Dedicated to Eleanor aka Ella and her parents Katesy and Andy.
Read by Natasha
Written, produced and illustrated by Bertie
If there is one thing you can say about me with absolute certainty, it is this - I am am a a singular cat. What do I mean by singular, you ask?
What I mean is that I have to be THE one.
And what I mean by that, is that I have to be the ONLY one.
Sharing is not something that I do.
I am unique you know. If you looked at the thousands of the scraggy fleabags lounging around on the steps of the temple to the great cat goddess, Bastet, you would find it hard to tell one from another.
But I am different. I have blue eyes. I am super smart. I am a magical cat.
So when the priest, Amon, said to me, ‘Lapis, how would you like to have a sweet little sister-friend?’ I said ‘NO WAY!’
Amon shook his head and told me, ‘Well, that’s too bad, but you will get used to her sooner or later, and if Lady Bastet is willing, you might even grow to be friends.’
Friends! I did not like the sound of that. I’m a cat, not a manky, fawning dog, ready to be anybody’s best mate. We cats don’t do friends. All day I felt sick and anxious. I even puked up into the river Nile. And that evening, my worst fears came true. Amon brought home another cat.
He spilled the sandy coloured creature out of a wicker basket and she sprang onto the floor. She stood staring at me, her back arched, a hostile gleam in her green eyes, THE CHEEK ! In my house!
‘This is unnatural,” I protested, to Amon. “You can’t keep two cats living under one roof! Any fool knows that! All we will do is fight.”
But Amon shook his head and said, “The goddess commands it.”
So the other cat, Cleo, stayed.
Next, we eyed each other up and walked round in circles, as we cats do when we don’t like each other, which is often. She hissed. I hissed back twice as loud. And Amon, would you believe it, threw a shoe at me. He had never treated me like that before!
“OY! None of that hissing!” he shouted, “You’ll be a nice cat to your new sister-friend.”
“She hissed first,” I meowed back.
“I don’t care who started it, don’t do it!” he scolded grumpily.
Well , now I was deeply offended. Wouldn’t you be? I sloped moodily out of the house. But don’t think I was retreating, not I, Lapis, the Magical Cat. No, it was the time of day to lie on the roof and catch the evening sun as the Lord Ra gently tugged it down behind the horizon.
I stretched out and felt my arms and legs go flop. Prrrr. What is there to worry about when the gentle rays of the late sun are heating your body? Everything is easy. Total relaxation. Blank brain. And then suddenly - what’s this? - it’s like somebody has lassoed my tail. I’m being pulled backwards along the roof and MEEEEEEEEOW - I’m falling - I land, as we cats learn to do, with a spring in my legs, but still, it is quite a shock.
I looked up and saw that sandy coloured little imposter cat creeping along the roof to my sunny spot AND she was chuckling to herself. Then I knew what had happened. She had used magic on me! The minx! How dare she? Well, two can play at that game. I’ll soon show her. I’ll put such a spell on her …
I know what I’ll do, I’ll, I’ll…. Well I can’t think of any spells right now but I will take a peak in Amon’s Magical Book and find something suitably mean.
Later that evening, after half a fish for dinner - yes you heard that right, half, that’s what comes of sharing - I went into Amon’s room and sprang up onto his desk. I turned the pages of his special book with my paw, peering at the magical letters. It is a good thing we cats see well in in poor light. Amon came in and said, ‘Studying late are we? That’s a good cat.’ I did not reply. I was too intent on searching through the pages for something suitably nasty. Unfortunately, most of it was nice stuff - like cures for warts or spells to take make a person look 10 years younger - but nothing to my taste… unless… I adapted something … a spell to make you grow up tall… mmmmm….. The ingredients and quantities were for a human child… but what if I mixed them with cheese, added a touch of rapid root to make the impact more sudden - and left the magic food in the corner for a mouse to find?
It seemed like an interesting idea. So that’s what I did. And then I crept outside the house to wait and watch. And WOW! It worked better than I could have hoped for.
The result was SO SPECTACULAR… the screams were SO
satisfying … the speed at which the sandy faced cat legged it was impressive … she shot out of the house and down the street pursued by a giant mouse!
I thought that was the last of HER, but you’ve got to hand it to that cat, she does not give up easily. She came skulking back early in the morning. I was lying at the foot of Amon’s bed in my rightful place. I opened one eye and said, ‘Don’t you even think of jumping up here, or you’ll regret it.”
But she was angry. And mean with it. With a screech that reminded me of the awful musician who plays in the temple, she sprung up onto the bed, teeth and claws flashing. Then there was a fight worth watching. Amon was shouting to us to stop, but neither us was in the mood for making peace. It might even have been a fight to the death if he hadn’t chucked a bucket of water over us both. As it was, we were both bitten, bleeding, and scratched.
‘That’s it!’ he said furiously. ‘I’ve had enough of you two. First thing in the morning you must both report to the goddess.’
Now, although I count Lady Bastet as my friend and supporter, I did not fancy going to her with a bad report. She’s a goddess, and when she’s angry, her wrath is something terrible. She can clap thunder and strike you with lightning from a clear cloudless sky. Plagues of locusts, or mice, or fleas - they are all her style - you name it she can do it.
I thought of running away, but there was no point in hiding from Amon, let alone the all-seeing goddess. We tried pleading and reasoning and whining piteously but Amon was deaf to our pleas. He put us in two separate baskets and carried us to the temple. There he knelt before the statue of the Lady Bastet, the great cat goddess, and kissed her stone feet. Her eyes opened. They were awesome - piercing blue. We two cats were both trembling like we had the chills.
“Oh Great One,” he called out, “ I followed your orders and put these two cats together but all they do is screech and fight. I can’t stand it any longer. They are driving me to distraction. What shall I do?”
“Prrrrrrrrrrrr,” said Lady Bastet, “I am very disappointed in you two young cats. Lapis you are very talented but lazy and do not apply yourself to your lessons. Cleo you do not have the same natural ability at magic as Lapis, but you work hard. I thought a little healthy competition and some cooperation would bring out the best in you both. But it seems that you are not capable of rising above your feline natures. You would both rather fight each other than unite and take on evil in the world.”
“Please lady Bastet, we didn’t mean to…” I whined.
“Silence!” she screeched. “You both have one last chance. You can be sister friends and help each other OR you can go back to the temple courtyard and hang out with all the other stray, hungry cats, and take your chances with the priests who might well make you into mummies and sell you to the tourists.”
“No, no please,” we both pleased, “Be merciful, great goddess.”
“Mark my words. One last chance!” She told us, before closing those devine eyes.
Amon gave us both a stern look and led us back to the house. When we were both back home, standing in the front room, Cleo looked at me, “Friends?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, trying not to spit, “Sister-friends.”