Endless Masquerading

Endless Masquerading

By: Callista

(Author's note: Please remember that this is my first time putting my idea for a fan-fic online. I have tried to be accurate from the video and T.S. Elliot's book. Relationships portrayed between the original characters are of my own opinion. Feel free to e-mail me with your comments whether they be bad or good at briar_rose15@hotmail.com. Another note: some of the quotes you see I acquired from the online version of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!)

~Chapter 1~

"When I play with my cat, who knows whether I do not make her more sport then she makes me?" --Miguel de Montaigne

The white cat dashed down the alley dodging trash and other bits of debris that lay about. A London storm in the late afternoon made it seem like night and thunder rumbled every once in awhile. The rain was fast and steady and she was already drenched, but she ignored her discomfort, she was running for her life. Three big dogs rounded the corner behind her barking viciously when they saw their quarry. She turned another corner and came upon an intersection going three ways. She stopped suddenly and caught her breath, hearing the barking growinglouder behind her she made a quick decision and ran right. She sped on when she stopped and gaped in surprise when the alley proved to be a dead end. She heard the dogs come to the mouth of the alley and stop, arguing amongst themselves.

"She went that'a way!"

"No she didn't you bonehead, can't you smell?"

"Shut up!" the lead dog growled silencing the other two. Thunder rumbled in the distance. "We'll split up. I'll take this one, you two take the others."

With a start the wet white cat realized that the lead dog was coming in her alley! Trying not to panic she looked around wildly and dove behind a stack of garbage bags and trash bins. Wiggling her way into the farthest corner she could find, she held her breath and hoped her aching stomach wouldn't grow with hunger and give her away. It was relatively dry in the spot where she was hiding, but her fur dripped steadily on the pavement making it wet. Lightning crashed and she could see the dog sniffing around through a gap in the pile of trash bags. The dog came so close to her hiding place that she could see his nose quiver as he was trying to pick up a scent. Luckily for her though the rain which drenched her also hid her scent. The dog growled once and left the alley. She stayed in the alley for about an hour, muscles tense, making sure the dogs wouldn't come back. The storm eventually passed and she cautiously peeped out of her hiding place. The sun was already beginning to shine again and it didn't look like night any more. She stepped over to a puddle and saw her reflection in it. She looked like a drowned kitten. Sighing she went to work grooming herself as best as she could.

Finished she finally took a look at her surroundings. The alley itself wasn't anything special but the turned over trash cans near her hiding spot held some promise to her. Going over to one, she sniffed delicately, but didn't detect anything edible. Going to another one she got lucky, a tuna can had some scraps left in the bottom of it and she devoured it hungrily. It had been three days since she had something to eat. She was getting used to eating out of trash cans. At first she didn't like to but hunger had eventually given in and she ate anything eatable. Looking up from her meager meal she spied a small opening in the wooden privacy fence that made up the right wall of the alley. It was a bit small but she had lost weight from not eating much. Wiggling her way through it she found herself in a junkyard. Hopefully the dogs wouldn't find her here and she searched for something to sleepin. She came upon a cardboard box which was damp from the rain and sagging in the middle. All of a sudden, though, the energy she had spent running from the dogs caught up with her and she collapsed in the box dreaming of a warm, loving place she had once known.

Chapter 2~

"It has been the providence of Nature to give this creature [the cat] nine lives instead of one." --Pilpay

She must have slept the rest of the afternoon because when she awoke the moon was out. She twitched her ears listening for something that might have awakened her. Then she heard it; it was singing. Not the loud off-key screech of a human voice but the smooth sonorous timbre of a cat's voice. But this was more than one cat. Curious, she followed her ears to find the voices. And she felt an overpowering sense of loneliness and wondered if these cats were friendly. She peeped over a broken discarded clock to a sight that made her eyes boggle. Dozens of cats of all colors, Toms, Queens, and kittens were dancing around joyfully. She noticed some of the queens acting very strange around a tall tom that had a mane like a lion. He was obviously flirting with them and enjoying every moment of their attention. Only then did she understand the words they sang: "The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat." The tabby with the lion's mane strutted about and puffed out his chest. It was very humorous, and the hidden white cat stifled her laughter with a paw.

This went on for a minute then abruptly stopped as they all turned to a new cat who had walked in. This cat was not greeted with a friendly head rub but with a shunning hiss. The newcomer was an old female who looked as though she had seen better days. Her fur was matted and dirty, her paws limp and wrinkled. The unseen cat behind the clock watched as kittens went up to her but were rebuked by the adults. After a moment of grim silence a black and yellow queen started to sing about her in a slow mournful song. "...from the Rising Sun to the Friend at Hand." The hidden cat gasped as she recognized the infamous names of those prostitution houses. "And who would ever suppose that that was Grizabella the Glamour Cat." The outcast cat limped slowly away while the other cats watched impassively.

Next came possibly the fattest cat she had ever seen wearing...white spats?!? The assorted cats sang about him too. Suddenly a wicked laugh rang throughout the junkyard. It made her fur stand on end and the cats below her hissed in fear and soon they were all hidden. She shivered and wondered who or what had made that sound that the other cats were afraid of. She huddled for a minute expecting a horrible monster to jump out and eat her. But instead of another chilling laugh she heard a girlish giggle followed by a loud "Shhh!" Out came two nearly identical cats with bags slung over their backs. She soon found out after listening to their song that they were nothing but common cat-burglars. Their lively Cockney gave them a sense that they just wanted to have fun. She also realized that this duo must not be what the other cats were afraid of because they came back out and surrounded them. The cat-burglar duo grinned sheepishly and escaped by jumping onto the trunk of a car. The other cats didn't seem to be mad at them only a bit exasperated as if for the umpteenth time telling a child to keep away from the cookie jar.

In the silence after shooing the crime-committing duo away a small black and white cat (kitten?) rose up and sniffed the air. Hidden behind the clock the white cat stiffened thinking that he might have gotten her scent but no, he whispered a name (that meant nothing to her) with reverence and trotted off to who knows where. A tall handsome gray striped tom stood up and gently touched paws with several of the other cats around him. He sang about an old cat, their leader she guessed. This song conveyed a sense of deep respect and love for the one he sang about. In a sudden crescendo of the song the named cat arrived. He walked in with the aid of the small black and white cat but he seemed to gain strength as he saw all of those who waited for him. His black eyes shone with kindness and love. He was surrounded immediately by all of the cats who lovingly rubbed heads and touched paws with him. The old cat went to every cat not missing one, greeting each of them individually. The white cat that watched unseen wanted this love and acceptance that she was witnessing. But she held back and stayed where she was to see what happened next.

The rest of the night was filled with laughter and a few tears. Once again she saw the dilapidated cat called Grizabella. This time she was alone in the moonlight. She sang her own song. Out of all the songs she had heard and was about to hear, this song stuck in her mind the most. It was a beautiful heartbreaking song, and the white cat wept as the Glamour Cat's song cried out to her very soul. At the end of her song Grizabella reached out her paw behind her as if hoping someone would come and comfort her. The white cat almost went to her, almost revealed her presence but the Glamour Cat once again limped away without a friend in the world. The cats came out once again and danced some more in song that they called the Jellicle Ball. They also sang something about Jellicle Cats. What's a Jellicle cat ? she wondered. They must be a club of some sort, she reasoned, an elite club. I might not be allowed to join. That thought discouraged her greatly, but nevertheless she stayed to watch them as long as she could. At one point she noticed another all white cat dancing gracefully with the others. The hidden one was surprised, she had never seen another all white cat besides herself before.

A scary moment was when the owner of the evil laughter revealed himself and catnapped Old Deuteronomy! The evil cat distracted the gray striped tabby and two queens sang a song about him. "Macavity's a mystery cat, he's called the Hidden Paw." After that he revealed himself in the full light of the moon and the gray striped tabby fought him bravely with some help from another tom and the rest of the cats. The cat known as Macavity vanished and a saddened silence followed. They spoke in a collective whisper: "We have to find Old Deuteronomy." Following that came the most amazing cat she had ever seen. The small black and white cat who had escorted the leader in was now in the spotlight. With a leap and a whirl he dazzled his all cat audience including the one behind the clock. Blue lightning shot out of his paws and it burst into brilliant light wherever it landed. One shot landed right in front of the clock and she jumped. He was great at magic tricks but what really surprised her was when he made their leader appear right out of thin air. Rum Tum Tugger, who had been singing about Mistoffelees, stopped and stared athim in amazement and all together the cats ran up and hugged Old Deuteronomy and congratulated Mistoffelees.

Later she understood what this meeting of these special cats was about, one will be picked to go the Heaviside Layer. She didn't know what that was but the silver striped tom put it like this: "...announces the cat who can now be reborn, and come back to a different Jellicle life. For waiting up there is the Heaviside Layer with wonders one Jellicle only will see. And Jellicles ask, because Jellicles dare, who will it be?" They all clamored around Old Deuteronomy to make his choice but suddenly Grizabella showed up again. The cats once again shunned her but this time she did not run away, she stayed and sang her song to them. And after it was over a wonderful thing happened, the white cat who she had noticed before, came up and put her young paw in the old one. That was the deciding moment, the Glamour Cat was welcomed now with smiles and purrs. Old Deuteronomy took her gently around the shoulders and they walked to the big tire at the end of the yard, standing on it the tire began to raise up and a shimmering gold staircase reached down to earth and claimed the Glamour Cat who went with a big smile. They all stood there awhile looking up at the sky even after the way to the Heaviside was gone.

"What a great Ball." She heard one say. And others agreed with her as they settled down after the exciting night. "This was one to be remembered."

~Chapter 3~

"A harmless necessary cat." William Shakespeare,The Merchant of Venice

The cat behind the clock leaned forward a little and stepped out on a piece of wood to hear what they were saying. She lost her balance =suddenly and down she went tumbling end over end. She belatedly heard screeches and shouts as she rolled down into their midst. She managed to stop herself and stood up wobbling slightly. When she looked up all the cats had gathered around her, staring at her. She shrunk back trying to make herself as small as possible. They started murmuring among themselves.

"Who is it?" "Do you recognize her?" "Look she's white like Victoria!"

"She's a spy! From Macavity's lair no doubt!" "She's just a kitten."

"That doesn't matter, he's recruited them before." "Look how thin..."

"What's going on here?" the firm voice of the striped gray tom overcame the others and he stepped into view. Looking down at her he carefully picked her up by the scruff of her neck and held her up to his eye level. Scared out her mind, she whimpered. "Please don't hurt me." He looked surprised, and his stern eyes softened. "Don't worry, little one. We won't hurt you." He looked at the crowd, "We'll take her to Old Deuteronomy. He'll know what to do with her." He walked over to the leader with the other cats following closely. The adult tom set her down in front of the wise old cat and went to stand next to him. She shrunk back again but one look into the kind eyes of the leader gave her courage, and she sat up a little straighter.

"How old are you?" he asked gently.

"I just came out of kittenhood last week, sir"

"What is your name, young one?

Hoping that she wouldn't sound like she was being impertinent, she whispered. "Which one, sir?" At that the other cats behind her gasped and murmured excitedly. Now I've done it! she thought, even though she had no idea how she had been offending. The old cat looked a little surprised. "How many names do you have?"

"Two sir." "Was one of your parents a Jellicle?" She shook her head. "Not that I know of, sir."

"Why do you have more than one?"

This made tears prick at the corners of her eyes. "One from my adult humans and the other from my human kitten."

Still he encouraged her with a kind smile. "How unusual. What are they? And how did you get two from your humans?" The cats behind her had stopped whispering and also awaited her answer.

"My adult humans named me Christine. But my human kitten named me Starlight," this time she couldn't help it, tears streamed down her face tickling her whiskers. "Be-because she h-had wished for a cat on a star. Sh-she said: 'Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.' She w-wished for a kitten, and wh-when she got one she called me Starlight."

"That's a beautiful name, my dear. May I ask, why aren't you with your humans?"

That did it, a flood of tears escaped her eyes and she couldn't speak.

"Oh, you poor dear." She heard and felt a warm body close to her that reminded her of her mother. She turned and cried into the strange fur, not caring anymore if they banished her. The strange but wonderfully kind cat purred and stroked her back. The comforting presence stayed there even when she drew a deep breath and once again turned to answer the old cat's question.

"They left me." She heard some gasps and murmurs of pity, but went on. "Not on purpose. My family was getting ready to move and it was my human kitten's responsibility to get me. I was forgotten in the rush. I've lived off the streets for a week now. When I heard you singing. I watched and--and I fell trying to get a better look. I'm sorry for causing a disturbance." She bowed her head, "I'll leave now." She turned to go, but a firm paw on her tail stopped her. She looked at the calico queen who was holding her back. She smiled at Starlight, then turned to Old Deuteronomy. "Old Deuteronomy, I'd like to petition for this young one to become a Jellicle." Starlight gasped and more tears came to her eyes. And looked at the old cat to see his response. He smiled brightly.

"That's a wonderful idea, Jellylorum. Is there a second?" Starlight held her breath, and didn't move. "Okay, I see a second ...a third...well, looks like it's unanimous."

"That means...I'm a Jellicle?" she asked breathlessly. He chuckled.

"No, not yet, young one. There is a test you must prepare for. But first we must find you a guardian, you may be a cat but you are still a young one." He looked around at the gathered cats. "Who would like to be the guardian of Starlight? Jelly?" She shook her head, "I'd like to but sorry I have a full house already." He nodded and Starlight's heart fell. "Jenny?" A brown and white queen sitting near Jelly also shook her head. "I also have no room." "Skimble?" the orange tabby shook his head, "Sorry, the stationmaster's wife doesn't like cats much. She says only one cat allowed."

"We'll take ca' of 'er," shouted a cat in high-pitched Cockney. It was Rumpleteazer, who waved her paw enthusiastically. Mungojerrie didn't seem to share the feeling. Old Deuteronomy shook his head, chuckling. "I don't think so, Teazer. We need someone a bit more experienced." She pouted and swatted Mungojerrie on his ear when he looked relieved. The gray and black striped tom, who had been sitting still throughout the ordeal, suddenly brightened and whispered in Old Deuteronomy's ear. He nodded. "All right. Starlight, go with Munkustrap here and he'll take you to your new home." Starlight followed the striped cat who beckoned to her.

They left the junkyard and went into an alley. Starlight tried to keep close to him but his long strides and her weak body wouldn't let her.

"Please wait... I can't go that ...fast." She said panting. He slowed down and waited for her. "Where are we going?" she asked once they started again a little more slowly.

"The theater." Was his short reply.

"The theater?" she repeated, confused. She remembered her humans going to what they called the theater. Apparently it was a big deal.

"Yes, that will be your new home. There is an old cat there who can take care of you." Now she understood, and she remembered his song. "Oh, you mean Gus the Theater Cat?" He nodded and she asked something that she had been wondering about.

"What's a Jellicle cat?" And so as they walked he explained to her what a Jellicle cat was and why they were special.

It must have been well past midnight and she was beginning to feel the effects of not eating and sleeping as she should. All of a sudden she felt the cold ground under her head, and she was too worn out to get up. Munkustrap was completely unaware of her absence and she uttered a feeble meow. Startled, he looked down by his side and saw that she wasn't there. Starlight struggled to get up, but before she could Munkustrap came over and gently picked her up by the scruff of her neck with his mouth and carried her the rest of the way.

~Chapter 4~

"Starlight." The voice penetrated the thick fog of sleep that currently held her and tugged at the edge of her consciousness. "Starlight, wake up." The voice was more insistent now and she struggled to get rid of the heaviness in her eyelids. Yawning a huge cat yawn, she stretched and was a bit confused to see a silver-gray tabby in front of her instead of her half recalled mother. Then she remembered; watching the Jellicle Ball, the questions from Old Deuteronomy, and going to the theater, her new home, with Munkustrap.

Shaking off the last dregs of sleep, she looked at Munkustrap, who looked as tired as she was. "Where are we?" she asked, "Are we there yet?"

"Yes, we just need to go around this corner to get inside. I'll wake Gus," he sighed, "he's not going to be happy me waking him up this early." The theater was a huge structure, of course she was still a small cat so everything looked big to her. They wearily trod around the far right corner of the building and Munkustrap stopped at a window near the ground so small that only a human kitten might have fit through it. But it was perfect size for a cat. He opened it and Starlight saw that a little stone had kept it from shutting all the way. He slithered in and disappeared as the window shut behind him. Starlight looked nervously in and he pushed it open again and beckoned to her on top of a large box. She followed suit and found herself in transported to a forest, a dungeon, and a human's house all at once. It was very strange and she wondered how they had gotten a forest in such a building that was small by human comparison. Munkustrap saw her confusion and chuckled softly. "They're called backdrops. Humans use them when they act out a scene in what they call plays. They aren't real." He reassured her. Indeed when she went up close to them she could see the intricate paintbrush strokes that made it look real. "Come," he said and walked through the open door.

They walked through some corridors with more doors on either side of them. She hoped they wouldn't get lost. Finally he led her to what he called the lobby and over to a big flight of stairs. But he didn't go up them, instead he went next to them and there was a curtained off section under the stairs that couldn't be seen unless you went right up to it. Munkustrap slipped in and Starlight hesitantly followed. Inside was a water and food bowl, a well-used scratching post, and a large cat basket with the old cat that she remembered from the Ball sleeping peacefully inside. His paws shook occasionally and his whiskers twitched as if sensing the two intruders. Munkustrap spoke softly, "Gus?" The old tabby opened one eye tiredly and yawned.

"What do you want?" he grumbled. Munkustrap explained the situation. When he got to the part about her needing an adult cat he sighed. "What about Jelly or Jenny?" Munkustrap explained about them too. "Well, what about you?" Munkustrap looked taken aback. "I have other duties to attend to as Protector of the Kittens and future leader of the tribe you know that Gus. You were also the only one available." Gus wheezed and nodded his consent. Munkustrap looked satisfied, said good-bye to Starlight and left. Gus looked her over as if assessing what trouble she might cause. "Here, kid." He said shakily getting out of his nest and taking a blanket out of it. "You can sleep here tonight. Tomorrow-or actually it would be today- we'll cook up some story as to why you're here for my humans. Night."

Pretty soon he was snoring, but Starlight was still awake contemplating that day. She had gone from street cat to potential Jellicle cat all in one night. Gus didn't seem all that bad and she finally had a warm place to sleep, and possible cat friends. She remembered the hated saying;

"Curiosity killed the cat." But for her curiosity saved her life from an early death on the streets. Content, Starlight finally fell asleep.

~Chapter 5~

Starlight often dreamed of her mother that she barely remembered. She remembered the many strange scents of the pet store, the warm soft bodies of her brothers and sisters, and the comforting presence of hermother. In her dream this time Mama was grooming her and she purred loudly, but all of a sudden a voice interjected into the dream. "Well what have we got here?" "Is that your kitten, Edward?" Starlight was now fully awake, and found out that it was not her mother grooming her but old Gus! He whispered calming words in her ear when her tail bristled with fear at the sight of the human. "Go greet him, and purr." He whispered, and Starlight cautiously went over to the man and rubbed around his legs. He reached down and Starlight stiffened for a rough pat on the head. But his hands were gentle and scratched her neck just in the right spot making her purr. "Well you sure are a pretty little lady. She's welcome to stay here, Edward, but on one condition that you do your business outside in the alley!" He reached over and gave Gus a fond pet and left.

"Who was that?" she asked. "My human. He's the co-manager of this theater. He should be coming back now with breakfast." At the mention of eating her stomach complained loudly. Gus looked over at her. "When was the last time you ate? And how much was it?"

"Yesterday I found some scraps of tuna in a trash can. That was it." He frowned. "Well, after you've eaten you can go to the junkyard and play. Or do whatever it is that kittens do these days." Gus's human brought two cans of real cat food in and she ate ravenously, unaware that Gus was watching her a bit sadly as he recollected what Munkustrap had told him of how she had come to the tribe. No kitten should be abandoned, he thought, its downright cruel. Why in my day... he shook his head to clear his mind of scolding the modern whims of humans. Starlight sat back, feeling the wonderful satisfied feeling of a full stomach. "Now that you're officially my kitten there's some stuff I'm gonna tell you. You may call Papa or Gus, it doesn't matter. First, I'd like it if you could check in with me at the end of the day, cause you'll be going off to the Junkyard to play and I can't get out that often any more. Next, every other day you'll have lessons with me for about two hours."

Starlight cocked her head. "Lessons? What lessons?" He slid out of the curtained off section and she followed him. "Singing and dancing. Both are needed for the Jellicle Ball, and every Jellicle can. Or used to be able to," he said, wheezing a little with laughter. "I can't imagine Bustopher Jones dancing gracefully any more than a Pollicle liking cats."

"What's a Pollicle?" she asked quizzically.

"A dog. A peke, pom, a pollicle." "Oh." They had been walking through the theater and she now found herself in the backdrop room where she and Munkustrap had gotten in. "Well, here you go. Think you can find your way back to the junkyard? Good. I usually stay around the theater, don't get out much any more arthritis you understand, but you're welcome to wander around as long as you use common sense. Jellicles have free reign of the neighborhood but Macavity's gang also roams these streets. It'd be in your best interest not to go out alone." She nodded. Not showing how nervous she really was, Starlight gave him a quick head rub good-bye and leaped easily out the window. She walked down the alley that seemed to be the direction from last night, she had been asleep and didn't remember most of it.

At one point she felt as if she was being watched but she saw and smelled nothing. She kept on walking and felt sure she was being watched when a dog behind a fence started barking scaring her half to death. She streaked down the alley in fear, panicked thoughts running through her mind. Gus was right! She thought, I never should go out alone. What if Macavity's gang gets me? Just as she finished that thought she rounded a corner and ran smack into Munkustrap. Being much bigger than her, he simply looked surprised while she muttered an "oof!" and bounced off of him.

"Whoa, there. Where's the fire?" he grinned.

"I thought I was being watched," she gasped. He narrowed his eyes at this and looked behind her. "Are you sure? I don't see anyone or smell anything."

"I just felt it. Then a dog--a pollicle barked at me and I ran." It sounded lame even in her ears. "You just have an active imagination that's all. Come on, I was on my way to get you. Old Deuteronomy wants me to introduce you to everyone."

The first cat they encountered was actually still a kitten. Her name was Jemima. She was short and petite with a soft sweet voice. "Can I show her around now, Munku? Please? She'll have more fun with me."

"Sure, just makes sure she meets everyone."

Forward March!
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