Short Story

Al-Cat-Raz: Tail of a Locked Up Chloe

by Natasia Minners
 

            How did I get here?  How did this happen?  I was just a young cat-ten when I was transported by boat to the most feared shelter in the land, Al-Cat-Raz.  Since when is a little catnip illegal?  I was literally enjoying my grass when the next thing I knew, a catch pole string was being looped around my neck.  Hey, guys!  Take it easy!  I'm only two pounds, you know.

            Upon arriving at Al-Cat-Raz, I noticed a rather large woman...from what I hear, her name is Helga.  She took out a large stick containing water and having a sharp point on the end.  She jammed that thing right into my delicate parts!  OUCH!!  Chloes don't appreciate this at all, so I decided to let her know how much I disliked it by peeing on her shirt.  Helga decided that I was a rebel kitty and I was placed in solitary.

            I was alone and scared.  I don't understand it.  If catnip is so great, how can it be so bad?  The very next morning I as picked up by my scruff and put into an extra large cage containing several cellmates.  Muggsy was large and in charge, sort the brains of the group.  Slickpaws was a kleptomaniac and can steal whatever a kitty may desire.  Rumor was that Slickpaws and Muggsy pulled off one of the most famed catnip heists of all time, The Great Catnip Caper.  Then there was Daisy, who was way past her mice chasing days.  Now, she spent her days sleeping by the water bowl.

            The old-timers were curious about me and wondered why such a young kitten was given such a harsh sentence.  I dished the tale  of my happiness lost and the others were outraged.  By then, breakfast had arrived and Helga dished us some slop (what cats call wet food mixed with dry - if you don't eat it fast enough, it becomes so hard you could loose a canine eating it).  She added water to a small bottle and put these weird pellets in a cardboard box in the corner.

            I'd never seen pellets like these before and was curious to try out these new treats.  I started to dig in when I was stopped by Slickpaws.  She explained that this was not food, but my bathroom.  Shock and embarrassment!  No cat should have their toilet out in the open!  We have our pride, if nothing else!

            Muggsy felt bad for me and brought me a token of friendship - a little mouse toy.  The mouse was in pretty rough shape, but it was nice to have a toy.  We were forming a bond.

            One day on The Rock done and I think that this gig won't be too horrible.  Of course, I was wrong.  The doors swung open and there was Helga and yikes, she was even wearing make-up.  That's when I heard it for the first time - these small people...maybe dwarfs...yelling at the top of their lungs, "Cute!  Cute!"  I was accosted and poked and hugged and grabbed.  What the hell?!  Was I really there?  Had I actually died and gone to Hell?  Put me down!  Put me down!

            The next thing I knew, a large human took me in her arms and looked me over, except she was a lot more gentle than Helga.  Then I was put back in my cell.  This went on all day and I was exhausted.  Daisy and I had a snoring competition that night.

            Muggsy was awake early the next morning.  He took me by the paw and showed me an area they called Put Down Row.  He explained that it was very important for me to get out of the cell and be taken away, but I couldn't see myself leaving with dwarfs or large humans.  It was then that I decided to work on a plan to escape.  Slickpaws overheard the plot and informed me that, no matter how determined the kitty, no one had ever escaped from Al-Cat-Raz.

            The next two days were spent trying to figure out the best way to get out and run for our lives.  An opportunity presented itself in a set of keys.  Helga had been stupid and left them by my cell.  I took them and hid them under the litter so she wouldn't notice I had them.  Later that night, I noticed Daisy was missing.  Muggsy and Slickpaws said that Helga had taken Daisy out with a family - she was finally paroled.  Daisy had told them where she was headed and would leave some food for them if they made it out.

            I felt confident that my plan would work.  Not having an opposable thumb wouldn't be a problem.  Two paws had to be better than a stupid thumb.  Before Muggsy could eat, the cell was unlocked.  We were sprung - kitten freedom!  They leapt to the desk near the window and Slickpaws looked outside.  No one was around and the coast was clear, so Muggsy and I worked the lock on the window.  Muggsy used his teeth to chew until the gizmo moved.  Then Muggsy and Slickpaws put their backs into it and lifted the window up.  Everything was going according to plan until an alarm went off and poofed our tails.  We made a run  for it into the woods and it was there that we paused to catch our breaths.

            Slickpaws used her nails to draw a map in the dirt of where Daisy was staying.  Slickpaws was equipped with a chip that somehow had magical powers.  It told her owner she was lost.  She explained that somehow this also could be worked in reverse and she would be able to use it to find her way back to her family.  She told us she would miss us and then showed us the way to Daisy's.  We rubbed noses and parted ways.

            Muggsy and I listened to Slickpaws' advice and stayed off the main roads.  Food was the only issue.  I had well-bred taste and old tuna from the trash was not my style.  A nice can of Fancy Feast...now that would have been nice.  We walked at night and rested during the day.  Two days later, we finally found Daisy in her usual position, sleeping soundly.  Slickpaws was there, too.  It was a happy reunion.

            What we didn't know was that we had somehow made it to a cat sanctuary where there were no cells, food was plentiful and there were toys...lots and lots of toys.  Slickpaws had wandered off as a kitten, but found her way back.  Daisy was old and the nice ladies had thought she would be happier there.  Muggsy was a welcome addition and he found his own cat tree soon after arriving.

            I was too small and cute to be settling down in this place.  I found a nice family, got myself adopted (I have such charm) and found a loving home.  Once in a while, I think about my time in Al-Cat-Raz, but only when I'm missing my friends and enjoying a little 'nip.


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