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After forever, p.6
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       After Forever, p.6

           Krystal George
 
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  I hear the train whistle while I’m still two blocks from the train yard meaning it’s eight at night. This is the last train for the night. I know if I miss this train I’ll be stuck and the mission will be an epic fail. I see the smoke start to flow in small billows from the train’s engine as it pulls out of its bay. Muttering a string of curses, I scramble up the building I’m standing by which happens to be Valdez’s deli which is nothing more than a front for the weapons trading he does in the stock rooms.

  From the roof, I can see the train beginning to pick up speed. Damnit! I think as I start racing across the roof, leaping from roof to roof as fast as I can. I cut across the fifth roof in the opposite direction of the train knowing it has to loop to head to the next stop. This roof has nothing but open expanse in front of it. Just as I reach the roof’s ledge, the train starts to flash past. I mutter a silent prayer to whatever god will listen, though I’m sure I was forsaken long ago, and leap. I land on the last car, barely. My claws scratching and scraping for purchase on the metal domed roof. After a moment of panic where I am certain I am about to plummet to the tracks and break every bone in my body, I finally get a grip on the tin can and hoist myself up.

  I keep myself flat to the top of the car, my front claws all dug into the metal as the scenery flies past me. It’s going to be a long few hours.

  It’s around eleven at night when I see a sign fly by with the words “Kitten Caboodle: Populations 43,000” scrawled on it. I groan. It figures Valdez would send me to the place he took me from for my last job.

  The city is virtually deserted. I assume this has a lot to do with Valdez and his gang of mutts catnapping the population. There’s still the odd cat out here and there. I hear a group of young boys in the alley across from me. The area reeks of catnip, I can bet it’s coming from them. The further into the city I go, the brighter it becomes. The lights are almost blinding after being in the dark for all these hours. I know I can’t afford to be spotted, especially not in what I’m wearing, so I backpedal until the lights are once again dim. Finding myself in front of a club called The Litter Box, I slip into the ally between it and the building beside it. The ally is nice and concealed in shadows so dark I can’t even see the whiskers attached to my face. I grin to myself as I pop open the pouch on my belt that holds my claw extensions and pull out a metal claw that has three hooks on the very tip. I slip the claw onto my front left pointer toe and then point to the roof of the Litter Box. I still want to know who thinks that name is appealing… I mean really?!

  Anyway, so I point to the roof of the Litter Box, and nothing happens! I arch a brow and look at the claw and sigh before tapping it a few times against the brick of the building.

  “Let’s try this again shall we?” I sigh as I once again point the grappler claw clad finger at the club’s roof.

  This time it works and the tri-hook shoots silently out of the claw tip. I hear it latch to the roof’s ledge almost silently. Wrapping my other front paw’s toes around the grappling line, I give a sharp tug on the line and am instantly whisked up to the tri-hook.

  Don’t look down. Don’t look down. I chant in my head as I launch myself over the ledge and onto the roof. I’m terrified of heights, it’s a wonder how I even manage not to plummet to my death on a daily basis... Damn Valdez! I hope he gets mange for making me do this crap!

  The roof is nothing special. One of those hasty tar overlay jobs that makes everything smell like melted rubber on a hot day. I scrunch of nose causing my whiskers to twitch. It had been a hot day after all.

  Forcing myself to ignore the stench tickling my smell preceptors I drop the grappling claw back in the pouch and make sure the clasp is closed, then I begin my race across the rooftops of Kitten Caboodle. I know I only have an estimated four hours to get in and get out with the bone. And with how this city is designed it will take me almost an hour to get to the museum.

  I finally spy the museum about across the four lane blacktop from the roof I’m perched on. “Are you kidding me?!” I almost scream in frustration. There’s not a chance in the pound I can jump across this distance without becoming one with the tarmac.

  I pace along the ledge of the roof for what seems like at least two of my nine lives, paws on my hips, contemplating how to get over there without being seen.

  I look both ways from my perch and smirk. There’s a medical delivery truck displaying “Nine Lives Medical: Where all your lives count” on the side stopped at a red light to my left. To my right a food delivery truck promising that “Fluffy’s has the best gourmet wet food within 3 towns” stopped at that light.

  My head snaps back and forth between the two lights. I have to time this just right or I’ll either be seen or die. Personally if I had to choose I’d rather be seen, but that’s just my opinion.

  The lights turn green almost simultaneously and I ready myself to pounce as if the medical truck is the sneakiest mouse I’ve ever seen. When the truck reaches below my position, I pounce, landing hard on the top of the small truck. I have no time to assess the damage as the larger, trailer wielding truck comes up alongside and begins to pass me. Taking a deep breathe, I throw myself at it and slam harshly into the side of the trailer, barely keeping my claws dug into the metal.

  Gasps assaulted my ears as I clambered to the top of the trailer as it made its way away from the museum. So much for not being seen… I think with a sigh.

  As the truck stops at a red light about a mile from my destination, I slip on the grappling claw again and torpedo myself up to the closest roof on the correct side of the street.

  It only takes me a few minutes to find myself atop the hotel next to the museum. Lucky for me, the hotel is a lot taller than the museum so getting onto the museum will not be a problem.

  Once I have the grappling claw back in place, I watch the tri-hook sail down to latch onto the framing of the multi-faceted windowed dome of the museum’s roof. Popping open a pouch on the right side of my belt I pull a thick scarf out. After securing the pouch, I loop the fabric over the grapple line and wind it around both paws.

  I take a calming breath and talk myself up, then step off the hotel’s roof into nothing. I bit my tongue, literally, as I fly dangerously across the space between the hotel and museum, to prevent myself from screaming. I stick my slippered back paws out like landing gear and touch down on the roof on my butt skidding to a complete stop then retract the line.

  “That was quite an impressive landing.” A deep baritone voice says.

  I look up into the brightest green eyes I have ever seen. Those alluring eyes however apparently belong to a cop. “Crap!”

  I have to admit, the cop was kind of cute, in that “I’m going to make sure you never see the light of day again” kind of way. He’s bigger than I am, but more than a couple of inches. His fur is pitch black which makes the blue of his uniform shirt stand out all the more.

  I sigh in defeat as he grabs my wrist and hauls me to my feet. “Look I don’t know what you’ve heard about me but...”

  “Everyone knows the name Puss in Boots. You’re a legend.” The cop chuckles as he interrupts my rambling.

  “I see... Lovely…” I mutter lowering my head.

  This makes the cop laugh even more. He almost doubles over as he grabs his stomach while laughing at me.

  I growl, my agitation apparent by the harsh movement of my tail. “Just what’s so funny?”

  “I’m sorry! I’m sorry… But you have to understand Puss, you’re a legend! I mean mothers tell stories about you to their kittens who refuse to clean their rooms! And to think, here I am meeting you in the fur!” The cop goes on and on.

  My whiskers twitch. I am not amused. “Look if you’re here to arrest me then be my guest. If not, then get the hell out of my way I have a job to do.” I say as I push the cop aside and study the aerial view of the museum through the glass.

  “Arrest you?! I’m here to help you! Is my disguise that good?” The cop, well fake cop, states.
/>
  This new information halts me. A cock a brow and look to him in confusion. “How’d you even know I would come here?”

  He shrugs. “It wasn’t hard to guess. The Bone of Riches is the most valuable thing in the city, probably in the whole country.”

  “I see... What do they call you?” I ask curious to this overly intelligent feline. I mean he has to have a brain since he’s the only one that figured out I would come for the bone. Right?

  “It’s stupid... My name’s Shadow. I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she gave me such a common name.”

  I hold my tongue. Sometimes a normal name is better than a different one. Do you know the name variations there are for Puss?! Some of them would make a trucker blush. Instead, I nod to Shadow. “Nice to meet you Shadow. If you’re here to help, we better get a move on it. I don’t have much time to finish this job.”

  Shadow nods his head and slips off the roof. I pay him almost no notice when he leaves and only slightly wonder if he decided it isn’t in his best interest to help me after all. My suspicion is quickly shot to hell as I see his unmistakable form swagger into the room the bone is on display in.

  So it wasn’t a cop uniform. It was a security one. I think to myself. I have to give the kid credit, he used his head to get inside the building. Oh well. I find it’s much more fun to break in. I am a cat burglar after all.

  I hum softly to myself as I open the claw extension pouch and remove the diamond tipped claw. I slip it on then knock lightly on the glass of the dimly room’s roof. Shadow looks up and I gesture to the alarm panel to his right. The wiring is rigged to the window. He shakes his head no and draws a circle in the air.

  “Well duh! I know I’m cutting a hole in the glass, I however would like the alarm not to go off.” I mouth this to him with my sassiest expression and place my paws on my hips.

  Shadow shakes his head and again draws the circle in the air and nods his head yes. Then he draws a square and places his paws on the imaginary sides and shakes his head no.

  It finally clicks. The alarm won’t go off if I cut the glass, but touching the framing will set it off. I nod to him that I understand and root around in the pouch I had gotten the scarf from and pull out a glove which I slip onto the paw without the diamond claw, over the other glove already on it. This new glove has a huge suction on the pad part.

  I press the suction cup coated paw onto the window pane and then test how well it holds. Once satisfied, I take the diamond tip claw and cut a large circle around the stationary paw. When that’s done, I let myself fall off my haunches onto my back, a circle of glass comes with me. Damn I’m good!

  After slipping the suction glove back in the pouch, I open a pouch closer to my tail and pull out a long length of rope. I tie off one end to the central air exhaust vent and drop the rest through the hole. Shadow is watching me, I look at him stupid and gesture dramatically toward the entrance where he’s supposed to be keeping watch. I’m beginning to think the boy has a crush!

  I coil my form around the rope and slide down letting myself fall the last three feet to land gracefully on my feet. Did you expect anything less?

  Shadow comes up to me “The coast is clear Puss. No worries there’s only me and old Frisky here, and between you and me Frisky hasn’t lived up to his name in a long time. This should be easy.”

  As if to mock me, the alarm goes off. I shoot a narrowed glare to Shadow. With the alarm already going off, there’s no reason to be stealthy anymore, so I make a break for the bone.

  The bone is maybe the size of a chicken drumstick. It has the nicest shading of gold on it. The bone alone is worth a fortune! Using my slippered right back paw, I lift and side kick the glass display case housing my treasure. I snatch the bone and shove it unceremoniously into a vacant pouch on my belt.

  I start off racing toward my rope but I skid to a stop as I see Shadow has a gun pointed at me. I look at him mildly confused, really I should have known better, but we won’t go there.

  “Puss, drop the bone and lay down on the ground.” Shadow says in a calm, steady voice.

  “Do as he says Miss Boots, no one wants to hurt you.” An older male voice says. Putting two and two together I figure the voice must belong to Frisky.

  I turn my head and glance behind me. Sure enough, an old tom tabby cat that has be on the last day of his nine lives is standing there holding his gun on me with shaky paws.

  Well shadow’s behavior makes sense now. I decide I won’t let this kitten, let’s face it he may be bigger than me, but he’s clearly younger, get in trouble because of me.

  Taking a deep breath I resume my run, I know Shadow won’t shoot me. I don’t know how I know this I just do, call it a gut feeling.

  I hear both guns go off back to back. A sharp, burning pain begins in my back causing me to stagger. I look to Shadow slack jawed before realizing his gun isn’t trained on me. A few seconds later, I hear Frisky hit the floor.

  As I stumble passed Shadow, I grab the cuff of his shirt and pull him with me. The kid can’t stay here they’d haul him off as an accomplice.

  The pain is unbearable as I climb the rope back onto the roof. My breaths are rushed, god it hurts to breath!

  I don’t say anything to Shadow as I gather what strength I have left and race across the roof. I don’t even bother to look before throwing myself off it.

  I land in the bed of a pickup, not even a heartbeat later, Shadow lands beside me.

  “Are you okay?!” Shadow’s face is a mask of concern, it’s unnerving.

  “Do I look okay?!” I snap back. I don’t mean to be mean, but obviously Shadow has never been shot before.

  “Let me have a look.” He says.

  Before I can agree to this, he flips me gently onto my stomach. I hear him suck in a breath. To his credit, he doesn’t tell me how bad it is. He just goes to work. After a few minutes I don’t feel much pain anymore, just some pressure and aching.

  “What did you do?” I ask quietly.

  I can almost feel the nonchalant shrug I’m given. “Got the bullet out. I don’t even know how Frisky hit you, I was banking on him missing.”

  “How did you know to make it stop hurting?” I’m quite curious by this point.

  Another phantom shrug. “I used to work in Nine Lives Medical. It was a long time ago though. Once I had to start stealing, I figured the knowledge would come in handy.”

  “I see... Well thanks.”

  Shadow refuses to leave. He insists that he has to monitor my wound and make sure it heals properly. I think it’s just an excuse.

  We arrive back in Dog Walk City just as the sun is starting to crest the skyline. I’m tired, cranky, and whatever Shadow did to make the pain stop is wearing off.

  When we get to Valdez’s warehouse I bang on the door as if my balled up paw has the ability to go through the solid oak.

  Not surprisingly, Filipe steps out of the doggy door and looks to me with those big watery mud colored eyes.

  “Where’s Valdez?” I demand in a harsh tone.

  Filipe shakes his head. “No…No... No Meester Valdez. Meester Valdez no here.”

  I growl low to the annoying dog and simply punt him out of the way. He issues a surprised yelp.

  I slip through the doggy door with Shadow right behind me. Filipe brings up the rear.

  It is just how Filipe said. Valdez isn’t here. There’s splatters of red and patches of orange fur scattered around though. I lower my head shaking it slowly. Damn mutt tricked me.

  My head still lowered, I ask Filipe in a dangerous voice. “Where is your master Filipe?”

  Filipe begins prancing in front of me like he has eaten a bag of jumping beans. “Meester Valdez no say. He only say for joo to gimme de bone.”

  I snorted. Did he really think he was the bone after all this crap?!

  “You tell ‘Mister’ Valdez if he wants the bone… He’ll have to come find me.” I say as I turn and slip through the dog
gy door.

  Outside the morning sun nearly blinds me. I raise a paw to shield my eyes from the glare.

  “Where to Boss?” Shadow asks.

  I am unsure if I like this whole having a side kick thing. Aren’t superheroes the only ones that have sidekicks?

  To answer Shadow, I shrug. “To find Valdez I guess...”

  Thus ends the story of how I acquired the Bone of Riches. I have no idea what I will do with it. At the moment it’s insurance that at some point I will see Valdez again and settle the score…

 
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