Things Never To Do

freddie in food bowlWorried that you are that stereotype – single woman with cat, drinking wine alone on a Friday? Worry no more… A Japanese company has invented a wine especially for cats, so you can both drink wine together.

Called Nyan Nyan Nouveau, the drink contains juice from Cabernet grapes, vitamin C and catnip. (It doesn’t actually contain alcohol.)

Inspired by this, I created a short story using the characters from my first book. In my first book, friends Katie, Beanie, Chloe, Struan and Matthew have all discovered the most amazing piece of magic. They are deelans, people who can change into cats and have all kinds of other powers.

It’s all very well being able to hunt mice, fall asleep anywhere at any time and being able to jump more than five times your height, but what about other things – say, something a teenager might want to find out..?

Let Matthew tell you the tale…

Me, Chloe, Beanie and Katie were still going round to Struan’s house after school. His mum was usually out at work in the afternoons and he was an only child so we were safe enough to practice magic at his house.

Beanie or Chloe usually acted like teachers for the sessions, y’know bossing us all about and making us do things again and again, but last week Struan and me had got fed up of it being too like school so we said we wanted to do something different.

“Like what?” Beanie demanded, the old bossy boots.

“I dunno,” I said. “Can’t we try something fun, like going to a park and having flying competitions?”

“Well that won’t work,” Chloe said. “You know we have to keep hidden and all the parks near here are really popular. We’d be seen and how would we be able to explain that?”

Struan sniggered to himself. “I’ve got a better idea! Anyone ever seen a drunk cat?”

“What do you mean?” Everyone turned round and looked at him.

“I could nick some of my mum’s vodka, we could drink it and change into cats. Bet that would be funny.”

Beanie looked disgusted. “No it wouldn’t. That’s a stupid idea – it could be really dangerous. What if you can’t change back?”

Katie looked really unhappy and shot Beanie a look. “Erm, listen, I can’t do that because I don’t drink.”

“Ooh teacher’s pet!” Struan said that, not me.

Beanie glared at him. “Actually, none of us drink because we’re all UNDER AGE!”

Katie looked at her gratefully. “Is that the real reason you don’t drink Katie?” Chloe asked. I think she had noticed the look Katie had given Beanie. I wanted to know too, as I thought there must be something else as she looked as if she was about to burst out crying.

Katie looked at Beanie and Beanie nodded.

“Well, you know that I live with my gran?” Everyone nodded. I’d met Katie’s gran a few times. She was pretty cool for a gran.

“It’s because my mum couldn’t look after me. She can’t stop drinking. I had to look after her until I was nine when my gran took me to live with her. So I said to myself I would never drink because I hate it when people are drunk.”

Everyone had gone quiet. We knew Katie lived with her gran, but not why. I probably wouldn’t have cared if I’d found out before we all started doing magic lessons together. But Katie was OK and it had been great fun finding out all about the different things we could do.

“Fair enough,” Chloe shrugged.

Beanie was giving Katie a hug, as she still looked as if she wanted to cry. Katie mumbled something about wanting to go home and Beanie said she would go with her so they left.

“Poor Katie,” Chloe said.

“Yes, poor her. Let’s be nicer to her in future,” I said.

Struan agreed too. “Ok, ok we’re all going to be super duper nice to Katie because her mum’s a wino. Now can we get drunk and see what happens when we change into cats?”

Chloe looked at me, eyes wide and a bit shocked, but we both agreed quickly enough. I was dying to try it out and I could see that Chloe felt the same way.

Struan found his mum’s vodka and mixed it up with some lemonade. I’d only ever had a few sips of my cousin’s lager before and Chloe was happy to tell us she’d never drank anything alcoholic in her life. We drank a few glasses of the vodka and lemonade (which tasted a bit like cough mix) each and waited to see what would happen. After about ten minutes, Chloe started giggling and stood up before me and Struan. She tripped and went flying across the room, which made me and Struan just about choke on our drinks.

“I’ll change first!” she shrieked once she’d picked herself up off the floor, “and then you can tell me what I look like!”

She changed into a cat (her cat is a tabby one and pretty small) and walked across the room towards us. Me and Struan were laughing like loons because she looked so funny. She couldn’t walk properly and her four legs were wobbly. When she got in front of us, she lay down on the floor and started rolling around purring like mad. Struan leaned forward and rubbed her belly. She went mad and curled around his hand with her claws out, sinking her teeth into the bit between his thumb and his forefinger.

“Owwww!” Struan screamed and jerked his hand back and Chloe the cat went skidding across the floor. As she hit the chair in the corner, she immediately changed back into Chloe.

“You [BAD WORD ALERT x 2]!” she was swaying slightly; dunno if it was because she was drunk or because she’d hurt herself crashing into the chair. Struan was clutching his hand to his chest.

“[BAD WORD ALERT] you started it!” he yelled back at her. “That really hurt like mad, you cow! Look what you’ve done to me!” He thrust out his hand and we could see blood where Chloe’s teeth and claws had broken the skin. Chloe swayed a little bit more and then flopped down onto the sofa.

“Ooohhhh, I feel a bit funny. I think I might go to sleep.” She changed back into a cat, curled herself up on one of the cushions and fell asleep. After a few minutes, I got up to prod her (I think Struan was too scared to touch her) but it didn’t look as if she was going to wake up any time soon.

“Yoo hoo Struan, I’m home!” The front door had just opened and Struan’s mum had come into their hallway. Struan looked at me in horror. We were in the living room so we quickly put the TV on, shoved the vodka bottle and empty glasses under the sofa and tried to look as if we hadn’t been doing anything.

“Did you have a good day at school darling? Wasn’t it a maths test today, how did that–” Struan’s mum had now come into the living room. She was pulling her coat off as she came in, but she stopped suddenly as she walked through the door, her coat hanging off one shoulder and immediately marched over to where me and Struan were sitting. Usually, he was really rude to his mum to get her to go away – I’d be too scared to talk to my mum the way he did to his.

But this time, his usual rudeness wasn’t working. His mum had folded her arms and she looked pretty scary. “Have you boys been DRINKING?”

Oops, I thought you weren’t supposed to be able to smell vodka. That’s what my cousin had told me.

“No, what are you talkin’ about?” Struan scowled at her. It was shame that he sounded a bit slurred. I burped at that point. Me and Struan couldn’t stop ourselves and burst out laughing. Struan’s mum looked furious and dropped to the floor, looking under the sofa.

“Aha!” she cried, dragging out the bottle of vodka. Half of it was missing. “Caught! Do you think I’m really stupid boys?” She’d sat back on her heels with the vodka bottle in one hand. At this point, she noticed Chloe who was still a cat and who was still fast asleep on the cushion.

“Where did that cat come from?” she screeched, pointing at it in horror. Well, that answered that question I suppose. It didn’t seem as if Struan had told his mum about being a deelan either.

“Aw, leave it alone mum,” Struan pleaded. “It’s a really sweet cat and it’s really cold outside.”

She’d stood up and gone over to the chair where Chloe was – still sleeping through all that racket, would you believe?

“I HATE cats. This thing is going out!” She picked up Chloe by the scruff of her neck, which woke her up as you would expect. Chloe yowled and her legs started moving, but held in that position she could hardly do anything.

Me and Struan looked at each other. What if Chloe turned back into a person? How were we going to explain that one? Struan shrugged at me; there was nothing we could do.

His mum marched out of the room, to the front door and flung Chloe out. We watched from the window. The cat went flying through the air, but managed to twist round gracefully and land on her feet. She yowled loudly again and ran off.

Struan’s mum came stomping back into the room, still in a bad mood.

“Right you two – you’ve got some talking to do. And we’d better get some coffee into you. I can’t believe you’ve drunk this much vodka,” she exclaimed.

“No, it wasn’t just me and Matt–” I kicked Struan. He couldn’t really say the cat that his mum had just flung out of the door had drunk the vodka too, could he?

His mum glared at us. “Was someone else here then?”

Struan shook his head furiously. “No, no – it was just us.”

“Well young man – you have let yourself down very badly. I’ve always trusted you to behave like an adult when you are here by yourself and it looks as if I can’t do that anymore. I’m afraid for the next few weeks, you’ll be coming to my office after work. Give me your house keys!”

Crap. Me and Struan looked at each other and made faces. It didn’t look as if we’d be practising magic at his house for a while. Struan looked as if he was going to argue and tell his mum to go and [BAD WORD ALERT] herself, but his mum had such a fierce look on her face he changed his mind and handed over his keys.

We had to sit through five minutes of being nagged – “so bad for you, I’m so disappointed, alcohol rots your brain when you’re young, and you lied to me too!” before his mum let us go. Struan rolled his eyes and sat through it all looking bored. I suppose he must have been used to her moaning at him.

We waited till she had gone upstairs, sighing as she climbed up every step, and then we darted outside quickly to see if we could find Chloe. We saw her hiding behind the hedge at the front. She was still a cat. When she saw us, she changed back into herself. She looked pissed off – and mighty pale.

“Thanks a lot you two – I love being thrown out of front doors!” she spat at us.

“Hey, what could we do? Nothing!” Struan shot back at her. “My mum hates cats. She doesn’t know I’m a deelan so how could we explain to her that the cat sleeping on the sofa was really a girl from school and that it was sleeping ‘cause it was dead drunk?”

Chloe flicked him the vees. “You might have tried to rescue me from her when she went to throw me out the door you pair of wusses.”

I was still a bit drunk – “Yeah, me and Struan are wussy pussies!” Struan started to laugh. Chloe looked grumpy for a second or two and then she burst out giggling.

She could hardly get the words out she was laughing so hard. “Ha ha ha, wh-wh-what did I look like when I was dr-dr-dr-drunk then?”

“Funneeee!” I said. “Your back legs were wobbling all over the place, but then you started purring like mad. When Struan’s mum picked you up, we thought you might change back into a person. How did you stop yourself?”

We’d left Struan’s house – he couldn’t come with us because he was grounded – and were walking up the road to the bus stop. Chloe still looked pretty pale (I suppose because she’d drunk most of the vodka) but now that she’d seen the funny side she was happy to talk about what it had been like.

“Y’know it’s really weird. I’ve changed into a cat a lot since finding out I am a deelan and sometimes when I change back, it’s not because I want to, it’s because I just change – like I have no control over it. But this time, I could feel myself starting to change and I shut my eyes and concentrated so hard on not changing that I didn’t.”

We kept walking as we both thought about it.

“Even though you were drunk then?” I asked.

She looked at me, eyes open wide. “Yes, funny isn’t it? Like my powers are getting stronger and stronger every day. Maybe we should ask Miss D’Azzler about that?”

I stared at her. Was she really thinking we could tell our teacher about this?

“Are you mental? What are we going to tell her, oh by the way Miss D’Azzler I’ve been drinking under age AND I decided to see what it felt like to be a cat and be drunk.”

Chloe flicked me the vees again. “Oh OK, it was a stupid idea. I suppose it’s just happening because we’re getting better and better at magic. Shall we tell Beanie and Katie about it? I think they should know.”

“I dunno,” I said. “Beanie disapproves of underage drinking and Katie disapproves of drinking full stop so maybe we shouldn’t.”

Chloe had stopped walking and turned to face me. “Well, I kind of think we should because it was interesting that I was able to stay as a deelan even though I was being flung out the door by Struan’s mad cow mum and I was drunk at the same time.”

I nodded. We were a small group so we should share what was happening to us and what we could do.

“… but could you make sure I’m not there when you tell Beanie?”