Cat Wars: The Battle for El Queso

Cat Wars Battle For El Queso pic

“Snack time!” says the Supreme Leader.

“I sense a disturbance in the Force,” says Darth Feline, rising up from his seat on the living room couch. The whiskers of the fearsome calico twitch as he sniffs the air. “Hmmmm … cheese … yummy.”

Darth Feline hops from the couch and dashes toward the kitchen. There, he finds the Supreme Leader making a phone call.

“Let’s re-schedule next week, Mom,” says she, her tall legs nearly tripping over her house pet.

“Meow!” hollers Darth Feline, barely avoiding her foot to his mouth.

“Oh, sorry, Darth!” says the Supreme Leader, reaching down and petting him behind his ears.

Darth Feline enjoys a brief consolation rub, and then the Overlord exits the kitchen.

Alone, the calico sighs. He leaps onto a chair and peers over the tabletop. Unfortunately, he is not alone. His rival, Luke Mousy, stands proudly on a chunk of cheese.

“Paws off, Jedi!” Darth Feline hisses. “I won’t fall for another one of your mind tricks!”

“Of course you will, you always do,” says Luke Mousy, scooping a piece of cheese and popping it into his mouth. “How can you resist? I stand for truth, justice … and delicious morsels!”

“In that case, maybe I’ll enjoy two tasty treats today,” says Darth Feline, drawing his red lightsaber, peering closely at the house mouse. “Fine, let’s do things your way … the hard way.”

”Isn’t there a cheesy way?” says Luke Mousy, drawing his green lightsaber. “I’d love to do it that way!”

“Not for you, squeaky thief!” says Darth Feline, swinging.

Luke Mousy flips off of the chunk of cheese and lands on the tabletop. He slices off one of Darth Feline’s whiskers.

“Ahhhh!” hollers Darth Feline, falling off the chair onto the floor.

The feisty cat and mouse embark on an epic rumble, sending themselves and kitchen appliances to all corners of the galaxy.

At last, Luke Mousy retreats to his rebel base, a hole in the wall. Before he disappears into the darkness, he hears a scream. He turns to see the Supreme Leader looming over Darth Feline, scolding him with a pointy finger.

“What happened in here?” she shouts. “This place is a mess! Why can’t I ever leave you alone with food?”

Darth Feline raises his paws helplessly.

“Meow,” he says.

Luke Mousy grins as he licks a crumb of cheese from his claws.

He loves getting Darth Feline in trouble.

Cat Wars: The Battle of the Milky Way

 

Cat Wars pic 1

In a feline domain far, far away, two rival cats are up to their old tricks.

Jedi Yarny is strutting down the aisle of the mother ship (a.k.a., the living room) when a ball of yarn rolls past him.

“The Force has awakened my favorite knot of red string,” says he with widened eyes. “Maybe I should play with it?”

Jedi Yarny pounces on the ball, and as he wrestles with the string, he hears a loud, “BEEP – BEEP – BEEP …”

“Oh, no, it’s a bomb!” he meows.

“No, sir,” says a Storm Trooper mouse appearing from its hideout behind Mother Snoke’s throne (a.k.a., the couch). “It’s just the tea kettle sounding off. Your milk is ready.”

“Of course,” says Jedi Yarny. He tosses the ball of yarn aside and prances out of the living room with a raised tail.

Inside the kitchen, a bowl of warm milk awaits the Jedi knight kitty along with his nemesis, Sith Purr.

“I hope you enjoy this concoction I asked Mother Snoke to prepare for you,” says Sith Purr with a smirk.

“Hmmmm … looks tasty,” says Jedi Yarny. “How gracious of you — a rare treat.”

“Indeed, Jedi.”

Sith Yarny sips the milk and is quickly overcome with gas.

“What’s this?!” he howls.

“Just some whole milk to throw off your bowels,” says Sith Purr. “Ha, ha, ha! Haven’t you heard? Jedi cats should only drink skim milk.”

“How dare you betray my butt!” hisses Jedi Yarny as he farts his way to the lavatory (a.k.a., litter box). “This Force never ends … ahhh … diarrhea!”

*

A few days later …

Jedi Yarny watches his plan unfold from the rebel’s outpost (a.k.a., the love seat). Sith Purr naps by his side.

Through the window, Jedi Yarny sees the deliveryman arrive.

“Just in time,” says the feline.

Jedi Yarny watches Mother Snoke unpack a scratching post. When she is finished, she returns to her master’s chamber.

Jedi Yarny fumbles through the closet. He adds a secret surprise to his rival’s present.

“Rise and shine, my Sith overlord,” says Jedi Yarny as his nemesis awakens. “The Force bears you a gift.”

“A scratching post, yippie!” says his lordship, tackling the furniture piece. As he tumbles on top, a light dusting of itching powder rises into the air, smothering the Sith kitty.

“Wait … what’s this?!” his lordship yowls, scratching himself silly.

“A little something to remind you who loves you, my friend,” says Jedi Yarny with a grin. “Now, we’re even.”

“More like even … for now!” Sith Purr hisses as he retreats into Mother Snoke’s chamber.

*

Stay tuned for the next episode of Cat Wars, featuring Luke Mousey and Darth Feline in “The Battle of the Cheese.”

 

Cinderella Lies

cinderella.jpeg

Imagine a world where princesses aren’t what they seem, and life is far from a fairy tale.

For example, Cinderella. According to the popular legend, she was a victim of abuse by a cruel stepmother and stepsisters, but what if I told you Cinderella wasn’t mistreated by anyone whom she herself didn’t mistreat?

What if I told you Cinderella never really fell in love with anyone, either, especially a prince?

The truth is, Cinderella only loved herself.

After her mother died, she gladly stepped into her mother’s shoes ordering around the servants.

I was one of them. One day, I dared to ask for a day off.

“My dear Cinderella, I have toiled away for you as long as I remember, preparing your meals, washing your clothes and tending to your needs, even while neglecting the needs of my own children,” I said while painting her nails in the powder room. “My husband cares for my son and daughter as well as he can, but my darlings are growing up fast, you see, and I miss them so … so … so might I spend tomorrow with my family, oh pretty pleeeeeeease?”

“And neglect me?” said Cinderella, blowing her golden fingernails dry. “Oh, poor you, how dreary life must be! Torn between your duties as a servant and impulses as a mother. Let me end your suffering –”

“Thank you!” I said, kissing her hand.

“Don’t thank me yet,” she said, yanking her hand from me. “I’ll be back soon.”

Cinderella withdrew a sack of coins from her safe and left by carriage to town. When she returned, I met her in the foyer.

I stood shocked as she explained that she had arranged with the local magistrate for my children to be thrown into prison.

“Problem solved!” said Cinderella, brushing her hands of the issue. “You never have to worry about those meddlesome ankle-biters again! They will have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, and your husband can live a life of leisure, which I’m sure he deserves, having suffered you and your lot plenty.”

Cinderella chuckled.

“Perhaps now he can marry a woman of standing, like me,” she said, “and you can focus your attention on us.”

My heart filled with anguish; my head, dizziness. I felt like a sack of dirt ready to fall to the floor.

“But … but … such a life, separated from my family, is not why I toil here in this mansion!” I cried. “I toil so that my family and I might have a better life, together. How dare you come between us … you … you … cruel snickerdoodle!”

“How dare you, calling me by my middle name!” said Cinderella with a slap to my face. “It’ll be five lashings and a week in the dungeon for you, miss.”

As sad and lonely as it was, my week in the dungeon was not wasted. I found an old book of spells, and I cast a curse on the horrible princess, which could only be broken with an apology.

The next time Cinderella saw me, she didn’t see a poor servant. Instead, she saw a free woman sitting in her powder room, wearing one of her dresses.

“Oh, my dear Cinderella, wash the curtains, scrub the floors, and then prepare dinner, will you?” I said, blowing my golden fingernails dry. “I’m off to see the magistrate to take care of some family business.”

Cinderella nodded with confusion as I removed a sack of coins from her safe.

I pointed at two female attendants that stood by my side.

“Listen to your stepsisters while I’m gone — and please, stop sharing with them any more fancy stories filled with wishful thinking,” I said. “When I return, I don’t want to hear any nonsense about a prince coming to save you. It’s going to take more than that to get you out of this mess, my dear.”

“Like what?” said Cinderella.

I was astounded that she needed me to explain.

“How about an apology?” I said. “For the way you’ve treated your servants?”

“Just awful,” said one attendant.

“The worst,” said the other.

“An apology?” said Cinderella. “To you? For stealing my life? I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous!”

She stormed off to do her chores.

I gazed at the attendants.

“It’s hard to feel sorry for someone like that, isn’t it?” I said. “However, I do feel sorry for any prince who has the misfortune of meeting her.”

 

The Dark Place: Monsters vs. People

demon boy

Chapter 1

It’s morning and the sun is up. My sister woke me up. Her name is Rose.

“Wake up, wake up!” she said.

“What time is it?” I said.

“It’s time to go to Disneyland … so what are you waiting for?”

I was dressed in a jiff and the first one downstairs for breakfast. Alone in the kitchen, I saw something grinning at me under the table. It looked like a little boy, but with sharps fangs and bloody red skin. In a flash, this demon’s wings expanded, and he flew through the kitchen and out the door …

It was gone!

I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I was too scared.

I wasn’t sure what to think. For breakfast, we had pancakes with maple syrup.

“Dad, do you ever see … monsters?” I said.

“No, Rebecca. Monster are make-believe.”

“Just like Disneyland?” said Rose.

He laughed.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“I’ve seen monsters,” I said.

“Me, too!” said Rose.

Mom rolled her eyes.

“Sure, girls,” she said with a wink. “We’ll let that one slide.”

Dad started collecting the dishes.

“Now on to my kind of make-believe,” he said, “the happiest place on Earth!”

“Yay!” Rose and I said, and we were off to our adventure.

*

Disneyland was awesome! We went on the new ride, Guardians of the Galaxy, which Mom said was her favorite, and Thunder Mountain Railroad, which Dad said was his.

We went on the Haunted Mansion. Rose and I rode together. It was so much fun, and a little spooky.

Toward the end of the ride, we approached a long mirror. All the other riders had ghosts in their carts, but not ours.

There was a red-skinned demon boy curled up between Rose and me.

“Ahhhh!” we screamed.

So was everyone else riding in their carts, they were having so much fun. No one thought the demon we was real, even when he flew away!

“Mom, Dad, you won’t believe what happened!” Rose and I said as we ran off the ride and into their arms.

After hearing our story, Mom said with a frown, “You’re right, we don’t.”

“But, I have to hand it to you girls,” Dad said, “you have quite the imagination. Who’s hungry?”

Rose and I realized there might be more to our story than our parents were willing to admit.

Trouble might be on the way, but we would have to wait to deal with it another day.

After all, who had time for demon boys at Disneyland?

The Creepy Mother

creepymother

(A continuation from The Haunted Halloween)

As Jack and Jane’s mother listened to their trick-or-treating tale in the kitchen, she noticed something staring at them through the window.

It had bloody eyes and sharp knives for teeth.

“Let’s go … get … some … Boba, shall we?” the mother said.

“This is crazy!” Jane said. “You never let us have Boba, or any other sweets.”

“I let you go trick-or-treating, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, and look what good that did us,” Jack said. “We had to escape for our lives from a haunted house.”

“Even so, the night is young, so there’s no reason why we need to be trapped inside here,” the mother said, as she stared at the creature in the window.

She hurried them out the door and into the car.

They drove away.

*

Half an hour later, Jack and Jane and their mother returned home, sipping their Boba. Lucky for them, no sign of the ghost.

“Phew,” the mother whispered to herself as she checked on the kids, in a sugary daze playing on their phones, sipping their drinks on the couch.

Meanwhile, as the mother’s Boba sat by itself on the kitchen counter, waiting to be enjoyed, the ghost crept out of the trash can and inside it.

When the mother returned, she took a big slurp.

“Ewwww, what happened to this?” she said.

Her Boba tasted rotten, so she poured it down the drain, but it was too late. The ghost slipped inside her mouth!

*

Jack was busy playing ‘Zombie Slackers’ on his phone in the living room when he accidentally spilled his Boba on the coffee table.

“Hey, Mom, I had an accident, can you bring me a napkin, please?” he said.

Her first impulse was anger.

“How about you get up and get it yourself, young man?!”

“Sorry, Mom, no can do,” Jack said. “I’ve got too many points in this game to stop right now …”

Suddenly, the mother seemed to be possessed by her anger, or maybe something else. She grabbed a knife and approached her son from behind as he lounged on the couch.

She noticed the puddle of Boba on the coffee table, and it disgusted her to see her son sitting idly next to it.

Jack took his eyes off his phone long enough to notice her glaring at him.

“Not a knife, a napkin,” he said. “Gee, whiz, Mom!”

The mother shook out of her daze.

“Oh, right,” she said. “Silly me!”

She returned to the kitchen. Instead of getting a napkin, however, this time she grabbed a larger knife.

She returned to where her son was seated on the couch. She raised the knife high, ready to strike.

Jane glanced away from her game of ‘Bored Unicorns’ just in time to notice her mother.

“Gosh, Mom, don’t you listen to anything we say?” she said. “Not a knife, a napkin!”

Jack and Jane turned toward her, roused from their stupor.

Perhaps their problem was worse than they thought.

“Is something wrong?” Jack said.

“Wrong? No, not at all!” the mother said, with a strange gleam in her eyes. “I’m just sick and tired of waiting on you two all of the time, and now I’m ready to have this house to myself!”

The mother screamed. She began to chase her children around the house with the knife.

The children laughed, but played along.

Up and down the stairs Jack and Jane went, but the mother was not fast enough to catch them.

Finally, they stood waiting for her at the front door.

“Joke’s not funny anymore, Mom,” Jane said. “Either you stop acting like you’re possessed, or we leave.”

The mother stopped to catch her breath. As she gasped for air, a ghost came out of her mouth.

It had bloody eyes and sharp knives for teeth.

“I’m getting bored chasing you two kids around town,” it said. “I need an easier challenge.”

“So do you, Mom,” Jack said, as he and Jane hugged her tightly. “You work so hard, and I realized while you were running after us with the knife, we haven’t been very grateful or cooperative lately. We’re going to start helping around here more.”

“Yes!” Jane said.

“Thank you, for listening to me,” the mother said. “I’m so lucky to have such great kids.”

“I’m outta here,” said the ghost, floating toward the street. “Sweet talk makes me sick. You people give me the creeps!”

“Happy Halloween to you, too,” Jane said, and she closed the door.

Chapter 4: Uncle Jake’s Visit

 

Doom Clown princess

Jack and Ryan were concerned because Uncle Jake was coming to visit, and they didn’t want Doom Clown to ruin their fun with him.

There was a knock on the door.

“Hey, kids, guess who?”

It was Uncle Jake!

Behind the door, Doom Clown stood with a knife, ready to surprise him.

Jack opened the door, and the two brothers quickly dragged Jake through the living room into their bedroom closet.

“Well, I’m glad to see you guys, too, but you hurt my arm … and how about a hug? And what’s with all the secrecy?”

“Shush!” Jack said. “Sorry about the arm, and here’s a hug.”

Both boys embraced their uncle.

“But we’ve got a problem,” Ryan said. “There’s a homicidal clown running around the house, and we need you to help us stop him!”

At that moment, there was a scream.

Autumn, the boys’ little sister, was in trouble. Or so they thought.

They ran to her bedroom and found Doom Clown, seated at her bureau, screaming like a girl.

Autumn was putting makeup on him, making him look like a princess.

Doom Clown looked pretty. And terrified.

“Now’s our chance!” Jack said. “Go for it, Uncle!”

Jake hesitated.

“Well, this isn’t really my style, but she is kind of cute … hey, lady, are you single?”

“What?” Ryan said. “This ain’t no time for shenanigans … Get him!”

“That’s a HIM?” Jake said.

“Yes, and he’s a maniac!” Jack said. “Stop him!”

“Fat chance, suckers!” Doom Clown said.

He pressed a button on his watch and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

“Oh, no, he escaped!” Ryan said.

“Ha, ha, ha!” Doom Clown said.

But when the smoke cleared, they realized he hadn’t escaped at all.

He was stuck. In the mirror.

“Oh, no!” said Doom Clown. “I must have pressed the wrong button on this darn watch …”

“Lucky us,” Jake said. “Looks like we get the last laugh, after all.”

“Maybe, this time,” said Doom Clown.

The mirror swirled in smoke and his face faded in the darkness.

“But I’ll be back … I’LL BE BACK!”

Chapter 3: The Biggest Regret

biggestregret

A boy named Ryan climbed into the attic, his favorite place. On a shelf, Ryan saw a book called, Doom Clown: The Worst Joker.

“Read me,” said a voice coming from the book.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“If you say ‘Doom Clown’ three times, I will be free and yours to read and make you laugh foreverrrr and everrrr.”

Ryan ran downstairs to his brother Jack’s bedroom to tell him what happened.

Jack said, “I bet that clown’s not very funny. Say his name three times, and let’s see what happens.”

Ryan said, “No, you!”

“Fine, scaredy cat,” Jack said, and he repeated ‘Doom Clown’ three times.

They heard a thump in the attic, and then a scratch on the door.

Jack opened the door, and there was Doom Clown, with a scary smile.

“Thanks, little boys!” he said. “Come closer, and give me a hug!”

Jack and Ryan screamed and ran.

Chapter 2: Doom Clown’s Revenge

clowncopymachine

Doom Clown made copies of himself in the mirror. The copies crossed to Earth trying to find Good Clown.

The copies of Doom Clown asked the kids on the playground, “Have you seen Good Clown?”

“No!”

Finally, a boy named Jamy said, “He’s coming to my classroom today.”

“Ok.”

The Doom Clowns found Good Clown blowing balloon animals for students.

They grabbed him by the collar and said, “Time to die!”

They were going to take Good Clown back to their world, but then one kid in the classroom said, “No!”

Then another.

And another.

All the kids screamed, “We love Good Clown! Leave him alone!”

The copies of Doom Clown vanished from the Earth and disappeared forever.

But if you say ‘Doom Clown’ three times, watch out.

He’ll be back …

Grimhilde Lives

Dragon Witch

As long as Autumn could remember, she feared witches, and none captured her imagination more than Grimhilde, the creepy old lady with dark eyes and long nose featured in the classic Disney film, Snow White.

When Autumn was five, she visited Disneyland and rode an attraction, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, where she first encountered Grimhilde.

For weeks after the ride, Autumn refused to enter a bathroom or closet or any dark space alone, fearing a witch might lurk in the corner. Autumn’s anxiety over Grimhilde took such hold over her that her mother, Lauren, needed to remind Autumn regularly it was all make-believe.

“There are no witches in the world,” Lauren said, “just little girls with active imaginations.”

Autumn wasn’t convinced, however, and only with the distraction of friends and fun that came from kindergarten did she manage to put aside her fear, at least for a while.

On a fine summer day after finishing kindergarten, Autumn returned to Disneyland. In the year since her last visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” she had grown taller, able to ride the park’s roller coasters.

Autumn rode Space Mountain for the first time, thrilled by its speed, loops and turns. After making rounds on other big kid rides, she decided to return to Snow White’s Scary Adventures, ready to confront Grimhilde.

Arriving at the attraction, Autumn clasped her mother’s hand and waited in line for her turn to board the carriage that would bring her face-to-face with the witch. Finally, she stepped into the carriage and curled up next to her mother; the safety bar clamped down on them firmly.

The carriage lurched forward, and Autumn and her mother approached two large doors that swung open. After passing a pleasant, pink room occupied by the Seven Dwarves, the carriage made its way through a mine shaft, littered with glistening green gems, and finally entered a castle through a dark corridor.

The corridor led to a room.

There, Autumn spotted the Evil Queen, who faced the Magic Mirror. Through the mirror’s reflection, Autumn saw the Evil Queen’s stern face, pointy crown and purple robe.

“Magic Mirror on the wall,” the Evil Queen said, “through this disguise … I will fool them all!”

The Evil Queen turned toward Autumn, arms outstretched, transformed into Grimhilde.

“Ahhhhhhhh!” Autumn screamed.

From the witch’s mouth, fire spewed and flames licked Autumn’s face. Autumn clung to her mother, eyes shut, ready to feel her cheeks burn.

But she felt nothing, except fear; then, suddenly, the carriage stopped.

“That’s strange,” Lauren said. “There must be some technical difficulty … I’m sure we’ll be moving again soon.”

Lauren nudged her daughter.

“It’s okay, Autumn,” she said. “Look up.”

Autumn peeked and noticed the witch’s eyes peering into hers, but no flames licked Autumn’s face; that was just her imagination. In fact, the creature that loomed before Autumn was frozen.

“It’s not alive,” Lauren said. “It’s just a machine, see? On standby. There’s nothing to be afraid of, my dear.”

“You were right, Mom!” Autumn said. “Witches are not real!”

Autumn again clung to her mother, this time out of joy. After she hugged Lauren, the ride continued, and so did Autumn’s life.

As the little girl returned to Disneyland from time to time, eventually as a woman with a family of her own, she realized she preferred Space Mountain over Snow White’s Scary Adventures.

Although Autumn knew Grimhilde was not real, witches still frightened her more than roller coasters.

Bob the Mystic Frog

Bob the Frog 2

On the nights Autumn stayed with her father in his apartment, he told her a bedtime story, and then she fell asleep in his bed next to a big stuffed frog, which she called Bob. He had a pink heart.

Later that night, after reading a book or watching a movie, Autumn’s father, Marshall, joined them.

And that’s how it was, for years: Marshall slept on one end of the bed next to Autumn, who slept in the middle of the bed next to Bob, who slept on the other end of the bed.

And while Autumn and her father were close, Autumn and Bob in some ways were closer.

“We share the same dreams,” Autumn said one night as Marshall put her to bed.

“Oh, yeah?” Marshall said. “What do you and Bob dream about?”

“Bob and I dream about a town where everything is made out of rainbows,” Autumn said. “The houses are made out of rainbows. The cars are made out of rainbows. The fridges are made out of rainbows. Even the fruit roll-ups are made out of rainbows.”

“That sounds like a beautiful place,” Marshall said. “Are the people made out of rainbows, too?”

“No, they’re normal,” Autumn said. “Except for Bob. He still looks like a frog.”

“That must be neat, to have a friend that shares your dreams.”

“It is,” Autumn said. “Bob’s really cool. He can read minds. He’s a … mystic!”

“I see,” Marshall said. “Sleep well.”

And the three did, until Chloe started spending the night, too. She not only often joined Autumn and her father for Daddy Day, she sometimes stayed until the next morning.

Autumn remembered the first time. She woke up with her father to one side, as usual, but Chloe was on the other. Bob was nowhere to be seen.

“This is so surprising!” Autumn said, playing with Chloe’s poofy hair.

“Chloe was too tired to drive home last night,” Marshall said. “I thought it would be better if she stayed here.”

“You had a sleepover?” Autumn said.

“Yes, is that all right?” Chloe said.

“Yes, I think that’s a great idea!” Autumn said. “You can sleep over any time.”

Autumn quickly learned, however, that sleeping in bed with her father and Chloe was a little different than it had been with her father and Bob.

There was less room in the bed, because Chloe was larger than Bob. Everybody was squished.

One day, Autumn arrived at her father’s apartment, and it wasn’t only his anymore. It had plants and books and crystals and blankets and spoons. Chloe was moved in.

“Is all of this stuff yours?” Autumn asked Chloe.

“It came from my apartment, but now it’s all of ours,” Chloe said.

“Are you going to marry Chloe?” Autumn asked her father as he put her to bed.

“Someday, probably,” Marshall said.

“Will there be a big wedding, with lots of cupcakes?”

“Big wedding, no. Lots of cupcakes, maybe. But only if you sing.”

“I will sing, Daddy.”

“I hope so,” he said. “Love you, baby.”

That night, Marshall told Autumn a bedtime story about her and Bob’s first adventure leaving the rainbow town. It involved a treasure hunt on a flying carpet for magic cupcakes that gave Autumn and Bob super powers.

It was such an exciting story, Autumn and her mystic friend dreamed about it together all night.

When Autumn woke the next morning, she was sleeping in a new bed.

Just for her.

And Bob.