‘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…