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Purrfect Fury

Mysteries of Max 62

My Kingdom for a Cat!

Look, I don’t mind the occasional house guest. After all, cats are well-known for their hospitality. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but when a woman moved in and immediately announced she was allergic to cats and induced Odelia to kick us all out of the house, I admit I wasn’t happy about it. And then when Chase was taken to the hospital suffering from a mysterious ailment at the same time as the four of us came down with a weird rash, it was enough to cause me to worry.

And this was even before the strange events began in earnest. Burglars, spies and other denizens of the underworld suddenly circled our home—that technically wasn’t our home anymore. Suffice it to say I was starting to feel the heat!

Chapter One

Mike Knight stared at the woman standing in front of him. The things she just told him had come as a complete surprise. “You can’t be serious,” he said.

“Oh, but I am,” she confirmed. “Dead serious.”

He shook his head. It’s one thing for a family to harbor a secret, but another to discover that secret.

“Nobody ever told me I had a cousin.”

“Nobody told me either. Until my grandmother died.”

“My dad will be devastated to discover that his grandfather was cheating on his grandmother with another woman.”

“How do you think I felt when Gran told me? It’s one of those secrets nobody likes to know about. The ones best kept hidden along with the other skeletons in the family closet.”

He eyed the woman keenly. Francine Martin was an attractive woman his own age, stylishly dressed in a camel-colored coat, cashmere turtleneck sweater and gray slacks. When she contacted his office she had introduced herself as a consultant for a marketing firm based in San Francisco, where her family originated from. Refusing to communicate through a middleman she had insisted on talking to him personally, announcing she had something very important but also very personal to tell him. His interest piqued, they had exchanged emails, and that’s when she had revealed the stunning truth that his great-grandfather and hers were one and the same person. According to her information Ebenezer Knight was a bigamist and had married two different women and started two separate families in different states.

And that wasn’t the only shocking piece of news she had to impart. There was more—much more.

Before agreeing to meet his distant cousin face to face, he had told her no one in his family was to find out. At least until he could verify the veracity of her claim. So when she proposed the old potash mine his family owned as their meeting place, he had readily agreed. Which is why they now stood facing each other for the very first time, in the mine that had once secured Mike’s family’s fortune. The mine had been opened and operated by Ebenezer Knight himself many years ago, but now lay derelict.

“You said you had something else you wanted to tell me,” he reminded her. “Something even more shocking than the truth about our ancestor? Though I can’t imagine what could be more shocking than the fact that old Ebenezer was a two-timing scoundrel.”

“When my grandmother died, she left me a small legacy, since I was her only granddaughter. My parents both passed away when I was very young, and so I was raised by my grandmother. So we were always very close. Part of this legacy was a box of some personal items she had always kept in the attic. And in this box was a diary belonging to her father.”

“A diary written by Ebenezer Knight?” asked Mike with a frown.

“That’s right. Apparently it was part of a set of diaries, but unfortunately I have no idea what happened to the rest. It’s possible they were destroyed or lost. But in the diary my grandmother kept, Ebenezer described how he purchased the piece of land that would later become this very mine we’re standing in right now. At the time potash was a very lucrative substance, and he’d go on to make a fortune.”

“Potash is still a lucrative business,” Mike pointed out. “Unfortunately they exhausted the mine years ago. Whatever is left isn’t worth digging up now, so the mine was closed back when my dad was in charge of the company. This must have been in the late eighties as far as I can remember.”

“What if I told you that there’s something else in this mine. Something that’s even more lucrative than potash?” Francine’s eyes were glittering when she spoke these words, and Mike couldn’t help but be intrigued all over again.

“What do you mean? My dad said the mine was completely exhausted. Nothing left to dig up.”

“That’s not what our common ancestor’s diary says. There’s something else here, Mike. Lithium.”

“Lithium?”

Francine nodded. “Potash and lithium are often found in the same deposits.”

“I know, but there was never any lithium found here. And I’m sure my dad had the best experts going all over the property before he declared it derelict and decided to abandon it.”

There had been many plans over the years to develop the land, but lack of funds—and perhaps a lack of vision—had caused those plans never to pan out. So now the plot of land just lay there, which was a waste. Recently they’d found a developer willing to take it off their hands, and preliminary contracts had been drawn up. If what Francine was saying was true, they might be able to reopen the mine, and turn it profitable again.

“Clearly you haven’t been digging in the right place,” said Francine with a shrug. “Because in his diary our great-grandfather definitely mentions lithium. Though at the time it wasn’t considered profitable. Now it’s the new gold rush, of course, since they use lithium to produce the batteries in electric vehicles. They simply can’t dig up enough of the stuff.”

Mike swallowed. Lithium. If this was true it would be the answer to his prayers. A possibility to rebuild his family’s fortune and add a lot more to it than ever before. In recent years his fortunes had been reversed, and even though he’d never admit it to Francine, he was hanging on by his fingernails.

“If what you’re saying is true,” he said, his voice suddenly hoarse. “That would be huge.”

“I told you,” she said cheerfully.

“So this diary… it pinpoints the exact location of the lithium deposits?”

“It does. It even contains a map.”

“And this deposit, it’s part of the original mine? I mean, do we already own the land?”

“You do own the land, Mike. All you have to do is to start digging. Provided you know where, of course.”

Inadvertently he glanced around, at the old deserted shacks which once were a beehive of activity. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to restart operations. With his dad’s experience it wouldn’t be hard at all.

“So this diary…”

“Fifty-fifty, Mike,” said Francine. “And a finder’s fee for the diary itself.”

“Fifty-fifty?”

“For whatever proceeds you end up getting out of this newly established lithium mine. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even know about the lithium, and that money would be gone. So it only seems fair that I get my fair share of the profits. And besides, while your side of the family prospered, mine didn’t, since Ebenezer eventually divorced my great-grandmother and deserted her, leaving her to raise their child all by herself. So I think you’ll agree that your family owes my family for what Ebenezer did to us, Mike.”

He nodded. “I’d have to see the diary, of course. And determine its authenticity. And then I’d have to bring in experts to locate this lithium deposit and figure out potential profitability and feasibility.”

“Fifty-fifty, Mike. And a finder’s fee when I hand over the diary.”

“How much?” he asked quickly.

“A hundred thousand.”

He gulped a little. But he was too much of a businessman not to see the potential here. “Done,” he said. “Providing the diary is genuine.”

“Oh, I can assure you that it is.”

He stared at her. She hadn’t lied. The things she had told him were pretty shocking. But if they were true they could transform his entire future and that of his family. Wait till he told his dad, he thought. He’d be even more surprised than he was, since he was the one who had operated this mine all those years.

“Okay, so how do we proceed?” he asked, putting his business cap firmly back on. Francine might be family, but clearly she was approaching this meeting from a strictly business point of view.

“I’m going to be in town for the next couple of days. So you talk to whoever you need to talk to, and we’ll arrange a second meeting. You bring in an expert and I’ll produce the diary. The expert makes sure the diary is the real deal, and then we negotiate a timetable.” She flashed a devastating smile at him, which told him she was probably extremely good at what she did. “So looks like we’re in business… cousin?”

“Looks like we are,” he confirmed, holding out his hand and giving hers a vigorous shake. “Cousin.”

***

What neither Mike nor Francine knew was that their secret meeting wasn’t so secret at all. From the top of a hill he and Francine had been watched by a very interested party, who had snapped quite a few high-quality shots and video footage of the pair. With binoculars trained on the scion of the Knight family, the mysterious observer now saw how Mike picked up a rock and studied it for a moment before throwing it into the deep pit that was a remnant of the excavating activities that had once been carried out there.

Pity the unseen spy couldn’t hear what the cousins were actually discussing down there. But the simple fact that Mike Knight and Francine Martin were meeting in secret told him all he needed to know.

He watched as Mike crawled back into his Mercedes, and soon was off at a fast clip, the tires of his sleek silver vehicle spitting up sand and debris as he roared away. Moments later he was followed by a second Mercedes, this one a dark maroon convertible driven by Francine.

The spy didn’t waste time sending the images and footage he shot to his contact.

The instructions came back fast and furious, and he grimaced when he read them.

Clearly the time for playing games was over. Things were heating up!

***

Francine fingered the amulet that was dangling from her rearview mirror. A present from her beloved grandmother, it had been a fixture in every car she had ever owned, even in the rental she was now driving. Gran had told her the amulet would protect her, and even though she wasn’t an overly superstitious person, its presence was oddly reassuring. She knew she needed all the protection she could harness. Ever since she had come forward with the diary and contacted Mike Knight, certain forces had been unleashed that would stop at nothing to thwart her plans. She expertly steered the car from the old mine’s dusty road onto the asphalt track that led into town. And she had just reached the intersection when a black sedan suddenly veered onto the road behind her and drove up. The game was on.

She wondered how they had found her so quickly, but then figured these people probably had their spies everywhere. As the sedan clung to her rear, a sliver of fear ran through her, and she took a firmer grip on the wheel. It was an unremarkable sedan, and try as she might, she couldn’t get a good view of its driver. All she could see was that it was probably a man and that he was wearing dark shades.

They weren’t even trying to hide the fact that they were following her, keeping steadily on her tail. But that was probably the point: to show her they were on to her, and to intimidate and harass.

So they knew. But how? Unless Mike had blabbed? Or someone in his entourage? Which would be very unfortunate, since Mike had been the one swearing her to secrecy about their encounter. But if Mike hadn’t talked, and she certainly hadn’t, then who?

The only explanation was that Mike wasn’t the only one being made privy to the news of the sudden windfall that had befallen the Knight clan.

She knew she had to get rid of these people somehow. She wasn’t a stuntwoman, though, and didn’t know any nifty tricks on how to shake a tail. So instead she decided to activate the contingency plan she had put in place: to drive straight to the one person she knew who could help her: Odelia Kingsley.

Chapter Two

Odelia wasn’t an actual detective in the sense that she held a license and took on clients. Nevertheless she still took on the odd case from time to time, since people seemed to believe that she could be instrumental in assisting them in dealing with certain issues they faced. Mostly she tried to steer them in the direction of the police, since she felt they were better suited to deal with the kinds of problems they brought to her. But from time to time someone arrived in her office asking assistance in a matter of the greatest urgency that somehow captured her imagination and her sense of curiosity.

And just such a person was seated in front of her now. Francine Martin was a member of one of Hampton Cove’s most prominent families, and as such would have captured the attention of anyone. But the problem she now placed before her was one that she could easily turn into a front-page article. Very unfortunate, therefore, that the first thing Francine insisted on was Odelia’s absolute discretion.

“You can’t tell anyone,” the woman said. “Or talk about it with anyone. Or write about it in your paper. Is that understood, Mrs. Kingsley?”

Odelia found herself nodding along, even though she knew Dan would never allow her to go off on some wild-goose chase on his dime if there wasn’t a big juicy article waiting at the end of the journey.

Francine was a stylish woman about a decade Odelia’s senior, but her beauty was marred by a haunted look in her eyes that told Odelia that here sat a woman who was in some serious trouble.

“So what can I do for you, Francine?” she asked.

Francine glanced over her shoulder. “I was followed,” she intimated. “All the way into town a car was following me. Which is why I came to you. These people are dangerous, Mrs. Kingsley. I think I managed to fool them. I parked in front of the police station, walked in and immediately out the back. I don’t think they followed me in. These are not the kind of people who want to be seen walking into a police station.”

“So who are these people, and why are they following you?”

“I’m not sure, but what I do know is that it’s all connected to a discovery I made recently. A discovery that turned my life upside down, and my family’s life. If I tell you, do you promise not to tell anyone?”

“Of course,” said Odelia. “Absolutely.”

“My grandmother recently passed away. And on her deathbed she revealed to me that my great-grandfather had a second family. I never knew my great-grandfather, but according to my grandmother the man led a double life for years. Until he left us. I’d known for years that there was some big scandal in the family, but I didn’t know the extent until Gran told me. Turns out the man my grandmother knew as Jack Cooper was also known as Ebenezer Knight, Mike Knight’s great-grandfather.”

Odelia sat back. “I know Mike Knight,” she said. “Well, at least vaguely. I interviewed him and his dad once about the old potash mine the Knight family owns and used to operate.”

Francine nodded. “That’s what this is all about. That old potash mine. Ebenezer—or Jack Cooper as he was known to our side of the family—bought that land shortly after the Second World War. Mining operations started in 1954 and continued for the next thirty years, contributing to the Knight family fortune. The mine closed in the eighties, when they thought they’d profitably extracted everything it held, and the land has sat empty since then. There were plans to develop it but nothing ever came of it.”

“Yeah, some conflict with the planning commission,” said Odelia.

“Something like that. I don’t know the details. Anyway, it’s probably a good thing they never got to build an industrial site or a housing estate or whatever, because from what my grandmother revealed to me, there’s actual a rich vein of lithium in the ground that was never discovered or exploited.”

“Lithium? In Hampton Cove?” Now this was news. Big news.

Francine took a deep breath. “Part of my grandmother’s legacy was a diary belonging to Ebenezer Knight. In it he mentions the discovery of lithium and he even drew a map pinpointing its exact location. Back in those days lithium wasn’t on anybody’s radar, and the discovery wasn’t mentioned. I talked to Mike and he was as surprised as I was that there would be lithium in the ground. But if Ebenezer found it, it must be there. And as we both know, lithium is the new gold.”

“I’ll say it is. With electric cars taking over from cars powered by the internal combustion engine, the industry is going to need all the lithium it can get.”

“I know, right? When I told Mike I could tell he got very excited.”

“So you talked to your cousin—your distant cousin. So what’s going to happen now?”

“Well, that’s the problem we’re faced with right now,” said Francine. “We’re sitting on a goldmine here, but we didn’t know that until very recently—or at least until I discovered my great-grandfather’s diary. So now experts will have to be brought in to determine how rich this seam actually is. And then investments will have to be made to reopen the mine and start operations again.”

“That all sounds very exciting,” said Odelia with a smile.

“It is. Only…” She bit her lip. “I’m not sure Mike has been entirely honest with me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Honestly? I have a hunch that his family has made deals to develop that land, in spite of the planning commission’s embargo on any redevelopment plans. I think Mike has already signed a preliminary deal with a real estate developer and he’ll have to find a way to get out of it.”

“But if this developer discovers that there’s lithium in the ground…”

“He won’t allow Mike’s family to back out. And I have a feeling they have found out. I don’t know how, and I don’t know who told them, but clearly these people are very interested to know where exactly this lithium deposit is located, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to protect their investment.”

“And you think these are the people who were following you?”

Francine shook her head. “I’m not sure. But I think so, yes.”

“Who else did you tell about the lithium?”

“Only my cousin Mike. And I’m absolutely convinced he wouldn’t tell anyone. It’s in his best interest to keep a lid on this, since he’ll want to get this deal terminated. Mike is a dedicated family man, and he knows this lithium will be his family’s saving grace. His financial fortunes haven’t been great lately.”

“They haven’t? But I thought the Knights were extremely wealthy?”

“They used to be,” said Francine with a grimace. “I don’t know the details, but from what I’ve been told there have been some bad investments made and the family lost a lot of money over the years.”

“So they need that mine.”

“They need that mine,” Francine confirmed.

“So what are you going to do now?”

“I just had a meeting with Mike, and I told him about the diary. And even though officially I wasn’t informed, he’ll have to reverse the sale. Without letting on what the real reason is, of course. If he succeeds, he’ll be able to hang on to his property—our property. If not…”

“Then Mike will have made this developer very happy indeed,” said Odelia, nodding. “I still don’t see why you need my help, though, Francine. If your cousin succeeds in getting that deal terminated, then fine. And if not, you should probably talk to a lawyer, not a reporter.”

“You don’t know the kind of people we’re dealing with here, Odelia. The lengths they will go to to get what they want. To be honest with you, I don’t think my life or that of my cousin is safe right now. I don’t know how much they know or suspect, but I have to believe they know about the lithium. Which means they’ll go to any lengths to protect their investment and make sure they get their hands on that land. And they’ll do anything to make sure we don’t get in their way.”

“But don’t they own the land legally at this point?”

“Like I said, I don’t know the details, since I wasn’t involved in the negotiations, and Mike doesn’t even know I know, but I’m sure certain stipulations were made when the contract was signed. They bought the land under the condition they’d build houses. If they decide to turn it into a lithium mine instead…”

“They have no right to do that?”

“I don’t think so. But I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know.”

“They’ll try to hang on to that land by any means possible.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. And I don’t think they’re prepared to pay the correct price, based on its true value. They’re going to use every dirty trick in the book to get Mike to honor their original deal.”

Odelia gave the woman a look of concern. Her heart went out to Francine, and her family. But she still didn’t see what she could do. She had no legal experience, nor did she want to end up being involved in some protracted legal wrangling between these two parties. “So…”

“So what I wanted to ask you,” said Francine, taking a deep breath. “Is if somehow you can provide me with some form of protection.” When Odelia started to protest, she quickly added, “I know you’re not a bodyguard, Odelia. And frankly I don’t want one. What I had in mind was to simply lie low for a while. Disappear, you know. If they don’t know where to find me, I’ll be safe.”

Odelia shook her head. “I’m not sure…”

“Just until Mike has managed to take care of things. I’m sure it won’t be long. He’s very clever, and also very professional.”

“How long do you think you’d need to be out of circulation?”

“Just a couple of days—two weeks, tops.” Francine was directing a pleading look at her that was hard to ignore. “Please?” she said. “I don’t know anyone in Hampton Cove, Odelia. And I want to be here when Mike concludes our deal. He’s going to pay me a lump sum for the diary, and we’ll sign a contract for the exploitation of the mine once all the legal hurdles are cleared. I can’t stay at a hotel, since I’m afraid of what will happen once these people realize what’s going on. And if I stay with you they won’t be able to find me, since we’re not related and we don’t have any previous connection whatsoever.”

Odelia thought for a moment. This was all highly irregular. Though it wasn’t the first time she had provided room and board to a person under duress. Or actually on more than one occasion. Once was a retired fitness star, whose life had been in jeopardy. And another time the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, after he’d been forced to flee the country when his popularity had dropped precipitously following some scandal. Neither experience had been a particularly enjoyable one, to be honest. But she couldn’t very well say no to Francine. The woman was clearly terrified of what might happen to her.

“All right,” she finally said. “You can stay with us. But on one condition and one condition only.”

“Name it,” said Francine, visibly relieved.

“No one can know where you are. If they did, not only your safety would be jeopardized, but also the safety of my family, you understand.”

“Absolutely,” said Francine. “Oh, Odelia, thank you so much!”

“You’re very welcome,” said Odelia warmly.

Chapter 3

Dooley had been sniffing here and there and wondering what this strange specimen could possibly be. He’d never seen anything like it, not even on the Discovery Channel, as everyone knows a prime source of both entertainment and information. The creature hadn’t stirred since Dooley had made its discovery on the lawn behind the house. It sat on top of a small mound of freshly dug soil and looked like a rat, only smaller. Though it could have been a mouse, of course, only bigger. Hard to know for sure!

It had a tiny head with a protruding nose. It had no ears he could see and brown fur. It had very large digits on its front paws, and plenty of whiskers surrounding its long pink nose. Dooley couldn’t see its eyes, but he was sure it must have them. All creatures had eyes, right? How else could they move around?

Max, his best friend and housemate, could have provided some illumination as to the mysterious creature’s nature, but unfortunately Max had returned indoors for a much-needed bathroom break.

Harriet and Brutus were also absent from the scene, and so it was up to Dooley to a) determine the nature of this strange beast; b) determine whether it formed a clear and present danger to Dooley’s home and its residents; and c) whether possible countermeasures should be instigated to make sure the threat—if there was a threat—could be eradicated.

And that’s when the creature stirred!

Dooley jumped about a foot in the air, and quickly hid behind a nearby bush containing about half a dozen roses. In his haste to take cover he must have nudged one of them, for the rose now decided to make the great leap into the beyond and dropped down to provide some welcome mulch for present and future generations of the common earthworm and other denizens of the undersoil.

The creature, which shall remain nameless for the present because no classification seemed applicable, now opened its eyes—it did indeed have them!—and gazed at Dooley with a curious expression.

“Hey there,” said the creature, a grating sound to Dooley’s strained ears. “I’m Jackie. Who are you?”

“Um… Smith Jones,” said Dooley, figuring he better provide a fake name, just in case the creature turned out to be some kind of monster ready to devour him whole.

“Hi, Smith Jones,” said Jackie, then stretched. “Now that was a glorious nap.” She glanced around, smacking her lips for some reason, as if she had just enjoyed a copious meal. “Where am I, by the way? I arrived overnight, and as we all know traveling in the dark provides one with a set of obstacles, such as there are: not being fully aware of one’s exact surroundings.”

“You’re in… Cleveland,” Dooley said, figuring he might as well give a fake location, just in case the creature was the vanguard of an enemy force ready to attack.

“Cleveland?” said Jackie with a frown. “That’s odd. I could have sworn I was in the Hamptons.” But then she shrugged. “I guess I was mistaken.”

“So… what are you, exactly?” asked Dooley, still eyeing the creature closely, just in case it made any sudden moves causing him to beat a strategic retreat and go hide in the basement.

Jackie grinned. “A lady never tells, Smith Jones,” she said. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that?”

“Tell me what?” asked Dooley, confused by this curious statement.

“Anything! Her age, her proclivities….”

“What’s a pro… a prog… a procklimity?”

Jackie eyed him strangely. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you’re still a kitten, Smith Jones, but your body structure appears to belie that classification. So what can I do for you at this juncture?”

“Do for me? What do you mean, do for me?” asked Dooley, thinking this situation was becoming more and more fraught with a distinct aspect of weirdness.

“Well, I am here to fulfill all of your wishes,” said Jackie cheerfully. “So what is it you want today, Smith Jones? And remember, three wishes is all you get, not four, not five—just three. So use them wisely.”

He stared at the creature. He’d heard of this type of thing, where some genie suddenly appeared from a bottle, like smoke wafting from a candle, and sort of materialized out of thin air and started granting wishes to all and sundry. Could this be such a genie? It didn’t look like a genie, of course. But then again he’d never actually been face to face with a genie before, so what did he know what genies looked like in the wild? “Um…” he said, thinking hard. What did he want? Tough question! But then he got it. “I wish for all of my friends and all of my humans to be healthy and happy forever and ever.”

Jackie gave him a strange look. “That’s very noble of you, Smith Jones. Very noble indeed. But I’m afraid that’s one particular wish I simply cannot grant you.”

“Oh, but why?” he asked.

“Since it concerns others. The only type of wishes I can grant you are the ones that benefit yourself. So what shall it be, young man? And like I said, wish wisely. And limit your wishes to three only.”

“Um…” Now this was even harder. A wish that only benefited himself? After thinking this through for a little while longer, the creature staring at him with glittering eyes and her head cocked to one side, he finally had to admit defeat. “I don’t know, Jackie,” he said sadly. “I don’t really have any wishes for myself alone. Everything I can think of is connected to my friends or the humans who take care of us.”

Jackie smiled. “You’re not like most creatures I meet, Smith Jones. No wishes of your own, eh? Curiouser and curiouser. Then again, I may have been pulling your paw here, young Padawan.”

He glanced down at his paw, and when he saw that no pulling action was taking place, he frowned. “I don’t understand,” he admitted.

“I’m not a genie, you silly! Genies don’t actually exist. I’m just a mole.”

“A mole? You mean like a mole for the enemy?” he asked, moving a little further back even more.

This time Jackie laughed a hearty laugh. “A mole for the enemy indeed. No, I’m an actual mole, Smith Jones. The kind that digs holes in people’s backyards? Don’t tell me you’ve never met a mole before.”

“No, I haven’t,” Dooley confessed honestly. “So what do you do, Jackie, apart from digging holes?”

“Oh, I snap up the odd morsel of food from time to time,” said Jackie. “And generally I try and make sure my survival is guaranteed and also that of my offspring.”

“Your… offspring?” he asked, glancing left and right. So there were more of these ‘moles’ around? Maybe an entire expeditionary ‘mole’ force? This was worse than he thought!

“Yeah, you may be happy to know that my husband Dave is preparing a nice cozy burrow right now. But I just had to pop out for a bit of fresh air, you know. Not healthy to stay underground all the time.”

“Uh-huh?” said Dooley, glancing at the ground beneath his paws, and fully expecting it to start moving any moment now, an entire army of these so-called moles suddenly rising up and taking him prisoner.

“Okay, well, it was sure great making your acquaintance, Smith Jones. But I have to run. Can’t leave the old hubby preparing that nest all by himself, now can I? That wouldn’t be very nice of me, would it now?”

“No, I guess not,” said Dooley, still watching the ground for signs of movement.

“Okay, so see you around,” said Jackie, and when he looked up, he saw she was gone.

He blinked. “Jackie?”

But there was no response. As suddenly as she had appeared, she had disappeared, possibly to join her husband, who might or might not be the general of an invading army ready to take over Hampton Cove!

When Max came ambling out of the house five minutes later, looking as happy as any cat can be after having made delivery of a nice big poo, he found his friend Dooley looking extremely agitated.

“Max, we’re under attack!” the fluffy Ragamuffin announced.

“Under attack?” asked Max. “What do you mean?”

But Dooley had no time to go into detail, as he had taken to shaking like a leaf. All he was ready to divulge at this point was that, “I saw the face of the enemy, Max. And it was terrifying!”

Copyright © 2022 by Nic Saint