Royal Academy of Bards Halloween Invitational 2022

The Great Halloween Cat Revolt

Copyright: Original story, DJ Belt, 2022.

Comments: Here’s where I’m in hiding:

Misc.: This is my humble offering to the RAOB Halloween celebration for 2022. I wanted something lighthearted and goofy instead of frightening this year. (I can get all the ‘frightening’ I need on the evening news.) So, grab a cup of hot tea, snuggle down, and enjoy the moment. And the story, hopefully. May your Halloween be wonderfully spooky and delightful!

*  *  *

“I’m shutting down the engines now.” As Delta worked, she glanced at her teammate and couldn’t suppress a laugh. Echo was almost vibrating with excitement. “Golly, you’re about to pop, aren’t you?”

“I love this freaking planet,” Echo said. “The rituals are so neat. And we’re going to participate in one.”

“Yeah, that’s a first for us. Let me get this straight. We wear funny stuff and go to people’s doors, and they give us sweets?”

“And sometimes they’ll try to scare the crap out of us,” Echo said. At Delta’s cautious expression, she added, “It’s all in good fun. Don’t kill anyone, right?”

“You spoil all my fun. What’s that thing we’re supposed to say again?” Delta asked.

Echo rolled her eyes. “Trick or treat,” she intoned, as she leaned over Delta’s shoulder and eyed the spacecraft’s control panels. “Is the invisibility thingy on?”

“Yeah, ever since we hit the atmosphere. Their planetary defenses are rudimentary, but they can still kill us.”

“We could be killed? How exciting,” Echo said. “I’ve seen their television broadcasts. What do they call us? ‘Flying saucers?’”

“Yeah.” Delta snickered. “It sounds way cooler than ‘Vessel, interplanetary hyper lightspeed, exploratory’.”

Echo plopped down on a cushion in front of a large video screen. “I’ve dialed up a briefing on Halloween. Come over here and we’ll refresh our memories before we go out and mix with the Earthlings.”

“Do we have to? Can’t I just follow your lead or something? You know how nature documentaries bore me.”

“This isn’t a nature documentary,” Echo corrected. “This is an anthropological briefing.”

“Same difference.” Delta snatched a container from a nearby locker, then plopped down on the cushion next to Echo. “Snacks?” she asked, as she held the container out.

“Ooh,” Echo said. “Animal protein. Yummy. Thanks.” She popped one into her mouth, then grimaced. “What is this? It tastes like –”

“Of course, it tastes like ass,” Delta said. “It’s military rations. They’re supposed to taste like ass. It’s a time-honored tradition. Have another one. It’ll put hair on your pickle.”

“We’re both female, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“Okay, scratch the pickle part.”

“Ick. I’m not scratching anyone’s pickle.” Echo hesitated, then took another wafer. “And you’ve grown to love the taste of this stuff, I suppose?”

“Ooh-rah,” Delta said.

“Makes sense,” Echo observed. “You’re the soldier here.”

“And you’re the anthropologist,” Delta said. “You study civilizations, and I pilot the vessel and protect you.”

“My heroine,” Echo teased.

“Watch it. We’re on Earth now. That’s sexist language, I’m told.”

“Hey! You can take the girl off the home planet, but you can’t take the home planet out of the girl. I like the old ways. And how do you know so much about Earth customs? I thought I was the anthropologist here.”

“You are, but I’ve landed on this rock a lot of times. Earthlings are becoming very familiar to me, darn it,” Delta said.

“Then you should have no trouble blending in, right?” Echo said. “Let’s watch the briefing so we can do our thing and make our report.” She took another wafer, then confessed, “I’m not sure about us fitting in with the Earthlings, even though we pretty much look like them. They’re bigger than us, though. It was their sun and their oxygen levels, I suspect. We’re about the size of their typical twelve-year-old.”

Delta laughed. “Perfect for getting away with mischief. Now hush, will you? The sexy part of the briefing is coming up.”

*   *   *

“You’re wearing your uniform?” Echo asked. “You’re supposed to be in costume.”

“I am in costume,” Delta said. “I’m trick-or-treating as a space alien. Hey, that’s what I am to these folks.”

“Hm.” Echo thought for a moment, then nodded. “That actually makes sense.”

“Thank you. And what the heck are you supposed to be?”

Echo drew herself up to her full height and sniffed. “I’m a forest fairy. It’s a mythological creature with magic powers and terminal cuteness.”

“And gas,” Delta noted, as she waved a hand in front of her face.

“I did not do that,” Echo said, indignantly.

“If it wasn’t you and it wasn’t me…” Delta’s eyes grew wide, and she looked around the spacecraft’s interior with a spooky, melodramatic flair. “Then who was it?”

“Okay. I’m busted,” Echo said. “It’s those snacks of yours.” She eyed a small case on Delta’s hip and asked, “What’s that? A weapon?”

“Yeah. Hey, you study, and I protect. It’s what we do, right?”

“I suppose. Listen, just don’t go vaporizing Earthling children, okay? That will make the adults hostile.”

“That,” Delta said, “probably depends on the children. Shall we proceed?”

Echo clapped her hands in excitement. “This is going to be a night to remember!”

“Yeah, right. Boring. Now, Las Vegas was a night to remember.”

“You imbibed so much of that fermented drink they were selling that you crashed our ship just north of the city,” Echo said. “Where was that place again?”

“Area 51. Hey, we made the Earth news broadcasts.”

“For which you got busted down a rank. And the Earthlings still have our ship.”

“That thing was a piece of junk anyway. It was about to be recycled.”

“Don’t crash this ship, please. It’s our only way home.”

Delta rolled her eyes, even as she laughed. “Yes, Mommy.”

*   *   *

Delta touched the outside of the ship’s skin and watched the door seal. When it did, the vessel became invisible. She turned to Echo. “Switch on your recorder, so we can video everything.”


“Well,” Delta said, “let’s go hang out with the locals.”

“Here’s your goodie bag.” Echo handed a small bag to Delta as they left the vacant lot and began their stroll down the sidewalk. Ahead of them, a picturesque neighborhood of pleasant middle-class houses, many with fenced front yards, was set against the dusky sunset and displayed lights, open front doors, and front porch pumpkins with flickering candles lighting their fearsome expressions. Some houses even sported ghosts and witches and goblins in the front yard. Voices of excited children echoed in the distance as indulgent adults doled out treats and compliments on children’s costumes. Echo grasped Delta’s elbow and gushed, “Look, Earthlings in their natural habitat. Gosh, I’m so excited.”

“I feel like a total goober,” Delta said. “This is definitely above and beyond the call of duty.”

“Oh, quit being such a grump,” Echo chided, then jumped aside as two excited children ran between them toward the nearest house. “Whoa!” she said. “Incoming meteors. Initiate evasive action.”

“Sorry,” a voice behind them said. “My little brother and sister can be so careless sometimes.”

Delta and Echo turned in unison and faced an adolescent Earthling female wearing black clothing, dark eye makeup, and black lipstick. “Your younger siblings, I take it?” Echo asked. “I recognize the similar appearance.”

The Earthling rolled her eyes at the comment. “I can’t deny it. I’m Joy, by the way.” She pointed at her little brother and sister. “I call them Gog and Magog.”

“I’m Echo, and this is my friend, Delta.”

Joy brightened. “Radical names,” she said. “I love ‘em. And your costumes are kicking. Let me guess,” she mused as she studied them with a finger on her chin. “You’re a fairy, and you’re—what?”

“An alien,” Delta said.

“Oh, like an illegal alien?” Joy asked.

“No, like a space alien.”

“Cool beans. People are thinking that I’m dressed like a witch tonight, but this is just me being me.”

“Yeah,” a higher-pitched voice behind Delta said. “She’s not kidding. She’s usually a witch.”

Delta and Echo turned in unison and looked behind them. Gog and Magog were watching Joy impatiently. “Come on, Sis,” Joy’s little brother said. “We have to hit the Williams’s house. I hear that their garage is super scary this year.”

“Yeah, Joy. Mom said you had to stick with us,” Joy’s little sister added. “Please? I’ll give you some of my candy if you go.”

Joy raised an eyebrow in question. “A bribe? That works. Let’s go. Hey, do you two want to join us? The more, the merrier. And you guys seem fun. I can hang out with you two and maybe make it through tonight without any medication.”

“Yes!” Echo said. “Lead on, ah…what is your costume again, Joy? It makes you look rather, ah…”

“Demented,” Delta said.

Joy looked down at herself, then snickered. “That’s a good description. I’m not really in costume, but I am kind of a goth girl.”

“Mom says that she’s just not quite right.” Gog studied their new companions’ costumes with interest. “You’re Tinkerbell, and you’re—what are you?” she asked.

“I’m from outer space,” Delta said.

“Yeah,” Joy said. “I love the makeup jobs on you two. Like how you got that greenish tinge in your skin, and the little antennae poking out of the hair on your heads. That’s radical.”

Delta blinked in puzzlement. “Ah, that’s just us—”

Echo elbowed Delta in the ribs. “Thanks. We worked hard on it.” She followed it with a muttered, unintelligible comment to Delta which Joy suspected meant ‘STFU’.

Okay then, Joy thought, as she considered Delta and Echo. Freak alert. This should prove to be an interesting evening. Good, because I am sooooo effing bored right now. “Let’s go to the Williams’s house,” she announced. Joy, Delta, and Echo commenced their stroll down the street as Gog and Magog ran ahead of them, squealing in delightful anticipation.

*   *   *

“You guys aren’t from around here, right?” Joy asked. “You’ve got a cool accent.”

“Oh, we’re from another, ah…country. Just here for work,” Echo said. She quickly added, “Our parent’s work, that is.”

Delta tapped Joy’s arm to get her attention. “What costumes are your siblings wearing?”

“They’re monsters.”

“That’s not a nice way to speak about them,” Echo mused aloud.

“No,” Joy said, with a snicker. “That’s their costumes. And this house is the Williams’s place. These folks go wild on Halloween every year.”

They walked up the long driveway, following Gog and Magog to the open, spacious garage and the many neighbors gathered about the scene. The yard was decorated like a cemetery, with mock graves and the occasional ghost hanging from a tree limb. The garage was made up to be the inside of a spooky mausoleum, lit by eerie lamps and sporting a couple of coffins. One was open and displayed a skeleton; the other was closed. A lady offered candy to children gathered with their bags held out, and a zombie shuffled past the crowd.

Echo said, “Oh, I get it! It’s a celebration of the dead.” She turned to Joy and Delta with excitement. “It comes from the ancient belief that the spirits of the dead are able to return to the world of the living on this particular night.”

“How depressing,” Joy said. “I like it. Tell me more.”

Eerie music began emanating from the garage, and the children and adults gathered in the yard turned their attention to the origin of the sound. A coffin lid creaked loudly, then began to open. A hand slowly emerged, eliciting delighted shrieks from the children and amused expressions from the adults. With a thump, the lid flew back, and a ghoulish figure emerged and fixed a group of children with a mesmerizing stare. When he threw his arms wide and opened his mouth in a growl, the children shrieked in delight and scattered. A moment later, Gog and Magog appeared behind Joy, each grasping a handful of her skirt and cautiously peering around her toward the ghoul, who was having a wonderful time overacting his role. Joy looked down at her younger brother and sister with mild amusement. “Scared?” she teased.

“Who, me? Nope. Not at all,” Gog lied.

Magog laughed. “Liar. You almost peed your pants,” she teased.

“Did not!”

“Enough!” Joy commanded. Gog and Magog shut up instantly.

“Well,” Echo said, “I can see who the alpha in your tribe is, Joy.”

“Being the oldest makes you a meany,” Joy said proudly. “I enjoy it.”

Echo looked around, as if suddenly aware of her surroundings. “Hey, where’s Delta? She was here a minute ago.”

Joy shrugged as she sent Gog and Magog off to read the humorous inscriptions on the cardboard tombstones in the yard. “That’ll keep them occupied for a few minutes,” she said. “Let’s go look for her.”

“Yes, she tends to get into mischief if left alone for too long,” Echo said. They wandered off the driveway, then around the side of the house. There, they found Delta talking to two costumed teenagers who were squatting over a small fire. Echo said, “Are they keeping warm?”

“No,” Joy said. “They’re casting spells. I know them from school. They’re like, witches. Or wannabe witches.”

Echo’s eyes widened. “Ooh,” she said to the teens as they approached the fire. “An occult ritual? May we watch?”

“Yeah, sure. I guess,” one teenager said with a shrug, then resumed his incantations over the little fire as he cast various powders into the flame.

Delta spoke in a low voice to Echo, invoking their native language. “Are you an expert in this occult stuff?”

“I minored in occult beliefs in my anthropology training,” she said.

“Somehow, I’m not surprised,” Delta responded. She noted that Joy was considering their conversation with a raised eyebrow and some interest, so she reverted to English and explained, “Echo’s a nut for this stuff.”

With a flash of light and a puff of smoke rising from the bowl, the two teenagers raised their arms to the sky and intoned a short chant in Latin, then relaxed. “It’s done,” one said.

“What’s done?” Joy asked. “Have you two been getting into your mom’s medicine cabinet again?”

“No,” the other teen replied. “Our spell is cast. I can feel it working. Let’s check.” She opened the side door of the house and said, “Here, Fluffy. Come here.” A rather large house cat emerged onto the porch, stared at the fire, and began howling. He arched his back, his fur stood up, and his eyes widened. Then, he stood on his hind legs, raised his front paws, showed his claws, and stared at the teenagers. His eyes were glowing a dusky red.

“Fluffy?” one teen said, “Are you okay?”

“No!” the cat answered in a squally little cat voice. “What the hell did you just do to me? Did you morons cast a spell on me?”

The teens danced in glee and gave each other high-fives. “Yes! It worked,” they shouted. Joy’s reaction was more measured.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Did that freaking cat just talk to us?” she exclaimed.

The cat yowled, “You two suck, do you know that? You just turned me human? That is a far step down from cathood! Fix me right now!”

“Too late,” one teen said. “You got fixed a long time ago.”

“Yeah, and that’s another bone I’ve got to pick with you,” the cat retorted.

“Ooh, I’m scared of a talking twelve-pound nutless cat,” the teen said. “What are you going to do, beat me up?”

“Damned right,” the cat threatened.

“You and what army?”

The cat pointed a paw toward the yard. “Me and that army.”

On cue, everyone looked in the direction that the cat had indicated. A mob of cats were emerging from the bushes and converging on the tombstone-ridden yard, all shouting human insults in their yowling voices, and all striding along on their hind legs with their claws bared.

Delta was the first to speak. “Ah, I’m getting a really bad feeling about this,” she said.

Joy added, “They look really angry. Like, totally pissed off.”

“Wait,” Echo said. “This is so cool. I’m recording all this for later study.”

Delta grabbed Echo’s arm. “Let’s scram. Now!”

Joy grabbed Echo’s other arm, and they began running toward the driveway as a mob of howling, yammering cats hurling invectives charged the many Halloween celebrants gathered at the Williams’s house. People scattered, shrieking in surprise and horror, as the cats commenced their rampage. Cardboard tombstones flew into the air along with trick-or-treat bags and pieces of costumes. People were leaping about and jumping over bushes and fences to escape the claws, teeth, and insults of hordes of marauding felines newly released from the depths of some fuzzy cat hell.

Joy let go of Echo’s arm and grabbed Gog and Magog as they ran past the driveway. Behind them, they could hear screams and exclamations of horror as the wave of ill-tempered kitties flooded the driveway and garage. Joy pointed to a pickup truck parked just off the Williams’s driveway, and they sprinted to it. As Joy threw Gog and Magog into the cargo bed of the truck, Delta and Echo clambered over the tailgate. They all landed in the bed in a tangle. A moment later, Joy fell on top of them with a thud and a curse.

Slowly, five heads and five pairs of wide eyes rose above the side of the truck’s bed, all in stunned silence as they beheld the chaos in the Williams’s yard. A zombie limped by, desperately attempting to shake a cat from his pants leg and another one from his shoulder. People shinnied up trees, stood atop garbage bins, and leapt over the fence to escape the invasion of the maniacal felines. “Damn,” Joy said. “Every cat in town must be here.” She glanced up and noticed one of the teen witches hanging from a drainpipe on the side of the house. She shouted, “Hey, Doofus. How long will this spell last?”

“Like I know?” he shouted back. “I didn’t think those spells worked.”

“Famous last words,” Joy muttered, as she looked down. “Cindy!” she shouted, then leaned over the side of the truck’s bed. A moment later, she straightened up, holding a calico cat by the fur between its shoulder blades. “Cindy, shame!” She dropped the cat into the truck bed. It landed on its feet, then rose to its hind legs and backed into a corner, hissing and with its claws bared. “Cindy, what’s wrong with you?” Joy shouted in exasperation. “You’ve never hissed at me before.”

“You’re shouting at me,” the cat squalled in human language. “You never shout at me. Aren’t we cool anymore? I thought we were cool, Joy.”

Joy blinked in astonishment to hear her own pet cat speak to her. For a moment, they stared at each other as Gog and Magog sat watching in open-mouthed shock, and as Delta and Echo observed the scene in fascination. Finally, Joy said, “What in the blue hell is going on, Cindy?”

“Can’t you tell? It’s a cat revolt,” Cindy said. “It’s like we all just suddenly had to do it. We can’t help ourselves. We’re driven by some strange force.” The cat shrugged, retracted its claws, and glanced down at its feet. “I mean, it’s…”

“Insanity,” Joy said.

“Interesting,” Delta added.

“Totally freaking cool!” Echo gushed.

“We’re scared,” Gog and Magog said, in unison.

“You think you’re scared?” Delta said. “Check that out.” She pointed at a dog running down the middle of the road with a pack of cats behind him and one hanging from his tail. “That is not the definition of a good day for that dog.”

Cindy the cat studied Delta, then pointed an accusatory paw at her. She yowled, “Wait a minute! I recognize you. You’re from that planet in the Yegon System, aren’t you?”

Delta blinked in surprise. “What, me? No, you’ve got me all wrong. Not me.”

“Yeah, you are. Third planet from the sun. What are you guys doing on Earth? Trying to take over? Beat it, buddy. We cats got here first. We own this rock. We’ve got the Earthlings domesticated and trained. Go find your own planet.”

“Oh, come on,” Delta said. “This planet can’t be that good.”

Cindy gave a meow-like little cat laugh. “You think? Do you know how hard I work to survive here? I don’t. I do zip all day. Nada. Humans work and serve me and provide me shelter, food, medicine, and affection.”

“Why do they do that?” Delta asked incredulously.

Cindy shrugged, then pointed at Joy. “How do I know? Ask them.”

Echo looked at Joy, who was witnessing the conversation in stunned silence. “So, Joy,” she said, “As the anthropologist here, I’d like to know why you do that.”

Joy sputtered a little in exasperation, as if the answer was self-evident, then blurted out, “Because we love them. I mean, look at them. How can you not love her?”

Echo looked at Cindy. “There’s your answer,” she said.

A moment of dead silence fell over everyone in the truck bed. Around them, yowls, screams of humans, and barks of dogs echoed. In the distance, a siren sounded. Joy slowly looked at the faces gathered around her, then answered in a slow, measured voice. “Let me get this straight,” she said. “My cat is telling me that humans are cats’ servants, you’re a space alien for real, and you’re an anthropologist? From where? Another planet? Studying what? Us?”

“That’s about the size of it,” Echo said.

Joy said, “I have got to get off these antidepressants. And this planet.”

“Never mind that now.” Delta placed a hand atop Joy’s head and turned it so that she could see the chaos about them. “How do we fix this mess?”

“Could that witch undo the spell?” Echo asked.

Joy spied Doofus still hanging from the gutter. “Him?” she asked. “Do you mean the dude hanging off the drainpipe? Really?”

“Hm. I see what you mean,” Delta said. “Well, I hate to suggest it, but…”

“What?” everyone asked in unison.

“Our vessel has certain technologies…”

“Oh, no,” Echo said. “Not that!”

Delta rested a hand on Echo’s arm in reassurance. “Trust me.” She stood, tapped at a flat panel on the sleeve of her uniform, and allowed a shimmery envelope to form around her. “I’ll be back,” she said. “Sit tight. You too, Fluffy.”

“I’m Cindy,” the cat corrected.

“Whatever,” Delta said, as she leapt from the truck bed and landed on the grass. She ran down the sidewalk, followed by several cats who bounced off her shimmery force field as they attempted to attack Delta. In a moment, she had faded into the darkness.

“Where’s she going?” Gog asked Echo.

“Yeah. Is she coming back?”

“She’ll be back in a bit,” Echo said.

“I hope it’s soon,” Magog said.

“Aw, how sweet. Do you miss her?” Joy asked.

“No. I have to wee,” Magog said.

Joy looked at Echo and shrugged. “Kids today,” she offered weakly.

The five occupants of the truck bed huddled together with their heads down, jumping at the occasional thump of a crazed feline against the metal side of the truck or a near, screechy yowl indicating a very displeased cat or a frantic human. Eventually, a low hum echoed in the air and vibrated through the metal of the truck. The moon’s light was momentarily blocked out. Echo looked up, then said, “Everybody, quick! Gather close. You too, Cindy.” Gog, Magog, Joy, and Echo huddled together, and Cindy jumped into Joy’s lap and curled up. A second later, they were enveloped in light.

A few moments afterward, Delta’s voice echoed in their ears. “Okay, guys. You can open your eyes now.”

Joy opened her eyes, looked around, and gasped, “Where are we?”

“I believe you guys call it a ‘flying saucer’,” Echo said.

“What the hell?” Cindy mewed.

“We’re in a spaceship? This is the coolest Halloween ever!” Gog said. “Can we blow something up?”

“I have got to be hallucinating,” Joy said.

“I have to wee,” Magog insisted.

Echo rose from the floor of the vessel. “I’ll take her,” she volunteered, as she grasped Magog’s hand and led her through a squat little door.

Joy rose from the floor and banged her head on the ceiling. “Ouch!” she said, then added, “It’s cramped in here.”

“Size matters,” Delta joked, then eased the spaceship down on a nearby vacant lot. “Okay,” she said, as she swiveled the chair around to face her guests. “How do we get all your buddies under control, Fluffy?”

“I’m Cindy, dammit,” the cat said. “And I’m thinking the spell will wear off.”

“It isn’t. You’re still talking Earthling language.” Delta thought, then said, “I can stun them, but I’d get the Earthlings, too. And if I’m not careful, I could fry them all.”

“Fried cat,” Gog snickered, then shut up when Cindy gave him a foul glance.

The squat little door opened, and Magog and Echo reappeared. Echo said, “Didn’t the ancient Earthlings use to revere cats as gods?”

Joy perked up. “Yeah. Egypt.” She whipped out her cell phone and tapped away. “Here it is. Bastet.” She held out the phone.

Cindy glanced at the picture and shook her head. “No. That’s a goddess with a human body and a cat’s head.”

Joy tapped a little more, then held out the phone again. “Sekhmet?”

“Naw,” Cindy said. “Same. Except that’s a lioness’s head.”

“Wait,” Echo said. “Cindy, do you cats have a deity that you worship?”

“Yeah,” Cindy said. “We worship the Great Godcat.”

“That’s the ticket!” Delta said. “Cindy, you can talk cat. If we project your image to the town, can you pretend to be him and convince those cats to knock off the shit?”

“Her,” Cindy corrected.

“Whatever,” Delta said. “Can you do it?”

Cindy blinked in surprise. She considered it, then said, “It could work, if you can make me look godlike.”

An evil grin crossed Delta’s face. “Leave it to me,” she said. “Cindy, hop up here next to me and get ready to give the performance of a lifetime.”

*  *  *

In the town, most humans had resigned themselves to the tops of garbage bins, tables, tree limbs, or behind closed doors. There seemed to be no end to the rampage of the yowling, angry felines walking upright, squalling human insults, and scratching and biting anyone they could get their paws on.

Doofus was still hanging from a drainpipe and still tripping over the fact that his spell had worked, when he realized that he’d lost the feeling in his arms from hanging for so long. He hoped that, when he eventually let go and landed on the ground, his end would be swift and relatively painless. As he watched the mayhem beneath him, though, he knew that it probably wouldn’t be.

Despite his morose thoughts, he felt and heard a low hum begin to throb through the drainpipe and vibrate through the night air. A bright white light flashed above the yard, and a massive image of a cat’s face appeared in the light. With a deep, reverberating voice, the face began, first in soft tones, then in more progressively intimidating yowls and meows, to speak cat language to the town. Doofus decided that the weed he’d bought from the new guy at school must have been cut with something radical, because he noted that all the cats in sight had ceased terrorizing humans and dogs and had fallen to their haunches, their eyes wide and their faces turned upward toward the light. They were listening, really listening to the image above them, which amazed Doofus, because he was sure that his family’s cat never listened to a thing they said. After a few minutes, the feline face in the sky ceased his rant with a flourish, a satisfied blink of his eyes, and a lick of its paw. A second later, the brightly illuminated face disappeared from the night sky.

The hordes of cats seemed collectively stunned by the event. At first, none of them moved a muscle. Slowly, they began to arouse themselves from their collective shock. They were no longer striding upright with aggressive manners but had resumed walking like traditional cats. Silently, they dispersed and began fading into the night.

Doofus watched them leave, then dropped from the drainpipe. He returned to the side door of the Williams’s house, where he found the remnants of his spell-making things: his candles, his fire bowl, and his spell book and herbs. As he sat on the porch and pondered what had happened that evening, he felt something at his elbow. He looked down and saw his family’s housecat at his side. The cat sat next to him and looked up at him, and he answered the cat with a cautious pat of the cat’s head. The cat responded with an affectionate rub of the cheek against his hand. “Well, Fluffy,” Doofus said, “I guess the spell’s worn off, huh?”

“Yeah,” the cat said. “That was a total rush, dude. I’m going to have to sleep for a week after tonight.”

“So, what else is new with you? Hey, wait a minute. You can still talk?” Doofus asked. “That is so radical.”

“Maybe I can still talk,” the cat teased. “Or maybe you just got some bad weed from that new kid at school.” It raised an eyebrow at him as if to punctuate the statement.

“Don’t mess with my head,” Doofus said, “and please don’t tell Mom that I smoke weed, okay?”

“She already knows,” the housecat said. “She steals from your stash when you’re at school.”

Doofus thought about that for a minute, then shrugged. “Well, she probably needs it. She’s my mom, after all.”

A moment of silence passed between them. Then, the cat tapped his human’s sleeve with his paw. “Doofus?”

The teen looked down at him. “Yeah?”

“I don’t do weed,” the cat said. “But do you think that maybe you could hook me up with some catnip?”

Doofus smiled at that. “I believe I detect the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” he said.

*  *  *

Joy held her cat, Cindy, in her arms as she and her siblings chatted quietly with Delta and Echo. “Thanks for your help,” she said.

“And that cool thing you did with the spaceship,” Gog said.

“Are you coming back?” Magog asked. “Please come back.”

“Definitely,” Echo said. “There’s a lot of things we don’t yet understand about Earthling civilization.”

“Yeah. Tell me about it,” Joy said.

Delta felt a tug on her uniform sleeve and looked down. Gog was next to her, looking up. “Can you take us for a ride in your flying saucer?”

Joy looked at her cell phone. “Not tonight. It’s getting late. We need to go, guys.”

In answer to “Aw, shucks,” protests from Gog and Magog, Delta said, “Here’s the deal: the next time I come here, I’ll take you to the moon and back. How’s that?”

The kids’ eyes widened, and they began bouncing and cheering in excitement. Joy got them under control eventually, and they departed after a round of hugs all the way around. Delta and Echo stood at the entrance to their vessel, watching Joy, Cindy, Gog, and Magog disappear into the night’s darkness.

“Well, I feel good about tonight,” Delta said.

“Was it as boring as you thought it would be?” Echo teased.

“Nah. This was fun. Not as fun as getting interrogated at Area 51, but fun, nevertheless.”

“Did you get any candy?” Echo asked.

“Darn it,” Delta said. “I didn’t.” She looked at Echo. “Did you?”

Echo smiled evilly. “Oh, yeah.” She held up a peanut butter cup in its colorful wrapper. “And I got more. Lots more.”

“You tease. Give me that.”


“I want some.”

“You’re not supposed to have sugar.”

“Screw the regulations. I want candy. Now!”

“You’ll be bouncing off the walls all night. You know how you get.” Echo glanced down. “Delta, what are you doing? Why do you have that ray gun out?”

“It’s just set on ‘tickle’. Candy, Echo. Give me candy.”

Echo let out a little squeak and ran up the ramp into the flying saucer with Delta fast behind her. As the ramp disappeared and the door began closing, a soft buzz sounded from inside the ship, and Echo shrieked in laughter and good-natured protest. The door shut, and the spaceship winked into invisibility.

Joy, Gog, Magog, and Cindy watched from the distant sidewalk. When the ship had completely disappeared, they turned toward home and began walking. Joy looked down at Cindy, resting in her arms. “Well, Cindy,” she asked. “How did it feel to be a god for an evening?”

The cat sniffed, “No different than usual.”

Joy laughed at that. “Yeah,” she said. “That’s what I suspected.”


--djb, October, 2022