|Trouble at the Valencommune:
The ValentrioplusTodd and Christine Set Out
"Well!" said Piquet. "If we're going to save Todd, I guess we'd better get started! What will we need to take? Lots of coffee, and a kettle, and mugs and spoons and milk and sugar... oh, and cat litter... and blue socks... some apples and matchsticks... anything else?"
Karma looked worriedly at Piquet and, when no one noticed the change, miaowed a bit. "You won't forget the wet food, will you?", he asked. "It's just that I know it's been at least a week since Sage and Todd gave us wet food, and... and..."
Sage interrupted: "Karma, sweetie, you had some just yesterday, but I'm afraid that Todd had all the wet food in his backpack..."
Eight horrified faces stared up at Sage. "What are you all wasting time for?!!" scowled Claire; "Someone pick me up, and let's go!"
And so they set off, the cats forming a vanguard (except for Claire, of course) with the humans trailing behind. They walked for about a mile before coming to a swampy bog, with a cottage in the middle of it. "What does that sign say?" asked Piqqy. "It doesn't look like it's written in English."
"I think I can almost make it out," said Kalaleq, approaching the sign with a squint. "Yes! I recognise this language -- It's Gibberish!"
"Well, what does it say?" asked Sage.
"You'll have to realise that the translation into English won't be exact," said Kalaleq, "Gibberish is a very complex language. Hmmmm... roughly translated, it says 'feil vnale poetw wnei grwvecq.'"
"What?! That doesn't make any sense!" exclaimed Piquet.
"Well what did you expect?" said Kalaleq. "It's Gibberish!"
The cats looked exasperatedly at one another. "We're wasting time!" complained Karma. "Maybe the owner of that cottage has some wet food!"
"Kalaleq, what is the point of you being able to recognise gibberish, if you can't tell us what that sign says?" inquired Piquet.
"Well, I wasn't taught to translate Gibberish, only to recognise it." Kalaleq explained.
While everyone stood around trying to figure out what the sign said, Karma wandered off towards the cottage, in search of wet food.
Sage, who just happened to be standing on her head, cried out, "Hey, it makes perfect sense from this point of view! It says 'Time for some MoominSummer Madness. This Way.'" She pointed in the direction of the cottage.
They all turned to look and since they had to rescue Karma, who was now climbing in the window, they all dashed off toward the cottage.
"MoominSummer Madness", Christine murmurred to herself. "I remember that book... something about a play, and a flood, and the theater floated away."
Paying no attention to the events behind him, Karma climbed up onto the window ledge, and jumped inside the small cottage. "Wet Food... Wet Food... where would they keep wet food in this place?" he thought to himself.
"Excuse me, Mr. Cat," a voice said from a darkened corner of the cottage, "is there anything I can do for you? Obviously, you must be a very good friend, since you just climbed in through my window."
Karma, far too worried about finding some wet food to notice sarcasm in any way, looked over at the owner of the voice, who turned out to be a very short old man with a very long grey beard. Summoning up all his courage, Karma looked up at the scowling old man and said, "Do you have any wet food, 'cause it's been at least a week since Sage and Todd gave us any wet food, and Todd had some in his backpack, but he got kidnapped by Mr. Saaa, and I'm sure it's time for wet food, honest!"
The old man, blinking at the speed with which Karma managed to tell him so much of the plot so far, opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a knock on the cottage door.
"Hello?" Sage called from outside, "Is anybody in there?"
The other cats, meanwhile, were holding a whispered conference back on the shore.
"That Karma!" Jay said exasperatedly. "He's hogging the whole story!"
"Yes," hissed Cilantro, he's stealing limelight that should rightfully be mine."
Habanero laughed. "C'mon, sis, don't be so hard on the kid." He paused. "Though I must admit he is getting a bit carried away..."
"Well, let's do something about it, then!" screeched Harriet, with determined finality.
Sage peered into the darkness behind the now open door.
As the door squeaked open, Kalaleq and Piquet determinedly hid behind Sage as she bravely peeked inside.
"Say," said Piquet, piqing out from behind Sage, "That old guy looks kinda familiar - in fact, he looks a lot like an older version of... of..."
The old man lifted his eyes from Karma to the intrepid trio in the doorway, and his frown faded behind a welcoming smile.
"Greetings, strangers", he said, ushering them into the cottage. "Please, sit down and make yourselves comfortable, and I'll fetch some tea!"
Having no obvious reason to refuse, they entered the dimly lit room, and sat down upon the sofa, while their host disappeared into a back room. A muffled sound of applause, or was it flowing water?, was heard momentarily, before disappearing behind the closing door once more...
While Kalaleq and Sage examined their surroundings, Piquet sat looking puzzled, until she suddenly looked up wide-eyed, and turned to the others; "I've just realised what's happening!" she whispered urgently, "This is all a..... Where are Christine and the cats?!?"
A noise from the back distracted them, as the old man sidled through the doorway, holding a tray of clinking cups and saucers in his hands. "So," he said cheerily, "who wants cookies?"
Sage looked warily at the tray. "Er, thank you anyway," she said, "but we really shouldn't accept food from strangers."
Kalaleq turned to Piquet and whispered, "There aren't any cookies on that plate, are there? It doesn't look like the saucers are full either."
Piquet frowned and peered at the tray. "Ack," she whispered to Kalaleq, "I think you're right. And don't you think that that guy looks like an older version of --"
Suddenly, they heard Christine's voice. "Was someone looking for me?" everyone turned around to see where the voice was coming from, but Christine was nowhere in sight. "Don't bother looking around for me -- I'm invisible!" she said, gleefully, "And by the way, so are the cookies and the tea."
At that moment, the wall of what was presumably the kitchen swung away, revealing a large, square room filled only with floodlights and bleachers, from which an anticipatory babble hummed. The babble suddenly hushed in response to a sign blinking "quiet" at the crowd. The old man pulled a microphone from his cardigan and announced "Welcome to the Phil Honeydew Show! Today's topic is," he continued in a confidential tone, "grown-ups with invisible friends!"
The sign flashed "applause" as the Valentrio looked about bewilderedly. "Our guests today are Kalaleq, Piquet, and Sage, here with their invisible friend, "Christine," who, they tell us, is seated there beside them."
"My God!" whispered Sage. "We've been tricked into appearing on a talk show!"
"This can mean only one thing," pronounced Piquet. "Mr. Saaa!"
"No, no," said Kalaleq, "not even Mr. Saaa could be this diabolical. Hey... look at the logo on that camera: 'Ellen Cairo Enterprises'. Could it be Mr. Saaa has found a handy sidekick?"
"Aieeeeeeee!" a scream of outrage ricocheted through the soundstage. "How dare you associate me with that degenerate nincompoop of an evil villain!"