…it’s gonna stink.
The house was in a unique moment of quiet. The Hubs was at work. The cats were nowhere to be seen—I assumed they were in their pre-wet food conference meeting, deciding whether 3:30 was close enough to 5:00 wet food time to start howling that it was close enough to wet food time.
The television was off.
Pandora wasn’t shuffling through my very limited selection of good-vibe acapella tunes.
There was no clicking of keys. (Don’t judge. Not every waking spare moment can be spent in front of a screen.)
I was, full-on, sitting on the couch in what the Hubs would call a “Nothing Box.” He has a Nothing Box that he visits frequently—like once an hour or so. I only find this elusive location once a month—if that. I like to know what my brain is doing, not let it go dormant because who knows at this point if it will reboot or not.
This was a rare, rare moment for me. I was a little buzzed over day-job drama (Client checks Oxford Comma in their instruction brief. Edit their website content to contain Oxfords. They hate that extra comma and why did I do that? All day like this. And someone plagiarized then didn’t understand why they were fired. Don’t plagiarize, people. Be unique.)
I was “clearing out” that mess to prepare to face the manuscript in progress. Nothing. Nothing at all going on in the brain.
Then I heard “it.”
Then Malachi heard “it.” He left the pre-conference meeting early, ticking Amara all the way off. (Amara, we believe, sprung fully formed from the being that birthed her. She had no kittenhood, skipped all that silliness, and leveled straight up to Feline Deity—notice her position above the others...)
She came stomping into the living room. Looks at me, looking at the ceiling. Looks at Malachi looking at the ceiling.
Then she bushes out at “it.” All the way out (that piloerection thing that stands hairs on end in moments of terror or surprise. I, too, may have piloerected a bit that afternoon). “It” was scratching, making its way from where the chimney brick meets the ceiling and along the edge of the living room. Oh, how I hoped “it” was outside the house. Perhaps a branch skittering across the roof—the tree near the house likes to shed.
Or an angry crow dragging a rabid squirrel behind him across the valley of the roof, the squirrel grabbing onto the gutters yelling, “But I have a family…”
After extracting all my brain from the nothing box, I realized Stella Marie hadn’t shown up for this new emergency meeting that definitely couldn’t be handled with an email.
Brain mostly back online now, my heart sank. Occasionally, I won’t get a kitchen cabinet shut all the way (I’m always in a hurry to get out of that room). And occasionally, Stella will “cabinet surf” all through the dark corridors under the sink. To make matters more complicated, we learned from another cat long ago that there’s wall access behind one of those cabinets. That cat remained in the wall for two days before he decided we were relatively safe people to be around.
Unless I was cooking, then he ran away.
I couldn’t find Stella. Anywhere. She was in none of her spots—bathing on top of the heat vent, sunning herself on the bed, curled up on top of the bookcase. Nowhere.
I checked the cabinet doors; one was slightly ajar under the sink. I just knew Stella had crawled in there, scaled the walls, and leveled up from cabinet surfing to attic luge.
“Stella Marie, come get a treat!”
I shook the treat bag, certain I’d hear her scamper or at least cry out.
Malachi thought, "Hot dog! Appetizers."
Amara, still poofed, turned her nose up at the Backyard Barbeque, requesting the chef send out Salmon Birthday Bash instead since it would go better with the Tuna Gravy Feast she was sure I’d feed them at five o’clock.
I got on my hands and knees, head in the cabinet under the kitchen sink calling for Stella when Stella came from behind me, loved against my arm, and stuck her head in the cabinet with me to see what we were looking for.
Though I was stoked that none of the cats were in the attic, that did mean SOMETHING was still happening overhead.
A large “it.”
Like a cat-sized rat or an angry crow dragging that family-man squirrel over the rafters.
Large enough that if it dies up there or gives birth, it’s gonna stink.
The three cats called another meeting—which is the group shot you see above. (From left to right: Stella Marie, Malachi Maxwell, and Amara Mino.) Check their faces. Each one with the exact same expression. They are not begging for food here. Begging food requires those black, inky eye puddles, lots of excited leg hugs, and Amara trilling and chirping.
Nope. This is a full-blown meeting of the minds to determine how we, as a mixed species group, will:
- Catch and release the thing in the attic.
- Kill the thing in the attic (but not eat it, because only barbarians eat their kills — sophisticated predators present their kills to their human roommates, usually in the bed or a beloved shoe).
- Cohabitate with the thing in the attic and any resulting offspring.
- Shore up the attic so things can’t get in there in the first place.
- Determine the best time for wet food going forward because waiting twelve hours between meals is unacceptable.
I tried to give my input for this meeting, but as you can see, they remained unimpressed with my suggestions.
I was promptly dismissed to return to my office and commence writing words while they continued the meeting without me.
Fine. Be that way.
I’m in an oddball stretch with my current manuscript. I’m ready to kill off characters. Characters that cannot die in this book, or there’d be no book.
And it’s not in the plot for any of them to give birth, so I can’t change things up that way.
Basically, if anyone dies or gives birth, the whole thing will stink.
I called the kitties into the office. Little Miss Muse joined in via conference call as she had a date/mental health appointment with the Sultan who lives in our freezer. (Grab a copy of Life All Over Again—available in ebook now and paperback soon. It was quite the to-do around here as the freezer escapades escalated into that glorious revelation. A Sultan. In my freezer. A muse who doubles as a psychotherapist to other muses. It’s a whole thing… Seriously, check out Life All Over Again and save me from these shameless acts of self-promotion.)
We needed a brainstorming session where we, as a mixed species group, determine:
- How we move forward with the manuscript when something is stomping around in the attic.
- How we remain focused on the manuscript when the felines keep demanding it’s always wet food time.
- How we produce new words when the Muse is galivanting about with frozen Sultans and the kitties are planning on where to place the dead carcass of “it.”
- How the plot could be straightened out with the right ratio of purple muse glitter, White Chocolate Reece’s, and Fancy Feast Salmon Pate.
I blame this conundrum on that Nothing Box. I can’t remember what happened in that box before “it” happened, but my brain certainly did not reboot properly, and now Little Miss Muse and the cats have completely taken over the household.
The scratching above my head is getting louder, escalating into a thumping that no field mouse could ever pull off unless he and ten dozen of his closest friends learned how to river dance.
I’ve got to go and fix this — before it dies or gives birth.