Thursday, November 8, 2012

Freya's Blue Kittens

The next morning Clem paced around the condo quite uncertain as to what to do about this time-travel thing.  Was it real?  She had brought back a mouse; the yarn lady had touched the mouse, so it had to be real.  Dreams didn’t produce actual physical things.  If Clem followed that logic, then somehow she really was going somewhere, and that somewhere appeared to be back into the past and far, far away from where she lived in New Jersey.  And, darn it, Clem liked getting out of the condo.  It could get boring when all you did was move between the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom, with the occasional foray out to the sunroom and garage.  It was great to be able to watch all the birds out on the lake.  Most indoor cats didn’t have anything like that to watch every day but that wasn’t the same as being outdoors and able to actually chase a bird or catch a mouse.  Clem smiled at the thought of the mouse she had caught yesterday.  What a great experience! 
After the yarn lady had left to take the noisy girl to class and visit some friends Clem clicked on the iPad.  God forbid the yarn lady took it with her, as she sometimes did.  She’d have to try to use the desktop computer, and that one was a lot harder to navigate, what with the monitor, keyboard and mouse all being on separate shelves, two of which slid out from under the monitor shelf.   Clem checked her email and found responses from Rudy and Emma.  She was disappointed to find that none of the other cats had ever experienced the time travel she appeared to be enjoying.  Well, maybe she could fix that.  She copied the link for the website that seemed to send her wherever she was researching and pasted it into an email to the three cat families, and included an explanation of how it worked for her.  She even included a couple of the ideas she’d found that she hadn’t looked into yet, as well as the three she had explored.  Maybe one of them could verify that it occurred by reproducing her results.  That was the hallmark of scientific research, wasn’t it?  Making a hypothesis, testing it out, reporting the results and then seeing if someone else could reproduce them was what science was all about.  Who knows, maybe she could write a monograph about her experiences and have it published in…well, she wasn’t sure what scientific journal would deal with time travel; probably not one of the big ones, but perhaps a smaller one.   She asked the others to try it out and report their results to her.  She really hoped at least one would try it out.  It probably wouldn’t be Tatum, he was too much of a scaredy-cat.  Kid seemed like the devil-may-care type.  She might be up to time-travel adventures. 
Meanwhile, what should she try today?  She’d visited a very specific historical figure and event when she saw the Prophet Mohammed.  She’d tracked down the origin of the Lucky Cat story in Japan, and she had witnessed the kissing of the cat in 16th century England, although she wasn’t positive it was the 16th century.  For that matter, she wasn’t even sure it was England, although they had been speaking with accents that sounded nothing like how the yarn lady and her friends talked. 
Looking down the list she noticed the item about Freya and the blue cats who pulled her golden chariot.  Clementine wasn’t entirely sure, but she thought that Freya was mythological, which meant that she probably hadn’t ever really existed.  Could she go somewhere that wasn’t even in actual history?  A brief series of searches showed that Freya was the Norse goddess of war and love, which Clem thought was an odd combination.  She was the leader of the Valkyries, a bunch of women who decided who would live or die in battles and then carried away the slain warriors.  They didn’t seem to fight on their own, but they did sometimes support the warriors to help them win.  Clem purposely didn’t do much in searching anything specifically about Freya, as if she managed to pop into Freya’s life she wanted to have the experience and then verify if sources had the same information.   She snickered to herself and thought that it was also like reading the book and then seeing the movie.  She wanted to be surprised by her adventure and not just walk through a recreation of something she knew all about. 
Taking a deep breath, Clem clicked on what she now considered her time travel link.  There was a graphic of two large blue-grey cats who were staring out of the monitor at her.  Her glance moved from one to the other, and out of the iPad’s speaker came a voice saying, “The decision to travel to a place that is not firmly anchored in history should not be made lightly, young cat.  Are you sure you wish to proceed?”  Clem took a deep breath and replied that she did.  As soon as the words left her mouth she was surrounded by a dense fog and the temperature dropped so that her breath came out in puffs.  She could no longer feel the bed underneath her…

…and Clem found herself riding in a chariot with a large man who had red hair and a red beard.  He seemed to be struggling to stay awake.  The chariot swerved as his eyes opened and closed, and Clem could hear a lovely soothing song coming from somewhere off to her left.  After a few more swerves and a near miss with a large tree the man stopped the chariot, which Clem noticed was pulled by two huge goats.  This obviously was not Freya, and her knowledge of Norse mythology (or any other mythology) was nil.  The man climbed out and staggered in the direction from which the singing seemed to be coming.  In a sheltered area on the other side of a large rock a very large tomcat sat singing to a pair of blue kittens.  The man leaned on the rock, pointed at the tomcat and demanded that he stop singing. 
The cat pulled himself upright and said in a haughty voice, “Excuse me, but I am trying to get these kittens to sleep.  They have been awake for far too long, and I need my beauty sleep.  You have no idea how hard it is to raise kittens on your own.  My lovely singing had them almost asleep before your loud and offensive outburst. Begone, human.”
The red haired man pulled a large weapon that looked kind of like a hammer out of his belt, brandished it and announced, “Cat, I am no human, I am Thor, son of Odin, and am chief among the gods.  How dare you speak that way to me!” 
The cat replied that he dared speak that was simply because he was a cat, and cats do not acknowledge gods, chief or otherwise.  He then said that if Thor was such a powerful god that perhaps he could find some kind woman who would raise the two kittens, as they really required a woman’s touch to make them into something other than mangy tomcats, which would not be good considering that one was female. 
Thor thought about it, and told the cat about his daughter, Freya, who was the goddess of love.  Who could be better to raise these kittens?  The cat thought about it for a moment and replied that she might just do, but that these kittens were quite unique, being blue and they deserved an especially fine home. Would Thor please describe Freya’s childrearing philosophy?  Thor’s response was a thunderous yell about the cat’s insolence.  Freya was a goddess, no further references or authentification was necessary.  The tomcat jumped into the air, transformed into a bird and flew away, leaving Thor and the two crying blue kittens. 
Finding they had been abandoned the kittens began to cry even louder.  Although Thor could not understand them, Clementine could.  They were saying, “I want my mommy, I want my mommy” over and over.  The poor little things were lonely and now even the tomcat had flown away.  She jumped out of the chariot and walked over to them.  Maybe they would be able to see her.  As she neared them she realized that although kittens, they were larger than she was.  Everything was on a larger scale here – the chariot, Thor, the tomcat, even the kittens.  All were huge compared to Clementine.  She began to sing a silly song to them that she remembered her mother singing to her when they were in the animal shelter.  It was about hushing and birds and diamonds and all sorts of other things.  It was soothing and repetitive and the kittens perked up their heads as she began to sing, but didn’t stop crying. 
Thor, meanwhile stood there wringing his hands, wondering what he should do.  He had offered to take the kittens to his daughter, so he supposed he should do that.  The tomcat might not come back, and it would not reflect well on him if he left and the kittens starved, but they were crying so loud it hurt his ears.  Well, the cat had been trying to sing them to sleep, he would do the same thing.  Thor launched into one of the few songs he could remember.  It had to do with the strength of warriors and how many enemies they could kill in one sweep of their weapons.  It described the blood and the screaming of the battle, and it horrified the kittens.  They scrambled over each other to get as far away as they could from the large man who couldn’t carry a tune and sang about dreadful things, ending up pressed into the side of the large rock.  Clementine ran and stood between them and Thor, telling the kittens that she would protect them.  
It was comical to think of a single cat, particularly such a small one, protecting kittens from a god, but the kittens accepted her words and huddled together behind her.  Although Thor couldn’t see Clem, he did seem to get the idea that his singing wasn’t helping.  He gestured with his hands, holding them palm out and told the kittens that he hadn’t meant to scare them and that he would take them to Freya.  Clem told the kittens it was okay and to calm down so the man could take them to a lady who had lots of food and nice places to sleep.  She remembered from her own kittenhood that simple words and short sentences would more likely be understood by upset kittens.  They gradually quieted, although one kept mewling almost silently, “I want my mommy, I want my mommy”.  Clem vowed to stick close to that one if she could. 
Thor slowly eased towards the kittens with tiny steps (for him).  The kittens stared at him with wide eyes and even the mewling one became silent, probably in fear.  He scooped up one kitten in each hand and carefully walked back in the direction of his chariot.  Clem ran alongside, easily keeping up with his slow, careful steps.  When they reached the chariot, Thor put the two kittens on his seat while he arranged a fur robe to make a bit of a nest.  Clem jumped up into the chariot as he placed the two kittens into the folds of the robe.  She snuggled down between the two and resumed singing her silly song. 
If Clem had any doubts as to whether she was in the real world and just sometime far back in history, in a few moments those doubts were gone.  Thor called to the goats pulling the chariot, flicked the reins and the goats and chariot rose into the air and flew rather than taking the roadway.  It was a lot smoother ride than it had been before they stopped, but to see trees rushing alongside as they gained altitude was terrifying.  The kittens didn’t find anything to be scared about, and demanded that she keep singing, so Clem distracted herself and them with the song. 
Mercifully, the way to Freya’s by air was much shorter than it would have been by land.  Within a few minutes Thor commanded the goats to land the chariot, and it bumped down in front of a large wooden structure.  Thor bellowed, “Freya, come out here, I’ve brought you a gift.”  The kittens and Clementine cowered as the sound of his voice echoed off the building and around the valley.  That man had a very healthy set of lungs. 
A lovely blond woman appeared in the doorway, dressed in flowing robes.  “Papa, how many times have I told you to come in or knock on the door.  When you yell like that you scare all the birds and animals for miles around.  Now what do you have for me?”  She looked into the chariot and saw the blue kittens in the fur robe.  “Are these your gift?  Oh, they are so beautiful, and a matched pair!”  She scooped up the kittens, who nestled into her chest, purring happily.  “Thank you, Papa.” 
Thor told her how he had been given the kittens and about the tomcat, who might or might not come back for them.  Freya bristled at that and told Thor that the cat would have to tangle with her if he came back.  Clementine followed them all into Freya’s home and watched as she made a nest for the large blue kittens and settled them into it.  As soon as she put them down they began to cry and tried to climb out.  Clem jumped into the nest and the kittens butted her with their heads, which knocked poor Clem this way and that.  Finally they settled down with her in the middle, almost buried in blue kitten fur and Clem told them stories to keep them amused until they fell asleep. 
Freya and Thor sat at a table near the fireplace and discussed what would be done with the kittens.  Thor declared that if she would just raise them he would be happy to take them off her hands when they were full grown, as they would make marvelous guard beasts for his lands.  Shaking her head, Freya replied that she wanted to keep them.  If they were as large as adults as they were as kittens she wanted to teach them to pull her chariot.  Every other one of the gods had exotic animals to pull their chariots, and she had mere horses.  With blue cats pulling her chariot, she would be the envy of the rest of the Valkyries and most of the other gods.  Thor grimaced, thinking that two huge blue cats were a lot more impressive than his goats, even if they were magnificent creatures. 
As soon as Clem heard Freya’s declaration about the cats pulling her chariot she prepared herself, figuring that she’d quickly be transported back home, but minutes and then hours passed.  The kittens woke up and Freya fed them meats that had been cooked into much.  Clem snuck a bit of their food, the kittens didn’t seem to mind.  The kittens were shown a sand tray that they could use for a bathroom and Freya found some items the kittens could use as toys.  There were several balls of yarn, which made Clem chuckle, except for their size (they were as large as Clem’s head).   Freya also tied together a number of ropes in a huge tangle for the kittens to play with.  They seemed to like that one the best.  They played tug of war with it, one on each of the long pieces.  Freya would swoop in and pick up a third end and both the kittens would be lifted off the ground a few inches, squirming and growling.  Clem watched from their nest, wondering when she would get to go home.  She remembered what the cat on the website had said to her.  The decision to go to a place not firmly anchored in history should not be made lightly.  Did that mean she’d be stuck here forever?  Might she never see the yarn lady and her lovely house again?  Clem certainly hoped not.  At bedtime, she was still with the goddess and the blue kittens.  They were happy to share their bed with her, and pestered her until she told them another bedtime story.  She decided to tell them about Kid and Lemuel the turkey, figuring that no matter how long the kittens stayed awake she’d have something to tell them about.  Although they were mesmerized by the story, the kittens fell asleep long before the turkeys were saved.  Clem felt her eyes getting heavy and surrendered to sleep.  She just hoped she would wake up in her own bed.  


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