Chapter 7

The Siamese looked Tufty up and down. “I am called Five,” she said, then said no more. She stared at Tufty. She was good at her job and could have sworn she knew all the cats on this project, but she didn’t remember a mangled old ginger in her brief.

Tufty felt discombobulated. He did not enjoy her cool silent stare. He wasn’t sure what he expected from her, but it wasn’t this.

“I’ll ask you again,” Five said, watching Tufty falter. “What are you doing here?”

To his surprise, Tufty then found that he was the one answering the questions.

“You’re not going to believe me,” he replied, mustering conviction, “but I come here (he paused for effect) from the future!” Within the confines of the wardrobe he felt the echoes of knowledge and power. Futureuture…uture…uture…

He expected this to elicit a gasp and expression of wonder, but the Siamese continued to stare coolly at him.

“Errr… ahhh…” he continued, “I mean it. I got here in the Magic Litter Tray. In the laundry. I don’t exactly know how, it just happened. One minute it was late 2017 and the next, well, not.  It’s the apartment that I know, but all different, if that makes sense. And I heard on the radio that it’s 1986.”

“Soon to be 1987,” Five granted. This was an interesting development. She relaxed her tone, but pulled her eyelids into a squint and chose her next words carefully. “So, tell me, what’s it like in 2017?”

“It’s great!” Tufty became more animated. “There is this thing call the internet, and computers and smartphones, and new-and-improved chicken in a can… and… and…” he trailed off. He didn’t know where to begin. It was obvious from the machine in the kitchen that the technology was somewhat behind here.

Five, meanwhile, was intrigued.

“Have you got water?” she asked directly.

“Of course!” Tufty was surprised. “Why wouldn’t we?”

Five thought about how much to tell him. He was obviously from a parallel universe, one resulting from a new junction point in the space-time continuum. His 2017 was different. She was from 2021, so she knew.

She decided to let a little slip. “Those people in the kitchen,” she said, “they’re physics students. Physics and chemistry. And, in case you haven’t noticed, they’re both a bit mad in the head. They have been trying to transpose organic matter from one place to another – cats from cage to cage, if you see –  but instead – and they don’t realise it yet – they have created a portal for time travel. It’s somehow in the mesh of metal alloy at the bottom of the blue trays. At the moment they are only experimenting on cats, hence their failed attempt to sedate me and put me on the litter, but they also sometimes stand in a tray themselves. The one you came in on in the laundry, in fact. But their body mass is too large.”

“Woah!” Tufty breathed.

“They must be stopped,” Five concluded.

“Why?” Tufty asked. Surely time travel could be a wonderful thing?


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