Broommates: The Cats Meow

Part 10 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

The first thing Kitty remembered when she regained consciousness, oddly enough, was that she’d left some herbs steeping on the stove in the kitchen. She wondered if they’d be ruined or if someone had found them. The second thing she remembered was that someone had blown a handful of dust into her face and it had made her nose itch terribly. It wasn’t until she looked up at the screaming naked girl crouched next to her in the garden that she remembered the most important thing.

Oh dear, she thought, I’ve been turned into a cat.

* * * * *

Anthony made it outside faster, but Parker got the first eyeful by poking his head out the window.

“Hello, gorgeous,” he murmured. The girl looked up at him and hissed, clutching her bare stomach.

Opening the back door slowly, Anthony stepped outside with his hands raised, palms out. “Hi there, miss,” he said. “Are you all right?”

The girl shook her head, frowning. Her skin was black as licorice with hair to match, except for a white patch in the front.

“Can you speak?” he asked. “Tell me what’s wrong?”

“Rrrrong,” she repeated.

Parker appeared in the doorway. “It’s not an illusion, in case you’re wondering. Why don’t we get her inside, give her a blanket or something.”

“She might not even be human,” Anthony said, exasperated.

“I could give her a quick physical if you–”

“No! Why don’t you go get Kitty, she has a knack for this stuff.”

Parker ducked back inside. Meanwhile, Kitty looked up at Anthony and mewed plaintively. He ignored her. She opted for the direct approach and rubbed her head on his leg.

He glanced down. “Go on, cat, no food here.”

Kitty was possessed of a sudden urge to lick her nethers. Not good, she thought. If I stay a cat too long, I’ll be stuck this way. Must figure out who did this and get changed back.

She was used to seeing things differently from other people, but this was a whole new world of colors and smells. Parker’s lingering scent was grease paint and baby powder and breath mints. Anthony was all sweat and smoke and soap, with something underneath, like an old book in a musty church on a cold day. The naked girl, however, reeked of the same magic dust that had hit Kitty–an odd, earthy mix of lightning and cloves.

The aroma was losing some coherence, puffing out like a cloud of smoke, but she could smell a few places where it had concentrated. From there, the trail wound off into the woods at a perfect height for her to follow.

All right, little mouse, she thought. Kitty’s coming for you.

* * * * *

“We’ll do it the hard way, then,” Anthony said when Parker couldn’t find Kitty. “You stay here, I’ll get the materials.”

Parker watched the naked girl shiver. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Haaaarrrt,” she replied, cocking her head to the side.

“Not an English speaker, then.” He reached out a hand and she batted it away with a snarl.

“Right, feral child, maybe?” he mused. “Were-cat? Booker would probably know, too bad he’s at work.”

Anthony returned with an armful of items. “Did you see Kitty left the stove on? I swear that girl would lose her head if it wasn’t attached.”

“Cut her some slack,” Parker snapped. “She’s a precog. It’s like having both halves of your brain working independently, or trying to watch two TV shows at once.”

Anthony grinned, dropping herbs into a mortar and grinding them. “You know it would be a terrible idea to date a roommate.”

“Very funny. You know my type is more tall, blond and busty.”

“Mm, and brain-dead. Pass me that mirror, would you?”

* * * * *

The last wisps of scent led Kitty to the ruins of a stone bridge that must have passed over a river at one time, but now lay in scattered pieces near a tiny slip of a stream. The ground was muddy, every step making her fur bristle with discomfort. It took all her willpower not to stop and bathe, or wander off to chase a bug, or any of a million other enticements that could only end with her stuck as a cat, forever.

Something under the bridge laughed like claws on metal. “I hears ye, little witchling! But ye’ll get naught from me, ye ken, so bugger off!”

Kitty crept forward until she could see around the rocks. Squatting under the bridge was a pale-skinned creature, naked and filthy, shaped like a butternut squash with sticks for arms and legs. Its face was round and fleshy, with a long, flat nose and a wide mouth like a frog’s.

Good day, Master Boggart, Kitty said politely.

“G’on then,” the boggart said. “I’ve enough magic left to have yer hair off, so git.”

Why did you turn me into a cat? Kitty asked, tail twitching.

The creature tapped the side of its nose. “Why indeed. The world be full of mysteries!”

Change me back, if you would, please.

“I’m afraid not, puss. But since ye said please, I’ll tell ye this: ye’ll be yerself in the fullness o’ time, especially if yon mage-men do as they should.”

Thank you… I think.

It cackled again. “Aye, but ye’d best be back with yer curse-mate when it happens or the spell won’t take, and ye’ll both be stuck as ye are!”

Curse-mate? Oh, the girl! Without another word, Kitty raced back toward the house, hoping she would make it before it was too late.

* * * * *

“Fine, she’s human,” Anthony said. “Weird somehow, but human. Let’s get her inside.” The girl eyed him warily as he held out a hand. He tried to touch her, but she persisted in inching away and making a strange humming sound in the back of her throat. This went on for several minutes until he sat back on the ground in frustration.

“Lord, she’s worse than a cat,” Parker muttered. He opened the door to the house and gestured. “Come on, in you go, got some nice milk in the fridge.”

To their amazement, she sauntered inside with surprising grace for someone trying to walk on all fours. Anthony shrugged and stood up, dusting off his jeans.

And then a small, furry bullet shot through the door as well.

“Hey now, I didn’t say to bring friends!” Parker exclaimed.

Anthony frowned. “It’s that calico cat I saw earlier. What’s it–”

Bolts of static shot from the naked girl to the cat, and there was a smell like ozone and peat along with a flash of light. When the afterimage faded, there was still a girl and a cat, but they’d switched places.

“Kitty?” Anthony blinked.

Kitty looked down at the cat. “Houdini!”

Houdini trilled and raced to the corner of the kitchen, where she promptly threw up a hairball.

Parker stared at Kitty until she met his eyes. He blushed and looked away.

“I didn’t know Houdini was a girl,” Anthony said.

“Me either, until later,” Parker muttered. “Wasn’t going to change her name at that point, was I?”

Houdini sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen and began to lick the white spot on her black chest.

“Um, Kitty?” Anthony said.

I’ve forgotten something important again, Kitty thought. I’m sure it will come to me…

“Oh, dear,” she said. “I’m naked, aren’t I?”

* * * * *

Part 11: Rue the Day

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9 Responses to “Broommates: The Cats Meow”

  1. Gracie says:

    Ha, loved it! Glad they got it sorted so quickly. Love cats, but don’t know if I’d want to be one.

    Pacing is great and imagery awesome as always. I love this series. 🙂

  2. John Wiswell says:

    “Oh dear, she thought, I’ve been turned into a cat.”

    Obviously a serial is better when read in order. However, this line is hilarious out of context. My favorite paragraph I’ve read all week.

  3. Marisa Birns says:

    This was just so, so good! Laughed at so many places!

    Great descriptions, included that of Master Boggart. He was quite the funny looking thing, eh?

  4. T.S. Bazelli says:

    I only picked up the serial from this point, but didn’t have a problem getting into the story. I’ll have to go back and start from the beginning now. Hilarious!

  5. Another good installment. Good mysticism and humor throughout.

  6. ganymeder says:

    Loved everything, and I distinctly heard rimshots when I read the final line. Bah taTUM. Great work!

  7. Laura Eno says:

    Love the playfulness in this! Awesome!

  8. Sam says:

    Loved this, but having a soft spot for kitties, and bogarts, I would do, wouldn’t I? I really like the guys’ predictable approach to finding a naked woman in their garden, and the uncomfortableness they feel when it’s all sorted out. Your last line is a killer – I’m still giggling!

  9. Valerie says:

    Thanks all, glad you enjoyed it! Sam, I’m especially glad you think I wrote the guys’ reactions well; the male psyche is sometimes mysterious and I wanted to make it reasonable. It’s not every day that a naked woman shows up at your back door, even in a house like theirs!

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