Mistoffelees swished his tail back and forth as it hung over the edge of the roof. As he watched it intently, Misto' yawned and thought of his past. It was a vague background and Misto' wished he knew more. Misto's mother abandoned him at birth, and disappeared; Misto's father was always at the local pub and only returned home to have the pleasure of beating Misto'. This was all Misto' knew of his past.
To the Jellicles, Mistoffelees was just a joyful, magical cat and they had not even considered what his past contained. Misto' saw no harm in having them think what they did but what he didn't know was that because Misto' wouldn't reveal his past, it kept him from having the one thing everyone thought he had. Confidence.
Mistoffelees silently stood up and leaped to the ground. He stretched and started to wander around. Perhaps he would pay a visit to 'Teaser and 'Jerrie. No, they would be wandering and Misto' wouldn't be able to find them at Victoria Grove.
Perhaps a visit to Demeter would help. She always listens to cats that feel out of place. But Misto'? No, Misto' was expected to be different because his magic was out of the ordinary. Misto felt lost and alone, and gave out a big sigh. "My, my, my," a cat said.
Misto' looked for the owner of the cat's voice. "Old Deuteronomy," he said, shocked, "What are you doing here?"
"My, my, my. It looks as if our Misto' has problems."
Mistoffelees jumped onto the Vicarage Wall and sat down to face his leader. "I don't know what the matter with me is, Old Deuteronomy. I mean, I know I'm cared for but..."
"It looks as if you need something to cheer you up. Come along Misto'. Bustopher Jones invited me for Rice Pudding today. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you came along."
Mistoffelees tried to perk up, after all, it wasn't every day you got to lunch with Bustopher Jones. Despite how he looked on the outside, though, he couldn't get rid of the loneliness he felt on the inside.
Even if her fur stood on end and her claws were fully extended, Demeter wouldn't be able to fool him. She was the only cat that stood between Macavity and Natura, and he knew it. Despite the defensive hiss Demeter left out, Macavity still advanced, he rats slowly surrounding the two cats.
Demeter's mind was terrified, but she couldn't let it show. "Let her go, Macavity," Demeter warned, "or you'll have one heck of a time trying to keep you third name a secret."
An evil grin spread across Macavity's face and he said, "Now, now, Demeter. Is that any way to talk to your boyfriend?"
A small gasp came from Natura. "Is it true?" She asked.
"Not any more," Demeter spelled out through clenched teeth, allowing everyone around to hear.
"Well, if you put it that way Demeter." He simply said, "I'll just have to take you as well." The cats then, as if on cue, walked closer and closer to surround Demeter and Nattie until they no room to stand.
Earlier Munku' wondered what had happened to Demeter, but his mind wasn't on that topic any longer. He was using all of his strength to stay calm and composed over the recently revealed news. How could they? 'Teaser and 'Jerrie working for Macavity? It wasn't entirely impossible but Munku' hadn't even considered that Macavity had the inside scoop. Now it made sense why he always attacked; he knew when the Jellicles were most vulnerable.
"What am I to do?" Munkustrap asked Old Deuteronomy, "I can't just banish them. Even if I did, it wouldn't help. How will I explain it to the other Jellicles?"
Munku' was so deeply concerned with his own thoughts that he didn't recognize the black cat was there. Misto' slowly realized that Munku' didn't care if he was there, but Misto' himself did. The cat left with a concerned thought in him head. Both about 'Teaser and 'Jerrie and about Munku'.
A disturbing idea passed through Misto's head as he thought. "Who else knew?"
Mistoffelees was mostly invisible as the darkness coated him like syrup. This helped, considering when he reached his home, he found a Jellicle waiting for him.
Jemima's purpose, as a Jellicle, was to run errands for other cats and kittens that might need it. And since this was so, Misto' assumed that Jemima had come with a message; he didn't feel like dealing with anyone right now.
After creeping back into the shadows and waiting a few minutes, Misto' knew Jemima wasn't going to leave, so he headed toward his home, where she was waiting. "Mr. Mistoffelees," Jemima called him, "Hurry! This is urgent!"
"Who sent you?" Misto' started the usual conversation.
"Nobody," was the shocking response.
"Then why are you here?"
"Because I didn't know who else to go to. I couldn't tell Old Deuteronomy or Munkustrap because they wouldn't believe me. You are a cat, though, and the only one that thinks us kittens will tell the truth when we need to."
"But Old Deuteronomy listens and believes you."
"He can't do anything about this, though."
Mistoffelees didn't let his surprise show, but instead he picked up the kitten by the scruff of the neck and put her in the half-car the he called home. "Stay here," he instructed, "and don't move." The cat started off but was quick to call back, "And don't tell anyone else what just went on or what I am doing!"
It was like a heat stroke in Demeter and Natura's prison. Demeter sat in the darkest, coolest corner, grooming herself. Nattie was walking around the room looking for a way out. The room had scratch marks and bloodstains all over the brick walls and there wasn't a single lighting fixture, electrical outlet or window there.
"Why waste your time, Nattie?" Demeter asked, "You know perfectly well that the only way out of here is through the door we entered in."
"I know," Nattie replied, "but I was kind of hoping that there might be another way out. You know, a secret passage..."
"Yeah, wishful thinking, honey. Trust me on this one, the only way out is through the door."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I used to train in here. Macavity would put me in here and then I would try to get out. He soon taught me that the only way out of his traps is through the front door. He said that there is never a back door."
Misto's paws stung as he walked on the frostbitten ground. The grassy field he chose to cross had not been the wisest choice. Now his little feet were nearly frozen. "Demeter," Misto' called, his voice shaking with cold, "Demeter, are you in there?" No reply came. "Demeter?" Misto' tried again. All was silent.
Not wanting to disturb the queen, whom was most likely sleeping, but worrying too much to stay out, Misto' walked into the small home. Everything, which was usually neat as a pin, was dirty, knocked to the floor, or just ruined. The only piece of furniture left standing in the room, a cat's coffee table, has a small piece of paper on it with only two words etched onto it.
"MAKE UP YOUR MIND!"
"I ALREADY HAVE!"
"THEN WHAT'S YOUR DECISION!"
"Why should I tell you!"
"Because you are stuck with me!"
"I AM NOT! I can get out WHENEVER I WANT!"
Nattie wasn't about to give up, even if Demeter was right. "Shut Up!" she shouted.
"No," Demeter retorted.
"And why not?"
"Because you are a HotHead."
"SHUT UP!" Macavity's voice boomed as the door slammed open. Both cats shrank into the darkest corner they could find. "I have had it up to hear with your bickering!" he stormed, "and I DON'T want to hear it any longer!"
"Yes Macavity," the queens said in turn.
"Good! Now I can get some sleep. I don't want to hear your voices again tonight. Understand?"
Yes, sir," Nattie said.
Macavity walked out the door with a big "SLAM!" and Nattie started laughing.
"What's so funny?" Demeter asked.
"Nothing you would understand."
"I can understand lots. Tell me, what's so funny?"
"Oh, nothing much. It's just that…" Nattie burst into another fit of giggles.
"What's so funny?" Demeter demanded.
"M-M-Macavity…" Nattie stuttered in amusement, "told us what time it is!"
Demeter burst into laughter. "The great Macavity has problems with speech!" she shouted hysterically.
"SHHH!" Nattie quickly hushed.
"Why?" Demeter asked, confused.
Macavity walked in, steamed. "Me?" he shouted, "You think I have problems with speech!" he shouted. "We'll see you try to make fun of me again!" He walked through the door and called a cat to him. "Take them to the torture room," he instructed, "the back way. I want them to get a good look at our other prisoners."
The two cats were escorted through winding halls to a small room. On each side that the door wasn't on, there were small windows in which cats could be seen through. Each looked beaten and scarred, and very old. "Each of these cats went through the same situation as you two did," the guard sneered, "and never made it out."
Nattie and Demeter were horrified, and weren't able to hide it. Silently they nodded and the guard escorted them to a large room. It was filled with weapons, knifes and various doors on each wall. Each door, it appeared, led to another torture chamber. Macavity and the guard both knew what was in store for the queens. And it all started with the whips on the far side of the wall.
"What's so important," Munkustrap asked, upset, "that you have to interrupt a Jellicle meeting?"
"I think this would be at the top of the list is you knew about it," Misto' replied.
Munkustrap groaned and walked an earshot distance away from the Jellicles, followed by Misto'. "This better be as important as you say it is," he growled.
Misto' said the only thing he knew would catch Munku's full attention, "Wouldn't catnapping be this important?"
Munku's head shot up and his icy blue eyes studied Misto's.
"Are you serious?"
"Do Jellicles joke about matters like that?"
"All right, what is it you really want to tell me?"
"Demeter has been catnapped."
Munkustrap shot off towards the crowd of curious Jellicles and called Skimble', 'Teaser, and 'Jerrie to come to him. "What is it?" 'Jerrie asked.
"Yeah, why do you need us?" 'Teaser added.
"Because you are the ones who betrayed our tribe, and work for Macavity."
"Yeah? So? What does that have to do with this matter?" Skimble' asked, "And how does this involve Mistoffelees?"
"This involves Mistoffelees," Munkustrap replied, "because he is the one who discovered that Demeter was catnapped. And I think by Macavity."
'Teaser gasped. "Demeter? Why was she catnapped?"
Misto' stepped in and commented, "I don't even know why you called these cats back here, Munkustrap. What do they have to do with Demeter?"
Munkustrap growled. "You are out of place, Mistoffelees. That is none of your concern."
"Okay then, I'll leave you four to your conference." Misto walked off, hurt that Munkustrap would be treating him the way he did.
"What did ye' do 'at for, Munku'? You said a few moments ago that he was the one who found out about Demeter's absence."
Munku' was not listening. He was too concerned for Demeter. Why would anyone want to catnap Demeter? There was no reason to. Unless… "'Teaser?" Munku' asked, "Why would Macavity want to catnap Demeter?"
"Well," 'Teaser though, "the only reason I can think of would be that she rescued Nattie from Macavity…"
"WHAT?" Munkustrap bellowed.
'Teaser shrunk back. "Oh," she said, "I forgot you didn't know about that.
"Tell me," Munkustrap slowly walked towards her, "what the heck is going on here. I want to know every last detail."
'Teaser slowly explained how Demeter had gone to Macavity to rescue Nattie and take the half-dead cat back to Victoria Grove for 'Teaser and 'Jerrie to nurse back to health.
"And," Munkustrap said, after the group was finished, "why did Demeter do this? She knows it is against Jellicle law to help one of Macavity's cats."
"'Teaser was just answering your question!" 'Jerrie yelled at Munkustrap for defense, "Don't shout at her for that!"
Munkustrap walked a short distance away. "Where be ye going?" Skimble' asked.
"To think," the angry cat said.
What was 'Teaser thinking? What was Demeter doing disobeying Jellicle laws? Everything was wrong. There was a missing piece to the puzzle somewhere. Munkustrap just knew it. But where was it? It could be in one of three places. In Demeter's past, in 'Teaser and 'Jerrie's past, or somewhere else. Munkustrap quickly ruled out the second choice. 'Teaser and 'Jerrie wouldn't have done anything to catnap Demeter. Or would they? Nothing made sense any more. Munkustrap looked to see where he was. He was at the Vicarage wall again. He always seemed to end up talking to Old Deuteronomy when he had problems. Jumping onto the wall, Munku' sat down beside the old cat. "What's on your mind, Old Deuteronomy?" he questioned.
"Rice pudding and mutton," Old Deuteronomy replied, "why?"
I don't know," Munkustrap replied, "I was just wondering."
"Why do I get the feeling that this is not about rice pudding?"
"Because we have to talk about banishment."
"Banishment? In the Jellicle Tribe?"
"Yes. You see, Old Deuteronomy, Rumpleteaser and Mungojerrie have kept one too many secrets. They now reveal to me that there is some new cat that Demeter saved the other day. Now Demeter has been catnapped. We don't know by whom but we think it is Macavity."
"Oh my," Old Deuteronomy frowned, "we do have to talk. You mean I have to get serious about my Jellicles for a change?"
Munkustrap smiled quickly. "So what are we to do?"
"Well, it's not that easy Munkustrap. We have to analyze the information we have and then we have to make a hypothesis of what 'Teaser and 'Jerrie's next move will be. Based on the information we know, we have to decide to let them stay in the tribe or we banish them."
"Well," Munkustrap commented, "it looks as if 'Teaser and 'Jerrie will be banished from the Jellicle tribe."
"What's went on back there?" Jellylorum asked Skimble'.
"I'll explain it in a moment," he muttered and then he announced to the Jellicles,
"Munkustrap has a problem to solve. All of ye can go home for now. He won't be back for a while." With the he started to walk back to 'Teaser and 'Jerrie.
"Wait," Jellylorum, "You didn't answer my question. What went on back there?"
Skimble' looked at her tiredly and commented quietly, "Mistoffelees claims that Demeter has been catnapped. Munkustrap is just a little steamed. He stormed off and we don't know where he went."
"Yes. It looks as if Macavity took the lass."
Mistoffelees walked along the open streets, depressed. "Not my business?" he was thinking, "It was made my business when Jemima told me about the situation." Then a new thought occurred to him. "If I can save Demeter myself, then Munkustrap will respect me more than ever."
What? What was Misto' thinking? Rescue Demeter from Macavity on his own, against all on Macavity's servants? No, it was impossible. But if he did, what were the possibilities to? Misto' could use his magic. No. Misto's magic was for extreme emergencies only. But then what could Mistoffelees do to help?' There was nothing Mistoffelees could do to help. What was more, Munkustrap was always telling him, "This is not your concern, Mistoffelees. Go play with the kittens." The more Mistoffelees thought, the more alone and useless he felt.
Munkustrap sighed. "Is this our final decision, Old Deuteronomy?"
"I think it is, Munkustrap. You need to go tell the Jellicles."
Munkustrap hopped off of the wall and ran to the Jellicle Junkyard. To his surprise the cats that were there before had all left.
"I let them go home, Munku'," Skimble admitted as he approached the cat.
"Oh, okay." Munkustrap quickly went to the tire and called the Jellicles to the Junkyard. As soon as everyone was assembled, Munkustrap called 'Teaser and 'Jerrie to come onto the tire.
"Tell them what you told me this morning," he whispered.
'Jerrie nodded, then told the Jellicles the story of his and 'Teaser's past. Then he said, "The only part I skipped is the part that you don't know about yet. I am instructed to tell you what our secret is. You aren't going to like this. 'Teaser and I work for Macavity."
"Took long enough," Munkustrap muttered, walking back onto the tire. "Thank you 'Jerrie, 'Teaser."
The two cats walked off of the tire and Munkustrap announced, "This is the reason I called the meeting. Old Deuteronomy and I have given this much thought, and after analyzing and debating the situation, we have finally come to a decision. We have decided to banish Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser from the Jellicle tribe. No one is allowed to associate with them in any way. If they try to communicate with you, you are to ignore them and tell me or Old Deuteronomy."
'Jerrie and 'Teaser's heads hung low and their tails were limp, dragging to the ground as they started to leave the junkyard.
"WAIT!" a voice called. It was Mistoffelees.
"Mistoffelees, that's confidential! You aren't supposed to tell anyone unless you consult Old Deuteronomy or myself before doing so."
"Well, I'm the one who discovered that Demeter was kidnapped. And you did ask 'Jerrie and 'Teaser why Demeter was catnapped in the first place. They just said that she was trying to save a dying cat!"
"Well, no but…"
"Enough you two!" Skimble' shouted, "you sound like kittens!" Misto' and Munku' lowered their heads and both apologized. Then Misto' ran off, too upset to stay at the meeting.
"The meeting is finished!" Skimble told the remaining Jellicles in the audience. "You may go home now."
One by one the Jellicles left until there were only two left, Skimbleshanks and Munkustrap. "I suggest you take a day off tomorrow, Munku'. You need to get your mind off Demeter and your duties. You might want to take a stroll by the beach. Just do something to get your mind off your problems for a while."
"Yes," Munkustrap replied, "thanks for the suggestion, but I have to refuse. A Jellicle's life is at stake, I can't risk it."
"Okay," Skimble shrugged, "suit yourself."
Misto' laid down in bed. He was once again thinking about his past. What was there in his past for him? Why was Misto' even this concerned about his past? Of course, it was because everyone else knew who their cat parents were except for Misto', and he was just to hooked on the idea of finding out who they were. Mistoffelees fell asleep thinking of his parents and the past days' events. The part about the day he remembered most of all, however, was the loneliness and lack of courage he had experienced.
To be continued...
Ooh, the pain!