Dedicated to Avery Jane Gaffney in New Jersey, who kindly supports Storynory on Patreon.
Read by Richard.
Luna, by Jana.
Story by Bertie.
Proofed and audio edited by Jana Elizabeth.
We continue the story of how our space-travelling hound, Astropup, along with the Parrot and Marlow, took a space tourist onboard their ship. Luna is sixteen and wants to celebrate her birthday on the moon. She has brought her cat, Mr Muggles, with her. The only thing is - Mr Muggles has run off to join the cat people.
Astropup’s Space Tourist - Part Two
Hello, this is Richard, and this story is dedicated to Avery Jane Gaffney in New Jersey, who kindly supports Storynory on Patreon.
Read by Richard.
Luna, by Jana.
Story by Bertie.
Proofed and audio edited by Jana Elizabeth.
And in the previous episode, we left you on the surface of the moon as Mr Muggles, a pet cat belonging to Luna, a space tourist, ran off chasing a mouse. Can our friends Astropup, the parrot, and Marlow help Luna find her lost kitty?
“Mr MUGGGGLESS! COME BACK THIS INSTANT!” shouted Luna. But if he was in radio range, he did not obey his owner. He was a typical cat, if you ask me. They have a tendency to go wandering off. We dogs much prefer to stay at home where we know dinner is served, and besides, our dog’s duty is to guard our masters.
“Marlow to Astropup,” came the voice of our friend over the radio. “And Luna too. Listen up. I’m tracking Mr Muggles. He’s travelling at speed across the surface. The best chance of catching him is in the buggy. Wait where you are, and I’ll join up with you ASAP.”
Now the buggy is a piece of kit we have not used often. It’s a sort of four-wheeled car designed for travelling across moon dunes and the like. Marlow drove it down the ramp of our ship. I could see he had his laser rifle propped up beside him. He wasn’t taking any chances, even though the only known life forms living on the moon are mice, which are pretty harmless. Luna and I jumped in the back, and Marlow pointed to a computer screen that was tracking all our positions on the moon. The missing cat had finally come to a halt about a mile away. He pointed the buggy in the right direction, and we set out. It was a bumpy ride because the moon is not at all flat, and once or twice we nearly tipped over. When we were about 150 meters away from the blip on the screen that represented the missing cat, Marlow pulled the buggy up to a halt and said, “Let’s go the rest of the way quietly on foot.”
“What's wrong? Why can't we call him?” Luna asked.
“We can’t,” said Marlow. “I’ve turned off radio contact with Mr Muggles. To be on the safe side, it’s best he doesn’t know we’re coming after him, just in case he’s not alone.”
We left the buggy behind and bounced up to the edge of a big crater. Marlow peered over the edge and said softly, “Well, well, what do you know?”
“Not much,” I said and joined him at the top, looking down into the hollow. What I then saw brought out an instinctive reaction in me. The hairs on my back stood on end. “Grrrrrr!” I muttered inside my helmet.
“SHSSSSSSH!” replied Marlow.
“Who are they?” asked Luna, who was now looking too.
“Best get back down out of sight,” I said. “Those are cat-people.”
“Oh, cool!” exclaimed Luna.
“No, no, not cool at all,” I told her. “Cat people are our enemies. They’re dangerous.”
“But what about my Mr Muggles?” she asked, plaintively.
“Best forget about him,” I advised. “He seems happy where he is.”
Because we had just seen Mr Muggles at the bottom of the crater playing with some kittens of the cat-people, one of them was holding a toy mouse on a piece of elastic, and the others were trying to pounce on it. Quite frankly, he looked like he was enjoying himself, despite the cat commando who was watching over them with his gun at the ready.
“Astropup’s right. Let’s get back out of danger.”
“Noooooo, please,” sobbed Luna. “We just can’t leave my baby on the moon!”
Her space helmet was getting all hot and steamed up with tears.
“Oh yes, we can!” the parrot squawked, butting in unexpectedly. He was still onboard the spaceship following our conversation over the radio. “There’s nothing in the contract about rescuing stray pets from the cat people.”
He was a hard-beaked business bird, and I say that as one who has never cared for cats. Luna was having none of it. She started jumping up and down, frantically waving her arms, whistling and calling out: “Mr Muggles, it's time to go, baby! Mr Muggles, come now, please. You're freaking me out!”
“Luna get down,” urged Marlow.
“No! I want my cat!” Luna said firmly.
Peow Peow (laser gun sound fx)
The cat commando was shooting at her. “Ahhhhhhhh,” Luna screamed. Marlow dived over to our prized customer and pulled her behind a rock. He returned a couple of shots.
(Laser sound fx )
“Did you get him?” I asked.
“I missed, and now there’s more of them. Six or so cat commandos. Get back to the buggy double-quick!”
I did not waste any time. I darted towards the buggy, which was our only hope of escape. Marlow grabbed Luna by the hand, still screaming, and dragged her along. “No, wait…please,” she begged. “Leave me alone... I need to rescue my cat. He’ll be frightened down there!” she wailed. We reached the buggy just as the cat commandos appeared at the top of the crater and shot at us again.
“Aaaarrrrrrrrooooooooo!” I howled! “The tip of my tail stung so bad... like a bucket load of bee stings!! “Aaarrrrooooooo!”
I darted back and forth to get away from whatever was biting my tail, but the pain followed me...like red hot needles, it was! “OoooooWWW!”
Eventually, I turned around and caught sight of it - my tail was smouldering. There’s no smoke without fire, as the parrot always says. That’s when I realised that a filthy cat commando had shot my tail with a laser gun. “Aaaaarooooo!” The worst day of my life! And all because of that traitor Mr Muggles running off to join the cat people! This business venture thing was not worth it. No amount of money would bring back the fluffy tip of my tail. Well, actually, it has grown back since then, but I did not know that at the time.
“Come on, Astropup, keep running,” called out Marlow. I knew he was giving good advice. I bounded on, with Luna closely behind. Soon we were back on board the moon buggy. In haste, Marlow pressed the turbo charge button, which fired up a small rocket. That was great because a fraction of a moment later, we were long gone - hurtling forward at lightning speed. Unfortunately, we could not stop when we wanted to, and we overshot our spaceship by about a mile and had to turn around and drive back to it.
Once Luna had calmed down a little, she found the emergency first aid kit under a seat in the buggy and kindly cleaned and bandaged my wound.
“There, there, Astropup. That's better, isn't it? It's just a little nick,” she tried to soothe me. “It's barely a scrape. I promise you'll be fine in no time.”
“Just a nick?” I howled. “Fine in no time? Get off!”
Looking back now, I feel rather bad about my grumpiness. I was rude and ungrateful for her help because I was still fuming about being shot in the tail because of a cat.
Once we were safely onboard our spacecraft, the parrot began the countdown for the final checks before takeoff.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1….”
“Hey, Hey, Hey, wait a minute! Wait a minute, Hey... Don't tell me we’re leaving… are we?” asked Luna, starting to become distressed again.
“Why heck yeah!” exclaimed the parrot.
“But Daddy booked three days on the moon as a special treat for my birthday!” she pointed out. “And you can't expect me to leave without my cat?” she said indignantly.
“So he did, but I don’t think he paid for his little girl to be kidnapped by the cat people.”
“I know, I know. But, you know, he’ll want his money back,” she warned. “Unless I say you waited to see if Mr Muggles came back.”
“Naaa, he’s not coming back,” I said. “He’s run off to join the cat people.”
I hoped never to see him again.
“No, no, that's not true,” said Luna. “Every time he's gone missing for a day or two, he’s always, always come back to me.”
“Alright,” said the parrot. “We will wait. But if the cat people come within 300 yards of our ship, we’re blasting off. It's much too close for comfort with all those laser guns going off. As for Astropup, look at him! He’s almost as pale as the moon!”
And that’s when I realised why making your fortune in business is not as easy as it looks on paper. It’s all because of the annoying law that the customer is always right. If you want to get paid, you have to be a pleaser. The customer says rollover, and you roll over. The customer says, sit pretty, and you sit pretty. The customer says, wait, and you wait. You might say that’s just like a dog’s life, but there is an important difference. We dogs only obey our masters when we feel like it. If the fancy takes us, we just look at the boss when he issues an order and say, “Are you crazy? I’m not doing that for all the treats in China.”
That’s called freedom. As soon as you have a client, you give that up.
And so we waited for a very long time. I thought it was at least a month. It takes about 28 days for the moon to orbit the Earth, and that’s what it seemed like to me. Afterwards, the parrot told me that it had only been about one and a half days, but it felt much longer because it was so nerve-wracking. All that time, I was only half-asleep, listening with one ear for the cat alarm. Eventually, it went off.
I woofed, and the parrot flew to his computer screen.
“Well, now look who it is?” he said.
“The cat people?” I barked. “Fire to the rockets! Head for the stars!”
“No need for that just yet,” said Marlow. “It's Mr Muggles. He slipped through the force field we set up at 300 yards from the ship.”
“Yay!” exclaimed Luna excitedly. “My little baby came back. I told you he would, didn't I? Aw, Mr Muggles, my Mugglies-wugglies.”
Marlow and I went through the airlock and looked out for cat people while Mr Muggles sauntered back. Luna prepared a tube of milk for him because you can’t drink from a saucer in low gravity, and when he jumped back into the control room, she caught him in her arms and hugged him tightly. “Ooh, my baby... I knew you'd come back to me, my darling. You gave me such a fright! Please don't ever run off like that again!” she cooed pathetically. It beats me why some people love cats, but it is a fact that they do. It took all my might ‘and a half’ to refrain from ripping that exotic mog from stem to stern! He almost got me blown away. He did.
“What made you come back?” asked the parrot.
“Oh, I got bored with the cat people. They’re too serious. All they think about is becoming masters of the universe. I'm not interested in all that politics,” he said.
“Let's get on with the important stuff,” said Marlow.
“One, two, three ….”
“Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you...
Happy Birthday dear Luna,
Happy birthday to you!”
“Ah, that's so sweet, thank you, everyone,” said Luna delightedly.
“This is embarrassing,” I said. “We should have bought a cake, but we didn’t know where to find one in outer space.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Astropup,” said Luna, “It’s really been the best birthday ever. I got to go to the Moon! Thanks so much for looking after me, and I'm so grateful that you waited for Mr Muggles to come back. I do hope your tail gets better soon!”
And then she kissed my face and scratched my belly, which is my favourite thing, but nobody’s done it for ages. It made me think of my Jenny back on earth.
We safely returned Luna and her Mr Muggles to a space taxi that took them back to earth and her billionaire daddy. And I’m glad to say that all the money was paid into the ‘Interplanetary Bank of Birds’.
And so we had successfully completed our first business venture. And now it was time for us all to take our annual holidays.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to Avery Jane Gaffney, who supports Storynory On Patreon. Avery, thanks so much for your generosity. We know you like mysterious stories about cats - we hope this one was mysterious enough for you!
Come back soon, to Storynory.com.
For now, from me, Richard Scott, goodbye!