Justinian

Maurice meowed loudly, waking Susannah as well as his father. Susannah grumbled and rolled over, flinching as she moved.

Justinian leapt nimbly out of the bed, and pranced towards Maurice, slightly annoyed. "What was so important that you had to wake me, especially during this time of crisis? And Susannah too? Couldn't it wait?"

"It could, but I thought you'd like to know first: it's is over. He doesn't remember anything."

"Who doesn't remember anything? What are you talking about?"

"Crisis averted. That little mouse, Moby. His fall erased all of his memory of August. He doesn't remember anything he discovered. We're in the clear!"

"You mean to say that it's over. He actually doesn't remember it? We won't even have to go through the trouble of making him out to be nuts?"

"That's right. It's over."

Justinian sighed, carefully calculating what to do now. He had spent the last maun stressing about keeping his regime together, and now it was over, they were safe. "Well," he began, "Let's celebrate." I'll go spill the milk out of the refrigerator. Get all the cats who aren't on duty. We're having a party!"

Maurice padded downstairs as quickly as he came up them. Justinian stretched his back and legs out, pulling at the carpet with his claws as his body arched downward into a smile shape. He jumped up and, on the fourth try, pulled open the refrigerator. He climbed in, shivering at its chill in conjunction with the already cool september night. He brushed gingerly past the pickle jar, the orange juice, the cheeses, and various other items, in his mind, refrigerator decor. He moved through the strident yellow fluorescent light towards the jackpot: a big, clear, textured plastic jug with a red pop cap. Whole Milk. Exactly what he wanted, needed, deserved, for all his hard work maintaining his regime, nay, empire. He nudged it with his chin and watched with delight as it fell to the ground and burst, the cool white wealth spreading across the floor.

He heard Henry and Susannah stir but no footsteps, so he knew that he was in the clear. Susannah had become so senile that Henry wouldn't put it past her to come down and drop the milk on the floor, having stumbled around without her walker many nights before, and, she wouldn't either, since she couldn't remember much anyway. Most of what she told Henry and the cats these days had to do with her childhood during the war. This put everyone to sleep except Justinian, who listened carefully, hoping the incoherence of her babbling would subside for a moment for her to talk about the actual fight, which might provide him with a strategy, but no, instead all she could talk about was her sweetheart.

Justinian leapt from the refrigerator to the table, hearing it close behind him, and from there, climbed down a chair and onto the floor, where he promptly began drinking his prize. The other cats soon arrived, and there were now five of them: Maurice, Constantine, Basilicus, Anastasius, and Justinian himself, all lapping at the white liquid that covered the linoleum floor. Only Valens was missing, who was covering the black class. After the death of Leo, which Justinian told his sons and daughter was a suicide, Valens had to make schooling into an every-other-day affair for the segregated classes.

Soon, each cat had a white beard on his fur, a beard of pure feline happiness. Anastasius even woke her and Maurice's kittens, who came too to drink from the fountain of prosperity. When most of the floor was clear, Justinian hopped onto a chair and let out a loud Meow, letting everyone know it was time to pause and listen. Anastasius sent her kittens out of the room.

"Felines," he began, in a deep, regal tone. "Today we gather in celebration of the superiority of our race over the race of mice."

The cats meowed with excitement.

"Over the past two months since I first heard of the little vermin who knew our plans, I have been working tirelessly to resolve this crisis and restore our dominon. And today, this little mouse wakes without the memory of his subordination. In fact, all mice with this knowledge are either dead, or possess such a strong amnesia that it shall never cross their tiny minds again. Then again, what can we expect. They're rodents." He chuckled, and with him laughed the body of cats around him. "Once again, the authority of the priests goes unchallenged!" he howled.

The cats cheered, and, showing a respectful and delighted deference, allowed him to lap up the rest of the milk.

"I need one volunteer to return back into the heart of darkness to supervise the barbarians," he announced, and the well educated cats laughed, familiar with the book to which he was referring, which only increased their racial superiority. Mice could never read Conrad.

Basilicus volunteered, and walked regally back down the stairs, proud to serve his species. Anastasius gathered up her kittens and took them back to her special feeding bed. Constantine headed upstairs to take a nap, satisfied with his full stomach. Finally, only Maurice and Justinian were left in the dark, antiquated kitchen. They waited until they heard all the quiet cat feet stop padding around the house. Finally, all that could be heard was the gentle, midnight hum of the kitchen appliances, and the occasional puff of ventilation.

"So..." Maurice started.

"You did a very good job. You've served me well, my son."
"Does that mean that you will nominate me instead of Constantine? We all know what he contributed to this mess."

Justinian sighed. He knew that Maurice would make a good leader. He had an alpha-cat demeanor with the calculative intelligence needed for the job. Still, something didn't seem right.

"We'll see," he told Maurice. "I have to consider it. It's been a wild night, and I don't know if I can make a decision this important without adequate time." Maurice nodded understandingly, but Justinian could see in his Son's eyes that he was hurt. "You did well. Take the next day or two off."

He pranced up the stairs and leapt onto Susannah's bed, curling back up next to her. "Where have you been, kitty?" she whispered. He mewed sweetly and began to purr, pleased by his deception; a job well done.

The End

7 comments about this story Feed