*Author's Note: Demter Saves the Day is the first Chapter in the book I am writing. (It is called Dangerous Days.) I want people to know that when you reach it, Natura is pronounced Na*too*ra. Please note that I am telling you this because names are important to everyone and I know it would frustrate me if someone mispronounced my name. ~Nattie :)
She looked at him, at first, from a distance. He was breathing steadily and his eyes were closed but you knew that from high atop his perch, he was well aware of everything that was happening below him.
Suddenly the cat's eyes flung open and she scurried back into the shadows, even though she was positive he had seen her.
As the cat slowly surveyed his surroundings, his ear flicked back and fourth, as though searching for something. Apparently not finding what he was looking for, the Jellicle once again closed his eyes.
Without hesitating she silently crept out of the area disappeared into the darkness. What was she doing here? Why had she come in the first place? Curiosity perhaps? Possibly, but she knew she had to rid herself of these childish dreams. Her only hope to accomplish this would be to find the courage to admit her wrongdoing and begin doing what she knew was right. Could this actually happen to her? In her own mind it seemed impossible, so she must find her courage some other way.
In the near distance, perched on the old truck in the junkyard, Munkustrap was finally able to relax his tense muscles. Hauling paint cans wasn't any fun, but Munkustrap knew it had to be done.
"Mr. Munkustrap," a small voice called, "Mr. Munkustrap, where are you?" Munkustrap looked up, groaned and walked to the front of his perch. It was Jemima, the youngest of the Jellicles, and several of her Jellicle playmates. They had been dispatched by Old Deuteronomy to find Munkustrap. It seemed that a meeting had been called to order, as Munkustrap would soon discover. Something very important had come along that would require immediate attention.
It took a few days for all the excitement of the new arrival to wear down but eventually things began to get back to normal. The young cats were off on another mouse hunt to make up for the lack of practice but this time Skimbleshanks was accompanying them.
"I wanna be the mouse hunter first," complained Pouncival.
"No! I'm the mouse hunter first!" whined Tumblebrutus, "I've been waiting longer!"
"But I'm younger."
"Yeah, so? All the more reason for you to wait to be mouse hunter!"
"Why don't ye both be mouse hunters?" Skimbleshanks asked.
"Because it is against the rules. Mr. Munkustrap said, 'Only one mouse hunter allowed,'" Jemima quoted proudly.
"Well then, that means that ye will have to teach me the rules, hmm, lassie?"
"Can I?" Patchival, the new kitten, asked.
"Why sure ye can, laddie." Skimbleshanks smiled down at the young kitten. After several minutes of confusion, 'Skimble,' as the kittens called him, ended up re-teaching the kittens how to play mouse hunt and a smiling shadow walking off into the distance.
A small ball of fur huddled into a corner of the dark and bleak room. Macavity walked up to it and picked it up, as if it were the tiniest thing he had ever saw, and said, "Now where did you say you went off wandering today, Natura?"
The ball slowly uncoiled and crawled to the ground, alarmed by how calm the cat above her was. "I-I-I went to the old junkyard," Natura responded.
"And what did I say about the junkyard?" was the nonchalant response.
"To not go anywhere hear it," she shrunk back.
"That's right. And what did I say happens if you did?"
"That you would…."
As if finishing her sentence, Macavity whirled around and whapped Natura in the back of the head, and she flew clear across the room. There was a THUD! And then a fearful gasp came from two now timid cats.
"Let this be a lesson to you," Macavity growled as he glared at Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser, who were now cowering in a corner. "This is what will happen to you if you ever disregard my orders." The two cats nodded and were allowed to go, so they left the basement as quickly as they had come.
Scared by what they had just witnessed, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser rushed away from the forbidden Jellicle territory, and headed back to the safety of Victoria Grove.
Upon reaching their home, Mungojerrie pointed out; "We have a dilemma."
"And what would that be?'" Rumpleteaser asked, baffled.
"We, as Jellicles, aren't allowed on Macavity turf. But as Macavity's accomplices, we aren't allowed on Jellicle grounds. Nattie learned this the hard way and now Macavity will have to correct Nattie's mistake. So now Macavity…."
"….will want us to take care of the Jellicles that might have seen her," 'Teaser' finished for her brother. "You're right, we do have a problem."
The day started out as any normal day, but would change just as quickly for the three loyal friends. 'Teaser and 'Jerrie were performing yet another acrobatic routine when Skimble' showed up to pay them a visit. He waited until the routine was complete and then sauntered up to them. It had been several weeks since they had seen each other, and so much had happened, that the three of them began to talk all at once. Not wanting to miss anything, 'Skimble' suggested that they take a long stroll around the square then they would catch up on everything that had happened over the past few weeks.
"Well anyway," Skimble' continued, "Patchival was found drowning in a river while I was re-teaching the wee kittens how to play mouse hunt. So I swam out to the little laddie and took him to shore. Almost dead, he was,"
"Oh my," 'Teaser recalled, "I feel so sorry for Nattie. She was clawed up a good deal,"
"'Teaser," 'Jerrie spat. Skimble could see 'Teaser flinched when she remembered she shouldn't have mentioned Nattie in front of Skimble'.
"Nattie? And who might the lass be?" Skimble' asked.
"We have to talk to you, Skimble'," 'Jerrie sighed and muttered, "I knew it would come to this." Taking a deep breath, 'Jerrie admitted the twins dark secret. "After we became Jellicles, Macavity felt that the Jellicles would defeat him soon; so he decided to get the inside scoop. 'Teaser and I fit the bill. Macavity lured us to his lair and made us work for him by using the 'do this or die' routine. We wound up being forced to work and tell Macavity everything."
That's where we met Nattie. 'Teaser finished the story for her brother. "Nattie is short for Natura, the name of a cat who works for Macavity. She was abandoned at birth and Macavity needed a helper to use, and he found Nattie.
"Nattie met the Jellicle Cats one night while working on an assignment for Macavity. Although he had said not to, Nattie got curious and followed the cats. She was back later than Macavity told her to be, so he beat her, forcing Nattie to reveal what she had done. Then Macavity warned us. 'This is what will happen to you if you ever disregard my order,' he said. Then we left. As I passed Natura, I could see that she was hardly breathing and that she was going to die quickly if she didn't get help. I don't know what happened to her."
Skimble was shocked but most of all he felt trapped and lost, two feelings he often didn't encounter or like. "We better go," 'Teaser whispered. 'Jerrie nodded and the two silently headed towards Victoria Grove.
Another fist flew at Natura and landed right in her gut. Then Natura curled up in pain. She was bleeding out of the corner of her mouth and her right forepaw felt broken. Macavity was really mad this time and Natura knew that. "Answer me, coward!" he shouted, "Answer me!" Natura limped back into a corner and curled up even tighter. Macavity shouted and left the room, returning with his rats. "Now Natura, you answer me or I will,"
"Excuse me, boss," one of the cats peeped.
"What is it!" Macavity growled.
"Well, we were thinking. What if you made one of us hang around her all the time, like an escort or something. That way we could tell you what happened."
Macavity grinned and nodded, "Yes. It will be Tilleyotine who will watch her. We will see if she likes her punishment. Maybe this time she'll think twice about defying me." Walking to the doorway, Macavity told Natura, "This is your last chance, cat. Use it or lose it."
The cat stepped up to Natura's side and looked up at her. "This will be fun," he sneered at her. Natura limped to her small corner of the basement and curled up in a ball. She fell asleep in no time, not forgetting what Macavity had said.
Munku' was having a horrible day before he walked up to Skimble'. Sensing trouble, Munku' sat down beside the miserable cat, ready to listen to what had to say.
"Let's say a cat went where they weren't supposed to," Skimble started, "and they accidentally told another cat. What would happen?"
"Well it depends if the cat did anything other than going where they weren't supposed to." As if a side note, Munku added, "All I would do is lie low and suggest to the cat that he or she confess of his mistake to Old Deuteronomy. Either that or suffer the consequences."
"Thank you," Skimble' said. Munku felt there was a lot left out and left feeling a lot worse than when he came. Walking slowly to his home, Munku' decided he would stop by to see Demeter. He had always gone to her to talk.
Munku' arrived at Demeter's home and plopped himself down on a soft, fat cushion. Heaving a heavy sigh He began, "I ran into a dismal cat today. He gave me a hypothetical situation about a cat going where he wasn't supposed to."
Demeter looked at Munku's sad eyes and licked his ears. "It will be all right," she told him.
"No, it won't. Everything goes wrong when Skimble'…," Munku' trailed off and realized he had mentioned something he shouldn't have. Demeter had stopped licking his ears and looked his square in the eyes, waiting for him to finish. "…when Skimble' is feeling lost and depressed."
"Everything will turn out fine," she told him, "I promise." Munku nodded and left, leaving a very concerned cat behind.
You can imagine Skimbleshanks' surprise when he realized a cat was coming to him for advice. Not Munku or Old Deuteronomy, Skimbleshanks. Demeter walked up to him and sat beside him, not moving a muscle. After a few moments, Skimble realizes that Demeter had come to him so that he could talk to her. This did not surprise Skimbleshanks at all. Munku probably went to Demeter to express his concern of Skimbleshanks. Then, on accident, he mentioned Skimbleshanks' name.
"I learned something I didn't want to today. I was too scared to tell Munkustrap," Skimble' admitted.
"But isn't learning good?" Demeter pointed out.
"Not this. I can't say what it is, I don't want to get anyone else in as much trouble as I am in."
"You can trust me with a secret. I don't give secrets away that would hurt anyone who is a Jellicle."
"Well, it has to do with 'Teaser and 'Jerrie too."
"I promise not to tell."
"They be workin' for Macavity. They told me that when they became Jellicles Macavity wanted to learn the inside story. Being new Jellicles, I be guessing, 'Teaser and 'Jerrie would be the easiest to mislead. They were forced to give in and work for Macavity. While they were there they met a young lass named Natura. They say that she had never met a Jellicle Cat until recently. Obviously Macavity didn't want her to, so he beat her until she promised never to even think of Jellicles again. Rumpleteaser said that Natura was half dead when she last saw her."
"Actually," Demeter comforted, "I was suspecting that the story you told me was the case. Except for the part about Natura, of course." Skimble' smiled and appeared to feel a little bit better. "But," she added, "you must never tell anyone we had this conversation, understand?" Skimble promised and Demeter hurried off.
An hour later Demeter headed off towards Macavities lair. She had a risky plan in mind, but she knew it was well worth it, if what 'Teaser and 'Jerrie told her about Natura was true. Taking a detour into an alley forbidden to Jellicles, Demeter arrived face to face in front of a big, strong cat. He immediately lashed out and attacked Demeter. Demeter just stepped aside and swiped him with her paw. The cat rolled away and turned around to attack again. Demeter was yet again being charged, but this time low and steadily. Despite his efforts, Demeter whapped him in the head with her paw and he lie in a pile of garbage from the impact.
When Demeter turned to face where she was heading, she saw the cat she had heard so much about. "Natura." was all she said.
"H-H-How did you know my name?" the cat asked. Demeter quickly circled Natura to see if what she had been told was true, which it was. Except for the fact that this cat also had a limp in her right paw and bloodstained fur below the corner of her mouth.
"So Rumpleteaser told me correctly." She commented. The cat sat down and burst into tears. "What did I say?" Demeter confused herself.
"You said nothing," the cat replied, "It's just that it's the first, and last time that she will ever talk of me again."
Demeter lifted the chin of the cat, smiled then said, "I'll get you out of this mess, I promise!" Suddenly the cat broke through the garbage with a meow. Rushing towards the two, he opened his mouth and showed his fangs. At that instant Demeter jumped onto the rooftop and disappeared. Oh how Natura wished she could go with the graceful cat, but it was not to be. Her paw was injured and she had faced death twice in the past couple of days.
Demeter leaped from rooftop to rooftop, a feat she hadn't preformed in a long time. After an exhausting trip, Demeter landed in front of a dusty, grime-filled building.
Demeter's stride had a hot streak of confidence in it and the cat raised her chin and tail to show her dominance. As the confident cat walked toward Macavity, the rats scattered and quickly headed for the nearest exit.
Demeter was doing something she never thought she would do ever again. She was about to threaten the best criminal in all of London. "Your third name is at stake. I suggest you give me Natura and move far, far away, Macavity."
Macavity was unaccustomed to being challenged nor was he familiar with having anyone threaten to reveal his true identity. This was a new concept to him; one he did not like at all. He had worked long and hard winning the respect of his peers and he wanted to keep it that way. To weaken now and give in to these demands would severely damage the reputation he had worked so hard to attain. But, on the other hand, if he refused to release Nattie, the very thing he had worked so hard to keep hidden would be revealed.
"What if I told you that the name you think is my third name is really not my third name at all?"
"You want what?" Macavity squeaked with surprise.
"You heard me. I want Natura, in exchange for the secrecy of your third name."
Macavity almost shriveled into a small ball, and was glad that none of his assistants were around. "I guess I have no choice, do I? All right." Macavity had admitted defeat.
A few days later an odd group of cats walked down the road side by side as they talked of the recently rescued Natura. "Well that takes care of that," Demeter said to 'Teaser and 'Jerrie. "Now all you have to do is make sure she becomes more healthy. Then we can introduce her to the Jellicles." The twins nodded. 'Teaser and 'Jerrie were just glad they were rid of the criminal feline, and they said so. Nattie, who knew Macavity best of them all, said to them through weak gasps of air, "He'll come back for revenge on me."
Onto the Next Chapter!
More to come? I can't wait!