For reasons that were not clear to him, Cyril had spent the last half an hour or so thinking about cats. As a result, he now sat atop a horse chestnut tree at the bottom of Mrs Gargrady’s garden, watching four of her cats trying to stalk a pigeon. They had not really mastered the concept of teamwork, however, and so rather than working together, it was more like a competition to get to the pigeon first.
They were failing. With bells on. Literally, in their case, which was part of the problem.
As Cyril was pondering the relative cruelty to the cats for sabotaging their natural hunting behaviour versus the cruelty to local wildlife of letting them hunt without warning - and finding himself firmly on the side of the prey animals - he noticed something odd. One by one, the four kitties stopped their stalking and sat on the grass, staring straight up at him.
Cyril gulped nervously. He felt like someone must be making a Youtube video and, therefore, some hilarious act of Schadenfreude was about to befall him. With a sense of foreboding, which was rapidly becoming five or six boding, he slowly turned to find himself nose to beak with a tawny owl.
His body was already tensing and before his brain could really register the situation his right fist was flying at the beaked face of the strigiform stranger. It was blocked effortlessly by a feathered wing.
“Cool it, playa,” his visitant told him.
Cyril groaned inwardly. It was one of Mystic Mog’s avian bodyguards.
“Cool it?!” he cried. “What are you doing, sneaking up on me like that, eh?”
“I didn’t sneak,” the owl retorted. “I ain’t no bitch, dawg.”
“Well, I didn’t hear you arrive,” he told the owl.
“I’m an owl, yo,” the owl replied with a bob of the head that Cyril interpreted as a shrug. “That’s just how I roll.”
“Well, you scared the crap out of me, alright?” Cyril countered, rather tensely. “Care to roll somewhere else?”
“Snap out of that tizzle, yo” the owl told him. “I’ve got a message from Her Mysticness, nahmsayin?”
“Oh, er, right,” Cyril answered. This was not good news. He rarely knew what Mog’s owls were saying. At least it explained why this particular owl was visiting him. “What does Mog want?”
“She wants you to meet her at Pizza Hut,” the owl told him. “Something big’s going down.”
Cyril nodded, thankful that the instructions were simple and easily understood. “I can do that.”
“You better jet,” said the owl when the squirrel did not move.
Cyril was slightly taken aback. “You want me to go now?”
“Fo’shizzle, ma squizzle.”
“Move it, fool!”