... and a cat shall lead them!

Russel felt awful about himself! He got up quickly and made sure no one had seen him fall. Cate, his sister, was in the room but she wasn't even looking at him. In fact, she seemed to be making a point of not looking at him. Typical. In this case, though, that was good. No cat wants to be seen falling down or tripping over something.

Russel ran upstairs to the guest room and hopped on the bed and sat on the pillow. No one ever went in that room so he knew he would be safe while collecting his thoughts. Russel felt so funny, but there was something even worse. He knew he felt funny!

"Here I am," he thought, "feeling funny."

Russel had never before thought about how he felt. And he certainly had never thought about what he was thinking. Suddenly Russel got super nervous so he started cleaning himself.

"I better clean myself," Russel thought.

"I'll just clean myself until this all passes," he then thought.

"I better just keep cleaning myself," he thought in a bit.

Russel began to worry about how hard he was cleaning himself. He'd better slow down! If someone saw him cleaning himself like this, would they think something was wrong? Was something wrong? Did he need help?

Russel tried to regulate his cleaning but once he started thinking about cleaning himself in a totally normal way he found that by thinking about it he couldn't do it normally. Horrible!

Russel jumped off the pillow and ran under the bed.

"Enough!" thought Russel.

Russel tried to calm down, but his brain kept thinking about things that had happened to him. Usually he didn't think about the past: he used to mostly think about things that should happen, like dinner.

Russel remembered so many days he had lived. Always lying around. Eating and sleeping and staring off and watching things. He began to think he didn't like to think about how he had spent his life. He didn't like thinking about it, but he couldn't stop. Trapped!

Russel's head started feeling swirly and he felt sort of quaky and if he could have somehow laid down more he would have but he was already as laid down as a body can get. There was no place to go. He was so scared.

It was rainy outside and so there was a tickity tickity tickity tickity on the roof. It sounded kind of like water dripping from the bathtub faucet.

A flash! Day after day after day of sitting in the bathtub came back to Russel. He could feel his head cocked and his nose moving and his damp paws as he watched the water drip. Before he knew what was happening Russel was racing down the stairs!

Russel didn't want to be seen when he was feeling so funny, but he could not stop himself. If his sister and Brad and Neil had to see him acting weird then let them see him acting weird.

Russel hopped on the edge of the bathtub, slinked around the curtain and dropped into the tub. It was nice in there - a little humid and the curtain made the light nice and soft and Russel felt very cozy and safe because he was in a tiny little space. He walked up to the faucet. He could see all his old fur still stuck around the tub from days and weeks past. He had spent so much time here, but now it was different. Russel wanted to know where that water came from and where it went to. It seemed to just come from black and then go to black. Faucet to drain, faucet to drain. But why? How? The faucet was not dripping so Russel just looked at the darkness inside the faucet. Then, Russel looked at his old fur smeared on the porcelain around him.

Roar! The shower curtain was torn back! Brad said a bunch of stuff at Russel then looked at him. He picked Russel up and put him outside the bathroom and closed the door.

There was a big bag of twigs on the kitchen counter. Russel was super happy seeing this! Whenever Brad or Neil collected twigs it meant they were going to see the people who lived with Bandit the dog. Bandit and Russel had been communicating for months but had never met. Russel had a whole lot to ask and tell Bandit today! He positioned himself quickly next to the bathroom door and tried to look disinterested.

Brad opened the door and came out. Russel stood and walked around Brad's legs in a tight circle. He rubbed all over Brad's pants. Brad petted him and moved on thinking he was very popular with cats.

What Brad didn't know is that this is how Russel and Bandit communicated! For instance, Bandit would rub a question all over the pants of the nice strong man he lives with. The nice strong man would then visit Russel's house and Russel would smell his pants until he understood what Bandit was asking. Russel would rub his response on the nice strong man's pants who would then go home and be smelled by Bandit. That's how Bandit would get his response. They would then discuss the issue as appropriate. Over the months they had compared many notes: feeding schedules, the scariness of rain storms, plus loud and unexpected noises.

Cate just sat there and watched all this happening. She didn't have as many questions that needed answers as her brother did. Once she had heard about allowances, and had looked into them, but nothing had come of it.

Russel's question today was different though. Everything was different! Russel had wondered about things before, and had done investigations before, but no question seemed as important as this one. He didn't know why.

Russel walked into the living room. Normally he would have taken a nap and awaited his answer. This time he just stood there. He stared at the wall and was very still. Russel was deep in thought. He knew instantly why this question and this investigation was different from all the others. The difference was that he had to know this answer. He had to know because he now knew how he spent his days and how he would spend his days! He couldn't stop thinking about it. The idling! The malingering!

This was all fine when he had never thought about it. But now he knew he was doing it! He couldn't stop being aware of it! His life, as it was happening, was right there in front of him! Every second of every day! He was aware of being a cat! How could a cat live like that?

Russel felt like he was going insane! His fur felt heavy and warm and his skin couldn't breathe! He felt like he needed his fur shaved! Now!

Russel darted to the kitchen just as Brad was leaving the house with his twigs. He furiously rubbed Brad's leg.

Russel had rubbed a new message for Bandit, but this one was very, very different!

Brad left the house again thinking he was very popular with cats. But, if he knew what his pants said, his brain would have exploded!