- Debbie Lau
"Hey come on Meep," Lilo meowed. "I want to see the outside world!"
"Don't you ever feel caged, imprisoned?” Lilo replied, leaping onto the soft beige couch in the living room.
“I’m sleepy, let me take a nap,” Meep yawned, stretching her fat brown, black and white body. “Kassie is getting us treats today from the corner store, can’t you at least be happy?” She closed her green eyes. “Better not do anything silly though!”
Immediately after Meep had gone to sleep, Lilo snuck past the glass coffee table and up the wooden stairs. Meep is so boring, can't she ever have fun? He wandered around the house looking for something to do, trailing his spotted black and tan body up the stairs. First, he walked to the bathroom. He placed his paw on the sink tap, pushed it twice and wearily shook his head. Jumping off the sink, Lilo glided through the bathroom’s entryway and sprinted away. He pushed open Kassie's bedroom door and headed for the cat tower.
Lilo climbed up and down, up and down. Uhh, I'm so bored! he sighed, feeling annoyed. Staring out the window, he saw birds flying away and he hoped he could get the chance to see the world like them. A soft breeze tickled his fur. Where did that come from? he asked himself. It was a strange but pleasant feeling. He closed his eyes, feeling the cool wind in his fur. He looked down at Kassie’s lawn imagining himself on the soft, green grass below. He cocked his head to one side as an idea came to him. It’s not that high is it? She’ll never notice I was gone and I’ll be back in time for treats. Lilo allowed himself to turn his body over and parachute down to land. He checked his paws. Phew. Just about to feel the grass under his paw, a shocking breeze suddenly turned air to dust. He shook hard and suddenly the ground opened up, attempting to suck him into the ground. Luckily, he managed to grab hold of the corner. He struggled trying to grapple his way out of the hole in the ground and his heart began to pound. Oh no…
In the kitchen, Meep yawned and opened her eyes. She perked up her ears. It’s way too quiet. She looked around and cautiously tiptoed up the stairs. What has Lilo got himself into now? She peeked inside the room and stared at the empty room, jumping and climbing up to the highest point of the cat tower and looked right at the open window. Suddenly, she noticed a new scratch on the wall. Strange, that wasn’t there before. Meep shook her head and her eyes widened as she realized what Lilo had done. Oh no, Lilo. Where did you go? Meep looked out the window down at the green grass. She hissed at a shocking sight. Lilo’s body was being sucked into the ground!
I must save him! Meep thought but she paced back and forth debating whether to go after him. Her paws shook in fear. When she was a kitten, she had fallen down from a tree and she had never forgotten the awful feeling. Staring down at Lilo’s silhouette drowning in the ground below, Meep’s heart pounded fearfully. She must save her friend. Meep leaped unwillingly. Her stomach turned as her body fell towards the ground. “Lilo!!” she shouted. Lilo’s eyes caught hers just as she smashed into his body and both of them sank into a void of blackness.
Lilo and Meep panicked, pushing and pulling until the ground opened up again. They felt nauseous and dizzy, as if they had spun in a roundabout a million times. Meep and Lilo took a huge breath of air. It smelled like cinnamon. They looked at each other and brushed off the dust and dirt.
“Where did you take me, Lilo?” Meep asked.
Lilo shook his head and gulped.
“Lilo!” Meep repeated,
“Um, I don’t know?” Lilo meowed nervously, trying to hide his smile.
Meep was furious at Lilo for leading her into trouble and she lashed out at Lilo. "You don’t know? I told you not to do anything silly! The next thing I know, you were being sucked into the ground! I didn't even want to leave in the first place!" she shouted at him, glaring at him with infuriated, beady eyes.
Lilo ignored Meep. He stared down at the ground, trying to piece together what just happened. Instead of the usual paved road in his town, standing before him was a sandy pathway that made a crunching sound with every step he took. Around them was a marketplace that appeared to sell milk, catnip and lots of fish.
“Where are we?” Meep complained fearfully. “How do we get back home to Kassie?”
“I don’t know. Let’s find out,” Lilo replied. As if to say sorry, he patted her back. “I’ll make sure we get home safe, Meep.”
An old cat with gray fur, brown eyes and wearing a black dress walked by. She cocked her head to one side and stared at them with bemused eyes and a faint smile. “I’ve lived here all my life but never seen you kids before. You must be new! Welcome to the Feline Oak village of Terrestria! ” she croaked.
Then it struck them. Meep and Lilo stared at each other at each other with wide eyes. This wasn’t home! There were no humans, no owners. The world they had somehow fallen into was inhabited by cats! The cats here had their own homes, they were not domesticated or controlled. Each cat was their own free being. They could do fun things they wanted to do and they worked hard so that later, they could.
Meep and Lilo looked around. There were all sorts of cats, cooks, merchants, jewelers and some were parents. They all looked happy and friendly. Some cats lounged on a fountain in the center of the market, while others greeted each other in the busy market, rubbing their bodies against each other affectionately. Some elders wore aprons and cooked. Others looked after kittens while the kittens played around, chasing yarn. Behind the marketplace, dots of small homes made from wood popped up around thick green grass, tall cinnamon trees and sandy trails. There was lots of vegetation everywhere. Far in the distance past the forest of trees with large leaves resting on branches like fans, there were mountains with white, snowy peaks.
Lilo stared at the old cat in wonder, feeling a shiver of excitement in his body. He felt like he’d walked into Wonderland. Maybe this was the adventure he was looking for in his life!
“We’re new!” Lilo chirped happily, hopping on his hind legs.
“Actually,” Meep interrupted and faced the old cat, “you may or may not think we are crazy but we are actually from this human world that you may have heard of but don’t or something.” Meep huffed. She looked to the side, not making eye contact. She never thought she would have to say that.
“Meep! Don’t be rude!” Lilo objected. He smiled at the old cat and explained, “We fell into a strange vortex in the grass in our home on earth and somehow came here. My housemate would like to go home but I don’t mind exploring this place. Can you tell us about it?”
The old cat lady narrowed her yellow eyes and her smile turned into a frown. She began muttering to herself. “I’ve tried many times but have always failed. This place has become my home ever since. I couldn't help myself, but I should help them,” She looked down, then at them and sighed, her voice sounding like a toad. Meep shook her head in confusion, trying to make out what the old cat lady was saying but Lilo’s heart skipped a beat.
“Wait, you’re from earth, too?” Lilo asked.
“Yes,” replied the old cat, “but that is a story for another day. Listen carefully. There is a way to get home but you have to be quick. If you dawdle too long like I did, then you might fall to the same fate as me.”
Meep and Lilo looked at each other in worry.
“Okay, there’s a portal guarded by a dragon on the snowy mountains. It only lets the person with the ruby in. It glows unlike others. To get it you must go into the jungle but look out for tigers and if you meet a jaguar, stay still. It'll either gnaw you or lead you to the bridge where it is. After around two to eight days, meet me at the fountain at the center of the market and I’ll discuss with you how to open the portal."
“Why should we trust you?" Meep asked. She raised an eyebrow.
"Because I was foolish and made a mistake. I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did." The old cat looked concerned. “I also come from the human world, but unlike you I failed to retrieve the ruby. I had two friends with me, one died and the other turned against me. I was young and afraid so I never returned. Now I’m old and I can’t walk as well as before. It was my fault. I gave in and started to settle.”
"Uh-uh, I'm not going into some random jungle that we’ve never been to before and I’m not dying anytime soon," Meep meowed.
"But we have to try though!" Lilo replied worrily, hanging his head. “Kassie would be so sad if we were missing. Ever since she rescued us from that car crash we’ve been together! She protected us.” He sprung away determined to find the ruby and pass through the portal to find Kassie again. He headed for the jungle leaving the old lady and Meep behind. Meep sighed, “Why do I even try?”
“Wait up!” Meep cried as she ran after Lilo. They weren’t sure where to go or how to find this mysterious ruby. The trees were tall and branches faded into gnarly vines. The road was unclear and they were starving. Looking back behind them, the trees were like an infinite row of pencils rising majestically into the ground. The running seemed endless for poor Meep. The dirt stained her fur. The silence in the forest began to feel creepy as if the trees were watching their every movement.
After a while Meep stopped. She closed her eyes and dropped her fuzzy body. “Can we stop now?” she yawned. “We’ve gone so far and still nothing!” She dragged some sticks and leaves over the ground with her white paws and laid down on them for comfort from the wind that circled around the dark forest. It had been a busy day for Meep. First, she fell in a hole. Next, she came to this crazy place and now she was forced to sleep on hard rocks and twigs!
Lilo turned around and sat by her on the cold and damp grass. It has been a long day and it’d be nice to settle down and finally have a rest. Tomorrow is going to be an adventure itself, Lilo thought. He closed his eyes and drifted to sleep. He dreamed of a dragon and the wide world, but most importantly their family. They’d all be happy together and they wouldn’t have problems.
The next morning they got up cold and hungry. ”Let’s go get some food, I’m starving,” Meep yawned, scratching her ear and licking her spotted fur.
“Me too,” said Lilo stretching his striped legs. They lowered their bodies and prowled around the forest looking for some food. Squirrels or rabbits would be nice, Lilo thought, while Meep wondered if they’d find any jaguars at all. She saw Lilo chasing a squirrel, aggressively kicking it with his paw.
“Finally, Meep! I caught some food for us to eat,” he breathed heavily, in and out, in and out, trying to calm down from the long chase. Lilo sharpened his claws. First, he licked it clean and then split the body into two equal portions.
“Wow, this is amazing,” said Meep, swallowing her portion whole. As she gazed at the burning sun and the clear blue skies, she began to feel optimistic about the journey ahead. There was hope, she knew it.
Lilo and Meep continued on their way, following the tall grass and spreading vines in the jungle that would lead to the ruby. They hadn’t seen any more cats since their arrival in the marketplace yesterday. The silence in the jungle felt menacing.
“Where is everyone?” Lilo asked, concerned as he felt a presence closely circling them.
“Who are you?” a curious voice suddenly meowed back from the bushes. A small figure popped out of the bushes. “I’m Elise,” she smiled, “I am a cute kitty, everyone says so.” She had small gold eyes, her fur was yellow like a chick and she had remarkable black ears and leopard spots like Lilo’s.
“Ahh!” Meep flinched, attempting to climb a tree, ”Get away from me!”
“It’s okay,” Lilo meowed following Elise, “Meep is just scared. I’m Lilo. I come from a faraway land and I have to go home,” he meowed. “Do you know how to get to a gem? We need a red ruby from the jungle.”
“Yeah, I visit it very often when I’m not hunting!” Elise had a charming voice. To Lilo she sounded like the cutest thing he'd ever heard.
“Can you somehow get us in there?” Lilo asked with a friendly smile.
Elise meowed in a sassy voice, “What do I get?”
Meep, still leery about Elise guiding them, narrowed her eyes.
“What do you want?” Lilo replied.
A wide grin spread across her face, “Can we be friends?”
Meep looks back at them and stops climbing the tree. She smiled, it couldn’t be that bad could it?
“I’ll divert their attention and you can sneak inside and get your gem,” Elise meowed excitedly, her paws rustling in the lush green grass, glimmering from the sunshine.
“Oh and do you know a village near the snowy mountains? There’s a portal to our faraway land. We also need to know how to get there,” Lilo asked.
“I’m very familiar with the routes in and out of the jungle.” Elise nodded.
“Uh..guys, time to stop talking and get going?” Meep interjected. “We’ve already wasted enough time and we don't even know where we are!” She ran as fast as her fat body possibly could, taking deep breaths every minute. She looked like a big orange blur, running around. “C’mon are we there yet?” Meep breathed heavily “I’m sooooo tired.”
“Almost, but we have to be careful.” Elise replied,
“Well, what’s your life like?” Lilo asked Elise, thinking of adventures and places they could go. In a way he felt like this place was home, like he was meant to stay. He questioned if he really wanted to leave, but Kassie was his family and they'd been together for his whole life.
“My mom said I’m special. I come from a different realm, this is the second realm. I come from the first.” She looked down, something seemed to bother her. “The Realm of Ascent, I was an outcast there, I was homeless and depended on thievery to survive. They brought me here to The Realm of Terrastria as a punishment. My mom adopted me when she saw me lost in the jungle. I hid my wings to stay safe in this world.” Elise finished fighting back tears.
Lilo paused. “Oh I’m sorry to have–”
“No it’s fine.” Elise replied. “Let’s get going. It’s very dangerous in the jungle so you should stay quiet, don’t touch anything and get to the bridge to the temple in the middle of the jungle.”
They threaded across the jungle cautiously, turning at every corner. The vines grew low and the grass grew tall. The moss covered the trees and rocks and the sun beamed onto the lush jungle like a lion standing proudly over the world. But, beneath the ground where they were, was a labyrinth of grass, leaves and many more.
“We’re here!” Elise pointed at the temple and the cat guards.
“We really need a plan guys!” Meep stopped at her tracks and turned to her friends.
“How ‘bout I’ll create a diversion and you climb the trees and get our gem? ” Elise purred.
“Aw c’mon!” Meep whispered. “I hate climbing!”
“Or we’ll use you as bait.” Lilo meowed jokingly, he opened his eyes wide.
“You–” Meep paused, lowering her head. She looked around and twitched her ears, keeping alert. “We'll just go with your idea, Elise,” she finally meowed, shaking her head and regretting that she said anything in the first place. They continued forward and made sure they weren't spotted by one of the cat guards.
“I think you guys should start climbing now.” Elise gestured towards a tree. It’s bark was thick and a dark shade of brown. “Keep climbing and wait till the guards go and try staying quiet.”
“Okay, got it.” Meep closed her eyes.
“Yep.” Lilo climbed onto the tree with ease he gripped it firmly and pawed his way up as quickly as possible.
Meep climbed going as fast as she could. She went up the long brown bark. She held the tree tight, unwilling to let it go until she made it up. Meep fell down. Trying again and again, she closed her eyes determined to succeed this time so she could find her owner. “Aww, I shouldn’t have eaten too much food.” She endured all the pain she was running from and stepped back. She ran, for the first time in what seemed like forever, she ran. Up the tree and onto the branches smiling. “I finally got that over with.“ Meep meowed, huffing a sigh of relief. It really wasn’t the best morning for her. She was quite used to sleeping and eating on Kassie’s lap. Below the tall and thick branches, Elise watched the two cats with her beautiful golden eyes.
“C’mon Meep, let’s go!” Lilo meowed. He looked down. “That way right Elise?”
“Yep! I’ll be there already so be quick.” She hopped into the depths of the jungle. Her long blonde tail trailed behind her.
The branch shook a bit, under Meep's weight. She looked like a baby trying to hold on to it. She squinted her eyes and hugged the long branch tight. What on earth am I doing? This has been the craziest thing I’ve done in my life! She thought to herself.
Lilo walked with passion twitching his tail from side to side. He felt weightless on the branches of the tree. He could stop, hop or run on the tree; it was a fun experience for him. Lilo had been enjoying his temporary stay at Terrestria and a part of him wished he could stay there.
Meep was starting to get the hang of it. She stayed safe on the tree by maneuvering her tail to fit her balance. One step at a time they hopped from tree to tree following the soft swish that running through grass made. They looked down to see Elise rolling around playfully, the guards crowding to see the small kitten. Distracted, Meep let loose her grip and slided upside down. “Ah! Get me back up!” cried Meep hanging from the branch. Lilo was in such a trance, daydreaming and prancing around that he didn’t quite hear her.
“Lilo!” she snapped. Lilo stopped and turned around to see his cat friend dangling onto a branch behind him.
“Oh! Meep!” Lilo meowed. He trotted over and gently pulled her back up the right way around again. He brought her back to her feet and continued climbing the trees. They managed to keep silent the whole time, which was quite impressive for them. They saw ten huge cat guards moving away in Elise’s direction as they walked through the tree branches. Finally, they made it to the bridge. It was constructed of wood and rope. Around it was a moat that was super deep. “Come on,” Lilo whispered.
“Yeah, no.” Meep hesitated.
At the end of the wooden bridge there was a big gray temple. Lilo took a step on the uneven bridge. The wood planks rocked back and forth.
“Meep, it’s fine, “ Lilo meowed, attempting to comfort Meep, “I’m not falling.”
“Yeah, but it’s shaking and I’m like three times your weight!” Meep snapped.
Lilo stepped forward a few more steps. “It’s not THAT bad.” He pulled Meep onto the bridge.
Meep gulped, “If I die here, I will haunt you forever.”
“See, you made it!” Lilo ignored Meep’s threat. They hopped across the rest of the bridge. Lilo stepped onto the rusty and dusty temple’s floor. Meep followed him inside. Inside it was filled with piles of silver and gold coins, gadgets and artifacts. There was a ruby that matched the description of the old lady, bright red and glowing.
“Mine!” Lilo grabbed the ruby.
“I’m more responsible,” Meep meowed back, “so I should totally get to keep it.” She took it from his paws, and threw it onto her back like Swiper the Fox did from Dora.
“Give that back!” Lilo scowled at Meep, chasing her. The two cats ran across the bridge like rapid fire.
“No way!” Meep replied, “I’m better than you.”
As they neared the end of the bridge, their silly argument worsened and you could hear them half a mile away! By the time they reached the end of the bridge, the gemstone had been passed along between them at least 50 times. Unfortunately, the guards heard them and it didn’t take long for them to catch on what happened. Absorbed in their argument, the two cats were oblivious to the cat guards who heard them and caught onto their ruby heist!
“You know what, I quit.” Meep meowed annoyed and tired.
“Yay!!!” cheered Lilo sarcastically, tucking the ruby into his coat.
“Shush,” meowed Meep, finally remembering to keep quiet. But it was a bit too late.
Meep banged her forehead to the floor. “We have to leave NOW, or the guards will catch us.” Meep meowed, running quickly across the mossy jungle.
“Oh right!” Lilo shook his head, realizing they ruined their plan. They ran for about an hour and a half. They looked behind and a blurred shadow seemed to be following them through the vast jungle, along with 10 others.
“Run faster!” a faint voice shouted from far away, “quickly!” The voice seemed to be louder this time, until they could see Elise’s familiar black ears and her blonde-tailed body.
“Elise!” they shouted.
“Turn right when we pass that tree, got it?” Elise instructed. “You two were so loud it was a miracle they didn't notice sooner!”
“Sorry!” Lilo and Meep meowed back as ten giant cats chased them down from half a mile away.
“When do we stop?” Meep asked, starting to trail behind.
“We can’t stop here, there’s no way back,” Elise called as she led them forward, “but there is a river very close to here.”
“Water!” Lilo shouted excitedly and passed Meep the gemstone. “Here.” Around rocks and fallen trees, their paws screeched in pain and the birds immediately scattered away from them. Thankfully, the wet, lush, soil filtered some of the pain. The cats finally stopped and looked out to see a bright, blue river.
“Is this the river?” Lilo asked, hopping.
“Yes!” Elise replied “We are here.”
“But, how on earth are we going to cross this river, Elise?” Meep chimed in.
“Ale! Ale come out!” Elise exclaimed, a small figure appeared in the treetops.
“What now?” a slightly annoyed sloth asked as he appeared from the bush.
“Meep and Lilo, this is Ale. Ale, they are Meep and Lilo.” They shook hands with each other. Elise looked at him. “Can you help my friends cross the river?”
“Fine.” Ale sighed, “Hop on my back.” Meep stacked onto Ale, holding the gemstone, wobbling slightly on Ale’s body.
“What about you, Elise?” Meep asked.
“I can fly, remember?”
“Oh yeah!” Meep meowed “Wait, you can fly!”
“Yes, I can fly!”
“Sorry, I wasn’t listening earlie–where’s Lilo?!”
“Here!” Lilo’s head popped up through the water.
Elise looked up and sighed. “Ale, just go already.”
“Whatever, Elise.” He began a bit slow, but he gradually became faster. Small splashes of water flew into their faces as they crossed the broad body of water.
“Was getting wet necessary to cross this river?” Meep moaned. “I’m cold now!”
“Not necessary but that’s what fun is!” Elise shouted, soaring above with bright, blonde, angelic wings. When she looked down, the wild cats were on the edge staring at what appeared to be a bird flying next to a big stone riding a fish.
“Eh, I just do it so I won't get hunted.” Ale said. “ It’s not like I really wouldn’t prefer swimming over sleeping in my treehouse.”
”I’m glad someone gets me,” Meep meowed, laying on Ale. Meep looked down to see Lilo speeding through the water. This is taking much longer than I thought. Meep thought to herself. She stared at the blue water, longing to go back home. I wish I could be with Kassie again. Ale moved his arms rapidly as he held onto his newfound guests.
“We have arrived. Now get up!” Elise said, taking deep breaths.
Lilo paddled his way through. “I should swim more often.”
“Yes, now we have to find my tunnel,” Elise meowed.
“Now you can scurry off my back,” said Ale, slowly climbing back up a tree. “Back to bed! Goodbye.” Ale looked back at them and smiled. He felt happier for helping them in such little time they had. He hugged the branch tight and closed his eyes to sleep, not to be awakened for another 15 hours.
Suddenly, Elise shouted out, panicked, “Where is it?”
“What?” Lilo asked.
“Look for a golden feather, it will lead us to my tunnel,” Elise replied.
“Ahh-choo!” Meep fell over landing on her back with a big sneeze. “Is this it?” She looked at a feather stuck in the ground. “A-allergies.”
“Good job, Meep!” Elise looked at the quill, picked it up with her mouth and drew a round circle in the air with the point of the golden quill. A strip of light carved a hole in the ground. The soil and debris crumbled to form a dark tunnel.
“Come along,” Elise skipped into the tunnel. “We have to go quickly because in 10 minutes the exit will close and we’ll be trapped in here forever.” She darted past Meep and Lilo and led them through the tunnel where small specks of dust floated around and roots held the ground apart.
“It’s so cold,” Meep shivered. She ran, looking for an ending to the cold and dark abyss. Lilo looked up and saw small circles of light shone through. He ran past Elise. “Shh, it’s night.” Lilo creeped out the tunnel. The light was directed from the small wooden houses of a village.
A long rush of wind blew around fallen leaves. Branches that aligned to form a pathway. Lilo recognized the sandy pathway and the marketplace from the village they’d been to before. “Meep, do you still have the ruby?”
“Yeah,” Meep whispered.
“Ok, now what do we do?” Elise blinked.
“We were supposed to wait at the fountain.” Meep rolled her eyes. “Not surprised if it’s just a random cat trying to get the foreigners out of their village.”
“Meep, you’re being rude again.” Lilo meowed. “Now, let’s go!” Lilo tiptoed to the center. There was a small orange spark near the fountain. They heard a small yawn and looked at the small candle sitting by a gray cat in a blue sweater.
“Oh, I didn’t think you’d come back until a week later!” The old cat hopped off the fountain ledge. How did they survive? It’s not easy to evade the Wild Cats, the old cat thought. “I see you’ve brought a new friend over. I don’t think we’ve had a proper introduction yet. I’m Duskey, Amelia Duskey,” she greeted them with a smile.
“I’m Lilo, this is Meep and our new friend, Elise! So nice to see you again.” Lilo put his paw out for a hand shake.
“It’s very cold out here and you don’t have a place to stay. You can come to my small cabin in the peaks.” Duskey looked over at Elise. “Elise. Right?”
“Yes. That’s me, and I’d love to go.” Elise’s eyes widened.
What about me? Meep frowned.
“Oh yes! Meep, would you like to come to my cabin and have a night over?” Duskey asked.
“Please wait. I’m gonna talk to my friends.” Meep signaled Lilo and Elise to come over to the small corner of a wooden house. “What is wrong with you people?” She whispered, “We may as well deal with the devil at this point!” Meep took a deep breath. “You’re really gonna say yes to a freaking stranger?”
“ Language! Meep.” Lilo meowed
“That’s not a bad word!” Meep meowed trying to keep calm.
“She probably wants to kill us or kidnap us or something,” Meep lowered her tone. “Have you lost your mind!”
Elise stared at Meep. “But that’s how you found me. I wasn’t so bad.”
“That’s different, you’re a kitten,” Meep raised her voice.
“So you are going to accept a child. But not a grown-up.” Elise sat down and curled up her tail. She looked away.
“Uhh. Fine. But if we end up dead, it’s your fault.” Meep turned back around to the fountain. Elise got back up again and smiled.
Duskey smiled, “So are you okay with staying at my home?”
“Yes,” Meep replied reluctantly. ”Unfortunately.”
“Just follow me please,” Duskey continued. She walked towards the high alps in the distance. They walked past small street lights and birds flying off into the sunrise. As they walked past the village, winds became slightly stronger and the grass faded into peaks of snow. They saw a big hunk of rock and one small ladder made of ropes and wood. Above there were many more layers of mountains.
Lilo gasped, “Are we gonna climb that?” He meowed, ready for a challenge. Meep felt unstable looking at the dangling ladder held up by two metal poles. She backed off and gulped
“Of course not,” Duskey meowed.
Meep sighed in relief. I’m glad I don’t have to climb that.
“Aww.” Lilo’s head sank. “I had my hopes up.”
“Right there.” Duskey pointed to a small elevator with some extra fencing. She raced to the elevator. Duskey pressed a button on the ground and the elevator dropped down. DING!
“Come in.” Duskey invited. They stepped to the tactile, metal elevator floor. The doors closed. Whirr, the elevator buzzed as it lifted off the ground. It stopped and the doors opened again. DING! The mountains were covered with snow.
“Why is it always so cold!” Meep complained. She quivered in the dark night. They hiked up the far corner of the mountain. Duskey led the group. When they arrived, there was a small cottage with a red door with a cat flap. They crawled through it. They entered the cottage to find a lit fireplace and a tea kettle.
“We have to wait for it to strike twelve o'clock. That’s the only time the dragon can open the portal,” Duskey meowed. “You guys can rest while I tell you about myself.” She pointed to a red mat sitting by the fireplace.
Meep walked over and licked herself clean. She curled in a ball and closed her eyes. Lilo sat down to listen, next to Elise.
“I came from the human world and I fell into a hole in the ground with my alley cat friends,” Duskey began. “We walked around looking for help. Then, a polite cat told us that there was a ruby in the jungle adjacent to the village. I was in denial, but there was only one way to tell. So we went in and were attacked by wildcats five times our size. Hal was my first friend. She drowned in the midst of the fight. My other friend Phel chased me out and betrayed me. I was then forbidden to go to the jungle again.” Duskey sighed. “ I wish I could see them again.” By then, they all were fast asleep.
The small clock on the wall rang.
Lilo’s ears perked up. “ It’s almost midnight!” He rushed over to wake up Meep, Elise and Duskey.
“Hey Kassie,” Meep murmured, “I had the weirdest dream. I fell through a portal and ended up in some cat world.” She rolled slowly back and forth.
“Meep, wake up!” Lilo shouted.
“Wh-wha-t?” Meep looked around. Duskey, Elise and Lilo were standing next to her. Oh great, it’s real.
“ It’s almost midnight, Meep!” Lilo shouted. “Put this on.” He threw her a sweater and ran through the cat flap, followed by Elise and Duskey.
“Wait up!” Meep burst through. They sprinted up the mountains. A white dragon hovered above the mountains. Suddenly it darted down.
“ You must have the sacred gem to–” The dragon started.
“ We have it, sir,” Lilo interrupted. Duskey placed the ruby on the mound of snow and stepped back.
The dragon stared at it with disbelief. “That’s impossible, it has never been since a decade–” he sighed. “I guess it is my duty to let you go.” He flew up to the sky and circled the ruby, covering most of its glow. A few seams revealed a bright white light like nothing they’ve ever seen before. They watched in awe.
“Ahh, it's burning my eyes!” Meep buried her face deep in the snow. The dragon dashed back down to the ground again and the bright glow slowly faded into a small opening in the ground with a galaxy of black within.
“I always wanted to go back,” Duskey meowed, “but now I have someone that needs guidance.” She looked at Elise. “Elise here is a kitten and she doesn’t have much. I’ve got this house that I could share. I’m happy that someone is able to fulfill my dream of returning, but I have someone that needs me now and I am going to help them.” She smiled, as a tear rolled down her cheek.
Meep was so desperate, “C’mon Lilo, let's go home!”
“Yeah, go home.” He looked at his new friends. “But, promise you're gonna be ok.” They nodded. “Ok but can we have a hug?”
“Sure,” Elise replied. They leaned in and tightened their arms around each other.
“Just promise to be safe,” Lilo meowed.
“Ok,” Elise assured him.
“I’m ready to go, Meep!” Lilo meowed. “We’ll jump on 3. “
Meep nodded. “1, 2, 3!”
They closed their eyes and leaped into the small galaxy of nothingness.
“Did it work?” Meep asked as she opened her eyes to the pitch black darkness.
“Maybe?” Lilo replied. The soil reappeared again and pushed them up. They saw bright light and then green grass and the blue sky. “We're back!”
“Yes, we made it!” Meep meowed.
Lilo looked around and saw the same open window and paw tracks that they started with. A brunette with a grocery bag and a gray hoodie walked by. Lilo sniffed the air.
“Kassie!” Lilo ran to her side.
Kassie looked down, she blinked and shook her head. She laughed. “Lilo?” She looked up. “Meep?” Meep galloped her way over. Meep nudged Kassie’s leg with her soft head.
“Let’s get you home!” She picked up Meep and put her on her shoulder. “I missed you both.”