A Fairy Story
Once upon a time, on an island far, far away, that was sometimes visible and sometimes not, on a sandy yellow beach that formed the shore of a blue-green sea, there existed a castle with a tall, grey tower built into the cliffs surrounding the beach. The castle went in and out of the cliffs in such a way that you could never tell how big or small that castle actually was or where the cliffs began and where the castle ended.
In that castle there lived an enchanter, all by himself. At night, or whenever he felt like it, he transformed himself into a bat, and sometimes he could be seen by people on passing boats (when the island was visible) flying out of the highest window of the tower. The enchanter bat, known as the Bat for short, was rarely seen in human form, and didn’t talk to anybody. As a result he had a reputation for being a rather grumpy sort.
One morning when the Bat got out of his bed (shaped like a coffin because he liked to sometimes pretend he was a vampire bat) he heard a thump. He went to investigate and found a medium sized parcel had arrived for him in the mail, with holes on the top and that appeared to be padded inside. He could hear something that sounded like a buzzing and a low growling sound coming from inside the box. Being fearless, of course, the Bat opened the box only to find a cat asleep inside, all curled up and obviously having a happy dream. The Bat could tell this cat was a human enchantress, but was a contrary sort, and would not turn human unless she felt like it or was overcome by powerful feeling. The Bat did not like this, as he wanted to be the only contrary sort around.
“Who has sent me this cat,” he wondered. “I shall post her right back.” But he couldn’t find a return address, and for some reason his magical powers weren’t helping him any further in finding out about the magical cat.
“Oh well,” sighed the Bat in exasperation. “I guess I’ll have to keep her until I find out where to return her.”
So he picked her up and put her on the couch, where she continued to sleep (he was later to discover that she spent rather a lot of time sleeping). As he laid her down he couldn’t help but admire her stripy and golden-brown-red fur. She seemed to change colour and gleam in the sunlight. The Bat then flew up the winding staircase of his tower and out of the highest window to attend an Enchanters’ mathematical convention, a place where, if you or I had gone, we would not have understood anything, but would perhaps have been able to appreciate the beauty of the fractals the Bat put on show.
It was late evening by the time the Bat flew back home, carrying the smell of sea salt in his hair and wings. He had almost forgotten about the cat. He flew down to the kitchen to make himself a strong cup of Assam tea (if you looked carefully around the castle you would see several half-drunk cups of strongly brewed tea, congealing, their tea bags still in them, waiting perhaps for a future archaeologist) and stopped short. There, near the vast fireplace, was the cat. In the fireplace was a heap of black and grey suits and light blue shirts, in fact, the Bat’s entire wardrobe, burning away.
“What are you doing?” demanded the Bat in horror.
“Burning your clothes of course,”said the Cat with a swish of her tail.
“But why?”cried the Bat.
“They’re so boring, all greys and blacks,” replied the Cat, adding, “by the way you look cute with your hair all standing on end and windswept like that. And you smell of the sea, nice. Tuck your shirt out, it looks silly and prim tucked in like that.”
The Bat was just about to decide whether he was very angry or very happy, so confused had the cat made him, when he noticed an empty bottle of Chateau-Sang, his best and oldest wine of which he had only two bottles. Next to it were the remains of a chocolate cake, that just that morning had been delivered to the Bat’s fridge (by a special service called www.theenchantersocado.com) and that he had been looking forward to eating with his two sips of tea (the rest was meant for congealing).
The Bat was outraged. “Out,” he shrieked, “Out.”
“But I don’t need to go out,” said the Cat.
“I mean leave,” yelled the Bat.
“I can’t,” said the Cat. “This is my castle too now.”
The Bat fell silent. He knew that cats decided where and with whom they lived, not the other way around, and it was very bad magic indeed to turn out a cat, particularly an enchantress cat. He risked losing his own magic if he did that.
“Have a slice of cake,” said the Cat generously, pointing to the thin slice of cake left on the plate. “You’ll feel better. Also do you have some cheese? I’m feeling a bit drunk and the cheese would do me good.”
“What, you want cheese now?” asked the Bat incredulously.
“I eat cheese at all times of the day,”said the cat sniffily. “The smellier and Frenchier the better, though I am partial to mature English Stilton as well.”
“You’ll just have to make do with the Dutch Edam then, that’s in the fridge,” said the Bat. “I hate smelly cheese. I’ll order some for you tomorrow.” With that he went off in a huff to his chambers in the basement, which were shrouded in darkness, and where he could let off some steam by playing some vampire computer games.
The Bat played many games and began to feel much happier after producing some very loud banging noises that rattled the whole castle, before finally climbing the stairs to lock up for the night and to check the cat wasn’t making off with his second bottle of Chateau-Sang or stealing his magical telescope.
The Bat found that the cat was asleep again on the couch, but this time the couch had grown both longer and wider and was covered with cool white silk sheets. The breeze from the sea was coming in from the window, and the Bat could see the cat was taking on her human form. She seemed to be small-built and elegant, like her cat self, but had long black-brown hair with a few hits of red and gold, that was blowing about in the breeze. As if pulled that way by her hair the Bat wandered over to the couch-bed (the cat later admitted, when confronted by the Bat, that she was administering magic through her hair and was only pretending to sleep).
Still in a daze, he reached down and stroked the Cat’s back, which he decided had a very pleasing feel to it. The Cat sighed and reached out and pulled him down next to her, all woman now. She twined herself around him and felt his enchanter hands with their long, graceful fingers, meant for playing the piano and finding the hollows in her back, combing her hair back, away from his face so that it wouldn’t tickle him.
The Bat found himself curling around the Cat, all man now. They twirled and wound around each other so that you couldn’t tell one from the other, and because they were magical creatures, if you were watching, which you shouldn’t have been, all you would have seen was rays of dazzling lights dancing and streaming around each other.
The next morning the Bat and the Cat woke up, still in their human form, and still twined around each other.
“I think I’d like to have you here, drinking my best wine and eating my cake and my cheese for ever,” said the Bat.
“Mmmm,” said the Cat, who was distracted by the shape of the Bat’s mouth.
The Bat pulled her hair a little (which was tangled in his large watch) to get her attention.
“Ok, I’ll stay,” said the Cat. “But only if you promise to stop wearing grey and black, at least on the weekends, when you have no conventions to attend.”
The Bat did promise (he only forgot every once in a while) and so the Cat and the Bat got married and lived happily ever after. They had many adventures in-between of course, but I’ll tell you about those on another day.