Boots led me down a long, dark hallway--even darker than the living room had been before the light was turned on. I followed, and when she turned left into a room, I felt my fur prickling with apprehension. What if this was some kind of trap? Was she planning on jumping out and attacking me again, now that we were out of sight from our families?
I didn’t really think so. She seemed trustworthy enough. Also, even if she did, I was the bigger cat, so I could win in a fight if I really had to.
Keeping my muscles tense and my senses on high alert, I followed her into the room.
Something bright, like a piece of the sun, flew toward me. I jumped about three feet in the air and let out a startled yowl. What was that?
Someone burst into hysterical laughter. After taking a moment to get my bearings, I looked to my right and, in the dim glow, saw Boots’s dark silhouette shaking with mirth. “Your reaction!” she choked out. “That was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen!”
I flicked my tail and cast a nervous glance over at the thing that had flown toward me. It was now lying a few feet away, still giving off a weird sort of light, which kept changing color from blue to red to white and back again. It didn’t look dangerous. It just looked… very weird.
“So… you brought me in here to pull a prank on me?” I asked.
“No.” Boots’s laugh had calmed to a mild chuckle. “Just to show you my light-up mouse. I didn’t know it would make you freak out and jump as high as my dad’s head.”
“I didn’t jump that high,” I said defensively, rather embarrassed that I’d reacted so strongly to something so benign.
“Okay, then, maybe only as high as my mom’s head,” Boots amended.
I flicked my whiskers at her. “Maybe as high as Abigail’s head. If that. But that just shows I’m a good jumper. Anyway, what is it? You said a light-up mouse?”
Boots walked over to the flashing object, and I tentatively took a few steps closer as well. It was about the size of both of my front paws put together, and it had a little black face with eyes, a nose, and some whiskers.
“This,” said Boots proudly, “Is my light-up mouse. I have a lot of mouse toys, but this one is my favorite because I can play with it in the dark and never lose sight of it. Every time I tap it with my paw, it starts flashing, and then it keeps flashing until I leave it alone for a little while. So even when it’s the middle of the night and really dark, I can bat this across the room and then chase after it and easily find it again.”
“That’s cool,” I said. There’d been many times when I’d been bored in the middle of the night and tried playing with one of my toys, only to lose it a minute later because I could no longer see it. “Can I try it?”
“Sure,” said Boots.
I locked my eyes on the toy, then circled it a few times before lining up the perfect shot. I whacked it with my paw and it went tumbling further into the dark room. I immediately bounded after it, pouncing on it and picking it up with my teeth. Then I let it go and whacked it again. Boots chased after it this time, and for a while we batted the toy back and forth, always easily able to track its movements around the dark room.
“I love pouncing,” Boots commented, finally setting the toy down in front of her and settling down with all of her legs tucked under her body. “And chasing any little thing that moves. It’s so much fun whenever I find a bug crawling around the house.”
“Yeah, that is fun,” I agreed. I always felt very tiger-like whenever I got to stalk an ant or a spider. “Have you ever chased a real mouse?” I never had, but the cats on TV were always doing it.
“No,” said Boots. “I think I would like to chase one someday, but I’d have to be very gentle and make sure it didn’t get hurt. I’d feel bad if it got hurt.”
A happy feeling spread through me. Boots actually seemed like a pretty cool cat.
“I have something to show you,” I told her. “Someone, actually.”
“Oh?” Boots cocked her head. “Is it the little girl? I’m not so comfortable around children. They move too fast and sometimes aren’t very gentle.”
“Abigail’s not like that,” I said. “Abigail’s very gentle. She’s my favorite person in the whole wide world. But no, it’s not her. Follow me.”
We walked back out to the living room, and then to the kitchen, where I jumped up onto the counter and perched next to Lily’s bowl. “Come on up,” I called down to Boots.
“This special thing you wanted to show me is you being sprayed with water?” she asked, not moving.
“My family is going to squirt you with water if you stay up there. Cats aren’t allowed on counters.”
I glanced at our families, still happily eating their dinner in the dining area a few feet away, then back down at Boots. “I’ve been sitting up here all day and no one’s done that to me.”
Boots gave me a skeptical look. “So what is it you want to show me?”
“Come on,” I urged. “She’s up here.”
With a wary glance around, Boots hopped up onto the counter.
“Boots, meet my best friend, Lily,” I said, gesturing to Lily, who was so excited she was swimming circles in her fishbowl. “She’s a goldfish.”
Boots’s eyes were wide as she slowly brought her face closer to the glass, her body language perfectly matching the way I’d probably looked when I’d first met Lily--tentative and unsure what to make of the small creature. “Whoa,” she breathed.
“Another cat!” Lily exclaimed. “It’s so nice to meet you!”
Boots jumped this time, and I smirked. “You totally just jumped as high as your dad’s head,” I teased, even though it hadn’t been anywhere near that high.
“It talks?” Boots gasped.
“Yes, she does talk. We have conversations all the time. She’s really nice.”
“Hi,” said Lily. “Sorry if I scared you. Your name is Boots?”
“Yes,” Boots replied, still staring at Lily in mixed trepidation and awe. “This is--this is crazy! I can’t believe I’m talking to someone who’s so small and shiny and in a bowl of water...why are you in water, anyway?”
Lily explained about how fish breathe. “I’d love it if I could breathe without water and explore entire houses like you and Tiger do,” she confessed. “But it’s okay. Somewhere there’s a place called the ocean, which is all water as far as you can see. I really want to visit it sometime, so Tiger and I are on a quest to find it.”
“Have you ever seen the ocean?” I asked Boots. “Do you know where it is?"
“No,” said Boots regretfully. “I’d love to help you guys find it, though. Sounds like just the kind of excitement I’ve been looking for!”
Next > Episode Eleven: Mr T