Part 3: The Legend of Ronnikin Skyweasel
Alexander Gordon Jahans
Sally leaned back into the strong fur covered arms of Ronnikin Skyweasel, natural drugs released by her body giving her a gentle buzz of joy, warmth and love. “You... are... good”
Ronnikin chuckled, his throat reverberating the sound like an odd purr. As his right hand caressed the right of Sally's head his left slid down from her belly to her trouser pockets. As he rummaged, he said casually “Yes, behind the ears is always good spot, so hard to reach by yourself and worth inconvenience of getting a friend to do it for you. Did he ever scratch you behind the ears?”
Sally swallowed and blinked away the unpleasant memories “He kissed me and undressed me like a woman...”
Ronnikin noted the hesitation in her voice “And then he played with you, like a cat playing with a mouse, a true sadist.” At last Ronnikin found what he was looking for and slid his hand out of Sally's trouser pockets and passed the passport to one of his underlings. “Nothing worse than a pussy tease who gets you to the point of purring then uses you like a piece of meat.”
Sally nodded sadly, sober enough from the memories to remember that she was still lying in Ronnikin's lap moment's after he'd conned her from the Farsh-nuke. “How did you manage it? Conning the Farsh-nuke? Who are you anyway?”
“Hush” said Ronnikin as he leaned in to whisper in Sally's ear “This is not a respectable establishment, I cannot appear weak.”
Sally nodded imperceptibly, disguising it as adjusting how she sat.
Ronnikin leaned back and said casually “There is a legend, a legend that tells of the first Ronnikin Skyweasel and how the Felis Sapiens came to be...”
Earth. 2013. A nineteen year old nerd pauses his audiobook of World War Z to shout back at his mother “No, mum, the Mayan apocalypse idea is bullcrap! Our Calendar counts down to the death of Jesus Christ but that doesn't mean Romans thought Jesus Christ would bring about the end of Days!
A ginger cat who could comfortably sleep in a shoebox slinked into the room. His hair was long for a short haired moggy and shone with all the shades on the lighter side of orange. He stood up on his hind legs and played with the drawstrings on his owner's pyjama trousers.
The owner hurried picked the cat up in his arms and shrieked quietly “Ronny, don't do that, that is very dangerous.
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First looked into the bespectacled eyes of his valued food provider and yawned then started biting his hand.
“Ow!” cried the man as he extricated himself from the fluffy biter.
“This doesn't sound like the amazing story of Ronnikin Skyweasel The First” said Sally “This sounds like you're pulling this out of your arse.”
“Well excuse me for setting the scene” said Ronnikin flippantly “I suppose you emerged into the world a fully formed goddess?”
Sally thought for a moment “You think I'm a goddess?”
Ronnikin rolled his eyes and handed another underling Sally's wallet “Fine, I'll move the story on a bit...”
Ronnikin lapped at the water in his bowl and wondered when the ghost in the bowl would stop trying to lick his face when a trainer thudded down beside him. It was the face of his food giver. The giant loomed over him and said “Ronnikin... I-I'm sorry. I hope the reports aren't true. I mean it's ridiculous... But I have to see for myself. I have to know. And that means I might not return.”
The food giver bent down and hugged Ronnikin Skyweasel The First then stared into his eyes and said “Ronnikin Skyweasel, Son of Dennis and Patch, you are so much smarter than you think you are. You are the very best of cats, strong, smart and loving. If I don't make it, look after yourself. I believe in you. You can survive and who knows? Years after the fall of man maybe the great Emperor Ronnikin Skyweasel The First will build a statue in honour of his friend the Farsh-nuke.”
Then the food giver left the house and Ronnikin went back to lapping up the water but this timre something weird happened, the ghost followed his every movement. Angrily Ronnikin lashed out at the ghost, his right paw slamming down on the surface of the water, the water splashed Ronnikin in the face yet had also apparently splashed the ghost in the face too. As Ronnikin prepared to slam another volley of water at the ghost, his paw hung over the water, the ghost's paw was doing the same and looked just the same but the ghost hadn't hit the water, Ronnikin had. Ronnikin tentatively dipped his paw into the water and watched as the ghost's paw met with his then seemed to vanish as Ronnikin's paw dipped below the water. At this point Ronnikin had... not quite an idea. He remembered seeing the ghost elsewhere and wanted to try something.
Ronnikin exited the kitchen via the cat-flap and padded over the gravel and grass to the paving slabs beside the pond. Yes, there was the ghostly bastard and dry now. As Ronnikin reached out a paw before the water he saw now that the ghost's being dry mimicked his being dry. Ronnikin knew now that this ghastly act must be done. Ronnikin needed proof. Ronnikin jumped into the pond.
As Ronnikin writhed in horror he watched the ghost do the same and felt buoyed by the further proving of his not quite idea. Ronnikin found the ghost. They were half joined now at the body but the ghost's head stood prod and determined, like Ronnikin. Ronnikin and the ghost glared at each other then headbutted as Ronnikin submerged his head and imagined the torrent of water that would cascade off him as he lifted his head. If he was right then he knew what the ghost would do. Ronnikin lifted his head above the water and watched water cascade from the back of the ghost's head as he felt it cascade from his head. Ronnikin nodded and his reflection did likewise, there was never any ghost, just a poor illusory copy. Ronnikin climbed out of the pond and lay panting on the paving slab.
The name Farsh-nuke meant something, it carried an ancient weight, significance. A storm was coming.
Sally stared into space for a moment then said “How does the cat know what the Farsh-nuke means? Also is it getting hot in here?”
Ronnikin chuckled “Darling, I am covered in long fur and wearing clothes, if it was hot I would damn well know about it. No, you are undergoing Bestial Synthesis, your body is transitioning from a thinking feeling individual to an instinctual animal and animals do not like clothes.”
“Strange that nobody fixed that” said Sally “I mean I can't strip in front of all these people.”
Ronnikin shrugged “To many it is a feature, not a bug and please feel free to lose yourself to the animalistic urges. I will look after you. To answer your question though it is believed that was the moment the Farsh-nuke blessed Ronnikin Skyweasel The First with the soul of a human and Ronnikin, being five years old, had enough memories to get very smart very fast. Farsh-nukes are always playing multiple games at once, maybe he subconsciously prepared Ronnikin for his destiny. Whatever happened though the name of the Farsh-nuke burns in the very core of every non-thinking animal as it was likely from him that the logic of non-thinking animals was copied and now Ronnikin Skyweasel The First had the consciousness to understand what that meant...”
Ronnikin ran. And as he ran he cried out. He screamed of the apocalypse and danger, get north the blight is coming. Cats knew of the blight as kind of a fairy story, the blight was the malevolence that took the sick and the dying. The cats could smell the rot in the air so they ran with him and echoed the cries. Soon the cats cries were ahead of the blight by quite some way and Ronnikin followed them north.
Late in the day as he was growing tired he smelled someone like the food giver. Cats could tell the difference between their favourite food and the people who merely put it onto dinner plates by smell alone and Ronnikin smelled this one but she was different, sweeter somehow, a touch of cinnamon and lemon.
The giant was sat at a cafe table, her cat dressed in a fluorescent waterproof coat that identified her as “Campuss”. The cat was a female and clearly uncomfortable but glad to have food.
Ronnikin approached cautiously and Campuss acquiesced. Ronnikin ate his fill then jumped up on the table and cried. The shorter of the giants had red hair and was drinking something creamy, the taller had spiky hair and was drinking from a can.
“Aww!” cried the short one and she picked Ronnin up and hugged him.
“Oh Christ! Not another on!” cried the tall one
The short one hit the tall one “Don't shout!”
“Well what the fuck do you call that!?” cried the tall one, spitting out his drink.
Ronnikin decided to lick the short one by way of distraction, he needed these food givers.
The short one looked pleadingly at the tall one.
“Fine” said the tall one “But you're feeding him. It's bad enough Campuss scratching at the door when I'm trying to scratch one out.”
The short one glared at the tall one again.
“Right! I am going to check on the progress of the ferry.” said the tall one leaving the table.
“And it is at this point, my dear Sally that I fear I must abridge my tale for you. You see Ronnikin Skyweasel The First carried the gift of comprehension in his blood and he was not a castrated cat...” said Ronnikin.
Sally groaned her understanding then slid out of her jacket “Do you have something I could change into?”
Ronnikin nodded in understanding then raised a hand for an underling to take Sally's jacket. As the underling, dressed as a concierge, approached Ronnikin whispered in his ear “Bring me my travel bag and a bikini from our stores.”
The underling nodded and took the jacket.
“I was going to get changed under that” said Sally
“Oh don't worry my dear, I am sure we can find you privacy somehow” said Ronnikin “But as I was saying my ancestor had an awful lot of fucking to do and he screwed whenever he had the opportunity. He would always try to teach his partners a little of his knowledge and what to expect from his offspring but aside from these affairs his main hobby was learning, particularly from books. Eventually the Ferry arrived and he, Campuss and his adopted food givers traveled by cruise ship to America. Along the way there was a lot of fear about zombies. This was why the ship was running but the quarantine procedures had worked, the one good thing to come out of 9/11. So there were no zombies but there were families from all over Britain and even abroad as they all sought to enter the land of guns and survivalists, the last best hope for mankind against the zombies. As the news spread though and the fear built up, paranoia sent people mad...”
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First looked at the shambling creature as it approached, a giant with foul breath and grey skin. It was lurching his way and behind him, not three hundred meters, were his food givers and Campuss. This threat had to be dealt with.
Ronnikin snarled and hissed. Back off, I'm warning you. Don't make me do this.
Still it approached.
Ronnikin darted forward and slashed at the thing's legs.
It didn't notice.
Ronnikin remembered his games with wildlife as a kitten. He knew a vulnerable spot but how to get there?
Ronnikin tried crawling up the creature, some success on the third attempt but it grabbed him. Ronnikin wriggled free and went back to the drawing board.
He remembered his food giver used a shiny metal implement to breakup pieces of flesh before he ate them, maybe if Ronnikin found an implement?
He remembered the food hall, they had tons of implements and this one was slow, it was the only hope.
Ronnikin ran to the kitchen as fast as his legs would carry him, jumped onto the table, snatched a steak knife between his teeth, handle in his mouth, then ran back. The shambling creature had barely moved. Ronnikin swiped at its legs with his knife and it bled. A victory but a Pyrric one since the creature still moved and Ronnikin's teeth hurt. He needed to get the knife to the vulnerable spot but how?
He thought back to his games as a kid for inspiration and remembered one time when had punctured the mouse in the chest then started spinning around, dangling the mouse from its tail, listening to its screams when the thing separated from its tail and went flying.
Ronnikin had an idea of what to do now. He got into position before the shambling creature and spun, stopped before the creature and let go of the knife. It dropped to the floor uselessly.
So Ronnikin tried again without stopping and went wide of the mark.
On his tenth try Ronnikin grazed its leg.
On his thirtieth he hit it in the knee.
On his fiftieth it narrowly missed the cheek of the shambling creature and a guard picked up his knife as two of them led the creature away to quarantine.
“Your bag, Sir” said the underling.
“Thank you” said Ronnikin “And if I might take your coat”
“Of course” said the underling, used to his employer's odd requests.
Ronnikin handed Sally the jacket and bikini “As you request, dearest.”
Sally was flushed red “Thank you”
As Sally changed Ronnikin continued the story “The ship made it to America without much incident and once it did arrive there everybody found the situation was under control. This was an America post-government crackdown on terrorism and post-the great zombie fiction craze. They had this shit under control. Long quarantines, armed guards, constant surveillance, on the spot execution of zombies. The cities weren't so well preserved. Human rights still being a thing even in America meant that cities were overrun by the infected but anywhere the government had control and security was tight then zombie threats were swiftly dealt with and in the time it took for the ship to arrive in America safe zones had been established.
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First, Campuss and his food givers lived in one of these safe zones for five years. Since the safe zones had boat travel locked down and zombies didn't do so well in the water they managed to keep society going. There weren't so many mouths to feed and they had primitive farming going. North Korea ended up being America's lifeline as Britain, Australia and the entire African continent fell. During this time Ronnikin fathered many children, read many books, practiced his fighting and taught the other cats.
As the years went by though the effect of so much of the civilized world falling to the infected took its toll. The planet started to cool down from the dramatic reduction of pollution. Diseases developed and spread. Harvests were hard. Sea trade became harder and harder as the satellite network fell out of sync and life boats and weather forecasts became almost non-existent. Then something changed, a whisper on the wind, a tremble through the earth, a message through the ether...”
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First froze when he realized what the message was. He jumped out of the lap of the short food giver and ran forward to get a twig. It was a primitive form of communication but the best he had to hand. He dragged the twig through the dirt.
“R, U, N” said the short foor giver reading aloud “Run? Holy shit Ronnikin is writing. I need to get Tom.
When short food giver and tall food giver arrived back to see what Ronnikin was writing he was on his last word.
“What does it say?” said the tall food giver, squinting against the sun “Run! The Farsh-nuke is coming!” The tall food giver thought for a minute.
Ronnikin started dragging the twig through the dirt again.
“Do you think Farsh-nuke means Alex? Only I haven't heard from him since this all began and he was the only person I knew who went by such a ludicrous name.” said the short food giver.
“Wait there's more” said the tall food giver
“And yes, I can read and write in English. Get over it. There are zombies and I need you two safe. Trust me.” read the short food giver “Huh. Well nice to meet you Ronnikin, I am Emma and this is-”
The tall food giver look at the fence where zombies were swiftly congregating and grabbed the short food giver's hand “Honey, run!”
Happy that his food givers were running Ronnikin, rounded up his troops with a series of whooping cries.
There were Ronnikin heard the tall food giver tell a guard “Look, you don't have to believe me, I know this sounds crazy but I saw the cat write the message with my own two eyes and now the zombies are up to something so be ready and trust the cats. They're up to something and they're on our side.”
The guard said “Tom, if you really feel so strongly would you like to enter quarantine? Very safe in quarantine.”
“Actually, that's a good idea” said the tall food giver.
“You're serious aren't you?” said the guard
“Good luck” said the tall food giver “Come along honey, this way to the padded cells.”
“Shit” said the guard then he radioed in “All units be on alert and watch for... unusual cat activity. Something's coming.”
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First stood guard, ready with the word that would bring all to action. His family and friends were out rousing the army he had been training and teaching. He tapped the ground impatiently with his tail. He wanted to bring the fight to the enemy. He wanted to surprise them. He wanted to act rather than be acted upon but his forces were using the time the enemy was granting him and it was foolish to waste it on some adrenaline fueled charge.
The zombies massed outside the gates. The guards armed themselves and got ready for the fight of their lives. The civilians hid and readied themselves for a lost stand they hoped wouldn't be necessary. And the cats ran and cried. The cry spread across the continent from cat to cat.“Ronnikin Skyweasel needs you, the Farsh-nuke is coming!”
“Urgh! Enough with the waiting!” cried Sally “I just want to hear how this story ends.”
“Okay” said Ronnikin, pulling out a needle and thread from a jacket pocket “I will skip to the good part if you will allow me to make certain cosmetic alterations to your good self.”
Sally took a deep breath then sighed “Finish your story.”
“Thank you” said Ronnikin “Well eventually the Farsh-nuke arrived as we all knew he must...”
Ronnikin Skyweasel watched as the Farsh-nuke, his old food giver, approached the gates. He looked like a walking corpse and smelt like one too. The old friends locked eyes for a moment and then he tried to get in.
“It can think” said one guard as the Farsh-nuke tried various different techniques at opening the door.
The Farsh-nuke smiled at this and stepped back then waved on his friends who proceeded to form a living battering ram by forming up layer upon layer and pushing.
“Guv'” said one guard “Lots of zombies in America, if this thing can call on even a fraction of them those doors are going to bust. So the question is then when do we start shooting, where's only ten of them or when there's three hundred?”
“The gates will hold” said the governor “And anyway we aren't the only hold out. There are others all thought out America and the rest of the world just waiting for the zombies to die off. If three hundred get in here then we can thin the heard of three hundred zombies.”
The Farsh-nuke nodded at this “Enough games!” He walked through the metal of the gates, phased through it like Ronnikin had phased through his reflection in the pond.
Ronnikin cried out.
The cats massed both inside and outside the gate. The ones inside were armed with knifes and backed by other cats who scampered back and forth delivering more knives.
“You've been busy Ronnikin” said the Farsh-nuke, impressed before striding up to a guard, bullets and knives phasing through him “Pity it won't help you.” then the Farsh-nuke's right hand phased through the guard's chest and he cried out in pain, falling dead as the Farsh-nuke removed his hand and stole his keys.
As the Farsh-nuke approached the gate Ronnikin used the word.
Ronnikin Skyweasel The First cried out in English “Alex!!!”
The Farsh-nuke froze and a hundred knives were fired at the Farsh-nuke but they weren't meant to do harm, they were scaffolding for the cats to climb as they bundled on top of the Farsh-nuke, forcing him to the ground as they meowed to the tune of Journey of the Sorceror by the Eagles.
Ronnikin cried out in English “Alex, these are prepared words, chosen carefully. I know about the Farsh-nuke. I know this was your bungled attempt at fulfilling your greatness but you caused the apocalypse. You gave me the gift of intellect and learning. I have made an empire as you wanted. Return the favour, old pal.”
The Farsh-nuke cried out “You are right Ronnikin, good boy. Humanity is sunk but there may be a way for them to live on. I need to use my powers though.”
“Leave him” commanded Ronnikin Skyweasel.
The cats ran away from the Farsh-nuke and took off defensive positions.
“Here boy” said the Farsh-nuke when he stood up.
Ronnikin ran over and the Farsh-nuke lifted him up to eye level “You've been a good friend to me and you are a good friend to humanity but now it is time for you to lead a new power, into the light. The cats. My life to your life, blood to blood. All that rots shall die and all that purrs shall live!”
The Farsh-nuke collapsed from pain and scrawled his last gift to Ronnikin in the dirt as Ronnikin and all who shared his blood became more than just smart cats but also humanoid.
True to his word the zombie disintegrated overnight and Ronnikin's great army of his brethren? They were now ready to retake the Earth for humanity,
“So what was the Farsh-nuke's last gift then?” asked Sally
“What else? The sylph pill” said Ronnikin Skyweasel “Now if you will excuse me I have a lot of experience of sylphs. Very charming creatures but they do have a habit of getting naked and falling asleep in the most inconvenient of places and I have a client to meet with in an hour so excuse the practicalities but needs must.”
Ronnikin opened his travel bag and slid the securing strap at the back of Sally's head and shoulders, resting beneath her armpits.
“Well I suppose the bag provides padding to rest on” said Sally idly
And then Ronnikin hooked Sally's feet though invisible thread he'd just secured as foot holds in her arse and pulled her knees up to her chest.
“Okay, this is odd” said Sally, not resisting.
Ronnikin had earlier sewn the same invisible thread joining Sally's thumbs and index fingers, now he inserted one of Sally's hands through the hole between finger and thumb of the other hand and used her arms to hold her knees to her chest the remaining loop between finger and thumb, hooked over an invisible hook over a move.
“I've got to admit Ronnikin this is a bit more bondage than am used to” said Sally
“Do you want to walk?” said Ronnikin
“No...” said Sally, aware that she was now so relaxed and blissed out that she was effectively paralyzed and in a dreamlike state.
“Then sleep” said Ronnikin as he zipped up his travel bag, slung it over his back and walked out of the casino.
Michael leaned back in his Elizabethan armchair and stared at Sally, who was in her own armchair. “You – you let him do that?”
Sally shrugged “In fairness sylphs are not the most convenient of pets but you can see why this place is a definite improvement. Though he always has his travel bag with him just in case.”
Michael facepalmed then said “Fine, okay, tell me about the lizard dude.”