Note: After an adventure has run its course, I collect the posts together so readers don’t have to jump around the blog to re-read the story. Originally this spanned a month’s time, posting each Thursday and continuing according to how readers voted in the comments. The comments you see at the end now are therefore what readers voted on the first post in this story. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy.
After our last adventure, I wanted to go with a lighter story. So for this month, you get to be a cat =)
Let’s jump in with all four paws.
The earth of the garden smells damp amidst the pungent fragrances of roses, azaleas, and late blooming camellias. Dirt presses between the pads of your paws as you pass between the bushes.
It’s not your job to patrol the perimeter. That job technically falls to Titus and Titan, two thirty pound, outdoor toms who would swat your nose if they found you wandering their track. But they have all the sensitivity of a chattering squirrel and for the task ahead, you can’t trust their thick heads not to drop mice carcasses on your little girl’s pillow.
They did that once, so you sprinkled bird seed from the shed all around the perimeter wall in retribution, drawing the annoying squirrels by the dozens until your girl’s father threatened to replace the toms if they couldn’t do their job well enough. Titus and Titan slept for a week after clearing away all the rodents once the seed dissipated.
But now you’ve got more on your mind than the toms and their squirrel problems. Something snuck into your girl’s room last night and rearranged her shoes, leaving behind the faint scent of dirty feet—not your girl’s—and the smudging from toad slime. As far as you can tell, they took nothing, but the afront to your territory and your girl’s space cannot go unanswered.
The garden’s full of toads, so the slime isn’t totally helpful unless you can find prints or some other evidence of where the intruder’s picked up the slime. The dirty feet odor, however, gives you something to work with. Even now, the faint residue of it haunts your nose and makes your whiskers shudder.
There’s the whisper of familiar movement ahead. You duck into a thick azalea and crouch down, trusting your dark fur to blend into the dim interior of the bush.
A moment later, two large orange felines race past in a headlong rush toward something unknown. They’re mangy beasts with dirty fur but they’re also thick with muscle from being well fed, active hunters. As they fly by, one skids to a halt, kicking up clumps of the damp earth in the path. His nose flares as he scents the air.
“Titus,” the other calls from farther down the path. “Let’s go.”
Your muscles tense as Titus continues to sniff around, his nose searching.
“Titus!” the call comes again.
“That housecat,” Titus grumbles, “has been here.”
The second tabby re-appears. He scents the air as well and then shrugs. “Not here now. Let’s go.”
You relax when they turn and disappear. Bless Titan. Titus is a tenacious beast, but Titan only cares as long as he can see you in his territory. He takes his guard duties seriously and, to him, you’re only a distraction most of the time.
You wait a little longer, just in case Titus is playing a game and waiting, just unseen, farther down the path. Between the two, he’s the more dangerous hunter. But nothing stirs and you finally feel comfortable emerging from the azalea.
A light breeze ruffles your fur and you freeze. There’s a distinct odor. You sniff, much like Titus, with your nose high in the air.
Spinning on your haunches, you head back the same way Titus and Titan went until the odor leads you down a small side path that opens up into a crepe myrtle grove. The top of the trees are just starting to sprout new leaves from being trimmed in the fall and the grove is flooded with afternoon sunlight.
A new sound raises your hackles in a ridge before you realize it. You leap, hit the smooth bark of a myrtle, and scramble up into the new growth just as something waddles its way into the sunlight below.
“Not good. Not good leather,” the creature grunts to himself. His voice reminds you of the pet pig your girl tried to keep for awhile. It would root around in the dirt, snorting to itself. This thing’s voice sounds like that.
Your eyes narrow. The thing looks like a squat, round little human dressed in an orange shirt with blue overalls. It’s no bigger than you are! The breeze brushes your whiskers again and you about gag. Dirty feet, uck!
“Not good, not good,” the thing grunts again while it chews on something. As it comes closer, a growl rumbles low in your chest.
You were wrong. The intruder did take something from your girl’s room. It’s gnawing on the leather of one of her boots, having already warn a hole in the toe with its stubby teeth.
“Not good!” It huffs, grabs a rock, and throws it against a tree with enough force that the rock gouges out a chunk of the bark where it hits. With a satisfied grunt, it returns to chewing and heading down the path.
You refrain from pouncing on the thing. After seeing the tree’s damage, that might not be the best move. After numerous altercations with Titan and Titus, you’re more than use to winning bouts off of wits instead of brawn.
Maybe you should involve the two toms. They’re capable of taking the intruder out, but then, they’re also likely to shred the thing and that wouldn’t answer why it took your girl’s boot.
You could also follow the thing. That might give you other ways to take care of the creature and answer the why.
Involve the Toms?
Follow the Intruder?
Garden Mischief – Follow the Intruder
“Not good, not good,” the strange creature grunts as he moves away down the path, still gnawing on the toe of your girl’s boot. The shoe is beyond saving at this point. A low growl grows in your chest and you drop out of the foliage of the myrtle to follow the creature.
He ambles along, chewing and grumbling, until he finally disappears behind the tool shed at the far corner of the garden.
You slink around the corner and come nose-to-nose with the thing, who is still chewing on the boot.
It’s dark eyes grow huge and it swings the boot across your face. You duck but not fast enough to avoid the sole, which slams against your nose with enough force to tumble you sideways. You fetch up against the wooden wall of the shed, blinking furiously to clear your eyes from the blur of impact.
Your sight clears just in time to realize the boot thief isn’t alone. A dozen similar creatures now stand around him, all dressed in bright clothing and holding any number of weird implements. One holds a small hoe, another a rake, and yet another seems to be hugging a familiar pink shirt.
Your fur spikes along your spin and you spit a hiss. When one creature thrusts a hoe at you, you swat it aside and rake claws down its arm, tearing the sleeve of its purple shirt to shreds but cringing as your claws hit hard skin. It feels like digging into rock. The thing draws back, holding up its arm in surprise and you see your claws left tiny white scratches down its forearm.
Another creature darts in and you twist, smacking both hind paws into its chest to drive it away. At this, they all share a glance. Your stomach sinks. Although no words are spoken, you catch their silent communication. A second before they all dog-pile on you, you jump straight into the air, catching the edge of the shed roof and narrowly avoiding getting buried.
Just before you haul yourself up and over the roof to escape, something latches onto your scruff so tightly that a wheeze escapes your throat.
“What, eh? What have we here?”
You’re swung around and brought nose-to-nose with a bald, broad faced creature that’s bigger than the others. His breath reeks of onions from the garden next to the house and you swallow. It’s a mini-troll. You’ve heard the toms grousing about them thieving the onions before.
“Ahh,” the troll breaths against your face as he eyes you. “A spy?”
“A spy, a spy.” The group collected around the troll’s feet grunt out a chorus as they climb over each other to get a better look at you.
“A wh-what!?” you about gag at the onslaught of onion breath but you manage to stutter your objection. “I’m not the one stealing from my girl’s room!”
The troll chuckles. “House cat. You’d make soft slippers.”
You snort, swatting his blunt nose. “I’m too small for slippers.”
Your swat barely registers beyond making him blink. He “hums” as he rubs his chin. Suddenly he has the audacity to grab your four paws in one hand and flip you over. The next thing you know, he’s got a thick rubber band around your ankles, hog-tying you upside-down.
“Too small,” he grumbles.
“Too small, too small,” the smaller creatures echo.
He hands you off to four of his minions, who harrumph under your weight. “Shed,” he orders, “I need think time.”
They haul you around the shed and into the dark interior where they hang you, still upside-down, from one of the wooden rafters. Then, using the rope over the rafter, they haul you up until you’re even with the top shelf of the shed.
“Slippers,” you hear the troll grumbling outside. “I’d dearly love slippers.”
“Small, too small,” grunts a second voice.
You hear a smack and then a snotty huff. “I know,” says the troll.
A moment later, the original creature you followed ambles into the shed still chewing on the boot. He’s now moved from the toe to the instep leather. He stares up at you curiously.
You spit at him, which only succeeds in making you swing and bumps you into the shelf. Something shifts and thuds and you hear a hissing sound.
The creature pauses to watch the bird seed you knocked over cascade onto the shed floor. It sniffs and then returns to chewing leather.
“Want slippers,” the troll continues to grumble outside.
Boots and slippers. Does the troll have a thing for footwear?
A couple ideas start to glimmer in your head, both of which would divide the troll’s group.
One idea would involve boasting about the “perfect” slippers for him back at the house. If you play it right, he’ll send you with his minions to retrieve them since they obviously failed once already to find what he wanted, which would give you the chance to expose them.
The second option would be more tricky because it would draw in the toms but wouldn’t involved the house and your girl. It involves getting bird seed onto all the minions.
Boast about Slippers?
Use the Bird Seed?
Garden Mischief – Use the Bird Seed
You wait, watching the boot chewing minion until he huffs, glances at the spilled bird seed, and wanders away. Not long after, a group wanders in and collects shovels off the wall to clean up.
You hold in a grin and wait until all of them are focused on their work. Then you swing hard, bumping the shelf and knocking over a few more bags of seed onto the workers. It cascades onto them in a torrent, pulling muffled grunts of surprise from the group.
Seed slides over their shoulders, flowing into the collar of their shirts and the gaping openings of their pockets until they’re almost buried. Even if they dust themselves off, they’ll smell like bird feeders.
“Oops,” you mutter.
They don’t hear you as they climb their way out of the mountain of seed, grumbling the whole time.
“Hey,” the troll growls from outside, “pipe down.”
They quiet to a dull mutter but you still catch their mocking, “Pipe down,” as they grumble. You watch as they finish up, shoveling seed into an empty bucket, and then they wander away.
It grows quiet in the shed and your paws start to go numb. You realize the problem with your plan is that it could take far too long for your liking. Sunset passes, highlighting the walls of the shed through the cracked door, and then darkness sets in and you’re still hanging upside down.
Finally, you heard the faint whisper of paws and a shadow passes by the door. Then two shapes slip inside and the low rumble of laughter reaches your ears just before the scent of the toms.
You knew the smell of seed would draw them. Ever since you scattered it for the squirrels, they investigate spilled seed like it’s poison.
“Should have known we’d find you. Got yourself into a bind,” Titus taunts.
“Wouldn’t be a problem if you kept the property free of intruders,” you grumble back.
“The gnomes? The girl placed them two weeks ago in her flower garden. They’re not our problem.”
What? But then why would they steal from her? “Did she also place the ugly mini-troll?”
Silence greets you. In the quiet, there’s a snick and you realize too late one of the toms sliced the rope holding you upside down. You twist, trying to flip over, but only make it halfway before you smack against the dirt with an umph.
Titus snorts. “Can’t even land on your feet. Not sure you qualify as a cat.”
You hiss. “You try landing straight with a rubber band around your paws.”
A grunt startles you and the toms. Your hackles go up despite the fact that you’re lying on your side with a rubber band still binding your paws.In the doorway stands the gnome that originally stole your girl’s boot. He’s only got a chunk of leather now, but he’s studiously gnawing away while he watches the three of you.
Titan huffs and relaxes, his hackles smoothing out. “It’s only—”
The door swings fully open, revealing a hulking shape backlit by the moon. The gnome gives a squeak and darts past the toms to escape the feet of the troll as he steps inside.The troll chuckles.
“New slippers trapped in a corner.” He grins, his eyes shinning at the orange toms.
They hiss and spit. Titus darts in, dodges a swipe of the troll’s thick hand, and slashes his long claws across the troll’s Achilles.
The troll snorts and kicks, barely noticing the scratches from the tom as his toes smack into Titus’ side and sends him sailing into the shed’s wall.
Titan howls and launches himself at the troll.
You don’t see if he lands because the gnome steps into your line of sight, still chewing on his piece of leather, but there’s a look in his large eyes you’ve never seen before. He glances over his shoulder, then takes a step closer to you, glances and steps, glances and steps, until he’s right in front of you.
Uncertainty starts to raise your hackles. You don’t know whether to hiss or try inching away but you don’t like being so helpless with your paws still tied.
The gnome pulls a small pair of clippers from his overalls.
A growl builds in your throat.
The gnome glances over his shoulder again. Then his hand darts out and snips the rubber band. Just as quickly, the clippers disappear back into his overalls and he waddles away, gnawing at the leather and grunting.
Stuck on the floor with numb paws, you have a moment to see the predicament of the toms.
The troll’s blunt fingers are wrapped around Titan’s neck. Titus still lays slumped on the floor against the shed wall, unmoving. Titan’s claws scrape against the troll’s forearm but he’s not inflicting enough damage to force the troll to let go.
Since Titan’s claws are having no effect, you scramble to figure out the troll’s weakness.
Tingles of sensation shoot through your paws, letting you know you’ll be able to move momentarily. The rope’s not far away and it occurs to you that the troll might not be too stable on his feet. You might be able to trip him, giving Titan the chance to escape. The only other idea that comes to you is going for the troll’s eyes. He’s so focused on Titan, he might not realize you’re after him until you’re wrapped around his bald head.
Trip the Troll?
Attach the Troll’s Eyes?
Garden Mischief – Trip the Troll
Although your paws are still tingling, you know it’s now or never as Titan’s motions become weaker and weaker. He kicks his hind legs, trying to claw at the troll’s forearm, but at this point he’s not connecting.
With a grunt, you roll to your feet and dart for the rope where Titus cut it. It tastes of dirt and moss when you bite it, but you ignore your involuntary shudder and dash between the troll’s callused heels. He snorts, feeling your fur brush his skin, and takes a step, giving you more space between his feet. You run a figure eight, twinning the rope around and around each foot while the troll hunches over in an effort to see you.
He growls and tries to step just as you run out of length on the rope. It pulls taught, ripping the musty rope out of your teeth. It’s enough, however, to bring him to his knees with a heavy thud.
Titan swings in his grasp and your heart clenches, seeing his limp form. The troll still hasn’t let go! You look around, desperately trying to find something else to use against him.
Your eyes land on the full bucket of seed. You jump for it a moment before the troll swipes a heavy hand at your tail. The thump of his fist hitting the ground makes you cringe but he misses actually catching you.
Landing in the seed, you spin until your backside is facing the troll. Your skin crawls at having your back to him, but you know from the litter box that your kick is more powerful this way.
Just as the troll tracks you to the bucket, you start kicking seed at him, flinging it into his eyes. Both his hands fly up to protect his face and you see Titan fall from his hand, hitting the floor in a limp pile.
Come on, get up you crazy tom! You silently beg him, all the while flinging seed at the troll who is now swinging blindly in an effort to catch you.
A familiar gnome slides into your sight. His back is tight against the wall as he shuffles sideways toward the slumped feline. For once, he isn’t gnawing on a piece of leather. Instead, he’s hauling the end of a garden hose along by clutching it to his chest with both hands. The effort to pull the hose is enough that you pick up a faint grunt every time he slides his feet.
The gnome reaches Titan and gives a garbled holler out into the night beyond the shed. Then he braces himself, holding the hose toward the tom. A moment later, the hose bucks slightly in his hands and a torrent of water hits Titan. The feline screeches, jumping straight up into the air.
You’re so focused on the gnome and Titan that you hit the bottom of the seed bucket and scratch your claws into the wood before you realize what’s happening. You hear a dark chuckle as you run out of seed.
You bunch your muscles and jump, only to be swatted out of the air a second later. The wall of shovels rushes at you and you try to catch yourself on a nearby shelf but your claws catch the edge and scratch right past before you hit the wall with a thud. Pain radiates through your back hip as you slide to the ground.
There’s a roar behind you, galvanizing you to keep moving
You push to your feet only to have more pain flash through your hind leg. A whimper escapes as you drag yourself toward the opening of the door. You pause to catch a breath before attempting another step.
You don’t make it more than a few inches but surprisingly the troll hasn’t swatted at you again. You pause, mud squishing between your paws, and realize the shed’s quiet other than the trickle of water still running from the hose.
When you turn to asses things, it takes a moment to understand what you’re looking at. The large lump on the floor looks to be the troll. His large eyes shimmer with rage in the dim light but there’s a length of dirty cloth shoved into his mouth and he can’t voice his anger.
His arms are pinned to his sides by the garden hose and his ankles are still held together by the rope you spun in a figure eight.
Across his large form, you spot the glittering eyes of Titan and Titus. Both look like drowned rats but satisfaction shows in the smirk on their faces.
When Titus sees you looking at them, the smirk fades some. “Guess we can’t take all the glory,” he grumbles.
The gnome grunts his agreement. “Get girl, get girl,” he mutters, pointing at your back leg and shuffling out of the shed.
It’s then you see your hind leg doesn’t look right. The two toms join you where you lay against the shed wall, guarding you from the troll while you wait for the gnome to return with your girl.
Titus leans toward you while you all watch the beast. “You look like a swamp rat,” he teases.
You snort. “And you looked like a drowned rat.”
“Mud ball,” he returns.
“Rain spout,” you respond.
You lay in the sun on the front porch with your casted leg stretched out beside you. It’s awkward, but the cast should come off soon enough. You ignore the indignity in the mean time.
A gnome wanders by chewing on a piece of pine bark. He carries a small rake in his hand and pauses to clean up the mulch escaping from one of the flower beds, then he continues on.
A sound makes you swivel your head to find Titan and Titus on the railing behind you. Titan jumps down and wanders over. He takes a moment to clean a paw before he comments, “Did you know there’s a junk yard a few blocks north of here? Apparently the owner has recently taken a liking to using mini-trolls to help him keep the place clean. Who knew?”
Then, without waiting for a response, the tom stretches and wanders away. You rest your chin on your paws and smile, satisfied that your girl found a good solution to your troll problem.
Yay, you survived with your dignity – kind of – intact! Thank you for joining this adventure. We’ll return next week to start a whole new one =)