolled her eyes nervously and continued her story. “Right, well, he’ll roar, and open his mouth, and it’ll be big and red and have white, shiny teeth. He’ll open his mouth, and gulp! He’ll – hey, look!” she exclaimed, and stopped. Tugger stopped too. “There’s the others!”
There were the others, as Kashmir supplied. Mistoffelees, Victoria, Tumblebrutus, and Bombalurina were all running at break-neck speed towards them. They were gesturing wildly and Misto pointed up.
So Kashmir and Tugger looked up.
The lion looked down.
The lion followed.
Are you tired of these little one-sentence paragraphs yet?
Anyway, the entire group ran for their lives. Tugger dropped back, right under the lion’s paws, but the giant cat didn’t seem to notice, and at the same time, Tumble dodged under him. Kashmir was still in the lead, and he ran up next to her. “Kashmir!” he whispered. “Stop!”
Kashmir did so, reluctantly, because she was an obedient cat, even though she didn’t like it.v The lion halted in front of them. He looked down, examining Kashmir’s and Tumble’s faces. He yawned, and they could see he giant white teeth and red tongue. That red tongue hung over the edge of the lion’s mouth. It reached out. They thought it was the end, and Kashmir crept closer to Tumble. And the lion started to groom them!
Kashmir laughed aloud from relief and grinned. “Thanks, Mr. Lion!” she said cheerfully, and ran off, expecting the others to follow.
They hadn’t been going long when they came to a large wire fence. This wasn’t unusual. There were fences like it all over the place. What was usual was the detour road and a big painted sign over the entrance.
“Monkey Jungle,” Misto read off the banner. “We are not responsible for any damage the monkeys may do to your car.” He gulped. “How about damaged done to a cat?”
“Come on, you sissy,” Bomb teased, and streaked through the entranceway.
There were no monkeys. On the contrary, there were baboons. They were pretty much fearless, and jumped onto the cars, on rooftops, and old debris left laying in their habitat. Bomb ran by all of this, not noticing a thing, until a baboon picked her up and started to play with her.
“Let me go, freak!” she shrieked, twisting and writhing, but the baboon held fast. He soon grew tired of her squirming, and tossed her to another monkey, who caught her in mid-air. So began a game of ‘catch-the-cat’.
“Help me, Tugger!” Bomb yelled, and Tugger sprang into action. He leapt at the baboon currently holding Bomb and made a nasty face. The creature dropped Bomb, but made a nastier face right back, which scared Tugger so much he ran straight out the exit, the rest of the cats in tow.
The rested in the shade of an oak tree a good deal of distance from the exit. The baboons couldn’t escape but Tugger wanted to take no chances.
After everyone had finally gotten their winds back, Misto rolled over onto his stomach. “Where to now?”
To be continued...