It was just after dawn when Misto began to stir, yawning and stretchingon the big pillow that he and Jemima had been sleeping on. They had talked for hours the night before. He mentioned that he had been feeling especially clumsy for the past few weeks, and with all that was happening to and around him, he was beginning to believe that silly myth: Black cats are bad luck. "But you are black and white," Jemi would retort, "and that myth is mythical anyway." It still didn't make him feel any better.
He began to wonder how he would get the twins connected again and rolled over to watch Jemi in her sleep as she had done with him before; only, it wasn't Jemima...or was it? He nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight of the strange cat lying next to him.... but the cat did smell like...."Jemima??!"
She felt extremely sluggish and slowly sat up at the sound of her name. "Yes, Misto? Good morning." She stretched her back and Misto watched, bewildered, as each vertebrae snapped.
"Jemima, is it really you?!" "What are you getting so worked up about?" She was beginning to notice that her voice was much lower. Misto ran off leaving a befuddled Jemima. She layed back down on the pillow and put her head down on her paws. "I look more ruffled than usual this morning," she thought, noticing her legs. Misto came back and handed her a rearview mirror he had found.
"If you let go, I'll let go!" Tumblebrutus growled.
"You let go first!" Etcetera and Tumble had each others' tails betweentheir teeth. They were playing nicely together but their play fighting eventually turned into a game of Uncle.
"If you don't let go I'll call Uncle Skimble." Cetera only tightenedher jaws in reply. "I said...UNCLE!!" Tumble yelled. She let go with agrin. "I win!""You didn't really win. I just didn't wanna hurt you," Tumble said as he rubbed his tail.
"Hey, look. It's Misto, and he has a new cat." They ran over to the car hood and waited. "Is it a kitten?" Cetera asked excitedly."No, it's an older cat."
"Oh. We have to behave then." She nugded Tumble hard in the ribs.
"Right. Good behavior." He pulled her ear. Misto and the "new" cat,who at that point needed assistance, were then in the center of the junkyard. "Wow," Cetera whispered, "she's really old. There's something kind of familiar about her. Come on." Tumble followed the eager kitten.
"Etcetera, have you seen Munkus? This is really urgent," Misto said. Cetera noticed that he had overcome his own pains to help this new cat.
"No, I haven't seen...." Cetera politely sniffed the cat, and after amoment, "Are you related to Jemima by any chance?"
"Please don't argue. My ears are ringing enough as it is," Jemi frowned.
"I'm going to go find Munkus." He helped her to the ground and nuzzled her before running off.
"I'll come with you," Tumble followed.
"Would you bring Old Deuteronomy here for me?"
"No problem." They crawled through the pipe and went searching. Jemi watched the pipe for a few seconds after they had gone while Cetera stared at her, still angry."Jemi, tell me, what did he do?"
"He's telling the truth. He didn't do anything." She slowly blinked.
"Then what happened to you?" Cetera asked, trying to calm herself. She seemed more upset than Jemima.
"I don't know. I feel fine, though. I feel well enough to wrestle with you." She pounced on Cetera's tail with the bit of strength she had gained in the past few seconds.
"Are you sure?" Cetera didn't want her to break anything.
"Sure, I'm sure!" She jumped on Cetera and they rolled into the stepsby the giant tire."Hey wait a minute. Jemi, your fur."
"...And my voice..." She looked at her paws. "Find a mirror, quick!"
"There's one on the car." They climbed onto the hood and inside tolook in the rearview mirror. "Jemima! You're back to normal!!" Jemima lookedin the mirror and laughed with joy.
"It's all gone! It was only temporary!!" They jumped out of the carand giggled playfully as they tumbled about, celebrating their kittenhood. At that moment, Misto and Munkus came running out of the pipe. Misto stopped in front of the two kittens and gasped.
"What's the problem?" Munkus asked, seeing nothing wrong.
"Misto, I'm OK now! It was only temporary," Jemi rejoiced.
"What happened?" Munkus wondered.
"When we woke up this morning, Jemima was... older," Misto explained,still staring at the restored kitten. "I don't understand...." He broke his gaze and turned to Munkustrap, but before he spoke he noticed...
"Munkus. You're shorter.""What?" He hadn't noticed it himself. ,p> "We're at the same eye level. You are my height! What is going on???" There was general confusion as other cats came to see what all the commotion was about. Just then, Tumble arrived with Old Deuteronomy. Mistocouldn't believe what was happening. He looked at Jemima and saw that her furwas losing it's color again, Etcetera's fur also. Munkus was a littleshorter than he was a minute ago and his tail wasn't quite as long.
"It's me," Misto thought. He said it out loud. "It's definitely me." He began to back away from everyone. The others stopped chattering and listened. "It's my bad luck again. You're all being affected by it." They all looked around at each other and watched as discolored fur, agedfaces and shortened tails all went back to normal. Not a word was uttered. OldDeut walked over to Misto slowly and touched him on the shoulder. The blackcat waited as his mentor's fur began to regain some of it's former color. The wrinkles on his face mysteriously disappeared and he felt himselfgetting stronger and more physically able than before. He let go of Misto,backed up a bit and waited. Everyone looked on in disbelief as Old Deuteronomy's appearance aged back to normal.
"Those who are older than you grow younger, and those who are youngergrow older." Dead silence. All eyes on the black cat. He truly was bad luck. Misto felt his throat begin to tighten.
"I can't stay here," he announced, his voice cracking. "I'm liable tocause some of you to reduce to embryos and others to grow to their end..." He turned and ran.
Munkus started to run after him but Old Deut stopped him, "It's better this way."
"But he'll be by himself out there. He needs help."
"No, unfortunately, I don't think he can be helped. It seems that the last thing he wants is for any of us to be endangered by his presence. Whatever the problem may be, it is something that he has to and will overcomefor himself."
Jemima stepped over to Old Deut and sniffed, "Are you sure?" He hugged her.
"Oh, I'm certain, Jemima. I saw it in his eyes."
to be continued...