Specifically, the VIP wheelie bin store where meetings are held every Monday night, attended by the Stealthy Six: Felix, Tom, Missy, Cinnamon, Bamboo and Tiger. In The Postal Code Cats, Olivia Templeton’s story in Cat Tales, the anthology drawn from last year’s Book a Break short story competition, we’re given the rare privilege of sitting in on one such meeting ourselves.
Conversation passes clockwise and each cat has the chance to deliver what they know. ‘Cinnamon, how is Donkey, the pug, over on Puddle Lane?’ Felix asks.
‘Fine, Felix. He’s growing at the right speed and is learning how to behave at last.’ Cinnamon marks a pause. ‘That’s the good news. The bad is that Mr. Laurie, next door to Rover, no longer has Periwinkle the budgie. I’m unsure as yet what the circumstances are, but Periwinkle, I’m afraid, is no more.’
Felix emits a sigh of dismay. The loss of Periwinkle is sad indeed. They became good mates not long ago following a most unfortunate lapse on the tabby’s part, when Periwinkle almost ended up as dead meat. It was understandable in a way—the budgie would clearly make a most succulent dinner. But Felix, in the nick of time, remembered that as a pet, Periwinkle was off limits. He apologised profusely, Periwinkle forgave him and a friendship was created. ‘Do you have cause to suspect Mr. Laurie of negligence? Or worse?’
‘I don’t think so. But as you know, his wife wasn’t keen on Periwinkle. Quite jealous, in fact.’
‘Hmm… Continue to monitor them and if anything is suspicious, do what you have to so future pets are protected,’ Felix advises. Cinnamon appears unsure what exactly that might involve, but murmurs of agreement are heard from the group, so he nods and says nothing.
Felix turns a steely gaze upon the older Siamese sibling. ‘Bamboo? No new pets in the neighbourhood, I assume?’
Apart from being a delightful story, The Postal Code Cats made me think. For some years now, I’ve been ruling the streets of Taunton with an iron paw. Irreproachable as my rule has been, I do understand that some might grumble at what they see (quite unjustly) as an autocratic streak in my nature. My imminent departure is thus an opportunity to set up a council along the same lines as the Stealthy Six. In fact, six is an excellent number. Any more and they’re likely to squabble; any fewer and they wouldn’t be up to the job of replacing me.
Hopefully, they’ll have time to adjust to their new situation before an emergency arises. Because I doubt if Tiberius and Octavius, to whom I shall entrust the task of forming the council, will be able straightaway to solve a crisis of the sort that faces the Stealthy Six at the end of Olivia’s story. What crisis, you ask? Ah, a good try! But you should know by now you won’t get the answer from me! All is revealed in Cat Tales, where you can discover what terrible disaster the Stealthy Six must deal with. And at the same time, you’ll be helping to make the world a better place. Thank you!
The proceeds from Cat Tales go to two charities, Cats Protection and the Against Malaria Foundation. So please don’t hesitate to spread the word (reblog, twitter, faceboook, sandwich board, Times Square illumination – all and any means are welcome) and help us raise all we can.
In a special promotion deal, the price of Cat Tales is just $1.99 for the whole month of April. Available as a PDF (or epub / mobi) complete with colour illustrations directly from this site* by clicking the button below. Also available in print (black & white, $9.50).
*Buying from this site results in $1.61 after the PayPal commission, as opposed to just $0.70 when buying from Amazon. An insecticide treated mosquito net, which protects on average 2 people for 3 to 4 years, costs $2.50. PLUS, if you buy from this site, you’ll get a personal message of thanks from Curtis along with a short story of his own (in which Nibbles the cat, I’m sorry to say, comes to a rather unfortunate end).