Mike Moon presents a Tale of Catgirl Island
"Curiosity Killed the Catgirl" by Marc Burgess
Story © 2000 Marc Burgess
Images © 2000 Mike Moon & Marc Burgess
"That one's a frog!"
"Oh! An elephant!" Rica exclaimed as she pointed into the sky.
Niko turned onto her side and frowned. "That is most certainly NOT an elephant. It is clearly an anteater...duh."
Rica propped herself up onto her elbows and brushed her rose colored hair out of her eyes. "You obviously are mistaken Niko, anteaters don't have tusks."
"Those aren't tusks, it's his tongue silly."
"A forked tongue?"
"Shows how much you know. Anteaters are part snake."
"Now you're just making stuff up. Besides, it looks like a grasshopper."
Niko rolled her eyes and flipped onto her stomach. "I'm tired of looking at the clouds. Lets do something fun for a change."
Rica slowly rolled over to face her sister. "Don't you dare..."
Niko suddenly sat up straight, closed her eyes, and put her right index finger up to her forehead. "Wait...my cat-sense is tingling."
"Oh yes! Come faithful assistant!"
"Assistant!?" Rica stomped her foot. "We are not going to go through this ag...Hey! Wait up!"
Hello faithful viewers, and welcome back to Catgirl Island, where the weather is warm, and the people are friendly. Where the fruit is fresh and the prices are low. Where the catgirls are cute and the cave slugs are slimy... Ahem, sorry. It is yet another beautiful day on this tropical paradise. The birds are singing merrily, the fish are chasing themselves playfully beneath the waves. The wind is cool and.... uh oh. What is this? It looks as if our two favorite feline sisters are about to get themselves into trouble once again. Let's watch!
"Curiosity Killed the Catgirl" by Marc Burgess
"Wait up I said Rica stopped to catch her breath. "I swear..."
"If you can catch me, I'll tell you where we are going!" Niko giggled, her blue curls bouncing as she ran. Last one there's a spiky sea urchin!"
"Last one where?!" yelled Rica, exasperated.
"We are almost there Niko's voice trailed off as she ran over a hill in the distance, leaving Rica's line of sight.
As Rica crested the hill herself, the land seemed to fall in all directions, forming a crater in the landscape. She saw Niko standing at the bottom, beside a strange formation of rocks.
"Come take a look at this, sis!" Niko waved at her sister while brushing some dirt off one of the smooth stones.
"How do you manage to find these places?"
"I told you before, Rica. It's my cat-sense!"
"Maybe you should start your own 900-number," replied Rica under her breath.
"There is no reason to be rude just because I have been given a special gift."
"I was given a special gift too, watch--" Rica closed her eyes and put her right index finger to her forehead. "Moron-sense tingling!"
"Oh yeah? Well take a look at this!" Niko knelt down on the ground beside the rock she was dusting off. "There are little drawings on this rock."
"So what. They look like little turds..."
"I'm sorry," she sighed, "what do they look like to you?"
"I think they are gems. Like rubies and sapphires."
"Well what if they are? They're just drawings right?"
"But guess what else I found--!"
"Do I want to know?"
"I think you do," Niko said as she bushed a group of ivy away
from the hillside. "A cavern!"
"You know, its getting kinda late..."
"Come on, think about it...rubies and sapphires..."
"Listen Rica, you can go home and be little miss cranky-pants if you want to, but when I am rich and famous, don't come crying to me, ok?"
Rica thought about this for a moment and then replied.
"You know, one of these days your curiosity is going to get the best of you, and when it does, I am going to have to be there to pull your sorry butt out of the fire."
"Well then, it's settled. Lets go!"
What could these two be up to? What dangers lie deep within the bowels of Catgirl Island? Let us follow our intrepid duo as they endeavor to uncover secrets long hidden beneath the Earth...
"What if we get lost down here Niko?"
"Don't worry, with my sense of direction, there is no way..."
"That's it, we're going back. I am certainly not putting my life in the hands of your sense of direction." With that, Rica turned around and began to walk back the way they came. She hadn't gone far when she stopped and yelled back to her sister.
"Hey Niko! Did we turn left back here, or right?"
"--OR left." Niko laughed nervously as her sister slowly turned around, anger and frustration radiating from her body.
"Direction sense huh?"
"What? You expect it to work under pressure? When I am ready to leave, I will be able to find my way out, I promise. Until then, I suggest you stick with me."
"Yes oh great and powerful Niko. Where would I be without your guiding light?"
"You're being sarcastic again, aren't you!?"
"Of course not Niko," replied Rica, trying to smile calmly at her sister," my sincerity, as always, is genuine."
Deeper and deeper into the cavernous ruins ventured Rica and Niko. Hours passed before even Niko became discouraged.
"Wait!" exclaimed Niko, "what is that up ahead?"
Niko and Rica came to the end of the passage, where the cavern, to their surprise and amazement, opened into a vast room. More amazing than the sheer size of this room, however, was what stood within. The two catgirls simply stood staring, their mouth's agape. The first thing that caught their eyes were the massive set of stairs carved into the stone, leading to two enormous stone doors carved with runes and pictures of all shapes and sizes. These doors stood at least ten times as tall as the tallest catgirl. On either side of the doors stood two massive pillars carved of brilliant white marble and reaching higher than the eyes could follow. Beside this hulking citadel ran an under-ground river winding through the cavern to, if the noise was any indication, a great waterfall. Small subterranean plants grew along its banks while illuminous fungi lived upon the walls and ceiling.
"This is...amazing," whispered Rica.
"I told you, didn't I? Do these look like giant turds to you?" Rica simply shook her head as they both climbed down onto the river bank.
"But how are we going to get through those doors? I don't see a doorknob." Rica didn’t answer as she carefully crossed a narrow stone bridge spanning the river. Once they reached the base of the stairs, they noticed that each stair stood several feet tall, forcing them to literally climb up them.
"I wonder who these were built for," Rica asked to herself.
"I wonder if they are still here." This remark startled Rica.
"You don't think that..."
"Who knows, but I hope not. I don't feel like stealing the gems."
Rica looked at her older sister sternly.
"Even if they were home, you would NOT steal from them. What's gotten into you?!"
"I'm sorry," Niko replied, staring at the ground, "of course I wouldn't"
"Now what?" Rica stared at the enormous doors before her.
"Well, just in case, we'd better knock."
But it was too late. With all her strength, Niko balled her right hand into a fist and hit the door three times. The resulting noise reverberated off the cavern walls, sending streams of small stones cascading down the walls.
"If there IS something down here, they certainly know we're here now." As she spoke, as if in response to her observation, the large stone doors began to slowly slide inward. "And I think they're here..." To their amazement, however, the hall on the other side of the doors was empty. Rica and Niko looked at each other, to the door, and then back to each other. "I suppose we might as well..."
Niko needed no other prompting. She lept into the room and Rica was quick on her heels.
The inside of this ancient structure was covered in dust and rubble, often with large chunks of stone missing from the walls and ceiling. There was something odd about the surfaces, however. Something that Rica and Niko didnít catch onto right away. In fact, they were beginning if there was anything interesting at all before Rica noticed.
"Hold that thought Niko, I just noticed something." Rica walked over to the far western wall of the room which appeared to be a dining hall. "Come take a look at this." Niko, having lost all notion that something threatening might be found here, playfully skipped over to where Rica was kneeling.
"Wait Niko! Slow dow..." Rica cringed as Niko slipped head over tail.
Then, after a long moment of silence...
"It's some kind of slime...î
"And I'm covered in it!" Niko began rubbing her body up against the wall in an effort to remove the substance.
"It appears to be a trail of some kind Niko. Let's see where it leads."
"Hey! That's my line!"
Niko followed after sister, this time watching her step carefully. After several meters, Rica saw the trail reach a wall, and then travel up it. As her eyes followed the trail up the wall and onto the ceiling, Niko noticed something that made her forget the slippery substance covering her body.
"Rica...what, what's that sucking sound? Rica?"
Rica, unbeknownst to her sister, had already found what was making the noise.
"CAVE SLUGS!! RUN!"
As soon as Rica and Niko began fleeing further down the hall, three large cave slugs, easily five meters high, and three times as long, fell from the ceiling and began slinking along after them. Their bodies making a disgusting slurping sound as the slid across the floor. To the sister's alarm and distress, these slimy creatures were deceptively fast.
"Hurry up Niko, I think they're gaining!"
"I'm trying Rica, but this stuff is making it hard for me to run!"
"Just keep trying! I think I see something up ahead!"
As Rica reach what at first glance appeared to be a dead end, she noticed a beam of light coming from a crack in the ceiling. She arrived well before Niko, so she immediately began scurrying up the wall using her nimble cat reflexes. To her relief, she found a small ledge near the ceiling where she could sit on her knees and pull stones away from the crack in an attempt to make it larger.
"They're gaining on my Rica! HELP!" She could hear the slugs close on her heels, the sucking and slurping ringing in her ears. Right when she thought that they were upon her, a loud crash echoed through the complex as the ceiling crumbled above Rica and sunlight came pouring in. This stopped the slugs in their tracks as the recoiled in pain.
"Now's your chance Niko! Climb up!"
Not taking any time to question her younger sister, Niko scurried up the wall, past her sister
and right up onto a grassy ledge. Rica soon followed and the both collapsed onto the ground, panting.
Later that afternoon, after they regained their strength, Rica and Niko began the long walk back home. The air was still warm, and the birds sang like nothing was out of the ordinary. To them, nothing was. Little was said between the catgirl sisters until finally Niko turned to Rica.
"Hey Rica, I just figured it out. Those weren't pictures of gems or turds."
"I don't want to talk about it right now Niko. You almost got us killed."
"But Rica, it was an honest mistake. Besides, admit it, it WAS kinda fun."
Rica balled her fist and turned to her sister.
"I'm warning you Niko, don't make me slug you."
The two simply stood there a moment, staring at each other, contemplating the previous statement. Finally, Niko couldn't take it any longer and she bust out laughing. Rica frowned at first, not thinking the situation funny, but quickly realized that what she had just said WAS funny. Not wanting to let her sister get away with the afternoon scott free, however, she grinned evilly and pounced on her, causing them to fall into a puddle and they were soon both wet and muddy.
"One of these days Niko, you are going to get yourself into trouble and I am not going to be there to get you out of it!" Rica then added softly under her breath, "...But until that time comes, I won't let anything happen to you."
* * * the end! * * *
Niko and Rica first appeared in Marc's story "Raptordy in Blue", and will return in Mike Moon's "Night of Dach Shadows!"!