Monday, August 31, 2009

Nervz of Steel

Mom Says:

Even while Agent Octavian was contemplating the difficulties of extricating himself from the bank’s sub-basement, he was perfecting his plan. Yes, it felt like a whole week had passed since the bank workers had called him an infernal mouse (and sloppily too, he noticed: their speech balloons hadn’t even included the umlaut over the O in Höllenmaus!). Yet in fact only seconds had passed.

His thoughts, zipping through his extraordinarily evolved feline brain, went something like this:

Proposition 1: If he spoke in the broken German the LingwaTron gave him, they’d know he was a foreigner pretending to be German.

Proposition 2: If he spoke in English, they’d catch his American accent.

Solution: He would speak in broken French. Then they’d be really confused.

Quick as lightning, his claws flashed across the LingwaTron’s buttons. The screen stuttered its message and he spoke what he read:

“Mais oui! Je suis le souris de l’inferne! Je viens pour le purpose de…un moment, si’l vous plait…de snatcher votre chaussures et les porter a l’inferne, où je vais…un moment, s’il vous plait…où je vais il faut recharger la batterie. Ah! Merde du chien!”

The Lichtenstinian workers raced around the room. Octavian zipped under tables and behind metal drums, thinking that maybe his first life was about to be up, but then—

suddenly, and without warning—

the lights went out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mai Creaytiv Escayp

Musashi Sez:

If infiltrayshun is a art, then exfiltrayshun is a eevn biggr art. Cuz wen yu’r inflitraytin folks, they hasn’t got annee tim at all to figgr out yu migt be ther. But wen yu’r reddee to leev, yu’v ben ther a whyl, so they has had tim to notis yu. Is a verree danjerus part of SBN-age. Also, an ajint has got tird from all that stress an hard thingkin.

So the ideer of somboddee slinkin out by the rooftop is probabul so unlyklee as to be unthogt of. Fer them, the noiziz on the roof is probabul jus, wel, yu noe, jus noiziz. Noboddee wud thingk of a blak kittee, fer egsampul, sneekin out of bangk’s baysmint wiftout anneeboddee notissin.

An of cors, they’r rigt. I meen, somboddee sneekin OUT of a bangk? How lyklee is that? Huh!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bai Skin of Mai Teeft

Mom Says:

Just as Agent Octavian was snapping pictures of the drums of soap and boxes of pound notes, the workers came back from their break. Octavian slipped back under the conveyor belt, but his fine black plume of a tail lagged behind the rest of him and was seen even as it disappeared into darkness.

Once again, the excited voices sounded like two cats coughing up hairballs:

“Doch! Hab' ich 'ne Katze gesehen?”

“Hier! Sei nicht so doof!”

“Na ja, es war aber ein Hollenmaus!”

Octavian quickly referred to the Lingwatron, which whirred quietly. While it worked, he noticed, imprinted on the back, “Made in China,” which, he thought, probably explained quite a lot. Finally, it gave him a translation:

“Hey! Was that a cat I just saw?”

“Here? Don't be an idiot!”

“Then it was one hell of a mouse!”

Not entirely accurate? Undoubtedly. But it gave him a brilliant idea…

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mai Mishun, Almos Accomplish

Musashi Sez:

I crept closr an peerd up at theez big round mettul drumz in the cornr. The writin on them wuz not in Inglish lettrs. Luckee, mai spiffee LingwaTron 9000K had a speshul pad wher I cud draw stuff. Mai clawz shuk a littul, cuz I worreed that the workrz wud com back anee moment from their naptim. But I drew what I figgrd wuz a clos aproksil—appoxim—it lookd kinda lik the piktchur writin on the drum. The LingwaTron chirpd lik a birdee at sunset an then it spit out 2 possibul translayshuns:

1. Great Honorable Invisibilator, Confabulated in Middle Kingdom
2. Super Fade-Away, Made in China

Ha! Moussee!* I tuk pikchurs wift mai niftee camra collar. Then I turnd an saw a box that had reglar writin on it, kinda sydwaez, floor-to-seelin: This syd up. Bank of Inglund. Mor pikchurs. Mai work wuz pertee much don.

Mom Sez:

*Moussee! is a cat's version of Bingo! or Jackpot! Cats are more literal than humans.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Focusin on Mai Mishun

Mom Says:

Throughout the long flight from London, the tortuous drive from Switzerland over the mountains, into the ancient principality of Lichtenstein—

During the nerve-wracking reconnaissance meeting with Herr Schmidt, the noms in the fancy restaurant with Alek, yes, even through his naps on the TV and in the vacuum cleaner bag—

Indeed, even—especially—as he stalked the strange, slick smell in the cramping darkness of the ventilation shaft—

Agent Octavian had not for one minute forgotten his orders from M, given as he lay on her big desk, lashing his tail, eager to pounce! on her enemies.

“Now, I want you to remember, Eight, that you are not—I repeat not—to engage the enemy. No blood, d’you hear me? Not theirs and certainly not yours.”

All her t’s sounded like gunshots in the still room. Agent Octavian blinked at her, cool as a cucumber, despite all his thick, sleek, sable fur.

“If you—when you get through this mission, I have plans for you. Don’t let me down.”

“Huh. Nevrrrr.”

“Right. Your mission is simply information gathering. Find out what is causing the problem, get proof, and get back home with your skin and your cover story intact. Get pictures if you can, names, dates—and I daresay prices—and then come back home. Understood?”

“Undrrrstud.” Oh dear. He hoped she would ignore his purring. He’d never heard anyone actually say “daresay” in real life.

He found it hard to believe, crouching there in the bank’s sub-basement in Vaduz, that all that had been only two days before. But now, here he was within sight of his target….

Musashi Sez:

This yer literaree term fer the dae: It’s calld “suspens.” Is verree popular wift peeples whu writ spy novuls.

Yu lik it?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cue the Jimbond Myoozik

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian considered his situation. On the plus side, he had the fancy laser cutter from M, and he only needed to cut out a few strips of grill to squeeze through—three inches or four. Make it five, then for safety’s sake.

On the minus side, the drop would be about eight feet, and he might be seen jumping.

On the plus side, he was a cat.

In short, it was what he thought of as a “win-win sitchooayshun.”

He hummed a little tune (“What’s New, Pussycat?”) as he pulled out the laser cutter and hit the “silence” button with one claw. Noiselessly, the eerie red light cut through three slats on the left side of the grill. He stopped to look at his paw-work. Still too narrow. He sliced through two more and holstered the cutter. Hooking his claws on each slat in turn, he batted it inward. The slats shrieked in protest, but above the rattle and bang of the conveyor belts, no one appeared to notice.

Still, Octavian paused to pant. What if he were caught? How could he talk his way out of that? “Um, I wuz jus taykin a walk an I endid up in yer bank’s baysmint”? Huh. A likely story…

Musashi Sez:

I stud ther in the shaft, lookin down an considerin. Soon, tho, mai bak end started to wiggul and then mai front end jumpt! down into the room. I hit the floor an rolld an endid up rigt undr the sudzin conveyr belt--jus lik I pland, egsept a whol lot fastr and dizzier.

Wen the room fynalee stopt spinnin, I peekt out an saw lotsa hoomin peeple’s shooz marchin out, lyk it wuz naptim or somthin, so I skeddaddlulld (this wurd is hard to stop spellin) across the room. Ther, in the far cornr, sittin lik a buntcha frogz in a swamp, wuz the ansr I wuz lookin fer…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Infiltrayshun Continyooz

Mom Sez:

When Agent Octavian finally reached the end of the ventilation shafts, several feet above the floor of the final basement level, he heard human voices arguing about soap, and it made him pause at the base of the shaft. He looked out at the dimly lit scene below him. For a cat—perhaps for anyone—it was the scene of a nightmare.

All was lit by an unnatural blue-green light. The repetitive noises were coming from several places. Closest to the ventilation shaft were the ceiling conveyor belts with the scrub brushes attached, hanging just low enough to scrub the paper bills clipped to the conveyor belt below, that ran parallel to the floor at waist height to the human workers, who deftly grabbed each bill in its turn and clipped it to the drying belt above their heads.

The work was steady and monotonous. Undoubtedly, those who worked in this diabolical establishment soon lost the true feeling for what money—in any denomination—really was. Scoop, lift, clip, turn. Repeat. It was no kind of life, for human or for cat, or, even for the pale grey mice, with their red eyes and their nervous paws, who waited in the corners for some change, some meaningful difference, something for lunch that was not in fact low-grade French cheese.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Meditaytiv Innerlood

Mom Says:

The voices faded, but Agent Octavian proceeded cautiously, padding along the dark, narrow ventilation shaft.

Life, he mused, was a lot like a spy's first practice mission. After a bumpy ride (born with brothers and sisters behind a couch), and a few easy meals, you're thrown into a complex set of problems you cant understand, with tools (claws, teeth, charisma) you don't know how to use. Most people don't even know you exist. Now maybe you'll figure out the problem and maybe you won't. Either way, you can't exactly count on the SPCA to come riding over the hill to save you.

All is uncertainty, darkness and doubt. You can only reassure yourself by purring gently the reminder: "Shur is a gud thin I'm a charmin, resorsful kittee wift suprcool spy toolz."

Musashi Sez:

So aftr I girdid mai lion, I sniffd the sharpist soap smell evr. I turnd the last cornr and saw anothr grill, not neerlee as fansee as the one I kaym in bai. The spaysiz sent a greeny-yellr lyt in stryps acros mai fays. Sylintlee, I approacht the grill an lookt out.

Yu arn't goin to beleev what I saw!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Infiltrayshun Continyooz

Musashi Sez:

Aftr I herd the egsitin noiziz, I stopt compleetly an onlee lissind. And ther wer hoomin peeples’ voysiz talking. At leest 2 gyz, an it soundid lik they wer coffing up a hayrbal or 2. So I creept lik a insegt and lissend verree cayrful. An this is what I herd:

"Ach! Es gibt noch Schaum an den Schenkel. Hör auf!"

"Hab' es nicht getan. Und es ist ebenfalls deine Schuld."

"Ich...Ich sag' dem Chef Bescheid."

"Halt's Maul! Wir sind schon verspätet!"

Now I don’t speek Germin, so I had to turn on mai LingwaTron 9000K. An it showd me what they wer tryin to say, mor or les.

“Hello. Your bubbles have traveled here. Please to stop.”

“That were not my own. In addition, you are to blame, clearly.”

“I shall mention this on your performance review, you know.”

“Listen well! Our rota is not performing ‘to spec.’”

An I noe that tranzlayshun is not a egsakt art, so I figgerd ther wuz mor goin on heer than wuz meetin mai eer…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Brillyant Infiltrayshun

Musashi Sez:

Aftr bein in the dark bag, the ventalayshun shaft didn’t seem so dark, cuz I had the little bits of lyt followin me from the hols in the grill. I romped along, slydin a little on the mettl flor, followin the sopy smell strayt an left an right an direkshuns like that.

At the innersekshunz, I stopt an sprayd likwid catnip on the shaft I wuz comin from so I cud find mai wae bak laytr. (I got this idée from reedin about Dr. Woof’s eskipaydz, but yu wudn’t want to noe the detaylz. Trus me on this.)

Anneewae, I sloed down at this poin, cuz I cud heer nu an egsitin sounds, lik:

Skrobba-skrobba! Fftt. Fftt. Skrobba-skrobba!

What cud that kinda sound meen???

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Advenchur Continyooz, in Bayrlee Aneetym

Mom Says:

Agent Alek pulled up at the side door of the Licktenshtinian bank, right where another van already sat. He pulled out the vacuum and headed toward the door, which opened for him. As he rolled the machine toward the front of the bank, the canvas bag showed not a single wiggle, as though Agent Octavian had mastered the art of stillness, but when they reached the ventilation grill in the lobby and Alek bent down to let him out, he found he had to wake him up first.

Alek said, “Eight, while I admire your nerves of steel, you might want to take this job a bit more seriously.”

Octavian yawned. “I’m plentee seeryus.” He stretched and pulled out his MicroZip Screwdriver as Alek plugged in the vacuum. At a nod from Octavian, they both turned on their tools at the same time.

Zzzzp! Zzzzp! Zzzzp! Zzzzp!

The grill fell into Octavian’s paws. With a wave to Alek, he holstered his tool and jumped into the dark tunnel. Behind him, Alek set the grill against the wall and fixed it in place with sticky pegs. He pocketed the loose screws, unplugged the vacuum, and rolled it away.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Som Teknikul Diffakulteez

Musashi Sez:

I noe all yu gyz haz ben waytin fer the nex intsallmint of mai grayt advenchurz. But we haz ben havin problimz. Somboddee stol the “S” from our keebord. I blaym Dr. Woof, the innernashunul doggee kriminul. But it ok becuz Q givd me a nu one.

I figgerd we’d get bai cuz I offen yooz the “z” instead, but let me be forward: it hard. Anneewae, our adventchur, and mor than 1, will continyu in bayrlee aneetym at all.