Cat O' Nine Tales

PROLOGUE ONE: Cairo, Egypt; 1908

My name is not of great importance for I have had several over the course of my nine lives. It has, however, pleased my human associates of this most recent and final life to call me "Cleopatra"; a name to which I respond when it suits me to do so. I suppose the parties who chose my name felt that they had chosen one which might convey a fitting sense of regalness when in fact they had actually associated me with one of the more over-rated rulers of the Great Kingdom. Well, as the humans say, "It is the thought that counts." On the other paw, of course, they are also quite fond of expressing the sentiment that the road through Duat is paved with good intentions.

For all their faults -- and mark my words, they are legion -- humans are quite clever creatures, and I can see why Our Grand Lady, Bastet, had such affection for them. Personally, however, I do not much care for humans. Oh, I have known individuals throughout the course of my lives of whom I have been quite fond; and certainly, when one wants one's back stroked, there is no better creature to turn to than a human being. My main difficulty with human beings is their irritating penchant for engaging in behavior which -- to speak colloquially -- "sounds good at the time," but may have unexpected and/or unfortunate long-term consequences. One might think that a species as clever and imaginative as the human race might use that cleverness and imagination to think things all the way through once in a while. Sadly, this is not the case. Their cleverness and imagination merely expand their capacity for mischief.

It is an incident of this mischief which is the subject of this record.

(Incidently, this device which is capturing my words on a foil spool is a fine example of the aforementioned cleverness of human invention, but I digress.)

In Her wisdom, Our Grand Lady, Bastet, granted me, among my many powers, the ability to sense near-future events. This ability tells me of an approaching disaster which I will be unable to prevent. I sense my own death will occur here in Egypt and will be brought about by the machinations of an ancient enemy.

I have lived and died eight times already, and I do not much fear death. I cannot, however, shake the feeling that my premature death will cause me to leave my duties to Our Grand Lady, Bastet, unfinished. That is something which I do find deeply disturbing. To die before my time is as undesirable to me as it would be to any rational living being, but to dishonor Our Grand Lady, Bastet, in doing so, is unbearable.

There is, of course, a human at the root of this problem. His name is Dr. Marcus West, a professor of archeology at Oxford University where I would have been content to live out my final life quietly reflecting on the wisdom and glory of Our Grand Lady, Bastet. Since his return from an expedition to Egypt two years ago, I have been increasingly of the opinion that Marcus West has been corrupted by an ancient and evil force. These suspicions have led me to follow him here to Egypt, the land of my rapidly approaching demise.

I must determine the nature of the evil that has touched Marcus West and, if I cannot prevent its spread as I fear, hopefully, I will be successful in retarding it. To this end, I will be making contact with a human associate of Dr. West named John Travis. As he is merely human, he will doubtlessly wish to waste valuable time questioning his sanity after I first speak to him. Although I find tampering with another sentient being's perceptions personally offensive, I suspect it will be necessary to telepathically sooth his concerns about being addressed by a talking cat. Perhaps fortune will smile and he will have sufficient imagination to add a being like myself to his world. Either way, time is of the essence.

My voice will survive me on this spool, but I cannot say whether or not that serves any practical purpose. To be truthful, I do not know why I am making this record. I have said nothing that my successor will not already know at birth or easily be able to find out afterwards. I doubt that any human who stumbles across this will know what to make of it at all. Perhaps I have lived among humans too long. Perhaps, like them, I wish to somehow exist beyond my final death and this record is a means to that end. I truly do not know.

O Grand Lady, Bastet: Please grant me the strength and wisdom to face my final hours with the grace and dignity befitting Your chosen one.

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