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Jul 3, 2019

The Sun Always Shines On Lactolia: Part 6

Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Button’s paws pressed against the iron door, supporting her as she stood up on her two hind legs and tried to peer down the long, narrow row of identical white cells.  The only thing different about each individual cell were the foul creatures that inhabited them, and really, Button thought, even they didn’t seem to vary much in size or demeanor.

“What are you doing?” Hobbes’ dry voice surprised Button.  It was the first time he had spoken in hours.  Button dropped back to all fours, glanced at the ground, and tried to formulate an answer.

“I’m just-,”

“-You’re just simpering over that lummox Bobtail, looking for him, aren’t you?”  Hobbes said, with more than the usual amount of disgust dripping sour from his voice.

“I’m not simpering,” Button shot back in defense,“And he’s not a ‘lummox’—whatever that is!”  Button wrung her tail out in a flustered manner, “And so what if I was looking for him?” She added, “There’s more to him than meets the eye.”  Hobbes raised his sharp eyes only enough to achieve such a penetrating gesture of supreme disbelief, that Button felt her bones tingle with irritation.  She knew that Hobbes would have mustered a judgmental smirk, too, if he had cared enough, and somehow that fact that he hadn’t made that look—that patented Hobbes glance—all the more maddening.

“What are you doing, anyway?” Button said, aware of how flustered, and defensive she had sounded the whole while.  The fact that Hobbes was deriving so much egotistical amusement from her own irritation irritated her even more.  It was like an irritation paradox.  “Oh, don’t hush up now, Bubba!”  She said, a little drunk from her own vexation,“I wasn’t the one to start talking:  You were.”  Hobbes flicked his ear. “You were the one who broke that hour and a half of silence to insult me.  So what is it?  Or are you just a weak, spineless, little bully, who gets afraid when the fighting’s not on his turf?  What now?  You’re not going to answer me?  You’re going to go hide in your dome of grumpy silence and ignore me?  Pretend you can’t even hear me because you’re such a coward?”  Button demanded, leaving Hobbes to justify himself before that mouthful.  Hobbes glanced down, and Button secretly smiled to herself.  She had ratted out Hobbes good, really given it to him, she thought, and it was amidst this self praise that Button realized Hobbes had actually taken her up on the offer and chosen to ignore her.  Button’s momentary satisfaction turned to bubbling anger.

“Seriously!  Are you freaking kidding me?”  Button shouted, stretching out and contracting her claws.  Timorously, gingerly a little Munchkin paw reached out and touched her.  Button whirled around, her eyes flaming, “And would you give it up for once, Yahtzee?!  I’m obviously not a dead mouse!  I’m very alive—see!  See me!  This is living!  This is life in Lactolia!  Now go and choke on Giza’s spoon!”  Her voice nearly turned to a growl as she finished.  Yahtzee’s ears collapsed flat against his head, and he slowly backed away from Button.  Then he broke into a mad dash for his newly claimed hiding space, Giza’s unfinished tunnel.  Hobbes watched for a moment as Yahtzee cowered, tremblingly, in the wall.  Then he turned his fluffy Birman head to Button, reprimand written across his face.  Button gave a troubled swipe of her tail.

“What?!”  Button cried,“Are you trying to say that you expected better of me?  Is that it?  Like you even care!  All you care about is yourself!”

“It is true, I don’t care about you.  However, I do care about more than myself,” Hobbes said, and Button was surprised to hear, after all this time, Hobbes’ voice.  “I also care about food and money.”

“Oh, and is that what has you so occupied—in your stoic, sulky silence?”  Button glared at Hobbes, with another swipe of her tail.

“No,” Hobbes glared back.  It occurred to him that the little Smokey hounding him wasn’t going to give in until she got an answer—some sort of answer.  “For your information,” Hobbes’ white Birman chest swelled with a sigh, “I’ve been sentenced to death.”  Hobbes looked sincerely at Button.  Button gazed searchingly at him.  His crystal-clear, blue eyes were wide and genuine.  Button let her shoulders relax.

“I didn’t know,” Button said quietly.  “It must be hard, knowing that, isn’t it?”

“So hard,” Hobbes whispered, nodding his head, “So very hard.  But you know,” Hobbes said, with renewed vigor and uncommon strength in his voice,“I can handle it.  I’m just…I’m just worried about the kittens.”

“The kittens?”  Button inquired softly, sympathetically.

“Without my contributions, I don’t think that the boarding school can afford to stay open.”  Hobbes sighed, wistfully.  “The poor creatures.”

“But you know,” Button said, keeping her voice soft and sweet,“You could always write a legacy that entitles the boarding school to the rest of your means.”

“Yes,” Hobbes said quietly, still nodding,“Yes, I think I could do that,”  Hobbes’ voice trailed off silently.

“What a miserable cat you are!”  Button suddenly roared with laughter, unable to restrain herself any longer.  “What a big, fat lier!”  Hobbes’ gaze hardened.

“You didn’t buy it, did you?”  He asked, his voice back to its usual, stony self.

“Not for a second!  First off, I know that whatever you were moping about involves Giza, and not a death sentence, and secondly—which would have sufficed even if I didn’t know about the Giza part—I know that you’re so filthy-rotten, you wouldn’t have dreamed of donating your money in a million years!”  Hobbes straightened his posture.

“Perhaps you have a drop more intelligence that I gave you credit for,” He glared at Button, as if disgusted that she had made him admit to the fact.  “But you’re wrong.  The reason I was ‘moping,’ as you say, very much does involve my death sentence.”  Button frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Hobbes sighed, standing up and lowering his front two paws in a bracing stretch.  His back looked like a steep slide down to his head, and he rolled his front shoulders back.  Then he shook it off and hopped down from his bed, pacing around the cell.  “I mean,” Hobbes repeated,“That, as you surmised, Giza and I had made a deal.  She was going to pay me for a Spider Skipper, provided I could attain one for her.  Naturally,” Hobbes said,“I was able to.  But,” He sighed all the more heavily, swishing his tail back and forth, “I told my contact that I would pay him with the money that Giza was going to give me.  Now that Giza is gone…,” Hobbes didn’t need to finish his sentence for Button to understand.

Silence swept over the cell.

The dilemma at hand did not have a solution so simple as to ‘just back out of it.’  Button knew full well that if Hobbes backed out of a deal of this immensity, he would be backing out of his own life.

“How long do you have?” Button asked quietly.  Hobbes leveled his head with Button’s.

“A week.”  Button let out a long, slow meow.

“So,” Button sighed, pacing around the cell and reviewing the predicament, “You’re some sort of criminal who made a blackmarket deal which you can’t follow through on,” Hobbes shuffled uncomfortably, “I’m a criminal because I was too good at being a revolutionary.  We’re both being interrogated for some reason or another, and we’re being held captive on a volatile planet engaged in the middle of a corrupt civil war.  And now, we happen to find ourselves with a fully functional Spider Skipper in our midsts, capable of leaving this pit behind and-,” Hobbes’ eyes flashed.

“What are you implying?” He suddenly lashed out.  Button jolted from the uncharacteristic response.  “That we strip ourselves of any dignity we have left and just steal the filthy rust bucket?!

“What other option do we have?” Button shouted back in defense.  “Or are you a magician who can just poof the money you need into existence?!”
“I for one thought you were better than that!” Hobbes retorted,“And you call yourself a revolutionary—I haven’t heard of any revolutionaries that just up and leave in the middle of a war!” Button tried to counter what Hobbes was saying, but he only raised his higher.  “Oh thy valor and courage, we shall laud for generations!”

“Well, sometimes the better part of valor is discretion!” Button managed to shout above Hobbes.

“And what she greatly thought she nobly dared!”

“Stop mocking me!” Button yelled,“I haven’t heard any suggestions from you and its your problem anyway!”
“How can I help but mock the so-called revolutionary who deserts her cause as soon as she has the opportunity?  What a selfish, shallow-hearted lunatic like the rest of them!”

“I thought you said you didn’t expect anything more from me!  And like you’re a real saint yourself!”  Button spat back.

“For your information, I was tasked with purchasing relief supplies for the entire planet when this war nonsense first broke out!”

“Okay let’s break this up!”  A guard—Button was momentarily distracted to realize it was the same orange guard she had met earlier—rapped on the cell bars.  Both Button and Hobbes’ ears flew back at the raucous, unpleasant noise of clanging iron that ensued.  “And as for you, #904, we’re bringing you back in for questioning.  There was no one at the Peoria compound.”

 

 

 

I haven’t heard of any revolutionaries that just up and leave in the middle of a war.

Ever since the obstinate Birman had been ushered out for continued investigation, Button had been replaying his words in her head.  A stab of conviction went straight through her matted, furry coat and lodged deep within her.  But what am I to do?  Button protested against herself.  Nothing makes sense!  The more I look for the answers, the more confused I get!  I think I had a better grasp of what was happening before I started to search… Button lamented, remembering the onion analogy that Snugglebug—Yvette—had offered up.  Button unawarely let out a desperate sigh.  The dissonance of her mind racked her to the core.  What did she know?  What had she endeavored to know?  What was worth knowing?  What was truth?  Fiction?  What did it all matter?  Button had the strange feeling that this was how psychopathy set in.  Pull yourself together, Button!  She told herself.  Reason never fails.  Reason will eventually lead you to the truth.  Like a haunt from the past, Button remembered Yvette’s mantra of common sense.  No!  That’s wrong!  Button argued, Reason does fail, because nothing here is reasonable!  And what use does common sense have in a world lacking sensibility?  Button began to list examples in her mind:  Clay Jars R Us practically asks for a buyout and then threatens war when Emperor’s Smorgasboard takes them up on it.  A revolutionary group is formed to oppose both of them—but is apparently out for the ignorance of its underlings just like the corporations.  Relief supplies are ordered by Emperor’s Smorgasboard, but they’re actually war supplies.  And for what gain?

“Reason and sanity cannot illuminate any of this because it’s all insane!”  Button suddenly cried aloud.  It was then that she realized the orange guard had been standing not far away, watching her.  He another guard were discussing something quietly now.  Button could start to feel herself panic when both guards abruptly nodded their heads, as though in some kind of agreement, and headed towards her.

“#997, you’re coming with us,” the orange guard said as the other one wrestled the door open.

 

 

 

Nugget followed behind the erratic and ratty looking feline, while his fellow guard, Mourka, led her from the front.  As one guard was required to be present in all counseling sessions, Nugget had quickly volunteered himself for the opportunity.  He still hadn’t healed enough from his shrapnel wounds to comfortably keep up with the strenuous patrolling regiment of the rest of his compeers, and the opportunity to stand still for even an hour sounded like paradise to him.  Mourka, on the other hand, seemed delighted to be as far away from the psychologist and his subject as possible.  He had said something about things getting nuts during the sessions.  In any case, both parties had ended up getting what they wanted, so Nugget figured it was a good deal.  And, Nugget’s mind revisiting his last interaction with the white and calico smokedweller, he thought that maybe—No, of course not…  But maybe?  Unwilling to resign himself to unlikely hopes, Nugget shoved the inmate towards the psychologist’s door.  She relented, her demeanor not a willing one, but not an unwilling one either.

“SHUT UP!  Shut up!  Just shut up right now!”  The psychologist slammed his paw down on the table in front of a frightened convict.  Nugget thought his inmate looked frightened as she entered into the undecorated concrete room and beheld the screaming psychologist, but she masked it quickly.

“You have two options:  You can either commit suicide—or not—I don’t care!  But if you do I will come into your cell and take my dagger and skin you alive you little varmint!”  Button flicked her ears backwards at the wild-eyed and incoherent psychologist.  She reminded herself not to look for sensibility anymore.  She wasn’t going to find it.  A psychologist without a mental disorder? Button thought to herself.  Not on Lactolia.  The guard that Nugget would be relieving started forward to restrain the psychologist.  Mourka intuitively took over and led the trembling convict away.  Then Nugget pulled out a chair for his own charge, which she deftly, though skeptically leapt on top of.  Now that the last convict had been led out, the only noise in the empty—yet somehow stuffy—room was the psychologist’s heavy, labored breathing.  Button was determined not to interrupt the cat.  Judging from his expression, he still looked like he was contemplating killing something.  Nugget uneasily shuffled behind her.  The psychologist finally took a long, deep breath, and addressed Nugget.

“What kind of loony-tunes have you dragged in for me today, rookie?”  Button had to catch herself from scoffing as the psychologist spoke.

“Inmate #997 has exhibited signs of erratic behavior, observed irritability and potential depression,” Nugget began.  Button could feel herself deflating.  “This is in addition to having been enrolled under the charges of corporate insubordination, acknowledged deceit, and attempted murder.  Her file reveals that she has shown symptoms of pathologically lying.”

“I’m sorry?!” Button cried.  “Attempted murder?!  Pathologically lying?!  None of that is true!  I’ve never tried to murder anybody and when I lie it’s on my own terms, not because I have a condition!”  Nugget and the psychologist exchanged knowing glances.  As Button watched, she suddenly felt like crying.  She didn’t know why.  She should have expected this.  She had always wondered what Hershey had done to admit her into the prison, anyway.  And she knew no one was going to believe whatever little she did know.  I’m not insane,  Button assured herself,  Everyone else is!  But if insanity is a state of mind which prevents “normal” perception, behavior, or social interaction, and “normality” is conforming to the usual standard, then by definition I am in fact insane.  Button could feel herself deflating more.  The psychologist talking to her seemed like an eerily far away voice.  Everything…seemed so far away.

“#997 tell me from the beginning what you feel your erratic behavior, irritability and depression springs from,” She heard the voice say distantly.  Even with the psychologist speaking, she felt like she had stepped away.  Stepped away from everything.  She looked around the room.  The noises were so indistinct.  The face of her guard was…cold.  But maybe it had once been curious.  The psychologist… he was shouting something now, Button thought.  She wasn’t certain.

At the sudden shaking of her chair, Button snapped back into reality.  The psychologist had slammed his paw down on the table so hard, her own chair was shaking.

“Tell me from the beginning!”  The psychologist thundered furiously.  Button leveled her eyes with the psychologist, but she couldn’t help but look right through him.  Why have I tried all this time to be secretive?  Button spoke to her soul, Why have I ever kept secrets?  If I tell, no one will believe me.  If I don’t, no one can believe me.  Nugget watched the pensive, glazed over eyes, of his charge.  They were defeated.  Had that look always been there and he just hadn’t noticed, or was that new?  Without bothering to focus her gaze, but still looking off, the bony cat conceded.

“Okay,” she breathed deeply.  “I will tell you.  Everything.”

“Go on,” The psychologist urged.  The white and calico tabby looked at him, as though wounded.

“I used to be a barista at the Emperor’s Smorgasbord milk bar.  It was there that a silver tabby came in one day…”

 

 

 

“Next time, we'll summon your little friend Cooperation for you!”  Hobbes’ interrogator growled hatefully.  Samson was so brainwashed, so high on catnip, it was hard to tell what personality he would display at any given moment.  This session, for example, he had been particularly ruthless, but last time it had been sympathetic.  The time before that he was self-destructive, Hobbes, who was starting to feel like a seasoned veteran of the interrogation chair, recalled.

Hobbes was pushed out of the interrogation room, led by two guards, one in front and one behind.  Being considered such a threat made Hobbes smile smugly to himself.  But something snapped him out of his self-satisfaction.

Through the door adjacent to his—the door to that madman psychologist’s office—he caught a glimpse of the annoying American Bobtail that his cellmate was so fond of.  Something made Hobbes want to freeze in front of that door, though he only saw the scene for a split second.  What he had seen—what it meant for him—caused a warm, greedy feeling to well up in his stomach.  He liked that feeling.  Hobbes replayed the expression on the bobtail’s face in his mind:  One of utter amazement.  Whatever psycho was in there spilling his guts had had that idiot entranced.  And suddenly, walking among all of the breathing corpses that surrounded him, Hobbes realized that there was someone here who was still alive.  Someone who could still express an emotion beyond sinister amusement and greed.  Someone I can manipulate, he grinned to himself.

  

 The End

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Jul 3, 2019
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Button’s paws pressed against the iron door, supporting her as she stood up on her two hind legs and tried to peer down the long, narrow row of identical white cells.  The only thing different about each individual cell were the foul creatures that inhabited them, and really, Button thought, even they didn’t seem to vary much in size or demeanor.

Jul 6, 2018
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Yet another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines On Lactolia."

May 15, 2018
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."

Like usual, its so long that its painful! (But you know you can't resist reading it, anyway.)

Mar 6, 2018
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."

Dec 16, 2017
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

An addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."

Nov 10, 2017
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

A spin off the of the much-loved "Star Cats" series.

Jun 2, 2017
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

The behind-wiggling sequel to 'The Big Dent' Part 1.

Nov 19, 2016
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles
With Captain Shtankadoodle's prized vessel now all-but-destroyed in a brutal comet collision, the crew (Shtankadoodle included) isn't certain what to expect on their return to earth!  Find out in: The Big Dent, Part I
Oct 1, 2016
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

As if the threat of a comet bound for the Solera Station didn’t seem looming enough, with the entire ship induced into a nervous, whispered panic, Subcommander Ocee could only keep from biting her claws and resisting the impulse to shrink away into a tight cranny—a box, a nook in the insulation, a raccoon trap—anything would do, really, to get away from this news:  Lieutenant Lucky had just confirmed that the comet everybody was worried about was only seventeen minutes from impact.

Aug 31, 2016
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles
Whisker's crossed!  It's Captain Shtankadoodle's fur-blowing trilogy to, "The Sun Colony, Part 1,".