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Machine Gun Fairies, III

Machine Gun Fairies, Part III (part I, part II)

Rowen pushed her 'bag lady' cart to its usual hiding place, grabbed her actual possessions and the days gleanings out of it, and then hauled the camouflage off of her bike to cover it with. Pausing, she said "Hey, furball, if you're coming with me you don't want to stay there."

The tortoiseshell cat cracked an eye to look at her. "I wondered if you'd realized I was even there."

"Of course I did, but you looked like you wanted a nap, so I left you in peace." she sat on the ground next to the cart. "What can I say, I'm a cat person, and I'm partial to both Main Coons and torties. The fact that you're both, and a proper smart ass besides just makes it all the more perfect. The fact that I am downright lonely doesn't hurt either, but I haven't wanted to adopt a standard cat to be dependent on me when I can barely keep myself fed. I can't adopt a sentient, you make your own choices."

The cat looked steadily at her. "OK, as long as you realize there isn't any 'owning' going on here." and got daintily out of the undercarriage of the cart.

Rowan just laughed "Oh, criminy! You haven't been around Pagans much have you? We don't own cat's, cat's 'let' us care for them according to our usual way of thinking."

"Pagans? What's that?" the cat asked, ears perking up with curiosity. "I've never really heard of that before."

Rowan looked surprised "And here I thought you were all worldly. I guess you aren't as much of a know it all as I thought. Pagans are people who have religions that often believe in and/or practice magic. While there are as many definitions of pagan as there are traditions, they tend to be 'earth based' religions that are non-judeo-christian-islam."

"Hmmrrrrr. That puts an interesting spin on things." The cat looked dubiously at the bicycle. "How do you propose that we both ride that?"

"Well, I managed to swipe a basket, but it's kinda flimsy plastic." Rowan pointed out. "I can't use a metal one unless I find aluminum, brass or some other non-ferrous metal. Something to do with the damned points on my ears."

"What, not the point on your head?" the cat smirked. "I know about no iron, silly. I'm just surprised you can ride a bicycle."

"Funky composites and aluminum, not steel. A bitch to find parts for, but I can ride it post-Change." She looked at it again. "You could try balancing on the rack in back, instead, I suppose. The saddlebags should help keep your fur our of the spokes." She opened one and started packing part of her gleaned haul carefully but quickly into it.

The cat looked indignant. "I do know my own displacement, you know."

"That would be a switch." Rowan chuckled. "Most cats I've met know to a millimeter the size of their body, but not of their fur envelope."

"Most cats haven't read biology textbooks when their 'owner' wasn't looking" the cat harumphed.

Rowan sighed. "OK, your choice, then: basket, if you can fit and it holds you, or rear rack and you have to hold on and balance. I do not ride sedately or even always completely vertical. Either way, it's a long ride, and we have got to get a move on." She went around to the other side and filled the other saddlebag as quickly and efficiently as the first. She then strapped soft goods across the rack and saddlebags.

"What, not on your shoulders, like a fur collar?" the cat quipped as Rowan finished stuffing her remaining soft goods in the basket and straddled the bike. A nimble leap and the tortie became yet another 'soft good' on the back of her bike. "Mrrrrr.... you always have nice things to sit on."

"Cats! Hedonists at heart." Rowan chuckled. "Make sure your claws are latched - I tried to leave you stuff to dig into." She then rode off, leaving what looked like nothing more than a pile of brush and debris behind.

---

Over an hour later, as the sun was starting to sink behind the hills, Rowen turned her bike onto a path that was more dirt than asphalt or cement. "Here's where we get the vibrating massage, my furry friend. Hang on."

"The roads haven't been exactly smooth as glass, you know." the cat replied with the usual dose of sarcasm. "Then again, I haven't had to walk it, so I can't gripe too badly."

Rowan laughed. "Gee, you noticed? On the other side, the area around here seems to have field mice and a few more squirrels. I don't much care for the mice, but the squirrels aren't too bad in stew."

"Hrrrrr.... squirrels. Depending on what they've been eating, they can be very tasty. Trash fed squirrels are not the best, though." The cat ruminated as they bounced down the path.

"Connoisseur. I'm just glad I can catch them and eat them." Rowan groused, panting a little. "I can't just walk in to a Food Mart with the funky ears and no cash to get groceries. If I time it right I can sometimes steal some stuff, but I gotta be careful. The stores aren't getting a lot of stock, and the manufacturers are lacing their wrappers with iron fibers to keep the Changed from getting at 'people food'."

"That's foolish. At the last rate of Change I saw, before my biochemist failed his Change, about 60% of the population will have changed or died by now." the cat snorted derisively.

Rowan nearly fell off her bike. "What? You've got to be kidding! It can't be that bad..."

"Rrrroww! Please stay upright." The cat was now standing again, ready to jump off if needed. "He had access to the real reports, not what the news was broadcasting. They deliberately downplayed it, on the idiot box. All propaganda and spin, to buy them time to try to save themselves, or something. I don't understand human motives too well..."

"Yeah, right. You just observe them, like all cats..." Rowan quipped, still a bit shaken at just how bad it really was.

"Mrrrrr.... Guilty as charged. I would be negligent in my feline duties if I did not. The fact that I have the capacity to analyze and remark on them is merely an added bonus." How a cat could give the impression of self-satisfied grooming while holding onto the padded rack on the back of a bicycle is a mystery...

---

As the twilight deepened toward night, Rowan reached a narrow turnoff from the increasingly less well-defined trail. While she could still see fine, as could her furry passenger, a normal human would have been hard pressed to distinguish them from the surrounding woods.

When she finally reached her cave, not much more than a deep depression in the hillside, it was almost true dark. Rowan was glad she'd managed to charge her solar cells that day, so she would have a little light to cook by. The cheap red LED flashlights made of plastic were thought to be useless by many, but some of them had no iron in them. These could be repaired and modified, if you were careful. They were bright enough for her use, and didn't attract attention.

Half of her scrounging was in abandoned houses for tech trinkets without iron. The other was for fabric, tools, and camping gear. Garages were a gold mine, so were fiberglass trailers. Finding a car was out, unfortunately, because in order to hot-wire it she would have to get to close to the engine, and even the ones with an aluminum bock had too many metal parts. Most of them were out of gas anyway - the only vehicles on the road were the wealthy, and the government. Everyone else she saw walked or rode a scooter, bicycle, cart, or skateboard. Or flew...

The cat jumped off gracefully, sat out of the way, and commenced with a thorough cleaning. Rowan diligently put away her gleanings, and then her bicycle, before she turned to look to where the cat had settled. "Wouldn't you rather wash up inside?" she teased.

"I haven't been invited in." the cat said pointedly. "Just as you don't own me, I don't assume I own you. Besides, you have your cave warded."

Rowan looked startled. "Oh, yeah. I'm still used to Slinky, who would ignore wards, circles, and everything else to curl up in the middle of my ritual script."

"Slinky was owned, non-sentient, and a named member of your household. I am not. Plus, the rules and ways of magic have changed for both of us." The cat seemed a bit... disgruntled.

"Oh. Hmm." Rowan closed her eyes, looked at herself, the cat, and thought about the energy flow. "Oh, hmmm."

"You've said that twice." the feline grumbled, ears twitching.

Rowan sighed. "Right. First things first, then. I am called Rowan. How do you wish to be called?"

"Are you asking my Name?" the cat said, with a swish of the tail.

"No, I wouldn't be able to pronounce your real name anyway, most likely. How do you wish to be called, small named?" Rowan was being explicit, for once.

The cat looked a bit... uncomfortable. "I have always answered to ... Bitty." As Rowan gaped in shock, she continued "When I was a kitten, I did not understand human language, and I liked the sound. So when my keeper called me Itty Bitty and Bitty, I accepted Bitty as my use-name. It is a meaningless happy sound to a cat."

"Oh, well, yeah. It's just that..." Rowan giggled "It's like a seven foot tall football linebacker named 'Tiny'."

"Hrrrrr...." Bitty actually snickered. "I hadn't thought of it like that."

"Very well, Bitty, will you enter my home with me and be my guest?" Rowan stated formally, walking into the cave.

Bitty stood up and walked into the cave beside her "I definitely shall."

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
quondamquadrat
Sep. 29th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
I love this! *BITTY* LOL :-)

This story fascinates me. Thank you for sharing it!

Q
ravan
Sep. 30th, 2010 08:01 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it. There wants to be more. The cat is getting the best lines, though...

Edited at 2010-09-30 08:01 am (UTC)
settecorvi
Sep. 29th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
I saw the start of this story over on karnythia's LJ and followed you over here. I just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying it so far!
ravan
Sep. 30th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
I'm glad you are enjoying it. Yes, I am planning more (Bitty wants more snarkitude...)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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