Tom Quartz, like most cats, is very good at climbing. His nails dig deep into the wood. He scales the side of the tree and hauls himself up onto one particularly solid, sturdy branch. From there, the tom cat jumps up higher, and higher, and higher, until he’s able to see the flat surface of the big building’s roof.
There’s a door leading into a small room. The door is blocked open with a bright blue flip flop, wedged between the door and the wall, stopping it from closing all the way. A young man is stretched out on the ceiling, white lab coat folded under his head in place of a pillow.
“I can go through that door,” says Tom Quartz. He thinks about Slipper, way down below, and tries to figure out how he can get her up here quick enough. “There’s no telling when he’s going to get up and go back in there. If I go down to get her, and then have to come all the way back up here, we might miss our chance.”
Tom Quartz flicks his tail in irritation. He digs his claws into the branch, tail lashing behind him. This is an important part of their mission, of that there is no doubt. The thought of messing it up because he doesn’t want to go in there alone is scary.
“It’s okay,” he says, drawing in a deep breath. “You’ve got this. Slipper’s will understand. She wants this done more than anyone.”
“You found it, found it, found it!” The bird lands on the branch just above Tom Quartz. She clacks her beak together and ruffles her wing feathers. The quills click clack together. “What a smart cat, smart cat, smart cat.”
“You! You called us friends, right?”
“I’m your friend, your friend, your friend.”
Tom Quartz tilts his head back, nearly toppling over sideways in his attempt to look at the bird. He asks, “can you go down and tell my friend that I’ll be back soon? This won’t take me long at all, and I promise to be careful.”
The bird lets out a human sounding laugh. “You’ll be careful, you’ll be careful, you’ll be careful! I can tell her that, little cat, if you will do your friend a favor, do your friend a favor, do your friend a favor.”
“Anything,” says Tom Quartz.
The bird says, “get me a cracker from in there. The people are being very stingy, very stingy, very stingy. They don’t want the kids to feed me anymore and I need a snack, snack, snack!”
Tom Quartz laughs. He’s relieved that the favor sounds like a simple task. “Alright,” he says, turning and starting towards the end of his branch. The tom cat gives a neat hop, landing on the ceiling of the big building. “I’ll get you some crackers, and I’ll bring them back up here. You just make sure to tell Slippers that I’ll be back out as soon as I can. I have a tiger cub to save!”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author