A Cat's Coup

Shyshy, a collarless Calico living in a small New England town during the year 1903, lives a comfortable life as the loyal pet of local librarian Peter Croft. During the day, she lays about at home reading all the books her human's house has to offer. At night, she attends meetings with the other house cats to listen to the wise words of the council and welcome the newly "Collared". When she discovers the plot of a coup against the matriarch, Felicity, she must seek help from fellow house cat Commodore and a pair of alley cats named Dex and Pigeon. Can they prevent the coup? And if not, will it mean a war between the house cats and alley cats?

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1. Christmas Eve, 1902

Peter stood outside the office, pacing anxiously throughout the waiting room. How much longer did they need to be in there? Was Cheyenne all right? What was wrong with her?

Questions raced through his head, causing him to pace even faster as he recalled that morning's events. They had been eating breakfast together like every other day when his beautiful wife had complained of an ache in her chest and that she was going to lay back down. He had left the house at 10 to work at the library he had opened after moving to the states from England. However, at 2 in the afternoon, he received a startling call from his neighbor. Apparently Cheyenne's pain had worsened and she called the doctor, who insisted he take her to his office for surgery.

Now he paced, waiting for the news that his beloved wife was all right. Outside, the sky began to darken and snow started to fall. His thoughts then traveled back to a small green box beneath the Christmas tree in their living room. Inside was something he had made for Cheyenne. Being a bit of a craftsman, he thought he'd make something for his wife that Christmas. It had taken him a month to save up enough money to buy the materials he needed. He had bought some green velvet ribbon (her favorite color), a clasp set, and a beautiful heart pendant. And then, while Cheyenne slept, he sneaked downstairs to use her sewing machine to attach the clasps to the ribbon. He had then slipped the pendant on to create a beautiful choker.


He had been so excited about it that he had even pondered giving it to her a day early. He knew she had gotten him something, however it wasn't under the tree quite yet. She had taken to hiding his present until Christmas Eve, due to him trying to peek.

Suddenly, the door opened to reveal a very upset looking nurse. Peter froze, hoping against hope that she was here for one of the other patients.

"Mr. Croft," she said softly, "the doctor will see you now."

The man didn't move, "Where's Cheyenne?"

"P-Please follow me, sir."

Falling into a knowing silence, Peter didn't even notice his legs beginning to move until he found himself standing in the doorway to Dr. Edward Thompson's office. The elderly man sat at his desk, head in his hands and shoulders shaking.

"Doctor," he turned as the nurse stood aside to allow Peter to enter, "Mr. Croft is here, sir."

"Thank you, Lizzie," he said wearily, "please call the next patient back to the examination room."

The moment the nurse was gone, Edward motioned for his guest to take a seat. Peter obeyed, searching desperately for any sign of hope on the doctor's face.

"Peter," he began slowly, "I'm very...very sorry. Cheyenne suffered from appendicitis. Her appendix burst and sent infectious fluids throughout her abdomen."

Noticing how pale the husband became, Edward fell silent. Reaching into a drawer, he pulled out some scotch and a single glass. Filling it up, he offered it to Peter.

"S-She's dead?"

The question tore through the doctor's heart like a hot knife. Instead of answering, he put the bottle away and set the cup on his desk. He then sat back down and waited for Peter to react.

"D-Did she suffer?"

"No," he answered, his heart lifting slightly when Peter became relieved, "we gave her morphine to take away the pain. She didn't feel a thing."

"That's good," the blonde haired man nodded, running his fingers through his thick mustache, "thank you, Ed. Thank you for trying your best."

The doctor nodded and placed a comforting hand on the newly widowed man's shoulder, "Do you want to see her?"

Shaking his head, Peter reached over to grab the cup of scotch, "No. I want my last memory of her to have been from this morning," he took a long swig and stared out the window at the small flurries that continued to give the earth a thin white coat, "beautiful, smiling, laughing, and alive."

Edward nodded again, "That's a good memory to have. Should I have someone walk you home?"

"No thanks, Ed," he placed the cup on the desk and got up to leave, "I'll be fine. Have a Merry Christmas."

"You too, Pete."

 

After closing the door to the hospital behind him, Peter finally allowed some tears to drip from his eyes. He then began the short walk back to his house three blocks away.

His beautiful Cheyenne was dead, and now he was all alone. His small house seemed so big and empty to him now. He would never again awaken to the sound of her laughter. He'd never feel the softness of her skin as he held her close. He'd never taste the delicacy of her tender lips against his own when they shared a warm, loving kiss. Glancing up, he could see his house as well as the delivery wagon in front of it. Wiping away his tears, he approached the man pulling a large box from the back.

"Excuse me sir," he called out, grabbing the driver's attention, "can I help you?"

"Yeah," the younger gentleman nodded, glancing at the name on the package, "I'm looking for a Peter Croft."

"That's me," he said, holding out his hands and taking the package, "thank you."

"Careful sir," the driver instructed, "that box is very fragile."

"Oh...thank you."

Tipping his hat, the driver climbed back into his wagon and snapped his horse into motion, "Have a Merry Christmas, Mr. Croft!"

"You too!"

As the carriage disappeared from sight, Peter glanced down at the box. It was fairly light, and it's weight seemed to shift from one corner to the next. Confused, he brought the package inside the house and set it beside the tree. Turning on a lamp, he noticed a letter attached to the top of the box. Opening it, he felt the tears beginning to fall once again as he recognized the flawless handwriting.

To my dearest Peter

All my love,

Cheyenne

Giving a heavy sigh, he set the letter aside and pulled at the box. As the cardboard ripped away, he heard a small sound coming from within. He paused, listening closely.

"Mew."

Blinking in surprise, he gently pulled what remained of the lid away to reveal a small kitten. She was a black, orange, and white calico with glittering blue eyes.


"Hello there, little one," he said, giving a small sniff, "you must be freezing. Come here."

The kitten didn't move as he reached in and picked her up. Holding her close to his chest, he sat down beside the fireplace. The cat purred as she yawned and revealed a set of beautiful teeth and a long pink tongue.

"My," Peter chuckled, "you're certainly a pretty little girl, aren't you?"

The kitten mewed in response, still purring. And as Peter sat there stroking her back, he smiled. For months, he told Cheyenne that he had been eyeing a certain kitten in the town's pet store window, and how he wanted to save up to buy her so that his wife wouldn't spend the days alone in the house while he was at work. This couldn't have been the same kitten, could it? Lifting her up, Peter gazed intently into her eyes. Yes, indeed this was the very kitten he had told his beloved wife about.

"Looks like you'll be keeping me company instead, eh little one," he whispered, drawing her close again and listening to her tiny heart steadily drum within her chest, "I suppose I'll have to think of a name for you."

Only one name kept repeating in Peter's head, one beautifully haunting name.

"Cheyenne," he said, yet the kitten ignored him, "hey, Cheyenne? Cheyenne? Shyshy?"

The kitten's head snapped in his direction. The name sounded right, somehow.

"Shyshy," he nodded, "all right then. Let's see about getting you something to eat, shall we?"

Putting the kitten on the floor, he began to walk towards the kitchen; giggling a little when a tiny mew followed him. Opening a cabinet, he pulled out a small bowl and filled it with milk from the fridge. Shyshy sat on her hindquarters, her front paws hanging delicately in the air.

Peter triedto give her a stern look, but couldn't help smiling, "Now Shyshy, it's not proper for a young lady to beg," the kitten tilted her head slightly before easing down onto all fours, "there's a good girl."

After setting the bowl in front of her, Peter grabbed the newspaper from the table and sat down to read it. Opening it, he found himself in the obituary section. His breath caught in his throat; Cheyenne would be featured there tomorrow. He'd have to call home to her parents, as well as his own.

"Meow."

Glancing down, he chuckled as he watched a now full Shyshy roll onto her back and expose her belly to him, purring contently.

"All done?"

Picking up the bowl, he set it in the sink and proceeded to wash it. Shyshy sat beside his leg, watching him with fascinated curiosity. After drying the dish and putting it back in the cupboard, Peter turned and led the way towards the bedroom. Pausing in the doorway, Shyshy ignored her owner as he readied himself for bed. Instead, she took in the cheery cream colored wallpaper and beautiful white curtains. The large bed was made with thick, hand sewn quilts and fluffy pillows.

Groaning made her realize that Peter had shut off the light and was now crawling into bed. Not wanting to spend the night on the carpeted floor, the kitten attempted to join him. Digging her tiny claws into the quilts, she mewed in surprise as she slipped. Giving herself a quick wash behind the ears, she sat down and began to meow. Since he wasn't asleep yet, Peter had no problems reaching down and picking her up. The kitten, purring contently, walked over to Cheyenne's pillow and curled up on it. And as the pair fell asleep, smiles on their faces, they could easily see that this Christmas would be the start of many wonderful ones to come.

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