Lockely works as a travel consultant, but when he gets a call from a werekitten insisting they need the help of a ‘travel agent’ things get very surreal.
The Werekitten Travel Agency
It was a slow day at work. Again. Lockely didn’t always mind this. It gave him time to pursue his creative interests while waiting between calls. Plus, working from home meant he was comfortable. Sitting in his home office he was wearing a simple hoodie, PJ bottoms, glasses and his headset over his blonde hair. He was currently in the middle of trying to figure out a better word to use for the color orange when the phone beeped indicating he had a new call. So much for writing that novel.
“Thank you for calling Horizon Travels, this is Lockely speaking. Is this for a new or existing reservation?” He said the same line he had said a million times.
“Ok, so you really are a travel agent?” The voice on the other line sounded young, extremely so. Far too young to actually be making any purchases of their own. But, there were occasionally people that sounded younger than they were. Lockely didn’t want to make assumptions.
“Well, travel consultant, but the term everyone uses is agent. Why?” Lockely spoke in what he hoped was a neutral, non-sarcastic tone.
“Great! Perfect!” The voice got excited. “We needed a traveler! How much do you charge, and do you need us to pick you up or do you come to us?” The voice asked.
“I’m sorry what?” Lockely revoked his earlier unwillingness to make assumptions. This was just a little kid.
“Yeah we’re trying to get some place hard to get, so thought I’d try hiring a travel agent.” The childish voice continued.
“Um… How old are you?” Lockely asked. “And do your parents know you’re on the phone.”
“Six and a half.” The voice replied smugly. “And I don’t have any parents. Well, I mean logically I have to have parents. I mean I came from somewhere. I didn’t just spawn from the chaos of the universe. At least I don’t think I did. You know, that’s technically not impossible, and would explain a lot of things and why I can’t remember things beyond a certain point. But I also feel like just spawning from chaos and entropy tends to be the type of thing that gets a book written about you talking about things mortals are not meant to know and it’s really annoying how they all read the same. Gee, I wonder if this next guy will be referred to as a god and if every man who meets him goes mad? Oh what do you know. He is. What a twist. Just like the last thirty.”
It was at this point that Lockely was just staring blankly at his computer screen. He wasn’t even seeing what was in front of him. Right now, he was just at a loss for words with no idea how to respond to any of this. In fact, he was pretty sure he dissociated for a bit and missed part of the conversation because by the time he was listening again the voice had clearly moved on beyond the previous statements.
“And that was how we put him in jail, and despite everyone seeing him no one went mad. I mean it only makes sense.” The voice was excited as ever. “If you all can draw pictures of him and make plushies and sell merchandise then I think you can look at him without going mad. Honestly, I think the entire ‘knowledge mankind was not meant to know’ thing was a scam to raise money and…” The voice paused realizing Lockely hadn’t replied in a while. “Are you still there?”
“Y-yes.” Lockely spoke slowly. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t sell any packages to children. You’ll need an adult. It’s basic legal stuff.”
“It’s fine. I’m a kitten, most laws don’t work the same way for me as they do for you.” He replied. “Plus I promise the trip itself will be worth it in addition to your pay.”
“I.. Just… What?” Lockely had no idea which of these things to reply to first.
“So will you take the job? And if so do I need to come pick you up?” The kitten asked.
“Okay, there seem to be a number of miscommunications here.” Lockely took a deep breath. “Travel agents don’t travel. They sell vacation packages to other people. Arrange plane flights, help find hotels, that type of thing.”
“That’s dumb.” The kitten replied. “Why are you called a travel agent if you don’t travel?”
“Because I help other people travel.” Lockely could not believe he was arguing with a kitten. Erm, a kid claiming to be a kitten.
“Yeah but then wouldn’t that make you a Traveler Helper Agent? I mean that would make more sense.” The kitten insisted. “The title ‘Travel Agent’ inherently implies that you are an agent who travels.”
“No… It really doesn’t… Like I said it’s actually cons–” Was all Lockely managed to say.
“Come on, you have to travel! It’s in the title! You can’t really expect me to believe that a Travel Agent never travels ever can you?” The kitten was not letting this topic go.
“I mean… I guess I get one free ticket a year?” That was the best Lockely could reply. “So I could travel if I wanted, but I never really get the chance to use it.”
“So you’re a travel agent that doesn’t travel.” After the kitten spoke there was a very long pause. Lockely could hear him talking to someone else in the background, but couldn’t make out the words. “Yeah, so turns out if you don’t travel you might not be qualified for the job.”
“Well as I tried to tell you, it’s not my job to travel.” Lockely replied.
“But you can travel, right?” The kitten asked. “And don’t you think you should be doing that?”
“Well…” Lockely thought about it. A vacation would be nice, and there were plenty of places in the world he’d like to see. “Maybe it’d be nice.”
“Hmmm.” The kitten sounded unsure. “You don’t have any real experience so may not be that helpful… But you’ll never get that experience if someone doesn’t hire you. Alright! You’ve got me! You’ve made the sale!”
“I’m sorry what?” Was all Lockely could reply with.
“Now do I come to you or do you come to me?” The kitten asked.
“I don’t… I mean…” Lockely was just at a loss at this point. “Who are you?”
“Oh! I never gave a name, that was rude. Most people call me Calex.” The kitten explained. “And you know what I’ll come to you, it’ll be faster. I’m able to find your location a lot faster using Box Technology that you could find me. I’ll be there in a minute tops.” And with that the line went dead.
“Well okay then.” Lockely leaned back in his chair and switched his phone over to After Call Work, he needed a second to recover from what was certainly the oddest call he ever had. It beat getting screamed at by customers who didn’t comprehend that you couldn’t refund their non-refundable ticket, or book them on a flight that was already in the air. If nothing else it would make for an amusing story to tell friends about later. And so Lockely put this weird incident behind him, confident it was completely over.
For about 45 seconds.
Suddenly, a cardboard box in the corner of Lockey’s officer began to shake. He hadn’t remembered leaving a box in here, but it must have been from when he got something in the mail. Regardless, it shouldn’t be shaking. Yet the thing wobbled, wavered then fell onto its side as the lid came open. Then a small orange kitten came bounding out of the box full speed. He didn’t have time to stop before noticing that the office was rather small, and so he was running straight at a wall. Though he likely became aware of said wall when he crashed into it head first and fell backwards onto his back.
“W-what!?” Lockley got up from his seat. Why was there a cat in his house? And it just crashed into a wall. Was it okay? Did he need to find a vet? He rushed to check on the kitten and see if it was still breathing.
“Ugggh.” A very familiar voice came from the kitten. It rolled over onto its stomach, then slowly stood up on two legs. “Should have known better than to take the expressway. When they say no stops they mean no stops.”
“Wait… You… are you Calex?” Lockely replied. “From on the phone?”
“Yeah, I thought that was pretty clear.” Calex nodded eagerly. “I told you I was coming.” He began to walk around the room, occasionally jumping on a piece of furniture from time to time to look around. “This is a Travel Agent’s office? Not what I expected. I figured you’d have like a wall covered in weapons, another with maps, and then a bunch of treasures from your travels on display.” He paused. “Oh right you haven’t traveled yet.”
“A talking cat.” Was all Lockely managed to say. “You’re a talking cat.”
“Technically I’m a talking kitten.” Calex gave him a sarcastic look.
“But… Cats don’t talk!” Lockely protested.
“Uh huh…” Calex stared at him. “Funny story, cats say the same thing about humans all the time. Say you just make these incoherent screaming noises.”
“But talking cats don’t exist!” Lockely managed to interject.
“Um… That’s a little rude. Telling me I don’t existence.” The kitten crossed his arms, or forelegs? Lockely wasn’t sure. Either way he stuck his tongue out at Lockely. “I’m obviously here, so I obviously exist.”
“Nope.” Lockely shook his head. “I’m hallucinating, or more likely this is a dream. Yeah, gotta be a dream, or maybe it’s carbon monoxide?” Lockely was doing his best to find logic for an illogical situation.
“Seriously?” The kitten jumped back down to the floor and walked towards Lockely. He wasn’t even knee high to him. As he got closer, he gestured a paw for Lockely to lean down. When Lockely did so, the kitten very abruptly slapped him upside the head with a paw.
“OW!” Lockely fell backwards onto his rear, his headset pulled off by the short cable. “What was that for?”
“Just proving you’re awake.” Calex explained. “Now, I don’t suppose we can get things moving along. We really want to get going, and now we finally have a Travel Agent to guide us.”
“I keep telling you-“ Lockely paused. “What do you mean we?”
“Oh yeah, my friend is back on the other side of the box. He’s making sure no one moves the exit till we come back. It can get a little complicated traveling by box. One time, I came out only to find I was for some reason in some old historic museum in New Mexico. Someone had picked up and used the box to mail something. Talk about rude.” He sighed. “But it is what it is.”
“I have… So many questions.” Lockely had no choice. He had to accept this was really happening. Which meant that magic talking kittens who pop out of boxes in your office were real. What else did that imply? He suddenly wondered if the monsters living under kids beds, or alien abductions, or mythical beasts were real. Wait, hadn’t the kitten mentioned something that sounded suspiciously like old gods–
“Well come on let’s get going!” The kitten dropped to all fours and started to crawl into the box. It was barely big enough for him to fit inside.
“Hang on, I never said I was going anywhere.” Lockely tried to protest.
“But you said you get one free ticket!” Calex chirped happily. “And we need a Travel Agent’s help. So come on, help us out.”
“I suppose… I could really use a vacation.” If nothing else Lockely needed to take a few days off to process the fact that everything he knew about reality might be wrong. “I guess I could check flight schedules, if you have a destination, I can probably find one leaving sometime this week.”
“Planes are cool and all, but we’re kind of in a hurry.” Calex looked back from inside the box. “I think it’d be faster just to travel by box. Follow me.” Then he seemed to vanish as he disappeared deeper into the box than should have been possible.
“Um…” Lockely got down on his hands and knees and looked at the box. He could maybe squeeze his head in, probably not. There was no way he was getting through.
“Hey what’s the hold up?” The kitten came running back through the box. “Come on! Aren’t you excited to get going?”
“Despite what laws of physics have apparently been broken, I need to point out that there is no way I can fit through that box.” Lockely sat back leaning his shoulders against the wall.
“I see your problem, but you can fit. You just need a little help.” Calex came back out from the box and walked in a circle around Lockely. “I can get you through no problem.”
“Heh, now that’s a trick I’d like to see.” Lockely laughed.
“Wish granted!” Calex replied and suddenly bit Lockely’s hand.
“Ow!” Lockely pulled his hand back. “What was that for?”
“So you’ll fit.” Calex responded matter of factly. “But we need a full moon and it’s kind of daylight and hey! You have a computer! Perfect!” He jumped up onto Lockely’s desk and began to move the mouse around and paw at the keyboard.
“Hey be careful! You’ll break something!” Lockely quickly got back to his feet to run to his desk. When he did, he found the kitten hadn’t done any damage. He had just pulled up a web browser and done an image search for ‘full moon.’ Now there were a bunch of pictures of the moon on Lockely’s screen. Some of them were actual photographs while others were drawings or cartoons. Lockely would have commented, but his eyes locked onto one of the photographs of a glowing white moon and he lost his train of thought. He suddenly felt very strange. It was like all of his senses had suddenly been heightened and were on full alert.
And then Lockely lost sight of the computer monitor. It took him a moment to process that the top of his desk was flying away from him. He reached up a hand to grab it only to pause when he saw it was a paw instead. While distracted by this, the PJ bottoms fell down around his ankles and his hoodie collapsed on top of him. Lockely flailed about unsure of what was going on. He lost his glasses somewhere inside the hoodie, as they did not fit onto his new feline muzzle. He continued to stumble around and eventually tumbled out from his now way too large clothes. Of course, he was hardly recognizable now. After all, he was now a small orange speckled kitten.
“What… I just…” Lockely tried to stand up. He could still stand on two legs. He seemed to be like Calex, where his body was built for two or four. But his vision was rather blurry, he couldn’t see much of what was going on without his glasses. He looked down at himself seeing the blurry image of a fur covered body, then over his back and saw what he was pretty sure was a tail. “I don’t feel so good…” Lockely muttered. The sudden change in species combined with no longer being able to see straight was making him queasy.
“Huh what’s wrong?” Calex asked, genuine concern in his voice.
“My glasses. I can’t see… Everything is…” Lockely fell back onto his bottom.
“I see… So that’s the problem.” The kitten looked thoughtful. “Okay I can fix that! If I hold your paw can you follow me and we’ll get you your glasses.”
“I… Guess?” Lockely saw the image of a kitten holding out a paw. It took him a few attempts to reach out and grab it with his own. Then he was being pulled towards the cardboard box in the corner. They had to drop to all fours to fit into it, though Calex did his best to stand by Lockely and keep a hold on one of his forelegs, using only three legs to walk so they wouldn’t get separated.
On the other side of the box was a brightly lit area, and Lockely was aware of stepping off of cardboard and onto grass He blinked, trying to make things out and could make out vague shapes but it was giving him a headache to try to focus.
“This the Travel Agent?” A brown blurry figure asked.
“Yeah, but we got a bit of a situation.” Calex replied. “Keep an eye on him. I need to get him a new pair of glasses.” With that the kitten was bounding off on all fours.
“Wait!” Lockely tried to shout after him. “You don’t even know my prescription.”
“It’ll be fine. He knows what he’s doing.” The brown blur spoke.
Over fifteen minutes passed before Calex returned. His search had been successful, for he carried a small pair of kitten sized glasses in his paws. He very carefully walked up to Lockely and pressed the glasses into his hand-paw.
“I appreciate you trying but without my exact prescription.” Lockely put the tiny glasses on and froze as he realized they were perfect. He could see just as well as with his normal glasses. “How… How did you figure out the right type of glasses?”
“Kitten Market.” Was the only explanation Calex gave.
“I see…” And Lockely was able to see indeed! Now that he could make out his surroundings, he could see he was in a very bizarre place. They were all outside in a sunny flower filled meadow. However, there were towers and walls of cardboard boxes all around making the place almost resemble a series of forts and cities, just all built out of various shaped boxes. Then he looked to the source of the other voice he had heard earlier. Now able to make out the brown shape he saw it was another kitten. This one was standing on its hind legs with a hopeful grin as it looked back at Lockely. His fur and tail were a bit fluffier than Calex’s, and was uniform brown vs Calex’s orange.
“Lockely – Zeelo, Zeelo – Lockely.” Calex introduced the two. “He’s our Travel Agent! Honestly, he had a weird sales hard-to-get tactic but it reeled me in. Now we should be able to go wherever we want.”
“Could I just have a minute?” There was so much to process. Lockely was apparently in some kind of alternate universe that consisted of flowers and boxes now. He was talking to two kittens who kept alternating between walking on two and four legs. Then… He could see clearly now! He looked over his own body again. He was a kitten as well, orange like Calex, but not quite the same shade. There were also black speckles over parts of his fur and his tail ended in a much lighter almost cream color. He was really a kitten and…
And he was not wearing a stitch off clothing.
“Um…” Lockely suddenly felt very self-conscious. “I don’t suppose wherever you got the glasses from also sells kitten sized clothing? He tried his best to avoid meeting anyone’s gaze.
“You’re a little high maintenance huh?” Calex looked at him. “Well I guess this is your first time. Alright, give me a few minutes.” He dropped to all fours and ran along the way leaving Lockely alone with Zeelo again.
“Wait… I’m a kitten!” As the strangeness finally fully comprehended what had happened.
“Yeah thought that was pretty obvious.” Zeelo giggled.
“But I mean… I’m not a kitten! I’m a human! How am I supposed to go to work like this? Or do anything? I can’t even reach the doorknobs in my houses now.” Lockely was seeing several future problems in his life from his sudden transformation.
“Ah yes doorknobs are tricky.” Zeelo nodded. “But you could just always not go back to your human life if you think it’s too much trouble.”
“I might not have a choice!” Lockely pointed out. “I’m kind of already a kitten! I’m not going to be able to pass for a human again.”
“I mean you could just reverse the change.” Zeelo shrugged. “Nothing says you have to stay a werekitten. But I can’t say I’d understand why you’d choose human over it.”
“Wait… So this is temporary?” That gave Lockely a small amount of relief.
“It is as temporary or as permanent as you want it to be.” Zeelo grinned. “It’s a very accommodating curse.”
“I… See…” Lockely was slowly calming down. He could change back. At least, as long as Zeelo was telling the truth. He couldn’t think of any reason the other kitten might want to lie to him, but he also wasn’t sure what to make of this situation in general. At no point had either one seemed to lie to him yet, nor had they seemed to act with any malice. Perhaps, a bit too presumptuous in what he wanted or was trying to say, but they seemed well meaning. Then again, folklore was full of all kinds of tricksters that would try to make you believe they were on your side. Maybe these two had kidnapped him and now he was going to be stuck as a kitten forever! Of course random bits of folklore weren’t the best thing to make guesses off of, but as Lockely had only just learned about the existence of magic and interdimensional cardboard worlds, he didn’t have a lot of relevant knowledge to pull from.
“I got it!” Calex came bounding back on all fours again a long garment clutched between his teeth. As he got closer, Lockely could see it was a scarf. “Sorry it took me so long, had a really hard time trying to figure out what you’d like.”
“Calex, this is just a scarf.” Lockely stated bluntly, though he took it nonetheless.
“Yes and?” Calex tilted his head as if he didn’t understand.
“Well…” Lockely looker over both kittens. Both of them were naked head to toe. And why not? They were kittens. Even if they could walk on two legs their body shape wasn’t much different from a normal cat’s. This was completely normal to them. They probably had no concept of human modesty whatsoever. “Uh, thanks.” Lockely wrapped the scarf around his neck. He supposed when in Rome, do as the kittens do.
Wow he hated himself for making that joke.
Either way, he was just going to be glad that he could see properly now. And the scarf was rather nice. He’d just try not to think about the other thing too much. He was a kitten too. Once he stopped thinking about it he was sure it’d stop bothering him.
“So what exactly happens now?” Lockely asked as he looked between the two kittens.
“Well you’re the Travel Agent.” Calex replied. “I was kind of hoping that you would know.”
“He probably does need the details.” Zeelo pointed out. Zeelo and Calex had a lot in common personality-wise, but Zeelo was not quite as… Calex. He was a little more reserved, and not quite as reckless. Though he was not about to admit it, once he had been in Lockely’s position and had been just as confused and acted quite differently since then. Since becoming and staying a werekitten he had become more and more of free spirit. But if was less Calex rubbing off on him, and more the other kitten’s own carefree attitude and general acceptance allowed Zeelo to be comfortable being the kitten he wanted to be. Still, he knew what it was like to be blindsided by Calex. It was something that happened quite often, and though it usually led to fun things, he understood the feeling of having no idea what was going on. As a result when bringing in new people he could be somewhat of a stabilizing force, or at the very least get Calex to slow down long enough to make sure everyone knew what was going on. “Maybe you should fill him in on all the details, like the destination, and why we need his help.”
“Oh that’s right!” Calex slapped a paw to his head. “I completely forgot to tell you where we were going.” He paused and looked straight at Lockely before flashing a fanged grin. “We’re going to be the first kittens on Mars.”
“Alright, I have come to accept a lot of this nonsense is real. And I know I’ve said this a lot today.” Lockely took a breath. “But, what?”
“We wanna go to Mars!” Zeelo explained.
“In the name of science!” Calex responded. “And also to see if Martians exist.”
“They don’t.” Lockely knew if there was any life on Mars it wasn’t anywhere on the same scale as on Earth. Maybe there were some microscopic organisms or something, but hardly anything that could be intelligent or that the kittens could interact with in any meaningful way.
Then again, it seemed like all bets were officially off on what did and did not exist and how the laws of physics worked in the universe. It’s a strange feeling to learn so much of your understanding about the world is just wrong.
“Sorry, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with everything. It’s like when I was a kid.” Lockely paused there, as he realized as a kitten he was in fact a kid again. “And I learned Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren’t real.”
“What are you talking about?” Calex glanced back at Lockely. “I’ve met both of them in person. I even turned into a reindeer once and offered to help pull his sleigh. Got told I was too small… Can you believe it? Santa, just turning me down like that after I came all the way to help.” He shook his head. “But it worked out, after seeing how down I looked he made a comment like ‘In the spirit of the season’ and let me pull the sleigh with others. That was a fun experience.”
“What?” Lockely really was using that word a lot today. “Okay, I admit I got presents as a kid that seemed to surprise my dad, but I thought he just had a good poker face. But you’re telling me Santa is real? Even if I accept the man exists and reindeer can fly, delivering gifts all over the world in one night? There are seven billion people on his planet.” Lockely paused. “Probably way more if we’re now counting kittens and other animals.”
“You only think that because you only exist in four dimensions and can only move one way in the fourth dimension.” Calex explained. “What you need to remember is that Santa Claus is magic and not bound by the same laws of physics we were. I don’t know if I’d call him a fifth dimensional being, but he is more developed in the fourth dimension than the rest of us. He can basically deliver the same presents using the same period of time over and over again by just going back a few hours and doing it again during the same time. Lasts a long time from his perspective but… He doesn’t really see time the same way we do so I don’t think it feels as long to him.”
“Well okay then.” Lockely couldn’t really find any way to doubt the explanation as he didn’t have any idea how traveling the same point in time again and again would work. But now that he thought back his father wasn’t very good at acting, and that surprise seemed pretty genuine. Either he learned how to act one day a year or… “Holy carp Santa Clause is a Time Lord!” He froze. “Why did I say carp?”
“Kitten brain.” Zeelo replied with a grin. “You’re still you, just some instincts change and some language is harder to use.”
“We’re getting off topic.” Calex tapped a foot impatiently. “We need to figure out how we’re going to travel to Mars.”
“Well, you seem to be able to just go anywhere in a cardboard box from what I can tell.” Lockely pointed at all the boxes around them. “Can’t you just crawl through a box and come out on Mars?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Calex shook his head. “There aren’t any cardboard boxes on Mars so there’s no place to come out. Although if he left a cardboard box on the planet after arriving, we’d be able to create an instant gateway back and forth.”
“I’m just gonna accept this will work and move on.” Lockely replied.
“I was trying to puzzle out how to do it and Zeelo mentioned he remembered Travel Agents were a thing way back when…” Calex paused. “When something. Anyway, it seemed like the perfect idea. Someone who was an agent of travel would be able to go anywhere! They’d know for certain how to get to Mars! So, how do we do it?”
“Oh, that’s all you need more for?” Lockely gave a sarcastic look. As a cat it was far more effective now. “Here I thought you were going to want something difficult like a last-minute reservation at a luxury hotel at Christmas.”
“Nope we just need to get to Mars.” Zeelo replied cheerfully.
“That’s all huh?” Lockely realized even with the power of feline facial expressions, sarcasm was completely lost on these two. “Well, you’re not the only ones who want that, it’s a situation scientists have been trying to crack for a while. But even if we had a working shuttle that could get us there, it’d be like a year’s trip.”
“That’s not going to work.” Calex shook his head. “Me and Zeelo both have to be back home before dinner. We’ve only got the afternoon.”
“So you want to go to Mars and back in a single afternoon?” Lockely looked between them. “You realize you’re basically asking for the moon right?”
“Nah been to the moon already, we want to go to Mars.” Calex apparently did not understand the expression, and really just brought up way more questions for Lockely.
“To do something like that we’d need technology that doesn’t even exist yet.” Lockely began to explain. “Mars is almost 40 million miles away. We don’t have anything that can go nearly fast enough to get there in a day.”
“What about in the movies?” Zeelo asked. “You know where they go superfast and everything becomes all streaky and they go across the entire galaxy in an instant.”
“You’re talking about faster than light travel.” Lockely replied. “That’s not real, only in fiction. I suppose it’s theoretically possible but we’re nowhere near ready to build an Alcubierre w-
“Then we know what we have to do!” Calex beamed. “Invent faster than light travel so we can visit Mars and come back!”
“Oh is that all?” Lockely asked.
“Yup!” Calex jumped in place eagerly. “Zeelo you were right, calling in a Travel Agent was the right idea.”
“Where would we even begin? If the world’s brightest minds haven’t figured it out yet, how are we going to do it?” Lockely asked. “What do we have that they lack?”
“That’s simple.” Calex turned to Lockely and replied with all seriousness. “A room full of cardboard boxes and the lack of sense to accept the impossible.”
“Okay, since you think it’s so easy, where do we start?” Lockely asked.
“Montage.” Calex replied.
“Montage?” Lockely raised an eyebrow.
“Montage.” Zeelo nodded eagerly.
“A montage is a way of showing passing time in a work of fiction, you can’t have a montage in real life.” Lockely didn’t know why he bothered explaining. He knew they were going to ignore him and try anyway.
“That’s just what you think!” Calex replied. “All we need is a video recorder, some set pieces, stuff that looks sciency, and a lot of cardboard. Zeelo! You get the cardboard! I’ll find us some set pieces. Lockely, you find sciency things.”
“Sure I’ll get right on that.” Lockely watched as both kittens bound off in opposite directions. What did they even mean by sciency things? Well, pretty much anything electronic might count. Lockely stared at the box that they had come out of earlier. Could he travel back to his office on his own? It was time to find out.
Lockely remembering how Calex had first arrived in his office ran at the box full speed, assuming that was somehow needed to make it work. He flew through the box in one end and came out the other back in his office. However, prepared for the wall Lockely was able to skid to a stop before crashing into it.
“Okay, sciency things.” Lockely looked around his office. It was much bigger now and seemed harder to get around. But he was sure he owned more than enough things that fit the description. Some of them were more toys, well, collectables than anything of actual scientific merit, but Lockely suspected that neither kitten would care.
He climbed up onto his desk, and after some difficulty opened a drawer and found a calculator. He quickly dropped that to the floor then looked at what else he had. There was his computer. He wasn’t going to take the entire thing. But he unplugged the mouse and took that. He quickly pawed at the back of his computer till it came out of the USB port. Well, he had caught his first mouse as a cat.
That was two terrible jokes in one day. Was he going crazy?
The next thing he grabbed was his phone charger, it looked like a blue pulsing warp core with fancy lights. This, he didn’t knock to the ground, but instead very carefully picked up with his paw hands and hopped down from the desk. He wasn’t sure how much he needed but hoped this would be enough. He put the charger, mouse and calculator in front of the box before pushing them through then following after. Once more he was in the meadow full of cardboard and all three items had made the trip. With enough room to stand up on two legs he was able to hold the charger with his paws and the other two items under his arms.
But where was he supposed to take it? The two hadn’t actually set a meeting spot. The best Lockely could do was wait at the part of the meadow close to the box that headed to his home and wait. He was quite thankful to see the other two show up. Zeelo was pushing a cardboard box full of additional cardboard boxes across the grass while Calex appeared empty handed.
“Looks like everything went great! I have the set pieces all set up!” Calex exclaimed. “Now we just need to have our montage.” He paused, as if expecting an objection from Lockely
“Honestly, at this point I’ve learned to stop questioning it and just go along.” Lockely had no idea if the kittens would accomplish anything, but if nothing else had to admit the way they went about it was quite amusing.
The sets Calex led them to were less than impressive. There were three, each one a flat piece of cardboard with marker scribbles all over it.
“This one’s the lab!” Calex pointed to one that was mostly scribbled gray. “That one is the launch site!” He pointed to one where the bottom was scribbled green and the top blue with white blotches Lockely assumed were clouds. “And the last one is the dance party room.” He pointed to the third set which was just a mess of colors scribbled together.
“Alright, I’ll bite. Why a dance party set?” Lockely asked.
“Two reasons.” Calex grinned. “One we need a scene of us celebrating after successfully building the faster than light engine. And two, dance parties are fun.”
“Fair enough.” Lockely shrugged.
“Alright then! Lockely is the travel expert! So we need to make sure he’s in the lab scenes! I’ll get the shots for that! So… You take the lead, Zeelo will look over your shoulder and nod a lot, and take notes. Then, we’ll switch it up, Zeelo will take the shots at the launch site, as Lockely and I watch up at the sky as if a rocket just took off, and shake our heads when it’s not good enough. Then we do another scene in the lab, another failed launch, dance party to break it up, we’ll all be in that scene, only for Lockely to have a lightbulb moment. Lab scene where he frantically scribbles out notes, launch seen where we look happy, and dance party again this time congratulating ourselves for a job well done.”
“I don’t suppose pointing out that we don’t have a camera puts even the smallest of dents in your plan?” Lockely asked.
“Not at all!” Calex grinned. “The greatest camera is your own eyes! So long as we see the montage we know it happened.”
“Okay, sure, why not.” Lockely saw no reason not to play along. It wasn’t going to hurt anything. And if these two had to be home by a certain time then these antics were going to come to a natural end eventually. And so he followed the script exactly as planned.
“Well, fellow felines. We tried our best.” Calex said after finishing the montage. “And we absolutely succeeded.”
“Wh-“ Lockely started to say then stopped. “You know what, no, I’m not going to be caught off guard and stare mouth agaped again.”
“May I present… The first rocket with faster than light capabilities!” Calex gestured at the launchpad setting where there were now three boxes sitting on top of each other, with the top one open. Flame decals were drawn on the side of each box and ‘FTL Rocket Ship’ was written messily in marker near its base. “We can take off at any time.”
“Alright, I’ll admit I want to see what happens.” Lockely began to climb the rocket.
“Wait! Are you crazy!?” Zeelo grabbed Lockely’s tail and pulled him down. “We’re about to go into space! And there’s no air there! Or on Mars! We need something to let us breathe.”
“You know, with everything else, I just assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal. So we’re making space suits next?” Lockely had to admit the idea kind of excited him. He had a few ideas based on various shows he wouldn’t mind trying to design for him.
“Nah I got it covered already.” Calex went behind the dance party set and came back with three fishbowls. “Put these on and we’ll be fine.”
“That’s not-“Lockely started to object then realized it didn’t matter. He put the fish bowl over his head and all three kittens climbed to the top of the rocket and began to get ready for takeoff.
“Three!” Calex shouted.
“Two! Zeelo added.
“One.” Lockely said less enthusiastically.
“Takeoff!” Calex and Zeelo shouted at the same time. Then the boxes began to rumble and move. The rocket was slowly rising into the air.
“Wait it works!?” Lockely shouted.
“Prepare to activate FTL Engine!” Calex ordered.
“FTL Engine ready!” Zeelo responded.
“Wait, stop if this actually works we can’t go into space, a fishbowl isn’t enough to-“ Lockely didn’t get to finish. Zeelo slammed his paw down on a red colored in circle drawn in marker and suddenly the entire world became a blur.
And then everything became still. And there they were, sitting in a cardboard box, now in orbit around Mars.
“What? I? Huh?” Lockely was breathing heavily in shock, which after a moment he realized was a good thing. He was still breathing. “How are we not suffocating or freezing to death?”
“Oh I saw them do this in a cartoon a few times.” Calex explained. “So I knew the fishbowls would work.”
“Okay but…” Lockely decided to let it go. He was just going to add this one up to more kitten magic. Besides, a very exciting thought occurred to him. Regardless of the shenanigans that had brought him here he was going to be one of the first three men… Or well kittens to step foot on a foreign planet. The excitement of this realization overwrote all confusion over the how as the rocket slowly approached the planet for landing.
A few minutes later, the rocket touched down on Mar’s red surface and all three kittens climbed down, making the first pawprints on Mars.
“I’m on another planet.” Lockely stared up at the stars in wonder. In the distance was a particularly bright start he thought might be Earth. “This is like a dream.”
“Do I need to slap you again?” Calex offered helpfully.
“No no no, I’m awake! I mean this is the type of thing I’ve always dreamed of doing.” Lockely took a few steps forward. He was going to have to bring a rock back with him. There was no way anyone would believe where he had got it from. But he would know. It would be proof he had been here first before anyone else on Earth found it out. He ran forward on all fours looking for the best rock to pick out. He paused and looked behind him noticing the pawprints left in the red dirt. He wondered what scientists would think when one of their probes found pawprints on Mars.
The kittens took their time exploring, and Lockely found his rock. Both he and Zeelo were in good spirits but Calex looked annoyed as they returned to the rocket.
“Something up?” Lockely asked.
“I really wanted to encounter Martians.” Calex explained. “But there’s like, no life here at all. It’s boring.”
“If it makes you feel any better, there probably is life here, just microscopic, so not anything you could interact with.” Lockely explained.
“Unless I was really, really, really small huh?” Calex replied.
“Pretty much.” Lockely gave a nod.
“Zeelo! I know what we’re going to do tomorrow!” Calex was suddenly in high spirits again. “But doing a montage every day is too much work. Let’s cannibalize the rocket and turn it into a cardboard box.”
“The rocket -IS- a cardboard box.” Lockely pointed out.
“Exactly.” Calex grinned as he knocked over the stack of boxes. He then sat one on its side. “Alright everyone, let’s go home!” He crawled through the box. Zeelo was after him. Lockely knew better than to question so followed through.
And once more was in the field full of cardboard boxes.
“There, now there is a box on Mars so we can travel there anytime we want.” Calex grinned smugly. “Not only were we the first ones there, we set up a gateway to open up the possibility of colonizing it.”
“Now there’s a fun image.” Lockely snickered at the thought of Earth’s scientist suddenly finding a colony of kittens wearing fishbowls on Mars. Once the news broke you wouldn’t be able to tell the tabloids from the real news.
“Anyway… The montage took more time than I’d like, I gotta head home or I’ll be late for dinner.” Calex sighed.
“Same for me.” Zeelo also gave a wistful sigh.
“Need me to walk you back to your office?” Calex offered Lockely.
“Nah, I understand how this works by now. Just go through the same box and I’m back there, right?” Lockely was done questioning the logic. He was just going to roll with it.
“You got it.” Calex nodded. “Thanks for all the help. You were a great Travel Agent. We’ll definitely call on you again next time we can’t figure out how to get somewhere.”
“You really helped us out!” Zeelo gave Lockely a playful ear bat and then both the brown and orange kitten took off running to separate boxes that Lockely assumed led back to their own homes.
“Well guess I should head home too.” Lockely turned to look around. Then he realized something. The box they had come out of returning from Mars was in a completely different area. He had no idea where he was or which direction his box was his. Or maybe he was in the same place. So many of these boxes looked identical. Why had he sent the two off when they had offered to help him get back?
Okay, he was pretty sure he remembered what the box looked like. He explored the world, passing many other kittens along the way. However as the sun got lower there were less and less of them. But finally, Lockely found his box.
“Thank goodness.” He looked down at the Mars rock in his paws, then paused as he remembered his stuff he had brought that was currently still on the montage sets. Well, he could pick those up later. For now, he was going to get his prize home. He got down and crawled through the box.
Unfortunately, while the box was similar to the one Lockely arrived in, it was actually slightly bigger and in a completely different part of the strange world. But, unless one was used to seeing and constantly comparing different cardboard boxes most would have found it impossible to tell the difference.
This meant Lockely didn’t arrive back in his office. Instead, in another timeline there was a moving truck parked outside an apartment. The box tipped over and Lockely rolled out of the box and onto the parking lot floor. He landed on his feet. Good thing he was still a cat. And his rock was safe. But why was he outside? As he questioned this he heard the noise of the truck starting up. He realized too late as the truck drove away that it was taking the box with it that could have brought him back to the meadow. Lockely was stranded in another universe now, with no idea how to get back to the meadow or to his own home world.
And he was still a kitten! Zeelo had said the curse could be temporary! But he had never gotten instructions on how to actually change back. Lockely tried focusing on being human for a few minutes. Nothing happened. He was stuck like this for now. A werekitten in a strange land.
“Ah carp.” Lockely muttered. “And I left my phone in After Call!”