Cat Scratch Fever
A 'Judith Strikes!' fic by Brother Grimace
(Note: This fic takes place in the Falling Into College universe.)
Never interfere in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and would taste good with catsup.
The red cloak that the woman who called herself Judith owned was a wondrous thing; for those who knew of such things, it had many similarities with that artifact known as a Bag of Holding.
Actually, possessing some actual sense of self and purpose (if not actually sentient), the cloak was almost at the level of an exceptionally well-trained pet – which meant that, occasionally, Judith would send the cloak off on its own to perform... certain duties.
Tonight was such a night.
While Judith amused herself by going to Lawndale, Maryland (and ordering a meal from the Good Time Chinese restaurant, knowing that her presence near the trans-dimensional portal in the back would ring a lot of alarms) – her cloak silently moved across the darkened yard of the Morgendorffer-Fulton home in Williamstown, Virginia.
It had been given a mission of its own to fulfill this night.
A flood of scarlet fiber poured beneath the front door and rose up in the small, unlit hall. The cloak actually appeared to ape its mistress as it looked about the area, and then moved down the hall as it seemed to home in on the bedroom of Daria Morgendorffer and her husband, Michael Fulton-
A tiny, mewling cry caused the cloak to divert its attention to the front room – where a small, tortoise-shell cat was hissing out alarmed sounds as it backed away. "MEW! MEW! MEW! MEW! MEW!" Ugly, mean cloth! Ugly, mean – go away!
The cloak made a motion that - where it a human being - would have certainly been slumping its shoulders in resignation. The cloak shuddered slightly, and then, began to move into the living room-
A second feline voice exploded from the night! "MRROOWWWRRLL!!!" GET HIM!
Three tiny blurs of fur and claws sprang out from different directions in the darkness, and the cloak found itself being brought down to the soft carpet as the small cat joined in on the fray.
The cloak began to thrash about, enveloping several small, whirling forms of destruction inside itself – but jagged, gaping tears began to appear all along its length; it rolled about the living room, knocking over an end table and smashing the lamp that sat on top as the sounds of furious felines filled the night air...
Two hours later, after enjoying an excellent meal of Siamese chicken, Crab Rangoon and a roll in the back of the van that a 22-year-old Kevin Thompson now owned (and God, has he kept himself in shape, she sighed as she got dressed) Judith stood beside the Giant Strawberry when the cloak appeared in a flash of blue light.
"Well?" she asked, as the cloak – now lacerated as if someone had taken a shredder to it, with gaping holes across its entire length – wrapped itself around Judith, only to have the petite woman immediately recoil and toss it away. "My God! What is that scent – you smell like the litter box at Jane's house – what the hell happened to you?"
The cloak darted behind the Giant Strawberry, actually shuddering as Judith's eyes narrowed – but from her expression of anger, or something else, she couldn't tell. "Did you do it? Did you kill the Daria here?"
Judith watched as the cloak seemed to turn itself inside out, reforming and repairing itself, appearing brand-new as it quivered once more before going back to its mistress. "Well? Did you off Miss Bliss, and leave her body so that her husband takes the blame? WELL?"
A shriek of disbelief tore from Judith's lips as she began to disappear in a blister of blue light; she looked down to see that the cloak had reached out with a corner and activated her locket. "WHAT? What happened to you over-?"
"Hey, Daria – I thought that you didn't like sushi pizza!"
"That's your poison of choice, Jane," Daria Morgendorffer said, frowning as Jane Lane catapulted past her into the house the moment that she withdrew her key from the door lock. "Not even Michael's crazy friends in his grad school eat that."
"Yeah, well, someone had sushi pizza in here – and within the hour!" Jane said, wrinkling her nose as she walked through the darkness – and bumped into a chair. "Turn the lights on, already!"
"I'd say that the only place that the lights are off is in your head, Jane," Daria snarked, reaching for a switch on the wall. "Sushi pizza. Didn't you just desecrate the 'surf and turf' at the restaurant?"
The light in the hall came on, and the two young women saw four cats – Daria's cats Bump and Sissy, and Jane's cats Taylor and Zachary – all lying in a comfortable pile in the middle of the immaculate living room, with only the occasional thump of a tail on the soft carpet to greet them as Daria crossed the room to turn on a lamp that sat on the end table. "That's odd," Daria observed. "That lamp's a bit brighter than usual..."
"Whoa. Looks like someone pigged out!" Jane said, leaning down to stroke the snout of the slender Blue Point Siamese that had raised a front paw as if to greet her. "Hey, Taylor – looks like someone was eating good tonight..."
Zachary, the Domestic Shorthair with bright-yellow fur mixed with white stripes, lifted his round, heavy head and meowed for attention as Taylor rolled over, playing with Jane's fingers before the young woman began to stroke Zachary's stomach. "Yeah – you had a really good meal, too," she wondered aloud, "and I can still smell the tomato sauce on your paws."
"Meeeoooowwwllll," Taylor half-breathed, half-meowed at his brother. Messy eater. You've always been a messy eater.
The yellow cat turned his head towards Taylor and sneezed, making him frown as Bump rose up and went to Daria, stroking against her ankles as she purred loudly. "Hello, your Grace – and aren't we friendly tonight?" Daria asked, smiling as she lifted Bump to her face, and the cat battered at a lock of Daria's hair with a tiny, white left front paw. "I think somebody enjoyed having visitors they could play with."
"Meowwww... rrrorrrrr... mrrrooolllrrr..." Bump breathed out, tapping at Daria's nose. More than you know – having backup here helped out some, too – and what you don't know won't hurt you.
Sissy came bounding over to Daria just as Michael Fulton – holding a large take out bag from the Pear Harvest restaurant the three had gone to after seeing a movie earlier that evening – walked through the door, and without a moment's hesitation, the small cat shifted course and went for him, crying out loudly as she bounced happily around Michael's feet. "Mew! Mew! Mew! Mew!" More tasty people food! What did you bring me? What did you bring me?
Lifting her head from Daria's shoulder, Bump looked down as her sister, and even Michael could hear the admonition in the older cat's tone. "MEOW. Meow!" Geez, Sissy – stop being such a kitten! You act like your eyes just opened last night!
Jane laughed as Sissy – showing amazing agility – bounded back and forth between Michael's legs as he walked into the kitchen, ignoring her sister as she openly begged for something from the 'doggie bag'. "Mew! Mew! Mew!" They brought back crab cakes! They brought us crab cakes! I love crab cakes!
Daria set Bump down, and a sharp, forceful cry erupted from her the moment her human's hands left her soft coat of fur. "MEOW." Get over here – right now.
Taylor turned to watch as Sissy caught herself in mid-bounce, and went to her sister, passing Jane as the raven-haired woman followed Daria into the kitchen. "Oh, yeah," Jane said, breathing in deeply as she crossed the threshold. "It smells like someone spent some money on their sushi pizza, too!" Jane spoke up. "I can smell calamari... and a bit of eel sauce... oh, that smells like the 'Eighty-Eight Pizza' that they serve at the Lords of 'Za that – well, that I went to in Manhattan."
Michael picked a small piece of crab from a crab cake, blew on it for a moment and then held his hand town; as Sissy ran back into the kitchen and eagerly took the tasty tidbit from his fingers, Michael watched the way his wife's right eyebrow raised up, as well as how Jane's face colored slightly while her face tweaked into a smile – a smile that bespoke her playfully randy nature.
"So, Jane... who'd you take a trip to New York with?" Daria asked, unable to keep the smile from her face or her voice.
"I didn't take a trip anywhere with anyone!" Jane insisted. "I met him there."
Daria's eyebrow raised even more. "Met who?"
Jane's face colored as a sudden look of remembrance flew across her best friend's face. "Wait a minute – I remember you talking about looking up places that make them on line – that pizza's expensive!" Daria blurted out. "Three hundred and – NO."
Jane dropped her head – but more to hide the twinkle in her eye than any shame. "You met Tom Sloane in New York!" Daria exclaimed. "No – you did Tom Sloane in New York!"
"Well, we did eat first," Jane said, as Daria burst out in laughter – laughter that was immediately silenced as Michael said, "Hey – look at that."
The two women went to the kitchen window, and were silent as they saw the containers for the garbage on the side of the street, ready for collection in the morning. "Oh, my," Daria said, noticing how the lid of one of the containers was askew... and how the street light overhead illuminated the object carelessly tossed inside, holding the lid up.
The edge of a Lords of 'Za pizza box.
The three humans looked away from the window to look at one another... and then, slowly turned around to see the four cats watching them from the living room... all sitting primly next to one another, as innocent as could be.
"You can almost see the halos over their heads," Michael finally said, after a full minute had passed. "We don't want to know what happened here tonight – do we?"
"All I have to say is this," Jane spoke, watching as Zachary began to wash his right front paw. "I'm just glad that they're on our side."
"More like we're on theirs, Jane," Daria echoed, as Bump walked slowly into the kitchen, and purred as she rubbed against Daria's ankles once more. "Definitely on theirs."