Chapter 3

‘I either need to lay off the catnip, or that litter tray in the laundry really is a portal to another dimension.’ Tufty put his leg down and sat very still. Surely he must have imagined it. Either that or he was so old that dementia had finally set in. Or perhaps it really was the catnip. He’d thought it tasted strong. Pah! Magic litter tray, indeed!

Either way, he felt freaked out. Hence the diversionary measure upon waking. But the memory was so vivid and strange it would not leave him. Even worse, this wasn’t the first time it had happened.

He decided to follow Francine into the kitchen. She was standing at the counter, black coffee in hand, laughing into her phone about something that had happened the night before. He wondered if he could get her attention and blag some food. Another diversionary tactic. Can’t be freaked out by the Magic Litter Tray with a mouthful of chicken.

But though he tried his most plaintive meow and rubbed and purred and wove amongst Francine’s legs, she kept gently but firmly pushing him away. He sighed. Humans could be such hard work.

OK then, he thought, standing aside. I’m going to do it. I’m going to go in there. Right now. Right RIGHT NOW!

He didn’t move. A creeping paralysis seemed to have set in.

He tried again. OK. OK. Now. NOW I’m really going to do it!…

He remained stock still. His muscles would not play.

MWrrrrrrrrrrrr! he thought. OK, this is it. This time I’ll go. I’ll count to three and then I’ll…

He didn’t even get to one. Curiosity propelled him forward with force. What was it that had he seen? I mean, what WAS that? He found himself racing like a mad thing around the lounge room in a violent figure-eight, his claws pulling at the carpet. Then he stopped, controlled his bizarre energetic outburst (which had made Francine look up), checked his anus to ensure it was still pink, and sauntered to the laundry as if nothing had happened.

There it was.  A short square blue plastic tray on the floor on top of a mat. A thick, even layer of clean kitty litter – the good eco-friendly stuff made from old paper – sat calmly within.

Tufty approached it. His plan was to get close and give it a sniff, but then he thought ‘just do it’ and got straight in.

He stood there, four paws and tail in the litter, looking straight ahead at the wall. Time passed. Nothing happened.

He tried moving about a bit, giving it a bit of a dig. Still nothing happened. Nothing at all. Nothing stirred, no dust motes settled. Apart from a clock ticking in an adjacent room, silence reigned.

Tufty felt like a fool.

He didn’t like that feeling.

Magic Litter Tray, my arse! You’re losing it, big boy! He swore with vehemence to never touch catnip again.

But just as he thought to get out, the granules at his feet started to bubble and glow. Tufty looked up and discovered himself ensconced by a dome of strange flashing light. It had every colour in the rainbow – plus a few more that only cats can see.

Then he felt a great WHOOSH! and his eyes squeezed shut. He was being enfolded and pulled through a long dense tunnel. Finally something went thump, the lights disappeared and everything went quiet.

Tufty snapped his eyes open. Holy fishguts! He wasn’t expecting that! The night before he’d only seen it glow!

He took in his surroundings. What the hell had just happened? Where was he?


Go to next chapter… 

Chapter 2

Oh thank God! Francine relaxed. It was only Tufty. Tufty the Tiger. A large full-of-attitude mongrel ginger cat who lived in Francine’s neighbourhood. He appeared to have been in her bed for some time, forming a warm lumpen shape under the covers. She wondered how he got in.

No one knew how old Tufty was, just that he had been around forever. He didn’t appear to belong to anyone and let himself in and out of the various local establishments at whim. Sometimes he hid and, as Francine learned, if you went out and accidentally trapped him inside, he ripped up your pot-plants and shat in them. Goodness only knew what he did in the less green-thumbed households. Either way, Francine had started leaving a litter tray in the laundry. Which he never used, dammit.

Everyone in the apartment block knew Tufty and Francine had always been envious of his freedom and smug confidence – though he’d certainly never deigned to sleep in her bed before. That she knew of. The local kids insisted he had magical powers.

She absently patted his patchy square head and gave him a nudge. He opened his eyes and stretched and yawned, granting Francine a puff of stale cat breath. He then sat up, pointed a hind leg to the ceiling and proceeded to energetically lick his anus.

Ewwww! Francine pushed him off the bed. Tufty landed on all fours, looked at her disdainfully, then stuck his leg back in the air and continued what he started.

Right, Francine thought, leaving him to it. She’d better get ready for work. She dragged herself out of bed and towards the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Tufty looked up from his business and thought to himself…


Go to next chapter…

Chapter 1

Francine was awake.

She wasn’t sure how – only that a strangled voice at the back of her mind was telling her to take it slowly. Verrrry slowly.

She unglued an eye.

Ouch! Too bright. She closed it again.

OK, how bad was it?

Long seconds ticked by and she lay very still, but there appeared no splitting headache. No unbearable nausea or strange bodily pain. With an unattractive sucking sound, she unpeeled her tongue from her palate. It was dry. Very dry. The word ‘birdcage’ came to mind.

Man, and she wasn’t even going to drink.

But what a night! Results were in on Australia’s Same Sex Marriage Survey and the YES’s had won! Woohoo! She couldn’t be happier for her LGBTQI friends. So, of course she had celebrated. Of course she had! Along with the rest of her proud and now progressive nation. But, with work and stuff the next day, she had decided – originally at least – to drive to the party and stay off the sauce.


Ah, but the champagne was flowing and the people were dancing and, let’s face it, no one knows how to party like the gay community. Love and happiness unleashed with abandon and, after such a long wait, the crowd was glorious with relief.

She chewing-gum opened her other eye. Easy. Eeeeaasy. Wait…

She seemed to be able to move.

Stretching her arm, she reached for the water bottle on her bedside table. She brought the sacred liquid to her lips and drank long and deeply. Ahhhhhh, she then rolled back on the pillows, exhausted.

Time passed but, thanks to the water, she began to collect her faculties and life slowly pixeled into focus. What time was it? How soon could she drink coffee? No. Forget that. How soon could she eat bacon? Mmmmm… bacon…

Uh oh.

It also appeared she was not alone. A mammalian warmth emanated from her left side, along with some soft breathing. Someone was in her bed! OMG! WTF?!

Francine drank more water, steeled herself, then turned her addled head…


Go to next chapter…

About this story

This is a communal Choose Your Own Adventure story.

Each week (or thereabouts) brings an exhilarating new chapter and you are invited to join the outcome.

Simply read, enjoy, then pick an option of where the story should go next.

Voting is completely anonymous, can only be done once, and the results remain hidden. That is, until publication of the next chapter. Then the final percentages will be revealed and, as democratically directed, the story goes on…


The Paddy Postman*


“Right,” I declared self-satisfiedly to Fundy as we packed our bags and prepared to leave Killarney for the next unsuspecting town on our cheap-o bus tour of Ireland. “We’ve got just enough time to get to the shop for some stamps”.

We nodded at each other knowingly. Damn we were organised! We were so organised that we had made time to write postcards early in the trip so that they would arrive home before we did. Tackling the mission while simultaneously sampling Guinness upon our initial arrival in Dublin, we had congratulated ourselves on our savoir faire.  All we had to do now was post them and our work would be done. Parents? – tick! Fundy’s Gran? – tick! Friends in the UK, Australia and beyond? – tick, tick, tick! We ruled the travelling school.

However, surprise surprise, many towns and many Guinness’s later the cards remained unsent.  Time was running out if we were to not beat them back.

“So, if you give them to me, I’ll put them in the box,” I distractedly continued, wrestling an errant shoe-lace. “They might just make it.”

“No, you give them to me and I’ll sort them out,” replied Fundy, looking up from his pack.

“But you’ve got them,” I countered, wondering what he was on about.

“No. I thought you did…..”

“But you…..”

“But no…..”


*Tweet twee-heeet* A distant cricket punctuated the silence as the cogs of our comprehension cranked to a halt. We had left the written postcards in the pub in Dublin, probably tangled up with the Sunday papers. D’Oh!

It didn’t really matter. We consoled ourselves that we would simply pick up some more and send them off and no one need ever know. It was a shame though. Some of the original cards were real classics and we had taken special time to compose messages linking them personally to their recipients.

Having said that, most of the messages were pretty benign. There is only so much you can fit on the back of a postcard, but we had done our best to describe where we were and what we were doing and to ‘wish you were here’ and all that. We had filled each postcard to tender capacity with only one exception: a black and white card of a trench-coated Irishman ‘flashing’ at some sheep. This particular card was intended for our special friend, ‘the King’.

Now, Fundy and the King have been mates for a long time. They also subscribe to the brand of male bonding where the more derogatory the insult the higher the perceived esteem. They basically show their love by creatively offending each other. So, not wanting to break with tradition, on the back of the King’s ‘flasher’ postcard we had simply and eloquently declared:

King is a *something rude*

Doo dah doo dah

King is a *something rude*

Oh doo dah day

We never did find out what happened to those cards. They are lost in time and the ether. That is, apart from the above. To our delight, it arrived in the King’s mailbox about three months later. We laughed and beheld it in awe, wondering which unknown soul had not only found it and posted it, but paid their own hard-earned euro for the stamp.

And somewhere out there a new superhero known to us only as the ‘Paddy Postman’ requires no reward. De-wedging his on-the-outside underpants and checking his stamp gun, he glides onwards, ever onwards, from pillar to post-box, anonymously doing his duty for candour in correspondence everywhere.

Thank you, Paddy Postman. Wherever you are, thank you. And look out friends and relatives – somehow and at some time an outdated Irish postcard may yet arrive for you.


*This is a sample post. This story was originally published by the Herald Sun, May 24, 2009