Auberon Dougan skidded along the polished boards of the upper hall in just his socks. He liked to slide. He got up quite a head of speed in the short distance between his bedroom and the one next to it in which the three kittens were being nursed pending adoption. Fifteen years old and his SATs were off the scale, although his brains were maybe taking a rest right now. He was carrying a ten kilo sack of kitty litter and he had forgotten that mass times velocity equals momentum, he had a lot more of it than he expected. He skated past the kittens' room into the empty depths of the largely unused west wing. As he came to a stop he wondered if he would see Baggy's ghost. He hadn't seen it yet, but he was sure it was just a matter of patience. He had no doubts concerning the existence of such things. He was equally confident that, of course, Baggy would wish to welcome the latest batch of his grand-kittens to the mortal plane.
With a sigh he turned around to head back. The kittens were escaping. “No!”
“Aub!” His father's voice bellowed from downstairs. “You taken that cat litter up yet?”
“I'm doing it, Dad,” Auberon shouted. “Geez,” he muttered to himself. “Darn pet sitters and their stupid lists of things they won't do.” It had been after breakfast before his father noticed the list the sitter had sent. One item was quite clear. No carrying of bulk packages. “It'll be some dumb new health and safety thing, I'll bet,” his father had said. Auberon just assumed the person was lazy.
He finished rounding up the tiny silver grey fuzz-balls. They were all paws and harmless plastic claws, weighing in at about the same weight as their last meal, but they had the hearts of lions. His mother Wyoming, had taken a deal of persuading before she agreed to Auberon's plan to breed cats. She was even less thrilled when he announced that he intended to breed Boot-Faced cats.
“But darling, they're such ugly little things,” she had complained.
“That's why they're so cute, Mom.”
The argument had gone Auberon's way. He could always get his own way with Wyoming.
Anyway, as soon as Auberon acquired a tom and a queen, his mother had promptly allowed the adult cats the full run of her study. She was in there now, with Vince and Miss Puss sat like bookends either side of her computer, as she finished up another chapter of her latest novel.
“Wye!” Zak Dougan's voice again bellowed up the stairs.
Wyoming came to head of the stairs holding an envelope containing her latest manuscript. “Don't shout dear, you're frightening the cats.”
Zak was at the foot of the stairs. He looked up at his wife, in spite of his dark skin his face was clearly flushed, though whether this was from exertion or from emotion was not immediately clear.
“I'm about to shut your case,” he said. “Is there anything else you want me to put in?”
“I'm not sure, really,” she said, frowning. “Do you think we ought not to pack some bathrobes? I mean we're not going to a hotel are we?”
“But you never wear one normally ... why on earth do you think you'll need one on holiday?”
“Well ...,” she turned to Auberon who had succeeded in escaping from the kitten's room. “What've you packed, darling?”
“Mom,” he groaned. “You're such a divvy sometimes. Look,” he gestured downstairs. “Dad's gone to close up the cases anyway.”
Downstairs, Auberon helped his father take their bags down to the kerb ready for the taxi. Wyoming was still looking pre-occupied. She was fiddling with her mobile phone. “Do you think I should just ring Phae again to make sure she has the right time?”
“She'll only snap at you if you do. She's probably got your number on auto-divert by now anyway,” Zak said grinning, although his eyes weren't so happy looking. “Look, please just relax, honey. Huh? Huh? Pretty please.”
“Phae has a cab picking her up at ten, more than enough time to get to the airport. She'll probably be there before we are.”
“Oh! Have you—”
“Passports!” He was already holding them up. He counted them off in front of her. “You, me, Aub, Phae ... satisfied?” He slid the documents back into his jacket pocket.
“Cab's here,” Auberon said. The taxi driver beeped the horn at almost the same moment.
“Mister Dougan, just a moment, please.” The woman hired in to look after the cats emerged from the kitchen. She was holding a crumpled paper sack which had once held cat litter. It was almost empty. “Is this all you have?” She demanded in the sort of tone that suggested she was well used to chucking her weight around.
Zak's eyebrows rose angrily and Wyoming stepped forward smiling to head him off before he said anything. “My son has just taken a brand new bag upstairs, haven't you dear?”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Ten kilos. Enough for a month.”
“A month? A month! I only contracted for a fortnight. I'm not used to being messed about, you know.”
“Auberon was just exaggerating weren't you dear?”
“Whatever ....” Auberon was thinking the plane would go without them if this charade didn't soon end.
“Just get in the taxi, dear,” she pushed him out the door. “Goodbye, Mrs. ... er,” she grinned at the house cum pet sitter and shrugged vaguely embarrassed. “We'll see you in two weeks, then.” She took Zak's arm and they started down the drive to waiting taxi. “I hope your sister is ready when we get to her house,” she said looking at her watch. “Oh, and don't let me forget to mail this,” she brandished the envelope as she walked straight past the mailbox.
Zak rolled his eyes and stood still. Wyoming was getting into the taxi, so he cleared his throat noisily. She looked up and caught his eye. He tapped the mailbox.
“Eh? What? Oh, be a dear and put in in for me.”
This was their first holiday in several years and just to add to the excitement they were taking possession of their holiday home. It had cost the best part of hundred thousand bucks which Zak had thought ridiculous considering the place was built mostly from paper. The property was a traditional one with its own separate cha and bath houses.
In a few short hours the family would see their new holiday home for the first time.
What a fun chapter, Mirelly! Love that Auberon! (Off the chart SATs and all!) The family exchanges are so natural and amusing! ("She's probably got your number on auto-divert by now anyway" LOL) Now I REALLY want Bon Voyage! You make it all sound so exciting!
Yes, stop that please. I have work to do on my computer first and I hate doing that kind of thing.
Very entertaining, the different personalities at play here, the dad who just wants to go already, the mom who wants to make sure they don't forget anything, the kid who is excited to go on vacation, and that uptight housesitter . . . does BV provide them so you can leave your tots and pets? I would assume so.
Some things are pretty universal, no matter where you live, I think. :P
More, please! I hope their vacation home is all they've dreamed of . . .