It was late spring of 2001. Following the clandestine union of two high level espionage specialists on a secret mission, I was born first in a litter of four. Mother was white with a few black spots. My father was a Halloween cat, black with yellow eyes. Together, they produced a litter of Tuxedo kittens.
I couldn’t have wished for a better mother. Warm, loving, brave. I now own a blanket that reminds me of her. On a bad night, it brings me comfort. There has been no word from her since 2003. I still keep in close contact with my sister, Creepster.
Mother began our training early. But the runt, ‘Dragoon,’ was the one chosen to receive the Mission and Title. Dragoon of Noswad. A title that I coveted. I was Pepe le Chat L’Amour. As mother used to say, ‘I was bred to hunt. I was born to love.’
All too soon we were wrested away from the fireside and mother, and taken to a training camp. We were given the code name, ‘Barn Cats,’ and we spent our young lives working to grow up brave and strong.
It was during this period that I began to suspect just how important The Mission was. Dragoon, our leader, was secretive, yet demanding. Each of us was given a directive daily that must be achieved or there would be hell to pay. Which was strange when I think of Dragoon’s appearance. Looking back, I can see that was why he was chosen. Out of the litter, he was the only long-hair. And he had the ability to look innocent, helpless and stupid. All these qualities were a ruse, however. He was none of those things.
We had plenty of space to train in. Strenuous tree climbing, road racing, creek swimming. We did it all. It wasn’t long until we discovered our first operative. George.
George lived next door in a palace made of concrete. On a regular basis he would duck his captor and run reconnaissance. We ran into him one day while he was sneaking out. We learned so much from George even though he was a dog. He taught me to never believe anything you hear about that species, and I have since trusted many of his kind. I was grateful when we were reunited years later in his retirement. But there will be more of that later.
It was George who first pointed out the dangers that were living and lurking all around us. Raccoons, Possums, Moles, Weasels and Coyotes. But the stories he told the four of us on dark nights, the ones that gave me the worst nightmares were the ones that turned out to be true. These were the stories of squirrels. The Evil Squirrels of Chaos.
I noticed Dragoon during these conferences. The expression on his face changed whenever their name was mentioned. Primal hatred, his fangs would show. Once he saw me watching, and quickly masked his expression with blank stupidity. But he knew I’d seen the truth.
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Shortly after that, Dragoon was gone for longer and longer periods of time. I soon realized he was on reconnaissance trips with George. I began sitting by the back porch each day waiting for him to return. To get a hint from his smell where he’d been.
My biggest regret is the day I allowed the warm summer sun to lull me to sleep. I awoke hearing screaming, chattering and the sound of the garage door closing.
I ran around the corner as fast as my legs would take me. I would give anything to erase the sight from my mind. For there, under the closing garage door was Dragoon. Squirrels gripping each paw as they held him in place for the descending door. When they saw me they scattered. But I was too late. By the time I hit the panic button and the door reversed, it had done its damage.
It took a few moments before death took him. In those moments he passed the coveted title to me. And enough information for me to realized just how necessary my role was for the safety of the world. For the evil plot of the Squirrels of Chaos was truly diabolical.
My fur stood on end as he whispered these words, “The Squirrels of Chaos have joined consciousness with all the squirrels of the universe. Together, they prepare the way for the aliens to land. Remember this date: April 11, 2015! It is the end of the future and of all we hold dear. You must stop them!” He faded out for a moment, then with a herculean effort whispered, “Tell mother I love her, tell …” and my brother was gone. I had witnessed a syndicate hit, my innocence died with him.
Watch next Thursday for Episode 3, in which Pepe Infiltrates Enemy Lines