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Astropup: prisoner of the cats
Is it ever a compliment to be called “stupid”? Apparently, if you are a dog, it can be. Listen to Astropup to hear how.
We finish our recent run of Astropup stories that began with The Wreck of the Hesperus. But don’t worry Astropup fans, because he will be back for more adventures next year. In this story, Astropup finds himself a prisoner of the cat-people pirates and is forced to listen to the most dreadful cat music. Can he survive?
Read by Richard Scott. Written by Bertie.
Whimpering sounds) What dismal dogs we were! Our tails were well and truly between our legs, as the pirate cat-people marched us away at the points of their laser guns. They led us to a corner of their camp that seemed rather like a garden lawn. But ZANGGGGG! We were fenced in by a crackling electric force field. We could not see the walls of our prison, but if we brushed up against them, we soon knew. The invisible prison stung like vet’s needle. But by far the cruelest hurt was to our pride. Cats prowled around the perimeter, hissing and meowing insults at us:
“Just look at the big brave doggies – they don’t seem so fierce now, whimpering and shivering away. Ah, poor poochy-woochies. Go on, wag your tails. Sit up and beg like the fawning, slobbering, stinking, slaves-of-the-humans that you really are. BEG ! If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.”
The doberman charged at a cat-person-prison-camp-guard who swung round and pointed his laser gun. But there was no need for him to fire, because the brave dog ran hard up against the force field and bounced back with a bruised nose. How those filthy felines cried with laughter ! We all barked our heads off and then the the real torture began. Loud speakers began to broadcast the most awful cat music.
Oh my poor head ! I thought that my brain would explode. The caterwauling and meowing was driving us all crazzzzzzzzy !!! This torture was against all our canine rights.
But nothing lasts for ever, and somehow we survived two hours of feline orchestral punishment. By this time we were wrecks.
The guards pulled down the forcefield, but our quivering legs did not have the strength to run away. It was all we could do to stagger in the direction that they led us – and that was towards their cat battle ship. Oh, Oh, it was clear that they were planning to take us as their prisoners to another planet.
I don’t know if you have ever seen a feline space ship before. If you have, it’s a sight you will never forget. They are particularly terrifying when you look up into the sky and see the shadow of a cat mask hovering above you. This one was on the ground. The front of it was open like a mouth, and we had to walk up a rough-surfaced ramp like a cat’s tongue. I know what it feels like to be a mouse being swallowed by a cat.
It was here that I was finally reunited with my old friend. But I was not greeted with a happy squawk. The parrot major had his beak tucked under his wing. He did not move. His feathers already looked raggedy. He had become a sad parrot, what some people call, a perch potato.
“Hello,” I said.
But he did not move or so much as squeak.
Our invisible cage was the centre of the ship’s main flight deck. We were again imprisoned by a forcefield. We could see all that was going on. White-suited cat-people were running systems checks on the controls. Lights were flashing and computers were meowing. The pilot of the ship was running a flight simulation and adjusting the whisker controls. Those cat ships are highly maneuverable.
We were not the only prisoners upon that ghastly ship. The wall opposite the control panel was lined with aquariums. Some were filled with water and contained fish of all colours and sizes. Others formed glass cages for poor innocent, mice. These creatures were, of course, on the cats’ menu during the long flights across the universe. What an awful thing it was, that ship!
Eventually the parrot looked up and said: “Dear Dog. It’s me that they really want. I’m sorry that you are a prisoner too, all because of my notoriety. I wish you had not tried to rescue me. On top of everything else, I feel guilty now about you. ”
“Well I had to try and save you,” I said.
“So loyal,” said my friend. “So brave. So stupid.”.
“Thank you,” I replied. Because we dogs consider it a complement to be called stupid. Stupidity is the highest form of obedience.
The preparations for lift-off continued and cats and cat people came in an out of the ship. The cat-people brought boxes and cargo on board. The four legged cats climbed up through the metal rafters of the space craft up above the control room. Suddenly, one of them jumped down in front of our cage.
“Hello,” he said, “remember me.”
“Shhhhhhh” I said. “Don’t let me see that you know us. They’ll be angry with you and you’ll be punished.” For this was the one and only cat whom I have ever counted as my friend. He was, The Good Cat.
“Don’t worry, they already know all about that,” said the Good Cat.
“What do you mean?”
“Well I switched sides of course. I betrayed you. That’s why you are here. I’m a hero. In fact, I’m a rich hero.”
“What…. treachery….? You mean you sold your friend ….How can that be? It’s impossible. I thought you were the God Cat.”
“I was the Good Cat. Now I’m not any more. Every cat has his price. Now you will be coming with us to our planet. There’s a pretty price on the head of your parrot friend. We’ll all get a fat reward. I should thank you really.”
“Don’t bother,” I said.
The ship began to meow louder than before, and the door pulled up like a drawbridge.
“Well now I must get to action stations,” said the Good Cat. “We’re about to leave. It’s been nice talking to you. Have a safe journey,” and he leapt up onto a rafter and disappeared above us into the roof of the ship.
Moments later, I could feel in my stomach that we were beginning to hover off the ground. Through the window I could see the tops of the treas. The morning sky was tinted a rosy pink. It was strangely beautiful – so like our own dear planet Earth. We shot sideways, and oh, all of us dogs were thrown over in a heap and rolled against the wall of the forcefield. But then the ship began to hover again above the sea. Why I don’t know. Perhaps they were waiting for the all clear from cat-command. Or perhaps they had to run one more check before blasting up into space. But it was those moments of delay that saved us.
There was a streak of white blinding light followed by a loud explosion. The whole ship began to judder and shake and was filled with meows of terror. The sound was deafening and awful and I was certain that we were about to meat our doom – but at the same time I was delighted and thrilled because so many ghastly cats were going down with us. They were running here and there in panic, and jumping around like fleas. Smoke was coming out the control desk . And then FLOOOOOOP ! We dropped straight down out of the sky onto the sea. But we didn’t sink very far beneath the water before the ship righted itself and floated on the surface. The waves tossed us gently from side to side. We were no longer a flying ship, but a floating one. And what was even better, the force field and failed , and we were free !
What fun we dogs had chasing those scaredy-cats around their own space ship! I bit a cat person in the seat of the pants, and boy that tasted good ! There was fur and bits of white space suit flying every where. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a scene of mass panic.
But then, oh no, sea water started to sink into the ship. At fist it wet the ground and we started to slide about, but before long we were wading through it.
”We’re all gong to drown!” squawked the parrot who was flying up above. But we weren’t, not yet anyway, because the door of the space ship flapped open. And this was the best part. Scores of terrified cats ran out down the ramp and jumped into the sea. And you know what cats hate most of all in life – perhaps even more than fleas – and that is WATER ! They were sad and soggy moggies who swam the short distance to the shore.
But we dogs LOVE getting wet and were only too happy to jump in and swim. On the beach we shook ourselves and resumed the chase. Soon all the cats were scattered in different directions. Some ran into the bushes, others up trees, still others… I don’t now where… but the joy of it was that they were gone. We dogs ran around in circles woofing our heads of with the thrill of freedom.
We were not alone in our celebration, for there was somebody else down there on the beach. Now he was walking along the shore towards us. He was a human. He held a gun across his chest. He was, Marlowe, the Man with the Laser Gun, who we had met before.
“Hey boys!” he said, “I told you to never trust a cat.” And the parrot, who was the only one among us who could speak his language, replied.
“I’m sorry my friend is so dim, but thank you for rescuing us.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” he replied. “It’s always a pleasure to shoot down a feline space ship and give kitties grief.”
For of course, it was none other than the Man with the Laser Gun, who had shot down the ship as it had hovered above the sea. Our rescue was down to him.
Now this has been a long, and I hope, exciting, story, so I am going to cut the end a little short.
It was of course, a great pleasure to return to the Bank of Pirates with the parrot. Our personal banker, Joe, was amazed to see us both safe and alive. He couldn’t hide the surprise in his eyes when we walked into his office. The parrot said the words he did not wish to hear:
“Thanks for keeping my diamond,” I’ve come to take it back now.” Given that Marlowe was standing there with us, he had little choice but to be a good little banker and return our precious deposit.
But what use was this diamond to us? It was stolen property. The only people who would buy it off us were pirates, and was we had learned, they could not be trusted. I was longing to return home and to see my dear Jenny. The only thing that Marlowe wanted, was to get back to Earth, and even the parrot had to admit that we owed our lives to him. If we had been taken to the planet of the cats in that space ship, we would have surely faced a fate worse than death.
And so that is why I am very glad to say that we returned to the space-ship park, paid our enormous parking fee – in bird seed as well as dog biscuits – and took off, with Marlowe, with the destination Planet Earth programmed into the ship’s navigation system.